By Lindsey Roderick
Do you see a difference in these two photos? At first glance, probably not. Both show the first photo taken of me holding my brand new babies after their births. The first photo was taken on February 14, 2010. The second in May 27, 2016. I still remember how I felt in both photos. It’s seared in my mind forever.
Now look at them again. Can you see you see the forced emotions of the first picture? The sweet baby clearly upset with no sign of soothing from me. I’m fully clothed, he is fully swaddled and has a hat on... to stay warm because he’s not benefiting from skin to skin with me. I had hired a midwife and instead of taking responsibility for my care and educating myself, I put literally EVERYTHING in her hands. She said “jump,” I said “how high.” The emotions behind the “smile” in the first photo are that I’m distant. I'm numb... blank. I know I just did this thing of bringing a baby into the world after what felt like 632.2 days of pregnancy and exactly 17 hours of labor but other than that, I hadn’t really processed it or FELT it. I had gone into labor on my own and was progressing but agreed to Pitocin, which in my case was completely unnecessary. That led to an epidural (I promptly passed out after it was placed) after I couldn’t stay on top of the pain. I was also on Benadryl to counteract my allergic reaction to the antibiotics for GBS. I had created an environment for my birth that ended up inhibiting my body's natural release of hormones--with wires, uncomfortable (and potentially preventable) interventions. I remember being tense and fighting what my body was trying to do instead of riding the waves.
It’s like it all happened to me but I was still trying to process everything as if I hadn’t been there at all. I’ll never forget how I felt when they handed my son to me. I had no clue what was about to happen to my body beyond random google searches. I never invested the time in learning nor did I know I needed to. I assumed if I had a midwife, she’d handle everything and I’ll just show up. I hadn’t learned or even heard of skin to skin and it’s importance in helping baby regulate respiration and boy temperature. I really didn’t even know how to soothe this baby and my body didn’t just instinctively pick it up. I was in such a fog and still coming down from the medications.
Ultimately, the birth of our first baby was NOT optimized to be my "best" birth--mostly through a lack of informed consent and education.
"Don’t rely on your doctor to make every decision without knowing how that could positively or negatively effect you and your baby."
Fast forward 6 years and countless hours of researching and learning...
The second picture: THAT mom took responsibility for her birth and it’s outcome. She’s over the moon happy and glowing. That baby is doing true skin to skin and taking a rest on my chest after the hard work we both did. She’s nice and pink and I’m not washed out and pale. I showed up for that birth. It was intense, it was the hardest and most painful thing I’ve ever done, but I did it 100% drug free because I decided that was my best chance of preventing the feelings and issues I had during and after my first birth--this type of birth was the best birth for us. And the oxytocin high? It was real y’all. I swear I was on cloud nine for months after my daughter was born, just like the photo.
I’m not saying you have to go drug free if that isn’t your ideal birth, but whatever you decide, show up. It wasn’t necessarily the medications that made my experiences so different. It was the research. education and learning about my body and births process and taking the responsibility for choices made during the process.
Be present. Take responsibility for your care. Research and educate yourself.
Don’t rely on your doctor to make every decision without knowing how that could positively or negatively effect you and your baby. I promise that it can make a huge difference in your experience. These two photos are night and day and prove the growth I made not only as a woman but a mother in taking control of my body! You can do the same--all you've got to do is take control.
As Doulas we always talk about what to expect before and during labor. But something we might overlook prenatally is what to expect after your little bundle arrives. So, I asked mothers to weigh in on their postpartum experiences and what no one had told them about. Here are the top things our clients were surprised by in the postpartum!
Breastfeeding is HARD
Nursing can be painful for some women, especially initially--and it generally is just challenging. Steph says, “I remember calling all of my mom friends and saying, 'Why didn’t you tell me?!'” When establishing a nursing relationship, normal pain may last for the first 30-60 seconds of a nursing session, which could last for up to two weeks, but pain during sessions should not last the entire feeding, and soreness between sessions should improve everyday and not get worse. If pain and soreness persist, contact your local IBCLC--persistent pain can usually be resolved by assessing latch, positioning, and for the potential of tongue and/or lip ties.
Hemorrhoids are a pain in the butt
“Nobody told me what hemorrhoids could/would be like.” Ashley shared. If you have hemorrhoids while you’re pregnant, there’s a chance they’ll come back to plague you post-delivery. Hemorrhoids are a result of stress on the perineum in the months before, and during delivery. For some, hemorrhoids may simply be itchy and annoying but for others, they can be pretty painful. Here’s a few things to help ease the discomfort:
This is just crampy...
So you've birthed your baby and...YOU'RE STILL HAVING CONTRACTIONS?? What is that about? Afterbirth pains are caused by contractions of your uterus as it involutes, or returns to its pre-pregnancy size. They are usually mild for first-time moms but may get more intense with each subsequent delivery. Afterbirth pain will be most intense for the first day or two, but it should start tapering off around the third day or so. Nursing can cause afterbirth pains to intensify because your baby’s sucking triggers the release of oxytocin.
The First Poop
Pooping after having a baby can be intimidating to say the least. Linda says, "No one warned me about the first poop. For me, it was worse than recovering from a C-section infected with MRSA.” That sounds terrible, Linda! Voiding your bowels for the first time can be REALLY scary, but it should NOT be terrifying or impossible. Staying hydrated before, during, and after delivery of your baby will help make your first “poo” a little easier. Asking your doctor for a stool softener may help to assuage your fears. Don’t forget to stay hydrated after coming home… I speak from experience on that one, otherwise there’s not enough Vaseline and Jesus to help if you don’t! Utilizing a Squatty Potty may also help you assume as natural and relaxed of a position is possible which should reduce the need to bear down. Many moms don't know that it can also be very normal for bowel regularity to take several days to return to normal after birth.
Second Night Syndrome
More commonly known as cluster feeding, the second or third night after baby is born can make a lot of moms feel inadequate and overwhelmed. “Holy crap that second night in the hospital was probably the toughest in my life to date!" says Kelly. Immediately after your baby is born he/she will most likely be very sleepy, so take advantage of this by limiting visitors and get lots of rest. Charge your iPad so you can binge watch Netflix, have your husband get the snacks you like, act like you're having an awesome slumber party, and just try to enjoy those moments bonding with your baby--sans slumbering.
Empty Bed Panic
Being a Mom is hard, and most of the time exhausting. You now have this super-demanding human dictating everything you do, you're sleep deprived, your hormones are all over the place, and now you're starting to feel a little loopy--you can’t even shower without hearing phantom cries! Sometimes, this can result in hallucinations of a sort. Kelley comments, “I feel like I was pretty prepared for what could happen postpartum, but I had never heard anyone talk about getting so incredibly tired you hallucinate.” Know you’re not alone if this happens, as some point many, many moms go through it. A common experience is waking up thinking you’ve fallen asleep with your baby in your bed, ripping the sheets off, frantic because your baby is nowhere to be found, while your partner tries to reassure you the baby is in her own bed, all to no avail. This is empty bed panic--you’re exhausted! Call on your support team for some help. While they watch your baby, you go soak in the tub, then try to get at least three hours of sleep in a row. I bet you’ll wake feeling more like the woman you remember.
Planning to nurse? Well, there may be milk EVERYWHERE. "No one told me I might wake up SOAKED in breastmilk!" Fallon says. Another client adds, "Oh, and the milk fountains during intercourse!" Yes, and yes, these might happen, but it’s not as bad or gross as it might sound! Putting a large, soft towel under you while you sleep, or before, ahem, shenanigans, will help make clean up easy. And if it happens during sex, oh well--your partner watched as you carried, birthed and nurtured their baby! Their love for you is beyond anything you could ever imagine. I bet they'll just be glad to finally be able to have sex again. If you’re really worried about it, just wear a bra with your Milkies or breastpads in--easy peasy.
Not everything about postpartum is horrible, or painful, or scary. Quite the contrary,
postpartum is fun, free, and intoxicating. You literally forget yourself for the longest time
because your love for another human literally takes over. Life will forever be different and
intriguing, what will they do next? What great milestone will they reach that makes as love
them even more? Oh, the love a Mom has for her child! It surpasses all the love you could have ever known or felt and literally erases all the “big, bad, and ugly” parts of postpartum.
Relax Mom, you’ve got this! Much Love, Christina
As a birth photographer, I always want to set expectations with my clients--after all, I am a stranger being invited to capture some of the most intimate moments of a person's life! Before you hire me, or any birth photographer, it's important to understand what birth photography is all about.
#1: You Make the Rules
You’ve probably heard that modesty and birth do not mesh. But you won’t ever know how true that statement is until after your birth. Trust me, I get it. That’s why before your birth we will have a one-on-one consultation to discuss how you want your birth photographed. We can discuss your concerns and personal preferences. If you want photos of "everything”--okay. If you don’t, that’s okay too. It’s your choice to make. There are ways to artistically capture your baby’s birth that aren’t excessively revealing. Whatever your preference, your secrets are safe with me.
#2 You Wont Regret the Investment
While the costs of bringing a new baby into the world can be high, each memory is priceless. Most folks don't hesitate to invest in a great wedding photographer--birth is a pretty big deal too, yet many parents hesitate to invest in great photos as they meet their baby. Maybe the hesitation comes from the expense or maybe it comes from nervousness about what the pictures will look like--well that's what I am here for. I'm present to make sure things are captured in a tasteful, expressive way that captures the moment realistically with beauty and dignity (see #1!). Having a birth photographer document the day means so much more than just “taking pictures." Just like any special occasion in life, birth can be a whirlwind. There will be moments you miss. There will be details you forget. And birth is notorious for blurring memories and skewing your perspective of the events surrounding the birth as the birthing mother. Looking at your birth photos can help you grasp the events that took place. While you are lost in the moment, looking at your new bundle I’m making sure that you won’t have to miss the way he’s looking at you. Give yourself, and your partner, the gift of precious images that will be treasured for generations.
#3: You Need A Professional
I know, your mom got a nice camera for Christmas and everyone will have their phones. My cellphones picture quality is great! But what about those overwhelming moments (that in your Mom's opinion) take precedent over making sure there’s a picture taken. And an iPhone camera is a great option for Facebook posting and small images, but if you want to guarantee you’ll have high-quality images, in a dark delivery room, hire a professional. What if you go into labor and things move so quickly that no one has time to make sure you brought phone chargers? As a birth photographer, while I share in your personal joy, I’m making sure that you have memories you can relive again and again. Especially the details you miss!
#4: Your Partner Matters
Fathers--and anyone else you have supporting you--need to be in the photos, too! They've been waiting for this day for as long as you have. Your partner has worried, hoped and prayed. Leaving your family free of the responsibility of taking pictures allows them to be present with you. Your partner can hold your hand, cut the cord, and immerse himself completely in the experience of HIS baby’s birth. Pictures of his reactions and involvement will be some of your favorites, I promise. And the pictures of other family members' responses to meeting the baby are priceless as well!
You truly never get these moments back, and they are so easy to forget--why not invest in reliving them as often as you want? With Belly to Cradle Birth Photography, you receive on-call photography covering the entirety of your birth experience from around 7 cm until after your baby is fed and weighed for the first time--usually around 2 hours postpartum. You'll receive a sneak peek to include with your birth announcement within 24 hours and 100 edited images within 2-3 weeks after baby arrives. Let's meet and talk about how I can help you capture these fleeting moments you'll never want to forget!
I had a client contact me saying, “I’ve been doing some research and I think I’d like to have a rebozo incorporated into my birth.” Thus, the search for a rebozo credential ensued. I found a great course created by birth superstar, Gena Kirby, and promptly joined. During the course, I learned so much more than just the basics of “rebozo”. Gena shared where the rebozo originated, all the ways it has been used over the years, and lastly how to use it to comfort a laboring mother.
But what is a rebozo? Let's start with a little history lesson...
A rebozo is a long piece of fabric, usually about 6 feet long or more. Women in Mexico have been wearing them for centuries. Originally thrust upon them by the Spaniards, they were required for religious reasons to cover their heads with a piece of fabric. The women eventually took it and made it their own. That’s how the “rebozo” came to be known. Each family had different patterns they passed down from generation to generation. Years ago, you could tell if a woman was married by how she would wear her rebozo. A rebozo is given in wedding ceremonies, women are buried in their favorite rebozo, still today in the event of stillbirth, rebozos are treated with herbs and essential oils and the baby is buried in it. The rebozo is more than just a piece of fabric; its sacred to the people in Mexico.
But why (and how) would you use a rebozo during labor? During labor a rebozo can be used for SO many things:
Used in a labor setting the rebozo helps to bring the couple closer, and the techniques I share during a Rebozo Integration Session will ensure that even the most under-confident partner, can be hands on and supportive throughout labor and delivery. The rebozo helps make mom feel safe, calm, and comfortable. Mom needs her entire birth team to be confident and grounded, and taking my rebozo instructional session will help achieve that goal. This means that you can use a rebozo with or without the services of a doula!
Rebozo isn’t just for labor! Rebozo if used properly can help relieve back strain and even that pesky belly pain late in pregnancy. When you take my private session, you will choose which rebozo you want, after labor and delivery you can use your rebozo for baby wearing. I will share with you how that can be achieved during our session as well. And maybe the very best part of our new Rebozo Integration service is that you receive a traditional rebozo of your very own to keep as a tool for your birth, your postpartum, future births, and as a treasured keepsake!
Are you curious about how a rebozo could play an invaluable role in your birth? Contact me today to schedule your session!
October 22, 2016 was the day I became a Mama. Tre (the hubs) and I woke up at 5:00 in the morning and packed our baby bag, favorite comforter, preconceived notions and headed to Baptist hospital for my scheduled Cesarean section. Had it been up to me I would have delivered in the ocean surrounded by dolphins and mother nature (yes I am that extra) but my child was stubborn from the beginning so that was not to be.
We arrived with grandparents and doula in tow. Everything felt like some sort of dream, a mix of adrenaline and good drugs. All of a sudden I'm in the operating room and everyone is telling me how great I'm doing. I wasn't doing anything but I appreciated the words of encouragement. Lauren, our doula, was there and able to take pictures of the whole event and Tre was very brave throughout. We waited and chose not to find out the gender of our child until the day of so when the time came all of the doctors and nurses got quiet and called my husband around.
He said"We have a son!" Our sweet baby boy Jeffrey was born at 7:17 and he weighed 8 pounds and 14 ounces. They laid that beautiful squishy mess on my chest and I was immediately in love. Now I know that new borns seldom open their eyes right after birth and they certainly don't raise their heads but mine did. My Jeffrey raised his head and looked straight into my eyes.
Everything after that is a blur. Tre got to tell the packed waiting room the excellent news and I swear you could hear the screams of joy and laughter down the hall. Of course friends and family from all around came to see the new little one and I didn't mind. I know some people find it overwhelming and I can certainly see why but for me I was so happy and proud that I wanted to show him off to everyone. Eventually the crowd diminished and it was just us three. We were elated, terrified, exhausted, and forever changed. Jeffrey will be two in a couple weeks and he is still the most amazing thing I've ever seen. He makes everything better. He makes me love my husband more for how wonderful of a father he is, he makes me cherish the time I do get alone, he makes the world better, and he makes me a better person. I did not get the birth I planned but I did get an amazing birth and an amazing human being that wakes me with kisses and shares his partially eaten Cheerios with me. Thanks to everyone who helped that day and everyone who continues to help.
This is us.
We are Women. We are Moms. We are here to help your family blossom.