Preparing for a Home Birth

Home Birth Supply List

Please let me know well in advance if you are unable to find any item on the list. Collect all supplies and place them into a box. Place the box in an easily accessible place. Please tell the midwives where the supplies are kept when they arrive for the birth.

 24 flat incontinent pads to use under Mom’s bottom (22” x 24”)
 1 box of 4”x4” gauze squares
 2 boxes of Super Kotex pads (overnight)
 1 box or bag of salt (cheap, for stained linens)
 1 450 ml bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide (for removing stains from carpets, etc.)
 1 small bottle of bleach or Sudsy Ammonia
 1 100 ml bottle of Witch Hazel
 1 sealed small bottle of Olive Oil for perineal massage, baby’s bum
 1 bag of “pure” cotton balls
 2 large green garbage bags
 2 Plastic sheets (shower curtain liners work)
 1 flashlight with extra batteries
 1 plug-in room heater (if needed)
 1 hot water bottle
 1 nail brush
 1 tea strainer
 Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (book)

Nice Extras:
Bath pillow, candles, ice cubes, popsicles, plant mister, music, camera/film, tapes, thermometer, massage cream, heating pad, small Fleet Enema (if you get constipated a lot in pregnancy), reusable cotton menstrual pads.

Preparing Your Home:
Make up 5 casserole dishes to get you through the first days after birth and freeze them. Put a plastic sheet on your bed in the last week of pregnancy in case your waters break. Dust and clean the bedroom. Clean the toilet and bathtub. Clear off the top of a chest of drawers or other surface for us to put our instruments on. Make arrangements to have your pets out of the house during the birth.

Sterile Linens:
 6 face cloths
 6 bath towels
 2 bed sheets
 2 cotton cloth diapers
 6 receiving (flannel) blankets for baby
 1 undershirt and nightie/sleeper for baby

Put clean linens in HOT dryer for one half hour. During the last 10 minutes throw in 3 brown paper grocery bags and heat them through. When dryer finishes, fold the hot linens with clean hands and put them in hot bags. Seal them with staples or tape and label the outside. Store in a dry place. You do not need to use your best linens…clean is our main concern.

Electrolyte Balanced Drink (Labour-Ade):
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 crushed calcium tablet (or 1/4 tsp calcium powder)
enough water to make 1 quart

Mix all ingredients together- use warm water to help dissolve the honey and calcium, and then chill. You can also make ice cubes. Buy enough ingredients to make 4 quarts. This is a delicious drink for after the birth as well. *After the baby is born you can add 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar to this drink to assist with peeing after the birth.

Podcast available for download

I had a great time being interviewed by Alain Desaulniers, DC, recently. Enjoy this podcast. Love, Gloria

Thanks so much for sharing about your AWESOME birth story and for your willingness to share so openly and authentically. I hope that millions are transformed through your words and message! I look forward to connecting with you soon! You rock!
I would be honoured if you would share with your circle of influence!

Your Show’s link:
http://everydayrevolutions.net/022glorialemay/
Main Website Link:
http://EverydayRevolutions.net
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Lastly, as Everyday Revolutions is quickly becoming a renowned podcast and resource for health, inspiration and motivation for living an awesome life:
• 40,000+ Downloads in just the first few months
• Ranked as high as #5 in iTunes Health, #1 in iTunes Fitness & Nutrition, #2 in iTunes New & Noteworthy, #77 in iTunes Overall.

Thank you for giving back,
Alain

Dr. Alain Desaulniers

Family Chiropractor, Everyday Revolutions Podcast Host, Educator, Keynote Speaker everydayrevs

Subscribe to the Everyday Revolutions podcast on iTunes, Sticher Radio or Soundcloud

6 Point Recipe for Making New Parenthood as Difficult as Possible

4 Days old and the milk is in. Continuous skin to skin in bed with mother.

4 Days old and the milk is in. Continuous skin to skin in bed with mother.

1. Start with giving the birthing woman antibiotics in high doses so that the baby develops candida (thrush) and colic. Then mix in a lot of stitches, either to repair the perineum or the lower belly/uterus.

2. Separate the mother and newborn. Make the mother walk a long distance (with her stitched body) to be able to see/feed her newborn.

3. Teach her that the best (and only) way to feed her baby is to sit upright in a chair

4. Discourage sleeping together as a family. Don’t let her know that lying down to nurse will enable her (and her partner) to get much more sleep.

5. Tell her that the baby is not getting enough milk and don’t give her the tools to increase her supply.

6. Scare her into thinking that her instincts about caring for her baby are not to be trusted and that she should listen to professionals for all things to do with her baby’s health.

Checking Your Own Cervix

How to Check Your Own Cervix- “it’s not rocket science”

“I think it’s a good and empowering thing for a woman to check her own cervix for dilation. This is not rocket science, and you hardly need a medical degree or years of training to do it. Your vagina is a lot like your nose- other people may do harm if they put fingers or instruments up there but you have a greater sensitivity and will not do yourself any harm. Clean your hands well and make sure your fingernails are trimmed and rounded.

“The best way to do it when hugely pregnant is to sit on the toilet with one foot on the floor and one up on the seat of the toilet (or if that yoga is too difficult, put one foot up on the bathtub or a stool with your knee bent).

toilet Put two fingers in and go back towards your bum. The cervix in a pregnant woman feels like your lips puckered up into a kiss. On a non-pregnant woman it feels like the end of your nose. When it is dilating, one finger slips into the middle of the cervix easily (just like you could slide your finger into your mouth easily if you are puckered up for a kiss). As the dilation progresses the inside of that hole becomes more like a taught elastic band and by 5 cms dilated (5 fingerwidths) it is a perfect rubbery circle like one of those Mason jar rings that you use for canning, and about that thick.

“What’s in the centre of that opening space is the membranes (bag of waters) that are covering the baby’s head and feel like a latex balloon filled with water. If you push on them a bit you’ll feel the baby’s head like a hard ball (as in baseball). If the waters have released you’ll feel the babe’s head directly.

“It is time for women to take back ownership of their bodies.”
-Gloria Lemay, Vancouver, BC

http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/birth.html#Self-Checking

    Update

One birthing woman who checked her own cervix described it like this: “I could feel my bag of water bulging down and then later the baby’s head once the waters broke- so cool.”
“How did I do it? I just reached up in all the way to the back and felt. It’s sort of awkward/difficult to reach but if you are familiar with what your cervix normally feels like, sort of like the tip of your nose, it gets shorter and stretchy. I felt it at like maybe 2 cm, about 6, which is when I could feel the bag, and then when it was time for baby to come. When the contractions were getting super intense I pushed a bit and that was enough to break my waters. Babe came shortly after.”
(shared with permission) 2014

Polycythemia and the natural emergence of the placenta

I have only encountered it once in my career (over 1300 births plus lots of prenatal class parents, 35 years in the birth biz). The baby with polycythemia I worked with was very ill with it, she was hospitalized on Day 2 of life and had some blood removed which improved her condition right away. She remained in hospital for about 7 days. She had Down syndrome and polycythemia can be part of the presentation with Down. A very good friend who is also a doula has a daughter with Down Syndrome and her story is almost exactly the same as the baby girl in my practice i.e. polycythemia after a gentle homebirth which was treated well in hospital. Both these baby girls were discharged from hospital much faster than the medical professionals involved expected.

I am a believer in leaving the birth of the placenta for a full 30 minutes (or longer). If the placenta births before 30 minutes, it is rare, and it means that the mother pushed it out without any advice from me. In my work, the cord is clamped and cut only after the placenta is out. With the one exception of the girl with Down Syndrome, I do not see cases of polycythemia, jaundice or any of the other dire predictions that the medical profession warns about with leaving the cord to pulse until it stops naturally. Fear of polycythemia is no justification for continuing on with amputating the placenta prematurely. Waiting only two or three minutes to clamp the cord is still an assault on the baby.

Couple cutting cord after birth of placenta

Couple cutting cord after birth of placenta


Remember, scissors, hemostats and cord clamps have only been invented for a short time in human history. Before that, people waited till the placenta came out naturally before doing anything about the umbilical cord. When the baby is adjusting to life with the cord intact, the blood goes back and forth through the two arteries and one vein in the cord. . . it isn’t just going in to the baby from the placenta, it’s coming out, too, in correct balance for that baby’s anatomy. The placenta was trusted to sustain the well being of the baby in every way for nine months, I am certain that it’s okay to let it keep performing that function for another 30 minutes.

(This is a comment from Facebook that I made in response to a query about cord clamping. The women who birth at home are not induced, not medicated and receive no routine injection of pitocin after the birth. They are healthy women with full term babies, for the most part.) Gloria Lemay

The Herbal Bath

This is something I have had in my files for many years. I’m posting it for those who are interested. The only time I have prepared all these herbs, we had them “cooking” while the woman was in the birth process. She didn’t like the smell so we had to interrupt the process, take the big pot outside and get the house cleared of the smell. So, lesson learned, don’t do this during the birth. I’m not in agreement about the idea of getting a woman into a bath to stop excessive bleeding or the idea of opening the labia and swooshing bath water into a post partum vulva. Actually, there are lots of ideas in here that I don’t go along with but I thought you might like to read this handout from around 1985.

I’m sorry I don’t know the source of this to credit the author. Gloria Lemay

Beginning of the quote:

THE HERBAL BATH
This bath mixture should be prepared, strained and put together in a large container ready for the bath. Remember, this bath is also used as treatment for heavy bleeding, and must be ready for immediate use if necessary. A quart or two of strong shepherd’s purse and extra comfrey (fresh if possible) should be set aside for internal use and for adding to the bath if needed.

¼ C sea salt
1 ounce Uva Ursi
1-2 ounces Comfrey
½ – 1 ounce Shepherd’s Purse
1 large bulb fresh garlic

Have ready for emergency use:
2 quarts strong shepherd’s purse tea
2 quarts strong comfrey (fresh if possible)
1 qt. alum root tea, or alum crystals

Simmer the tea and let set for some time before straining. Simmer the tea leaves again to get their full benefit. If you have garden fresh comfrey, do not simmer—use raw. Whiz it in the blender, strain and add to the tea mixture in a large container. Whiz the fresh garlic, add this and the sea salt to the mixture. Cover, label and set aside. Add to the warm bath water when needed.

This herbal bath is highly recommended for every woman following childbirth. There is absolutely no danger of introducing an infection, if the baths are done correctly. The garlic and sea salt make the bath solution aseptic. Uva Ursi is a specific for healing a woman’s reproductive organs. Comfrey contains alantoin, a cell proliferant, which causes the edges of wounds to grow together. It is very healing and soothing. Shepherd’s purse is excellent for preventing and controlling excessive bleeding.

The bath should be taken shortly after the birth. If the placenta has not been expelled, and you would like to get in the bath, you may do so. When you feel a contraction coming on –squat over a bowl and push it out.

A warm bath to soothe after the birth.

A warm bath to soothe after the birth.


The water should be comfortably warm, but not hot. The water should be about hip level. Lie back, spread your legs and swoosh the healing waters up inside the birth canal. Thirty minutes should be the minimum time in the bath. You will find the bath very soothing, relaxing and rejuvenating.
The baby should be put in this bath with you. The herb bath will start the healing process of the cord stump, and it may drop off as early as 3 days. In this bath, your baby will become mellow, and may even smile. He will unfold, stretch and float in the lovely weightless, warmness of the water. It’s wonderful to watch his pure joy at finding something so familiar and enjoyable in this new world. Caress and speak softly to him. He will love this communication, and will respond by total eye contact and facial expressions. When the infant is taken out of the bath, he should be patted dry, not rubbed. Dress him in soft, warm things. Put him to bed with you and let him cuddle up next to your warm body.

End of quoted material.

Letter from Jenny (Homebirth after 2 cesareans)

My dear sweet Gloria,

A year ago today at 4:45 a.m. I gave birth. I have treasured that moment every day. I know it is really Rowan’s birthday. But it’s my birthday too. I feel like that was the day I was born as a woman. Whole, powerful, beautiful, healed.

As you know my other births left me with scars. Scars on my body and scars on my soul. This birth healed me. I am not broken, I am whole. I am not helpless, I am powerful. I am not less than a woman, I am beautiful. I am healed.

Thank you, Gloria, for being there for me. I will never forget the first time you put your hands on my large belly. I could feel love through your touch. For me and for my baby. Visits with you were relaxed; you spent so much time with me. You told me so many stories. Stories to make me laugh, give me courage and impart knowledge. You challenged me to dream of this birth. To really think in detail how I wanted it to be. And I had the birth I dreamed of! What a gift.

Thank you, Gloria, for your quiet confident presence during my labour.
You gave me my space and that’s exactly what I wanted. You gave me quiet encouragement as I pushed, and through the fog I heard your words and they helped me. You reminded me to get ready to catch my baby; you knew how much I wanted that! And you left us to get acquainted with her as you went to get me some tea. What a peaceful birth. I still remember her looking at me with those eyes. Nothing is like that first look a newborn takes at the world around, and I got to see it!

Thank you Gloria for being who you are. You are a woman to be reckoned with! You supported me and my desire to have an amazing birth. And it has changed me.

Happy 1st birthday, Rowan. Happy birth day to me, too. Thank you, Gloria!
Love,
Jenny
PS. My placenta is still in my freezer waiting to be planted under a Rowan tree when we have our own place 😀

Courage

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, courage is a noun meaning ‘ability to overcome fear or despair” The fear has to be present in order for courage to exist. The English word “courage” is derived from the French word for the heart, “cour”. When someone finds the heart to continue on doing the right thing in the face of great fear, everyone around her is inspired to become a nobler human being. This is the source of courage for many midwives. In ourwork, we see women and men facing their fears in birth, we ask them to have faith in the face of no evidence, we demand that they be bigger than the circumstances and, when they conquer, we get a renewed vision of how life can look when our fears don’t stop us.

The paths of parenting and midwifery push me up against my fears and despairing attitude on a daily basis. Luckily, I have found teachers and teachings that have inspired me to keep going despite a rapidly beating hummingbird heart. When my daughters were very young and I was juggling my heart’s desire to be a good parent and make a difference in childbirth, one of my friends told me to use the affirmation “My vulnerability is my strength.” I thought she was insane and argued that if I lived by that slogan my children would surely perish. I was pretty sure that my strength was my strength—and by strength I meant my ability to force and push life to suit my will. I now know that true strength is an elusive quality of being able to strengthen others. At that time, I trusted my friend and, on faith in her alone, began toying with sharing my vulnerability. I tiptoed into revealing my fears and apprehensions to a few “safe” people and slowly began to realize that what my friend had given me as an affirmation worked a lot better than my stoic, stubborn, brave warrior act.

After a few harsh lessons, I began to realize that it wasn’t up to me to conceal information that was worrying me at a birth from the parents. In fact, if I am afraid at a birth, the best thing I can do is name the fear boldly and even ask everyone else present to say what his or her fears are. One of my dear clients released her membranes at 36 weeks in her second pregnancy. Her first birth had been a beautiful, straightforward home birth and I was deeply invested in her second birth being just as great. After four days of leaking, she began having regular, intense birthing sensations and we drove to the hospital for the birth. I drove and the parents were in the back seat of my car. As we approached the hospital, my hands on the wheel were clutched into white knuckles and a ball of fear formed in my gut. I started picturing the cord being whacked off immediately and the baby being taken away from Mom. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the father with his eyes looking terrified. I said to him “What’s your biggest fear right now, Brian?” He replied, “I am afraid we’re going to have a Cesarean.” I never imagined this would be his fear. A cesarean was not even a possibility, I explained, “Your wife is in strong birthing, she has already had one vaginal birth, the baby is small—for sure it will be born vaginally”. He asked me, then, “What are you afraid of?” I told him honestly “ I’m afraid that the baby’s cord will be cut too quickly and the baby will be taken away from Karen.” This had not occurred to him but he knew that my experience was a better barometer of things to come. He asked me what we could do to prevent this. I was able to tell him that it was very important to take the doctor aside out in the hall and tell him “It means everything to my wife and I that the cord be left to pulse and that the baby be placed on her skin until the placenta comes out.” We did a couple of “dress rehearsals” of what had to be said and then went in. The staff at the hospital respected the parents’ wishes to have the cord left intact. The birth went beautifully. I would have wished that the baby didn’t have as heavy doses of antibiotics as he was given (with resulting colic for months) but having a birth that involved no induction or anesthetics was a big accomplishment in these circumstances.

Nancy Wainer, author, midwife

Nancy Wainer, author, midwife


There was a period in my career when I was unable to divest myself of fear and dread. I wanted to have a breakthrough and so I decided to “import” some courage into my city. I thought about my heroes in the midwifery movement and asked myself “Whose the bravest person I know?” The answer was, of course, Nancy Wainer Cohen. Her book “Silent Knife” had kept my feet in the room at VBAC births where every cell in my body had been screaming “What the h— are you doing here?!!” I was pretty sure that if Nancy came and lived at my house for a few days, I could get some courage. My husband picked Nancy up at the airport and she came into my house and hugged me wracking with sobs. She cried her way through several boxes of Kleenex at the workshop she taught for my students. Her visit was four days of snot, tears and intense passion for healing birth. I learned so much about the vulnerability and strength connection. Nancy is still my hero in the courage department and she continues to live her life with her heart pinned right on her sleeve.

The sharing other midwives have done about their fears has strengthened me to face my fears of birth One midwife wrote in Midwifery Today that “the drive to the birth with all the “what ifs” running through my head is the hard part, when I walk through the door and see the woman, all that disappears”. Another midwife told me “The scariest thing for me is the first prenatal class of a series. Meeting new people who have so much riding on my teaching is enough to give me an ulcer.” An acronym for fear is:

F= false
E= evidence
A= appearing
R= real

When I am most afraid, it is because I have forgotten the truth about how loved and blessed I am. The fear can dominate and stop me or it can be used to alert me to something to which I am deeply committed. Using a journal to write out fears in the morning helps to clear the mind. Once the fears are on paper, somehow they seem less foreboding. Being in action is another antidote to the paralysis that accompanies fear. Any action—cleaning your desk, organizing a drawer, making a phone call—will bring a new perspective and lessen the dread.

My favorite philosopher about fear and courage is the Wizard of Oz speaking to the cowardly lion “Courage is doing what’s right even though you’re afraid.” I have learned courage from birthing women and other midwives. We are there to inspire and raise the bar for each other on what’s possible in the domain of courageous action.
This article by Gloria Lemay was written in 2003 and first published in Midwifery Today, Issue 67, Autumn 2003