Tag Archives: pregnancy

Luke’s Birth

By Jeannette Freeman, leader of API of Southeast Texas

Jeannette's family
Jeannette’s family

Editor’s Note: Attachment Parenting International does not advocate unassisted birth of any sort. We believe the safest birthing environment for every baby, whether at home or in a hospital or birthing center, is with assistance from a midwife, obstetrician, or another accredited birthing assistant. The following article has been published to give this mother a voice in telling her birth story only, without any endorsement of her decisions made regarding her child’s birth.

Luke Elliot was born Friday, Sept. 21, at 5:43 p.m., shortly before sunset and the beginning of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). My “due date” had been the previous Saturday, and I really wanted him to be born before the next Sabbath, as I was tired of everyone at church being surprised that he hadn’t arrived yet.

My original due date had been off by two months, and some of the mother hens of the congregation, namely those who birthed in the 1950s and ’60s, were more than a little anxious about my unassisted pregnancy and planned unassisted birth. It had gotten to the point when my husband, Mark, and I decided to visit an obstetrician to calm everyone’s nerves. The doctor refused to touch me unless I was willing to submit to a vaginal exam and whatever else he deemed necessary. I refused.

The morning of Luke’s birth, Mark, my two-year-old daughter Audrey, and I spent over an hour picking up branches and leaves from our front yard after Hurricane Humberto  our first hurricane experience  had hit the week previous. After I put Audrey down for her nap, I commented to Mark, “We may have started something,” referring to the yard work and my now-present uterine contractions. When Audrey awoke at 2:45 p.m., my labor became active. There was no stopping now!

It was a rather surreal labor, as I chose different positions, consulted two different birthing books, gave instructions to my husband, and practiced a variety of vocalizations to figure out what did and did not work for me, mindful than some noises might startle my daughter.

Our bathroom  truly a one-person room  became my center of command. For awhile, I labored on the toilet, leaning on a pillow resting on a TV tray table. For awhile, I labored on my hands and knees. My butt was in the bathroom and my torso in the hallway. Between contractions, I was leaning forward on two large couch pillows with my butt up in the air to slow progress down a bit. This was entirely different from Audrey’s labor that lasted so long I was literally out of energy before it was over. It was during this period that Audrey insisted that her father get her a pillow of her own to lie on. Now, when I leaned forward on my pillows during contractions, she did too. I wish I had a picture of that!

I consulted a book to determine if I had entered the transition stage yet. I had. I then read that after transition, there was often a release of endorphins. I felt that rush, than had two more contractions that felt like they were still part of transition before my body moved onto the pushing stage. During the pushing stage, I hung on the bathroom door.

A little bit into the pushing stage, I reached into my vagina to feel Luke’s head. This is something I had never considered doing, but it was exhilarating to touch the little person I had been waiting for months to see.

By this time, my husband and daughter were sitting outside the bathroom door and watching. A few more pushes and Luke’s head crowned. I took my time, knowing that he would come out eventually and that I didn’t want to tear. Soon, he was part way out. I got a hold of him and realized I could catch him myself, so I did. I was ecstatic. I held my boy for a few long moments and then exclaimed, “We did it!”

When I looked at the umbilical cord, it was already white and ready to cut. This was a good thing, as it was rather short. I suspected it would be, as it was with Audrey, and it was rather awkward to hold Luke. My husband did the honors. I balked at the smell of the rubbing alcohol he used to clean his pocketknife. It was offensive to my senses and out of place.

Mmy boy’s head smelled aseptic. It wasn’t a hospital-like, chemically created aseptic smell but a natural cleanness from his time in the womb. It surprised me until I thought about how the womb was indeed a sterile place.

I sat on the floor in the mess for a few minutes and then crawled into the tub while my husband cleaned up. Then, my husband took Luke and Audrey into the library. I ended up birthing the placenta on the toilet. I knew it was coming and I tried to get to the tub. I wanted to check the placenta to make sure it was complete. I did fish it out of the toilet later and put it in a big bowl. I looked at it later but gave up trying to figure out if it was all there. Instead, I put it in a bag to send out with the trash.

Less than an hour after Luke’s birth, I was standing in my shower thinking, “Wow! This is great. Showering in my own shower. Never leaving home to birth my own baby. This is the way to do it. So much more relaxed and peaceful than the hospital.”

Audrey had big plans for her new brother. She had Dad read a book to him, and brought him a block to play with and a pair of her shoes to wear. Mark enjoyed this time of the three of them bonding while I cleaned myself up.

I have no intention of leaving my home to birth again. It was an amazingly empowering event that, three months later, I still ponder with awe.

I began my journey towards an unhindered birth with the belief that my Maker created my body to birth and that He created it perfectly. Planning an unhindered birth was my way of “putting my money where my mouth was.” I’m glad I did.

Audrey’s Birth

By Jeannette Freeman, leader of API of Southeast Texas

Jeannette and Audrey
Jeannette and Audrey

On Monday morning, August 1, I woke up with my first contraction at 5:30 a.m. I had another at 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m., and then periodically throughout the day. I was able to continue my usual activities, but by the time bedtime rolled around, I couldn’t ignore the contractions any longer. I tried to get comfortable. I tried everything I could think of. Even took a bath. No luck. I didn’t sleep at all. However, I did everything I could to conserve my energy, knowing I would need it.

Finally, at about 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, I couldn’t take it any longer and had Mark call the nurse-midwife. I didn’t know how far I’d dilated, but I figured I was at least somewhat along. My water hadn’t broke yet, either, but that isn’t a good indicator of how dilated you are.

We drove into the hospital, went to the triage area, and they checked me out. I was only two centimeters dilated. They had me walk the halls for an hour, from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. During that time, my contractions went from just being in the front of my abdomen, to going almost all the way around my lower abdomen and back. That’s commonly called “back labor” and was more intense then the previous labor. I also lost my mucus plug. However, I figured out that the contractions were most easily handled if I walked through them.

They checked me again. No changes. I had the option to go home or stay at the hospital. I had no desire to be in the hospital any longer than necessary, so we left. We stopped at McDonald’s to get breakfast.

The morning and early afternoon were spent with a heating pad strapped to my lower back and attached to an extension cord. I lied on my bed between contractions; during the contractions, I would stand up and walk around the bed. Then, I would lie back down. I wanted some stress balls to squeeze but didn’t have any. I instead used two stuffed animals. At about 1:30 p.m., my water broke. It didn’t all come out at once. We called the nurse-midwife, and at some point, we headed to the hospital.

We got there at around 5 p.m. They put me on the monitor for 20 minutes, and then we went to walk the halls. They had a large labor pool, and when we came back from walking, I got into the pool and stayed there for the duration of the first stage of labor. I rested my chin on a pile of towels on edge of the pool and knelt the entire time in the pool. I had the lights dimmed but with no music or background noise. I just went with my body and followed its cues, with a lot of pelvic rocking and loud vocalizations. Finally, at 8:40 p.m., I was fully dilated and got out of the pool for the pushing stage.

Through all of this, I was trying to conserve energy but was slowly losing energy. I hadn’t eaten since 11 a.m., so I was running on empty. The only thing I would have done differently would be making sure that I kept eating every couple hours up until going to the hospital, even if I didn’t particularly feel like it. At first, I was kneeling on the bed, then I tried lying on my side to conserve energy, but that wasn’t very comfortable at all. My midwife then suggested that I try squatting. She said it would require more energy, but that she thought the baby could be born in about 30 minutes. This was at 10:09 p.m.

I don’t think she realized how little energy I had at that point, because it was two more hours before Audrey arrived. My body definitely had slowed down. The contractions were farther apart and did not last as long. My midwife suggested an I.V. After awhile, I could feel my blood sugar level going down and I agreed to the I.V. After that boost of energy, the pace picked up a bit and it wasn’t too long before my daughter, Audrey, was born at 12:14 a.m. on August 3. Her cord was so short that my husband, Mark, had to cut it before I could even hold her. My midwife was concerned that my body wouldn’t expel the placenta naturally and that I would hemorrhage, so she had Pitocin ready if necessary to encourage it along. But the placenta came out by itself five minutes after Audrey.

We were in the delivery room about one-and-a-half hours before they moved us to our postpartum room. From then on, it was a standard hospital stay. We were discharged Thursday morning at 11 a.m., 35 hours after Audrey’s arrival.

Tennessee’s Infant Deaths Can Be Prevented

From API’s Publications Team


Attachment Parenting International Co-founder Barbara Nicholson was quoted in a Public News Service (PNS) article about Tennessee’s high infant mortality rate.

According to PNS, 9 of every 1,000 babies born in Tennessee die during their first year of life, with the rate for African Americans rivaling the infant mortality in some third-world countries. Memphis, Tenn., has the highest numbers in the state, with a child dying every 43 hours. Health officials say the leading cause of Tennessee’s infant mortality rate is premature birth.

Nicholson said that many premature infant deaths can be prevented through the use of low-cost services such as Centering Pregnancy, which teaches pregnant women to self-monitor their blood pressure and weight.

“This is group care of pregnant moms in the care of a midwife and this
results in a 41 percent reduction in infant mortality in the
African-American community,” Nicholson said.

There are five Centering Pregnancy programs in Tennessee – four in Memphis and one in Madisonville – with more sites planned for Nashville and Chattanooga. Centering Pregnancy is funded through the State of Tennessee; Gov. Phil Bredsen has pledged $6 million toward programs such as Centering Pregnancy.

“If we put money into prevention, it’s going to save us millions,” Nicholson said. “When we have better outcomes, prevention is always the cheapest and safest alternative.”

When It’s OK to Induce Labor, and When It’s Not

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

One in five pregnant women will have her labor induced, for varying reasons. Some of these reasons are valid; others are not. Catherine Beier of www.givingbirthnaturally.com weighs in.

When it’s OK to induce labor:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions in the mother – These may include heart disease, a seizure disorder, hypertension, cancer, or another serious health issue, although many women with these disorders can still give birth vaginally.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions in the baby – If the baby is known to have a congenital or other medical condition that requires intervention or intensive care immediately after birth, induction may be the safest way to ensure the baby gets the care that’s needed.

And when it’s not OK to induce labor:

  • Overdue pregnancy – While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warn against induction before 39 weeks, the average pregnancy worldwide lasts 42 weeks. For medical doctors who don’t want to wait that long, they should consider accuracy of a woman’s due date, which is calculated on a 28-day menstrual cycle with ovulation on day 14; for women with long or irregular cycles or late ovulation, this due date can be significantly inaccurate. For these women, a reliable estimate of the due date, within one day, can be obtained with a transvaginal ultrasound at eight to ten weeks of gestation. As the pregnancy progresses, ultrasound becomes a less reliable predictor of the due date, as the weight estimate can be off by as much as two pounds.
  • The baby is too big – The vast majority of women are able to give birth vaginally to their babies, even those who are larger. Because hormones during labor relaxes and stretches the hips and pelvis, for those very few whose pelvis is too narrow to birth a full-term baby, it’s impossible to know until the time of childbirth.
  • The mother is too tired or uncomfortable – Remember, it’s called labor for a reason. Labor can be rather long and hard with the first baby especially, but it is normal.
  • It’s more convenient to know when the baby will be born – Whether induction on a certain day is better for the baby’s family or the medical provider, this does not take the baby into account and not a true reason.

Morning Sickness as an Attachment Education for Baby’s Father

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Pregnant women know better than anyone how connected they can feel to the new, little life growing inside them – even if the baby is so tiny that its kicks can’t be felt. From the moment, a woman learns she’s pregnant, she begins counting down the months and days until she can meet her baby face-to-face.

Morning sickness, while irritating, is a sign that the pregnancy is going well, according to the American Pregnancy Association – which is especially assuring to a particularly anxious mother-to-be or someone who experienced a threatened miscarriage early on.

Morning sickness also provides a time for fathers-to-be to connect to their babies…by way of better connecting with their wives. After all, one of the best models of a healthy relationship for a child, in addition to the parent-child bond, is the mother-father interaction.

Just as new fathers often enjoy putting a hand on the mother’s pregnant belly and reading stories to the unborn child, they can begin bonding by providing comfort to the mother-to-be, which will also keep the adult-adult relationship close during a time when exhaustion and mood swings may threaten to push them apart.

Australian filmmaker Troy Jones explored this in his documentary Being Dad: Information and Inspiration for Dads to Be, as reported by Tara Taylor of www.parentspress.com: “A few topics always came up in the group conversations. The first was how to help your partner with morning sickness. Many expecting fathers felt helpless in the face of nausea.”

First and foremost, mothers-to-be must understand this feeling from their partners and to focus on ways he can stay connected during the pregnancy, especially when the women are not feeling their best. Here are some ideas to help you better involve your husbands’ or partners’ desire to help when morning sickness, fatigue, mood swings, backaches, and other pregnancy discomforts begin taking their toll on your relationship:

  • Encourage honest and open communication – This was the most important tool offered by R. Morgan Griffin’s 2003 article “Advice for Expectant Fathers” on www.medicinenet.com. Not only will talking help you release your frustrations and fears about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, but it provides a way for men to voice their anxieties, too, and be able to help you by providing emotional support.
  • Put him on nutrition duty – According to www.mrdad.com, the father-to-be can be a pregnant woman’s personal cheerleader, not only in reminding you that morning sickness is a good thing but also in encouraging you to drink enough water and helping you to choose healthy foods – when you’re able to keep food down. The same encouragement may be needed when it comes to taking the prenatal vitamin and letting the mother-to-be know that it’s OK to go to bed early or take a mid-day nap, rather than continuing to try to do everything you could do before getting pregnant.
  • Give him specific requests – Also according to MrDad.com, if you know of something your husband can do to help you feel better, let him know. Perhaps, it’s bringing toast to your bedside in the morning or giving you a backrub or making sure that the fridge is cleaned out of odorous foods.

Morning sickness also provides a time for fathers-to-be to connect to their babies…by way of better connecting with their wives.

Eating With Morning Sickness

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Of all the changes that take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy, the most uncomfortable for an estimated 70 percent of women – as reported by www.mayoclinic.com – may be so-called “morning sickness,” which isn’t often confined to just the morning hours.

Not every woman who experiences morning sickness finds it debilitating, although other pregnancy signs such as exhaustion, aversions to foods, and sensitivity to odors can aggravate the condition. Morning sickness can range from a loss of appetite and mild nausea to vomiting several times a day, which can lead to dehydration or worse.

For those with more severe morning sickness or morning sickness that lasts longer than the first four months, when many women begin to feel better, eating can become a chore – especially when you’re aware that your eating habits are affecting a new, little life!

Many medical professionals request that their pregnant patients be diligent in taking a daily dose of prenatal vitamin, to be sure that the mother is getting enough nutrition from what her diet.

“The increased demand for blood and hormones raises nutritional demands for the mother,” writes Wendy Hodsdon, ND, in her 2007 article “Prenatal Vitamins: Why Pregnant Women Should Take Them” on www.thedietchannel.com. “Since her fetus is completely dependent on her for nutrition, her body will give it what it needs, depleting her stores, if necessary. This will exacerbate any nutritional deficiencies she may already be experiencing.”

The medical community, as a whole, isn’t entirely certain what causes morning sickness, although many blame a rapid increase in hormones supporting the pregnancy, a sluggish digestive system, low blood sugar, and other possibilities. Sometimes, morning sickness seems genetic, and rarely, it may be related to a complication.

But, according to http://survivemorningsickness.com, the incidence and severity of morning sickness may actually be a result of a woman’s diet. One 2006 study shows that a link with diets rich in sugars, sweeteners, oils used in frying, alcohol, and caffeine; and that women who eat more cereals and pulse foods tend not to have morning sickness.

Still, women shouldn’t force themselves to eat foods to which they have aversions. Fortunately, there are many choices in nutrient-rich foods. Here are some tips for women from SurviveMorningSickness.com to be sure they’re eating right when their pregnant:

  • Do take a prenatal vitamin – Sometimes, the iron in the vitamin can temporarily increase nausea. Talk to your doctor about other brands of prenatal vitamins that may have lesser amounts of this nutrient, while still within the recommended guidelines, and about improving your intake of foods naturally containing large amounts of iron.
  • Take an extra folate supplement – Women who do not get enough folic acid in their diet can get extremely ill. The recommended guideline is at least 400 micrograms per day.
  • Take an extra vitamin B6 supplement – Vitamin B6 can be very effective at relieving morning sickness. The recommended dose is 50 milligrams daily. Be sure to check your prenatal vitamins to make certain your intake of this vitamin doesn’t exceed the maximum 75 milligrams each day. When using vitamin B6 to treat morning sickness, it’s best to divide the dose into three, taking one in the morning, mid-afternoon, and at bedtime.
  • Eat more foods containing iron, less salt – Iron-rich foods include red meat, eggs, chicken, fish, whole grains, spinach, and raisins.
  • Eat more foods containing folic acid – Folic acid-rich foods include bananas, strawberries, oranges, green vegetables, chickpeas, nuts, and cereals.
  • Eat more foods containing vitamin C – Tomato and orange juice taken with meals or prenatal vitamins helps the body better absorb iron.
  • Eat more foods containing calcium – Not only milk, yogurt, and cheese but also fish like salmon and sardines.
  • Eat more fiber – Fiber-containing foods include cereals, breads, rice, oats, and pasta made of whole grain, as well as unpeeled fruits and vegetables. As an added bonus, fiber prevents constipation.
  • Eat more foods containing protein – Foods high in protein include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, tofu, dried beans, peas, milk, and cheese.
  • Eat more foods containing vitamin B6 – Try green, leafy vegetables.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water daily – Drinking lots of water helps many women, ill or not, feel better. It helps prevent urinary tract infections, which can cause nausea and other discomforts, and if left untreated, can result in premature labor. Drinking plenty of water also decreases Braxton-Hicks contractions, especially in hot weather.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – Especially during snacks, opt for fruits and vegetables over breads and sweets.
  • Eat some fish – Some medical doctors advise against eating too much fish due to the risk of ingesting mercury, but eating some fish is part of a healthy diet.
  • When drinking soy milk, be sure it’s enriched with calcium.
  • Avoid coffee, cola, chocolate, and other caffeinated foods.
  • Avoid fatty or fried foods.

Other tips include:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Stay away from triggers – If a certain odor or food brings on the morning sickness, try to avoid it.
  • Consult your medical provider – If you’re unable to keep anything down, not even fluids, it’s imperative that you contact your health practitioner, as this can lead to not only dehydration but also production of toxic ketones, which are caused when the body begins to metabolize fat for energy. Immediate treatment for severe morning sickness is typically hospitalization and intravenous fluid treatments; long-term treatment may include pressure point therapy for motion sickness or sometimes medication.

The incidence and severity of morning sickness may actually be a result of a woman’s diet.