Wise Words from Ina May {Remember Your Natural Instincts}

 This past Sunday I had the pleasure to attend the Your Natural Baby Fair here in San Diego. Imagine a room filled with women and men passionate about natural childbirth and child-rearing. It was amazing. I was inundated with information and excited to take home what I learned. 

One of the best parts about the fair was listening to Ina May Gaskin, author of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and her latest book Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta. Ina May played a large role in my decision to persue natural childbirth for both of my babies. And even though I received pitocin and an epidural with my son I still felt empowered and informed about what was going on throughout the entire pregnancy and birth.

I have to thank my best friend, Miranda, for introducing me to the ideas behind natural childbirth and med-free labors. She is a doula and helped me through the delivery of my first. She’s also inspired me to become a doula myself. And while I haven’t started training yet I now have the local resources (and a new mentor!) to move forward with this goal.

After listening to Ina May I’m even more excited about this next journey in my life. One thing that Ina May said struck me. Her advice to new mothers and fathers to calm their newborn is, “If your newborn is in distress and crying just lick their head to calm them.” Simple as that. A little licking and you’re set! And before you say something about this being totally gross… that baby just came from the most sterile environment available.

Natural Instincts of Humans

You see, Ina May is all about following your natural instincts. Almost to the sense that you go primal. She told us of the story of a mom who had just gone through a c-section. Her baby was in hysterics and as the mother tried to get the baby to latch for the first time she became stressed as well.

Daddy came to the rescue though. He grabbed the baby and did what came naturally. He brought the baby’s soft little head up to his and nuzzled and licked the baby. After a few moments the baby calmed. Enough to latch perfectly to the mother. Ina May was very moved by the event and after hearing her re-tell the story so was I.

Sphincter Law

Ina May also mentioned something she calls the Sphincter Law. Basically, this law means that women go into labor and give birth more easily when the following criteria are met:

  • Privacy and intimacy are created
  • Time limits are removed
  • Demands are not made to ‘urinate now!’, ‘push!’, or ‘poop!’
  • Praise is given by another person in the proximity of the sphincter’s owner. This other person might be the mother of toddler or a midwife assisting a woman giving birth
  • Create an environment where the person is able to laugh, allowing the sphincter to open naturally
  • When a person’s sphincter is in the process of opening, it may suddenly close if that person becomes frightened, upset, embarrassed, or self-conscious. This is because high levels of adrenaline in the bloodstream do not favor (sometimes they actually prevent) the opening of the sphincters
  • The state of relaxation of the mouth and jaw is directly correlated to the ability of the cervix, the vagina, and the anus to open to full capacity. A relaxed and open mouth favors a more open vagina and cervix.

If medical professionals learn better how the sphincter works, we will more than likely see a decrease in caesarian sections. To read more about the Sphincter Law, check out Ina May’s article on the subject. And if you’re a pregnant woman, see if your OB or midwife are familiar with it as well. Just having this knowledge at hand is a powerful tool.

Natural Instincts of Animals

After speaking about our primal instincts and listening to Sphincter Law, Ina May also mentioned two videos we should check out on YouTube. The first was a video of a mother elephant resuscitating her newborn after it was born not breathing. What she did after following her own instincts is just amazing to watch.

She also suggested that we watch the birth of a chimp at the Attica zoo where the birthing mother’s mom (the baby’s grandma) acted as her doula. The grandmother proudly assisted her daughter and provided the moral support she needed to get through the birth.

These two videos are amazing examples of how uneducated wild animals with no medical degrees turned to their own natural instincts to take care of their young. And it only inspires me more to promote natural childbirth and the importance of knowing what our bodies are built for.

I cannot wait to learn more about natural childbirth as I start my journey to becoming a doula!

Have you read any of Ina May’s work? Are you interested in natural childbirth? 

Best Start Birth Center San Diego {Review}

When I learned that I was pregnant for the second time I knew I wanted to pursue other options when it came to where I gave birth. The experience I had with my son was not my ideal situation and I wanted to make sure that I did everything possible to make sure I would receive the birth I dreamed about. Yes, I know that sounds crazy but I just knew I could give birth naturally with no intervention and wanted those around me at that time to believe so too.

I went in search of a birthing center that not only allowed for a natural birth but was also covered by my insurance. And that’s when I learned about Best Start Birth Center San Diego Best Start is the only state-licensed, nationally accredited, free-standing birth center in Southern California. That means they are not part of a hospital or HMO. They are a private practice owned and operated by midwives. They have physicians associated with the practice whom we consult with and refer clients to as needed, but they are not here for deliveries — it is the midwives who do the deliveries. Best Start is also the only state-licensed, nationally accredited facility in San Diego offering Water-birth.

Best Start Birth Center

When I went in for my first appointment I was immediately set at ease. I received a tour of the facilities, met a few of the midwives there that day and got to know the reception staff and nurses. I would come to find out that they are a tight knit group who work very well with each other. Every time I called in or had a question or concern at an appointment I was quickly helped and given great information and answers. I never felt like my concerns weren’t important nor did I think that anyone was hurrying me up or brushing me off. I was important and they cared as much about my pregnancy as I did. My best interest was their concern.

Each time I went in for a prenatal appointment I would see a different midwife. They do this so that you get to know each midwife at the practice. The midwives rotate who is on call so when you go into labor you don’t know who’s on call until you call in. As luck would have it the only midwife I didn’t get to meet due to schedule conflicts (I always had to make my appointments for certain dates and some midwives were off on those dates) was the midwife who would deliver my daughter.

But that wouldn’t matter. From the first few moments I met Brita on the day I came in to deliver my daughter I knew things were going to be ok. Throughout the birth both Brita and her birth assistant were reassuring, calm and empowering. I wasn’t sure if I could get through my natural birth without my trusty doula and best friend by my side (like at my son’s birth) but with these two women I knew I could. Every step of the way they were there to guide me. They offered me different suggestions and positions and never once said I had to do anything. They let me decide what I felt most comfortable with and when I needed direction the most they helped me out.

Being placed in mommy's arms 5

As soon as my daughter came into the world I knew I had made the right decision in going with Best Start Birth Center. She was immediately placed in my arms and was allowed to stay with me for a bit. Then she was taken to be measured and weighed while I delivered the placenta. I then tried to get her to latch on before handing her over to Daddy while they sutured me up (yup… I tore!). The whole time we were there after giving birth she was in the room with us either in my arms or in Daddy’s arms. My son came to visit two hours later with my mother-in-law with lunch in tow and four hours after that we were headed home.

Coming home from the birthing center

Two days after I gave birth a nurse came to my home to check on me and the baby. She offered help with breastfeeding and gave me great suggestions for different foods to eat, teas to drink and how to overall care for myself while caring for a new baby. At my 6 week check up I was greeted by congratulations and smiles while everyone oohed and aahed at my new daughter. I felt as if I had come full circle from the first time I visited the birthing center seeing the new mom next to me waiting for her 6 week appointment. If I decide to get pregnant again I will more than likely be turning to Best Start to deliver my third child.

To read my full birth story go here. And if you are considering a birthing center for the birth of your child and have more questions please feel free to contact me at any time!

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