Happy Mother’s Day! It is my honor to support such lovely mothers through pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood and to document your journey! You inspire me everyday with such courage, strength, and love! Enjoy this video showcasing the beautiful mothers of Empowered Birthing from the previous year!
I had the honor of attending the birth of Keris and Stuart's first born, an adorable boy named Aston Davis, so I was thrilled when Keris was pregnant again and asked for me to be their doula and photographer for the birth of their little girl, Helen Adria. Keris was induced for her first birth, but she decided to wait a little longer this time and let Helen pick her birth day, and she did! Labor started gradually and Keris did a great job of distracting herself during those early contractions, and when they started getting more intense but we still spaced out a little, they waited a little longer and labored at home. They told me to wait too, but I knew things might pick up and go pretty quickly. Sure enough, her contractions were soon under five minutes, and they headed to the hospital, and I left to join them, but on the way there they just kept coming on faster and faster. When they got checked in she was already 9 cm! I arrived shortly after and Keris was laboring on the bed on all fours, but doing a great job and still laughing with Stuart in between contractions.
Just a few contractions later, she felt like she needed to push, and Helen pretty much came flying out! Aston was 9.5lbs (and Keris is very petite) so she pushed for a few hours with him, but Helen was much smaller, and even though she had a nuchal hand, she came out much quicker.
One of the special things about this birth was being able to witness the birth pause, in which the birthing mother takes a brief pause to gather herself and make the great transition from birthing her baby to the first step of mothering, picking up her baby on her own terms. Since Keris was still on all fours, she requested a minute to breathe and rest before she turned over to pick up her daughter and bring her to her chest.
The birth had happened so quickly, that there was still so much shock and surprise mingled with the relief and great joy as she welcomed Helen in her arms.
It was such a joy to see the love between Keris and Stuart flow over as they both began to bond with their precious new daughter.
And before long, Keris's mom brought Aston came to meet his new little sister. He wasn't quite sure what to think of this new addition.
A little later, Keris had some quiet time to start breastfeeding Helen, and she was a champion nurser!
And then it was time to transition to their postpartum room and try to get some rest and settle in with their new baby.
Congratulations Keris and Stuart! It was such an honor to serve you at the birth of both your babies, and see your beautiful family grow. You have so much love for each other and for your children, and it is a blessing to share in your joy!
Congratulations to Gaby and Alex on the birth of their son, Aiden James! This sweet couple were college sweethearts; now they're married and starting their family. Gaby was committed to having a natural birth out of the hospital, and she chose to give birth at Austin Area Birthing Center. It was a little before her due date when her water broke unexpectedly. Contractions began soon after but things weren't progressing into active labor. We tried some positioning and walking, and she was exhausted after a day of prodromal labor. She checked into the birth center, and we all tried to get some sleep before beginning the midwives induction routine of pumping, herbs, and castor oil in the morning. A few hours after that, things started to pick up and labor got intense and progressed quickly.
At the beginning of her labor, she did such a beautiful job of relaxing. I love her posture her with her hands open as she surrenders to each surge, letting it open her and bring her baby nearer.
With her eye on the prize, she found her focus to help her through each wave.
Her husband was such a great support to her, giving tender encouragement, and intuitively following her lead.
This is transition, and she needed to clear gaze of her husband to help her through. This look below shows so well the feeling of "I can't do this anymore, please help me." But with constant support and encouragement, she pressed on toward the goal.
Even as she neared the finish line, she was so composed and relaxed. I loved the way she folded her hands so beautifully in front of her.
Now for the pushing--such a powerhouse of strength and determination!
And finally, after so much hard work, baby is in her arms!
This such a beautiful, intimate moment as mom turns to her partner after the birth, with the expression of "we did it!".
This newborn baby knows his dad, and gazed so intently at him.
This beautiful golden hour as the new family settles in and gets to know each other!
Such a proud, gentle papa as he gets to hold his son for the first time!
Welcome to the world Aiden James! This beautiful healthy baby weighed in at 6lbs 14oz and 20 in. It was such a pleasure to serve this sweet couple and witness such strength, love, and beauty as they brought sweet Aiden into their arms.
I had the privilege of attending a really beautiful homebirth for one of my former clients. I had worked with Andrea and Hector two years ago at the birth of their twins. While she had been hoping for a natural, vaginal birth for them, she developed pre-eclampsia and went into pre-term labor at 30 weeks, so it was decided that a cesarean was the safest way for them to be born. They were such tiny babies, and had to stay in the NICU for 53 days. Andrea's older daughter was also born prematurely when she had pre-eclampsia the first time. These births were traumatic for her, and she desperately wanted to be able to avoid that if at all possible this time and have the homebirth she had dreamed of. She took especially good care of her health and diet this time around and when she reached 35 weeks, still healthy, she was released from her high-risk status and got accepted with Central Texas Birth Center for a homebirth. It was such a blessing as she reached full term, perfectly healthy. Andrea's labor began on Friday evening with light contractions that continued through the night and much of the next morning. By noon, they had picked up some, but they still seemed irregular and bearable, so her midwife decided to come check on her. To everyone's surprise she was already 8 centimeters! I came shortly after, and Andrea was doing well, breathing through her contractions and making everything look easy. It wasn't too long, and her water broke. She got into her birth pool and had about three intense contractions and then the baby just slid out before anyone was quite ready. Hector, who had been caring for one of their twins who had been sick, just made it into the pool and was able to catch the baby. Andrea kept remarking after the birth that "that really wasn't too bad." It was a beautiful, gentle birth, with a completely healthy baby who was born right into their arms in the comfort of their own home. It was such a joy to witness and document this birth for this sweet family and see them have the birth that they had waited so long to have.
Andrea and Hector waited to find out the gender, and when he was born, they waited till everyone had gathered to look and to announce that "Its a boy!" He was immediately welcomed by the whole family, two big sisters, two big brothers, and grandmother. His big sister had such a perfect response!
Yes, Phoeniks Ezra, you were indeed worth the wait! Congratulations to Andrea and Hector and the whole family! It was an honor to serve you in both of your births, and to rejoice now with you in the beautiful birth of this beautiful baby!
Congratulations Erin and Paul on the birth of their son, Adrian Leo! This was the second time I had the privilege of supporting Erin, and this was was especially special to me since she was my first doula client ever. She had a long warm-up period (that fortunately allowed me to recover from another birth I had just attended) and then a short, intense labor, making it to the birth center just in time to push and have a peaceful water birth. It was such a joy to see this strong, beautiful mother birth her baby and then introduce him to their daughter and snuggle with both her babies. It was such an honor to be part of the births of both their children and to serve this sweet family!
Congratulations Allegra and Shaune on the birth of Issac Henry, their second son! He weighed in at 7lb 14oz and 21 1/4 inches long. This was such a beautiful, triumphant VBAC as Allegra pressed through her doubts and fears with so much strength and courage and birthed her baby just as the doctor was saying that he needed to be born soon. It was so amazing to see this mama do everything she needed to for her baby! Not a dry eye in the room! It was such a pleasure to work with this sweet couple!
Congratulations to Marissa and Samuel on the birth of their daughter, Elianna Grace! This beautiful homebirth was a triumphant end to a long story. After a loss, Marissa and Samuel planned a homebirth for their first, who was breech and had to be delivered by cesarean, so determined, they decided to try again for the birth they dreamed of. But after Marissa's water broke, and several days of prodromal labor, that dream seemed to be slipping away. With lots of prayer, careful monitoring, and trust in the birth process from her midwife, Elianna finally decided to make her appearance. And she was born at home, in the water, and caught by her dad. Here is a slideshow that captures the beauty, hard work, loving support, and joyful birth of Elianna Grace.
Congratulations to Iradis and Kyle on the birth of their son, Micah! Micah is their third child, and second son. He weighed in at 7lb 9 oz, a healthy beautiful little boy!
This is the look of pure joy as mama reaches down to touch her baby for the first time. This was Iradis's second VBAC, which she rocked without pain medication, as was her desire. Kyle is a pretty proud papa too!
Thanks Iradis and Kyle for the privilege to serve you and witness the birth of Micah!
I just love those first blissful snuggles!
Despite being a rather tumultuous year on the national scale, 2016 has been a great year here at Empowered Birthing, in fact the busiest year yet. I had the privilege of serving 19 families in 2016. There were 5 birth center births, 12 hospital births, 9 unmedicated births, 2 VBACs, and I had the privilege of witnessing two cesarean births (thank you St. David’s Medical Center for supporting doulas in the operating room!). But more important than numbers are all the beautiful families that I had the privilege to serve. At each birth, I watched fierce, strong mamas who worked so hard to bring their babies earthside, and loving partners who believed in them and supported them each step of the way. Every birth presents its own challenges, and each time I see these women look deep within themselves and find their strength to meet their own unique challenges. It is such a joy to behold!
I have also continued to grow in my knowledge and in the services I am able to offer my clients. In January I embarked on my journey to recertify as a doula. Instead of recertifying with my original organization, I have decided to join with DTI (Doula Trainings International). This amazing organization provides a wonderfully supportive community (we doulas need a lot of support from each other in order to keep ourselves replenished) and they provide of model of total inclusivity of all birthing families (whatever size, shape, or color they come in) that prepares us to meet the needs of all our clients and their unique situations. Moreover, they encourage us to be agents of change in the contemporary birth scene. All birthing parents deserve a respectful, compassionate, and evidence-based care! So it has been a pleasure to be part of this organization and be so fully in line with their philosophy. I attended a DTI training last January and became a DTI certified birth and postpartum doula in October. With the addition of my postpartum credentials, I have been able to offer more post-partum care to my clients. I have also begun my training as a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor in order to more fully support my clients in their breastfeeding journey. And as a sneak peek into this new year, I am hoping to increase the diversity of my offerings to include breastfeeding support, childbirth education, and photography. I am excited to share these new offerings with you in the coming months. I have also been elected to serve as the Secretary of CTDA (Central Texas Doula Association) and so look forward to serving the larger doula community in that capacity.
As always, I thank you so much for all your love and support. I had the privilege of serving three families who had been referred to me by lovely past clients. Please keep telling your pregnant friends and acquaintances. (And, I’m hoping to add a new referral bonus, so stay tuned!) I have also received some wonderful testimonials that I am pleased to share. Here are a few of these inspiring words that help me to keep providing better, more individualized support:
“During the birth, more than one time she helped me understand what was going on, to ask questions, and make sure that what they were doing was to my benefit, not to their convenience."
“Despite not having my ideal birth, I left the hospital with my healthy baby feeling empowered in a way, because I was able to advocate for myself despite feeling moments of vulnerability. I was able to handle the initial grief of an unwanted c-section because Jamie was by my side with empathy, allowing me to go home ready for the excitement of being a new mommy.”
“I was much more comfortable with ways to make my wife be calm and more comfortable through labor. Having a doula gave me more options than I knew existed to help my wife.”
“I think the prenatal visits are possibly the most important and most valuable part of the services Jamie offers. The amount of hours she dedicated to me and my partner before the birth was unbelievable. We were so lucky to have her support leading up to the birth.”
I always appreciate getting your feedback, including suggestions for improvement, so that I can better serve my future clients. And I love getting updates from you to see how you’re doing and how your little ones are growing. Please friend me on Facebook if you like; it’s a great way to stay in touch, and be sure to follow my page at https://www.facebook.com/Empoweredbirthingaustin/.
It is such a honor to do the work that I do: to be invited into your birth space, to witness the miracle of new life, and to encourage and support you in your journey as new parents. Thank you for your support of me so that I can continue to serve more families.
Have a blessed New Year!
It is such a honor to do the work that I do: to be invited into your birth space, to witness the miracle of new life, and to encourage and support you in your journey as new parents. Thank you for your support of me so that I can continue to serve more families.
Have a blessed New Year!
Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. I witness it every time a new family lays eyes on their baby for the first time. I love what I do. I love being part of this miracle, of being invited to participate in the first moments that you have together. I love seeing your love, your joy, your strength, your determination.
It has been another wonderful year of serving families through Empowered Birthing. It has been my privilege to serve eleven families through their birthing journey in 2015, and another three families this year. I have witnessed a great variety of births: VBACs, twins, hospital births and out-of-hospital births, cesarean births, natural births, marathon births, and fast intense births. But in each one, I have seen mothers calling on their deepest strength to bring their babies into the world.
Through each birth, I learn more about the wonderful process of birth. I have also had the opportunity to expand my learning in more formal ways in order to expand the services I provide. In the summer, I completed my training as a Go Diaper Free Certified Coach. Through this program, I solidified my interest and learning about Elimination Communication (aka infant potty training). I have started a monthly support group for families practicing EC, and I am available for private consults as well. If you are interested in knowing more about this, I would love to share more. One of the most valuable workshops I have been able to attend was with Spinning Babies, which teaches us how to support optimal fetal position for easier and faster births. It really has revolutionized my doula practice. I was also able to attend a training with Susan Steffes, a specialist in women’s pelvic physical therapy, where we learned many ways to support women’s pelvic health through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I was also able to learn more about Postpartum Mood Disorders through a workshop with Postpartum Health Alliance of Central Texas. And just last month, I embarked on my recertification process with DTI (Doula Training International) as a birth and postpartum doula. I am very excited about my new connection with DTI, which more closely aligns with my philosophy. They are strong advocates for improving the maternity care system and for women’s (and doulas) autonomy, and committed to fostering a strong sense of community. I am happy to be affiliated with this organization, and I look forward to growing with them. I am also excited to begin expanding my postpartum services.
I love the work that I do, and it has been an honor to support each and every family that I serve. I really pour my heart into helping you achieve the best birth possible. I hope that you will share the love and consider writing a testimonial about your experience with me and by sharing with your friends about my services. Please keep in touch. It is always a pleasure to hear from you, see pictures of your babies, and help you with any parenting questions you may have. You are welcome to follow me on Facebook, both personally and my business page at https://www.facebook.com/Empoweredbirthingaustin/.
Happy Valentines Day! May you and your family be blessed with an abundance of love!
Congratulations to Lisa and Steve on the birth of their daughter, Isabel! Isabel was in such a hurry to meet her lovely parents, and after only a couple of hours of labor, Lisa arrived at the birth center fully dilated. Dad said that her middle name would be "Freight Train." But Lisa coped with the intensity of a fast labor beautifully, and had such a beautiful, gentle birth. It was an honor to be part of their birth!
Join with me in welcoming baby Eliot! I am so proud of mom's strength and determination through a super long labor and dad's caring support through it all. Congratulations on a beautiful baby boy!
It was such a joy to serve this fabulous couple and be a part of welcoming this precious baby boy!
Join me in welcoming Link Anthony into his parents' arms. Sidney made labor look like a walk in the park, and when it was time to push this petite young woman was a powerhouse and roared her baby out. Congratulations Sidney and Seth! It was a pleasure to work with you.
This little guy just had his first birthday, so I thought it would be a good time to share the amazing story of his birth.
Amber was expecting her third child. With her previous births, she had elected to use pain medication but had had bad reactions, so this time she was determined to have a natural childbirth and let her body do what it was capable of doing without interventions.
Her husband was in the military and was stationed out of state, but Amber hoped and prayed that he would be granted a leave to come home for the birth. And as we were quickly approaching her due date, his leave was granted for ten days. So we prayed that her labor would hold off until he made it home, and it did! But then the days of his leave were passing by, and we still didn’t have a baby yet, so we prayed for labor to start, and we began trying a few natural methods to get labor going, but nothing was working. Amber reluctantly consented to an induction so that her husband could be present for the birth, but we were still hoping for labor to begin spontaneously. Her induction was scheduled for Sunday morning so she checked in the night before.
And from here on out, Amber tells the story in her own words:
“I went in to the hospital around 10 pm. I was scheduled to be induced the following morning. My OB wanted me to start the IV with Pitocin at 5am. I was a couple of days past my estimated due date. I had spent the last week trying natural induction methods and they didn’t seem to be working. I was only 1 cm dilated and maybe 20% effaced at that time. It didn’t seem as if I was close to natural labor at all.
When I was admitted to labor and delivery, I immediately asked the nurses if I could try induction with the foley bulb. My doula, Jamie, had me look into that as an alternative to Pitocin. After I read into it, I decided I wanted to try that first. Unfortunately, the doctor wanted to stick with the Pitocin in the morning so my request was denied. The nurses got my husband and I settled in a room and the nurse have me some melatonin to help me fall asleep. I fell asleep a little before midnight.
At 2am I woke up with some mild contractions. They were the first of any painful contractions I had felt throughout the pregnancy. I tried to fall back asleep but them at 2:30am I got out of bed to use the restroom. That was when I noticed I was losing my mucus plug. I started to get a little excited. I was hoping I would go into labor completely naturally. I called the nurse and told her that I was experiencing mild contractions and she came to monitor them.
At around 3am I noticed fluid leaking. My water was slowly breaking. The nurse had me on the monitor for about 30 min but I didn’t have any contractions at all during that time. I was a little discouraged but I asked for a birthing ball.
I bounced on the birthing ball for a while listening to praise music and praying. Soon I started experiencing more mild contractions. It was a little after 4 am. The nurse came and checked me around 4:30 because they wanted to start the Pitocin at 5am. I was dilated 2-3cm.
By 5am I was having painful contractions and they were getting regular about 5 minutes apart. I thought it might be a good idea to let Jamie know that I was going into labor. I told the nurses I did not want any Pitocin and I was sure my body was doing everything on its own. It was such a wonderful feeling to know that! My contractions became stronger and I became very nauseous. I began to throw up during and after every contraction. It made the contractions seem unbearable. I asked the nurse for something to help with the nausea. She gave me Zofran and it helped a bit. I tried laboring in different positions, including the birthing ball. I found that the only position I could tolerate my contraction in was standing, rocking side to side and leaning forward into my husband.
Jamie arrived to my room a little after 6am. I was still nauseous so she pinned a cotton swab with peppermint oil to my top, it helped and was refreshing. My contractions were very painful and Jamie helped my husband apply pressure to my lower back during them. It helped so much! Around that time the nurse checked me again and I was 4-5cm dilated. They put me back on the fetal monitor. My contractions became closer together. The baby’s heartbeat would drop with the contractions so the nurses had me try to labor in different positions. I tried lying on my side in the bed but it was too painful and felt very uncomfortable. I stood back up and next to me bed. The contractions were coming so quickly.
The doctor came in to check on me. I was in so much pain and I became very afraid. I didn’t think I could do it anymore. Jamie and my husband assured me I could. Jamie told me I was very close. Soon after that I felt an urge to push. The doctor began to put on her scrubs and gloves. I really had to push and I was still standing on the side of my bed. I was finally ready. It came so fast! The nurses raised my bed and the doctor sat on the floor. I felt so much pressure. The baby’s head was crowning. I continued squatting on the side of my bed andafter a couple of pushes he was out. He was born at 7:05 am. They had to cut his cord immediately because it was around his neck and then they gave him to me. I was still standing next to my bed. I held him to my chest, completely in shock. It was the best feeling. I smiled and laughed."
We were all so happy that her prayers had been answered. Her husband was able to be present, and Amber had the beautiful, natural birth that she was hoping for. She did an amazing job as she coped with a very fast and intense labor, and her body did it all on its own, in the most perfect timing.
Congratulations Amber and William, and happy birthday Rorie!
I'd like to join Sara and Andy and big brother Caeden in welcoming Luna Kinsley! Sara and Andy did a great job in preparing for this birth so that they could have a better birth experience this time. And sure enough, this labor was very different. Sara had a fast, intense labor and arrived at the hospital just in time to push this little girl out, who was so anxious to meet her family. Even though it was a little crazy there at the end, Sara got the natural VBAC that the wanted, and Luna was welcomed into a loving arms. And now they are on the crazy adventure of having two under two. Congratulations Sara and Andy! It was a pleasure to work with you!
Rebekah and Ryan welcomed their first child into the world, a boy, Elijah Charles at Austin Area Birthing Center South. This healthy boy weighed in at 8 lbs 4.5 oz and 21 inches long. His parents are overjoyed at his arrival. Rebekah's labor began with her water breaking 38 hours before the birth, so it was long and tiring but Rebekah did an amazing job coping. Fortunately she had a patient and wise midwife who helped Rebekah to follow her body's lead. Rebekah had been interested in birth, especially natural birth, since she was a little girl, and she got to have the beautiful and empowering natural birth that she had dreamed about for so long. It was such a pleasure to work with this sweet couple and help them on their journey to parenthood. Congratulations Rebekah and Ryan!
Ilyse and Brandon welcomed their beautiful daughter, Camilla June on May 5, 2015. This lucky baby was born on her due date, 5/02 at 5:02 pm. Granddad joked that he was going to go play the lottery and bet on 502. Mom did a beautiful job coping with the intensity of labor using her relaxation techniques. She was doing so well we weren't always sure when a contraction came. We are all proud of her for achieving the natural birth she wanted. She was supported by her loving partner and her mother throughout her labor, and she was rewarded with a healthy and beautiful baby girl.
Congratulations Ilyse and Brandon! It was a pleasure to work with you.
Exciting new research has come out about the amazing benefits of having a doula. We have long known that having a trained doula present at birth leads to many beneficial outcomes, such as less use of pain medication, less use of Pitocin to induce or augment labor, greater number of spontaneous vaginal deliveries and fewer assisted deliveries and cesareans, better success with breastfeeding, and higher satisfaction with the birth experience. Previously, results have shown about a 30% reduction in cesarean rates with a doula present, but the newest research more than doubles these findings. This research is presented in American Journal of Managed Care in August 2014. Their study surveyed over 2400 women who noted whether they had received doula care, wanted doula care but did not receive it, and those who did not have and did not want/didn't know about doulas. Only 6% used a doula but their outcomes in reducing number of cesareans were substantially higher; in the other groups the rates of cesarean deliveries were consistent with the national average around 30%. They found that women who utilized a trained doula showed a reduction in medically-necessary cesareans by 60% (which includes such things as breech presentation, placenta problems, fetal distress, and maternal health conditions) and as much as 80% in non-medically necessary cesareans (which includes such reasons as a prior cesarean, long labor, being past the due date, provider's fear of a big baby or narrow pelvis, or mother's fear of labor/birth)! In their words, "Doula support was associated with a nearly 60% reduction in odds of cesarean delivery and 80% lower odds of nonindicated cesarean delivery, compared with not having doula support." Based on these findings, the writers acknowledge the great benefit of having a doula present for continuous labor support. Not only does it lead to better outcomes and higher satisfaction, but it is a worthwhile financial benefit. Cesarean births cost on average $10,000 more than vaginal births, so the cost of hiring a doula is well worth the investment. They suggest that insurance companies should recognize the potential cost-savings that is rendered from using a doula and should start covering doula services. See the full article here.
How exactly does a doula help lower your risk of needing a cesarean delivery? Stay tuned for Part II.
If you are interested in lowering your risk of needing a cesarean, please invest in a qualified doula. Book your consultation with Empowered Birthing today.
If you have any surprises, I have openings in November!
It is a day to count your blessings and give thanks for the good things in your life. So I would like to begin by stating how grateful I am that I have stumbled upon this new career of mine. A little over three years ago I didn't know what a doula was. I was on a totally different career path, so I am thankful for all of the people who have helped me get where I am today.
I am thankful for the exceptional care that I received from the midwives at Austin Area Birthing Center during both by pregnancies and births. Through their compassionate and empowering care that allowed me to have the natural birth that I dreamed set me on the path to discovering my own calling to birth work.
I am thankful to my sister-in-law whose casual suggestion made me consider becoming a doula, before beginning on the path to midwifery. Good luck on your own doula journey!
I am thankful to my trainers, mentors, and colleagues, both in person and in the online community who have taught me so much and inspired me in this journey.
I am thankful for my husband who has supported me in this new endeavor and who has taken up all of the household duties, including caring for my two little ones, when I am called at a moment's notice and am gone for many hours at a time.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I am thankful to all the families who have invited me to share with them the sacred space of the birth of their babies. Especially those first few who trusted me even though I had little experience yet, I am especially grateful for your confidence in me. It has been my pleasure pleasure to support over a dozen gracious couples, and each unique birth has taught me so much.
Thank you all! And happy Thanksgiving!