Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I am so lucky. Through the birth community I have come to know many amazing women. Women who inspire and uplift me; who keep me afloat while I do this incredibly draining work. Oh yes being a doula is wonderful and enriches my life but, make no mistake, to do this work well means giving totally of yourself both physically and emotionally. The amount of concentrated focus moving through me into the laboring woman and her partner leaves me exhausted. So how do I replenish my soul? Through my family, through my husband, and through 'the sisters of my heart'. I never know when one of them will suddenly enrich my life once again with meaning and purpose. I will be introducing you to my wonderful sisters from time to time.

Today I want to share with you a wonderful woman who asked me to participate in an inspiring occasion a few days ago. Jennifer Everett is a Bradley Childbirth Educator and Assistant Midwife in Grover Beach. She is my right hand woman in the Birth & Baby Resource Network. On top of this she is the mother of 3 great kids, one born in the hospital & two at home, all born naturally! She is a brilliant organizer and was the coordinator for last year's Birth & Baby Fair. Crazy woman that she is she has offered to organize it again this year and has some innovative ideas for new events we will be running in conjunction with this year's Fair. (I'll keep you posted on those.)

None of that is why I am writing about her today. Today I am writing because she let me be present when she gave her fifteen year old daughter the sweetest of gifts; a party in her honor to welcome her into the community of women. Inspired by the book "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant, a must read for women, she created a Red Party and gathered a group of women young and old to eat, to drink, to laugh and to share. Everyone wore red, we ate red food including a scrumptious red velvet cake (my first!), her home was decorated with red balloons and gorgeous bunches of deep red roses. Jennifer asked everyone to bring index cards with lists of favorite female: authors, books, movies, singers and songs; as well as, cards to pass on what we have learned about being a woman in today's world. Then she put them all together for her in a photo album; a treasured keepsake of the moment.

None of that is why I am writing about her today. It is the party "activity" she chose and helped create which lifted the occasion to another level for me. Jennifer hired a wonderful woman, Janice Devine Patterson, who has started her own business (yeah!) called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pots. I think this woman is brilliant!! She has taken a simple activity, the creation of candles, and imbued it with a child-like energy and the creation of a joyous ritual which taps into people's hearts and facilitates the giving and receiving of the gift of feelings. With a bit of guidance from the host she spontaneously works with the theme of the ocassion to create a completely unique experience. This would work beautifully to mark any of life's passages, jubilant or sad: baby or wedding showers, graduations, new careers, memorials, divorce, or struggling against illness.

None of that is really why I am writing today. I am writing because Jennifer did me the honor of asking me to be present when she gave her daughter a cherished gift; the gift of community, the gift of being valued by her mother and the women of her mother's world, the gift of saying such heartfelt feelings they brought tears to all our eyes, the gift of a mother respecting a daughter. These are powerful life long gifts. I feel blessed to have been a witness to the giving.

To learn more about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pots visit:
Have you read "Sister of My Heart" by Chitra Divakaruni? It was one of the books on my index card of favorite Chick Lit. It was given to me as a thank you by another amazing woman I'm sure I'll end up introducing to you someday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Client Connections!

This space is used to keep my clients connected and connect you to my clients. If you are a client and have family news, business news, or you're moving and would like to let people know I'd be happy to post it. Do you have an Internet presence? I will be posting links here. Just write me at or pick up the phone. I'd love to chat and catch up!

Over the years I have been blessed with so many fascinating and fabulous people coming into my life through my birth business. Becoming parents spurs growth within ourselves and a new perspective. We worry about our planet, our community, and our kids. Many of my clients transform this new perspective into new commitment; shouldering new responsibilities, tapping into their creative side, and working toward improving the lives around them. Below you will find what these incredible people are doing and links to get you connected into this energy.

Jennifer Henderson is busy! Not only does she work for the Parent Participation Program taking kids on field trips around the county she also homeschools her kids, teaches for the adult school, teaches at Cuesta and writes travel stories. Check out all the great programs Parent Participation sponsors:

What fun it was to open the Parent Participation site's Outdoor page and see a pregnant Colby Lindeman in a group of Tiny Hikers! She has told me several times how much she enjoyed this activity; meeting other moms, getting outdoors, getting exercise, doing the interacting with baby games.

Colby Lindeman took her fitness expertise and turned it into an exciting new business helping moms get back in shape with their babies in outdoor settings. To see what they are up to:

I spoke to Lisa Ann Dillon the other night. She is busy teaching at the San Luis Classical Academy, a support program for homeschoolers and teaching her oldest child at home. Hard to believe he is in Kindergarten already! To learn more about the Academy go to

Chiropractor & past client, Leslie Kasanoff, invited me to an interesting nutrition lecture. It was about the importance of phytonutrients in our diet and how to obtain them. Of course I was most interested in how it relates to healthy pregnancies and births. I've asked her to write about this topic soon. I decided to try Juice Plus for myself and I am a convert. Even though I am a healthy eater and eat fresh local organic produce I still noticed a difference after being on Juice Plus. I had more stable usable energy. Check out Leslie's web site to learn more. or

Shannon Len is expecting her first baby this month. I am so excited to support her at the new Santa Lucia Birth Center. Somehow she has managed to get ready for their new arrival while staying on top of her commitments to the art community and her jewelry business. To see her elegant jewelry designs:

It was fun to open the Tribune on Tuesday and see Carolyn Eicher and her lovely daughter Sabina donating kid's books to their local library. Sabina was born at General Hospital and it looks like all the hard work Carolyn put in that day has payed off! Currently Carolyn is busy with a nonprofit she started called SLO Grown Kids. Their mission is to improve the health of the San Luis Obispo community by educating students and their families about healthful eating and the origins of food. Check it out at:

Congratulations to Jenny Appell who is now teaching African Dance. She went back to performing with the local African Dance Troupe not long after each of her babies was born. My son and I had a lot of fun when we were studying Africa visiting her class. Her talented husband Rob, quilt artist and owner of The Cottonball in Morro Bay, has a new Endangered Species Quilt Project. To view the beautiful quilts and purchase patterns to support the animals:

Speaking of dance Jenna Mitchell is back at work running World Rhythm & Motion Studio. They teach an eclectic group of dance classes from around the world. To see what might spark your interest:

Congratulations to Amy Engleman who has bought a home in Templeton. Her son Chase is enjoying working on a pottery wheel at Santa Lucia school. He was inspired by a small pot my son Joe made when he was young which Amy purchased from Joe at a craft fair a long time ago. Amy is very busy volunteering at the school. find out more:

Dawn Feuerberg besides keeping on top of Morro Bay's drinking water, being a mom of two now and continuing to teach Spanish at Cuesta has started her own business. Summers she is taking families south of the border on a family Spanish language & culture learning adventure! Interested?

If you haven't heard about Acholi Beads yet please visit This is Jessica Connolly's brilliant business idea which combines business, women and social justice. Although she has moved to San Diego in our hearts she's still with us on the Central Coast.

A late congratulations and you go girl goes out to Kambria Doherty for her successful V-BAC at home of an over 10 pound baby boy. Dreams really can come true! And on her new business Kahuna Kids; an eco-friendly kids store in Paso Robles. To see what they offer visit:

Congratulations to Erin Tullius for being chosen to apprentice with Jack Canfield, the founder of the Transformational Leadership Council. I can't wait to see what springs forth from that alliance. Update! Erin is an author! Check out her book about diet & health:

Congratulations to Dr. Steve Tullius on his on going free workshops on women's and kid's health issues. His talks are very informative and full of information I wish everyone knew. On top of that he is constantly doing tings to benefit non-profits, such as, the Women's Shelter & BBRN. When my son went for a new patient chiropractic visit it was free if we brought in a bag of food for the Homeless Shelter! Check out his workshops:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Safe Place: Stories Can Help Us Heal

Telling your story has the power to transform you. Sharing your pain and confusion and/or guilt through your voice can help to heal your heart. Even speaking your feelings to a blank wall is productive; just like writing in a journal.

What happens though when we talk about our truth to someone who dismisses it or tells us our "perspective" is wrong? I listened to a woman at the ICAN meeting share an experience that deeply saddened me. She had prepared for a natural vaginal birth and instead ended up having a c-section. Burdened with a whole host of confusing feelings and questions she struggled to recover from surgery as well as take care of a newborn. At her postpartum visit with her doctor she reached out. There is a great need to unburden oneself after a birth goes very differently than we had fantasized it would. Instead of communicating in a way to bridge the gulf that lay between them the doctor became defensive and created a wall that stands cemented in place between them to this day.

Why doctors become defensive is an important question to be explored another day. Today I am exploring the power of stories. What happens internally when we are told or led to believe that our truth is untrue? What happens when there is a disconnect between our feelings of sadness and loss after a surgical birth and everyone around us telling us we should be happy our baby is healthy? What happens when a person stops listening to their inner voice that tells them when something feels right or wrong? Well we know bad things happen to kids that don't listen to their inner voice and let someone in a position of authority who is bigger, stronger, older and "wiser" talk them into doing something that they know in their gut is wrong. We know bad things happen to women who don't listen to their inner voice and start dating a person that convinces them they are inept and their only worth comes through being in a relationship with their abuser. We know bad things happen to men when they don't listen to their inner voice that alerts them to danger and put themselves into a vulnerable position where they can be physically assaulted and have what they value robbed from them. Women often feel if they had just listened to their inner voice during their birth this story would never have happened. They blame themselves for not listening, for not being stronger, for not using their voice during birth to speak up and stop the train wreck of their experience. So what happens to that woman when she is told once again during the vulnerable postpartum adjustment that her "truth" is not the truth; that she needs to stop listening to her truth and that she definitely needs to stop speaking her "truth"? How damaging! What an opportunity for healing through validation and support lost. Can't we be allowed to be sad about our births and at the same time happy to have a healthy baby in our arms?

The simple truth, that many people are uncomfortable talking about is, many mothers are experiencing grief in the midst of being overjoyed and overwhelmed by their newborn. Why? Because as a wise friend once explained to me; grief happens whenever our fantasy and reality don't match. This could be the fantasy of sharing next Christmas with a loved one who dies in November, or the fantasy of being able to fix a bad marriage only to be faced with the ugly reality of divorce. Unfortunately women's birth experiences are not living up to their fantasies and instead often live up to their greatest fears. The importance of validating the mother's feelings of grief and loss, so that she can heal and move forward, are tremendous.

Grief comes in many forms or phases: sadness, anger, blaming, denial, asking why me. These are all normal grief reactions that we pass through. They carry with them strong emotions that many people are not comfortable being around. They will try to "fix" an unfixable or deny or answer "why me" which can't really be answered. ICAN is a safe haven where women can experience their grief and only receive validation. It is a form of therapy that can help transform confusion and pain into clarity and acceptance. Most of the women their have gone through this same experience, felt these same feelings. They share a common bond and when they express to a newcomer that they understand how she feels she knows they really get it. They allow her truth to be her truth and actual healing can begin.

My hope is that in the future when a doctor or midwife is faced with a mom's expressions of grief after their birth they will say to them, "I can see you are really upset about how your birth unfolded. I'm not really the best person for you to talk to about this but I know a place you can go. The women there can help you heal from this birth and prepare for future births." Then they would hand her an ICAN brochure or a telephone number.

So what happened to the mom who shared her story? She is a committed member of ICAN and she rewrote her story through her next birth because yes SHE CAN!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Safe Place

Last night I attended the monthly meeting of our local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network or ICAN. This resource restarted in our area about 3 years ago and I am very glad they have.

In the 90's when I first became part of the birth community in San Luis Obispo County ICAN was just closing down in our area due to lack of interest. I believe this was because on a national level women and groups such as ICAN had been successful. They had created change. They encouraged women to stand up and speak up and say "yes I Can have a vaginal birth after a cesarean." So many women successfully and safely V-BACed that it became the medical norm to "allow" women to "try" to V-BAC.

So why is ICAN re-emerging as a necessary and vital local resource? Because the medical community changed their minds a few years ago and put so many restrictions on trying to have a vaginal birth that many doctors and hospitals simply won't "allow" women to even "try". We are back to "once a cesarean always a cesarean."

I few years ago I had attended my one and only ICAN meeting as a presenter. The topic was doulas. Yesterday I decided I really needed to start going and getting to know these women and find out more about them. And I am so glad I did! What a wonderful group of thoughtful, insightful, inspiring and caring women. They spoke about their desire to get more connected to women in our community and wanting to get the word out about V-BAC as an option. They had ideas about how to connect in a positive way with our medical community and on how to become a more valued resource. Most of the women are successful V-BACers full of inspiring stories and powerful information about how you too can birth vaginally! They are a safe and accepting place to come and explore your feelings about your cesarean experience and your hopes and fears for future births. They will share, answer questions, laugh with you or cry with you and maybe, just maybe they will rejoice with you in the future.

Their monthly meeting is on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7:00 at the SLO Library. Yes I know its late, but put your baby to bed with Dad and come out to get some much needed validation for your feelings surrounding your cesarean.

Yesterday's blog was about stories and coming soon I will talk more about the importance of stories as it relates to ICAN.

ICAN’s Mission Statement

To improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

ICAN’s Vision Statement

A healthy reduction of the cesarean rate driven by women making evidence-based, risk appropriate childbirth decisions.
local contacts:
Mary Knudson or Jennifer Kaplan at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Birth Stories

Yesterday I posted Kim's birth story. Congratulations to Kim! Not only was she the first mom to give birth in water at one of our local hospitals but she was the first mom to send me her story.

I love stories. I have always loved stories; stories that were read to me as a young child, stories I read that opened the world or opened my eyes to possibilities, stories that got me through bad times. There are books and characters from my childhood that are dear to me like treasured friends, Jo from Little Women, Bilbo from Tolkien's Ring Trilogy and of course Laura Ingalls from the Little House series. I learned so much by seeing the world through these wonderful authors' eyes.

A few years ago my mother, a retired children's librarian, took me to the National Story Telling Festival in Tennessee. I can't tell you how much fun I had just sitting in the damp Autumn cold and listening to expert storytellers share their craft. I could have happily sat there for a week. Some told folktales or children's stories. Some told historic tales or far fetched and nonsensicle stories. But the ones I think I enjoyed the most were grounded in the storyteller's personal history, culture or tradition. These are the important stories. The ones that pass down who we are and how we feel about it. These are the stories that preserve a time or place through oral tradition.

Birth stories are important. Your birth stories are important. They are critically important to share; woman to woman, decade to decade, generation to generation. This is the stuff that is at the core of us. Yes I know there is more to a woman than birth, but is there anything more important than birth? My guess is women have been sharing birth stories ever since the first woman was given speech. We have shared them around fires, at quilting bees and baby showers. Ina May Gaskin has included a enlightening section of birth stories in both of her books. A collection of stories on a single topic which includes many different perspectives and experiences is a powerful learning tool.

So I will be posting your birth stories. Telling your story, speaking your truth, unburdening yourself of your pain or grief, or expressing your delight, surprise, power or joy is important for you, for pregnant moms, for all of us. Imparting your wisdom woman to woman through a story.

I believe in the personal touch. I have been resistant to embrace all the technology driven "social networking" avenues out there today. I think there is nothing that can replace, or should replace, face to face, eye to eye, person to person communication. Especially when it comes to birth and birth issues. Birth isn't an impersonal experience and it shouldn't be dealt with in an impersonal manner. Having said that, I know that for most young women in our current culture this is the social medium they use and are most comfortable with. If I want to reach these women to share with them the significance of birth then I must meet them where they are.

If you would like to be part of this project please e-mail me your birth stories. Let me know if I can include your first name. I would like to always include where and when you gave birth. Please include the name of anyone you felt helped you through the process in a positive way. If you want you can also include the names of people who you feel impacted your birth experience in a negative way or you can chose to speak about them without attaching a name. I will label these stories as Birth Stories, Birth Stories My Doula Clients, or Birth Stories My Class Clients.

Make your story count!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Guest Lecturer

For many years I have been invited to be a guest lecturer at Cal Poly in their department of Psychology and Child Development. I present information in the Infant and Toddler Development course which starts out with pregnancy, prenatal development and birth. I speak about current birth practices, our culture, the history of birth in our country and the impact of birth on bonding. I always look forward to sharing with these impressionable young women. To have the opportunity to possibly make an impact on their beliefs and understanding about birth & to set them on the road to empowerment feels fabulous.

Listen to what they say they learned...

Julie: "I had no idea that childbirth was so controversial and so diverse!"

Katie: "Our decisions with birth have a lot to do with our cultural values. Unfortunately for us, the United States values do not correlate well with the process of giving birth."

Michelle: "Her talking about the relationship between birth and our culture surprised me because I didn't realize the importance of money, time, risk management, and how pain is perceived as a negative."

Erin: "I had never really seen the connection between birth and our culture until she pointed it out."

Lauren: "I had such a vivid picture in my mind when she was talking about the 1950's and what it was like to have a baby in the hospital during those times."

Robin: "What I loved most about Jennifer was that she spoke objectively and did not push her beliefs on us."

Stacie: " Our country has really lost its way in childbirth."

Allison: "Her information gave me so much knowledge and taught me that if you have that knowledge you will be able to better make a wise decision on your part and not what you are pressured into doing!"

Leslie: "Jennifer was really fascinating to listen to."

Katie: "I found Mrs. Stover's theory on pain very interesting. She stated how most challenges we encounter in life provoke growth and allow us to develop as individuals through pain."

Leslie: "This class has made me think about things that otherwise would
never have crossed my mind."

Sarah: "Listening to Jennifer speak I thought of several questions to ask my mom about my birth."

Allison: "A c-section has never so graphically been described to me. I now know that a c-section is not an option I wish to take unless it is to save either myself or my child from serious injury or death...This intrigued me to call a friend of mine who recently had a c-section and ask her some questions."

Robin: "It was the first time I had heard about the origins of labor procedures. I enjoyed it immensely because I was able to see what factors and events evolved the procedures to what it is today."

Heather: "Thanks so much to Ms. Stover for being so open with us, and discussing with our class issues that don't seem to be talked about often.

Stacie: "Jennifer Stover's class discussion really caught my attention. It was refreshing because she informed us of the variety of ways a woman can choose to give birth, while not imposing her own beliefs on us. I was not intimidated by what she said nor made to feel ridiculous because I had differing convictions."

Erin: "It actually makes me sad looking at how much humanity is lost for some women during the birth process."

Leslie: "I want to tell all the women I know about what I have learned because there are so many uninformed people."

Michelle: "She definitely opened my eyes to a new way of thinking and made me aware of different birth options so I can make an informed decision when having a baby."

Laureen: "When Jennifer talked about the benefits of natural birth for the baby I really thought about how much sense it made."

Carrie: "She was a wonderful guest speaker. I could tell that she is very educated about childbirth and that she is passionate about what she does for a living."

Angela: "I was able to talk to Jennifer Stover after class, and the information she gave will be useful in my future."

Katie G: "I found what she said about the religious and scientific conflict concerning child birth pain to be very interesting. Being a strong Christian myself, thinking about the pain in those terms somehow makes it less scary and more bearable. I never thought about religious beliefs being a valid reason for not accepting pain killers during labor."

Erin: "Going through the history of birth opened my eyes to how women have been viewed and treated."

Michelle: "Jennifer also cleared up several myths about birth history, physical abilities of women during birth, and the U.S.'s mother and baby outcomes."

Claire: "My mom had a horrendous labor with me, and ended up having a c-section, so I always assumed that I'd be having a c-section too. I'm glad to hear that women are most often equipped to deliver their babies. It gives me hope that a natural birth is still an option for me."

Robin: "Jennifer Stover was a wonderful resource."

Katie G.: "I liked that she made it very clear that the choice you make is not as important as the fact that it is your own choice and it is right for you and based on information and fact."

Carrie: "After Jennifer's talk with our class, I have decided that I would really like to have a home birth with a midwife and a doula. I have decided this because as long as I have a healthy baby, I think my baby deserves to come into the world fully aware to a mother who is fully aware."

Brianne: "I would definitely like to hear her speak again!"

Heather: "Jennifer made me feel more confident about having a baby. Hearing things like, 'almost every woman is designed for a vaginal birth,' and that the size of your body won't make much difference during delivery, helped me to feel like I will really be able to do it when the time comes. Being small framed, people have always commented on how it will be hard for me to have kids...which is scary! But I feel now, that I will most definitely be able to have my children safely."

A Perfect Birth Experience: First Hospital Waterbirth in the County

This birth happened at General Hospital in San Luis Obispo in 2002. Kim chose Certified Nurse Midwives: Linda, Lisa and Miday to be her care providers. Although this birth took place nearly 8 years ago, Kim's story has so much clarity because she wisely chose to write this during her first days back at home with her baby.
Second pregnancy, same as the first
When I found out I was pregnant a second time, I scheduled an appointment with the same doctor who delivered my first baby. I had my first 5 months of prenatal appointments, and pre-registered at the same hospital where I had gone before. My second pregnancy was easy, just as it was the first time.

Dramatic change in worldview at 5 months
About 5 months into the pregnancy, however, a friend loaned me a copy of "Misconceptions," a book by Naomi Wolf that completely changed the way I think and feel about childbirth. This started me on a journey toward wanting to do this second birth naturally, which is totally different than the way I felt when I was pregnant the first time.

Learning everything I can
I began reading voraciously about natural childbirth, and talking with my girlfriends who had gone through the experience. These women were crucial in giving me information, support, encouragement, and inspiration. In January, at about 6 months pregnant, I switched from my previous doctor to a group of midwives, who gave me such personalized and supportive care, I was able to work through my feelings about the first birth, and gain confidence about doing this naturally the second time around.

Waterbirth as an option
At our first meeting with the midwives, they mentioned to my husband and I that they were planning to begin offering waterbirth as an option; they were buying a tub to put in one of the labor and delivery rooms. I was immediately drawn to the idea, and shortly thereafter my husband and I attended a workshop that the midwives hosted with Barbara Harper of Waterbirth International. After the workshop, I was even more convinced that waterbirth was what I wanted, so we worked with Barbara to rent our own tub just in case the one purchased by the midwives had not yet arrived at the hospital or was occupied by someone else when I went into labor. It turns out that this was a critical decision, because the midwives' tub wasn't completely operational by the time I needed it, so we ended up using the tub we rented.

Planning in earnest
As the birth approached, my husband and I spent a great deal of time making preparations. We hired a doula(Jennifer Stover) and met with her three times before the birth -- to discuss our past experiences (especially with the birth of our first child), and our hopes for this second birth. We also attended childbirth classes with our doula, and learned a great deal about how to prepare for and manage a natural birth. My husband and I both continued to read, discuss, plan, and make arrangements for the birth. We packed our bags, brought the tub to the hospital, etc. I was feeling confident and excited, and we both felt that I would probably have the baby on Thursday or Friday after my Wednesday due date.

Beginning of labor
Sure enough, I began having more contractions on Thursday than I had been having before that day. By late afternoon, I was contracting several times an hour. This was my last day of work, and by 5 pm I finished everything I hoped to get done before I went on maternity leave. The timing was perfect! My husband and I went for a brisk walk around dinner time, to see if we could kick start the labor.

By about 8 pm, the contractions were pretty regular, at about every 5 minutes, but they were mild and lasted only about 30 seconds. Within a few hours, they were coming more frequently -- about every 3 minutes -- but they were still mild and lasting only about 30 seconds.

A festive atmosphere

Our very good friends arrived at our house at about 9:30pm, which was again perfect timing. They had originally planned to arrive the next morning. However, they were able to get away earlier than expected and arrived just as my husband began keeping track of times for my contractions. At that point, I was slowly beginning to accept that this was in fact "it." I was so reluctant to accept that this was labor, because I didn't want to get excited and then be disappointed if it was only a false start. Shortly after our friends arrived, however, I did acknowledge that I was probably "really" in labor. The atmosphere was festive, and we had a glass of port together while we chatted, laughed, and discussed plans for the birth.

At about 11 pm, everyone went to bed -- I dozed between contractions until they became somewhat more uncomfortable. Then I got up about 1 am, lit a fire and candles, turned on some music, and did chores. I tidied up the house, balanced the check book, mended a shirt for my husband, cleaned up the kitchen, etc. I was very happy, excited, and confident.

My husband got up about 2 am, and we enjoyed being together. The contractions were still about 3 minutes apart, mild, and lasting 30 seconds. At about 3 am, our friends got up, so we sent the men to the hospital to set up the tub. This took them about an hour, and apparently all the nurses were excited that the first waterbirth would actually be taking place very soon.

While the men were gone, my girlfriend and I talked with the doula and discussed when to go to the hospital. I began to think that the contractions were building in intensity, and I called my parents to come take care of our first child. My girlfriend made noodles for me to eat, and muffins for everyone else. When my parents arrived, the atmosphere was again like a party. We had music on and ate muffins, and we all chatted and laughed while the men returned from the hospital. I was relieved that the tub was filled, warm, and ready for me.

Losing steam
Unfortunately, I started to feel that my contractions were losing steam. I became somewhat discouraged, and after a while we sent everyone back to bed -- and my parents back to their condo. My girlfriend and I went for a brisk walk (with stops for contractions) to see if we could boost my progress. When this didn't work, I took a very long shower to relax, and then laid down to rest again. Through the early morning, I again dozed between contractions and became increasingly discouraged when they failed to build momentum. At about 7 am, I talked with the midwife on call and my doula. Both gave the same advice, recommending a very brisk walk to move things along -- and if this failed, to take a long shower or bath and then try to rest. I settled in for a very long continued labor, or even a false start that would stop and then resume later. My girlfriend again went to sleep, and when she woke up at about 7:30 am, she made breakfast for me. We talked about my concerns, and discouragement. When my husband woke up shortly thereafter, I burst into tears, saying that I was exhausted, but not getting anywhere with the labor.

The power of a good cry
A good cry may have been just what I needed, because at about 8am it felt like the length and intensity of contractions increased quite suddenly. I felt that something had changed pretty dramatically, and it was definitely time to go to the hospital. My girlfriend called the midwife, doula, and my parents. The men helped me to the car.

Driving to the hospital
The drive to the hospital was very difficult, because the motion made it hard to concentrate on breathing and managing the increasing level of discomfort. I made my husband pull over to the side of the road, just around the corner from our house, and he was afraid we were going to have the baby right there! As soon as that contraction subsided, he pulled back out to drive (I didn't feel quite ready yet!), because he knew we had to drive in the few minutes remaining before another contraction hit. I was briefly enraged at the driver of a white minivan, who was driving *way too slow* in my opinion, but with my husband ignoring most traffic laws we made it to the emergency room at the hospital. I struggled to get out of the car, and into the wheelchair that someone rolled out to the parking lot for me.

Getting into the tub
Getting up to my room, I clearly fit the stereotype of a woman in labor from TV, chanting and moaning loudly as I was quickly wheeled into the elevator and down the hall. As I was wheeled into the room, I started sobbing uncontrollably, and I told my husband it wasn't from the pain -- I didn't know why I was crying. In retrospect, this must have been my “transition” phase and the start of really serious active labor. When I arrived, the nurse checked the baby's heartbeat and encouraged me to get into the tub. "That's what you got it for," she said encouragingly. I was afraid that getting into the water would stall my progress -- especially given the long night of slow early labor. However, the nurse assured me that it was okay. I suspect she could see that nothing was going to stop this baby from coming at this point. With some help, I climbed into the tub and the feeling of relief from the warm water was immediate. I got on my hands and knees, and felt like nothing was going to make me change positions from that point on.

Meanwhile, the midwife and doula arrived in the room, and took their stations. My husband and doula were positioned at my head, near the wall, while the midwife was behind me -- watching and waiting. My world was focused on my body, on the doula’s coaching, and my husband's loving presence. The doula helped me to keep my vocalizations low, and as my voice creeped higher I could feel the tension increase -- so she helped me bring the pitch of my voice down where it definitely helped me to relax. I could feel a dramatic difference with her help, pushing out the pain with my breathing and letting each contraction go while I rested in between. My husband gave me loving encouragement, and kissed me in between contractions. It was all perfect. My girlfriend was snapping pictures, and Handel's Messiah filled the room. I couldn't help but sing along at some points, because I love the music and it helped me to concentrate.

The urge to push
At some point, a very intense contraction ended with an uncontrollable urge to bear down and push. I could feel the baby moving, and I remember saying that the "baby is coming, baby is coming!" The feeling took me by surprise, because I didn't expect it to be time to push so quickly. I was afraid it would be too soon, and I didn't feel like anything could make me resist the urge to push. I was very relieved when the midwife did a quick vaginal check and said that it was okay for me to push.

Women have babies out here?!
Twice while I was in the tub, the midwife asked me to pull my belly up out of the water so she could check the baby's heartbeat with a Doppler. It was very difficult to change positions, although it was probably good to help the baby's progress, and it was incredibly reassuring to hear her say that the baby was doing well. I hated being out of the water, and I remember thinking: "Women have babies out here?!" The second I got out of the water, I felt an increase in discomfort with all the gravity and cold air. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to be in the water, and it was a great relief both times when I sank back into the warmth.

Making progress

Now I was pushing hard with every contraction, and although it definitely hurt I remember thinking that it was definitely manageable. At some point early on, the feeling of the baby’s head was so intense that I insisted that the baby must be out. Of course, the baby wasn't even close to being out yet, and I snapped at the doula when she said that I was making progress and that baby was coming out. I remember saying that I didn't want to hear that I was making progress -- I wanted to hear that the baby was out! Fortunately, I didn't have long to go.

As pushing went on, I could better distinguish the progress of the baby's head, and the most intense feelings came as it moved toward crowning. Each push hurt quite a bit, but I deliberately pushed as hard and long as I could, hoping that this would be the last one. The doula continued to help me focus on my breathing and vocalizations, and helped me to grunt while I pushed. I was afraid I would forget to grunt, so I actually repeated the word "grunt" while I pushed -- which fortunately served the same purpose of helping my breathing and effort. Later, the doula laughed and said she had never had anyone actually say the word "grunt," instead of just doing it! I literally was afraid I would forget what I was supposed to be doing, and it worked just fine.

Crowning and birth
When the head crowned, I insisted that my husband go around behind me to see it, because I couldn't see it or feel the head with my hand while in that position. It was important to me that he watch for both of us, because it felt like that allowed me to see it as well. Then when the head finally emerged, I felt intense pain and an even more intense feeling of relief and joy that immediately made the pain irrelevant. I was so excited, and relieved, knowing that the worst was over and the rest of the body would be a piece of cake by comparison. After a long rest, with the baby's head submerged in the water, the next push brought the whole body slithering out, with a little gentle tug from the midwife.

Joy, triumph, and falling in love
There simply aren't words for the feelings of joy and triumph as I turned over into a sitting position (with the cord still attached), and they laid my brand new baby on my chest. The moment was pure ecstasy, as I looked at this new little person and kissed my husband. I couldn't believe how much this new baby looked like our first child! It was almost confusing, because it looked like I had the same baby again. It did make it even easier to fall in love with this new person, however, because it looked so much like my beautiful firstborn.

It’s a boy!
Immediately, someone put a hat and blanket on the new baby, and I was very concerned that it stayed warm. In fact, concern over keeping the baby warm kept us from wondering about the gender for a few moments. When we remembered, my husband and I fumbled with the blankets to check between this little person's legs. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, because I felt strongly throughout the pregnancy that this was a boy. Finally, this was our little boy, and I got to smother his little wet head with kisses. He was so cute! He had arrived at 10:35am on Friday, about an hour and a half after we arrived at the hospital. The birth had gone quickly, smoothly, and perfectly.

A perfect birth experience

Afterward, the midwife helped me to deliver the placenta, and gave me two shots to control some excess bleeding. I was thrilled when she did another vaginal exam and said that I had no tearing whatsoever. The nurse did an exam of the baby and helped my husband give him his first bath. Within an hour, my parents arrived with our daughter. I was so excited to see my little girl, and it was sheer bliss to have everyone I loved so much there in the room together. I could not have imagined a more perfect birth experienc

Friday, November 13, 2009

In the Spirit of Informed Consent & H1N1 Vaccine

I am not a medical health professional. I do not hold any medical degree. I do not tell women what choices to make concerning their bodies and their babies. I do believe women have the right to understand all the known benefits and known risks of any choice they are about to make. That is part of informed consent.

But what about possible risk? Risk that hasn't been completely assessed yet? Pregnant women have been told in the past that a drug they were prescribed by a doctor was completely safe, had no known risks, only to tragically find out later there was horrible risk. Anyone who has heard of Thalidomide babies knows this to be true.

How does this happen? Most women don't know that very few drugs are actually tested on pregnant women. After all who would want to volunteer? Doctors prescribe based on knowing the benefits, knowing the risk of not prescribing and knowing there are no known risks. Therefore we learn about true known risk to moms and babies only over time.

Today I was made aware of a disturbing site where women are sharing their stories of miscarriage and their belief it was caused by the H1N1 vaccine. This gave me pause. What if I don't tell women about this possibility and it turns out to be true? What if I do and a woman chooses not to get vaccinated only to die from Swine Flu complications? So in the spirit of informed consent I decided to arm pregnant moms with information and then let women make their own choice.

First let me be clear there is no proof, there is no study that has been done to show a causal link, currently there is no way to be sure if the vaccine caused these miscarriages. As far as I know there was no large study that was done on pregnant women before they started vaccinating them with H1N1 either. I don't know if anyone is even compiling the data on miscarriages and H1N1 vaccination since the medical establishment has decided to believe the vaccine is safe for pregnant moms. I do know it will take overwhelming numbers of miscarriages before anyone will listen to the mothers.

Remember over many years lots of pregnant women have had the annual flu vaccine though with no known harm to them or their babies. Each year the vaccine is reconfigured to match that year's flu. This year's flu is H1N1. Why would H1N1 be different? The answer is I don't know. I don't know if it is different, but I don't know they know for sure it is the same.

We do know Swine Flu is a risk to pregnant women.

So now we have known benefits vs. no known risk but possible unknown risk. Every pregnant mom needs to make a careful individual choice. Does she have other underlying health factors? Does she have contact with lots of people who might be potential carriers? Is she someone that gets sick with every new bug that comes around?

Life is full of risk. Usually we choose a path not without risk but one that has a risk we are more comfortable with. Only you can know which path that is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Informed Consent

Recently I missed a birth. I am a doula. I help guide women and their partners during pregnancy, labor and birth. I had been hired by a woman pregnant with her second child to insure that this time she would be informed of any procedures or options by the nurses and doctors during her birth so that she could make her own choices. This time, she wanted to be listened to and respected during the birth process.

But this birth, as often happens, had its own story to write. Her labor came so fast and furious there was barely time to get to one of our local hospitals before the baby zoomed into the world. I was left “doula-ing” via speaker phone as I raced down the road. I heard the baby’s first cry as I exited the freeway in Templeton five minutes from the hospital.

When I walked into their room, Mom and Dad were ecstatic as the doctor quietly finished sewing a minor tear and moved on to another woman in labor down the hall. The baby looked great. Mom looked great. Then I noticed she had an I.V. of medication running into her. I asked my mom what it was. She said it was her saline lock. I said no you are hooked up to an I.V. of medication. We looked at the nurse who calmly told us it was Pitocin and that it was standard protocol at the hospital for all moms. I was shocked. My mom looked shocked. Where was the informed consent?

When did it become OK to administer a drug to someone without getting their permission? This was not an emergency when fast action has to be taken. This patient wasn’t unconscious, delirious or out of her head. She was simply having a baby. Actually she had just had her baby. She was elated, alert and aware. She was completely capable of rationally saying yes or no to a medication given as a routine at a hospital.

The nurse became concerned and offered to unhook her from the drug, but half the bag was already in her system so my client chose to allow it to finish. Would she have said yes or no if asked, “Do you want us to give you medicine that can stop any excess bleeding that might occur?” We will never know because she was never granted that right.

In a study done in 1969 Hershey and Bushkoff came to the conclusion informed consent means, “the patient has the right to know the nature of, the risks and benefits of, and the alternatives to a proposed treatment or procedure.” The United States Court of Appeals ruled in Canterbury v. Spence in 1972 that it is a fundamental concept in American jurisprudence that “every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body.” This right has been supported both federally and on a state level. Further, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists first publicly acknowledged the pregnant patient’s right to informed consent in 1974. This was followed by the International Childbirth Education Association publishing “The Pregnant Patient’s Bill of Rights” in 1975. So how can it be that 35 years later birthing women, such as my client, are routinely given medications or have procedures performed on them without even telling them it is happening let alone giving actual informed consent?

Jennifer Stover
Labor of Love Birth Education and Support

A Simple Question

"What do you plan to do if you go into labor when Tim is on the road?" I asked simply as I trotted around the circle. I was riding Kareem in the round corral at Sabrina's house in Arroyo Grande. Our sons were busy playing Ninja Turtles together. This was how I had spent many afternoons lately.

Sabrina had hired me to train her young Arabian horse. As I quietly worked with the bay gelding, I chatted with Sabrina about the upcoming birth of her second child. Sabrina and this birth had been on my mind a lot. She had shared her sadness about having had a cesarean the first time. Her story had resonated with me as I relived how close my own son's birth had come to happening in an OR.

We had compared notes on the different paths that had led us both into territory we previously hadn't known existed. It was Sabrina's desire to try again with this new baby for the vaginal experience she had missed. At this time it wasn't unusual or controversial for women to V-BAC. Five years before it would have been unheard of for a doctor to "let" her try. Now of course they might "let" her if she successfully jumps through all the hoops of finding a willing doctor and goes to the right kind of hospital. But this birth was happening during a window of opportunity that women had struggled hard to create and doctors quickly closed.

My query was a simple planning and logistical question really. Her husband was a truck driver. He was gone over night several times a week. Not being ready to face that problem quite yet, like many pregnant women, she had just shelved it to be worked out at a later date when she had more time and energy. She said, "I don't know. I haven't really thought about it yet."

"Well I'd be happy to come and be with you at the hospital until he can get here." A simple question and a simple offer; one friend to another. There were no great bells and whistles, no sky-opening claps of thunder. Nothing to tell me I had stepped onto a path that would take me places I never knew I wanted to go. And so we began to plan. We spent many hours together, going to Bradley Classes, looking over the nursery she was redoing and waiting for the big day. I learned how sweet a friendship between two women can be that blossoms around a new life coming into the world.

As the days passed one after another beyond her due date she confided in me that her biggest fear was having another c-section and being in the recovery room all alone after the birth. She said the surgery was not that bad and her recovery at home went smoothly, but the time spent lying in the recovery room waiting to hold her son was heartbreaking. I can't tell you the story of the birth because that is only Sabrina's to tell. Whenever I tell a birth story in this blog I will not be attaching the woman's name to it. But this shared experience taught me that I was drawn to this work. I can tell you that because of Sabrina's honesty in expressing her biggest fear to me I have fought hard to never have one of my c-section moms alone after their birth with no one who cares about them to hold their hand and celebrate the arrival of their new little miracle.

Thank you Sabrina.

Click here to read the next post in my collection of writings about my personal doula journey.

Birthing a Blog

Inspired by the movie Julie and Julia, I decided to create a blog. I wanted to see what would happen if I wrote down my thoughts about my doula experiences.

Would I have enough to say? Would my words be helpful to women? Would people in my community get angry if I spoke the truth about what I witness at births; the good, the bad and the ugly? I mean all of it, whether or not it might make people uncomfortable. Could I speak my truth and not put my family in jeopardy of being sued for libel?

So I committed myself to 10 months and gave myself a due date of November 1st. Then I promptly put the idea on the back burner of my life to let it simmer and see what it would boil down to. Ideas floated through my head but I didn't act upon them in any real way.

I talked to my husband looking for support and my brother who has experience in blogging for feedback and ideas. I tried on different blog looks. I dabbled in learning about what it is like to do a blog, but I made no move toward creating the real thing.

The week before the first of November I casually mentioned to my husband that my due date was coming up. "Did he think he could create some time this weekend to help me?" Halloween night I said OK I think tomorrow's the day. I'm feeling ready. November 1st we sat down together and began the process. We carefully looked through our options and he helped me lay down a foundation. It wasn't exactly what I wanted. Compromises needed to be made but it would get me started. After all, I am learning that creating a blog is something one does in little bits over a long period. The only way to really see a blog for what it is, is in hindsight. Down the road we can look back, review what we went through, look at signposts along the way and gain some clarity on our experience. There is nothing to be done except embrace the process as it unfolds. We don't really know where it will take us but if we have faith in the process amazing things can happen.

Later that night I e-mailed my sister-in-law and brother for support; my doulas. I thought I had a good idea. I thought my blog was starting to look OK, but my confidence was wavering. Of course my husband said it was great, but that's what good husbands do. Wives know this, so they don't believe husbands when they say "You're doing great." Women turn to other supportive, knowledgeable and caring people to give them an honest assessment on how they are doing. That's one of the reasons women hire me. Just like a good doula, my sister-in-law gave me both praise and steered me toward some new things I might want to try.

Now I seem to be in very active labor. I can't seem to focus on anything else. Thoughts of this blog are swimming in my head constantly, no matter where I am or what I am doing. Things are coming too fast, and I'm going to need to learn how to pace myself and work effectively with all this creative energy. Especially since I am a first-time blog creator.

Perhaps I am misjudging the stage I am at. This might not be active labor at all. What if this is really early labor? I don't want to expend so much energy at the start that I don't have it in me for the long haul. Who knows what challenges lie ahead? I need to slow myself down and focus on each surge of energy as it comes. Stop looking way down the road; stay in the moment and see what the moment brings.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Class Outline

The Nuts & Bolts: Understanding Giving Birth

The physical process of normal birth from beginning to end
Exploring our beliefs
Homebirth; a window into how women’s bodies birth & the importance of Ina May & the Farm
Learning the lingo of birth professionals
Shifting our consciousness: Do our words matter?
Reclaiming the pushing stage
Relaxation; how & why
Yoga breathing for birth

Becoming an Educated Consumer 

Communication, the cornerstone of preparing a good birth team
Understanding the benefits, risks & limitations of medical choices
Choices in pharmaceutical pain relief
Stepping off the natural birth path; the domino theory & birth
Working within the system to achieve the birth you want
The art of negotiation
Claiming your territory
Being proactive about episiotomy
Role playing

If a Problem Arises 

Putting emergencies and complications in perspective
How much do you know?
Let’s review
Putting things in perspective
Understanding when & how to be part of the decision making team
When to turn your birth over to the pros & what they can do to make it come out right
Understanding grief & the shadow side of birth
Reconnecting with the safety, ease & simplicity of birth

Facing Our Fears

Exploring our fears
Actively preventing our fears from becoming our reality
The power of positive affirmations
Positive cesareans?: Understanding the process & your choices
Keeping your dreams for your birth intact
Owning your responsibility for your birth
Exploring our beliefs
Birth plans: how & why
The sounds of birth
Letting go of your fears
The sounds of birth: group vocalizing! 

The Forgotten Side of Birth; Our Emotions

Traveling through Labor Land: recognizing normal psychological sign posts
Delving deeper into the mind/body connection
Exploring our beliefs
Dealing with emotional blockages
Birth as part of our sexual life?
Working with birth “energy”
Learning to be “present” for her through your touch & intent
Birth Rehearsal
Relaxation and visualization practice


Tips for your primary support person
Can he do it all?
Doulas vs. family or friends
Preparing for the physical challenges he faces
Positions practice for active labor & birth
Using your environment
Belly Dancing for labor
More relaxation; letting your "coach" know what works best for you
Birth Rehearsal

Focusing On The Baby

Welcoming this vulnerable new life
Exploring our beliefs
Recognizing your baby’s perfection & abilities
Assuming immediate parental responsibility
Choices to be made
Bonding, breastfeeding & bliss!
Final Birth Rehearsal

Becoming Parents Potluck

Parenting Consciously
Looking at our parenting messages
Being the "ideal" parent
Becoming a family/losing a couple
Nurturing yourselves through this stressful life changing transformation
Learn from experts: Parents of new babies return to share their experiences

Contact me for my current fees & schedule: 473-3746

Childbirth Classes

Labor of Love childbirth classes are designed to educate, support and guide you during the transforming process of pregnancy, birth and parenting. I have created a series of classes weaving together the best ideas and information from Hypnobirthing, Birthing From Within, Bradley, and Informed Birth & Parenting, as well as, my own practical hospital and homebirth experience to empower couples during their birth journey. Support and information is given for all birth choices with the acknowledgment that only you know what is best for you and your baby.

I find a mix of hospital and homebirth couples sparks the deepest learning. Discussing differences and listening to each other is a powerful tool. Each couple becomes clearer on their values and how they effect their choices.

The classes are broken down into four learning area:
  • Intellectual Learning: Lecture, movies, demonstrations, reading and visual aids.
  • Physical Learning: Active birth positions practice, birth rehearsals, hands on partner training, role playing.
  • Psychological Learning: Group discussion, free association writing, art exploration, communication exercises, and sharing.
  • Skills Practice: Deep Relaxation, yoga breathing, visualization, and vocalizing.

Through this work the couple grows closer and becomes confident facing the coming challenges of the sights, sounds, sensations and decisions surrounding the birth of their baby.

I think the classes are most effective when people feel safe enough to relax and really share with the group. Therefore I prefer to teach in the warmth and intimacy of a home, either my own in Oceano or a client's. I also limit my classes to 5 couples.

My full series is 11 three hour classes. I strongly encourage first time moms or moms unhappy with a past birth experience to take a full series. I also teach a short refresher series for experienced moms. Although week-ends are usually best, I am very flexible and try to arrange a day and time that accommodates everyone.

Contact me for current fees and schedule at 473-3746.

Why You Want to Hire Doula

Studies prove it!
Laboring women who receive professional labor support have:
** Shorter Labors
** Less Need for Pain Medication
** Fewer Cesarean Sections
** Healthier Babies
** Better Mother-Infant Bonding
** Fewer Episiotomies
** Shorter Hospital Stays

Friday, November 6, 2009

What Does a Doula Do?

* Guide you & your partner confidently through labor using relaxation, visualization, vocalization, movement, positioning, breathing & touch.

* Tend to your physical comfort needs.

* Provide continuity of care from early labor at home until your newborn is nursing happily in your arms.

* Be a ready source of information throughout pregnancy, labor, birth & postpartum so parents can make informed choices.

* Help you communicate your wishes for your birth experience with the hospital staff & your care provider.

* Respect the birthing couple & their need for intimacy during this very special journey together.

For more information go to: My Doula Service file.
To discuss my current fees & availability e-mail me at or call for a chat at 473-3746!

My Doula Service

"Every woman deserves to be treasured. 
Every new family needs to be nurtured. 
Every new life must be welcomed with the tenderness of touch that says 
we're so happy you are here."

Jennifer Stover

Perhaps the most important part of being a good doula is getting to know you. This is your birth, not mine. For me to be an effective doula I need to understand what is important to you, what your core beliefs are about birth, what your strengths and weaknesses are as a person and a couple, and what are your biggest fears or concerns. Combining this information with my knowledge and experience of normal labor I can effectively guide you toward a positive birth.

I meet with my clients for three
Team Building sessions. In these we cover
  • your medical history
  • a careful examination of your past births to provide clarity
  • discuss your hopes, dreams and fears for this birth
  • educate you on issues you should discuss with your care provider and how to present your questions or concerns to them
  • formulate a birth plan that will be well received by your care providers as a communication tool
  • encourage both individual and couple communication and growth
  • discuss with your partner what role they would be most comfortable with
I am available for Telephone Consultations for information, advice support, and a sympathetic ear throughout your pregnancy. I want to foster good communication between you and your care provider so before prenatal appointments I will explain what to expect and questions you should ask. After appointments we will discuss any issues that came up and how you feel about them.
As needed I will Attend a Prenatal Appointment. Occasionally a woman needs some additional support at a stressful appointment. Also if I have never worked with your care provider I would like the opportunity to meet him or her before labor begins.
Early Labor Support starts with telephone guidance on remembering how long early labor can last, conserving energy, advice on coping with early labor sensations.
Active Labor Support starts with helping you to make a good decision on when to go to the hospital. Most women prefer to stay at home as long as possible but do want to get to the hospital in time. I may come to your home to begin hands on support or meet you at the hospital if you have decided to go there. For a homebirth mom this is when I would arrive at her home.
From this point on I give Continuous Care and Support. I will stay with you round the clock until your newborn arrives; no shift changes, lunch breaks or office hours. Some babies arrive in a few hours and some need a few days. I will not leave until your baby is nursing at your breast and you are through the initial postpartum adjustment period. You and your labor are my only focus. I will provide confident hands on guidance and support for you and your partner on coping with labor, encouraging labor and working with the natural rhythms of labor. I will foster an atmosphere that will allow couples to remain connected and caring. I will try to facilitate clear communication between you, your care provider and the staff. I will stand with you as you face whatever challenges may come your way.
I do one Postpartum Visit with my moms. This is your opportunity to ask questions and discuss feelings about your birth, and to think about how this birth might affect future births. I want you to have clarity and understanding about your experience. I check in on how all the family is doing and guide you on how to get through this challenging time. I watch your little one feed and give suggestions and encouragement for successful breastfeeding. Before I leave I check out your sleeping space and help you develop a safe sleep plan so everyone can rest.

I know the transformative power of birth. You will be changed by this experience. I would be honored to be by your side during this miraculous process.

To discuss current fees and my availability 
please e-mail me at 
or call me at 473-3746
and let's chat!

How One Midwife Can Make a Difference in Our Community.

Below is a statement I read to Betsy Umhofer. Betsy is an aide to Congresswoman Lois Capps our local Representative. We were there as part of The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. As our closing statement I chose to highlight one of our local Certified Nurse Midwives as an example of how one midwife can truly make a difference.

Sandy Rodriguez was born at Mountain View Hospital in San Luis Obispo and grew up here. She received her midwifery degree from the University of Southern California at the Women’s Hospital in Los Angeles and became a Certified Nurse Midwife. She has practiced in our community for 26 years as a primary care midwife and delivered approximately 2,600 San Luis Obispo county babies. She has worked in all 3 of our hospitals: French Hospital, Sierra Vista Hospital and General Hospital. She has worked directly with 4 medical practices: Dr. Johnson, Dr. Segal, Dr. Krumhout and Mission Medical Clinic. She has worked with almost every doctor in our community: Dr. Richards, Dr. Storrer, Dr. Freeman, Dr. Monroy, Dr. Lickness, Dr. Clutter, Dr. Haupt, Dr. Yinn, Dr. Goodrich, Dr. Spalding, Dr. Safarik, and Dr. Hirsh; all of whom respect her and her abilities as a birth professional. She has worked collaboratively with many other CNMs over the years, including: Rhia Liama, Vickie Charbano, Penny Hall, Linda Seeley, Nora Lewis, Linda Richards, JoAnne Tarkington and more. Currently she is in practice with and imparting her years of valuable experience to Helen Cominos and Lisa Winnick. Over the years she has also had working relationships with our local Licensed Midwives: Sue O’Connor, Brenda Ramler, and Edana Hall; agreeing to allow women to see her a few times prenatally and then being willing to receive them as clients in the hospital in the event a transfer of care was needed. She has touched the lives of thousands of women in our county providing quality prenatal care. Currently she is busy supporting women in their choices and catching babies, some of whom are babies of women who were babies she delivered. Sandy’s cesarean section rate is about 8%. This represents a savings between $12.3 million and $24.7 million. But the human cost is better represented by the fact that she saved between 300 and 600 women from undergoing major abdominal surgery during one of life’s most important rites of passage.

Yesterday I stated that I would not be using full names of birthing women or telling their birth stories. Their privacy is important to me. I will be sharing things I have witnessed without connecting it to a particular woman. Further I will be using full names of care providers when they deserve a "thumbs up".

I would personally like to thank Sandy Rodriguez for always being open to helping my clients and to working with me as part of a birth team.

Tomorrow I'll explain more about The Big Push for Midwives.