Don't cut that cord!
We want to share with you one of our soap box ramblings, which we happily share with anyone who comes within earshot — it's about keeping your baby's umbilical cord intact after the birth, until it stops pulsing.
There are many benefits to waiting. It gives your baby a chance to adjust to life on the outside without the requirement to breathe efficiently right away (the baby is still getting your oxygenated blood as long as the umbilical cord is pulsing with your heartbeat). It allows your body to physiologically adjust to what has just happened, before losing its familiar form of communication with the baby. It allows the placenta to pump a final cocktail of beneficial hormones, antibodies, and other biological components into the baby. It gives your body time to plump up the baby's system with a blood infusion as all of his internal organs prepare to function on their own. And many of the benefits of banking cord blood that you've read so much about are passed to your baby as well: stem cells.
The practice of cutting the cord immediately after birth is an example of some of the medical industry not practicing what is called "evidence-based" medicine.
With the medicalization of labor and birth, the idea was passed around that the umbilical cord should be clamped and cut immediately after the baby's birth — presumably to prevent any of the baby's blood from washing back into the placenta.
We now know that this assumption is incorrect, and that this practice has created problems for babies.
There's quite a lot of blood (up to 180 mL) that continues to pump into a baby from the placenta after birth, and when babies don't get this blood, it can create what's called low blood volume.
Think about this — a baby's body has a lot of systems to bring online immediately after the birth. The first breath alone is a huge change. The kidneys, liver, gut and skin are also being used for the first time in a brand new way, and need that oxygen-rich blood as well. When a baby has low blood volume it taxes her liver to a large degree. This can contribute to jaundice, which is sometimes considered an "iatrogenic" disorder (meaning caused by medical interventions).
There are a whole host of other problems associated with low blood volume too — from low blood pressure to anemia to respiratory distress.
Read more about this piece of the puzzle in the Blissborn Manual, and do your own research. We suggest that after you have looked at this important choice and concluded that the cord shouldn't be clamped too soon, you include it in your Birth Preferences document and make sure your partners are watching and ready to ask for more time. Most likely you won't be paying any attention to what your provider is doing down there, with your brand-new baby in your arms for the first time.
Tell your provider you want to leave the cord intact at least until it stops pulsing — give your baby the best start, and give him the placenta's final gift.
Dress to Impress ... Yourself!
- Created on Saturday, 05 April 2014 00:00
My 8th-grade daughter and I were recently at a high school open house checking out her options for next year, and she was mortified. One, she was with her mom and couldn't hide it from her peers. And, B, her mom dragged her from teacher to administrator to club leader, introducing her like she was really somebody they'd remember, making flat-as-a-pancake jokes, and then moving in with a full interrogation about the school. And I was enjoying it.
The funny thing is, she knows I'm not usually this engaged in meeting new people and working a room. I dread these events and can't wait to get out of there. What gives?
The Mastery Suit
I am the lucky owner of a Mastery Suit that empowers me to go forth and do good, and to look forward to things ... even when my starting position was, "I'd rather eat a frozen turd."
The Mastery Suit is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming concept that we first learned about under the tutelage of the excellent Patrick Singleton, NLP master. (NLP basically cross-maps your inner resources from where you have them to where you need them, in order to achieve specific goals.) NLP and hypnosis are similar and quite complementary.
The Mastery Suit is so simple, you can do it by yourself anytime.
When you need a resource that you don't think you have -- in my case for open house night, full engagement, an inquiring mind, good humor, and persistence in spite of a 13-year-old saboteur -- you can use a Mastery Suit.
Here's how it works:
1. Identify the situation that's stressing you out.
For example, let's say you are going to a prenatal appointment with your questions and concerns, and you fear that the OB will become impatient or you'll run out of time in the appointment, or you'll chicken out before you present him/her with a headlamp and report that in labor you'd like to give birth standing up with all the lights out.
2. Identify the inner resources you'd need to get through it the best you can.
Who could get away with such a scenario? Who would get all the time and patient attention she desires? Perhaps a celebrity going to her personal physician? What does she have that you don't have (besides a Maserati)? What does she know about herself that you currently don't know about yourself? If you felt like the OB's most important patient, deserving of all the time you need, and confident that what you want is reasonable just because you want it, you might not give the upcoming appointment a second thought ... better yet, you might look forward to it. You'd know you were important, deserving, confident and reasonable, and you'd expect others to perceive these qualities in you as well.
3. Imagine a person with these qualities and notice what she looks like and how she feels.
This could be someone you know of, or someone you invent. In your mind, get an image of the woman who knows she is important, deserving, confident and reasonable. Then, get a sense of how she feels inside with that knowledge.
4. Turn her into a suit.
That's right. This is the super-hero part. Imagine all of those qualities and feelings become a suit hanging in your closet. When you put this suit on, you will be infused with all of that power and resourcefulness. The super powers will emerge. Imagine yourself putting on this Mastery Suit and absorbing her essence, her resources, her knowledge of herself and her expectations about the situation at hand.
Now imagine looking at yourself in the mirror wearing this suit. You are still you, but now you know and feel something new about yourself. And that feeling -- that visceral sense of your capabilities -- that is what you'll tap into in the moment of truth. Because once you know deeply that you are important, deserving, confident and reasonable, you can't not-know it.
For our example with the OB, imagine yourself going out into the world wearing this suit, knowing these things about yourself and expecting a positive response. Imagine a very positive meeting with your OB and see him nodding in agreement, smiling and giving you the response you desire. Get in touch with how good that will feel and see yourself smiling, inside and out, as you leave the appointment. Success! You have all the courage you need, right at your empowered, confident, and capable fingertips.
"Courage is resistance to fear,
mastery of fear,
not absence of fear."
- Mark Twain
You can use Mastery Suits for any situation, from presenting at a huge lecture hall to meeting your child's future teachers, from staying calm with a colicky baby to dealing with an obtuse in-law. You'll use a version of this technique in your Blissborn class to work through your fears about labor and birth, and to imagine yourself the parent you want to be. Far more effective than imagining the worst possible outcomes and believing them to be inevitable, stepping into something and owning it can set the stage for success. Children learn through imagination and rehearsal, and so do we. Maybe we should add our little people's wisdom into that suit, too. We could all use a little more of that.
My Mastery Suit for open house night? Tina Fey. Full engagement, an inquiring mind, good humor, and persistence. And a good mom, to boot.
To your empowered birth and baby-raising,
The Importance of Partners
- Created on Saturday, 15 February 2014 17:53
"In the pregnancy process I have come to realize how much of the burden is on the female partner. She's got a construction zone going on in her belly."
- Al Roker
You might have noticed we've been a bit uncommunicative this past year. This has been a time of reflection, of breathing in, of taking stock...
April marks the one-year anniversary of my divorce. It's been a good divorce, all things considered. My ex-husband is a wonderful father to our two children, now ages 8 and 13. He and I work collaboratively to raise them, as we always have, but now we do it from separate households. We are just happier this way.
But I am on my own, a single mom out in the world, doing what every single mom does -- trying to keep it all together without a partner.
Having said that, I must pay homage to the fact that I can't do it alone, and for me to admit that publicly, if you know me, is surprisingly vulnerable and humble ... and purely terrifying. But it's getting easier. I can't do it alone. I need people.
Although there are a great many feats I've accomplished since separating, I've called on my "partners" in good times and bad, and they've pulled me through. I have a close and supportive group who shows up when I get up the gumption to ask... My sister and Blissborn co-founder Laura is my knight in shining armor and the best cheerleader a girl could hope for. My mom will drive the two-hour round-trip to help with anything. And my friends are solid gold. I am fortunate beyond measure.
What does this have to do with pregnancy and birth, you may ask?
Moms ask us sometimes if they can do the Blissborn class alone, without a partner. When we hear that question, we consider it a call to action. Not because of Blissborn (which does require a partner to help you practice and to learn how to best support you). Not because we think two-parent households are best (we're obviously open to alternatives, and have seen unconventional situations work beautifully). Not because we know many doulas who would love to help (and that is true).
No, the reason we rally around a woman who is hoping to take the class alone is because she is often planning to complete her pregnancy, and then labor and birth, without a partner who's dedicated to her and her baby, and that's risky business.
During the last part of pregnancy, you need someone to come to your birth classes and get invested with you, to stand by your side and hold your hand.
In labor, you need a familiar face, a friendly voice of reason, a tried-and-true believer in you, a witness to your good hard work and strength.
After the baby is born, you need someone to relieve you, to help with household chores and participate in the miracle unfolding in your life.
It gets easier to do it alone, but pregnancy, labor and birth are not the time to perfect the art.
If you are pregnant and going it alone, or know someone who is, please take this advice from someone who knows: Women shouldn't have to do it all by themselves. Life doesn't always give us the perfect scenario, but no woman is an island. We are interconnected and interdependent. We need one another, and more than ever in pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Acknowledging this is a kindness to yourself, and you deserve kindness. Find your tribe. Find your support.
Ask a friend or relative to back you up -- they may not know how much you need them, so you will have to tell them yourself. You might be surprised by the responses you get. A wise woman once told us, "If you want a friend, ask a favor." It's likely that your loved ones will be deeply honored! This is sacred stuff.
Hire a doula if there's nobody reliable in your life. If you have limited funds for a doula, check with local doula training groups -- they're always looking for "practice births" and these ladies usually do it for love, not money.
The "who" comes first, the "how" comes second. Get humble, get vulnerable, get connected, get help. It's job number one, even more important than taking a good birth class like Blissborn.
What is the price of dreaming?
- Created on Saturday, 06 October 2012 17:23
What is the price of dreaming?
I ask my clients this sometimes. I often get a blank look in return.
Really, though, what does it cost you to dream big? I say the price of dreaming is actually very small.
Whole lives are created around the concept of protecting the ego. Gazillions of things don't get done because of all of the worrying about what might happen. "What if I dreamed big and failed? How could I live with the disappointment? What would people think?" Or at the first glimpse of possible failure, you pull your hopes back with the thought, "It probably isn't going to work out." All for the sake of saving yourself disappointment.
A friend of ours dared to dream up a special trip on a whim. She took off on that journey feeling hopeful and excited. It didn't go very well. Even though it was just what she needed at that point in her life and lots of fun, everything seemed to be going wrong, taking longer and costing more than she expected. At one point she reported that she felt seriously panicky, thinking she had made a huge mistake and wondering why the universe was out to get her. Tears, fear and upset washed over her. Ouch.
So, THAT moment is what people are afraid of. And when you really think about it, is that moment such a big deal?
Sure, it feels yucky to fall on your face.
But, here's the revolutionary thought in all of this. What if you dreamed big anyway? What if you knew, right down to the center of your amazingly strong core, that you could handle it if something went wrong? You might have to let that moment wash over you, and you might suffer a bit. But after that... you'd be okay. And you'd have maybe learned something spectacular along the way, and seen some pretty great stuff.
If you know you have everything you need inside of you to handle anything that comes your way, you are safe. When you're safe, you have space to create, to build, to move toward pleasure.
In this space, what would you dare to dream about? What would you dare to try? What would you give yourself the chance to accomplish?
Dreaming big and birth.
We talk a lot in Blissborn about creating a sort of "blueprint" for your labor and birth.
This blueprint is important, because your subconscious mind is an association-making machine, which is part of what makes your mind so efficient. You learn a concept along the way and you have a lightspeed-fast connection to similar concepts.
In birth, we want your associations to be around happy and exciting thoughts and feelings. Creating a real and vivid association with the beauty of your baby's birth day is powerful. Your mind has THAT to associate with, instead of the old ideas. And that can make all the difference.
So we say go for it. Dream big and give yourself the good feelings. What do you really have to lose? The cost of holding yourself back is too much. The price of dreaming is small. And if you achieve that dream, there's no cost at all. This seems like a pretty sound investment to us.
Feel less (or no) pain in labor and birth, Part 2
- Created on Monday, 02 April 2012 03:04
In the last post, we talked about the physical approach to pain control -- understanding the physical structures that make the experience of pain possible, and how to stop them with hypnosis and visualization when it makes sense to do so.
In this post, we talk about the mental or emotional aspects of pain, and how to transform your experience of those sensations by shifting your perspective. Try it! It works!
Enjoy this excerpt from Class 4 in the Blissborn Parent Manual!
The philosophical approach
Signals about the body’s status travel through the nerves to the brain, where they are interpreted. Your mental "programming" gives those signals their meanings ("this is good," "this is bad," or "ignore this"). Until they reach the brain, they are just signals, without positive or negative qualities.
When pain is assigned a negative meaning, it colors your experience of the sensations. It is no longer just a signal, because now a degree of suffering has been added. The emotionalized opinion that the pain shouldn’t be happening, or that it is useless, intolerable or undeserved, are examples of suffering. Here are some more examples:
Negative physical experiences (pain):
Positive or neutral physical experiences:
Negative emotional experiences (suffering):
Positive or neutral emotional experiences:
Pain is different than suffering. Suffering makes pain seem worse.
Nerves transmit a certain amount of information physically, but philosophically your interpretation of the signal is within your control. Studies have shown that people interpret pain differently depending on their perceptions of its reasons. For example, a person wounded while saving a child’s life might describe significantly less pain and suffering than someone who had received the same injury due to another’s careless mistake.
Without a way to control it, pain can act like static in the mind, urging you to action, disrupting thought or focus. Using hypnosis to become an observer of your experiences gives you the distance and clarity to choose new meanings for the sensations.
So how does this relate to labor and birth? As the objective observer in hypnosis, you can restore focus, clear the static, release the need for judgment and action, and choose the meanings you’ll assign to the sensations. We know that the sensations of labor are caused by the contractions of the uterus stretching and opening the sphincter muscle called the cervix, and by the pressure of the baby’s descent. While this is a different feeling than you are used to, if there is no resistance, there is little inherent pain in contracting or stretching the muscles and tissues that are designed to do this.
In the pushing stage of labor, as the baby crowns, there is a different sensation: the stretching of the labia and pelvic floor muscles (the perineum). The vaginal opening is also a sphincter. What if these sensations were just new and different, but not painful?
Discarding the idea that damage is being done to your body in birth and choosing a positive emotional attachment to the sensations of birth frees your mind to interpret the sensations differently. It’s entirely possible to have discomfort without suffering.
Once you have decided to assign positive value to labor’s sensations at the conscious level, using hypnosis tells your subconscious to do the same. This is done primarily through visualization and direct instructions to the subconscious. The contractions become friends helping you accomplish your goal, instead of enemies to be resisted. Your subconscious mind can maintain this comfort for you as you work on other things.
Women can lose sight of the bigger picture of what’s happening in their bodies and in their lives during labor. Birth partners are essential for reminding the mom how important her work is, on all levels from the organic to the cosmic. Many women report that staying mentally focused is the larger part of the work that is labor, and the natural laser-like focus of hypnosis is an extraordinary tool in this regard.
There’s a big payoff: When you raise your ideas about a situation to a higher level, suffering is decreased and you can look at it with new eyes. The quality of your experience is determined by the quality of your thoughts and perceptions. Everyone can experience the same situation differently; it’s only our perceptions of the situation that are different. Changing your perspective can change your life.
Want to take it a step farther?
- Check out the website and movie about Orgasmic Birth. It may seem shocking, but you can transform your contractions into something wonderful!
- Find your local Blissborn Educator to learn more or schedule a consultation or a session to experience hypnotic pain control.
- Email Blissborn to get your specific questions answered and receive personal recommendations.