Heather’s Birth Story:
I woke up at 3:00 am on Thursday, September 29th due to contractions. I tried to stay in bed and sleep through the contractions, but by 3:30 am the contractions were too distracting and I was too excited. I got up and started timing my contractions, they were 4 minutes apart, and lasted about 45 seconds, but they were not very intense. At that point, I wouldn’t even say that the contractions were uncomfortable, just noticeable, like when I notice that I am about to get my period. I puttered around the house not knowing what else to do with myself at 4:00 in the morning; I put away dishes, folded the laundry, finished the last of our baby shower thank you notes, and then took a nice long shower. I didn’t want to wake Tom; I knew it was likely going to be the day that we would finally meet Baby Girl, and I needed him to be well rested so he could support me through labor.
6:00 am rolled around and I heard Tom’s alarm go off. He hit the snooze button; at this point my contractions were still consistently 4 minutes apart and had increased slightly in intensity, more like regular period cramps. I decided it was time to notify my manager, Heidi, that I would not be clocking in for work that morning. Next, I called our lead midwife, Melissa. She was excited, even though she sounded a little sleepy, and she told me to call her in a few hours with a status update.
Tom snoozed the alarm a few more times. Every time the alarm went off I resisted the urge to run into the bedroom and jump on the bed to tell him that he would be meeting his daughter soon. However, I knew how important it would be for him to be well rested. Finally, I couldn’t resist anymore, so when the alarm went off again around 6:45 am, I tiptoed into the bedroom and sat down next to him on the bed. I kissed his forehead as he slowly woke up. “I don’t think you should go into work today,” I whispered once his eyes were completely open.
He got out of bed and jumped into the shower. He shaved his neck and trimmed up his beard. “I want to look good for you and Baby Girl,” he said to me sweetly as I walked by the bathroom. Then he put on a pair of jeans and button up shirt, and combed his hair back. By this time, the sun was up; I could tell it was going to be a beautiful, clear, fall day. Tom came out to the kitchen and asked me what I wanted to eat for breakfast. Waffles was the only food that sounded good. Tom remembered that we had a waffle coupon, courtesy of our lovely, former roommates, so we decided that he would go drop off the dogs at doggy daycare and pick up some waffles. He loaded the puppies in the car and off they went. As soon as they pulled out of the driveway, I went straight for the vacuum and vacuumed the whole house. I knew that Tom would disapprove, but it was the last thing on my to-do list!
Tom got back home with my waffle. I slowly munched on it all morning. I continued to live 4 minutes at a time, waiting for the next contraction to begin, breathing through it, then resuming whatever I was doing to pass the time. Throughout early labor, I found that I had to stand for each contraction. Sitting or lying down was too uncomfortable. I spent most of my time walking around the house between contractions, then I would lean up against a tall surface as soon as the contraction began.
By 1:00 pm I was starting to get tired. I only had about 4 hours of sleep under my belt, and was starting to feel the strain of not being able to sit or lay down. We were in continuous communication with our midwives at that point. Our second midwife, Joni, recommended that even though it was uncomfortable, that I try and lay down to rest. Tom sat on the couch and I slowly lowered myself down and was able to find a semi-comfortable position laying across his lap. The sun was warm shining through the sliding glass door as I began drifting off in-between contractions. I was not able to stay in that position for too long, maybe only a half hour or so, but it was enough to help me feel rested.
When I got up, I was feeling determined and figured I would do what I could to get things moving along. I walked up and down the steps of our deck in the sunshine, watched some funny videos with Tom, and tried some different positions on all fours. Around 3:00 pm the intensity of my contractions starting ramping up. As I was having a contraction I felt a dribble of liquid running down my leg. “I think my water just broke,” I told Derrick. We texted Joni and she immediately responded and told us she would be over within the next half hour.
When she arrived, she had me test the liquid using a paper strip which would indicate whether there was any amniotic fluid present. Unfortunately, my water had not broken, it was just a combination of other fluids leaking out of my body. We decided to do a cervical examination. To our delight, I had indeed made progress and was 4-5 centimeters dilated. My morning/afternoon of laboring was not in vain.
We continued laboring at the house. Joni checked Baby Girl’s heart rate during a contraction; she seemed to be tolerating it well. Joni suggested that Tom and I hop in the shower to help alleviate discomfort and increase my oxytocin levels. We stayed in the shower for 3 or 4 contractions before it started getting too hot and humid for me. Once out of the shower, my contractions really started to intensify, but were still about 4 minutes apart and only lasted 50 seconds. The entire time I had been using my breathing techniques, but the intensity of the contractions was starting to make me lose focus. Tom could tell that I was struggling and gently reminded me that it was okay for me to be vocal. I had not realized until that moment that I was holding back, but once he said something, I let it all out. I was no longer actively thinking about what I needed to do; instead I was able to slip into a more primitive and instinctual state of being.
Joni stayed at the house for a while longer, but based on her observations, she did not think I was quite ready to transition to the birthing center. She stepped into the other room with Derrick and they discussed our plan of action. I was becoming less aware of my surroundings at this point, consumed instead by the growing intensity of my contractions. Tom came back to talk with me privately, and asked me if I wanted to go to the birthing center. “What does Joni think?” I remember asking. To my dismay, Tom told me that she thought I wasn’t quite there yet. “But if you are ready to go, we should go,” Tom said to me, an edge of concern in his voice. He could tell how uncomfortable I was. “I can wait a little bit longer,” I replied, trying to put on a brave face.
Joni packed up her things and told us that she would head to the birthing center to help the other midwives prep the room for us. She got in her car and drove away. Minutes after she left, my next contraction started, and the intensity had suddenly increase tenfold. Tom ran to call Joni, and she told us to meet her at the birthing center right away. He walked me to the car and I tried to sit in the front seat, but lowering myself into a seated position only triggered another contraction. “I can’t do this, Tom, I can’t get in the car. I’m not going to make it to the birthing center. The baby is coming now.”
I headed back into the house and started looking around for a place to give birth. All I could think about was how I didn’t want to get fluids all over the living room carpet, but I couldn’t remember the word for tarp, so I went searching for it myself. In the meantime, Tom called Joni to let her know that we were not going to the birthing center. He ran back into the living room and threw pillows on the ground for me, and tried to help me get into a comfortable position. Joni arrived back at the house within 15 minutes. My water still had not broken, so Joni insisted that we do one more pelvic examination. Laying down on the couch for that examination was one of the most difficult things I had ever been asked to do; the pressure on my rectum was so intense. Once the exam was over, Joni assured me that the baby was not coming out yet, but it was definitely time to go to the birthing center.
My sister, Kaitlin had just arrived. Tom was frantically running around the house, making sure we had everything we needed while Joni and Kaitlin tried to get me out to the garage and into the car again. Kaitlin tried to help me put my shoes on, but I insisted that I did not need them. I was about 5 steps into the garage when my next contraction began. I leaned my head against the tool shelf and within a matter of seconds, my water broke. It was unmistakable, it felt like a water balloon popped inside of me. Tom had moved the baby car seat from the backseat so that I could crawl into the back on all fours. I crawled in as far as I could before the next contraction began, but it wasn’t far enough to close the door. After that contraction passed, Joni encouraged me to scoot in just a little bit further. I was finally able to get in far enough. Joni jumped in the backseat with me, Tom started the car, and off we went.
As I was contracting in the car, I started to feel the pressure of Baby Girl’s head pushing down. “Do you feel a burning sensation, Jackie?” Joni asked me right after my contraction stopped. “Yes,” I responded. The drive was all a blur, but I could tell that we were close to the birthing center when I caught a whiff of Fran’s bakery; at that point I felt reassured that I was going to make it.
We pulled up to the birthing center and I remember feeling overjoyed when our lead midwife, Melissa, opened the door and gently guided me out of the car. I had to stop and lean up against the back of a parked van while I breathed through another contraction. Finally, supported by Tom and our third midwife, Allegra, I waddled up the steps, entered the birthing suite, undressed and climbed straight into the birthing tub.
Floating in the birthing tub was the most natural thing. The pressure on my lower back and rectum was still there, but it was removed enough that I could focus on breathing Baby Girl down. Melissa brought me a cool rag for my forehead and soothed me with her soft, encouraging words. Each contraction brought on an intense surge of pressure, and as I was breathing down, I could feel Baby Girl making her way out. For the first few contractions in the birthing tub, I would stop breathing down when the contraction ended, but by the 4th or 5th contraction I knew that I would have to continue breathing down once the contraction had stopped in order to keep the momentum going. I could feel the top of Baby Girl’s head as I reached down into the water. At that point, Allegra positioned Tom in front of me so he could catch Baby Girl. One more contraction and her head came out. I continued breathing down, with a long forceful breath. Finally the next contraction started and Allegra guided Tom’s hands into the water and swiftly twisted Baby Girl out the rest of the way. Tom pulled her out of the water and placed her immediately on my chest, tears in his eyes, laughing with joy.
“Hi, hi, hi,” was the only thing I could say. I was completely smitten by this miraculous, perfectly pink, tiny little baby laying on my chest. I was overwhelmed with love for this child; I was also incredibly in love with my husband, and in awe of the little family we had created.
Baby girl was born at 7:47 pm on Thursday, September 29th. She weighed 7 lbs 12.5 oz and was 20.5 in long. From start to finish my labor only lasted 17 hours. Lilah was born only 20 minutes after we arrived at the birthing center. Our team of midwives was amazing, and Tom exceeded all expectations as a birthing partner. The day I became a mother was by far the most amazing day of my life thus far.
Here’s a great, simple explanation of what the HypnoBirthing class series is all about. Check it out!
What is HypnoBirthing Class?
Is Internal Pelvic Therapy for you?
By: Lori Reising, CHT, LMT, Myofascial Release Therapist
You are probably thinking about how uncomfortable that sounds about right now. It is a typical reaction to the thought of this direct therapy. But not mine…anymore. I admit I was nervous and wondering what to expect before I received treatment. A fear of the unknown, if you will. While completing my certification in Internal Pelvic Therapy with John F. Barnes, PT, I was fortunate enough to receive the therapy for four consecutive days. Prior to this, I had been in extreme low back and hip pain triggered by a miscarriage three years earlier. There were many days I could not even stand on both legs. I had tried external Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and Chiropractic with temporary results. Though I truly believe in every one of these therapies and think a comprehensive holistic approach is most beneficial, it was obvious I needed something more. On the third day of the course, during an internal piriformis release my low back spontaneously adjusted while I was lying on the table. That was one of the most satisfying adjustments I had ever felt. Within two days my pain was gone! I have been standing on my own two legs ever since. I experienced first-hand the kind of powerful results working with the pelvic floor internally produces.
The fascial system is three-dimensional connective tissue that is joined to every structure in our body. Over time that system can twist and tie up, resulting in a constriction in the flow of blood, lymph and nerves. It can also produce referral pain that begins in one area of the body, but manifests elsewhere. This seemingly minor glitch can produce major pain and dysfunction, often undetectable and difficult to treat. It is the fascial system that we are working with, internally and externally, in the pelvis. Our pelvis is a central part of our body, producing function and movement. Over time posture, injuries, childbirth and trauma can produce trigger points and tightness in the fascial system, which eventually reach out and pull on various structures of our body. This can also affect our internal organ function, especially the bladder and reproductive system. For example, we all fall on our tailbones. This injury can pull on the surrounding fascia as the sacrum gets stuck in a new imbalanced position. As the tightening persists a person may begin to experience headaches or even migraines from the fascia eventually pulling all the way up the spine into the cranium. Not to mention that the tailbone, or sacrum, is a key component in the body’s craniosacral rhythm. This type of injury may also affect childbirth. If the sacrum is moved forward in the body, it may slow or even stall labor as the baby works to move past it in his/her descent. What could Internal Pelvic Therapy do? It can access the sacrum more directly than any external release. Through a gentle, sustained release the sacrum is pulled out and guided back to it’s original balanced position. The sustained release allows the fascial system to gently unwind while regaining it’s fluidity and releasing muscles, nerves, organs and osseous structures.
Now that we’ve established the power of our fascial system and how instrumental our pelvis is in everything we do, you can begin to imagine how imbalance and tightness might produce a wide array of symptoms. Below is a list of some possibilities.
-Pelvic Floor Pain and Dysfunction
-Painful Scars, C-Section Scars
-Urinary Incontinence, Urgency and/or Frequency
-Low Back Pain
If you are experiencing anything included on this list, I urge you to explore if Internal Pelvic Therapy is for you. It can save you from unnecessary tests and even surgery, months or years of living with pain and future imbalances that may just be beginning to take hold. Remember, it has taken a period of time for the fascia to tighten to the point of producing symptoms and dysfunction so it may take time to unwind it. This is why it is best to receive several treatments in a row. It works against letting the body go back to its imbalanced position by reinforcing the previous treatment results. We will all continue to use our pelvis and put it in compromising positions or postures, which is why I also recommend a maintenance routine. That may be monthly, bi-yearly or even yearly. It will depend on your response to the treatment and your level of self-care. Practicing Kegel exercises and using a foam roller at home will continue to improve on the results you obtain from the treatment.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above it may be worth your quality of life to see what Internal Pelvic Therapy could do for you. There are many qualified therapists, including myself, who are happy to have an initial consultation in person or over the phone to answer any questions or concerns you might have.
Lori Reising has been a bodyworker for over 16 years as an advanced Myofascial Release Practitioner, is a women’s health enthusiast, has her certificate in Transpersonal Hypnotherapy and offers HypnoBirthing Childbirth Education Classes.
Check out this fantastic podcast! Episode #30 is a wonderful overview of HypnoBirthing® Childbirth Education class.
Fear Free Childbirth with Alexia Leachman
HypnoBirthing® Class coming up!
Begins Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
6:30-9:00 pm. 5 Week Series
Location: Zenana Day Spa and Wellness Center
Class information: Marie Mongan HypnoBirthing® Childbirth Education classes
Contact Lori: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have You Treated Your Headaches Lately?
Lori S. Reising, BA, LMT
Headaches, what a pain! I mean that in the most literal sense. Some headaches resurface monthly, weekly and even daily. They intrude on our activities and frequently send us to bed. There can be underlying causes for headaches. For this reason, it is always good to consult your family ND or MD to see if you may need further testing. Though the truth of the matter is that no matter what the cause, they are debilitating and decrease our quality of life. It can seem overwhelming to find the root since our bodies are very complicated and even the tiniest glitch can throw everything off, but if you suffer from headaches you know it is worth the effort.
Two common causes of frequent headaches in women are hormonal imbalance and tension. Though men do not usually experience the hormonal component they too are targets of tension headaches. Let’s face it, in our fast-paced work-focused society who has time to undo all the stress and tension we accumulate daily? By the time we take a vacation or get one massage the tightness has built on itself for months and sometimes years. It’s going to take dedication to undo the damage that you have dedicated yourself to building in your shoulders, neck and head.
Let’s talk about the damage. It begins with holding your shoulders (this is the typical fight or flight response to stress, it’s our bodies preparing for battle). Well, it takes muscles to keep those shoulders up. The longer we hold, the tighter they get. Over time the tension spreads, typically into our cervical region. We have several fascial planes throughout our body. This is an area where our connective tissue or fascia spreads in horizontal and vertical directions. Directly under the occipital bone at the base of the head is a fascial plane in the sub-occipital region. (Are you feeling the pain as I describe the exact place most of your tension headaches begin?) As the tissue tightens it pulls on a connective tissue sheath that encompasses the cranium called the aponeurosis. Yes, this is what causes the bonus pain in your forehead. Now if you can imagine all this tissue tightening down on your cranium you can understand why your cranial bones get stuck. The final result is an interruption in your craniosacral rhythm as well as a cerebrospinal fluid blockage at the sub-occipital fascial plane. And there you have it, your persistent tension headaches in a nutshell.
Obviously the knots and tension in our shoulders come from much more than just holding them, but this is a major reflex to stress. Something you should be aware of so that you can break the pattern. Let your shoulders down! Take a deep breath and as you breathe out drop your shoulders. You should feel your muscles release them as they drop. This takes practice. The more you practice, the more it will become instinctual. It’s your best personal weapon against the stress monster.
Next change your view of massage therapy as a ‘treat’. Massage therapy is some of the best preventative medicine we have at our fingertips. Disease comes from not just one but several environmental factors. Living in fight or flight mode for extended periods of time leaves a nice little window open for disease to take over, as well as produce some massive, persistent headaches. Massage begins to relax those tight muscles and increase circulation where it has been absent. Circulation is good. All of the components that heal our bodies are transported through our blood. If there is no blood supply to an area it is left susceptible to poor health and injury. Massage also increases the oxygen supply to our blood and increases immunity. It directly affects and enhances our fluidity. We are fluid beings. Fluid is essential to health.
Now try some Myofascial Release (MFR). It is a gentle but powerful therapy to release connective tissue. Next time you receive a treatment with MFR let yourself sink into your body and feel the tissue literally melt as it returns to a fluid state. This result also frees pinched nerves, tendons and ligaments.
Let’s top this treatment off with some nice gentle Craniosacral Therapy to nudge those cranial bones back in motion now that our muscles and connective tissue have softened. Our cranium has it’s own rhythm, which acts as a pump to the cerebrospinal fluid in our central nervous system. Once we unstick our cranium this fluid can get back to a healthy flow.
And for the finale…no more tension headaches!
This is a process just like it was a process to get your body in this state. Occasionally one session does the trick. Hooray for that, but keep in mind that every person’s body is unique so every treatment is unique. It may take some dedication on your part to return your body to a relaxed and fluid state. I am here to help you through the process and back to pain-free living! This is a partnership. As we return your body to balance, you must change the habits that lead it astray. A few behaviors to begin changing immediately include dropping your shoulders (as I said earlier), making sure your computer and chair height match (try not to be looking up or down at your computer, check in and see if your shoulder is relaxed when using the mouse or typing) and start moving (try some low impact exercises that increase your heart rate and improve your circulation).
As a headache sufferer myself I have learned techniques to help others out of that debilitating pain. If there is not an underlying condition causing your headaches, you may be freed with the treatment I have described in this article. Training personally with the founder of Myofascial Release as well as spending the past nine years gaining experience in several types of pain treatment have given me the honor of helping many people back to fluidity. It would be my pleasure to partner up with you, help you take your life back and get rid of the headache monster for good!