Monday, December 30, 2013

Fistula Foundation Donation

It's that time of year to get your final donations into your favorite non-profit organization. One of mine is the Fistula Foundation. Part of my blog is actually dedicated to helping these women. Click on the "Shop" tab and check it out.

About two weeks ago my husband posted the "shop" part of my blog on facebook and within 3 days, I was able to raise $100 for this awesome cause. My goal is $450, which is the cost of one fistula surgery in developing nations. I am over half way there, raising $295. Wow! That is so awesome.

If you want to help, you can go to the and donate there or purchase some great baby/mama gear on my blog and 100% of the profits go to these women.

If you need a little inspiration, check out this video!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Preeclampsia Update

Preeclampsia, one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the US and around the world, has been updated in terms of diagnosis. There no longer has to be a detection of protein in urine for a pregnant mother to be diagnosed with preeclampsia. A report has recently been released by ACOG determining that a mother with other signs of preeclampsia, such as high blood pressure, can now be diagnosed with the condition even if there has been no detection of protein in her urine. Just be aware that if you have elevated blood pressure and other risk factors, you could be diagnosed with preeclampsia. One way to avoid high blood pressure is with a proper diet. Check out the Brewers Diet to see what you can do to possibly avoid preeclampsia.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Placenta Encapsulation

Women all over the world choose to take their placentas home from the hospital and have it encapsulated. Many believe that the consuming the placenta helps increase iron lost during childbirth, it encourages milk production, reduces fatigue, helps lessen postpartum bleeding, help the uterus return to normal, and improves mood and energy. If you are considering placenta encapsulation for yourself, you need to know some information about how it should be handled to keep you safe.

How to Choose an Encapsulation Specialist:
1. Make sure they are a Certified Encapsulation Specialist.
2. Do not allow the Encapsulation Specialist to remove the placenta from your home. The procedure should be done in your home.
3. Look for an Encapsulation Specialist with experience.

How the Placenta Encapsulation Process Normally Works:
(information provided by Lauren Agro, CD(DONA), CPES(PBi)

Step 1: Save your Placenta! Request in the hospital that you would like to take your placenta home and have it refrigerated/frozen as soon as possible after the birth. It needs to be placed in a refrigerator or kept cool on ice. Then, call to schedule placenta encapsulation services. Typically, an encapsulation specialist will arrive at your home within 24-72 hours after the birth to begin the process.

Step 2: Day 1, The Encapsulation Specialist arrives at the client's home and the placenta is cleaned and prepared for dehydration using Traditional Chinese Medicine methods.

Step 3: Day 2, The Encapsulation Specialist powders and encapsulate the placenta and gives detailed instructions on how to take their capsules. When the Encapsulation Specialist leaves, the kitchen should be cleaned and sanitized.

Here is some more information about placenta encapsulation: 
Placenta for Healing:
Scientific Research:

Please contact me if you would like a recommendation for an Encapsulation Specialist in the Baltimore area.

Seeing Double: Webinar on Twins

In recent years, the incidence of twins (or higher order multiples) has increased in the United States due to many factors some of which include: increased use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as IVF and ovulation enhancers like, Clomid. Also, women are choosing to start families later in life. This increased maternal age increases the incidence of multi-ovulation cycles, in turn increasing the incidence of twins.

I wanted to gain some more knowledge about twinning and capture a few take-home points for my readers, so I found a webinar that gave some helpful information about twins, that I wanted to pass along.

Women who are pregnant with twins need to eat 300 more kcal than women pregnant with singletons. That means increasing your normal diet by 600 kcal. More important than calories alone, is the vitamins and minerals that you take. Doctors recommend getting 1mg of folate and 60mg of iron after the first trimester. Also, many care providers suggest increasing the amount of protein that you eat, which has been shown in to possibly decrease the incidence of pre-eclampsia. Click here to read more about diet and pre-eclampsia.

How do you know what type of twin you are having?

Most twins are dizygous, meaning they were formed from two eggs and two sperms. They typically have two placentas (dichorionic) and two amniotic sacs (diamniotic). These twins are called "fraternal".

"Identical" twins or monozygous twins are formed with one egg and one sperm that later split into two. Although identical twins can have one or two placentas, one or two amniotic sacs or be conjoined, the most common situation is one placenta (monochorionic) and two amnotic sacs (diamniotic).

                                  (most common)

So what does all this mean in practical terms?

ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) has set some standards on when these type of twins should be born. If you are having babies that have two placentas (dichorionic), they should be born between 38-39 weeks. However, if you are having twins with one placenta (monochorionic), ACOG recommend delivery between 34-38 weeks. 

What is the likelihood that you will deliver vaginally?

As long as there are no other twin-type complications, 43% of twins present both head down, which would allow for a vaginal birth. The second most common presentation is 1st baby head down and 2nd baby "other" (breech or transverse). This presentation also usually allows for a vaginal delivery.

After all that information are you seeing double? I know I am! I hope this information was helpful. For more in-depth knowledge, check out the webinar linked above.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Informed Birth Choices and Babies R Us

Babies R Us and Informed Birth Choices have patterned to bring FREE one-hour seminars to the Catonsville (6501A BALTIMORE NATL PIKE BALTIMORE MD 21228 P: (410)744-0820) area. These classes are totally free and will cover topics like breastfeeding, pregnancy, and comfort during labor. If you live in the area and are interested in getting some great FREE prenatal and postpartum information, stop by the Catonsville Babies R Us on the following dates (No registration required):

Free one-hour seminars given by IBC at BRU @ 7pm
Informed Pregnancy- 01/16
Informed Breastfeeding- 01/30
Comfort for Labor- 02/20
Informed Breastfeeding- 02/27

Birth Ball Cover

So just picture this...a 5' 3" 115 pound doula schlepping a giant birth ball through parking garages, into elevators, up stairs, through doorways, inevitability bumping into the unsuspecting passer-by. Yeah, that is me every time I take my birth ball into a hospital, birth center, or client's home--my arms barely grasping it. Not to mention when I am leaving the hospital, I feel so gross clinging to the huge rubbery sphere that has just spent hours on a hospital floor and under a laboring woman.

I needed a solution, and there it was on, you guessed it, Pintrest. A birth ball cover with handles! Great, I found what I needed, but it cost over $45 and I didn't even like the pattern the company was selling. So I searched the internet for a pattern and I found the blog that helped me create it. Diary of a Seamstress inspired me to make it. Her instructions were pretty basic, so I thought I wasn't going to be able to do it, but once I thought about it, the design was really simple (and thanks to a super-sewer friend who helped me wrap my brain around the "pattern").

I used stretchy purple jersey (60% off at Joann Fabric) that measured about 36"x 58". I sewed the seam for the drawstring along the stretchy side. Then I folded the fabric in half, and sewed the long side shut. I pinned handles at the bottom and sewed it shut. Next, I flipped it inside out. Easy peasy lemon squeezey! It is a tight fit to get it inside and I would probably consider using spandex next time for the all over stretch. It turned out pretty darn good for my first birth ball cover! Just when I didn't think being a doula could be any sweeter...enter the birth ball cover/bag!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Life in the Womb App

Do you get those updates on your phone or tablet during your pregnancy that tell you what is happening with your body and baby? Just recently, I stumbled across this awesome interactive app for the iOS7 iPad called "Life in the Womb". It guides you on a 3D journey through your baby's conception and birth. The app also gives you information about what is happening with your body and how to stay healthy during your pregnancy. Definitely check it out if you can!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Breastfeeding and Babies' Tummies

Have you ever wondered how much milk you actually have to make to fill a baby's tummy? It might not be as much as you think. This picture really helps a mom understand how small a newborn's stomach really is. Sometimes it is really encouraging to know this when you are struggling with breastfeeding or you feel like you have a low milk supply, that it doesn't take much to fill that little one up. Take it one feeding at a time--you can do it!

A Great Loss for DONA (and Doulas everywhere)

While I was perusing the web (mostly about doula stuff), I came across the announcement that Dr. John H. Kennell, MD had died in August. Dr. Kennell was one of the doctors who conducted controlled research and successfully showed the effects of continuous labor support. He later went on to co-found DONA International. His contribution to the field of doula work is unprecidented. You can read more about Dr. Kennell on the DONA website.

To read more about John H. Kennell:

You can see him in this video:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Spicy Night

Many women who are past their due date become very anxious to have their babies and understandably so. The sleepless nights, swelling, uncomfortable feeling, and just plain wanting to meet their babies really motivates some women to try to induce their labor naturally. If you are "over-due" then you've probably tired everything. Some common techniques to get your labor rolling are walking, nipple stimulation, caster oil, evening primrose oil, sex, eating pineapples, and many many other things. One thing that worked for two of my clients, maybe coincidentally, was eating spicy food. The idea behind spicy food is that is gently irritates your bowels (like castor oil) which may cause uterine contractions since the bowels and reproductive organs are located close together in the body.

This is what happened to a client-friend of mine. She was overdue by about a week and I thought it would be nice to have her and her husband over before she had her baby. It was one last opportunity for us to eat together while they were still "baby-free". As sort of a joke we ordered spicy Thai food. I knew that there is sometimes a correlation between spicy food and starting labor. So we enjoyed each other's company and the food and we parted the night around 8pm with a low expectation that labor would start since she had no other signs that labor was imminent.

I was awoken by my phone a 11pm. Her water had broken and her contractions had started. I couldn't believe that it worked! We were so excited that she was in labor. Later that day she delivered a healthy baby. We joked later about the fact that the spicy food worked. Who knows if it really did, but either way we were grateful for the birth of her baby!

Later she said that that she also had a really good cry right before her water broke. Sometimes just an emotional surrender will trigger labor to start. It is almost as if you give in to your body and accept what is about to happen.

So what is my advice for inducing labor naturally? Spicy food and a good cry! But ultimately it is up to your body and your baby. So if you are past your due date, there is hope. I promise you won't be pregnant forever!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Redefining the term "Term"

I have heard many women say that they are full "term" at 37 weeks pregnant. While this is technically true, research has found that there are many developmental differences in infants born at 37 weeks 0 days and infants born at 41 weeks 6 days (42 weeks being post "term"). If you think about it, a baby born at 37 weeks won't be developmentally equal to a baby who gets to stay in the womb for 2, 3, or even 5 weeks longer.

So a workgroup of medical professionals; including WHO, ACOG, AAP, the March of Dimes, and many others, set out to redefine what "term" really means. The workgroup recommends using the following designations: early term (37 weeks 0 days to 38 weeks 6 days), full term (39 weeks 0 days through 40 weeks 6 days) and late term (41 weeks 0 days through 41 weeks 6 days). To read more details on their findings, check out the following article: Defining "Term" Pregnancy.

So what does that mean for someone who is pregnant? It means do your best to stay pregnant until at least 39 weeks. If you have any symptoms of preterm labor, call you care provider right away.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pregnancy and Pelvic Floor Issues

Many women struggle with pelvic floor issues after pregnancy, labor and delivery. It is not uncommon to lose control of bladder and/or bowl function after this major life event. The following is an account of one woman's experience:

"I had my son 14 months ago in what I would describe as a long and hard labor. I pushed for 4 hours. I knew there would be swelling and soreness after labor and it would take some time for my body to get back on track. After labor while still in the hospital I expected everything that was happening to my body. I didn't know what it would feel like, but I figured my body just went through some serious trauma so there would most definitely be some aftermath.

It wasn't until I got home from the hospital that I suddenly realized I had no control of my bladder. I didn't have the sensation to pee which led to lots of "accidents." It seemed as though some women could relate to a certain degree but not to the full extent.

As time went on it got a little better. I regained the sensation to pee at around 5 or 6 weeks. Though I still was unable to hold it. If I jumped, walked at a fast pace, did anything bouncy, I would pee my pants. Yes folks, I'm a grown woman who pees her pants. I saw in a movie one time that peeing your pants is cool. I'm trying to bring that back! :)

I recently listened to a Pregnancy, Birth and Pelvic Floor Issues webinar with Dr. Roger Lefevre. I found the webinar very useful in regards to floor exercises and pelvic strength training that could help with my "leakage." The webinar spoke truth to some misconceptions I had about bladder control. One misconception I had was that kegels weren't really doing much in helping to regain pelvic strength. The webinar highlighted the importance of kegels and how truly simple they are.

So, today I am 14 months post baby and I have regained a lot of pelvic strength. I'm not quite where I was pre-baby but day by day getting there."

If you are struggling with pelvic floor issues and want to get help, a great place to start is listening to 
Pregnancy, Birth and Pelvic Floor Issues.  Help is definitely available and a better quality of life is attainable. Don't settle for anything less!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday the 13th

Yesterday started out like any other Friday morning, but little did I know the strange turn of events that would happen that crisp September 13th, 2013...

I got the kids ready for the day and despite Mason's cold, I sent him packing to school. Miles was up half the night with a cough so I was pretty tired and decided to "lay low". We hung out at the house and it was a beautiful day for a walk around the neighborhood. Then, I got the text--my client was in early labor. She labored on her own until she called to say to meet her at the birth center. I was a little bummed that I would miss "date night" with hubby, but was so excited to go to her birth. She labored like a champ and had a beautiful baby boy (7 lbs 13oz) late that Friday evening.  But something very little strange happened during her labor. She told me that she first started dating her husband on Friday the 13th and that they were married on Friday the 13th. Here she was about to have her first baby on...Friday the 13th. DUN-DUN-DUUUNNN!! 

She only had a 0.82% chance of having a baby on that day and she did! What a cool story that they will have to pass along to their family for generations to come. 

P.S. This is my second client to have a Friday the 13th baby... DUN-DUN-DUUUNNN!!

(Permission to post information by client)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Staying Local

I live in a quaint suburb of Baltimore City called Catonsville. It is not small by any means, at a population of over 41,000, but somehow it keeps its small town charm. I love where I live because of the great family and neighborly atmosphere.

On top of being a great place to live, Catonsville has some fantastic resources for pregnant mothers.

Bay State Chiropratic is located right off the main drag in Catonsville and specialized in treating pregnant mothers, babies, and children. Dr. Baron and his staff are experienced in treating pain from pregnancy, helping trouble shoot and treat latching problems in babies, and adjusting children. I love Bay State Chiropractic because they, not only do a fantastic job at treating patients, but also give back to the community. If you live in the area and are considering chiropractic services, please give Dr. Baron a try!

Another service that moms-to-be often desire is prenatal yoga and Catonsville has its very own yoga studio called Avalon Yoga and Wellness Center that teaches prenatal yoga. Just a couple of miles west in Historic Ellicott City is another great yoga center called GoGo Guru Yoga taught by Michele Bickley. You can even do yoga with your baby after birth at Baby Om Baby and Me Yoga hosted by Informed Birth Choices in Catonsville.

And last, but certainly not least, is Informed Birth Choices located in the heart of historic Catonsville. IBC offers childbirth, infant care, breastfeeding, and comfort measures classes. It also hosts a New Moms Group and different types of Yoga. IBC also provides doula services to the Maryland and D.C. area. If you live is Catonsville or surrounding area, hooking up with IBC is a pregnancy must!

Well, as you can tell I really love Catonsville and am so glad to be plugged into the local pregnancy, birthing, and new mom community. Get to know the community where you live and you will find some awesome treasures! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Baby Basics

On Wednesday, August 21st, I taught my first official infant care and breastfeeding class to 15 moms and dads. It was at a great location--a local baby-mama consignment store called Greenberries. (If you haven't already, check this place out. They have tons of baby-mama stuff and offer free classes too).

Anyway, I walk in, 30 minutes early, and start setting up the chairs. At this point I'm nervous, but as soon as people start showing up I start getting excited to meet them. I'm an extrovert so people excite me, especially people taller than 3 feet and older than 5! I have all my gear set up and then I realize, "oh, I have to talk for 3 hours to all these people who are scrutinizing my every word". So I got nervous again, but eventually I settled in even though no one was laughing at my jokes. Come on people, baby poop jokes are funny!

About half way through, I realize that I am running short on time. We finally get to breastfeeding (my favorite topic) and I have to squeeze two hours of material into 1 very short hour. I rushed and got through most of what I wanted to say, but I was pretty disappointed in my end delivery.

So what did I learn? Teach breastfeeding first. Cut down my presentation. Try to make it more interactive. Teaching is hard.

My next "Baby Basics" Class (infant care and breastfeeding) is on September 23rd and if you're interested you can sign up at Informed Birth Choices. Am I nervous? Yes, but the desire to teach moms-and-dads-to-be how to take care of an infant and how to breastfeed far exceeds those fears!

Baby Basics: Infant Care and Breastfeeding

This course combines the best of our Infant Care class and our Breastfeeding Basics. We focus on newborn care and procedures, sleeping, communication, diapering, and dressing. Breastfeeding is covered in-depth and this portion of class will help you prepare for a comfortable start to breastfeeding. Topics include latch, position, milk production, feeding patterns, myths, avoiding common problems, and recognizing when to call for assistance.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's that time of year again...

Birth--Bellies--and--Babies Expo in Baltimore on September 29th.

Are you pregnant or a mama? Then this is an expo you will want to check out. Speakers, midwives, doulas, the latest pregnancy and mama gear is all here. Make sure you check it out.'s all FREE!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Breastmilk = Brain Food

Do you really want another reason to breastfeed? Of course you do! Check out this study that concludes that breastfed babies are smarter than babies who aren't breastfed.

Speak Up

Part of being a doula is advocating for a client's preferences during birth. Most of the time this means asking the medical staff the right questions or reminding a client, in the heat of labor, what they had asked for. Every once in a while, a doula must firmly speak up for a client to make sure her care provider know what she wants. In that same way, I believe that I must speak up for those people in the world whose have been so marginalized that their voices can't be heard. That is one reason that I support the Fistula Foundation. All the profits of my baby-mama craft projects go to the Fistula Foundation, where women on the other side of the world can receive hope and healing. Since last August, I have been able to give (from craft profits only) $245. I am hoping to double that next year so that I can pay for a whole fistula surgery (the cost is $450). 

Tanzania is one of the countries that the Fistula Foundation supports. So why Tanzania? During my junior year of college, I went to Tanzania on a medical mission. There I found myself surrounded by poverty and disease. I wish I could say, at the time, that I felt moved, but really I just wanted to come home. It wasn't until recently, when I read the book "Half the Sky" that I really felt a calling to do my part to help end the marginalization of women across the world. One area that really struck me, for obvious reasons (as a doula), was maternal health issues. 

(College medical missions trip to Tanzania)

The theme of being a doula and Tanzania kept popping up in my life. Recently I read an article in International Doula (put out by DONA International) about a woman who traveled to Tanzania to educate women about better birth practices and train Tanzanian doulas. I immediately emailed her to ask how I could help. She sent me her blog and asked me for support and to spread the word about Joule Birth. Here is her blog: They help other third would countries in Africa with better birth practices and improving  birth conditions which will ultimately lower maternal and infant mortality rates.

It is never too late to find a cause to get involved in that you feel passionate about. You never know who or what will be woven into the fabric of your life.

(framed kanga [tranditional garment] from Tanzania)

"mama ni mlezi kanileya kwa mapenzi"
("My mother brought me up with love")

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Son's Birthmom

So, if you have read the "About" tab here on my blog, then you know that I am a mom through adoption and not through biology. My journey through infertility has been a hard one, but I am so thankful that I have children and that I have been able to experience (for the most part) what it means to be a mother.

Both of our children have semi-open adoptions, which means that we have some contact with their birthparents. We pray for their birthparents often and the topic of adoption, in our family, is a very open one. Last Friday we had the honor of meeting my oldest son's birthmom for the first time. The actual meeting wasn't very emotional for me (or my son), but afterwards I felt like I had a lot to process. The old feeling about infertility reared its ugly head again...the feeling of being broken, not a women, barren, etc...

 It was hard to think about another person carrying him and giving birth to him. The nice thing is that I got to hear more about his birth story. I understand more about him because I know what he went through being carried and born.

Being able to be a doula has been really healing for me. I feel like I get to be a part of something that I missed out on. Yeah, it's not exactly the same, but it is an amazing job. Sometimes I feel like women won't want me as their doula since I have never personally experienced labor or birth, but I have come to realize that every women's journey is unique to her and if I added my own birth experience would only take away from hers.

So what did I learn about meeting my son's birthmom? I was reminded that it takes more than labor and delivery to be a mom, and that his birth story and his birthmom are apart of him, too.

Motherhood, no matter how it comes to you, is extremely hard and overwhelmingly rewarding!

A Royal Labor

So I have to admit that I kind of like keeping up the with new royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or as I like to call them (as if I were their friend), Will and Kate.  When my second son was just home for the hospital for 3 days, I can remember watching their wedding on TV. Now they are expecting their first child. If fact, at this moment Kate is in labor. Talk about pressure.

As many of you might know, being in labor is a very exciting and nerve racking experience. If you have family waiting in the waiting room for you to have your baby, then you have a glimpse of that pressure. Now imagine the whole world awaiting the birth of your child. Ahhh!

My hope for Kate and William is that they are able to take their time and enjoy the experience. I hope that they have a doula to help them get through the tough parts of labor, both mentally and physically. I hope that Kate has a satisfying and empowering birth story. I wish them all the best during this very special time!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sing to Your Baby

Here is a very compelling video about singing to your baby while he/she is in utero. So exciting to see how babies react to the same song once they are born!

Penny Simkin presents Singing to the Baby

To Bathe or Not to Bathe?

When babies are born they are covered in vernix, which is creamy white layer of, well, goop. This goopy stuff does a lot to help your baby. Besides being a "protective barrier from liquids while in the uterus. It acts as an antioxidant, skin cleanser, moisturizer, temperature regulator, and a natural, safe antimicrobial for the new baby post delivery."

So the question is should you bathe your baby right away? Personally, I recommend that baby's hands aren't washed because the vernix actually helps baby breastfeed. The oils that a mother's breast secrete smell very similar to the vernix. Babies will smell their hands and then smell for the breast.

 Do your own research and decide if washing your baby right away is right for you. You can check out this article to start.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Manual Breastmilk Expression Study

Think the only way you can express your breastmilk is via a breast pump? Actually, you can do it with no pump at all. You just need clean hands and a clean container to collect milk in. One study actually shows that if you hand express your breastmilk instead of using a pump, then you are actually more likely to keep breastfeeding.

Check out the Manual Breastmilk Expression Study.

Don't know how to hand express your breastmilk? You can check out this helpful video:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Study on Delayed Cord Clamping

There are many studies out there showing the evidence that delayed cord clamping has many benefits to the newborn. There is a study out that may push ACOG to recommend that all babies (if healthy) receive delayed cord clamping. The WHO already recommends delaying cord clamping for 1-3 minutes after birth. 30-40% of the newborn's blood is still inside the placenta when he/she is born. Wow! That is a lot of blood. The main benefit is the increased amount of iron that the newborn will receive from that blood. It is totally worth looking into and deciding if this something important to you. Check out the article below in the New York Time:

Back to Back

Check out my post from a couple of weeks ago (Three in a Row)...I totally called it!

For the past few days I was restless. I had a client due and I wanted her to go into labor and I was even commiserating with my husband about how I was anxious for her to have her baby, but she wasn't really showing signs. She scheduled her induction on my anniversary and I was kind of feeling bummed. Not exactly how I was expected to celebrate 9 years of marriage, but I finally came to terms with it.

Two days before her scheduled induction, I was on-call, which just means I was available to help any of the other doulas who needed help in our group. I was just about to get in bed when I got a call that one of the other doulas was driving back from vacation and needed some back up help until she got there in 2 hours. So I got re-dressed and headed to the hospital. I was there for 2 hours until she got there and then I headed home. I fell into a deep sleep at 1am.

At 3am, I was abruptly woken up by my phone ringing. I literally didn't know what was going on. I answered the phone and it was my client who said she was in labor and they were heading to the hospital...the same hospital I had just come from 3 hours before that!

I got re-dressed...again... and headed there to help her have her baby about 12 hours later.

I have one more client due in a couple weeks, so I texted her to make sure she wasn't in labor, because I was sure all these babies were going happen all at once again.

As a doula, my life is filled with long periods of waiting for things to happen followed by short intense excitement. What an awesome job. I wonder what the next couple of weeks has in store for me??! Keeps me on my toes ;)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Breastmilk The Movie

Have you ever watched the documentary by Ricki Lake, called "The Business of Being Born"? Well, she's back--producing another "hot topic" documentary about breastfeeding called "Breastmilk".

Lately breastfeeding has been front and center in main-stream media. This topic evokes passion feelings on both sides. What do you think about breastfeeding? What are the things you struggle with? Why are you so passionate? Judging by the trailer, these and other issues will be covered in "Breastmilk".

P.S. Even the spelling of breastmilk (breast milk) is debated!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Three in a Row

A question a lot of clients ask me is, "how many births do you take a month?" They are trying to determine the likelihood that someone else will have a baby on the same day that they do. This is a totally valid question and concern. My answer is that I usually take 1-2 births a month, since I am balancing family life and my career.

June started out like any other month. I had one client due on June 14th and another due on June 28th. This is my normal load and two weeks a part is typically a "safe" time apart and it was. None of my clients had their babies on the same day...they just had them two days apart!

To add to this I was backing-up another doula who happened to have both of her clients (due two weeks apart), have their babies on the same day. So to help her out, I attended part of one of those labors. In less than 7 days, I attended 3 clients' labors. All three of those clients happen to need labor support overnight (anywhere from 8pm-4am). Needless to say I was exhausted by the end of the week, but loved every moment!

So now I am through June and have a bit of a break; but what did I do?...took a July 6th birth! I have another client due July 19th, so I bet they will have their babies during the same week. I love being a doula and figuring it all out. What a fun and rewarding job.

After the summer (and my live-in sister-in-law moves out), I will be back to my normal client load of 1-2 clients a month. I promise...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dialing in on Dilation and Effacement

What does the doctor or midwife really mean when they are talking about dilation and effacement? Sometimes that language can be confusing and all moms really know is that they have to get to 10cm dilated and 100% effaced before the baby can come out. But I'd like to dial in on what is really going on here.

A women's uterus is pear shaped (a very large pear when fully pregnant) and at the bottom of the uterus is the thick opening called the cervix. The cervix is still the uterus-- it is just the opening of it. In order for a baby to be born, a woman's uterus, more specifically the cervix, must open to allow the baby to pass through. But first it must thin out. Think of putting on a turtle neck shirt. First you must scrunch it up before you open it and put your head through. Comparatively, the cervix must scrunch up or thin out and then it can open. Sometimes opening (dilating) and thinning (effacing) happen simultaneously, but the cervix must be completely thin before the baby can be born. So, if you are in labor and you go to the hospital and your care provider does a vaginal check and says you are 3cm dilated but 100% effaced, take heart, you are well on your way to having a baby. Below is a diagram of dilation and effacement that might help clear any misconceptions up. I hope this little anatomy lesson helped you understand dilation and effacement better. Maybe we will tackle station sometime...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pain in the Back

For many women, back labor is just going to be a part of the childbirth process, but there are things that you can do during pregnancy to avoid that terrible "pain in the back". Most back labor is caused by the baby being in the posterior position (which means the baby is face up and the back of his/her head is pressing right into your back). There are things that you can do to get your baby in the most ideal position for birth. They way you stand, sit and the posture you have can really affect what position your baby is in.

Also, once your baby is in a non-ideal position there are things that you can do to change that. Visit Spinning Babies to see how you can change which position your baby is in. Babies don't have to be a "pain in the back!" Have fun spinning your baby :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


What does it mean to be a doula? It means being up all night...rubbing backs until you can't rub anymore...feeling hungry....taking photos of special moments...processing through grief with parents...getting whatever mom and dad need...supporting huge decisions...celebrating life...missing kids and husbands...

Being a doula is hard work, but it is one of the most meaningful and inspiring things I have ever done. More often than not, I leave a birth feeling more blessed than when I came.

On top of the birth experience, families continue to make me feel loved far after their baby is born. The thoughtful notes, words of encouragement and touching gifts that people send me, blow me away.

For example, one of my clients made a birth plan and made sacrifices financially to hire me as her birth doula. As time went on, it was pretty evident that her baby would be breach and require a C-section. She still continued to hire me and actually advocated for me to be in the OR when she delivered. That experience alone was so touching. A couple weeks after her birth, I received the most beautiful gift in the mail from her and her husband. It is a necklace that completely represented me as the "Baby Byrd Doula".  She thought of me and my journey. Words cannot express how thankful I am!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Awesome Gift

Often my clients give me generous gifts for my doula services. Just the other day a received a sweet picture of a former client's baby's toes. I love looking at them in my office and I hope you enjoy them too!


Have you ever wanted to genetic testing on your baby while you were pregnant but didn't want take a risk of CVS or amniocentesis? Well, now there is another test. It is a simple blood test that poses no risk to the growing baby. It is called MaterniT21.

Recently one of my postpartum clients told me the success that she had with the test and how it put her mind at ease during the duration of her pregnancy. Since advance maternal age is a risk factor for genetic abnormalities, she felt that being sure that her baby was healthy was what she needed. You may feel like that too and now you get a test done that doesn't put your pregnancy at risk for miscarriage.

Also, the MaterniT21 test can determine the gender of the baby as early as 10 weeks. So if you are super curious...

Check out this video about MaterniT21.

Friday, May 24, 2013

C-Section in the OR

A couple of my clients have had C-sections in the past for "emergency" reasons, but this is the first time that one of my clients was having a planned C-section because of a breech presentation. Her baby had been breech for sometime, but she was still planning on having me there for support of her birth. She had done tons of research, including some on family-centered cesarean sections, so she asked her OB if I could come into the operating room and he said...YES! So I was able to support her and her husband in the OR. It was really cool because I was able to take pictures of the events while dad could enjoy the birth with his wife. At one point dad was called over to where their baby was so I got to talk to mom and tell her exactly what was happening with her baby. I think she really appreciated the attention and support amidst the hustle and bustle of the OR. I may not have been able to provide as much physical support as I usually do, but I provided emotional care and support of the family, which turned out to be extra helpful since mom was really nervous about the C-section. I stayed much longer afterwards than a typical birth so I could help her with breastfeeding and adjusting after she starting having pain from the operation.

I was so excited to be a part of their special day, even though it wasn't exactly how they planned it to go. I am also pretty impressed that the hospital allowed a doula into the OR and that many hospitals are moving toward a more family centered, doula-friendly OR atmosphere.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Breastfeeding on the Brain

So over the last couple months, I haven't attended a birth. Because of vacations and trainings, my schedule didn't allow for it. But these "empty" months have given me a chance to write my Breastfeeding Basics curriculum that I will be teaching through Informed Birth Choices on July 18th. I am so excited to share breastfeeding information with eager parents! My class focuses on simple strategies that will help moms and babies get breastfeeding started on the right foot. It includes topics like how breastfeeding works, milk supply, feeding patterns, the latch on, breastfeeding positions, and troubleshooting breastfeeding problems. The class will also show some really amazing breastfeeding videos that will change how people look at babies' abilities to breastfeed. Here is a sneak peak at one of those videos:

I hope you can join the Breastfeeding Basics class on July 18th at Informed Birth Choices. Getting breastfeeding off to a great start begins with learning some simple breastfeeding basics!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Skin to Skin Webinar

Skin to skin (or Kangaroo Care) is one of the best and simplest things that you can do for your baby. Not only does is increase breastfeeding success, but it also has tons of medical benefits for you baby. Research shows that babies grow better, suckling correctly, cry less, stay warmer, and help newborns adapt to their new environment better And what about you--what do you get out of it? You get increased bonding with your baby.

Are you interested in learning more about skin to skin? Well then check out this webinar tonight at 8pm. But if you can listen tonight it will be recorded so you can listen to it anytime.

"The WHO, CDC, Surgeon General and American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage mom and baby to practice skin-to-skin immediately after birth and as often as possible throughout the post partum period." -Isis Parenting 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5th, 2013: International Day of the Midwife

Today is International Day of the Midwife. Today we celebrate all of those men and women who provide excellent midwifery care to women across the world.

I found an awesome article by the Fistual Foundation highlighting some midwives in other nations who are helping to improve maternal health and birth outcomes. Click here to read about amazing midwives doing extraordinary things.

Thank you, midwives, for all you do to make birth better!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Annie Byrd, CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), CLC!

I found out today that I passed my Certified Lactation Counselor course with a 95%! I am so excited to help mother breastfeed and learn more about breastfeeding.

If you are still wondering what a CLC is check out this awesome video that explains it really well.

You're Body is Not a Lemon

"You're body is not a lemon," was the mantra of Ina May Gaskin in the documentary, Birth Story. Ina May and "The Farm" midwives really focused on the fact that women are made to have babies and that the increasing rate of cesarean section has convinced women that they cannot give birth vaginally. Ina May and many other midwives allow you into their lives in this documentary and show you how empowering birth can truly be.

This documentary is peppered with history. It describes the foundation of the "The Farm" in Tennessee by the 1960's hippies who were searching for a better way of life. The Birth Story reveals how Ina May became a midwife and started providing better birth options for people across the United States.

There was even video footage from the '70s of a breech birth and shoulder dystocia (and the Gaskin maneuver). These videos showed women empowered in their births. It showed them enjoying their births. There was no fear.

I think that is documentary can change they way women choose to have their babies. If women could feel strong and trust in their innate abilities to birth, then less women would be scared of birth and would have positive birth experiences.

My hope, as a doula, is that I can foster a safe environment, in which women trust their bodies and not only give birth to beautiful healthy babies, but also satisfying birth stories.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Birth Story Available on DVD

Just a heads up that the Birth Story Documentary, featuring Ina May Gaskin, is available on DVD and download. I plan to watch in the next couple of days and will have a full blog report about it. So excited!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Big 3-0

I never thought this would happen, but it finally did...I turned 30. I've been told that 30's are way better than 20's, so I am looking forward to tackling them with joy. But, my birthday did cause me to look back on years past. Did I think this is where I would be when I was 30? Is this how I pictured my journey? It's hard to say. I didn't foresee having trouble staying pregnant and adoption definitely wasn't in my plans, but I did think I would have a family. One of the greatest surprises is that on a daily basis I am involved in other families' lives--that I am able to use my knowledge and skills to support their journey. Despite the fact that I come into the relationship as the "expert", I learn so much from each couple about love and life. So I guess I'm totally excited to see what the next 30 years holds for me and the world!

Keep Baby Calm and Carry On

Studies are now showing what moms know instinctively: carrying your crying baby usually calms them right down. It is now becoming mainstream that you won't spoil your infant by carrying them too much. Even the "Today Show" is getting with the program. The old adage of "let them cry it out" is out the window. Moms, feel free to carry your infant as much as you want. One of the best ways is in a baby carrier. You are hands free, but still able to care for your baby's needs. We aren't caches, follow or nest mammals. We are carry mammals. So, keep baby calm and carry on!

Friday, April 12, 2013

IBC's New Website

Informed Birth Choices has just launched their new website. IBC is the best place to find child birth classes, infant care classes and the best doulas Baltimore has to offer (in my humble opinion)!

Check out their awesome site and my profile.

Family Centered Cesarean

Last night I attended a webinar that presented the topic of "Mother and Baby Focused" or "Family-Centered" Cesarean. Many hospitals are changing their policy and procedure concerning how they perform C-sections. Instead of a cold, sterile environment, some hospitals are moving more towards warmer, family-centered one.

Some changes include:
  • Clear surgical drapes so that the parents can see and interact with their baby as soon as he/she is born.
  • Immediate skin to skin contact for mother (or father) and baby. This early skin to skin contact is crucial for breastfeeding success.
  • Breastfeeding in the operating room.
  • Autoresuscitation or the slower delivery of the baby from the uterus to mimic some the benefits that the baby would get from a vaginal birth.
  • The presence of a doula in the OR
I was surprised and delighted to hear the guest speaker take some time to specifically discuss the role and benefits of a doula in the operating room. Here are some benefits of having a doula present in a cesarean birth:
  • Amidst the many new faces in the OR, a doula can be a familiar and calming presence for the mother and father.
  • She can bring the focus back to the delivering family if the conversation drifts away from them.
  • She can point out sounds to listen for, like the baby's first cry.
  • A doula can help make the OR environment more calming, like bringing mom's favorite music.
  • She can take pictures, while both mom and dad can focus on their new baby.
  • A doula's presence lasts much longer than the birth. She accompanies mom, dad and baby to the recovery room and can help get breastfeeding off to a great start. (Reminder: lots of skin to skin)
It was so encouraging to hear that cesarean sections are headed in this direction. For many mothers a cesarean section is absolutely necessary and can be a little disappointing for some, but with this new procedure, it will allow families a more "together" feel. Not all hospitals are participating in this new movement, so be sure to talk to your Midwife or OB and mention this to them. It is better for moms; it is better for babies; it is better for families!

Learn more about Family-Centered Cesarean.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blossoms, Birth and Babies

Washington D.C. is hosting its first ever Birth and Babies Fair. If the cherry blossoms are not enough for you to check out our Nation's Capital, then maybe this FREE fair will entice you.  There will be experts in many fields; like lactation, midwifery, chiropractors, doulas, and more. Are you interested in the latest and greatest baby gear? The D.C. Birth and Babies Fair will have that too.  D.C. is beautiful this time of year and the only thing that could make it better is thousands of round bellies and bouncy babies. Definitely check out the free D.C. Birth and Babies Fair!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Alphabet Soup

Last week I attended my CLC (certified lactation counselor) training and while I was there I got the call that I am officially a DONA postpartum doula! After lots of paper work and many hours helping families and 6 months of waiting, I finally am a postpartum certified doula. I am looking forward to helping many families in the "fourth trimester" when adjusting can be so hard!

So this is what my official title is: Annie Byrd, CD(DONA), PCD(DONA)

In 6-8 weeks, I will hear if am officially a CLC too. Talk about alphabet soup...

I'm glad to have the training and the credentials, but most of all I am thrilled to be able to help other moms and families!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Birth Doulas Recommended by Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

Today, in my CLC training, we were talking about how we can, as lactation counselors, support exclusive breastfeeding while mothers are in the hospitals after they have had their babies. One of the ways, is for mothers to hire a birth doula. Studies have shown that the frequency of exclusive breastfeeding at one month was higher if mothers had a doula in labor. Having a doula at your birth can lower your chance of the use of labor medications and c-sections, which can be a barrier to breastfeeding.

This is what the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends about doulas in protocol #15:

"Continuous support in labor, ideally by a trained doula, reduces the need for pharmacologic pain management in labor, decreases instrumented delivery and Cesarean section, and leads to improved breastfeeding outcomes both in the immediate postpartum period and several weeks after birth."

On a side note: Separation of mother and baby in the first 1-2 hours after birth has a more profound negative effect on breastfeeding than medication. So, if you do use labor medication or have a c-section, be sure to have lots and lots of skin-to-skin after your baby is delivered.

Skin-to-skin is one of the most powerful steps in influencing breastfeeding outcomes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Doulas Saving You Money

In a recent study done by University of Minnesota, it was found that women on Medicaid who hired a trained doula were 40% less likely to have a c-section birth. Which means that doulas may be able to save the government, and more importantly the taxpayer, money. To read more about this study click here:

Glad to be a part of providing better and more affordable care!

DONA "famous"

So, it's been about two months since I have actually been a certified birth doula, but now it's official. I made the newsletter (at the bottom under newly certified) and the DONA website. It is cool and weird to see my name in such an "official" capacity. I worked really hard and it was all worth it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Certified Lactation Counselor

In little over two weeks, I will attend a week long training in an attempt to earn my Certified Lactation Counselor certification (there is a big test at the end). The Healthy Children's Center for Breastfeeding offers this 5 day workshop to train CLCs to help women achieve success with breastfeeding. They offer these training all over the country and last year the closest one to where I live was offered over 4 hours away. But this year, they are offering this class in my hometown of Chambersburg, PA (Listed as Gettysburg but the conference is actually in Chambersburg). The hotel where it will be held is 10 minutes away from my parents' house. I can't believe it! I have a place to stay and I know the town so well. I am very excited and thrilled that it is so close.

I am pretty passionate about breastfeeding. Besides having almost an unlimited number of benefits for mother and baby, breastfeeding is something that can be very empowering or discouraging for women. When we adopted our first son, I put my body under a lactation protocol and tried to breastfeed. I realize now that I didn't set myself up for success. I was embarrassed that it didn't happen naturally and I didn't get the help I needed. I read tons on adoptive breastfeeding, but not one book on the art of breastfeeding. I was defeated and sad. I didn't even attempt to breastfeed my second son. I never want another women to feel like that. I want to help women have success and feel empowered in their breastfeeding expereince.

So, wish me luck in getting my CLC. I hope it will bless other women. Even if I can help one mom, it will be worth it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Special Beginning Indeed

Boy, or should I say girl, it's been a busy week! I attended my 8th birth on Tuesday and then today I attended my 9th birth at Special Beginnings Birth Center in Arnold, MD. She had a beautiful, quick birth with no complications.

This was the first time I have ever been to Special Beginnings. It was awesome! The nurses and midwives were so attentive and available. They made everything peaceful. In addition to being a peaceful place to have a baby, it was also fully stocked with any medical equipment that they might have needed.

I highly recommend Special Beginnings if your circumstances are a good fit. Check out more info about Special Beginnings.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Due Date Baby

Only about 5% of babies are actually born on their due date, but my 8th client was right on time with her baby. She had a beautiful vaginal birth and met her goal of a natural hospital birth on her due date.

While we are on the subject of due dates, let's chat about how they are determined. Your care provider takes the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) and adds 280 days which is about 40 weeks (or 9 months and 7 days). So if the first day of your last period was on August 1st then your due date would be May 7th. Most women, 80%, deliver between 37 and 42 weeks, leaving 11% preterm and 9% post-term.

So what kind of baby will you have-- early, late or right on time? That's what makes it so never quite know.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Folate vs. Folic Acid

Haven't you heard your Doctor say how important it is to get enough folic acid? But is it really folic acid that you need? Well, yes and no. You body needs folate which occurs naturally in food, but if you can't get enough folate naturally through food sources, then you need supplements, which is a synthetic compound called folic acid.

This article helps explain the difference in more detail:

What do you need folate/folic acid for anyway? The human body needs folate to synthesize and repair DNA. Specifically, in pregnancy, your baby needs folate to protect against neural tube defects. However, some studies show that too much folic acid can cause other problems in your and/or baby.

So when you choose your prenatal vitamin, discuss with your care provider some options that have a lower amount of folic acid. And eat your dark leafy greens!

One options is New Chapter's Perfect Prenatal. Be sure to discuss any medications or vitamins you take with your care provider.

When are most babies born?

According to the following study, most babies are born in mid-September. You know what that means...the holidays, or at least the cold weather, is a great baby-making time of year. I guess that means fall will be a busy time for me. Love it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beautiful Baby Bath

Shouldn't everyone's first bath, be like this?!

The National Birth Center Study II

The Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health published, on January 31, 2013, their second study of birth centers in the US. And like their first study, this study's result were very similar:  “birth centers offer a safe and acceptable alternative to hospital confinement for selected pregnant women, particularly those who have previously had children, and that such care leads to relatively few cesarean sections.”

Here are some quick facts from the Study
  • Of more than 15,000 women eligible for birth center care when labor started, 93% had spontaneous vaginal births, and 6% had cesareans.
  • 16% of women transferred during labor, and approximately 2.5% of mothers or newborns required transfer to the hospital after birth. Emergent transfer before or after birth was required for 1.9% of women in labor or for their newborns. Most women who transferred in labor had vaginal births.
  • There were no maternal deaths. The intrapartum stillbirth rate was 0.47/1000, and the neonatal mortality rate was 0.40/1000 excluding anomalies.
Birth centers are safe and cost effective, so why aren't there more birth centers in the US?

Check out Science and Sensibility for more information on the National Birth Center Study II.

Related to that, a Charleston Midwife will speak in Congress today to address them about the safe cost-effective nature of birth center midwifery care siting the National Birth Center Study II that was just released. Times could be changing!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homebirth Cesarean Book Project

Some women who set out to have a homebirth, end up needing emergency transfer to a hospital to have a cesarean section. This can be really hard for moms to accept. There is a group on homebirth cesarean moms and midwives working on a book to help other women, emotionally, through this difficult situation. Please check out the link below to see what they are up to.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Downton Abbey and Childbirth

After a long day at the office, I came home and settled into my bed with my laptop to watch Downton Abbey that had aired the night before. I was shocked when I watched in unfold. Lady Sybil was in the throws of childbirth when the episode began. I couldn't believe it--two things that bring me great joy, childbirth and Masterpiece Theater, had converged in a great episode of Downton Abbey.

I invite you to read more about the events that unfolded in that episode, from a maternal health point of view, or just to watch it (which is much better in my humble opinion).

Long Day at the Office

Today I attended my 7th birth. My client was courageously attempting a VBAC. After many hours of labor, every intervention imaginable, and one false move, she was whisked away for an emergency (a real emergency) c-section.

As doulas we will, inevitably, replay events of a birth we attended over and over again in our minds. Most have outstanding outcomes and we can pat ourselves on the back for helping to make a women's birth experience satisfying. But we also have to wrestle with those births that didn't end with an empowering vaginal birth or didn't go as planned. But I honestly feel that you take the good with the not-so-good and you learn from it and do better. There is no sense is feeling pride or despair. The true role of a doula is as a humble servant, which means not thinking too highly of yourself or too lowly and being willing to learn and move forward.

It also helps to get perspective on your experience. Talk to someone who has been there before. Don't hold it inside. Learn from your experience and take solid advice.

Those are the two lessons from my 7th birth...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fistula Foundation

Something that I am pretty passionate about is maternal health, not only in the US, but also around the world. One of the most devastating, but treatable, problems that plague women's health are fistulas. Fistulas are injuries that occur to a mother's pelvic floor while giving birth. In most cases, in developed nations, fistulas are repaired and the mother can live a normal life. However, in developing or third world countries, these injuries leave women, at the very least, crippled with a humiliating condition and in some cases lead to death of the mother and/or baby.

The Fistula Foundation states: "We believe that no woman should have to suffer a life of shame and isolation for trying to bring a child into the world. We are dedicated to raising awareness of and funding for fistula repair, prevention, and educational programs worldwide to help eradicate fistula."  The Fistula Foundation funds programs and organizations that provide surgery to women with fistulas in 18 developing nations in the world.

You can help. You can help by spreading awareness and by donating. If you look on the "Gear" tab of my blog, you will notice at the bottom that all the profits of the baby and mama things that I make go to the Fistula Foundation. Also, a portion of my doula earnings also go there. This is an easy way for women to help women and to end suffering and death in the world.

If you want to learn more, visit

I believe with all my heart that we can make a difference!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Sometimes when I hear the word docs and birth together I start to worry, but not this time. Documentaries is the kind of docs I'm talking about!

I have stumbled across some really intriguing documentaries debuting about birth and breastfeeding. I am really excited to see these when they come to my area or, more likely, when they come to DVD.

Check out the trailers to each of these documentaries:

Birth Story:


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Annie Byrd, CD(DONA)

It is official--I am a certified DONA birth doula! After stacks of books, mounds of paperwork, hours of trainings, and days of births, I am a certified birth doula through Doulas of North America International. Thank you to the many people who have supported, trusted and encouraged me through this awesome journey. Every birth has been meaningful and each family welcoming. I am looking forward to all the new families and babies I will meet in the years to come!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Just In Case

So far in my doula-ing career, I have not yet attended a birth when there was a true medical emergency that required extensive intervention. Although many women have c-sections, they aren't always an emergency. Like an emergency where the doctors don't ask you what you want they just start rushing you somewhere and doing stuff. But emergencies do happen and it is so important to have a transfer plan if you having a home birth or one at a birthing center.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:
How far away is the nearest hospital?
Is there a doctor/midwife practice that will accept transfer patients from a home birth?
What are the circumstances that you would want to be transferred to a hospital (discuss with midwife)?

Home birth and birth center birth can be very safe, but it is important to have a plan.

Some people do not like hospitals (and for good reasons), but when you are having an emergency they can be life-saving. Below is an article from a women who needed to be transferred and emergency care. I post it not to frighten you, but to inform you on the importance of a plan...just in case. You will feel less panicked if you have a plan and do need hospital services.