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Thursday, April 30, 2015

30 Days of ICAN: Day 30

Phew!!! #CAM2015 has flown by and we hope you have appreciated the stories, pictures, and resources that ICAN Twin Cities passed along over the last month. Today, for the last day of #CAM2015 we are passing along more information on how to get connected to ICAN Twin Cities. 

First, if you haven't already, like our Facebook page:

If you are a mama in need of private, mom to mom support, please consider joining our closed Facebook group. We have a very busy group with lots of chatter and welcome any mama's in need of support. If you would like to post a question anonymously, please contact and admin.

Please consider coming to one of our monthly meetings as well!

Free monthly meetings for support and education are held the
Second Monday of the month from 6:30-8:30pm
Holy Cross Lutheran Church,
1720 E Minnehaha Pkwy, Minneapolis
Meetings are free and do not require membership. We generally have childcare available at our Minneapolis meeting for older children with a suggested donation of $5. RSVP is requested for childcare only. Babes-in-arms are welcome in the meeting space.As a general rule, our meetings are reserved for women who have experienced a cesarean or hope to prevent one. However, we regularly have meetings designed to include spouses and partners, and will note it on our website.
We cancel meetings due in inclement weather whenever Minneapolis public schools are canceled. Subscribe to our email list to stay up-to-date on meeting information.
May 11, 2015-Meet the Providers
We will be having providers including OB's, hospital, birthcenter, and homebirth practices at our meeting this May. Please consider coming! 
**We are asking that only mom's seeking providers and 1 birth support partner (husband, partner, doula ect.) attend because of limited space.

30 Days of ICAN: Day 29

Today for #CAM2015, please take a moment to get to know your Twin Cities board members!

All of us come from different back grounds with different stories to tell.

ICAN Twin Cities Leadership

And check out our main page for Twin Cities specific information

ICAN Twin Cities

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

30 Days of ICAN: Day 28

Today for #CAM2015 check out the ICAN International Blog for get information, resources, and stories.

30 Days of ICAN: Day 27

Today for #CAM2015 cehck out this cool infograph on VBAC

30 Days of ICAN: Day 26

Today for #CAM2015 we are featuring a website with lots of good information and posts regarding the cesarean epidemic in the United States.

30 Days of ICAN : Day 25

Today for #CAM2015 we are passing along more resources to better understand Uterine Rupture.

What Is a Uterine Rupture?

30 Days of ICAN: Day 24

Today for #CAM2015 is a video about the importance of movement during labor.

Move, Walk, and Change Positions

30 Days of ICAN: Day 23

More information on the cascade of interventions.

Cascade of Interventions

30 Days of ICAN: Day 22

Today for #CAM2015 we are reposting a blog post that breaks down what ACOG really says about VBAC

VBAC: What ACOG Really Says

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

30 Days of ICAN: Day 21

Today we are featuring an ICAN professional member: Melissa Kosloski

Melissa writes:

I am the mother of two young boys, who each were born under very different conditions. The first, an induction turned cesarean in the hospital and the second a home VBAC in the water. Having these very different birthing experiences has lead me to certify as a childbirth educator with Birth Boot Camp and to work as a birth doula. I am passionate about offering support and helping to educate women and their families during their pregnancy and birth. I also volunteer my time to help run The Birth Community, the local childbirth network, in central Minnesota. I teach in the St. Cloud area, where I live with my husband and rambunctious boys.

I feel that resources like ICAN are very important to birthing women and their families. Often times women who experience a cesarean birth don't have any idea what to expect or of the challenges that go along with them until after they have one. In my own experience, I knew I didn't want a cesarean with my first, but I did nothing to prepare myself to avoid one, nor did I have any idea what a challenge I would face in my desire to have a VBAC with subsequent pregnancies. My own journey has lead to my desire to teach childbirth education and support women through birth as a doula. I hope to encourage women to learn about their options and understand birth so that she can make the decisions that are best for her and her baby.

If you want more information please visit Melissa's website at:

If you would like more information about Doula's in general,  The Childbirth Collective is a good place to start. 

30 Days of ICAN: Day 20

Today for #CAM2015, we are sharing a news article that discusses a recent award given to a Georgia Hospital for the lowest numbers of elective c-sections or inductions before 39 weeks--as supported by the March of Dimes.

March of Dimes makes '39 Weeks' award to Phoebe

30 Days of ICAN: Day 19

Today for #CAM2015, we are featuring a news article where the WHO cautions against pointless C-Sections.

WHO Cautions Women Against Pointless C-Sections

30 Days of ICAN: Day 18

Today for #CAM2015, We are covering a new story that discusses why,"the best fetal maternal outcomes for new moms are in some of the least expensive neighborhoods within California’s major cities, an analysis of data in a recent study by the California HealthCare Foundation shows."

Good birth outcomes more prevalent in some of California’s less expensive neighborhoods

30 Days of ICAN: Day 17

Today for #CAM2015, we are sharing a news story that discussion the potential long-term health affects that cesareans can have on moms.

Cesarean Sections May Lead To Long-Term Health Problems For Some

30 Days of ICAN: Day 16

Today for #CAM2015, we are posting another news article that covered a controversial 'meme' that became quite popular on social media recently.

Mothers enraged over anti-cesarean meme

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

30 Days of ICAN: Day 14

Who knew an exercise ball could be so beneficial during birth!

30 Days of ICAN: Day 13

Today for #CAM2015, check out this recent article that talks about 'The Gentle Cesarean'

30 Days of ICAN: Day 12

Today we are sharing a popular article that has been circulating on the internet, "Why Most Brazilian Women get C-Sections"

The article states "In many parts of the world, women are having more Cesarean sections than medically necessary. Recent abuses of pregnant women in Brazil have sparked a small, vocal movement of activists who want mothers to have more say in the delivery room."

30 Days of ICAN: Day 11

For today, we are sharing the WHO's latest article on when to perform cesareans. #CAM2015

30 Days of ICAN: Day 10

Today we are passing along more information about Vaginal Breech Birth.

Vaginal Breech Birth

30 Days of ICAN: Day 9

Today we are sharing a birth story shared by a mama.

She said, "planned water birth w/ doula/midwife and took education classes before labor - awesome labor ended in C-section due to missed breech position."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

30 Days of ICAN: Day 8

Today we share a mama's favorite birth photos. This is was not the birth she originally planned or expected. Here is what she wrote:

Attached are three of my favorite birth photos. I had a wonderful midwife who was a shutterbug in the OR. These photos represent a process I was clueless about. I wanted a vaginal birth and even hired a doula (who slept while I was in pain and asking for an epidural and didn't really do anything) wanting a pleasant experience. Not really what I ended up with but I do have some stories as a result of it. Not everyone has a group of midwives who uses youtube to learn how to do a procedure.

30 days of ICAN: Day 7

Today we are sharing a birth photo from a local mama. This was her first birth.

This mama writes:

"My doula took this of my son during my c-section. I have had a hard time coming to terms with the way I gave birth to him but this picture is such a good reminder that his birth was beautiful even though it wasn't what I had hoped for."

Monday, April 6, 2015

30 days of ICAN: Day 5

We have a really exciting next couple of months planned, and hope to see a bunch of new faces, members, and friends.  April is Cesarean Awareness Month and we want to celebrate with everyone!  

During #CAM2015, please consider supporting us, so we can continue to serve you and our community in making birth better for all.

What to know about ICAN

We are mom-to-mom support, meaning we are not professionals.  We are just women who have been on a very similar journey, sharing our experiences.  We are here to hear you tell your story for the first time, to tell you "it is OK, here is the box of Kleenex, we cried too, it gets easier."  We are here to share what we did, what we didn't, what worked, what didn't, and to hear all of this from you.  We are not here to judge, or tell you what you did wrong, or that you will succeed or won't.  We are just women supporting women.  We all know how powerful that is.  

We are free-you do not need to be a member.  No matter what, we promise to have regular meetings and to keep our Facebook group safe for sharing and support.  We also will try to have informative speakers regularly, and some fun parties as well.  We also pledge to do our best to help you find whatever resources you are looking for, and promise to keep it all safe and confidential.  

What you get by becoming a Personal Subscriber:

ICAN’s quarterly newsletter, The Clarion (emailed)
•10% discount at ICAN Store
•Discount to ICAN’s Conference
•Free/discounted webinars

During the month of April, a supporting membership costs just $25. Please consider joining!

Considerations for the Professional Subscriber:

We are really looking forward to growing our professional subscribers.  We are so lucky in the Twin Cities to have so many amazing professionals who are supporters of VBAC and of ICAN families.  By joining us, you will be listed prominently on our local and national website, and will be featured in the newsletter at least once annually.  In addition, we welcome you leaving your literature at our meetings as a resource as well.  

You also get: 

ICAN’s quarterly newsletter, The Clarion
•10% discount at ICAN Store
•Discount to ICAN’s Conference
•Free/discounted webinars
•Special recognition in The Clarion

During the month of April, a professional membership costs just $50!  Please join us!

Click HERE to join ICAN as a Personal or Professional Subscriber

30 Days of ICAN: Day 6

One of our sweet mama's let us share her 'I did it' moment. This baby was a successful VBA3C and first home birth and water birth. Welcome sweet baby!

Friday, April 3, 2015

30 days of ICAN: Day 3

On Day 3 of  #CAM2015 we are featuring a birth story. This birth story does include possible triggers. 

"Homebirth Cesarean of Melody Ann"

Four years ago it was a beautiful spring day. I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant with our first child. My husband had gone outside to rid our backyard of all the dog poop that had accumulated over the winter while I took a really hot shower. Too hot, actually. I got out, lightheaded, and walked into my bedroom to dry off. I lost my balance and twisted funny, but caught myself before I fell to the floor. I decided to lie down for a bit, and as I did, my water broke-a huge gush all over my bed. I jumped up and went to find my husband. "March 19 is a great day for a birthday!" I said to him. We called the on-call midwife cell phone and then headed down to the birth center to get my IV started for my antibiotics for GBS. Over the course of the next 60 hours, I used my breastpump, got acupuncture, and drank a castor oil smoothie. My husband set the drip rate for my gravity drip antibiotics every time we hung a new bag. We checked in frequently with my midwife both over the phone and in person. I tried to ignore my excitement and rest, waiting for my contractions to come closer together. At one point, they were 6-8 minutes apart for an hour, but then spaced back out to every 10-20 minutes. Finally, on the evening of the 21st, we made the decision to transfer care to a hospital. I was slightly disappointed that I wouldn't be delivering at my birth center, but I wasn't anti-hospital and felt that our circumstances warranted medical intervention. So we excitedly packed a bag and set off for the 75 minute drive to our hospital. As we pulled into the parking lot, I realized I hadn't had a single contraction during the drive. I was confident in our decision to transfer. We checked into the hospital through the ER and then proceeded up to labor and delivery. The nurse checked my cervix and I was 5cm dilated. She told me my daughter would be born on her shift. I declined to quantify my pain and was never asked to again. Right about the time the pitocin started, I was informed that I had a waiting room full of visitors. I sent them all away except my dad and stepmom-the only ones who I had requested to come. I sat on a birth ball and walked the halls all night, squeezing my husband and moaning loudly through every contraction. At one point, I got stuck in the hall with what felt like a never-ending contraction, so the nurse turned down the pitocin. We called our midwife and asked to have someone join us, and a student midwife came to support us. By 6am, I had only dilated to about 6cm and our nurse felt that increasing the pitocin again was necessary. I requested an epidural because that was the rate that had started the never-ending contraction. Over half an hour, and six pokes into my spine later, the epidural was finally placed. The student midwife and I took a nap while my husband, dad, and stepmom went out for breakfast. I waited 18 more hours for my cervix to finish dilating. The epidural caused me to itch like crazy so I requested Benadryl to combat that. I carefully moved onto my hands and knees to help move my baby into a better position, terrified I would rip my catheter and epidural and IV out as I moved my body and half-dead legs around in the bed. I started sobbing as I ticked off all the interventions in my head, all the tubes that were attached to every part of my body. The scalp probe in my daughter's head to monitor her heart rate, the intra-uterine monitor to monitor the strength of my contractions, the pain meds, the IV, the catheter, the everything. Such a far cry from the peaceful, natural waterbirth I had been planning. The nurse said, "Don't worry, this baby will come out one way or another." And I bit my tongue and said nothing. Clearly she didn't understand the reason I was crying. Eventually I was told I was 10cm and when I felt the urge to push, I could. So we called and our midwife came to the hospital. We waited awhile and I didn't feel an urge, so I tried pushing. It felt so awkward. My cervix was checked again, and it turns out I wasn't quite 10cm, so we waited again. Eventually, it was about midnight, and I was 10cm dilated. I started pushing, squatting on the bed while pulling on a sheet that had been tied to a bar on the bed. The nurse came in after awhile and said I needed oxygen because my baby's heart rate was low at times. I kept pushing, someone holding the oxygen mask to my face, trying to get my baby out. At some point my epidural started beeping and it was so annoying. I couldn't focus on anything else. The nurse was in no hurry to come in and tend to it, so I started hitting buttons trying to make it shut up, which locked it. No one on staff knew how to unlock it, and since it was the middle of the night, no one from anesthesia was in the building. About half an hour later, the epidural was restarted but by then the medication had been off long enough that I could feel an ache in my uterus. It wasn't full blown contractions, but it was so uncomfortable that I couldn't get comfortable in any position. I continued pushing. I was starting to become exhausted and asked my midwife what time it was. 5:30am. I did the math and had been pushing for 5.5 hours. I told her I was done and to call the doctor. My midwife tried to encourage me to keep pushing while we waited for the doctor to come to the hospital but I was done. I ignored her and waited. The OR team was called in, but was taking awhile because during the course of my labor, the weather had turned and it was a terrible ice and snow storm. The doctor came in explained the risks of the surgery, which I completely ignored because I knew them all, and after almost 100 hours of labor, I just wanted to be done. I didn't really care what he had to say. I was wheeled into the OR, and indepently moved myself from that bed onto the OR bed because I didn't want anyone lifting me. My husband sat next to my head and the surgery began. I could feel the doctor cutting me, and not just pressure. The pain was dulled from the epidural, but not gone. My epidural was maxed out and finally the doctor told me I needed to be put under. My husband was escorted out of the room and told nothing. He had no idea what was going on. My daughter was born at 6:47am on March 23, 2011. 8lb 12oz, 21". Her 1 minute APGAR was 4, and she needed chest compressions, emergency breaths, and Narcan to reverse the drugs in her body. I met her a couple hours later, after I woke from the general anesthesia. I was told she had the biggest cone head the nurses had ever seen, but no one took a picture so I never got to see the evidence of all my hard work. Someone else was holding her when I was brought into the room-a different room than I had been laborng in. A cesarean mom room. They had moved all my stuff into another room because I wasn't allowed to stay in a room with a bathtub since I had had a cesarean. A slap in the face and an invasion of my space. I started to feed my daughter and she turned blue. I didn't even notice. The nurse took her from me and she pinked back up. She handed her back to me and I started feeding her again and she turned blue again. The nurse took her from me and ran out of the room with her, leaving the bassinet in my room. When the nurse returned, I was told my daughter needed to stay in the nursery for observation. I asked to go to her and was told I couldn't since I was still feeling the effects of the anesthesia. I demanded a wheel chair. My baby needed me. I was damned if I was not going to her. Once I had a wheel chair, I transferred myself into it and went to my baby. She was fine and they suspected she had had a mucus plug. I was able to bring her back to my room but I had to be on apnea monitors for awhile because I was having a hard time fully coming out of the anesthesia. No one knows why my baby wouldn't come out. My doctor told me that he didn't see any reason I couldn't have a VBAC in the future, if I so desired.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

30 Days of ICAN: 'Day 2'

Day 2 of #CAM2015 is a post from another blog, Raising Arrows by Amy Robert's. Amy is a mother to a large family and reflects over the births of her children and the necessity of her cesareans that can trigger many different emotions. We hope Amy's post validates the many mixed emotions that can come with cesareans including feelings of grief and loss sometimes. We know that everyone's choices, experiences, and reactions are so different but are hoping that this post resonates with those who need it.

Post was shared with permission from Amy Robert's.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

30 Days of ICAN: Day 4

On Day 4 of #CAM2015 we are featuring a healing HBAC birth.

Short Background From My 1st Birth (Cesearean)

My daughter was born via cesarean section September 1, 2011.  I was induced at 38 weeks due to pre-eclampsia/pregnancy induced hypertension.  I started the induction at a finger tip dilated, 30% effaced, and her head was floating and not engaged.  I was given Cytotec the evening of August 31st.  Then given Ambien which made me not remember anything that happened that night including being given more cytotec and vaginal exams.  When I finally woke up, I felt very violated when they told me what they did that night.  They started me on Pitocin in the morning.  I started contraction right away.  When I hit about 3 cm, they broke my water.  I got an epidural and laid in bed the entire day.  I was complete by around 6 pm but was given time to labor down because she was still so high.  I started pushing a couple hours later.  My epidural wore off.  I pushed for about 3 hours.  She would not go below 0 station.  Her heart rate was not recovering well either.  They made the decision for a cesarean section.  We went to the OR and they removed my epidural and gave me a spinal instead.  I had a reaction to the spinal and stopped breathing.  I had to be put under General Anesthesia.  Because of being put under general, I did not meet my daughter until she was about 2 hours old.  My daughter, Kaylee, was born at 11:30 pm.  6 pounds, 5 ounces, 20 inches long, and perfectly healthy. 

My Second Birth (HBAC)

On Monday, July 29th, I was 42w2d.  We were planning a homebirth after cesarean with 2 wonderful midwives.  Once we hit 42 weeks, we decided that we really needed to encourage baby that it was time for him to come meet his family.  We spent our morning doing a labor encourager with our midwives.  I went to see my chiropractor first thing in the morning, then went to get acupuncture.  I had done 4 rounds of acupuncture in the 2 weeks leading up to this day and I had seen my chiropractor weekly for my entire pregnancy.  After my morning round of acupuncture with moxibustion, I went home to meet my midwives.  We started the herbal labor encourager/induction.  It was a mixture of black cohosh, blue cohosh, and motherwort tinctures.  They tasted terrible but I was excited to know that this usually kick starts labor within 12-24 hours.  I took the herbs every 20-30 minutes for about 3 hours.  In between each of these, I bounced on my yoga ball, took a walk to the park, or walked stairs.  We checked baby’s heart rate the entire time and he handled the herbs wonderfully!  Midwives left and we were excited to know that I would probably be in labor within the next 24 hours!  This had worked well for my midwife so she was very confident this would work for me.  Needless to say, me and my baby like to be the first for everything!  24 hours went by and no sign of labor except the braxton hicks I had been having since 33 weeks.  Prior to all this we had tried every trick in the book to start labor.  Everything!  I was devastated that I was STILL pregnant after doing all of this.  

After talking with my midwife on Tuesday, we decided it was best to consult with my back up OB and do a bio physical profile.  We made an appointment for Wednesday, July 31st.  We started Wednesday morning off with my doula and my massage therapist coming over to my house bright and early in the morning.  We were bound and determined to make sure my body was ready for labor.  We did rebozo, side lying release, standing sacral release, hip dips, and some body work.  They both went home and Jon and I headed to Hudson to do our bio physical profile.  Dr. Hartung didn’t have appointments so we were seeing the ultrasound tech instead and Dr. Hartung would review the results after.  I was confident baby was doing well, especially after his 2 hour alien movement fest in my belly the night before!  It was like he was telling us not to worry and that he was fine.  The ultrasound tech did the BPP and everything was good, but my amniotic fluid was very low.  They look for 4 pockets of fluid.  They want to have 2 cm in at least one pocket and 5-25 cm total.  I never had more than 1.5 cm in a pocket and had 3 cm total.  The tech was concerned and immediately went to talk to Dr. Hartung’s nurse since he was on call at the hospital and not in the clinic yet.  When she came back, we were told that Dr. Hartung wanted to see us that day.  We were told to stay close to the hospital and they would call us soon to let us know when to come back.  I started crying because I could see our homebirth going out the window.  We went to lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, drove some bumpy roads, and just hung out together.  We finally got the call that Dr. Hartung did want to see us as soon as he got to clinic at 1:30.  We decided to also let him give me an exam so that we could see if I had any progress since Monday.  I was still 3-4 cm, 80% effaced, but his head was a little lower than before.  That was progress!  He said my body was very ready and we just needed to convince baby to come out!  He told us he was worried about my fluid levels, but we did not need to take immediate action.  He knew we were planning a homebirth and wanted us to have every opportunity for that to happen.  He said he wouldn’t feel comfortable with us going a week more, but a few days would be okay.  I explained to him that my number one goal was a healthy baby.  Number two a vaginal birth.  Number three a birth at home.  He fully respected that and wanted to help me achieve all of these goals.  We decided that we would do a follow up BPP on Friday morning at 8 am.  Dr. Hartung would do it himself.  If fluids dropped, we would induce that day or the next day.  If fluid levels stayed the same or went up, we would wait a couple more days and do the BPP again.  He suggested we try the herbal induction again to avoid needing the medical induction over the weekend.  Dr. Hartung was very encouraging and was really positive about wanting to support our plans for homebirth.  He even called our midwife after the appointment to fill her in on what he thought. 

I spoke with our midwife after the appointment.  Cried lots of tears not knowing what was going to happen with out birth plans.  We decided that we would try the herbal encourager again that night at 8:00.  Nickie and Kate came over and we got started with the herbs every 20 minutes.  I bounced on my yoga ball non stop the entire time in hopes to get things moving.  Around 9:00, I started getting a little crampy and a few waves here and there.  I had been peeing every 15-30 minutes from all the water I drank that day trying to increase my amniotic fluid.  By 10:00, waves had begun to get regular.  I lost my mucus plug and had my bloody show.  I texted my doula to let her know that labor had begun and waves were getting more intense.  I told her that we may have a baby that night or the next day and that the midwives were still at our house.  I asked her to notify our photographer as well.  Shortly after texting Lindsay, we decided to time the waves.  They were already 2 minutes apart and getting very intense.  I kept moving on my yoga ball for awhile.  Then asked to go take a shower.  I went upstairs and by the time I got up there, I could barely move through a wave.  I asked Jon to come help me.  I leaned on him during the waves while I was trying to move into the shower.  I kept going between waves on the toilet and waves leaning on Jon.  I finally got in the shower.  The water felt great but standing was a challenge.  I got out and got on the toilet again.  During all of this upstairs, I started getting vocal through the waves.  Lots of moaning to make it through them.  I have no idea how far apart they were, but they felt very close.  I told Jon that I needed them to set the pool up because I needed to get in it now.  By this time, my midwives were setting everything up for the birth.  I texted my doula a little before 11:00 to come now.  She asked if the midwives were there and all I said was Yes.  She asked if she should let he birth photographer know to come, and I said Yes.  That was the last I looked at my phone.  I took the top half of my clothes off and put on my nursing sleep bra that I planned to wear during the birth in the pool.  

My doula got to my house at about 11:45 and my photographer got there at about 12:00.  I was sitting on my yoga ball in our bedroom while everyone scrambled to get the birth pool set up.  I started feeling pushy around midnight.  I was begging for the pool to be set up.  My body started pushing without me trying at all.  The midwives were trying to get the pool filled fast.  The hose was not quick enough!  They brought up pots and pitchers of water from the kitchen to the nursery upstairs where we had the pool set up.  I kept begging to get in.  Shortly after, the pool was full and ready for me to get in.  

I took off my bottoms and climbed in the pool before another wave hit me.  The water felt amazing!  The only position I was comfortable in was kneeling and leaning over the edge of the pool.  Jon held my hand pretty much the entire time.  He was truly my rock through all of this.  My doula helped me with Hypnobabies affirmations, staying relaxed, and breathing my baby out.  My moaning got louder and the pressure waves more intense.  I can’t say it wasn’t painful, but I was able to keep my body relaxed and not tense up.  I thank Hypnobabies for being able to keep me calm and relaxed through this stage.  I spent awhile on my knees hanging over the edge letting my body push.  As baby moved down, I needed to move to open my pelvis.  I didn’t want to and I said that many times, but I did move.  I alternated between one knee down and the other knee up in a lunge and then the same thing on the other side.  It was very uncomfortable but its what baby and my body needed.  They also wanted me to sit up so gravity would help bring baby down.  This was incredibly hard to do.  I certainly tried my best to stay upright, but I couldn’t do it every wave.  I said many times “this baby needs to come out!”  I was getting close to crowning when they brought Jon a band with handles on it that he wrapped around his body and I held onto the handles to keep myself upright.  This is when the intense pushing began where I really gave it my all.  Shortly after, I felt the ring of fire.  I remember saying it burned and they said that was good and to take it easy and his head was almost out.  A couple pushes later and his head was out.  He had the cord around his neck so my midwife unwrapped the cord from his neck.  His shoulders were stuck and my midwife told me I had to push and get him out.  I pushed with all my might as she helped get his shoulders lose and out he came.  I remember hearing everyone tell me to reach down and pick up my baby.  I reached down and grabbed him into my arms and said “I did it!” about a million times!  Carter was born at 2:14 am.  His whole labor was 4 hours long!  He was 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 22.5 inches long.

Carter’s birth was absolutely perfect and everything I dreamed of.  It was the healing birth I needed and it brought a beautiful baby boy into this world!

30 Days of ICAN: Day 1

The month of April is Cesarean awareness month here in the United States. ICAN Twin Cities thought this would be a great month to spread ICAN awareness! We have received some awesome submissions of birth stories, pictures, and are looking forward to sharing these plus other ICAN resources with you each day during the month of April! 

For day one, we are sharing some important information on cesarean statistics in Minnesota. We are also listing some helpful links on where you can find more information about local birthing options,

VBAC and Cesarean Resources
Web Sites
  • ICAN’s “White Papers” are evidence-based resources on cesarean and
    VBAC related topics. 
  • A research based website on all things VBAC. Very comprehensive resource.
  • Cesarean rates by state.
  • (formerly )Research oriented, evidence-basedbirth information and the Maternity Center Association booklet: “What Every Pregnant WomanNeeds to Know About Cesarean Section.” This is an excellent resource to share with your doctoror midwife. We HIGHLY recommend this booklet!
  • “Kmom’s” wonderful site for women of all shapes and sizes. Checkout the FAQ’s on cesarean and VBAC, including information on VBAC after 2 or more cesareans.
  • “A woman-centered, evidence based resource…”
  • An Australian site dedicated to Cesarean issues, including VBAC
  • Wonderful site for homebirth information, including home VBAC
  • Information packed site on birth
  • The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) website. Checkout the free documents and downloads section.
Reading Material
  • Read Marsden Wagner’s “Choosing Cesarean Section” (2000) It’s a long but excellent breakdownof why “patient choice” cesarean is no choice at all.
  • “Silent Knife” by Lois Estner and Nancy Cohen and “Open Season” by Nancy Wainer-Cohen
  • “Journey Into Motherhood- Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth” by Sherri Minelli
  •  “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” and “Obstetric Myths VS. Research Realities” by Henci Goer.
  •  “Birth As An American Rite of Passage” by Robbie Davis-Floyd. (An eye opening look at our culture’s impact on birth practice in this country).
  • “The VBAC Companion” by Diana Korte (A good book for the basics on attempting VBAC).
  • “The Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Experience” by Lyn Baptisti Richards (a little hard to find but worth it).
  • “Birth Your Way” by Sheila Kitzinger
  • “Immaculate Deception II- Myth, Magic and Birth” by Suzanne Arms

There are many more wonderful web sites, books, articles and research out there

Finally, the ebook listed below gives an excellent overview of birthing options both inside and outside the hospitals in the Twin Cities. 

*Please note that some of the information is outdated because Hudson hospital does do VBAC again and Allina is offering waterbirth, though it is unavailable to VBAC moms. There is currently no hospital in the Twin Cities that allow VBAC waterbirths but many allow laboring in the water. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Beautiful VBAC Birth

Our guess date came and went.  I wasn’t surprised.  We went 10 days over with our first, so I was prepared to try to enjoy the wait.  I had been especially nesty all weekend- at one point I washed the insides of all of our trash cans.  Again. 

It was Tuesday night, and I was getting ready for bed thinking “well, it didn’t happen today.   Maybe tomorrow.”  But I laid awake, unable to sleep, until 1:30 am.  I started feeling crampy and having some mild contractions, so decided to take a bath.  I had been pestering my husband the last couple weeks with false labor pains and so didn’t feel the need to wake him up just yet.  I got into the tub and started concentrating on my contractions.  Wow.  They were getting pretty regular and strong.  So I started timing them and sure enough they were 45 seconds to a minute long and happening every three to five minutes.  I woke up my husband and he groggily helped me time contractions.  “Yep,” he said, “this is it!” 

I texted my doula and told her that it was happening!  For real this time!  We called my mother-in-law to come and watch our son.  Even though it was 3:00 in the morning, she answered partway through the first ring because she had been especially eager and anxious about this birth ever since I told the family that I was hoping for a VBAC this time…  

Our first birth ended in an emergency c- section.  I had labored naturally for 24 hours and stalled out at 9 ½ cm dilation.  My OB diagnosed me with cephalopelvic disproportion, and consequently our 7 lb, 14 oz baby was delivered via c- section.  And although I was completely in love with my perfectly healthy and happy newborn son, the surgery and recovery was quite a traumatic event for my husband and me.  We had a lot of unanswered questions after his birth.  And I lamented for months about what I could have done differently to avoid having the surgery that was so physically and emotionally painful. 

So when I became pregnant with my second, a floodgate of thoughts and emotions came up again.  I knew that things needed to be different this time.  But for some reason, I had a difficult time breaking up with my OB at first.  She wasn’t exactly pressuring me to have a repeat c- section, but she definitely wasn’t VBAC supportive.  She was labeling me as a “high risk” pregnancy because in her words I “wasn’t able to deliver my first, and he really wasn’t that big”.  She made me feel like such a failure!!  I got a second opinion from another OB at the same clinic, and she told me that I likely had a narrow pelvis and wasn’t the best candidate for a VBAC.  But that she would consider letting me do a TOLAC.   The whole thing just didn’t feel right.  So I researched.  And finally found a solution.  I instantly felt better when at 28 weeks I decided to leave the clinic and get onboard with a team of midwives in the twin cities.  They were so supportive of my hopes for an unmedicated birth and VBAC!  They just “got it”.  I loved their philosophy that childbirth is a natural, normal process.  Not a medical condition.  I had also done some emotional work with a psychotherapist and saw a prenatal chiropractor regularly.  I hired a doula.  We took a VBAC childbirth class.  I felt ready and prepared to have this baby.  Well, as ready as I’d ever be. 

Our plan was to labor at home until we were sure that we were in labor, then drive to mom’s house in the twin cities and labor there as long as possible until going to the hospital.  My mother-in-law arrived around 3:30 am and by then I was doubling over in pain with each contraction.  We told her that we were off to my mom’s house, and she seemed surprised that we weren’t going straight to the hospital.  I must have looked pretty miserable.  But again, in order to increase our chances of a successful VBAC we wanted to stay away from the hospital as long as safely possible.  On our way down to the cities, I called my midwife and was still able to form complete sentences and speak clearly.  She instructed us that she’d call back in two hours, but that we should of course call her if anything was alarming.  We listened to hypnobirthing on the way down.  Not sure if it helped, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. 

We arrived at my mom’s house around 5:00 am and I moaned and groaned in her jacuzzi tub for about an hour.  When the midwife called, my husband answered and held the phone up in the bathroom so that she could hear me.  The midwife could tell that it was time for me to head to the hospital and she said she’d head there too and get the room ready for us.  It made me feel so safe and secure to know that she would be available immediately upon our arrival.  My husband had also been texting and calling our doula and finally got a hold of her around 6:00 am.  She was on her way down as well but would be hitting rush hour traffic.  “No problem” I thought.  I still have a few hours to go, or so I thought… 

After a very uncomfortable ride to the hospital (“Turn on the heat!!  No- roll down all the windows!  Turn on the air conditioning!!  I think I’m going to puke!”) we got to the hospital around 6:15 am.  I had about five strong contractions just from the parking space to the front door of the building.  We checked in and took the elevator up to the birthing floor.   The poor security guard in the elevator had to put up with my pacing and groaning the whole ride up.  We were quickly escorted to the triage and my midwife was there, smiling at me.  What a good feeling!  We skipped the admission questionnaire and got right to a cervical check.  I was dilated to seven!  Hooray!

The contractions were so strong and frequent, I couldn’t catch my breath and I was swearing and roaring as we walked the hallway to my room.  I’m sure I looked and sounded pretty pitiful.  “What is your plan for managing pain?” the nurse asked me.  I was getting another contraction, so growled and hunched over the handrail and said “this”.  When we got to the room, she handed me an aromatherapy stick filled with lavender.  “To use for pain management” she said.  I wanted to jam the stick into her eye.  If I could have, I probably would have said something mean to her.  Luckily I was unable to talk through the pain.  So I held the stick to my nose.  And for just a split second the strong scent gave me just a tiny little break.  And it helped. 

It was about 6:30 am, and the contractions were constant.  My midwife was there with us most of the time, getting the room ready, hooking up my IV antibiotics, and coaching me through contractions.  She was so smiley and pleasant, and it made me feel so confident that everything was ok.  I was really really vocal with this labor, which surprised me.  I was snarling and growling and yelling.  My husband looked terrified and my doula wasn’t there yet.  Luckily our nurse had another great idea.  Her and my husband helped me into the shower.  I laid my chest on an exercise ball, knees on the floor, hands gripping the legs of a step stool, and my husband sprayed water on my back while the nurse held the monitor on my belly.  Almost instantly, I started to feel “pushy”.  I had never felt the sensation with my first, and I was excited that I had made it to this stage.  It felt good to finally feel a productive push at the end of the fast and furious contractions that were overtaking me. 

My doula arrived at about 8:30 am.  I was so relieved to see her.  I laid on the bed with my husband at my side, the nurse holding the monitor on my belly, and my doula and midwife by my feet.  I was dilaIated to 9.  I was pretty tense, crouched in the fetal position.  My doula tried massaging my back but she noticed right away that I wasn’t into it.  I felt overly sensitive to touch.  I was even pushing my husband’s hand away. 

My midwife helped me open my legs to open my pelvis and “POP!” my water broke pretty dramatically.  After that the contractions were nonstop.   I was grunting and starting to push, even though I wasn’t quite dilated to 10 yet.  For an instant the pain was so sharp that I thought, “I hope that’s not my uterus rupturing”.  I knew this was something that I was supposed to be concerned about, but funny thing was that I just knew that it wasn’t going to happen. 

Then the antibiotics were stopped.  I pushed and pushed for about 20 minutes.  My doula suggested that I squat and hold the headrest to further open up my pelvis.  I instantly felt the baby start to move down and out of me.  But apparently baby’s heart rate was dropping during contractions and a bunch of people came into the room and sort of watched from afar.  It felt strange to have an audience, but I was pretty oblivious to it all until my midwife very calmly told me that they were there to monitor the baby’s heart rate- that it was dipping a little bit with each push, but that I should just keep doing what I was doing but that I’d have to lay down again.  That I was doing great.  The room was dark and quiet, so surprisingly I barely even noticed that they were there because “ouch!” there’s the ring of fire that everyone talks about! 

I pushed for another twenty minutes but still no baby.  My husband was in charge of putting the oxygen mask on me between pushes to get more oxygen to baby.  It was his only job and he kept forgetting to do it.  I could tell that he was so nervous and excited.  At this point I was frustrated and asking what to do and if I was doing it right and saying that I don’t think I can do this.  My doula and midwife told me to try to push deeper, to remain quiet, and push from within.  That I could do this.  I tried a few more times, but baby wasn’t coming. 

For just a split second I thought that I was failing again and baby was going to have to get cut out of me.   But that thought quickly left me because everyone in the room was so calm and confident, I was sure that everything was going ok.  My midwife was smiling at me and said, “You need to get this baby out.  We need you to get it out on the next push, ok?”  I pushed hard.  Still no baby.

Apparently she did an episiotomy.  I didn’t even feel the cut. 

Then I pushed again. 

I felt a gush and a release. 

I heard my midwife ask me if I wanted to catch my baby. 

I was dumbfounded, but instinctively reached down and grabbed my warm little baby girl. 

Instantly the pain was gone and instead I just swelled up with love and pride. 

It worked!  It happened!  We did it!  Our baby girl was perfect!!!

I was hooked up to pitocin and one more push and the placenta was out.  I had some 3rd degree tearing and so was stitched up by a surgeon.  But I didn’t even notice or care.  I felt like superwoman and just held my baby and smiled.  I don’t even think I cried.  I was just too happy!!  Baby nursed like a champ and I was up and walking around just a couple hours after her birth.  It was such a wonderful experience and I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity for my natural, vaginal birth.  And although it didn’t erase the painful memories of my son’s birth, it did give me some peace of mind and spirit to be able to do what I knew I was meant to do. 

Tallulah Mary was born on September 24th, 2014 at 9:42 am.  She came in at 7 pounds, 12.5 ounces and 19.5 inches. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Healing VBAC Birth

My first birth experience was pretty traumatic. I had gone into the experience with some knowledge and a lot of trust in my doctor. I ended up with a failed induction, an epidural, a c-section in which my uterine artery was severed, a life-threatening blood loss, the loss of an ovary, and a long, rough recovery full of pain and breastfeeding trouble.
My sadness, guilt, anger, and sheer, bone-deep disappointment about my first birth proved to be something positive for me. I realized that any woman who is not trained in natural birth could wind up having the experience that I had. It angered and motivated me. I became a doula. I was determined to help other families avoid the same feelings about their birth.
So, when I was fortunate enough to become pregnant again, I was a little defensive about how I was going to birth. I was going to go into labor on my own. I was going to avoid pain medication. I was going to push this baby out, dammit.
I switched providers, going from OB to midwife care. I hired a fantastic doula. I read everything about VBACs. I wanted that VBAC more than I think I've ever wanted anything, other than a healthy baby.
During a consult with an OB at 36 weeks, he informed me that I needed to have a c-section on the books, and he wouldn't want me to wait longer than 41 weeks. My heart hurt. But I squared my shoulders and said that I wasn't comfortable with that, and that it would be discouraging to have something on the books. He said that it was likely that I'd go into labor on my own, and that I didn't have to do anything.
I didn't go into labor by 41 weeks. I tried everything. EVERYTHING. Nothing worked. I got more pressure to schedule my c-section. My midwives hugged me, checked me, reassured me. But they didn't feel like waiting past 42 weeks was in my baby's best interest. Finally, 9 days past my due date, exhausted, anxious, and feeling discouraged I sat down and told my baby, "No one is going to decide when your birthday will be except you. I'm your mom and it's my job to let you do this."
On my tenth day past my due date, I woke up at 3 AM with different contractions. I had regular, strong contractions every 10 minutes all that day, then went to bed at 10PM. I woke up at 1 AM with very strong contractions. I labored in bed without waking my husband until 4:30AM, then called my parents, who were coming to watch my toddler, and my midwife to tell her I would be coming in that morning.
We arrived at the hospital at 7:30AM at 4 cm. The nurse and midwife were both a little skittish around me and informed me that they had seen some problems with VBACs lately, and that they'd probably be "a little jumpy." Neither of them were warm or supportive.
When they left the room, I began to cry and told my husband, "I'm having another c-section. I can just feel it." But then, minutes later, my amazing doula arrived. She was like a breath of fresh air. When the nurse began to tether me to the monitor and the IV, Emily spoke up with me to say we needed to get me walking. Her cool hands and cool head helped me through the contractions in the beginning, and her support never let up, even when I labored intensely for 14 hours and got stuck at 8 cm. The pain was bearable, but I had the overwhelming urge to push and couldn't stop bearing down. I was having contractions that lasted well over 2 minutes and were less than a minute apart. The midwife suggested I have an epidural to help me relax. I did, but the level was left low so I could still feel a lot of pressure.
Eventually, I learned my baby was OP, and that his heart rate wasn't picking up as well as they'd like after contractions. The doctors and midwife were concerned that I wouldn't be able to push him out quickly enough. A very gentle doctor discussed using a vacuum or foreceps because he was worried about my baby's heart rate. He said that he was concerned enough about the baby to suggest another c-section but thought we could try to avoid it.
In the end, it was determined that my pushing was strong enough to try the vacuum. He said I might still push for up to 20 minutes, but I only needed one contraction and one push. He was born, safe and healthy, all 9 lbs 4 oz, and put right on my chest. He nursed immediately and has pretty much never stopped!
I was so glad that I was assertive about my birth, and so fortunate to have a lot of support during my birth. I hope to be that for many women in the future!

Monday, November 3, 2014

A VBAC Birth

The day I was 39 weeks pregnant, I was home with our 2 year old son Cameron and around 11am I lost my mucus plug. I called my husband at work and let him know, but figured it could still be a few more days or so (although with our son I went into labor hours after losing my plug). After I put Cam down for nap I tried to nap myself but was having “cramps.” They definitely didn’t feel like contractions, just crampy. This went on for 2 or 3 hours and then I called and told Dan he better bring his work stuff home for the weekend just in case this was real labor. We went out dinner around 5pm and by then I was tensing up with these “cramps” and we were starting to think they were contractions, but they were very irregular and not getting stronger. We went home and put Cam to bed and then I proceeded to go on my nightly hour long walk with my neighbor. During the walk the “cramps” completely stopped, so I figured it must have been just false labor. When I got home around 8pm they picked up again and I started timing them. They were all over the board, 5 minutes apart, 13 minutes apart, and then 3 minutes apart. Finally they spaced out to over 10 minutes apart and I decided to try to go to sleep around10:30pm. I was feeling a bit discouraged that it was just false labor. I no sooner got in bed and pulled the covers up, and they started coming fast and hard. I started timing them again and they were 2 minutes apart, lasting 45 seconds. I timed them for 10 minutes and then went downstairs and told Dan they were fast and furious now. He was in the middle of a fantasy football draft at the time and I think wasn’t really convinced this was happening. I called the hospital and the maternity nurse said I should get to the hospital within an hour since I was a VBAC patient and they were so close together. I called my parents and they got out of bed and began the 40 minute drive down. During this time, I was lying over an exercise ball and had to breathe through every contraction. I was starting to panic a little because my OB told me that since I was a VBAC patient I needed to be properly monitored during labor for signs of uterine rupture. We also weren’t fully packed, so Dan was running around throwing stuff into bags and drafting fantasy players in between (who says men can’t multitask?J)!  About 30 minutes went by and we both started to feel like things were progressing too quickly and we could not wait for my parents to arrive. We called my neighbor to come over and we hit the road.

We got to the hospital shortly after midnight and were admitted right away. I figured I would be dilated to 7-8 cm with my contractions as close together as they were, but unfortunately, I got checked and I was only 3-4cm! I was so disappointed! However, I was in so much pain and knew it could be a long haul (27 hours with our son), I called for the epidural right away. Which, I am very glad I did, because 2 hours later I was still waiting for it. I stood at the side of my bed and breathed through every contraction, while getting more and more upset that anesthesia was still not there to give me some relief. Our amazing doula Alison arrived during this time and was such a welcome sight! She proceeded to apply counter pressure on my back and talk me through the contractions.  I also threw up three times, during the wait, which only added to the fun. Finally around2am, I got my epidural. Sweet relief! The unfortunate part was that it only lasted a couple hours. During those hours, Dan was able to catch a short cat nap and I was supposed to nap, but my blood pressure cuff was going off every 5 minutes, so that wasn’t happening. Around 3am, I was checked and was 6cm dilated and the baby’s head was ENGAGED! I was elated! This never happened with our son, who was a CS due to “failure to descend.” I was finally starting to feel like, maybe, just maybe, this would actually happen for me!

 During this time, the nurses thought that putting one of my legs up on a peanut ball (a huge peanut-shaped exercise ball) might help baby to descend further. So I laid like that for several hours. A couple hours later, I started feeling the contractions again, not just pressure, but actual pain. I had to breathe through them again. Anesthesia was called and gave me a bolus in my epidural line, but it just numbed it for a bit longer, didn’t ever take the pain away again. At that point, my only choice was to remove the epidural and put in a new one, which has the possibility of nerve damage. I opted out of that and was on my own to get through the pain. It was now about 5:30am and I was 8cm dilated. The decision was made to break my water the next time I was checked in order to get things moving.  I hung out until 6:30am and they broke my water. Shortly after that I started feeling like I had to have a bowel movement and they said that was good news. I was checked around 7am and they said I was “almost” a 10 and that I could push if I wanted. I decided to wait until I was a complete 10 and that lip of cervix was gone. At 7:45am I started pushing. After 10 minutes or so, I started feeling very discouraged. I felt like nothing was happening and kept asking the nurses “where is the doctor?” They said they wouldn’t call the doctor until I was only a few pushes away, so then I began to obsess over that. After every contraction I would say (or yellJ) “The doctor isn’t here, I am not even close!!!!” Thank goodness for our doula, she kept telling me “one contraction at a time, stop worrying about the doctor.” My husband, bless his heart, just stood next to me, and held my sweaty hand. As it got on after 8am, I started to freak out a bit that I was going to have to push for 3 hours like I did with my son and started to really have a panic attack of sorts. I was so exhausted, hungry and dehydrated after not having any water or even ice chips.  My blood pressure went up and the nurses and my doula had to really talk me through each contraction. They were coming so close together and I was doing 4 pushes each, so I was exhausted.  Finally, the sweetest thing happened, the DOCTOR WALKED IN! I could have kissed him! I was close! I was going to actually push this baby out! He watched me push through a few contractions and I said “put your hands up there and GET IT OUT!” He calmly asked the nurse to set up the vacuum. Thank GOODNESS, I couldn’t have been happier, even though I know there are risks with the vacuum, I needed that baby out in a bad way.

After several contractions with the vacuum, at 8:21am on August 30th, 2014, our sweet baby was born. The doctor told Dan to “call the gender” and he was crying and there was so much blood/fluid he exclaimed “IT’S A BOY!” and the nurses quickly said “no no, look again” and he said “Oh, it’s a GIRL!”  He said all he say was two of something and though it must have been testicles! We laugh about it still! We were very surprised, as we had a “feeling” it was another boy, but chose not to have the gender revealed during the pregnancy. Dan got to cut the cord and they put Lauren Rae up on my chest and she immediately fell asleep! She laid content and sleeping on my chest for 25 minutes before I reluctantly gave her up so my husband could hold her. Even though my doctor did a slight episiotomy, I still tore from front to back and was in stirrups for 45 minutes getting stitched up. A very unpleasant experience if I do say so myself. However, I got to hold my sweet baby girl for most of it, which was like nothing I could have ever imagined. After not getting to see our son until hours after the delivery, this was such an amazing blessing.  We delayed weighing and bathing, but later on found out she was 7lbs 15oz and 20 inches long. Ten fingers, ten toes, a complete miracle. Our doula, Alison, stayed and helped me get breastfeeding going and took lots and lots of pictures for us. I truly do not think I could have done it with her. She was a constant encouragement to me and to my husband. She never let us think about a C-section and she was able to help me contain me fear when it was creeping in. When Lauren was born, we were all crying, even Alison. She was so invested in the birth of our child, even after only knowing us for 8 hours. I still have to pinch myself when I think how I worked so long and hard toward a VBAC and it actually happened! I was able to do it! I think I always thought I would try, but would probably have another C-section.  I never thought it could go as quickly as smoothly as it did. We are truly blessed.