Choosing a Birth Place During a Pandemic

When it’s time to choose a place to birth your child there is a lot to consider.

Where will you and your partner be most comfortable having a baby?

Where will you be able to relax and let go of all of your stresses and your worries?

Where will you be happy to welcome a new life?

Photo Credit: Cara Mehlon Birth and Wellness

This may be different for everyone.  

During a stressful time like this COVID-19 Pandemic, there is even more to consider.

I was asked to write this as a guest post for and happy to do so. This is on the minds of so many right now and I was able to ask a few families to share their thoughts as well. The stories and the photos are unrelated.

“When I was choosing my birthing place, I was often given a look of surprise when I told some people I was having my baby at home. Now that there is a coronavirus to worry about those same people are thrilled we are having a homebirth. They feel that this is a much safer option. Of course, I felt this way all along. I had a very safe and healthy hospital birth with my daughter and trust my body will do the same this time. Anything could happen but that’s why I have a trusted midwife and doula who will be by my side. “ – Julia

Most people don’t realize how prepared midwives are for emergencies during birth. One of the biggest fears associated with home birth is, what if there is an emergency?  In my experience, home births supported by trained/certified midwives have comparable or even better outcomes than hospital births. 

Family Home Birth – Photo Credit: Melissa Williams/Willow Grove Photography

When I asked a Mom who has had many home births why she continues to have babies at home, she said,

“Being able to labor and birth in water is my preference and my midwives have always been able to safely monitor me and the baby without interrupting our sacred space. I was surrounded by everyone who believed in me and my baby. We were able to stay calm and relaxed and I knew that we were well cared for the entire time. After our babies were born we were able to bond with our baby in the comfort of our family bed , we had food cooked and ready from our own kitchen and our birth team cleaned up while we enjoyed being a family. It has always been perfect for us. “ -Gene

Home Birth is a very intimate experience and having the most positive and loving birth team to support you is so important for everyone involved.

Another Mom who is a high risk pregnancy and knows she will need a C-section mentioned to me that she is feeling confident that her OB will be making the best decisions for her and her baby, she is somewhat concerned about being in a hospital setting but also knows that her birth team will be taking every precaution for her and her baby.  “I don’t have a choice due to previous surgeries and other prenatal complications so I need to be in the hospital. Since this is the path I am meant to be on, I know it will be ok.” -Abbey

Hospital Birth- Birth Boot Camp

In the hospitals in our area, all maternity patients and their partners are screened upon arrival for COVID-19 symptoms, just like everyone on staff that day and precautions are taken for expectant moms who test positive.  Visitor restrictions are in place but as for now if your partner and yourself are healthy, your  partner can stay with you for birth. Some hospitals are still allowing doulas in addition to their partner. This is not the case though at all hospitals  in our country and things could be changing depending on many variables.  Continue to discuss these possibilities with your provider. Your hospital midwives and doctors want you to have a safe and healthy birth experience, no matter what.

I highly recommend a quality childbirth education program such as Birth Boot Camp, especially if your birth place will be changing. Many instructors are offering virtual classes.

Home Birth-Photo Credit: Melissa Williams/Willow Grove Photography

Most importantly, discuss the pros and cons with your partner, with your doula, with your childbirth educator. Share your concerns with your provider and decide how you all will feel most comfortable during labor, birth and the postpartum period.  I truly believe whatever choice you and your family make will be what is best. Enjoy your pregnancy and Happy Birthing.


Your Prenatal Massage Questions Answered

Many of us LOVE massage right? I do! When you are growing a baby there are so many changes your body makes to ensure that happens perfectly. Sometimes these changes can cause some discomfort for Mom. If you have had questions about getting any form of bodywork while pregnant this will be helpful. 

How often should I receive massage when I am pregnant?

Each pregnancy and each body is different, so I can not answer this for everyone. I like to recommend once a month for the first and second trimester and then, more often during the 3rd trimester.  Many Moms opt for one per week for the last 4-6 weeks. Listen to your body, it is very much up to what you feel you need most.

What About Due Date Massage? 

Massage when approaching your estimated due date is wonderful for you and for baby. I like to call this a Labor Encouraging Massage. There are many great benefits of massage at this time especially. General stress relief, relaxing tight and tense muscles, as well as working on those points that could encourage the body to be ready for your baby to come. Many women like to schedule something on their due date to have something to look forward to, other than a baby of course. Massage is a lovely way to prepare your body for the experience of your baby’s birth day. Always consult your provider if you have special circumstances.

Can I Get a Massage During the First Trimester?

You will be glad to know that YES you can. You may have heard it can be unsafe to have specific points massaged during this time. As long as you have a therapist trained to know how to avoid these points or avoid specific oils be used safely there is nothing to worry about. There are points both on the hands and on the feet that may encourage labor to begin. This is often why some avoid pedicures/manicures during this time as well. In the first trimester you are still able to lay in any position on the massage table to receive your treatment and that in itself is very relaxing. As your baby grows, laying on your stomach becomes more uncomfortable.

All of that being said, if you are anxious about receiving a massage during the first trimester, you should wait until you are comfortable with it. We never want you to be stressed on the table. If your pregnancy is considered high risk or you have special conditions that massage may be contraindicated please discuss with your provider before coming in for your session.

What Position Will I Be In During the Massage?

In the first trimester, like we discussed earlier-laying on your back or stomach are both very relaxing on the massage table. After that, it becomes more difficult to lay on your stomach. I like to begin the massage with a pillow under my clients head/neck while they are lying on their back ( as long as they are comfortable this way) – this way we can focus on shoulders, arms, legs and feet. When its time to focus more on the back of the body I invite my prenatal clients to lay on their side (side-line position) and I am able to  work the low-mid back, shoulders and legs again. This is a very comfortable position as well, as I bolster the body with pillows to their comfort level.

Do You Require a Note From My Doctor?

In most cases I do not. I do like for you to mention to your prenatal care provider if you plan to receive massage and they are often very happy with that. If a prenatal client of mine may be on bed rest or have other high risk circumstances we discuss the safest options during the massage before hand. If you ever question whether the massage will be safe please don’t hesitate to ask your care provider.

How soon can I come back after the baby is born?

I like to give massage soon after the baby is born, it often aids in recovery time. This can be difficult though as you want to be with your baby often and baby needs you. In most cases, I like to bring my table out to the new parents home if we are scheduled with the first few weeks. Another option would be to have someone bring your baby along, they can wait nearby if baby needs to be nursed OR I have even had clients have their baby in the room with us during the massage. Mothers who have had a Cesarean-section usually need to wait a few weeks until their provider is comfortable with them having some body work done.

I look forward to seeing you on my schedule soon.

Korie Austin Photography

Do you have any other questions that I can help answer? If so, please let me know. I am here for you!

Birth Stories

Have you been thinking about sharing your birth story in hopes of encouraging others? I always love sharing encouraging birth stories with new Moms. Here is your chance.

Thank you!

What is a Doula?

What is a Doula you ask? Guess what, we don’t catch babies. Wait, what? If you are still unsure of what birth doula services include keep reading…

The word ‘doula’ — pronounced ‘doo-la’ — is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant, caregiver, or Mothering the Mother’.

It refers to someone who offers education, emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth.

She enables a woman and her partner to have the most satisfying birth experience possible, from pregnancy into motherhood. This type of support allows the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience.

Doulas are trained and/or certified and experienced in childbirth and are usually mothers themselves. For me, I have had two births myself and countless experiences with client’s births.

Newborn Baby/Hospital Birth

This part is very important-

While we have good knowledge and awareness of the birth process, a doula does not support the mother-to-be in a medical role.

That is the job of the midwife or OB.

A doula helps the mother-to-be to achieve the birth she hopes for, no matter if it’s an all natural birth, a medicated birth, or a c-section birth.

This makes a doula a valuable addition to the birth team. Should a birth become complicated and require medical assistance, a doula will remain calm and stay along with her client helping in other ways necessary.

She will not make decisions for those she supports, but she will assist them through the decision making process, providing balanced information so the couple can make their own choices. Often times, these decisions are made before labor begins but other times it’s a game day decision. It’s nice to have someone constant,  knowledgeable, and trustworthy to help the couple (along with their care provider) make the best choice for their family.

A doula may provide some or all of the following services, dependent on her training and skills. Often doulas are also qualified in other therapies too, so it always helps to ask!

  • Childbirth education and preparation, including birth planning
  • Discussing previous births
  • Massage and other comfort measures including relaxation techniques
  • Optimal fetal positioning
  • Suggesting and practicing positions to help ease pain and facilitate a smoother, more effective labor
  • Provide reassurance and encouragement
  • Talking through emotional blockages which may come up during pregnancy and in labor
  • Keep your desired birthing ‘environment’ consistant – aromatherapy, music, candles etc
  • Assisting you with negotiation of your preferences
  • Photography and/or video of the birth itself, as well as the precious golden hour as a family
  • Breastfeeding Information and Support
  • Support while parenting a newborn
  • And so much more!

What About The Mother’s Birth Partner?

Reports are showing: rather than diminishing a partner’s participation in the birthing process, a doula’s support complements and reinforces her partner’s role. We can help your birth partner learn relaxation techniques and comfort measures during pregnancy as well as learning some vocabulary to help understand how things are going in the birthing room before the baby’s birth day. Being prepared can be so very helpful to everyone.

What will my provider think if I hire a doula?

Most OB’s are very open to having a doula as long as we are respectful of their role as an important part of the birth team. My client’s carefully choose their provider and I respect that have chosen who is best for their birth. Midwives are also very open to having a doula present and often have a good relationship with many doulas in the community so we naturally work very well together.

So, ultimately you have learned…Doulas are awesome, we do not catch babies, and we work well with others…well most of us. Choose your birth team wisely. This is a very important day for you, your partner and your baby.

The Essential Guide to Birth Planning

Congratulations, if you are reading this you might be planning a birth.  Congratulations!

There are so many places to find ideas for birth planning, some that I have come across are LONG – your provider and nursing staff will be able to read and remember your desires for this big amazing day BETTER if it’s short and sweet. I like to suggest one page. If you have already made a longer plan it’s ok, just go through and tailor it down a bit to keep it simple.

I know, I know, ONE page for one of the BIGGEST most amazing days of your life? That does seem difficult. Can you imagine if you were planning a wedding…and the wedding plan was only ONE page!? LOL.

  1. Wear something pretty
  2. Invite the one I LOVE
  3. Meet at the church
  4. Say “I Do”
  5. Share a KISS
  6. Have a party

The difference is, the (female) human body knows how to give birth. We have all of the right equipment on board! When we plan a wedding, we need many different vendors, decorations, venues, people…so many people…you get the idea.

Being in tune with your body and TRUSTING your body will help you feel more comfortable throughout all stages of labor.

A plan, while it may not guarantee everything goes exactly as it is laid out, let’s be real, it probably won’t – helps us figure out exactly what we want.  We can make choices accordingly, and clearly communicate those desires with those that are important to the plan. It’s a great tool in preparation. Ultimately, when your baby is born, no matter how the plan ends up, it’s going to be an incredible moment and you all will be glad that you took the time to prepare for it.

When planning, consider a few things to ask your provider before hand to be sure you are all on the same page.

  1. What is standard at my birth place? For example, how will my baby be monitored and how often?
  2. How many Doctors or Midwives do you work with and may I meet them before my estimated due date?
  3. How do you feel about doulas?
  4. Would you allow my massage therapist to join me during labor?
  5. Can I bathe my baby?
  6. How soon can we leave the hospital or birth center? Etc…

    There may be many more questions unique to you and your partner that you could add to this list. Be sure that your birthing partner/spouse is a large part of this planning too.

Your baby’s birth day will only happen once. Carefully and thoughtfully consider your desires. A good care provider will respect your wishes and honor the sacredness of your special day when you meet your baby for the very first time.

After you have cleared things with your provider I like to get it all written down so that you can share your plan with your carefully chosen birth team.

I like to begin with general information.

Parents to be names and birthdates.

Provider’s name and where you want to birth your baby.

Estimated Due Date

Birth Team (anyone who will be supporting you)

If you are prepared to have an unmedicated birth write a short paragraph stating this and thank them for helping you achieve this goal.  Explain that IF any interventions are necessary to please discuss the options with us first.

Some choose to have bullet points here, others like to have a “preferred” list and an “avoid” list. Both are very acceptable. Some examples of this may include:

What type of lighting you would like

Music preferences

Having time to labor

Use of the tub or shower

delayed cord clamping

Breastfeeding desires

The avoid list for example may include unnecessary interventions.

Understanding that when you have chosen this provider you trust they will avoid unnecessary interventions unless it is best for you and baby.

You may even want to list a few postpartum requests such as:

Baby to remain with mom or dad at all times

Circumcision? Yes or No?

No bottle or pacifier

Vaccinations? Yes/No/Delayed

Allow vernix to absorb into the baby’s skin

Skin to skin warmth and bonding time

Again, you and your partner will have more specific requests and it’s important to make your birth plan your own. Remember these are all only examples. Discuss all of this with your partner, childbirth educator, your doula and of course your care provider.

So what’s the idea behind the birth plan? We want to facilitate communication between partners, care providers, and truthfully figuring things out for yourself too! Whether it’s your first baby or your 7th baby, it’s always a new birth. It’s going to be different every time.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that some don’t want to make a birth plan and guess what, it’s your birth – you get to decide. But, I assume since you are reading this you may be thinking about it. One thing I noticed while teaching my class last week was: A student asked me,

“What will the nurses do if my wife asks for pain meds but we had decided to do our best to avoid them. Will they jump into action, will we have any time to try something new for a while instead of getting the meds right away?”

It was a great question! This is a great example of why to have a birth plan. You nurses would know that you wanted to avoid meds and if you are asking for them, they may help distract you, change positions and use other comfort measures in hopes that you can get past this for a bit longer without the meds since that was what you had planned. Having this laid out for your birth team is going to get that communication across respectfully which is very helpful for everyone involved. Know that if you have ultimately decided the pain meds IS what you want your trusted team will respect that as well.

Trust your body, trust your baby, and choose the provider you feel most comfortable with.

Please, if you have more questions, leave a reply or contact me. If you want me to elaborate on any of these topics, let me know. Have fun planning your special day.

Congratulations and I wish you a beautiful birthing experience.