If I Were a Bell, I'd Be Ringing!
03/14/12, New York, NY
That’s how I feel about holding little Electra in my arms finally. She made us wait for her--according to our dates, she arrived at 43 weeks, longer by other estimates! She was born at home in our bedroom in water, just as I had hoped she would be. As she is my third and last child, I’m so grateful to have had the experience of a home birth with her.
I must have been pretty loud because our neighbors below and above us called down to the doorman asking if they should call the police (they thought I was being murdered). The doorman let them know that I was just giving birth. They replied, “Gosh, she must be in a lot of pain.” I was. It was a 20-hour labor and far more grueling than I expected, given the fact that I am fit and strong and was at home in my sacred space. But never mind the pain - it was a textbook home birth that otherwise went along utterly safely and smoothly. My 5-star birthing team included my amazing husband, who was hard a work putting pressure on my lower back to counter the searing pain for hours at a time without a break; my doula, Kassie Anderson*, who coached and guided me all the way though (even when I didn’t think I could go on), and my brilliant midwife, Miriam Schwartschild.**
Weighing in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces (nearly 8 pounds), Electra was my biggest baby. Thanks to the water birth and great midwifery support, miraculously, her 26-cm head circumference and broad shoulders didn’t tear me a bit. With my smaller babies (Thandi and Tommy were both just 6.5 pounds) I required several stitches each. I delivered my other two “on land.”
Despite the intensity and duration of the labor, the baby’s heart rate remained steady the entire time and she emerged without incident (no cord issues or other fetal concerns that can be concerning at a home birth). I appreciate all the risks involved with a home birth (of course, to my mind, they are outweighed by the risks of a hospital birth--though not everyone would agree with me here), but it was a great feeling to see nature take her course in this way and deliver so smoothly. I will never forget the feeling of “catching” my own baby. My husband and I, both in the water together, reached down and brought her into the world together--the two sets of hands that conceived her received her.
We have spent the following days blissfully connected with the baby, as if we’ve been wrapped up in divine energy. It’s a love high unlike any other. I can’t help but think that if everyone could experience how hard it is to birth a new life into the world and how exquisite it feels to exchange this love energy with one's baby, no one would ever dream of taking a life. Reverence for life would be the core purpose of our lives, and would thus usher in the fabled Golden Age of mankind, rectifying every suffering!
My Pregnancy Regimen
I promised to write about my pregnancy regimen, so I’ll share it briefly with you now. It was pretty simple, really--mostly what I do when I’m not pregnant with some additional things.
As always, I started my days with a good dose of exercise. That’s my first fuel--chi! Then, after lots of pure spring water, around noon I would drink about 32 ounces of green juice. I’d feast on fresh fruits throughout the afternoon as desired, either whole or blended into a smoothie, or both. The fresh fruits were the best part: a couple of cantaloupes followed by honeycrisp apples and bananas or loads of pineapple and pineapple-banana-berry smoothies with bee pollen and fresh orange juice. During the daytime, my intake was all water-containing sweet fruits.
In the evening, I would shift to vegetables, starting off with an antipasto of raw sweet potato slices, my favorite Castlevetrano and Ceringnola olives, and baked beets. I would follow that with anything from my favorite goat cheese salads (the hard raw goat cheeses are fine during pregnancy, but not the soft ones), baked sweet potatoes, or some of the fish I’d made for my husband. Unlike in my non-pregnant regimen, I did include some grains during pregnancy if I wanted them in the evening, in the form of Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted-grain bread (with organic butter and honey), Ak-Mak crackers (my pregnancy favorite), and the Kashi chocolate-chip cookies. I enjoyed Laloo's goat's milk ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, and cappuccino pretty much every night--but oddly, I lost the taste for chocolate during the pregnancy. That was a surprise!
My Colon Cleansing Routine During Pregnancy
From the day I found out I was pregnant to the day I delivered, my colon cleansing routine was as shameless as it is when I am not pregnant. But please be advised that colon cleansing in the form of colonics or enemas is ordinarily contraindicated during pregnancy. It is advised only for the few pregnant women who utilize colonics regularly for an extended time prior to becoming pregnant. Even then, colon cleansing must be done with expert care. I had had plenty of experience with colonics during my previous pregnancy, so I felt very secure continuing my routine. I did inform all my caregivers (midwives, back-up doctor, and doula) about my cleansing rituals and dietetic protocol. To my surprise, they were all perfectly comfortable with me doing everything I was doing. My back-up doctor even had a half-empty Organic Avenue green juice on his desk. The times, they are a changin’!
Avoiding Induction with a Post-term Baby
One of the biggest challenges was being post-term. While normal-term pregnancy is 38-42 weeks, in America most doctors want to induce the mother after 40 weeks and insist upon it by 41 weeks. Even if I had planned on giving birth in the birthing center as I had done with my son, they would have insisted I switch to the labor and delivery ward by 41 weeks, and even then I would still have been required to induce. I would have had no chance of a natural birth under those conditions!
By contrast, my midwife was totally relaxed about my term. She delivers many babies at 42 and 43 weeks and they are perfectly normal. Usually, the sonogram dates, conception dates, or ovulation dates are off and the "post-term" baby is actually right on time. I did my research and learned a great deal about this issue. In the end, I took every precaution and had the baby monitored once every 3 to 4 days to ensure my fluid levels were high (this is the best indicator of whether a baby is doing fine after 42 weeks, and my fluids were great) and I paid close attention to baby’s movement (she was my most active baby by far; she was doin' the bunny hop pretty much all the time!). The doctors who evaluated these check-ups would tell me the baby looked perfectly well inside (one told me I’d made too good a home for her) but in the same breath would add if I were their patient, they would induce me that night. I made it through a few of these evaluations, and then the baby finally decided it was her moment.
On the festive Jewish holiday of Purim and during an enormous full moon, Electra made her way at 2:04 a.m. on March 8th. Did she show signs of being post-term? Not at all. She was coated in vernix, which would not have been the case if she'd been post-term. Post-term babies are also very wrinkly, which she was not at all. At just shy of 8 pounds, she wasn't small, but neither was she a gigantic or overripe. Nor had she passed meconium--another hallmark of a post-mature baby. In the end, I know we all just want a healthy baby, but it may be that far too many mothers are being induced, resulting in babies who are not getting all the time they need in utero and taking away their right to their natural moment of birth. Even though I was getting impatient and my husband was getting concerned, I’m glad I had a patient, knowing midwife who kept reminding me my baby would come when she was ready.
My Nursing Diet
As I’ve transitioned to post partum and nursing, my diet is basically a grain-free version of my pregnancy diet. I’m not able to exercise yet, but I have been able to use the sauna again, so I’m starting my day with a great deep infrared sweat and shower to get the chi flowing. Then 32 to 48 ounces of green juice followed by juicy fruits (mostly navel oranges, Anjou pears, and Fuji apples right now, but I’ll be going for spring nectarines and peaches pretty soon!). My favorite nursing dinner is a real milk factory--it’s so simple and delicious, anyone can enjoy it: 10 ounces of baby (or regular organic) spinach, wilted in a bit of water and topped with 3 to 4 ounces of goat feta. It's surprisingly delicious and so clean. You can add a few tablespoons of your favorite marinara sauce if you like. That’s it.
Please let me know if you have any questions I haven't answered. I have lots more to share with you on other subjects--epiphanies and leaps of consciousness that I know you'll find inspiring and helpful as you continue to experience your own leaps--but I wanted to send this out first.
Thank you all once again for your generous love and support. Here's to ushering in the Golden Age together!
*Kassie Anderson, Doula: 917-312-3110
**Miriam Schwartzchild, Midwife: 917-589-9725
I just wanted to add a little addendum to the pregnancy/birth blog per your questions...herewith:
1. My Pre-natal Exercise Routine
I relished my exercise time from the first day to the last day of my pregnancy. It gave me a wonderful sense of strength and energy. While I was careful not to over exert myself, somedays I had to hold myself back because the chi flow was so strong and with my tunes on my playlist I could easily rock out the way I would if I wasn't pregnant. I would drop my kids off at school and head to the gym where I'd jump on the elliptical trainer for 40 minutes.
I rode my bike all summer at the beach but once I got to a certain point (around 5 months pregnant), I realized my balance probably wasn't ideal; add to that the dangers of biking in Manhattan and I realized, sadly, it was time to put my bike into storage until the spring. Since I couldn't rebound either (the verdict is out as to whether rebounding is okay while pregnant but it didn't feel intuitively right to me) and since running also felt intuitively wrong to me (thought I know some runners swear by it during pregnancy), I was left me with non-impact cardio which I would only find at the gym. I hadn't been to a gym in over 12 years so it was awkward at first to return to that environment -- all the people, noise, television screens flashing...I got into the groove and made it fun! I'm happy to report that I'm back on my rebounder now and I'll soon hop back on my beloved bicycle!
While pre-natal yoga and pilates are popular, they didn't appeal to me this time around. Like running and other impact sports, pilates and any exercises that focused on working the core also felt intuitively wrong to me during pregnancy.
2. What became of the placenta?
My Doula, Kassie Anderson, skillfully washed and prepared my placenta immediately following the birth. She brought me placenta and fruit smoothie in bed within a half hour of giving birth and I can affirm first hand that it transformed me -- I was over exerted and pale and, while blissed out from love hormones and holding my baby, I was physically beat from the 20 hour labor. A few big mouthfuls of placenta later (Mmmm -- surprisingly it tasted fine, watery and kind of fruity actually but I know you probably won't beleive me) and bingo, my color and energy were restored!
Kassie placed a portion in the fridge for me to benefit from over the next three days (which I did) and the rest was placed in the freezer. The remainder will be turned into capsules and a tincture by my placenta expert, Lisa Fortin (contact info below) which I can take as needed. Apparently, the tincture is also great for the baby should she be fussy or unwell.
3. Regarding Vaccines
The decision over whether or not to vaccinate your children is a big one, and often brings with it conflicting beliefs among family members. I recommend listening to the interview with Holistic Pediatrician, Dr. Palevsky. You can find the full audio on Life Force Families: http://www.detoxtheworld.com/lifeforcefamilies/parents-pages.php?ID=43
Another great resource is the recent film, "The Greater Good."
4. The Best of the Best of Homebirth Practitioners:
If you are considering homebirth and you live in or around New York City, I HIGHLY recommend my Doula, Midwife and placenta expert. Here are their contact details:
Doula - Kassie Anderson - 917-312-3110
Midwife - Miriam Schwartzchild - 917-589-9725
Placenta Contact - Lisa Fortin - 646-260-5595, www.placentahealingartsnyc.com
We are planning on creating a directory for doulas and midwives and other critical home birth resources. Please stay tuned on Lifeforcefamilies.com.
Once again, thank you all so much for your encouragement, kind words and loving energy. I wish you all every happiness!
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This blog is written as a source of information only. The information contained in this blog should by no means be considered a substitute for the advice of a qualified medical professional, who should always be consulted before beginning any new diet or other health program. The author disclaims any liability for any adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein.