Behind the Blog

As things are starting to take off for Bump, Birth, and Baby I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself a little more to my readers and potential clients.

About Me:

Hi I’m Kelsey Schwartz. I am a wife, mother, birth advocate, entrepreneur, Christian, and native Texan. My husband Thomas and I live in Plano with our beautiful daughter Olivia Michele (born 9/23/11) and our dog Mia. I am currently a Bradley Method® instructor, doula, and receptionist at Allen Birthing Center. Photography has been a long time hobby of mine and I hope to return to taking photos soon (birth photographer perhaps?). I love all the little things in life like how wonderful Ozarka Water tastes, Wheel of Fortune, and the sight of a pink sunset. I hope to become an asset in the community through my work and I want to know that I have made a difference, whether it’s in just one person’s life or the world 🙂

The loves of my life 🙂 Thomas and Olivia

My Journey to Natural Childbirth:

After spending 2 years working for a holistic chiropractor I had become very natural minded and cautious about modern medicine (amongst other things). So when I found out I was pregnant in 2011 I knew right away I wanted a drug-free birth no matter how painful it would be. I took a tour at Allen Birthing Center and was hooked. I signed on for care in February and throughout the spring and summer was amazed at how much I was learning about out of hospital births. The midwives recommended a birth class taught at their center so I signed up without asking questions. Turned out the series was called The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth®, our instructor was wonderful and I once again was in awe at how much I did not know. I found out that not only was a drug-free birth best for my baby but was also beneficial for me and would not necessarily be unbearably painful.

About half way through summer my current employer decided that my pregnancy did not work into their business plan and things started going downhill. I unexpectedly turned in my 2 weeks notice at 6 months pregnant and decided to redirect my life. I spent hours trying to figure out “where to go from here” and the next Sunday at birth class it hit me! This class had changed my life and we weren’t even done with the course. I looked into getting certified and found out you had to have a natural birth experience to apply so all I could do was wait. Finally at 41 weeks and 4 days, after 42 hours of labor, my little girl arrived (read my birth story here). It was life changing to say the least and after a couple weeks of getting settled into life with a newborn I registered for the Bradley® program. I spent the first half of 2012 teaching my provisional classes, completing evaluations, reading, reading, reading, and completing my final exam.

I now offer clients care from pregnancy to parenthood by being available as a childbirth teacher, a labor doula, a postpartum doula, and a breastfeeding educator. My new life goal is to help as many unborn babies and their families as possible.

Kelsey Schwartz

What is a birth plan?

I spend a lot of time looking for articles to share, but find that a lot of them are very medical minded and/or one sided. I am not anti-medicine I just belive a normal healthy birth is not the place for standard medical procedures. I have finally found an article that explains the different aspects of birth plans in a way that is very similar to what we teach in Bradley® birth classes. It states a variety of options available and leaves it up to the consumer, YOU, to choose what fits your life style best.

This article focuses on choices, education, and flexibility. I love that it talks about home, hospital, and birth centers as options for birth places and stresses the importance of knowing why you want what you say you want.

Of course there is much more information on each topic that you should research than is contained in this one article but this a great place to start when trying to come up with your birth plan!

In the happy haze of early pregnancy, you’re probably already thinking of baby names and planning to shop for baby clothes. The reality of labor and birth may seem extremely far off — which makes this the perfect time to start planning for the arrival of your baby by creating a birth plan that details your wishes.

What’s a Birth Plan?

The term birth plan can actually be misleading — it’s less an exact plan than a list of preferences. In fact, the goal of a birth plan isn’t for you and your partner to determine exactly how the birth of your child will occur — because labor involves so many variables, you can’t predict exactly what will happen. A birth plan does, however, help you to realize what’s most important to you in the birth of your baby.

While completing a birth plan, you’ll be learning about, exploring, and understanding your labor and birthing options well before the birth of your child. Not only will this improve your communication with the people who’ll be helping during your delivery, it also means you won’t have to explain your preferences right at the moment when you’re least in the mood for conversation — during labor itself.

A birth plan isn’t a binding agreement — it’s just a guideline. Your doctor or health care provider may know, from having seen you throughout the pregnancy, what you do and don’t want. Also, if you go into labor when there’s an on-call doctor who you don’t know well, a well thought-out birth plan can help you communicate your goals and wishes to the people helping you with the labor and delivery.

What Questions Does a Birth Plan Answer?

A birth plan typically covers three major areas:

1. What are your wishes during a normal labor and delivery?

These range from how you want to handle pain relief to enemas and fetal monitoring. Think about the environment in which you want to have your baby, who you want to have there, and what birthing positions you plan to use.

2. How are you hoping for your baby to be treated immediately after and for the first few days after birth?

Do you want the baby’s cord to be cut by your partner? If possible, do you want your baby placed on your stomach immediately after birth? Do you want to feed the baby immediately? Will you breastfeed or bottle-feed? Where will the baby sleep — next to you or in the nursery? Hospitals have widely varying policies for the care of newborns — if you choose to have your baby in a hospital, you’ll want to know what these are and how they match what you’re looking for.

3. What do you want to happen in the case of unexpected events?

No one wants to think about something going wrong, but if it does, it’s better to have thought about your options in advance. Since some women need cesarean sections (C-sections), your birth plan should probably cover your wishes in the event that your labor takes an unexpected turn. You might also want to think about other possible complications, such as premature birth.

Factors to Consider

Before you make decisions about each of your birthing options, you’ll want to talk with your health care provider and tour the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby.

You may find that your obstetrician, nurse-midwife, or the facility where they admit patients already has birth-plan forms that you can fill out. If this is the case, you can use the form as a guideline for asking questions about how women in their care are routinely treated. If their responses are not what you’re hoping for, you might want to look for a health provider or facility that better matches your goals.

And it’s important to be flexible — if you know one aspect of your birthing plan won’t be met, be sure to weigh that aspect against your other wishes. If your options are limited because of insurance, cost, or geography, focus on one or two areas that are really important to you. In the areas where your thinking doesn’t agree with that of your doctor or nurse-midwife, ask why he or she usually does things a certain way and listen to the answers before you make up your mind. There may be important reasons why a doctor believes some birth options are better than others.

Finally, you should find out if there are things about your pregnancy that might prevent certain choices. For example, if your pregnancy is considered high risk because of your age, health, or problems during previous pregnancies, your health care provider may advise against some of your birthing wishes. You’ll want to discuss, and consider, this information when thinking about your options.

What Are Your Birthing Options?

In creating your plan, you’re likely to have choices in the following areas:

Where to have the baby. Most women still give birth in the hospital. However, most are no longer confined to a cold, sterile maternity ward. Find out if your hospital practices family-centered care. This usually means the patient rooms will have a door, furnishings, a private bathroom, and enough space to accommodate a family, including the baby’s crib and supplies.

Additionally, many hospitals now offer birthing rooms that allow a woman to stay in the same bed for labor, delivery, and sometimes, postpartum care (care after the birth). These rooms are fully equipped for uncomplicated deliveries. They’re often attractive and have gentle lighting.

But some women believe that the most comfortable environment is their own home. Advocates of home birth believe that labor and delivery can and should occur at home, but they also stress that a certified nurse-midwife or doctor should attend the birth. An important thing to remember about home birth is that if something goes wrong, you don’t have the amenities and technology of a hospital. It can take a while to get to the hospital, and during a complicated birth those minutes can be invaluable.

For women with low-risk pregnancies who want something in between the hospital and home, birthing centers are a good option. These provide a more homey, relaxed environment with some of the medical amenities of a hospital. Some birthing centers are associated with hospitals and can transfer patients if necessary.

Who will assist at the birth. Most women choose an obstetrician (OB/GYN), a specialist who’s trained to handle pregnancies (including those with complications), labor, and delivery. If your pregnancy is considered high risk, you may be referred to an obstetrician who subspecializes in maternal-fetal medicine. These doctors have specialized training to care for pregnant women with medical conditions or complications, as well as their fetuses.

Another medical choice is a family practitioner who has had training and has maintained expertise in managing non-high-risk pregnancies and deliveries. In some areas of the United States, especially rural areas where obstetricians are less available, family practitioners handle most of the deliveries. As your family doctor, a family practitioner can continue to treat both you and your baby after birth.

And doctors aren’t the only health care providers a pregnant woman can choose to deliver her baby. You might decide that you want your delivery to be performed by a certified nurse-midwife, a health professional who’s medically trained and licensed to handle low-risk births and whose philosophy emphasizes educating expectant parents about the natural aspects of childbirth.

Increasing numbers of women are choosing to have a doula, or birth assistant, present in addition to the medical personnel. This is someone who’s trained in childbirth and is there to provide support to the mother. The doula can meet with the mother before the birth and can help communicate her wishes to the medical staff, should it be necessary.

Your birth plan can also indicate who else you’d like to have with you before, during, and immediately after the birth. In a routine birth, this may be your partner, your other children, a friend, or other family member. You can also make it clear at what points you want no one to be there but your partner.

Atmosphere during labor and delivery. Many hospitals and birthing centers now allow women to make some choices about the atmosphere in which they give birth. Do you want music and low lighting? How about the freedom to walk around during labor? Is a hot tub something you’d like access to? If possible, would you like to eat or drink during labor? You might be able to request things that may make you the most comfortable — from what clothes you’ll wear to whether you’ll have a VCR or DVD player in your room.

Procedures during labor. Hospitals used to perform the same procedures on all women in labor, but many now show increased flexibility in how they handle their patients. Some examples include:

  • enemas.Used to clean out the bowels, enemas used to be routinely administered when women were admitted. Now, you may choose to give yourself an enema or to skip it entirely.
  • induction of labor.At times, labor may need to be induced or sped up for medical reasons. But sometimes, practitioners will give women the option of getting some help to move things along, or giving labor a little more time to progress on its own.  
  • shaving the pubic area. Once routine, shaving is no longer done unless a woman requests it.

Other procedures that you can include in your birth plan are requests about fetal monitoring, extra birthing equipment you’d like in the room, and how often you have internal exams during labor.

Pain management. This is important for most women and is certainly something you have a lot of control over. It’s also something you’ll want to discuss carefully with your health care provider. Some women change their minds about pain relief during labor only to discover that they’re too far along in their labor to use certain methods, such as an epidural. You’ll also want to be aware of the alternative forms of pain relief, including massage, relaxation, breathing, and hot tubs. Know your options and make your wishes known to your health provider.

Position during delivery. You can try a variety of positions during labor, including the classic semi-recline with the feet in stirrups that you’ve seen in the movies. Other choices include lying on your side, squatting, standing, or simply using whatever stance feels right at the time.

Episiotomies. When necessary, doctors perform episiotomies (when the perineum — the area of skin between the vagina and the anus — is partially cut to ease the delivery). You may have one if you risk tearing or in the case of a medical emergency, but if there is an option, you can discuss your preference with your provider.

Assisted birth. If the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal, an assisted birth (i.e., using forceps or vacuum extraction) may be necessary.

Cesarean section (C-section). You might not want to think about this, but if you have to have a cesarean, you’ll need to consider a few things. Do you want your partner to be present, if possible? If you have a choice, would you like to be conscious or unconscious? What about viewing the birth — do you want to see the baby coming out?

Post-birth. Decisions to be made about the time immediately after birth include:

  • Would your partner like to cut the umbilical cord?
  • Does your partner want to hold the baby when the baby emerges?
  • Do you want immediate contact with the baby, or would you like the baby to be cleaned off first?
  • How would you like to handle the delivery of the placenta? Would you like to keep the placenta?
  • Do you want to feed the baby right away?

Communicating Your Wishes

Birth plans are relatively new inventions, and your doctor or nurse-midwife may not be completely comfortable with them. For this reason, make sure you communicate clearly that you intend to create a birth plan.

Give your health care provider your reasons for doing so — not because you don’t trust him or her, but to help ensure cooperation and to cover the possibilities if something should go wrong. If your caregiver seems offended or is resistant to the idea of a birth plan, you might want to reconsider whether this is the right caregiver for you.

Also, think about the language of your plan. You can use many online resources to create one or you can make one yourself. Here are some tips:

  • Make your birth plan read like a list of requests or best-case scenarios, not like a set of demands. Phrases such as “I would prefer” and “if medically necessary” will help your health care provider and caregivers know that you understand that they might have to alter the plan.
  • Think about the other personnel who’ll be using it — hospital staffers might feel more comfortable if you call it your “birth preferences” rather than your “birth plan,” which could seem as though you’re trying to tell them how to do their jobs.
  • Try to be positive (“we hope to”) as opposed to negative (“under no circumstances”).

Once you’ve made your birth plan, schedule a time to go over it with your doctor or nurse-midwife. Find out and discuss where you agree or disagree. During your pregnancy, review the birth plan with your partner periodically to make sure that it’s still in line with both of your wishes.

Strive to keep the plan as simple as possible — preferably less than two pages — and list them in order of importance. Focusing on your priorities will help ensure that the most important of your wishes are met.

You may also want to make several copies of the plan: one for you, one for your chart, one for your doctor or nurse-midwife, and one for your birthing coach or partner. And bringing a few extra copies in your labor bag is a good idea, especially if your doctor ends up not being on call when your baby is born.

Although you might not be able to control everything that happens to you during your baby’s birth, you can play a role in the decisions that are made about your body and your baby. A well thought-out birth plan can help you to do that.

http://health.msn.com/kids-health/birth-plans

A Success, A Faliure, and An Angry Rant

Success

This past weekend I held my 3rd Bradley® Class for my provisional teaching. I’m starting to feel so much more at ease and confident in what I’m teaching. I can tell once I’m done with my first series and really get things going, this will be an amazing career. I love sharing my experience and knowledge and can’t wait until my first couples have their babies.

Thomas and the rest of my family are so supportive of my dream to make Bump, Birth, and Baby and my birth classes a successful business that will help hundreds and hopefully thousands of families and unborn babies. I can’t ask for anything more 🙂 I know they will do anything in their power to help me turn this vision into a reality.

Failure

There are bound to be bumps in the road of every journey. My first bump came this past Saturday when absolutely no one showed up to my first moms meet-up. Between people getting sick, family emergencies, and scheduling conflicts everyone who RSVP’d had to cancel. Yes it wasn’t the result I had hoped for but things happen and I just have to move on. I’m not giving up and am working on the plans for April’s Meet Up! On the plus side, while waiting to see if anyone would show up, Olivia and I got some quality time in the sun on a beautiful morning. We sat at a table playing with her Elmo Rattle, I got a tasty smoothie, and we got to be out of the house. The meet up might have been a failure but the day most definitely was not.

An Angry Rant

So as I’ve mentioned before, I have a serious problem with the cesarean rate in this country, and just last night I got another example of why things need to change. One of my sisters good friends is pregnant with her second child. She had an emergency Cesarean with her first and things did not go well. She believes her son suffered life long complications from the medication and a doctors error with the surgery. She and her husband both wanted to try a VBAC with this second birth and spent a long time searching for a doctor who would support them in this decision. They thought they had found one, but now at 39 weeks it looks like they were wrong. She has been dilated at a two for the past couple weeks with pre-labor symptoms but no serious changes. There are no abnormal findings at her appointments, the baby’s heart rate and other vitals are good, and she is (yes uncomfortable but who isn’t at 39 weeks) perfectly fine. So why is this doctor not letting her go to 40 weeks? Or even 41 weeks since the AVERAGE pregnancy is 41 weeks and 1 day? Why is he just now saying a VBAC is out of the question? Her c-section is scheduled for tomorrow and she is dreading it. No woman should have to dread the birth of her baby. So many doctors want to deliver babies from 9-5 and not have to worry about women going into labor…you know like they’re suppose to! If you can schedule a c-section or induction ahead of time you can’t classify it as an emergency. If you’re too impatient to let someone’s, who has NO MEDICAL NEED for induction or a cesarean, labor start naturally and run its course (which in my case was 42 hours) then get out of the field! It’s such a shame that doctors can so easily go back on the word that you’ve trusted. I hope no one else (though I know it’s bound to happen again) gets put in the situation my sisters friend has found herself in.

Please send your thoughts and prayers to this family as they welcome this new addition to their family. It may not happen the way they envisioned, but as long as the result is healthy mom healthy baby it will still be an incredible day for them.

You know you’re a new momma when….

I’ve only been a parent for a little over 5 months now, but it’s crazy how much you learn in that amount of time. I wouldn’t consider myself an experienced mother or an expert on any level, but I’m definitely not “new” anymore.

I personally have taken a very laid back approach to my parenting. I’m not worried about Olivia hitting all the developmental markers or what percentile she’s in on the growth charts. I know my baby, I can tell when she’s thriving and doing well and I know when she’s having a bad day. Of course a couple of months ago it wasn’t like this at all. I had no idea how to hold a newborn, how to burp her, how to bathe her, nursing was a foriegn world to me…just to name a few examples.

Everyone has advice for new parents, but the only way you really learn is by living it. Every baby is different and even though you’re a pro at handling  your first, your next child will be slightly different if not the complete opposite!

I think it will be fun to keep a “you know you’re a new mom when…” list going on here and on Facebook. I plan to share the list with my Bradley® students when we go over post-partum preparation so they can have a little insight into what to expect and will be able to laugh about it if /when it happens to them. Check out our list HERE and feel free to comment with your own experiences and I’ll add them to the list!