Hold that hat!


Someone on Facebook is doing a survey of what birth workers think about putting knit toques on newborn heads.

We have to ask ourselves about the way this hat thing got going. Babies were not doing well after being born to medicated women and immediate cord clamping. The baby who has started off at such a deficit will lose body heat and be in very rough shape. Helping keep in heat by a hat might be a matter of life and death in this instance where the body is so weakened.

Contrast that to a baby born spontaneously and placed on his mother’s body. . . both of them wrapped together in a warmed blanket skin to skin. The cord is intact, the placenta continues its work of transferring just the right amount of blood back and forth to the baby while he/she adjusts to life in an air environment in a leisurely fashion.

Then, the baby and the mother lock in a gaze; the mother recognizing that this is her own; she buries her nose in the wet head and drinks in the smell of her young; she locks the imprint of that child’s whole being into her vision and she would not ever confuse her baby with someone else’s. Later, she chooses the clothing SHE wants her child to wear; she dresses and grooms her own baby. . . she is in charge and has been born as the mother. No one and no article of clothing has come between her and her total impressions of that baby. Through skin, mouth, nose, eyes and heart she has claimed the baby as her own and the bond is strong.


Bringing medical birth practices to a natural birth is a sign that we lost so much knowledge in the dark years when homebirth/midwifery was wiped out. Now, we can look again at these things and lay them aside as foolish for well women and their infants.


UPDATE Nov 2020 This film is now available as a download only. Features include:

1. 9 Home births without narration
2. 9 Home births (the same footage) but with commentary by Gloria Lemay
3. 30 min PSA by Nocirc.org featuring Dr. Dean Edell
4. 25 min “The Prepuce” by Doctors Opposing Circumcision. A film for medical students on the importance and function of the male foreskin.

Price: $35 (Cdn) plus shipping ($2.40 to Canada, $4.50 to U.S.A., and $9.50 to Europe and Australia/NZ)

To order, paypal the funds to this email address:

and be sure to include your mailing address.


“About four years ago I got fed up with all these home birth videos on the net that had very emotional music and voice overs with text popping up on the screen telling the viewer about what was going on. It truly made me mad that I could not show my clients a real birth. Then I trained as Birth Works childbirth educator and in our class we listen to real birth sounds to guesstimate where the birthing mother was in her process (audio only). A year after my second child was born I posted my RAW birth video as a teaching tool on the internet for the women in my class – no music to tug on your heart, no text manipulating your thinking or your experience. The video was so well received for its honesty that I have never taken it down and only wished there were many more around to truly educate women about birth (www.gentlebeginnings.ca). When I watched Gloria Lemay’s new birth video I was so relieved that the births featured were not doctored (pun intended) and instead presented the raw experiences in the moments, the sounds, the lights, the real happenings, warts and all. I have thought for a long time that prettying up a birth video sets women up with unrealistic expectations, and can actually harm them. Gloria’s video is beautifully real, amazingly wonderful, educationally priceless, and … honest. I loved every minute of it. I was very excited about the option with a voice over giving background info, and of course the two NO-CIRC features are a must see for every person in the world. Thank you Glo.”
Veronika Polanska, Childbirth Educator, Vancouver, BC Canada

For more information and reviews, see the Facebook page “Birth with Gloria Lemay” and be sure to like it

To view another review of the dvd go to this related post: http://www.glorialemay.com/blog/?p=630

Hungarian midwife in jail

Hungarian OB/Midwife, Agnes Gereb, has been incarcerated for attending home births. This is a powerful piece speaking to her cause and is a call-to-action over the Dark Age-style health policies still alive today. One of my favourite quotes in the video: “Psychiatry and obstetrics are two of the most insane fields within the world of medicine.” The video features Psychotherapist, Andrew Feldmar, Please watch it and pass it on.

What can we do to obtain the release of Agnes (Agi) Gereb?

1. Contact politicians, media and relevant agencies in your country to
protest against the events in Hungary, and to insist that they contact the
Hungarian government directly to express their disapproval.

2. Contact the Hungarian embassy in your country. In particular, if any of
you are in a position to organise a protest demonstration outside the
Hungarian embassy in your country, we would be pleased to know of this and
to help you in this task.

3. Send a letter of protest to and of the following people:

• Ministry of Health in Hungary (Dr. Miklos Szocska, Ministry
of Health, Social and Family Affairs, Budapest 1051, Arany Janos Utca
6-8, Hungary)

• Ministry of Justice in Hungary (Dr. Forgacs Imre Jozsef,
Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement, Igazsagugyi és Rendeszeti
Miniszterium, 1363 Budapest, Pf. 54., Hungary).

• Prime Minister of Hungary (Viktor Orban, 1054 Budapest,
Hungary, Szechenyi rakpart 19). fidesz@fidesz.hu

• *János Martonyi Minister of Foreign Affairs *kozkapcsolat@kum.hu

*• **Tibor Navracsics*, Minister of Public Administration and Justice

1357 Budapest Pf.2 lakossag@kim.gov.hu**

• *Office of Parliament,** *Committee on Human Rights,
Minorities, Civil and Religious Matters. 1358 Budapest, Széchenyi rkp.
19. emb@parlament.hu

• *Sándor Pintér, Minister of the Interior* 1903 Budapest Pf.:
314 ugyfelszolgalat@bm.gov.hu

• *Dr. Tamás Kovács, State Prosecutor* State Prosecutor’s Office

1372 Budapest, Pf. 438. lu@mku.hu

• *Budapest** Courts* 1363 Bp. Pf. 16 Fax: +361-354-6066

• *Hungarian National Press Service* 1016 Budapest, Naphegy tér

4. Send a postcard with words of support to Dr. Agnes Gereb in prison
at Fovarosi Buntetes Vegrehajtasi Intezet., 1055 Budapest, Nagy Ignac
u. 5-11, Hungary

5. Join the Free Gereb Agnes page on Facebook

6. Sign the petition for birth choices in Hungary:

7. Donate money towards Dr. Gereb’s legal expenses:

Születésház Egyesület

CIB Bank


IBAN: HU54-1070-0567-6558-8927-5200-0001

8. Spread the word! Inform your friends about this campaign.

Dec 21, 2010 update

Agnes has been released home on “house arrest”. This was on Facebook from Ina May Gaskin:

Here’s what Ina May has on her FB page: On December 20th, Agnes’ birthday, the Ministry of Natural Resources and its Department of Health held a press conference and publicly announced the birth of the new regulations regarding out of hosp…ital deliveries. There are some severe r…estrictions, like no previous C-sections, but we are hoping that this is just a start. The government promised to build birth centers in the countryside so that women can benefit from midwife assisted out of hospital births there
as well until many more home birth midwives will be trained.

Now we’d like to see all charges dropped against her and the other 4 midwives who have been charged with “reckless endangerment.” International pressure clearly helped.

Birth Linen Cleaning Tips

Here are some tips about blood stains on birth linens:

1. Stains come out if you get them out quickly—the longer they sit, the more permanent they become so have a soaking bucket ready to chuck linens into quickly at the birth.

2. Both hot and cold water set stains. If you want to remove stains use tepid water (not hot, not cold, somewhere in the middle) and get going on the stain removal right away.

3. you have to remove clots and mucous-y gel or that stuff just goes round and round in the machine and re-stains the sheets and towels.

4. Once you’ve run it through a cycle of tepid water and soap, take each piece of laundry out individually and eyeball it for persistent blood stains. Don’t put in dryer till they are out completely or you’ll bake the stain in permanently.

Work on the leftover stain by hand until it’s gone.

5. That Oxi-Clean stuff works well on blood stains. Peroxide poured on carpets and then mopped up with a clean, absorbent cloth takes out blood.

Some people put a cup of salt in the tepid water to wash the linens. It does work but this can corrode your washing machine if done too often.

6. My buddy Lisa Barrett takes a big Rubbermaid tub full of her own “birth” towels to each birth. When she gets home from the birth with the tub, she fills it with water and lets everything sit for a couple of days. Then she puts it through the laundry ready for the next birth. She’s got a house and I live in an apartment building so I haven’t taken on her method but if I’m in a house someday, will do the same thing.

AUSTRALIA: It’s now or never

When a government introduces new legislation to regulate homebirth and midwifery, it’s important to make all the changes necessary to perfect it BEFORE passing the law. If birth workers and consumers are too exhausted by the process and relent to a half-baked scheme in order to get it moving, they’ll regret it in the future because enacted legislation is very difficult to ever change.

This is a call to sign a petition of non compliance that is on Lisa Barrett’s blog. I urge everyone to sign it and stand up to the poorly crafted proposal that is before the Australian parliament.

Gloria Lemay

From Lisa Barrett’s blog “Homebirth: Midwife Mutiny”

Australian Midwifery / We will not comply
We will not comply

By Lisa Barrett on September 24, 2010

With all the discussion and arguments over determination I think we need to finally say we will not comply. Women and midwives must stand together as we did on that wet day in Canberra. All our differences set aside, to put our money where our mouth is.

Please go and sign this petition, let’s show everyone what we really believe. The more the better, forward it to everyone you know.

Thank you all.


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Read these related posts on Lisa’s site.

1. Petitioning For Your Support
2. Opinion
3. The Latest in Australia
4. Quality & Safety Framework and Eligibility
5. Plea for Homebirth

Marginal Placenta Previa Birth

Thor’s Birth

Things had been going well until one morning I went to the bathroom and noticed that the toilet was full of blood. I’d passed a small blood clot at 30 weeks but we had just finished moving and I knew I’d been overexerting myself. It concerned me but I wasn’t going to run off to the hospital just because of a small blood clot so I took a number of days of bed rest and since there wasn’t any more blood I figured that whatever the problem was had resolved itself.


But, then at 34 weeks, there was a lot of blood. Bright red and painless. I knew what that likely meant but I was really hoping it would be something else, like maybe an irritated cervix from doing too much laundry or something. But no, when I went to the hospital and had an ultrasound the doctor told me exactly what I didn’t want to hear, “It’s very concerning, your placenta is beside your cervix…it’s definitely a previa.” I live on an island and the biggest hospital only has a basic ultrasound machine, so the u/s I had was only able to show the placenta beside my cervix. In order to find out whether it was attached to my cervix or just near to it, and exactly how near, I had to go to a hospital on the mainland and have a transvaginal ultrasound. So yuck, I never do things like that, but I talked with my husband and we agreed that it was necessary information so the appointment was made.

I had about six days in between my previa diagnosis and my next u/s and they were a very long six days. Mostly I cried a lot and didn’t sleep and spent a lot of time trying to imagine myself having a cesarean, which I couldn’t. When I wasn’t torturing myself with visions of nightmare birth scenarios I was researching, gathering information on the different types of previa. It was hard, there aren’t a lot of good ‘placenta previa’ stories out there. It was scary because, well, placenta previa is bad. It’s one of the few birth complications that are actually really a problem. The placenta is supposed to come after the baby, not before. So it was stressful times. If the placenta was attached to my cervix I was screwed, not much chance of a normal birth there, but if it was beside my cervix so that it could open without making my placenta bleed, I had hope.

My appointment was with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at a large teaching hospital. Total twilight zone for me. My first three births were unassisted so the only other obstetrician I’d met was the one who diagnosed my previa. I had my appointment and they took a number of measurements of my baby, which I didn’t think were necessary except that they’d done it at my previous u/s and had said my baby looked ‘small’ and that my fluid was possibly ‘low’. I thought both suggestions were likely bullshit but I was also a bit concerned because placenta previa can be associated with other placenta abnormalities and birth defects. Thankfully, my baby and placenta were both normal. The placenta itself was posterior, on the left, and 1 cm away from my cervix. He estimated that the distance would increase to 2 cm over the next few weeks and that vaginal birth was possible but that a home birth was out of the question. The hospital also manages the midwives for the province and he said that “none of the midwives here would be willing to attend this at home”. (Well good for them, I had thought.) He seemed to have some kind of highly monitored hospital birth in mind, he mentioned that they’d like to check my progress regularly and monitor me in other ways, which didn’t sit well with me. I was very relieved to know I didn’t need to schedule a c-section, but still the mention of a highly-monitored hospital birth really got my back up. It’s incomprehensible how these medical people assume I’m going to allow a number of strangers to stick their hands up me while I’m in labour. But I digress…

At that point I was planning a low-intervention hospital birth, or at least that was what I was telling myself. I really couldn’t picture myself giving birth in a hospital but at the same time I didn’t feel like I had much choice. I mean, placenta previa is “bad”, that and a cord prolapse are the two things that are really serious life-threatening problems, the kind that you don’t want to deal with at home. I also think I was still a little stunned from finding out about the previa, and knowing that an automatic c/s was off the table made a hospital birth seem almost palatable for a while. And it wasn’t like the fact that it was a marginal previa meant that everything was going to be okay, there are still a number of complications that can arise when the placenta is in the lower half of the uterus and that close to the cervix. One involves bleeding before the baby is born, the other involves bleeding after, and neither is good.

I spent the 35th week of my pregnancy trying to imagine a hospital birth and gathering information from people who knew about hospital birth and about placenta previa. My biggest concern was that my placenta would start bleeding in labour and I’d have to have a c-section anyway. I’m an herbalist and a student of Susun Weed so I called her for advice. She suggested a half-gallon a day of herbal infusions, alternating nettle, comfrey and raspberry leaf. I’d already ordered nettle and raspberry but it hadn’t occurred to me to drink that much, so I had to find local sources where I could buy it by the pound. So that started me on infusions, I drank at least 2 liters a day for the rest of my pregnancy. The other thing Susun recommended was visualization. At least once a day I spent at least five minutes visualizing the bottom edge of my placenta toughening up and adhering strongly to my uterus, and then I’d see it moving, crawling slowly upward toward the top of my fundus. When I’d drink my infusions I’d picture this and I’d remind myself what each infusion was for – nettle for my blood, raspberry for my uterus, comfrey for my placenta.

When I’d talked to Judy (the herbalist I ordered my herbs from) I’d told her my situation and she reminded me about the importance of language. She picked up on me saying “I don’t want a cesarean” and reminded me that the universe doesn’t hear the “don’t” part. She gave me an affirmation to use: “I am having a vaginal birth and it is easy. My baby and I are perfect and healthy and safe. All is well.” I also started going for acupuncture treatments to help my placenta move up.

I also went to see the OB I’d met at my local hospital. If I was going to have a hospital birth I was going to need an OB and he had seemed like a reasonable guy. He was respectful of the fact that I was a homebirther and that hospital birth was completely out of my comfort zone. I went with an open mind and the intent of finding some agreeable terms for me to have my baby in the hospital. I had some legitimate concerns about homebirth in my situation. Mainly that if I started to bleed badly, either before or after the birth, we wouldn’t be able to handle it at home and were too far away from the hospital to get there in an emergency. We live at least a ½ hour from the nearest hospital in good weather. Since my baby was due in November we couldn’t count on good weather. When I talked to the OB about my concerns and my preferences he was fairly reasonable. He said that I had the right to make whatever choices I wanted and that they couldn’t do anything to me that I didn’t want them to do. So he talked a good line and made hospital birth sound like a viable option, but even then there were lots of little things that were setting off alarms for me. Like when I first went to the hospital with my bleeding I was sent directly to L&D and the first thing the nurse did when she showed me to an exam room was to tell me to take off my clothes and put on a gown. I asked her why I needed to take off my clothes when all they were going to do was use a doppler to check my baby’s vitals. She said that most women like to put on the gown just in case the doctor wants to do an exam but I said no thanks. They also tried to get me to sit in a wheelchair at the hospital, first they wanted to wheel me to L&D and then again from the exam room to the ultrasound. Both times I refused. The second time the nurse had gone to ask the doctor’s permission for me to walk, which I didn’t understand. At 35 years old I don’t see why I’d need anybody’s permission to walk anywhere. Then at the doctor’s office the nurse had wanted to weigh me and get me to pee in a cup and put on a gown. All of which I refused, saying “Oh no thanks, I don’t do that.” Of course, she’d had to go and ask the doctor if I was allowed to do that. Then when I was talking to the doctor about the birth and explaining that my husband or I always caught the baby he said that that was fine but that he “might just have my hand on top of his to guide him”. That really didn’t sit well with me, or my husband for that matter. Having brought our first three children into the world by ourselves we really couldn’t fathom what this guy thought he’d be doing with his hands between my legs while our baby was coming out. Despite my best intentions to be open to a hospital birth, I was having second thoughts.

Then at 36 weeks the baby dropped, which was weird because mine don’t usually come early. When faced with the prospect of being in labour and going to the hospital I realized that I didn’t want to do it. A number of times already I’d started crying, like while doing the dishes or something, and when my husband asked me what was wrong I’d say that I didn’t want to go to the hospital. But at that point I was still telling myself that staying home wasn’t an option this time. At the same time I’d started having dreams where I’d be screaming angry at someone for cutting off my hair. Symbolically a person’s hair represents their power; my dreams were telling me that I’d be really angry if I gave my power away. I had to accept that this less-than-ideal situation I found myself in was still mine to deal with, that the fact that I was no longer having a simple pregnancy didn’t automatically mean that I was going to be able to absolve myself of the responsibility of dealing with it. This is a lot of what UC means to me. It’s not just about avoiding unnecessary interventions and the many other abuses that come with the modern western way of birth. It’s about taking responsibility for myself, my body and my baby and knowing that each birth is my journey and my task, that whatever is given to me is mine to address.


At 36 weeks I was drinking infusions, visualizing a strong placenta, affirming a safe and easy birth and having weekly acupuncture. My husband and I had started talking homebirth or maybe birth in a hotel near the hospital. I was still afraid of a c-section, especially an unnecessary one, so we were talking about how we’d handle a hospital birth if we ended up going there. I had talked to Gloria Lemay and Susun Weed. All was well. And then I woke up at about 4 a.m. and felt wet between my legs. It was the night after the baby dropped and I wondered if it was my water breaking. I went to the bathroom and saw blood running down my legs. When I turned on the bedroom light there was a blood clot sitting on my bed. It was about the size of a small pancake, oval shaped and about ½ an inch thick and it was sitting in a pool of watery blood. I woke my husband up and we talked about what to do. I was having some contractions, they felt like Braxton hicks, but given that the baby had dropped and now there was all this blood, I wondered if the baby was coming. We talked about what to do and I have to say that my husband is such a blessing as a birth partner, no matter what’s happening he is so calm and has such faith in the process. We lay there in bed and watched the baby move in my belly. My husband listened to his heart rate and it was normal. And we watched my bleeding to see if it continued. Gloria had told me that bleeding that could be measured in tablespoons was acceptable but that bleeding that was approaching a cup or more was not. We estimated the clot was a few tablespoons and the rest of the blood was about 2-3 more and it had stopped. I asked if my husband wanted to go to the hospital and he asked, Why, what will they do? We figured that at best they could hook me up to machines to monitor the baby and at the worst we could get some completely spastic doctor that would want to cut the baby out of me at 36 weeks for who knows what reason. So we stayed home.

The same thing happened about a week later, except that I woke up to a gushing sensation and the clot wasn’t nearly so big. Again we estimated the blood loss, checked the baby’s heart rate and activity, and decided to stay home.

The doctor had given me the phone number of the head obstetric nurse at the hospital so I could talk about their policies and procedures. He had explained to her that we were a homebirth family and that we were really only interested in being in the hospital as a precautionary measure. They assumed that I’d be agreeable to the heparin-lock but I told her that I wasn’t and that I thought having a needle stuck in my hand would be uncomfortable and distracting. I forget how often she said they like to monitor the baby but I said I’d refuse that too. The nurse said that some of the nurses would get snippy with me for refusing but that I should ignore them. She also told me that the nurses would be told not to check my dilation because of my previa. I told her that no one would be checking my dilation because of my previa and she said I’d need to talk to the doctor about that. I didn’t understand why, it’s not like he would have any say in it. I asked her about all of their standard newborn procedures and told her I’d be refusing those too. I could tell she was trying to be accommodating but it really wasn’t going that well. The final straw for me was when we came to the issue of the placenta and the cord. I explained to her that my husband always cuts the cord, which she was okay with though for some reason she thought he’d need help with it. Then I told her that we leave the cord intact until the placenta is born and she was silent. After a minute or so she said “Oh…” I don’t think she’d ever heard of that before and didn’t know what to say. Once she regained her bearings she told me that I’d have to discuss that with that with the doctor because that was his decision. I told her that she didn’t understand, that my husband would not allow anyone to touch the cord before the placenta was out. That he would physically prevent them if necessary and that it wasn’t negotiable. That made her very uncomfortable and she again told me I’d have to discuss it with the doctor. And then came the deal breaker. When I told her that we would be taking the placenta home she said they couldn’t give it to us, that the health board doesn’t allow them to, that it wasn’t negotiable.

By the end of the conversation I knew I would be having my baby at home. Besides how misguided they were about whom the placenta belongs to, I realized there was a serious disconnect between the nurse’s view of the situation and mine. Essentially, she thought that the doctor was going to be in charge at my birth, whereas I thought I would be. I knew then that I wouldn’t be going anywhere near a hospital whilst in labour unless I was dying.

Aside from just how wrong and bizarre most of their thinking was, my husband and I realized that the hospital actually had very little to offer us. They offer the illusion of safety, but an illusion is all that it is. When we looked past all of their technogizmos and protocols we saw that the two things they had that we didn’t were monitors and surgery and we decided that if we needed monitors or surgery then we’d go there. We also decided to cancel the appointment for the second ultrasound. Both doctors had put a lot of stock in knowing the exact distance between placenta and cervix, but to me it wasn’t so important. I wouldn’t plan a c-section just because it hadn’t moved as far as the specialist had predicted.

After that I went back to preparing for the arrival of my baby. I continued my infusions, visualizations, affirmations and yoga and all was well. Then at about 40 weeks I stood up from a chair and walked into the kitchen and felt a gush. I hoped it was my water breaking, though even that would be weird because my water’s never broken before, but when I went to the bathroom I saw it was blood. Probably a few tablespoonfuls. I was pretty sure the baby was napping so there wasn’t much movement but his heart was normal and I managed to get him to squirm a couple times after nudging him. Still, I was very upset. I have a couple friends who really understand UC and they heard from me a fair bit the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I talked to them because I knew they understood where I was coming from, that I was scared but that fear alone wasn’t a good enough reason to go to the hospital.

After the bleed at 40 weeks I had a few days respite and then I had bleeds three days in a row starting at 41 weeks. Prior to this my longest pregnancy had been 40 weeks 6 days; it never occurred to me that I’d still be pregnant at 41 weeks. I was wondering if this baby was ever going to come out and then my placenta started bleeding again. That was really upsetting. But the baby was still moving normally and I figured that if I went into the hospital at 41 weeks with a bleeding placenta they’d feel compelled to try and do something. So I stayed home. After the third bleed I realized that it was always happening after I got up from sitting on the living room furniture. I’d tried putting cushions under my butt to keep my spine straight but it hadn’t helped. What was happening was that the placenta was on the bottom back wall of my uterus and whenever I sat down the baby’s head was pushing into the placenta and making it bleed. I think that’s also why I passed the big clot after he dropped at 36 weeks. Up until then he’d been sitting really high on my right side but when he dropped he went LOA. I think that’s why he kept on switching back and forth because no matter how much time I spent doing Cat and Cow positions in yoga my baby would not stay anterior. Once I realized that sitting was making my placenta bleed I just stopped doing it. I spent the last 3 days of the pregnancy standing, kneeling, or lying on my side. It was uncomfortable and a little boring and I was beginning to wonder if the pregnancy would ever end but I didn’t bleed again after that.

My husband and I spent a lot of time preparing for the birth, reviewing all of the hemorrhage treatments we had. I’d had a bit of luck and my TCM practitioner had given me Yunnan Baiyao pills for controlling bleeding and shown me the acupuncture points to stop uterine hemorrhage. I’d had him mark the points with a black marker for my husband. The one tincture I’d been unable to find on the island was witch hazel bark but I asked around and found an herbalist who grows it and she gave me an ounce.


I started having regular contractions after the first bleed at 41 weeks. They had gotten to 5 minutes apart and I thought labour was starting but then they just stopped. After that there was nothing for a couple days and then I started having low cervical contractions early in the morning. They’d start at about 4 am and stop by about 7 am when the kids got up. There were three days of that and I was really beginning to wonder when this baby was going to come out. I hadn’t sat down for three days and I was having contractions every morning. Then finally, at 41 weeks 4 days, after dinner when my husband was putting the kids to bed I had a few contractions that felt like they were going somewhere. There were only a few of them in an hour but they were intense.

By 8:15 p.m. I’d had a few more contractions and my husband was watching something banal on TV. I’d told him that I thought I might be in labour but that it still wasn’t consistent. I was in the living room saying that I wasn’t sure if the contractions were picking up yet and he asked me if the TV show was distracting me, instantly I realized how irritating the show he was watching was and told him to turn it off. At 8:30 I had another contraction and it was painful. A few minutes later I had another one and holy crap was it really painful. I told him I was having more contractions but he didn’t get it. He was in the kitchen getting some ice cream and I had this contraction that went on and on and on and it really hurt and I yelled at him “Now is not a good time for you to be getting ice cream!” And then he understood that I was serious about this labour thing and came to be with me. I didn’t really need him to do anything I just like having him around when I’m in pain. He asked if I was sure this was it and I said Yes and asked if he was okay with staying home and he said Yes and went to get my birth kit. Over the next hour I had a number of contractions that were insanely painful. The baby was somewhere between ROT and ROP, I knew this because he had kicked a number of times while I was having a contraction and his feet were over on the left front side of my belly.

I had about 10 or 15 of those insanely painful contractions and then they stopped for a few minutes. I waddled into the kitchen to get a glass of water and while I was at the sink I got this contraction that felt like pushing so I pushed a bit and thought ‘Am I pushing?’ I pushed again with the next contraction and a glop of fluid ran down my legs. I took my underwear off to see if there was blood but there was just clear fluid. I pushed a couple more times and felt the baby move down and then he stopped. I’d had this with my last posterior baby; getting the back of the skull past the tailbone is hard. I tried hanging on to the counter for leverage and pushing hard but nada, nothing budged. My husband had come in to the kitchen and asked me if I wanted to come into the living room where all the birth stuff was but I said No way am I moving, so he brought some towels and the birth basket in the kitchen. I got on my knees and pushed again but still nothing was moving, and I thought Oh shit how am I going to get this baby out? I scuttled around a bit, got myself in a better kneeling position and with the next contraction pushed hard and yelled, I felt a bit of movement so I pushed harder and yelled louder and suddenly the whole baby shot down and the head was crowning. I felt myself stretching a lot and put my hands down to support where it was burning and I realized the baby’s head was at a weird angle. Instead of facing directly front like my last posterior baby he was looking at the inside of my thigh, so I had to ease him out slowly to avoid tearing. Once the fullest part of his head was out his body shot out along with the rest of his amniotic fluid. He started crying right away and I pulled him up and checked his sex and said “Oh Thor you’re here!” It was such a relief to finally be holding my baby.

Sitting on the floor holding my baby I did start to bleed more than usual but my pot of witch hazel was sitting right there on the stove so my husband poured me a glass and I gulped it. I thought it would taste horrible and acrid but it was actually kind of tasty so I think I must have really needed it. After about 10 minutes I moved to the living room where it was more comfortable. We spent some time loving our baby and after a while the placenta came. The fetal side of the placenta looked fine but when I tried to turn it over it was like trying to grab jello. The maternal side was jiggly and one edge was sloppy and coming apart and had a few pieces missing. The other pieces of the placenta came out over the next half hour and when my bleeding eased up Thor and I went up to bed. He took to nursing with great zeal and I had some wicked after pains that night but I was happy. I’d had my baby at home and all was well.
Written by Alice, July 2010

A “Skype” birth

Mat is a Japanese/Canadian man. He grew up in British Columbia and is fluent in English and Japanese and a ‘cool’, trendy guy. His wife Nayumi is a Japanese beauty who was raised in Japan and struggles with her English now that she lives here in Canada. The couple met and fell in love in Japan. Although married to a Canadian, she has not completed her immigration and, therefore, did not qualify for a government insured birth for her first child. Mat’s sister had been a client of mine for her three home births so Mat and Nayumi knew all about my services.

Our prenatal visits were done with Mat acting as “translator” for me and Nayumi. When I would explain something complicated, he would listen intently and, then, translate completely every single word for his wife. They were both dedicated to having a great arrival for their first baby.

I have attended births for many “foreign” visitors to Canada over the 30 years that I have worked in this field. I can’t help but put myself in the place of their overseas family. How would it be for me if one of my daughters was in a foreign place having a baby with a woman who didn’t speak her language? Would she be all right? Would others understand how precious and special my daughter is to her family at home? I can only imagine the relief the overseas family must feel when they know that their daughter is safely through birth with a healthy baby.

Nayumi gave birth quickly and smoothly. Their tiny downtown apartment was clean and neat as a pin. Everything had a place and was beautifully organized. Mat caught the baby in the water tub–a sweet boy, the placenta was birthed and the cord cut. After about 45 minutes, Mat and I helped Nayumi and baby to get dried off and into bed. I was in the kitchen preparing some food for the family when I heard a lot of excited Japanese talking coming from their bedroom. They had put their Mac laptop into the bed on Nayumi’s lap and the entire family in Japan was gathered together in the screen looking at the new baby boy! How wonderful to see Nayumi, radiant and well and a new little family member “live” on the internet. The family insisted that I get in front of the camera so they could see me and thank me, too. Mat translated for them that I thought they had a brave, amazing daughter and that they should be so proud of her. I assured them that I would stay until I was certain that all was well with both of them.

I can remember how amazed I was when digital photos could be sent rapidly via the internet. This instant Skype celebration was a whole new level of wonder for me at what we can do now with technology.

Japanese couple who had a waterbirth

Privacy: This photo is NOT of my clients, it’s one I found on the internet. All names/nationalities changed for privacy considerations.


the tree of life, originally uploaded by madstfri.

Placenta Question & Answer

Lee asked: Unfortunately with my first birth my placenta was retained. All up I had the placenta in me for 12 hours. I had a homebirth and after an hour I had an injection of syntocin to help the placenta still nothing. This was the last resort after pushing, cord traction, squatting etc. I then tried for the next few hours to coax the stubborn placenta out – unfortunately after hours of waiting hospital was inevitable…..I was put on a drip which didn’t bring on anything and finally had a nurse use cord traction again to pull the placenta out. I really would love any info on natural remedies, having another homebirth, feeling confident that all will go smoothly but just want to have something prepared!

Gloria’s Answer:

Thanks for asking the question. Your anxiety about having this scenario repeat is understandable. I worked with a woman last year who had a similar experience with her first birth and I thought I had reassured her completely that it wouldn’t happen again. Right before her birth, she said to me: “Gloria, if the baby doesn’t seem to want to nurse in the first half hour after birth, do you think my husband should suck on my nipples?” I knew that meant she was still obsessing about the placenta coming out.

My reply to her (and to you): “Molly, I am confident about your placenta coming out smoothly after the birth.
There will be no rush and no need to do anything except enjoy the amazing feeling of that slippery, soft, delicious newborn in your arms. It is the little (or big) sounds of the baby and the skin to skin contact that floods the body with oxytocin and clamps the uterus down around the placenta.”

Now, only because your busy mind needs to have some “things to do”, I’m going to give you some tricks to get the placenta out naturally that I have heard about over the years:
1. Sniff a little bit of pepper to make yourself sneeze. Sneezing will expel the placenta (same principle as when you pee a bit when you sneeze)
2. Blow hard into a narrow necked bottle. Blowing into a bottle uses those diaphragm muscles that make you bear down
3. Have someone stick two fingers down your throat to make you gag (this is something that was done in the Far North of Canada by an Inuit grandmother to help her grand daughter get her placenta birthed. I filed it in a corner of my mind but have never used it, sounds a bit harsh but was apparently effective).
4. Buy a bedpan. If the placenta doesn’t come out with you reclining and enjoying your baby, you could sit on the bedpan after the cord is cut and just bending your body forward in a safe space will probably give you the feeling of “needing to push” and out the placenta will plop.

With second babies, everything goes so smoothly. Remember these are tips to keep your mind from doing too much obsessing prior to the birth. I can’t wait to hear your birth story, especially the part where you say “Gloria was right, the placenta just came out smoothly and no tricks were needed.” 🙂