Tools for Birth

When you are ready to give birth, you will have an arsenal full of tools you wish to use during this most important and exciting experience.  <<   

You will have all of your recent education, your birth wishes, your doula, your midwife. You will <have your birth ball, your birth pool, your willingness to do what you need to do.

Your desired ambiance will be created through lighting, music and aromatherapy. <And most important…you will have your open mind.

If things might not go as you originally hoped they would…you will have another set of tools that some call interventions. And you will know in your heart that there is a time and place for every intervention that man has created. <And so your tools will have grown to include pitocin, pain medication, epidural, and if need be, a cesarean.

And in the end, you will have your new baby in your arms. <Your dream of many days and weeks will be complete.< Perhaps not exactly as you had hoped and planned. And for that you may need to grieve. And that grieving will be good.

But you will forever know that you had prepared, and used,  your tools. And you had prepared, and used, your open mind. <And then, and for always, you will have your baby; your family.


The Use of Lubricant During Childbirth


     When a woman is pushing her baby into this world, the care provider will more than likely use a lubricant to help make the crowning process, and then birth, easier and hopefully result in less tearing. * And no, our bodies usually will not create enough natural lubrication at this point in birth.BirthBowl.2jpg

     At the hospital where I most often attend births, this lubricant is soapy. I use to laugh and say the baby was getting his/her first shampoo.

     The other day, a nurse told me as she was watching this process that she noticed the newborn squinting, blinking, having a difficult time keeping his/her eyes open. And then it struck her, there was soap in his/her eyes! For all these years and births, they have been putting soap in the infant’s eyes. And we all know how that feels.

     The solution appears easy enough…do not use a lubricant that is soapy. Okay…but then what should be used? It must be something that is sterile and water-soluble so as not to harm mother or baby…right?

     I thought perhaps mineral oil. Someone else suggested vitamin E oil. Why not baby shampoo? If it is safe for a baby, with “no more tears”, would it be safe for a newborn?

     Whatever suggestions you may come up with, please, please, discuss with the experts before using. I am not an expert. I am just a doula who wonders about that soap in the newborn’s eyes.

*No lubricant is used in a waterbirth.


“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirit for the rest of your life.”  ~ Ina May Gaskin


Instructions for Attending a Normal Birth

Amanda_Greavette~ Samantha Norman ~

Watch me.
Watch me lean over and groan.
Watch me sway or rock or dance.
Watch me find my rhythm.
Watch me breathe through a contraction.
As it ends, watch me have a drink of water.

Then watch me relax myself, resting, waiting for the41613_121956404589320_597789528_n next wave.
Then watch me breathe again.
As you sit there, just outside the vortex, know that my world has shrunk to a bubble.
Be careful. Don’t burst it.
A careless word, a bright light… they would be unwelcome right now.
Watch in awe I play out the age-old miracle.
The world turns for me, the edges go fuzzy, time turns inside out.


There’s a big slithery feeling
And then there’s a BABY!
Warm and slippery and fresh from my own body.
Worth every push, grunt, drop of sweat.
Worth every tightening, every stretch mark.

Wait! I’m still in my bubble. It is not finished yet.AmandaGreavette05-630x1024
Keep your hats and your clamps and your scissors and needles.
Keep your telephones, your scales, your exclamations
Keep us warm and keep the room quiet and still.
Watch me meet me baby.
Watch his eyes find mine.
Watch his hands and then his mouth find my nipple.
Watch me discover in wonder each finger, each hair, each wrinkle
Don’t disturb the awe of this first meeting.
Please. Just watch.


Thank you, Samantha, for allowing me to post your beautiful poem. For more of Samantha’s wisdom, visit

Thank you Amanda Greavette for allowing me to include your “fine art”!
You can see more of this beautiful body of work at







Allow it to unfold in its own way, at its own pace.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel, and then allow those <feelings to pass.

Allow yourself to be transformed by the experience.

Allow the pain, the altered state of consciousness, the restlessness and hot flashes to be present.

Allow the opening, the intensity, the transition.

Allow the fact that things might not go exactly as you had hoped and planned for.

~ Michelle Carchrae


I am so very thankful for the families who allow me to be a part of such an intimate and beautiful time!                                                                                             


The other day I posted the following quote on LinkedIn:


“You do not need a vaginal exam to have a baby. I am serious. They will still come out.”

                                                                               ~ Mama Birth



My new friend,  Jacqueline Levine  , Childbirth Educator/Lactation Consultant at Planned Parenthood, Greater New York City Area, contributed the following in response:


• There are some studies that show a link between routine weekly exams and an increase in ROM before labor was meant begin…meaning “PROM”, premature rupture of membranes. Sometimes the natural onset of labor was meant to be only a week or perhaps just days away, but everything was not quite ready. When things aren’t properly ready and labor doesn’t begin because rupture was provoked by the consequences of repeated routine exams, induction must follow, and when that fails as it often must…since the rupture was PREMATURE, right?…cesarean is the only outcome, since a Bishop score to assess cervical readiness at that point is moot. The toothpaste cannot go back into the tube.

Is it worth it to accede to weekly exams when they are weighed against the increased possibility of section? Mothers will ask “Well how do I tell them I don’t want an exam and not have those uncomfortable moments when my doc thinks I’m defying him/her and not letting him do what he always does…” That’s always the problem, but if we role-play with our clients and give them the studies, they often feel confident enough and protective of their health enough to say something like “Oh I just don’t want that exam today, so can we do it next week?” or they can say that they’ve researched this pregnancy very well, mention that there are studies, and ask how the exam will help their health. What will it tell the doc? It’s their right to know and to question, but confidence is the key. We have all been subtly bullied at one time or another by those in positions of authority.
s I believe that we must make an effort to give real meaning to a women’s right to choose (!). Since these exams are neither predictive nor probative, the doc must be able to say something really medically strong to counter the studies. They will often back down…

Here are just a few studies I found:
Relationship of ante partum pelvic examinations to premature rupture of the membranes. Lenahan, JP Jr. Journal Obstetrics Gynecology 1984, Jan:63(1):33-37. I quote from the abstract: “In the 174 patients on whom pelvic examinations were done weekly starting at 37 weeks gestation, the incidence of PROM was 18%, which was a significant increase (P=.001). The primary cesarean section rate was comparable in both groups with PROM; however, the overall primary cesarean rate when PROM occurred was found to be twice that of the remaining population. The study suggests that routine pelvic examinations may a significant contributing factor to the incidence of PROM . Women with uncomplicated pregnancies were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The author theorizes that the probing finger carries up and deposits on the cervix bacteria and acidic vaginal secretions capable of penetrating the mucous plug and causing sufficient low-grade inflammation or sub-clinical infection to rupture membranes. ‘It would therefore seem prudent to recommend that no pelvic examinations be done routinely in the third trimester unless a valid medical indication [sic] exists to examine the cervix … especially since the information gained from these routine examinations is often of little or no benefit to either the physician or the patient.’

Here are others: Histologic chorioamnionitis in pregnancies: implications in preterm rupture of membranes. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, and: Medscape Medical News Pelvic Exams Still Common Despite Lack of Scientific Support Arch Intern Med. 2011;171:2053-2054.

Again, women should be able to weigh the risks of routine exams against the possibility of that cascade of interventions that follow on with PROM, interventions that will, at the least, lead to an uncomfortable and harder-to-mange induction and at worst, put our clients on the gurney ride into the operating theatre.

Many thanks to Mama Birth and Jackie !!!