Book Review: Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds

Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds

by Cynthia Gabriel

 

This is the essential book for families desiring a natural birth in the hospital. It informs readers of everything I wish I had to time to review with my doula clients. It does not scare or shame parents about their birth environment choice, instead gently and honestly reveals what you can expect when you arrive at the hospital and how to prepare yourself & your birth team to maximize your chances of a natural birth. Gabriel manages to cover the normal birth preparation topics such as stages of labor, pain coping techniques, & birth stories clearly and yet differently than any other author before her. Additionally she includes in-depth examples of what birth teams can say to tired, frustrated mothers during birth & what to say to hospital staff encouraging interventions. This review will cover a few of the books’ highlights.



Finding out how your care provider really feels about natural childbirth & if they will support you

Gabriel suggests these 5 questions to learn about your providers’ attitudes about natural birth. She goes on to unpack possible answers and points out red flags that may not be obvious to parents who aren’t birth nerds.

  • Can you tell me what kind of birth you chose for yourself (or what kind your wife chose), and what did you learn from it?
  • Can you tell me about the most recent natural birth you attended?
  • In your opinion, what helps omen achieve natural birth? What can a woman do to prepare?
  • In your professional opinion, what are the main reasons that women who want natural births do not have them?
  • What do you think birth pain means to women? What is the value of birth pain?

 

Inductions, Large Babies, & How women describe labor pain in natural childbirth

Interventions, drugs or the unplanned, unwanted cesarean birth is the fear that lurks in the back the mind of most women desiring a natural birth but who are the in hospital. As a doula myself I witness three of the most common reasons that natural births transition to medicated or surgical births: inductions, ‘large babies’, and pain.

A woman being induced and hoping for a natural birth has a long, difficult road ahead of her. A natural birth is still possible with the right baby, the right body, and the right birth team. “Almost 40 percent of American have inductions. Yet about a third of all inductions do not work.” I hadn’t realized inductions numbers are that high or that they are so often unsuccessful. It makes sense to me though, birth is a dance between the mother and the baby, it’s impossible for the dance to begin unless both partners are ready.

I wish I could openly roll my eyes when an OB tells a woman, “Your baby may be too big to come through your birth canal. Look at how tall your husband is! And you know we let you go until almost 42 weeks, babies really grow in those last few days.” Or I wish I was in a position to say, “Deformed pelvic bones were much more common is the 1700s, when our foremothers suffered from vitamin deficiencies. Most North American girls today get enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent rickets, the most common cause of pelvic bone deformity, so it is now extremely rare to find a pelvis that not able to birth a baby.”

Gabriel points out that most of the time the ‘large baby’ excuse is used to convince a family to agree to a surgical birth the problem is the position of the baby. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen many OB’s work with women on the position of the baby, this is where having a good doula and following the authors’ advice of ‘Eat, Cry, and Move’ can come in handy.

Pain is often a huge factor when births shift towards medication. The author sites her own research in the United States & Russia about pain intensity levels, the percent of women who experience them, and possible reasons and connected factors. According to Gabriel 85-96 percent of women report that labor “pain is intense and requires effort (usually, a focus on breathing and relaxing) to get through. Most would agree that labor has been their most painful physical experience. Many compare it to running a marathon.” The good news is only 1-5 percent (the number jumps appreciably if labor is induced) described labor as, “Excruciating, unbearable pain.” The important message here is: labor is hard, AND you can do it, here is the proof.

 

Eat, Cry & Move

Labor is not a straight line from first contraction to birth. While each and every contraction is indeed helping to prepare your body, it is possible for your cervix to open and close and open again. Contractions may increase or decrease in frequency and duration. Labor may ‘plateau’, the author recommends to Eat, Cry, & Move if this should happen because each of those activities helps to change physical, emotional and baby caused plateaus. ‘Cry’ is short hand for emotional release; which could be laughing or screaming if that is what feels right.

I appreciate that Gabriel suggests eating. While most hospitals don’t allow women to eat once active labor has begun it is unfortunate because I have seen eating give a woman the energy she needs to get through a difficult stage of labor.

 

Distinguishing Emergencies from Non-Emergencies

A primary difficultly of birthing in the hospital is keeping your calm. “Much of today’s medicine is about evaluating risk, so even normal labors are continuously assessed as potentially hazardous.” The language, attitude, and experience of hospital staff is that danger could always be just around the corner. Part of this is because the hospital is not designed for natural birth, the staff are not trained for a natural birth, design and training is focused around responding when something goes awry, this is why you’ve chosen the hospital.

Nurturing the calm and reassuring atmosphere women laboring naturally need is not the strength of your hospital team. You must be prepared to maintain your relaxation and trust the process while staff around you has some fear in their bodies.

No one said birthing is easy! In a true emergency you will know, otherwise assume the tasks of the staff are not connected to an emergency.

Finally I’ll leave you with one of the most poignant parts of Natural Hospital Birth, Gabriel discusses her experience of relaxation during childbirth:

“The only way I know to get though labor pain is to surrender to it. Achieving surrender is the hardest part. When you feel overwhelmed by contractions you have not yet surrendered. Your are in pre-surrender. A miracle happens in the instant that you yield. Labor stops feeling so hard. You stop feeling overwhelmed. As soon as you accept that labor is overwhelming, it ceases to be so. Relaxing during painful contractions changes the feelings of those contractions. This is just one of life’s paradoxes”.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMJ or Bruxism or Teeth Grinding or Clenching

Ever wake in the morning with sore teeth, a headache, or ear pain? This could be due to TMJ Disorder. Imagine, at night instead of laying in repose you are actually re-living and relieving the stress of your day by clenching or grinding.  The worst part for many is that they really have no control over what they do all night.

Clenching is when the mandible, or jaw, is drawn up to press against the upper teeth with force. Grinding is when the mandible is slid back and forth over each other. It is common to clench during the day as well, it is less common to grind during the day.

Muscles Involved:

TMJ1
Areas affected by TMJ

There are 4 main muscles involved in these activities, or 8 if you account for your right and left sides. Most people are familiar with themasseter, that big muscle on the back part of your cheek, many TMJ suffers unconsciously massage. Less familiar may be the temporalis, a muscle that originates on the side of your head just beyond your forehead and eye and inserts, almost secretly, on the top of your jaw bone passing under your cheek bone. When a client is on the table and I begin digging around in these muscles clients are often surprised at how painful and tight their masseters are.

pterygoids

More obscure muscles that get deep towards to root of teeth grinding are the pterygoids. The pterygoids often hide trigger points thatperpetuate TMJ Disorder, these are guitar string like muscles accessible only inside your mouth! I’m not going to sugar coat this, working on these muscles is almost like torture. However, I can attest from personal experience that getting this work done can reduce the servility of your TMJ for at least a couple weeks. Massage professionals can take continuing education classes about working on these muscles and receive an Intraoral Massage Certification. I haven’t gotten this certification, partly because, really, your mouth is a personal place and I’m not sure how many of you would really want me to do that. Another reason is that you really need to be on top of reciving this treatment regularly to see changes, obviously this is another great self care segue!

Self Massage for TMJ

While not the most professional presentation, this is a great video uses accessible language to get you started:

Stress Management:

Create a good bed time routine that includes sometime to let go of whatever stress from the day you haven’t let go of yet. Deep ‘let it go’ sighs, accepting what you can’t change before it’s time to crawl into bed (at least until tomorrow morning), and contemplating what you have to be grateful for are good practices to try out.

Mouth Guards:

I can’t stress enough the need to get a good mouth guard to protect your teeth from your grinding. It is possible to grind away the surface of your teeth, to crack them under the repeatedly nightly pressure over years, and to develop tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. Generally, mouth guards reduce the impact of grinding. There is one mouth guard, the NTI, claims to prevent grinding, it’s custom made and not inexpensive. About 50% of people I’ve spoken with have said it’s worth it, others say it hasn’t changed their symptoms much. NTI requires a visit to your dentist for a proper fit.

I’ve done a fair amount of research about the materials used in retail night guards. With growing awareness about the hormone disrupting effects of plastic many people don’t want to suck on a piece of plastic all night long every night! As far as I can tell Sporting Smiles’ formula is the safest, it’s made from EVA which doesn’t use chlorine or plasticizers like BPA or phlatates.

Braces & Invisalign:

I recently went to a talk by Dr. Huggins who is a pioneer in the Holistic Dentistry world, along the lines of Weston A. Price. He said that any mistakes made when your teeth were realigned, or failure to wear your retained and maintain proper alignment can contribute to TMJ because your body is literally trying to push your teeth into some kind of alignment. He recommends Invisalign because it is more hypoallergenic than the metal in braces.

 

Locations

Serving Ojai, Santa Barbara, and Ventura

I am currently seeing clients in their homes for massage therapy appointments in Ojai, Ventura, Carpentaria, and Santa Barbara. I have an office in Santa Barbara where I see clients on Tuesdays & Saturdays. It is located at 113 W. Mission St. Suite C. There is often parking in the back.

Placenta Services

 Placenta Services 

Humans are one of the few mammals that do not typically ingest their placentas. Traditional cultures report that women who ingest their placentas report faster recovery from birth, increased milk production, and a decrease in postpartum mood symptoms. Recent research through a double blind experiment confirmed the benefit of taking placenta for women at risk of postpartum mood disorders.

Smoothies

Some women find great healing benefit in using small pieces of raw placenta in smoothies, the taste is masked and the energy boost is significant! I can clean and cut small pieces of placenta & wrap them individually for easy blending.

Encapsulation

I employ a method of encapsulation very similar to the Traditional Chinese Medicine way as taught by Carrie Kenner CD, CCE (DONA), which includes the use of lemon, ginger, and jalapeño. The placenta is steamed, dried, processed, and then encapsulated. They will last years in the freezer when prepared this way.

Tincture

Placenta tincture is an alcohol extract of a piece of placenta that rests in brandy for about 6 weeks. Tincture is an easy way to store the benefits of placentas for long term use and has been reported to help mothers as they go through menopause by regulating hormones.

Homeopathic Remedy

Homeopathic Remedies are a type of medicine that preserves the energetic aspects of a medicine. This remedy is prepared from a bit of the tincture. Homeopathic placenta remedies have been reported to help children with major life transitions like moving, potty training, and going to school because the remedy holds the energetic frequency of the childs’ first experience of being nurtured and safe.

 

Placenta Services not available for women who experience Preeclampsia

 

Postpartum Support

 Postpartum 40 Days Packages 

The roots of caring for mothers during their immediate post partum period are long and deep. Latin Americans, Ugandans, Koreans, Native Americans, Lebanese, Chinese, Burmese, Greeks and many other cultures around the world have documented traditions of giving special care to new mothers. This tradition is known as la qurentinia, man yue jiu, thie dwin and by many other names, but the essence remains the same: caring for mothers while their bodies heal so they can better care & bond with their children. Rest indoors, homemade soups, others tending to chores & errands and supportive visits by women familiar with the challenges and sacredness of this time are common to each of these traditions. Women with family members able to carry on this tradition for them are blessed, however modern realities often make it impossible for Grandmothers, Aunties, & other loved ones to give new mothers the care they need. Many expecting parents request that money for a Postpartum Doula in lieu of a shower gift. Consider giving yourself and your baby the gift of care.

Mama Care

Food Preparation

Sitz Bath Preparation

Belly Binding

Lactation Education

Baby Wearing Education

Emotional Support

Essential Oil Education & Support for Wellness

Home Care

Dishes

Laundry

Bathroom Cleaning

Tidying

Grocery Shopping, Meal Planning & Errands

Family Care

Baby Massage Education

In Home Massage Therapy for Mom & Partner

The Cared for Family

150 Hours of Care- $4,000

This package is ideal for the family where the partner travels frequently or works long hours. Ensure your new mother has every need met even if you cannot always be there to meet it. Your family will be my sole focus during this special postpartum periods, leave the logistics of life to me for a few weeks while you bond with your baby. Connect with your body & your recovery process through weekly massage. Get the sleep you need, I will care for your baby in your home a few nights. The perfect gift from grandparents who are not able to be near the family during this time or for families expecting multiples! This package includes:

 

2 Prenatal Visits

40 days of Daily Telephone & Text Support

30 days of Mama, Home & Family Care 3hr/day

1 Massage Therapy Session/week

5 overnight stays

 

The Cared for Mama

Approx 80 Hours of Care- $2,500

The Cared for Mama package is great for families where the Mama must return to work soon after birth. Maximize your quality time with your new little one by letting me take care of dishes, dinner, & errands. Speed your healing through weekly massage & being nurtured daily! Also, a dreamy package for women who had a cesarean birth & need that extra helping hand. This package includes:

 

2 Prenatal Visits

40 days of Daily Telephone & Text Support

20 days of Mama, Home & Family Care 3hr/day

1 Massage Therapy Session/week

2 overnight stays

 

The Cared for Baby

40 Hours of Care- $1,000

 Is your baby due at the same time as that big deadline? Can your family not come to support you until a few weeks after birth? The Cared for Baby package is perfect for you! Receive 20 days of postpartum doula support with home visits half of those days. Help to ease your transition into parenthood by having someone you can always call with concerns or questions. This package includes:

 

1 Prenatal Visit

20 days of Daily Telephone & Text Support

10 days of Mama & Home Care 3hr/day

 

 

Policies

All services must be used 60 days from the first day of use. Exceptions will be made on a case by case basis. I may be open to trade not to exceed 50% of the total package cost. I will only take 1 Post Partum Family at a time, and limit my Birth Doula clients to 2 during your expected 40 days.

 

 Overnight Doula Support 

I am available for overnight doula support. I have experience working with  families who breastfeed, bottle feed & do a combination. I also have experience supporting families with premature babies, twins, and postpartum depression & anxiety. I typically arrive at 9pm and depart around 7am, I can feed, change, and soothe your baby while your family gets some much needed sleep.

 Breastfeeding Support 

If you are having trouble breastfeeding and you or your care provider are concerned about weight gain or breast feeding I am available to visit you in your home for one on one breastfeeding support. I have training in using Supplemental Nursing Systems.

 

 Housework, Childcare & Errands 

The time after birth is a huge transition for families. If you find yourself needing more support than your loved ones can provide consider hiring me to take care of light house work including laundry, dishes, cooking, childcare, errands or whatever projects need doing. I have years of experience working with children ages 1-8.

 

 Meals 

I am available to cook meals in your home. I can come one day and make a few meals for the week  or I can come by in the afternoon to prepare a meal for the evening.

 

Payment

Payment

Please provide a $400 deposit within 5 business days after I’ve put your birth on my calendar. This will be subtracted from your balance due. I accept payment by cash, check, or credit card.

The remainder of your balance will be due at your first post partum appointment

I will do my best to provide the services described. However, I too am human,

  • If I am ill, have a family emergency, or am out of town I will provide a back up doula to attend your birth. I this case the back up doula will receive the remainder of your balance.
  • If you do not contact me to tell me you are in labor, or notify me less than four weeks before your birth that you no longer wish to have me at your birth, you will owe me the remainder of your balance because your place on my birth calendar was reserved and unavailable to other families.

 

Insurance

I will provide you with an invoice with the appropriate medical codes you may submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.

 

Sliding Scale

I am able to offer one sliding scale birth per season. This family will receive the Basic Birth Services Package for $600 and complementary Placenta Preparation.

Massage Therapy

 

Saralynn Finn, CMT & Doula

began practicing massage professionally in 2010; my passion for bodywork began as a child, my family could not get enough of my massages. During college I studied energy medicine and learnedabout the powerful healing potential of energy work. I attended massage school at the Ashland Institute of Massage in Oregon. Since then I have worked in chiropractic offices and massage clinics in Seattle, Washington focusing primarily on clinical massage. I am excited to become a part of the Santa Barbara community.

Currently, I am NCBTMB Certified & am working towards licensure in Oregon. I have held CMT certification in California and an LMP license in Washington.




[intro]Training in: [/intro]

  • Prenatal Massage
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Myofacial Release
  • Reiki
  •  Structural Relief Therapy
  • Neuromuscular Therapy
  • Structural Integration
  • Polarity Therapy
  • Swedish Massage

 

I accept PIP (Personal Injury Protection), check and cash. I am happy to provide a receipt for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement  I am working towards becoming a preferred provider with insurance companies in Oregon.

About

 

Currently I am a graduate student in the Maternal Child Health Systems program at Bastyr University. I am doing original research about evidence based practice (EBP) change in intrapartum settings by interviewing nurses, obstetricians, and hospital administrators about their experiences with EBP implementation. This year I am largely taking a break from my massage and doula practices. I have settled in Portland, Oregon where I will continue to serve families in the childbearing year through massage & birth doula services while developing innovative health systems improvements for families when I complete my program in the Summer 2017.

I

n late 2012 I relocated to Santa Barbara & shifted my energy from primarily offering bodywork to working with families in the childbearing year through birth & postpartum doula services. I gained great experience while in Santa Barbara, attending over 80 births at home, the Santa Barbara Birth Center, Cottage Hospital, and Community Memorial in Ventura. I assisted many families in the postpartum period including families of multiples, single mothers, and babies with special medical needs.

My background is in clinical massage; I graduated from the 650 hour Massage Therapy Program at Ashland Institute of Massage in Ashland, OR. The majority of my clients were able to see me using their insurance benefits. I use Myofacial Release, various Neuromuscular Therapy Techniques including Trigger Point Therapy, Muscles Energy Technique, and Structural Relief Therapy to address my client’s aches & pains. I have a lot of experience working with clients with Fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions using Connective Tissue Massage.

My style has developed to include a deep structural understanding of the underlying postural issues that lead to most of our chronic pains.

I received my Prenatal Massage Certification from the Santa Fe School of Massage; I have hundreds of hours of experience working with women in their childbearing year. Since 2002 I have studied energy medicine, somatic emotional release, crystal healing, and ceremony with esteemed teachers all over the country including Bruce Burger, Tom Brown Jr., and Kaye Codrington.

i

n September 2011 I attended my first birth; it was a powerful and moving experience. Since then I have learned as much about birth as possible through classes, workshops, books, and women’s circles. I attended the Birth Doula Skills Workshop taught by Penny Simkin and Carrie Kenner at Bastyr University. I also received my Lactation Education Certification at Bastyr. I am currently working towards my Birth Doula Certification with DONA International.

 

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Education


 Placenta Encapsulation Workshop

    • taught by Carrie Kenner, CD (DONA)

Foundation for Best Practice in Lactation Care

    • taught by Evergreen Perinatal Services

Birth Doula Skills Workshop

    • taught by Penny Simkin, PT & Carrie Kenner, CD (DONA) at Bastyr University

Prenatal Massage

    • taught by Elizabeth Rose, BS, LMT, CD (DONA)

Ceremony

    • taught by Tom Brown, Jr. at Tracker School

Anatomy Trains I

    • taught by Peter Ehlers, LMT

650 hour Massage Therapy Training Program

    • at Ashland Institute of Massage

Polarity Therapy & Somatic Emotional Release

    • taught by Bruce Burger, LMT at Heartwood Institute

Apprenticeship in OrthoBionomy

    • with Kim Lincoln, LMP

Reiki Level II

    • taught by various teachers

BA Evergreen State College

    • in Sustainable Agriculture & Indigenous Knowledge

 

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Testimonials


After hours of laboring at home, my husband called Saralynn asking what we should do and she immediately came over. When she arrived at our house it changed the whole atmosphere – I felt rejuvenated physically and renewed emotionally to continue. She worked with us to try different positions and helped me try a variety of things to help reposition our baby to help her come down. She provided a calming influence and helped me to relax and breathe through the process.

With Saralynn’s support, we were able to understand when it was time to go to the hospital and by the time we got there I was already 8 centimeters dilated, having been able to spend as much time at home as possible, thanks to her support.

She stood by my side at the hospital the entire time, providing needed back rubs, comforting me with her words of encouragement and helping me relax and work through the waves. Also very importantly, she provided support to my husband as he endured the long labor with me and coached me through it. She was a guide not just to myself, but him as well.

When it came time to push, she proved herself even further by providing me with warm and cold compresses as needed and keeping me calm and supporting me through the exhaustion. She helped me focus and guide me in how to effectively push. She stayed focuses on everything going on and kept us informed.

At times we felt lost in what was happening, but she made sure to explain all the seeming chaos to us. She was the one that explained to us what they were doing with our baby girl when she came out…

and when she saw the nurse about to throw away the placenta we had requested they save, she sprinted out of the room to save the placenta just before it was thrown out. Without her, we would not have had that special gift.

I wholeheartedly recommend Saralynn to anyone looking for a doula. Having her there to support us, allowed us to be assured and more relaxed during such a wondrous and life-changing experience.

-Julie M., Santa Barbara

  

Saralynn’s prenatal massage helped to move me from the trauma of an early pregnancy accident through to a healthy thriving back and body. Her techniques relax my body, mind, spirit and emotions, while helping to release tight muscles and support my healing. She is kind and firm and really provides a holistic approach to building a healthy body between massages. Her wisdom and guidance through the emotional elements of both pregnancy and massage have helped me to ground and focus as an expecting mother.

I highly recommend Saralynn as a part of your support team throughout pregnancy.

-S. Snyder, Seattle, WA

  

Saralynn Finn was a tremendous help to me during my pregnancy in September 2011. She knew how to apply pressure in just the right spots to alleviate discomfort in my lower back in the third trimester and stimulate circulation in my legs to reduce swelling. She also showed me how to stretch in a way to relieve stress in my back and shoulders and make the final days of pregnancy more bearable.

But it was during delivery that Saralynn really shined. I was so grateful for the consistent support and compassionate care during that emotionally and physically challenging time. My wish was to try for a traditional delivery – vaginal birth – as long as I could stand the pain.

While my husband was managing the doctors and nurses, Saralynn helped me find that little extra courage to keep going, relieving pressure in my back in just the right spot and cheering me on…

With my husband, she was the only other person I requested in the delivery room.

When I needed to make a big decision about proceeding with a caesarian as recommended by the doctor, I was grateful for Saralynn’s perspective as a massage therapist and savvy around natural remedies. I found her to be supportive and nonjudgmental in the face of many controversial and sensitive issues. She has my infinite gratitude for helping me through that difficult, amazing experience.

Expecting mothers looking for the comforts of a doula would do well in Saralynn’s care. – T. Corley, Seattle, WA

  

Saralynn has an innate ability to assess and relieve discomfort and pain during pregnancy. Throughout my pregnancy, I suffered from low back and hip pain but Saralynn’s massage modalities and techniques consistently provided pain reduction and relief.  I continued seeing her post natal for mid-back and shoulder relief from breastfeeding and carrying our infant.  I would highly recommend her for pre and post natal massage. – T. Quinn, Seattle, WA

 

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