How Seeing a Chiropractor Can Help YOU Have a Happy, Healthy Pregnancy and Birth

As a doula, I recommend chiropractic care to my clients for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Round ligament pain? Chiropractor. Breech baby? Chiropractor. Lower back and hips hurt so bad that you never want to be pregnant again?? See a chiropractor!!

Going to the chiropractor regularly in pregnancy can have a tremendous impact on how much a woman enjoys the nine months she carries her baby. Being proactive about making an appointment before she’s actually in pain will give even better results.

But not only do I recommend chiropractic care for pregnancy pain, but it is also important for optimal baby positioning which consequentially results in a smoother labor and delivery. So from the minute you get pregnant until you find out you’re in early labor, there are so many benefits of going to the chiropractor.

To find out more about this, I chatted with a local Chiropractor and former client of mine, Dr. Matthew Bennett. If you’re looking for a chiropractor in the Elkhart area, Dr. Bennett at the Schneider clinic is a great option! Let’s dig in to hear what he has to say.

First, can you tell us why pregnancy can be so painful for many women?

“Here is a list of changes that occur in the body causing discomfort and pain: (these are all things that chiropractic care can help)

  • Center of gravity moves forward increasing the lumbar curve and placing extra strain and force through the lumbar spine joints

  • Growing baby and increased fetal movement creates expansion of the lower rib cage which can be aggravating to the mid back joints that connect to the ribs

  • Increased breast size to prepare for lactation adds additional strain to upper thoracic joints

  • Modified gait becomes wide, creating a variation in skeletal joint and muscle mobility, aggravating the pelvic joints, hip joints and sciatic nerves

  • Modified posture through shoulder to offset change in center of gravity causes loss of cervical curve leading to headaches

  • Pelvic misalignments alters pelvic opening leading to intrauterine constraint and fetopelvic disproportion”

Of course, if you’re pregnant or ever have been, none of this really surprises you. As our bodies change every day throughout pregnancy, it’s common to feel like we just don’t have time to adjust, making everything hurt! Fortunately, chiropractors are there for you.

What are the benefits of seeing a chiropractor in pregnancy?

“There are many benefits of seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy, most commonly seen in our office is less pain and discomfort in the low back and hips. Women experience many postural, hormonal and structural changes during pregnancy that can cause pain and discomfort in the lower back and hips. Our goal is to help keep the mom comfortable while all of these changes are occuring. We want the pregnancy to be as easy and memorable for her as possible.

“Certain structural changes and misalignments can also pose a potential threat to the development of the baby. These misalignments, known as subluxations, can cause stress overload to the mother’s nervous system which can lead to health problems for the developing baby.

“Additionally, a spinal or pelvic misalignment gives the developing baby less room to grow, potentially causing the baby to be breech, resulting in a Cesarean delivery. One of the greatest benefits to receiving regular chiropractic adjustments is that a properly aligned and balanced pelvis allows more room and proper function for the baby to grow and develop, which improves the chances for a fast and easy delivery.

“A recent patient of mine had just a 4 hour labor and she was so thankful for chiropractic care during her pregnancy. Chiropractic care has been shown to decrease labor times by 24 percent in first births and up to 33 percent for second or third births! (Source: The effects of chiropractic treatment on pregnancy and labor: a comprehensive study. Fallon J. Proceedings of the world chiropractic congress. 1991; 24-31

So ladies, that’s less pain, a happier pregnancy, a healthier baby, more optimal fetal positioning and the potential for a faster labor. What’s not to love?

How Seeing a Chiropractor can help you Have a Happy Healthy Pregnancy and Birth

Are there benefits for women who are trying to get pregnant or who are already in the postpartum period?

“There are generally 4 Stages in childbearing, which warrant slightly different Chiropractic care and different things we are looking for. We progress through each stage and the treatments might differ slightly. Below I listed the 4 stages and what we work on and some of the benefits you can see at each stage.

  • Preconception

    • More regular menstrual cycle

    • Optimal uterine function

    • Prepares the body for healthy implantation

    • Ensures proper nerve supply to reproductive organs

  • Pregnancy

    • Balance, alignment and flexibility

    • Less morning sickness and nausea

    • Detection, prevention and correction of fetal malposition

    • Less back pain, neck pain and joint pain

  • Delivery

    • Shorter delivery times

    • Less traumatic births

    • Reduced need for pain medication

    • Decreased chance of a breech baby

    • Less risk of a Cesarean birth

  • Post Delivery

    • More comfort while breastfeeding

    • Greater production of breast milk

    • Less incidence of postpartum depression”

In other words, if a baby is in your future, or your present, or you already welcomed that baby, go to the chiropractor!

Chiropractors who practice on pregnant women often talk about the Webster Technique. Can you tell us more about what that is?

Webster Technique is a specific form of adjusting focusing on the sacrum (tailbone) and its connection with the pelvic bones. This technique works on the articulation between the sacrum and the pelvis known as the SI joint (sacroiliac joint). By correcting any subluxations in the SI joint there is a neuro-biomechanical feedback that can assist with difficult labor, uterine function, and baby mal-position. This is a very powerful technique to use while a woman is pregnant because ensuring the pelvis and sacrum are aligned and functioning correctly is crucial to baby development and growth.”

All of that to say, when you are looking for a chiropractor in pregnancy, be sure to ask if they practice the Webster technique. It’s a game changer.

How often should a pregnant woman see a chiropractor?

“It varies for each woman but usually we would start by seeing a mom in her 10th-20th weeks around 1-2x per week and then from 20th-30th weeks closer to 1x per week. As delivery gets closer we would go back up to 2x per week to make sure the pelvis is aligned properly for an easy delivery. But again if a mom is having significant pain we would probably see her more often to reduce the pain and get her more comfortable.”

As a doula, I have seen slight variations in this timeline but truly, the more you can make it to the chiropractor, the happier you will be. And check with your health insurance. Some cover the cost of chiropractic care as part of your prenatal claim!

Special thanks to Dr. Bennett of the Schneider Clinic for answering these questions for me. Wishing all of you mamas and mamas-to-be a happy, healthy, pain-free pregnancy!

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Why in the World Would Anyone Ever Want a Natural Birth?

Recently I was asked the question, “Why would anyone want a natural, unmedicated birth? What’s the point?” And I have to say, I was caught off guard and couldn’t gather my thoughts quickly enough to give a good reply.

I completely understand the question. I mean if you can bring life into the world in pain and exhaustion OR numb and rested why would anyone choose the pain?

It seems absurd when you put it like that and yet many women are striving for a medication-free delivery. So what’s motivating them? There are lots of great reasons but first, let’s discuss a not-so-good reason for natural birth.

Don’t Do it for the Cookies

Many women who want a natural birth are discouraged by naysayers who tell them there are no special cookies or trophies for women who birth unmedicated. They are told not to try to be a hero and they are reminded that it doesn’t make them a better woman or a better mom.

And they are correct.

Fortunately, most moms who choose to give birth naturally are completely aware that there will not be a special prize waiting for them at the end. They know there’s no badge of courage and that motherhood will still be full of challenges no matter how they give birth.

Trust me, moms who attempt a natural birth are not looking for a reward and they aren’t trying to prove that they are, in any way, better than the mom with the epidural or scheduled cesarean.

Why in the world would anyone ever want a natural birth?

So why do they do it??

Natural birthings mama’s do so mainly because they have done their research. They know that one intervention usually leads to another and each intervention carries risk. Not only that, but they know that the body’s natural process of giving birth includes many benefits of its own and they truly want to experience all of it.

Cascade of Interventions

The Cascade of Interventions is a term used to describe the concept that one intervention often leads to another.

For example, what may start out as a simple membrane sweep to induce labor could quickly turn into prelabor rupture of membranes without contractions, which could turn into heading to the hospital for Pitocin, which could turn into fetal distress, which could ultimately turn into a cesarean section, a major abdominal surgery.

Epidurals specifically can be a huge player in the cascade game. Many first time moms are unaware that getting an epidural often means getting a bladder catheter which increases their risk of bladder infection. Secondly, epidurals often weaken contractions and Pitocin is used to strengthen them. Furthermore, due to the fact that epidurals numb the body from the waist down, laboring women are stuck in bed. Because movement is key to progress, labor is usually longer, often the pushing stage is longer, and episiotomy, forceps, and vacuum extraction are more likely to be used.

While of course, none of those things are guaranteed and often interventions work beautifully, natural minded mamas prefer to stay as far away from this cascade as possible. They would rather not introduce anything into the labor process that may overcomplicate things unnecessarily. By letting their body dictate what and when things happen, they are hoping to experience a relatively smooth and straight forward labor.

Risks of Interventions

Beyond the fact that one intervention leads to another, every pregnant woman needs to know that each intervention carries inherent risk with it. For example, narcotics given to decrease pain often lower the baby’s heart rate and he or she is more likely to have low APGAR scores at birth and slowed breathing [source].

Epidurals carry many risks that are often not fully discussed with a laboring woman who is ready for pain relief.

As mentioned before, epidurals may prolong the pushing phase of labor and forceps or vacuum extraction may be necessary. Severe perineal tearing is more likely because of this.

Secondly, epidurals often lower blood pressure which may make the mother lightheaded and lower the baby’s oxygen level. This event may warrant an emergency cesarean.

Next, women with an epidural are likely to develop a fever. Because it’s unclear if the fever is simply a side effect of the epidural or the result of an infection, both mom and baby will usually need antibiotics after delivery.

Additionally, around 1% of women who receive an epidural will endure spinal headaches after delivery. These are often debilitating and may require another procedure to fix. Because the first few weeks postpartum are already full of challenges, spinal headaches can be an unwelcome hindrance.

Furthermore, the mother may become drowsy, experience slowed breathing, become extremely itchy, or have an achy back. She may get an infection at the injection site and need to be treated with antibiotics.

Between 10-12% of laboring women will not receive adequate pain relief from an epidural. Sometimes they only go numb on one side of the body but continue to feel contractions on the other.

Finally, serious complications from an epidural include nerve damage, paralysis and seizures, but these are extremely rare and death by epidural is almost non-existent.

For a full review of the benefits and risks of epidurals click here.

Of course, these risks are low and many women have no issues with epidurals at all, but because there is always a chance, many women choose to opt out of medical pain relief and aim for a natural birth instead.

Why in the world would anyone ever want a natural birth?

The Beauty of the Natural

Besides the risk of intervention, natural birth is also full of benefits. Because an unmedicated laboring women can feel everything happening, she is often able to be more in tune with her body. This allows her to instinctively know which position she should move into to help baby descend and continue progressing and she has the mobility to get into any position needed. She is able to push in a variety of different ways including standing, squatting and on all fours. She can feel exactly when and how to push so second stage of labor is often shorter and more effective. She is less likely to tear because she can feel the pressure of her baby moving down allowing for a more gentle descent. Putting all of this together, her recovery is often quicker and she is comfortable walking around independently before a women with an epidural has even gotten the feeling back in her legs.

Because natural birth is an uncomplicated process, labor can happen in an environment that is more conducive to progress. Fear, distraction, and mental stimulation all inhibit the body’s ability to labor effectively. Bright lights, beeping monitors, frequent interruptions and hospital intake questions can all contribute to stalled or slowed labor. On the other hand, the absence of interventions means a woman can labor at home or in a birth center where she is more comfortable, uninterrupted, unhindered, and in greater control of who she has in her space. She is more relaxed and less afraid and her body can labor on. Because of this, the natural birth process often works more smoothly than when interventions are added in without medical necessity.

Though we have made it clear that there is no trophy or special cookies for a natural birthing mama, she may receive a “hormone cocktail” after delivery that leaves her feeling energized and exuberant throughout the beginning of the postpartum period. This is because the body makes Endorphins in response to feeling pain that decrease discomfort and increase positive sensations. When women endure labor unmedicated, they will receive endorphins at full force as well. Cheers to the natural birth high!

Finally, many women find the process of giving birth naturally to be very empowering. Labor is an incredible feat and nearly every woman reaches a point in delivery where she thinks she cannot continue. But when she presses on, she finds out that her body was created to do difficult and powerful things and she discovers new determination and courage that she never knew she had. Women who strive for a natural birth see the beauty in the process and they want to experience it fully.

Keeping it in Perspective

In summary, natural birth is something to plan for because it is less complicated, less risky and it often works beautifully. However, it’s important to keep things in perspective and hold a healthy view of any birth plans a woman may have. Labor is unpredictable and try as we may, there are always factors we simply cannot control. Serious complications do arise and women must be prepared to meet medical intervention with gratitude when it is truly needed. While natural birth might be the goal, healthy birth is the ideal and sometimes medicine is the best way to achieve that.

Related: To the Mama Whose Natural Birth Plan Fell Through

As with any decision, every pregnant woman must do her own research, weigh the pros and cons of each option, assess how much risk she is willing to carry and then decide what is best for her. This looks totally different for different women and that’s completely fine. But I hope this gives you a better understanding of why anyone would willingly want to give birth unmedicated. As always, if you have further questions about this concept, feel free to reach out! I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Why in the world would anyone ever want a natural birth?

35 Things To Do In Early Labor

Many expecting moms are shocked to find out that early labor can take anywhere from several hours to a couple of days. In this phase of childbirth, contractions are random, usually mild, and may start and stop. Most women can be easily distracted in this phase and can continue walking and talking during contractions. If they do pause during the contraction to take a couple breaths, they can usually pick up right where they left off once the contraction passes.

Because early labor can take so long, it can often be a discouraging and confusing time for a pregnant woman who is ready to meet her baby. Additionally, she may wind up going to the hospital too early and either get sent home or be hit with unnecessary interventions.

Therefore, it’s important to have an early labor plan full of things you can do at home or out of the hospital. Start thinking now about some activities you can do when contractions start that will relax you, distract you, and get your body ready for active labor and then write them down. To help you, here’s a list of 35 things to do in early labor, beginning with the most important thing.

1. REST

If you only do one thing in early labor, RESTING should be it. If it’s during the night, lay in your bed, close your eyes and sleep as much as possible. If it’s during the day, nap when you can and at least lay down if you can’t sleep. If you get up to do a different activity that’s fine, but rest again afterward. Conserving energy for active labor is the name of the game so never push your body when it’s telling you it’s tired.

35 things to do in early labor

2. Stretch

There’s nothing I find more relaxing for my body than to do gentle stretches and work out any tension I may have in my muscles. What a great way to start out the laboring process!

3. Spinning Babies

SpinningBabies.com has great information and exercises for optimal baby positioning both in pregnancy and in labor. Particularly if early labor has been going on for quite some time or it has lots of starts and stops, it may be that baby is in a funny position and needs a little adjusting. For early labor I generally recommend the side lying release and the forward leaning inversion. Make sure to thoroughly read the instructions and have a friend help you do them.

4. Pamper Yourself

Early labor is a great time to do a little pampering. Whether it’s your nails, your hair, a sugar scrub, a facial mask or your makeup, it can be a soothing and distracting activity and it may give you a boost of energy as you progress. Of course, no one is going to care how you look in active labor but if it’s a fun way for you to spend early labor, go for it!

5. Listen to a Hypnobirthing track

Hypnobirthing is a method of childbirth that relies on positive imagery and guided relaxation throughout labor. Listening to a track will help you visualize your upcoming birth and mentally prepare for a calm, relaxed labor.

6. See a chiropractor

A chiropractor who is certified in the Webster Technique can help align the pelvis, and adjust the tailbone and pubic bone so that the birth canal is easier to navigate for the baby. This can lead to quicker, easier birth and is certainly worth your while. So if you can, see a chiropractor once a week from 36 weeks on and ask them if it would be ok to pop in when early labor begins if it happens to be during business hours. They are usually more than willing!

7. Pack your bag with last minute things

Whether it’s your phone charger or toiletries, there may be a few things you still need to put in your hospital bag. Early labor is a good time to gather everything and set it by the door so that you’re ready to go once things pick up.

8. Drink red raspberry leaf tea

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is said to be a uterine tonic which allows contractions to be more effective when labor begins. Drinking it in early labor may give your uterus a boost and help the rest of the process to go more smoothly.

35 Things to do in early labor

9. Look at your Calendar

When contractions begin, you may wish to take a good look at your calendar and take mental note of any appointments or events you have coming up in the next couple days so that you can quickly cancel them if labor picks up.

10. Go for a walk

Walking is so good for baby positioning because it keeps the pelvis moving, allowing baby to find the best fit. It is also one of the best ways to bring on longer, stronger, and more frequent contractions. So whether it’s at the mall, at a favorite park, or just around your home, it’s certainly something that should be included in your early labor plan.

11. Prayer

If you’re a believer, prayer is a great way to spend time in early labor. It will allow you to labor in peace and not in fear, knowing that God has perfectly planned out the birth of your baby and is with you every step of the way. Consider listening to the Childbirth in the Glory CD to guide your prayer time.

12. Watch a movie

If you can’t sleep during early labor, you can at least lay down and distract yourself with a favorite movie to pass some time. Be sure, however, that it’s a light hearted story that will boost your mood and keep you relaxed rather than a drama that may introduce fear or sadness.

13. Go out to eat

Sometimes you just need to have a little fun in early labor and going to your favorite local restaurant is a great way to do that. You can take your mind off the contractions and enjoy being served a meal with nothing to clean up afterwards. It’s a perfect way to pass the time.

14. Yoga

Yoga not only relaxes you, but it also helps open your hips and pelvis and teaches you to breathe through discomfort, a skill you will soon be using! There are so many great options on YouTube for late pregnancy yoga. Find a couple favorites and have them ready for whenever early labor starts!

15. Date night

Early labor just might signal your last chance for a date night for awhile, so take the opportunity while you can. Soak up as much time together as possible and truly enjoy the person you will be parenting with. Your lives are about to change forever after all!

35 things to do in early laborEarly labor started on my due date in my last birth. We were able to sneak in a date with some shopping and dinner! Click the image to read the whole story.

16. Clean

One of the best ways to work out the nervous energy that often comes with early labor is to clean and it can give you peace of mind knowing that your house is ready to bring baby home to. Just remember that golden rule we talked about earlier; conserve your energy and rest when you can!

17. Go shopping

Doing a little shopping in early labor is a win win. You are given a nice distraction from contractions but you also get a good walk in. And maybe you have a few last minute things you want to grab for yourself or your baby before the birth. It will be awhile before you head to the store again.

18. Miles Circuit

The Miles Circuit is another great tool for baby positioning. If contractions don’t seem to be progressing, they stop and start, or they are very close together but mild, try going through this circuit and see if it makes a difference. Once baby is positioned correctly, active labor may begin.

19. Eat!

Even if you don’t go out to a restaurant, it’s still vitally important to eat and drink in early labor. You may not feel like eating a whole lot when you’re in active labor but you will need the calories to undergo the hard work of childbirth so if you’re hungry, eat! Focus on good proteins and carbs and shy away from fatty or processed foods that may upset your stomach later.

20. Do a puzzle

Puzzles are a beautiful way to let your mind run as you process everything you’re going through. Bonus points if you sit backward on a chair while you do the puzzle to keep your hips open which gives room for baby to move down.

21. Finish any last minute projects

Maybe you were really hoping to organize the junk drawer, update your new budget, or learn how to set up the baby’s pack-n-play before the birth. Early labor is a great time to check a few things off your list if they are occupying your mind. Of course it’s not the time for anything too in-depth or physically tiring but small tasks here and there can be wonderful.

22. Stairs

Going up and down the stairs opens the pelvis asymmetrically which can aide in baby positioning and bring on stronger contractions. Take two stairs at a time or go up and down sideways alternating which leg is leading for some variation.

35 things to do in early labor

23. Laugh

There is no better way to naturally reduce stress than laughter and because stress can delay, slow down, or even stop labor altogether, laughter truly can be the best medicine! Be intentional about laughing, tell jokes, or listen to a funny podcast. Active labor may be just around the corner!

24. Bake cookies

Baking cookies can be such a yummy distraction and if you happen to begin active labor before you eat them, your birth team would love for you to bring them along. Trust me 😉

25. Dance party

Dancing is a fun way to exercise, it’s a big stress reliever, and it’s a great way to get baby positioned properly for birth. And if you have toddlers or older children, having a dance party with them can be a sweet memory to make before they meet their new sibling.

26. Lunges

When you have a burst of energy in early labor, doing lunges is a terrific way to use it. Side lunges, forward lunges, reverse lunges, lunges on a chair, whatever kind of lunge you want! They all open the pelvis asymmetrically which you know by now is the key to optimal baby positioning.

27. Intimacy

It’s true. The same thing that got the baby in there can get the baby out. Cuddling, kissing, and sex all help increase the production of oxytocin which is the love hormone AND the labor hormone. So as long as your water hasn’t broken, intimacy is a great idea especially since it may be the last chance you get for a couple months.

28. Take a bath/shower

Hydrotherapy is a brilliant labor tool. It’s relaxing and is a great way to manage pain. You may find getting in the shower allows you to labor at home a bit longer so that when you get to the hospital or birth center, you are further into the birthing process and you’re also nice and clean!

35 things to do in early labor

29. Write a letter to your baby

I can’t think of a sweeter thing to do in early labor than to write a letter to the baby you’re about to meet. Not only will this make an awesome gift for your child one day, but it will also remind you why you’re excited to go into labor in the first place. Yes, childbirth is difficult but it’s also the most worthwhile thing in the world. Giving life to a new baby is such a gift!

30. Bounce on an exercise ball

Anytime you want to sit down for a bit in early labor, sit on an exercise ball instead of a couch or chair. This forces you into an upright, forward-leaning, open pelvis position which, you guessed it, is great for baby positioning! Additionally, it’s often the most comfortable place to sit in late pregnancy and it’s so much easier to get on and off of than a couch.

31. Eat dates

Current research shows that eating six dates a day in the last month of pregnancy can lead to shorter labors, fewer inductions, and a reduced need for pain medication. This may be because dates can have an oxytocin-like effect on the cervix which helps prep for an easier labor. Eat them on their own, include them in a protein ball, or mix them in your smoothie. If nothing else, they’re a yummy, nutritious snack!

32. Talk about your feelings

Many women experience a whole host of emotions in early labor. From anxiety about labor to excitement about the baby to a hesitation about becoming a mom, there’s a lot going on. Particularly, if you are feeling discouraged about how long early labor is taking, it’s important to vocalize those emotions with a trusted member of your birth team who will validate and encourage you. Believe it or not, these difficult feelings can impact labor so it’s essential to process them fully.

33. Play a game

I always carry a deck of cards in my doula bag in case I find myself supporting a client in early labor. For the most part, this is a relaxation and distraction technique but a little healthy competition is always a great way to bond with the people you have invited to be with you in labor.

34. Do a normal day

If contractions are still random and mild, your best option may just be to carry on with your day as normal. Go to work, go get groceries, keep your evening plans, and pretend early labor isn’t happening. This can keep your spirits up and allow you to continue waiting patiently for active labor to begin.

35. Keep it quiet

And last but not least, consider keeping the news that you’re experiencing early labor a secret from people who are not on your birth team. The more people who know that things have begun the more texts you will receive asking for an update. And if things haven’t picked up when they ask how it’s going, you may feel tempted to be disappointed and they may make you wonder if something could be wrong. In reality, early labor is a process and can take awhile, so there’s no reason to add other people’s negative input to your plate.

Early labor can be emotionally taxing but remember, you are doing such a great job mama and your body knows exactly what to do! I hope this list helps you visualize a relaxing and sweet early labor phase and empowers you to wait patiently. When active labor begins, you will have had so much practice and you will feel prepared and ready to meet your sweet baby. You’ve got this mama!

35 things to do in early labor

What I Did to Attempt to Prevent Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a complication in pregnancy characterized by sudden high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and severe swelling. It affects around 5-8% of pregnancies and most often occurs in first time moms in their third trimester [source].

Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition and the only real cure is to deliver the baby. Consequently, most preeclamptic moms are induced as soon as they can be.

At this point, doctors do not know exactly what causes preeclampsia, therefore we cannot accurately predict or prevent it. However, there are several things we can do to attempt to avoid preeclampsia and many women who have had it in the past are willing to do whatever it takes to ward it off in the future.

In my first pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia very suddenly at 41 weeks. I was induced right away, had my baby 39 hours later, and then developed HELLP syndrome, which is an even more serious condition. It was certainly a rough process but fortunately, my baby was unaffected and healthy and I recovered a couple weeks later.

Going into my second pregnancy, I was so determined to do whatever I could to avoid preeclampsia and I am relieved to say, I did! I was able to experience natural birth in a birth center which was amazing and I went home 6 hours after delivery which was a huge contrast from the 5 nights I spent in the hospital with my first.

Maybe it was because this was my second pregnancy and I had the same partner, which lowers the risk of developing preeclampsia again. Or maybe it was because of the long list of other things I did. I will never know exactly why I didn’t get preeclampsia this pregnancy but nevertheless, I will be doing all of these things in any future pregnancy that I have.

Here they are:

1) I took a Baby Aspirin every day.

This was recommended to me by the OBs who worked with my midwives. One baby aspirin a day has been shown to lower the risk of preeclampsia by about 24% [source]. Better yet, there have been no instances of side affects for neither moms nor babies. This is certainly something to talk to your care provider about if you’re concerned about preeclampsia. I was especially faithful with this one.

2) I took a homeopathic called Sulphur once a week.

This is a more natural solution that was recommended to me by my midwives. Just ten pellets once a week is said to help maintain a healthy blood pressure. It’s a great idea to seek out a holistic care provider who can guide you in the use of homeopathics because I was so thankful to have this tool in my tool belt.

What I did to attempt to prevent preeclampsia

3) I made sure to eat as much protein as I could.

Protein is extremely important for maintaining healthy blood pressure in pregnancy. Because of this, nearly every meal and every snack all pregnancy long included protein. I ate a bunch of eggs, nuts, meat, beans, and Greek yogurt. If you want more information on this topic, check out the Brewer’s Diet. Although I could never consume as many calories as suggested, I felt it was still a good guide as I meal planned this pregnancy.

4) I exercised as often as I could.

I am definitely someone who needs regular exercise to stay sane, but this pregnancy, I was even more motivated to work out. Not only does it majorly reduce my stress levels, but I could clearly see a drop in blood pressure when I kept active, especially in those last few weeks of pregnancy.

5) I ate a lot of cucumbers and grapefruit and drank lime water.

Cucumbers and lime water both help reduce swelling which really had a positive impact on my mental game because swelling made me so nervous. Furthermore, grapefruits are said to reduce blood pressure almost overnight [source]. Any time I started to feel a little too swollen or a bit worried that my blood pressure was rising, I would load up on these three things and I’m so glad I did.

In the last month or two of my pregnancy, I ate a whole cucumber most days. Sometimes I filled a whole pitcher of lime water and drank it throughout the day. Grapefruits were my favorite bedtime snack and I made sure to always include them on my grocery list. I truly could tell a difference in my swelling and my blood pressure after eating and drinking so much of these three things.

What I did to attempt to prevent preeclampsia

6) I kept up my magnesium intake.

Magnesium is so important for maintaining healthy blood pressure. In fact, when I developed HELLP syndrome after my first pregnancy, I was put on a 24 hour magnesium drip through an IV to make my blood pressure go down. This time around, I was determined to use magnesium as a preventative rather than a treatment.

The recommendation is to supplement with around 350 mg a day [source] so I specifically picked out a prenatal vitamin that had some magnesium in it. Additionally, some days I would take an extra calcium-magnesium supplement, some days I would apply a magnesium lotion, and other days I would take an Epsom salt bath with atleast two cups of Epsom salts. Overall, I felt like the magnesium lotion made the biggest impact because I usually didn’t have any calf cramps the nights that I applied it. I will certainly have it on hand constantly in future pregnancies.

7) I took a Vitamin D supplement.

Finally, I took 2000 mg of Vitamin D each day which has recently been shown to help prevent preeclampsia [source]. It’s interesting to note that there are more cases of preeclampsia during the winter than there are in the summer months, which could possibly be due to the vitamin D we get from the sun [source].

Indeed, my first pregnancy was during the winter and early spring. Even though I spent so much more time outside and in my greenhouse during my second pregnancy, I still felt it was important to take a Vitamin D supplement, especially in the early fall months of my pregnancy. I am confident that it could have had an impact on my blood pressure.

Who knows which of these things, if any, helped me to prevent preeclampsia this time around. Sometimes I felt like I took an outrageous amount of supplements and precautions. However, it was all completely worth it to me and I would definitely do it all again ♥️

Have you had preeclampsia in any of your pregnancies? What have you done to try to maintain a healthy blood pressure since then?

The Epic, Beautiful, and Unexpected Birth Story of Jesus Christ Told as If I Were Mary’s Doula

Note: This is a piece of historical fiction. The Bible only gives us a couple key facts about the birth of Jesus which leaves the rest to the imagination. As I reflected on the coming Christmas Season, I started thinking about what it would be like if I attended Jesus’ birth as Mary’s doula. This is simply the story of what I presume I would think and feel and see as I witnessed the virgin birth, and is not supposed to be regarded as fact.

If I were Mary’s doula, the story might have gone like this…

There’s a young, unmarried girl named Mary who has been causing quite an uproar. Recently, she disappeared for three full months and no one had any idea where she went. Later, rumor went around that she fled to the hills to visit her elderly aunt who is supposedly pregnant. Now that she’s returned, her secret is out: She’s clearly pregnant too. But what’s really bizarre is that she claims she’s still a virgin! Of course, no one is really buying it and she continues to be slandered everywhere she goes.

This whole story is all very strange to me and yet I can’t help but feel for her. I don’t believe a virgin could conceive and yet my mind can’t stop thinking of her. She must be scared, she must be confused, and she must feel overwhelmed as she navigates this new world of pregnancy and motherhood without anyone who believes in her. As much as I don’t want to associate myself with the drama, I just want her to know she’s not alone.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw her in town that day. We happened to cross paths and I instantly felt conflicted. Should I talk to her?

“No,” I thought, “just keep walking.”

But then, as if I didn’t have control of my body, I approached her.

She’s hesitant at first. Clearly she is used to being ridiculed, shamed, and disregarded. But I introduce myself and ask her to tell me her story. She slowly starts to open up. She explains that an angel came to her and said she would conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. I desperately try to hide the whirlwind of emotions I feel as she tells me this: the fear, the doubt, and the teeny tiny bit of illogical hope that it’s true. Mary knows she sounds crazy, she knows it’s hard to believe, and yet I sense a quiet confidence in her. She does not doubt what has happened inside of her and with wonder in her eyes, she repeats the angel’s words, “nothing will be impossible with God.”

I’m stunned.

“How God?” I think to myself. “How could this happen and why would you do something that’s so hard to believe?”

Several months had passed and though I hadn’t heard from Mary, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think of her. I constantly wondered what she might be feeling. What would it be like to carry a baby who she believed was the Lord? What goes through her mind as she feels Him kick? Would she be full of more anxiety than usual knowing the Son Of God is in her womb or would she be completely at peace, knowing that God’s plans do not fail? I couldn’t stop playing through every possible scenario in my mind. Like I often do, I dreamt about the birth. If this truly was the Lord, surely the labor would be wonderful and smooth and the delivery would be perfect. A King should have the most glorious entrance into the world after all. I hoped so badly that I could be there.

I was shocked when she came to me that day, her belly fully round.

“Joseph and I are headed to Bethlehem for the census,” she told me.

I couldn’t believe she was willing to make the journey at this point in her pregnancy but I knew she didn’t really have a choice. When she asked me to go with her I very nearly fainted. She knew her time to deliver was coming. Of course, I packed a bag and was ready within minutes. I wouldn’t pass up this opportunity for anything.

I did what I could to make the trip easier for Mary but at this point in her pregnancy, there wasn’t a lot of hope for comfort. While traveling, Joseph told me the story of an angel visiting him as well and confirming that what Mary said was true. I still wasn’t sure what I really thought about the situation and yet I wanted more than anything to believe them. The hope, the peace, and the confidence they had was so beautiful and I longed to feel that way too.

When we arrived in Bethlehem there were swarms of people everywhere. There were no rooms available anywhere and I knew Mary needed to rest. Finally, we found a measly stable to stay in and settled in for the night.

Of course, as fate would have it, Mary’s contractions began. In a burst of nervous energy, Joseph quickly left to seek out a local Hebrew midwife. I could tell that despite the increasing pain, Mary was excited about what was to come. All that the angel told her would soon be accomplished.

Joseph returned with the midwife and then he waited outside because we knew the time was near. I cleaned up the place as best as I could but this was nothing like the glorious entrance I was planning in my mind.

Why would God allow His Son to be born into such humble conditions? It didn’t make any sense to me and yet there were no other options at the time.

Mary’s pains began to get harder. She went from breathing deeply through them, to moaning, to full out roaring as she got closer to delivery. Labor was as tough as any other birth I had been to. It certainly wasn’t the smooth, easy delivery I had pictured.

I supported her as she leaned and swayed and then finally, we reached that moment of relief and excitement as she naturally began to push. A bit later, those little pushes turned into strenuous burst of power. With all her might she fought to birth this little baby, the one she believed to be the Son of God. As her strength increased so did her fear, those all familiar moments of panic, the worry that she might not be able to accomplish her mission. She said it felt impossible, but had no choice except to press on, pushing harder and harder, stronger and stronger.

With the next contraction, she didn’t know what else to do but yell in anguish,

“COME JESUS IMMANUEL!”

She called Him by His name, as many mothers do at this stage. And with that, He was born.

It was the Holiest moment, the Earth was quiet in reverence and we all knew that phrase she yelled would be uttered countless times by millions of people throughout the rest of humanity. Men and women everywhere would find themselves in low and humble places, dealing with the pain and agony of this world and their solution will be nothing less than calling on the Savior Jesus Christ. Asking Him, begging Him to come and live with them. To completely change their life like He changed Mary’s that day. It was a chilling, profound moment, and it was then that I believed. God has sent his Son to deliver us all.

After Mary nursed her new sweet babe, she swaddled Him, and placed Him in a manger because that’s all we had. I always sleep well the night after a birth but on that night, because of what I had witnessed, my Soul could finally rest in a way it never has before. The Son of God has come to Earth the way all humans do. But because of Him, the way we live and leave this Earth will be forever changed.

Lainey’s Birth Story

The birth story of Lainey Nicole starts on her due date, Thursday, October 4th. I woke up that morning to some spotting and hoped that meant my cervix was starting to change. The anticipation and excitement quickly set in as I knew labor could truly start at any time even though my husband and I had some important plans coming up the next few days. That afternoon, we had an appointment to pick out plumbing fixtures for the new house we’re building and while we were there, an intermittent low back ache set in, the start of mild contractions! After that, we picked up Kevin’s tux for a wedding he was in that weekend and grabbed a delicious dinner at Chili’s. It was such a sweet little date and I just remember laughing a lot that day. By the time I went to bed, I was having very mild contractions at about 8 minutes apart and fell asleep peacefully.

Labor 1

Molten Lava Cakes are the best way to start out the labor process.

I woke up around 12:30 that night, October 5th, and lost my mucous plug. Contractions started coming quicker then but still irregularly. Some of them were harder than others. At times they were 4 minutes apart and I got shaky from all the adrenaline but then they would calm down and I could sleep. I got in some super sweet cuddles with my 2 year old and she held me as I breathed through contractions. By 6 am they calmed down completely and we slept until 9. My mom and I went to Walmart that morning to grab a few last minute things and that afternoon I saw the chiropractor to try to line everything up in my pelvis in preparation for birth.

That night Kevin and I had a rehearsal dinner for our friend’s wedding and contractions started again while we were there. Mostly they were manageable but some of them required Kevin to discreetly apply counterpressure as we ate lasagna with the rest of the bridal party. Our daughter spent the night with her grandparents and we went home. I had contractions all night long but slept well in between them until about 6 am when I realized they were coming about 5 minutes apart. I stayed in bed until 7 and then started getting ready for the wedding. Contractions kept coming so I also got our bags all packed. They were getting more intense and I started to think it was finally happening for real. When it came time to decide if we were going to the wedding or not, I took my blood pressure. Even though it wasn’t high enough to be considered hypertension, it was just high enough to scare me into thinking my body might not be able to handle labor and suddenly contractions stopped almost completely. I was so disappointed, a little shook up, and I sent my husband to the wedding. An hour later, I decided to get dressed and go as well.

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My labor bags sat ready and waiting all day Saturday as we enjoyed the wedding.

At the wedding I sat with Chick and Janice Lengacher, the parents of Emily Lengacher, who was a good friend and roommate of mine in college. We lost her in a tragic car accident our senior year and our lives have never quite been the same ever since. Kevin and I knew that if this baby was a girl, she would share Emily’s middle name, Nicole, in honor of her. Because of that, it was so special to see her parents that day and hear they were praying for a safe delivery, especially because they live five hours away and we don’t see them often at all. I am so thankful God orchestrated that beautiful meeting into this baby’s birth story.

Contractions still hadn’t returned with much regularity so I then decided to take my toddler and go an hour away to the wedding reception with my husband and a friend of ours. My daughter danced her heart out by herself on that country line dance floor and I so enjoyed watching her. But after a couple trips of walking her to the bathroom and getting us both food, I started noticing contractions coming a bit more intense and close together. I was sitting at a table with no one that I knew during dinner and discreetly timing them at 5 minutes apart while also trying to hold a conversation with strangers. It was just crazy enough to make me laugh throughout it all. We stayed for the first dance and by then, I could no longer hide the fact that I was in pain so we quickly started the hour drive home.

Laboring in the car was certainly not a fun experience especially because it was clear by then that I would have mostly back labor. We had a friend in the car with us so I tried to keep it together as much as possible and I kept my focus on the ETA our GPS was giving us. When we finally got home, I did some stairs, a few abdominal lifts, and laid in the Texas Roll Position to try to get the baby in an anterior position because I assumed a posterior position was the reason for the back labor. Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be the case and even though contractions had spaced out to 8 minutes apart at that time, they were as intense as I ever remember them being before the epidural in my first labor. My body was shaking uncontrollably and I started to doubt my ability to labor unmedicated. I finally decided to call the midwife at 9 o’clock that night. I told her that I was confused about why the contractions were so strong at only 8 minutes apart but she assured me that she has seen women fully dilate with irregular contractions. She suggested I get in the shower and would call me back in a half hour.

Labor 3

I spent the first 6 hours of active labor in the comfort of my own home ❤️

The shower was absolutely brilliant and completely took the back labor away while I was in there at least. I got the relief I needed to keep on laboring at home awhile longer. My mom and my sister left the campsite my family was at for the weekend and made the hour drive home. For the next couple hours I leaned over the birth ball while my husband watched Notre Dame football. He applied counterpressure on my back during contractions which made all the difference in the world. My mom, my husband, and I kept throwing around the idea of going into the birth center but I kept feeling like it wasn’t quite time yet. I had had so many false starts in the last couple of days and I was really afraid of going in too early. Finally, after an hour of contractions every 3-4 minutes I was convinced to go in, especially because I thought there was a chance my water may have broken, so we called the midwife once again and planned to meet at the birth center at 12:15 am on October 7th.

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I just love how cozy the birth center is.

Arriving at the birth center was like a dream come true for me. As a doula, I absolutely love working at our local birth center. The calm and home-like atmosphere makes it a pleasure to work in and I truly believe it makes the birth process go so much smoother. However, in my last pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia and had to go to the hospital to be induced so I was constantly worried that something similar would happen again this time. (Read my first birth story here.) I told the midwife right away that I was nervous about being checked and having my blood pressure taken but I knew I had great support and had prepared myself to take things as they come. Because of all that, I was completely overjoyed to find out that though my water hadn’t broken, my cervix was 6 cm dilated and my blood pressure was good! I was admitted and rode that excitement through the rest of my labor.

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I first spent a good 30 minutes laying on my side with the peanut ball as my sister, my photographer and my doula joined my husband, mom, and I. After that, I spent quite awhile on the stairs doing lunges and some squats to open my pelvis and move the baby down. I kept my focus on fully recovering in between contractions and tried to feel as normal as possible when not in pain. I made small talk, told jokes, and relied on my husband who is an expert at keeping the mood lighthearted. Because of this, contractions came and went quickly and they felt much more manageable.

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My doula and midwife then got the tub all ready, complete with dim lighting and beautiful candles surrounding it. I climbed in and turned on my labor playlist which was a combination of worship music, hypnobirthing tracks, the Childbirth In the Glory album, piano instrumentals, and the sweet love song I walked down the aisle to, Songbird by Eva Cassidy. The water and music was so soothing and I loved being able to fully relax. I sat in a variety of positions in between contractions but always always always, I made sure to get on my hands and knees at the beginning of a contraction so that my doula and my husband could easily apply counter pressure. I cannot say enough about counter pressure. Without it, contractions were nearly unbearable, but with it, they were much more manageable. I needed it every single contraction from beginning to end and I’m so thankful I had a great birth team who could make that happen for me. They’re the real MVPs.

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After the bath I got out and paced around the cozy living room for awhile until I started to feel more pressure in my bottom from the baby moving down. I spent the rest of the first stage of labor leaning over the birthing ball in bed with someone doing rebozo sifting on my belly. I became increasingly vocal during contractions but man, I feel like it helped so much to use my voice through them. I would often let out one or two long, low groans, and then blow air out through my lips like a horse for the next few breaths as the contraction ended. Internally, I kept reminding myself that each contraction passes quickly, that I was making progress and would see it soon, and I got glimpses of some of my other clients, who were so strong and powerful through their labors, which encouraged me to keep pressing on.

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Finally, I felt the strangest feeling of my tailbone moving out of the way and I knew things had changed. Around 4:40 am, I started feeling an urge to push and we got the birth stool set up. I asked if my purple line was there and indeed it was so I chose not to do a cervical check at that time. In hindsight, I should have listened to my gut and gotten checked but I was so excited and ready to push that I suppressed that feeling for fear of being told it wasn’t time yet. So I began following the urges my body was giving but it was fairly clear that I wasn’t making much progress. Furthermore, those pushing contractions were way more painful than any I had experienced so far. I couldn’t remember ever having a client say anything about such terrible lower back pain with pushing and I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me. Usually, I tell clients that most people almost “enjoy” the pushing phase because they get to actively do something with a contraction. How wrong I was, I thought to myself. I became so very loud during this phase, roaring at the top of my lungs with each push. I couldn’t help it and it provided relief. At one point, thunder shook the sky right after I pushed and I felt a sense of amazement, as if God and the Earth were pushing with me. At other points I simply yelled “I’M SO MAD!!” because these contractions were so painful and I didn’t seem to be making progress. There was also a time when I got a bit panicky and whispered to my husband that I really didn’t think I could do it. He of course, assured me that I could and that I would and I continued to press on. 024A9E87-BAAB-4684-811E-AE4D400D54BB.jpeg EACDA386-7881-4D94-A296-CDC9779AEDD2After an hour of that, my midwife checked me and found that I indeed had a little anterior cervical lip left which was blocking the baby from coming down. Lesson learned. Through the next couple contractions she had to try to push the lip away while I pushed, which was definitely a painful process. But the relief when she told me we had moved the baby through the cervix was so rewarding.

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During one contraction, I pushed as hard as I could when all of a sudden my bag of waters popped “like a water balloon” as my husband described it. It was the absolute weirdest feeling but I was relieved to be making progress. I had already switched positions a couple times from the stool, to hands and knees, to the toilet, to leaning over by the tub throughout that first hour. After I truly was completely dilated, I was about to climb into bed for all fours when a contraction hit so I ended up pushing standing up beside the bed. In the next 22 minutes I could feel so much more progress with each push. All at once I felt the ring of fire we hear so much about and yelled “IT BURNS” loud enough that all my in-laws waiting patiently in the living room knew we must be getting close. I tried my best to breathe through that feeling like I instruct my clients to do but it was hard. I just wanted the baby out. I was slightly in shock but laser focused when they told me the head had came out and I would birth the shoulders in the next contraction. With a big push at 6:14 am, the baby came out “swinging on the umbilical cord” according to my husband (I told you he keeps things lighthearted). They handed the baby to me and we found out we had another sweet baby girl! I was so happy, so relieved and yet I couldn’t show any emotion on my face at that point.

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I moved to the bed where we got Miss Lainey Nicole all warm and dry, cut the cord, and waited for the placenta. I was so shocked and relieved to find out I didn’t need any stitches. My oldest daughter Blakely got to come in and see us right away which was so special. She’s such a happy big sister. All of our family members and birth team left soon after to get some rest. Lainey eagerly latched on 15 minutes after she was born and nursed for around 90 minutes. She then had her newborn exam where we found out she weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces, was 19 inches long and had a 13 inch head. Next she cuddled up skin to skin with her daddy and they both slept for about 4 hours straight. I ate several pieces of homemade bread, a Burger King breakfast sandwich and took a healing herbal postpartum bath. Then we packed all up and we were home by 1 pm. The whole experience was truly surreal and honestly a dream come true for me. As someone who absolutely loves birth, I’ve spent the last 7-8 years hoping to have such a wonderful experience and words cannot express how thankful I am to God, to my birth team, and to everyone else who was praying and cheering us on. Bringing life into this world is the most humbling and rewarding gift and I’m so honored to be this little girl’s mama ❤️

Our photographer put together a sweet little video of the labor and birth which you can watch here!

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Where To Give Birth In Elkhart County

As a doula, one of my biggest goals for my clients is that they are completely aware of all of their options surrounding the birth of their baby. Because choosing a care provider is one of the first decisions you make after finding out you’re pregnant, the place you plan to give birth is also decided quickly. Fortunately, we have a plethora of options right here in Elkhart County so planning for the birth you want is definitely possible! Let’s explore all the local birth places as well as different things you need to consider as you make your choice.

THE NUMBER ONE FACTOR

When choosing where to birth, I always tell people that the number one factor is deciding where you will be most comfortable and feel the safest. This is because labor cannot progress well when the mother is tense and afraid. Fear is a sign to your body that now is not the time or the place for a baby to born. Unfortunately, for many moms this fear turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are afraid birth won’t go well so their body slows the process down and guess what? Birth does not go well. So finding a way to eliminate fear is step number one.

Are you someone that will only be able to relax knowing that you’re in a hospital, right down the hall from the operating room should an emergency happen? Will your support team be tense enough to stress you out outside of the hospital? If you answer yes to either of these and you’ve done your research on the safety of birth, then the hospital may just be the best place for you to labor and meet your baby.

On the other hand, will constant beeping from the monitors and people continually coming in and out of your room stress you out? Will you be intimidated by all the wires and the equipment and will the knowledge of an epidural distract you from your natural birth plans? Can you truly feel at home and comfortable on a twin bed and small couch? If these questions raise a concern, consider a birthing center with a homelike atmosphere and a peaceful environment to labor in.

Finally, does the idea of quickly packing your bags and driving to your birth place while having contractions seem chaotic to you? For some, it’s enough stress to disrupt the flow of labor, at least temporarily. Would you be most comfortable in your own home, in your own bed, knowing that as soon as baby is born you can start to settle in to your new life? If this sounds like a dream, why not try for a home birth?

With all of these options available locally, I encourage you to truly consider each one. Take tours of both maternity units and birth centers. Ask your friends about their experiences. Does one option stick out to you more than the others? What does your gut say? Your instincts may know more than you think.

MIDWIVES VS OBSTETRICIANS

Another big factor to consider when choosing a birth place is if you want your birth attended by a midwife or an OB. In Elkhart County, there are different midwives who attend home births, birth center births, and hospital births but obstetricians only attend hospital births. So what’s the difference between the two? Obstetricians are qualified physicians who have gone through many years of schooling. They are well trained in the various complications of pregnancy and are able to use different medical tools during birth such as the vacuum extractor, forceps, and cesareans. Conversely, midwives typically have less years of schooling but are well trained in healthy, normal, low risk pregnancies and birth. Though they do not have the license to treat serious complications, they are diligent at screening for any and all issues that may arise and they follow specific protocol for when to refer a client’s care to an OB if necessary. Therefore, if you are someone who is in good health and you view birth as a normal, physiological process that women have been navigating for centuries, you can be confident that you will be well taken care of by a midwife both in and out of a hospital. On the other hand, if you are high risk or issues arise during your pregnancy, you will likely be cared for best by an OB in a hospital.

COST

Another factor to consider when choosing a birth place is the financial cost. Though money should never be the main reason you choose to birth at a specific location, it is nevertheless, important to consider. In general, a home birth is your least expensive option, followed by a birth center birth. A midwife attended hospital birth will be considerably more expensive and a birth with an OB costs the most. However, you must factor in your health insurance with counting costs. Some insurance companies do not cover home births or birth centers which means you might pay the least out of pocket if you give birth at a hospital. Other health sharing ministries cover home births, birth centers, and midwives at a higher percentage because they bring the overall cost of health care down. Every insurance company and plan is different, so be sure to thoroughly consider your options as you choose where to give birth.

LOCAL OPTIONS

So now that you have an idea of what you might be leaning towards, let’s go a bit more in depth about your specific options in the area. In Elkhart County, Indiana, we are fortunate to have two hospitals, two birth centers, and several home birth midwives. Of course, looking just outside of the county presents you with even more options but for today, we will stick to these five.

ELKHART GENERAL HOSPITAL

The Elkhart General Center for Women and Children is a Baby Friendly Hospital meaning that it values bonding and breastfeeding and follows specific protocol to support those processes. This includes allowing babies to room in with their parents 24-7 and constant support from lactation consultants. Furthermore, nurses will never give a breastfed baby pacifiers or formula without the parents consent. Elkhart General Hospital’s facility is also equipped with an in-depth security system to keep your baby safe and a level 2-B NICU should you need it.

According to the Leap Frog Group, 17.4% of first time, low-risk, full term mothers will have their babies via cesarean section at Elkhart General Hospital putting them well below the natural target (23.9%). Additionally, 2.5% of moms receive an episiotomy here which is better than the national target of 5%.

There are several different obstetricians who attend births at this hospital and the Beacon Medical Group OB/GYN employs a couple of midwives who manage births there as well. As far as pain relief options go, every labor and delivery room is equipped with a shower and most of them have tubs as well for labor, though water birth is not an option. Of course, narcotics, epidurals, and even low-dose epidurals are available as well.

GOSHEN HOSPITAL

The Circle of Caring Birthplace at Goshen Hospital is also a recognized Baby-Friendly hospital that values the family unit and moms are given ample resources to support breastfeeding. They are also armed with a security system to make sure you and your baby are never separated.

This hospital did not report its cesarean or episiotomy rate to the Leap Frog Group.

Fairhaven OB/GYN employs a team of midwives who attend births at Goshen Hospital as long as they are not currently at a birth in the Goshen Birth Center, discussed in the next section. Of course, there are many different doctors who work at Goshen Hospital as well. The Circle of Caring Birthplace has one inflatable tub that can be set up in a women’s suite on a first come first serve basis for use during active labor. However, water birth is not an option in these tubs.

GOSHEN BIRTH CENTER

The Goshen Birth Center is a beautiful, out-of-hospital option for local women seeking a natural birth. Equipped with 3 birthing rooms and comfortable queen beds, the Goshen Birth Center is designed to feel like home. Big, jetted tubs allow for water births and provide much needed relaxation before and after birth. As birth approaches, the midwives began baking fresh bread which fills the Center with a wonderful aroma. Extended family can enjoy the cozy living room as they wait for the newest addition to arise.

Women who see the Fairhaven midwives and who are experiencing a low-risk, healthy pregnancy have the option to birth here. While there are no narcotics or epidurals for pain relief at the Goshen Birth Center, they are one of the only facilities to offer Nitrous Oxide to take the edge off of the pain. Nitrous Oxide provides the women with a self-controlled, temporary feeling of relaxation during the peak of contractions. As the contraction fades away, the laboring women stops breathing it in and returns to a normal, calm state in between contractions. Nitrous Oxide has no effect on the baby and can be extremely helpful in managing transition or active labor.

After the birth, new moms are treated to a soothing, herbal bath and get to enjoy freshly baked bread and whatever else they may have brought to prepare in the center’s kitchen. Families are discharged within 4-8 hours after birth and a nurse visits and checks up on the mother and baby in their own home twice within the first 48 hours.

Furthermore, the Goshen Birth Center is state-licensed and the Midwifes follow clear protocol for when a transfer to the hospital is necessary. Ambulance drills happen routinely to ensure a quick transfer and the hospital is just three right turns away. The midwife goes with the women to the hospital and remains her primary care provider. While transfers are never fun, these aspects help to make the process smooth and safe.

BLESSED BEGINNINGS CARE CENTER

Located in Nappanee, Blessed Beginnings Care Center is another out-of-hospital option for women. They have 7 rooms equipped with a queen bed, a shower, and a jetted tub in each room. Additionally, they have one room with a whirlpool tub for water birth. Clients also have access to Nubane and anti-nausea medication to help ease pain, if needed. Certified Nurse-Midwifes with their own individual practices attend births here. Usually these midwives do not have hospital privileges so, in the event of a transfer, a hospital doctor takes over the care and the midwife becomes part of the support team. Clients are allowed to stay at Blessed Beginnings for up to 72 hours. Call 574-773-7755 for a current list of midwives to schedule your prenatal care.

HOME

Many of the same midwives who attend births at Blessed Beginnings also attend home births. Birth tubs are available to rent if needed and the midwife brings all necessary equipment for a safe birth. Because birth happens in the mother’s home, the environment is set up exactly like she wants it and she never has to worry about accidentally forgetting to bring certain items since they are already there. Immediately after the birth, the new family can settle in with their sweet addition. Usually the midwife does home visits after the birth as well.

Elkhart County truly is equipped with multiple options for new, local mothers which allows for most pregnant women to find the perfect fit for them. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions about any of these options. I would love to help you find the birth place that is right for you ❤️