Monday, January 30, 2012

Doulas and Epidurals

As a Birth Doula, I have encountered many questions about whether or not a woman should hire a doula to support her in her birth if she plans to receive an epidural analgesia for pain relief. This is a very good question, and I'd like to offer some information that might help you make that decision if you're wondering the same thing!

The first thing to remember is that a doula's job is to offer physical, emotional and informational support to a woman before, during, and just after birth. Every woman giving birth needs support and encouragement, regardless of her location (home, hospital or birth center), or choices of pain relief during childbirth. Many make an incorrect assumption that doulas only serve women seeking natural and unmedicated births; in fact, doulas serve all women and are especially helpful when epidurals and other interventions are needed.

Even if your pain is relieved by your epidural, a doula's emotional support for you and your partner is unmatched. She still never leaves your side, and is available for every need you have.

doula support with an epidural, tulsa doula, doulas

She can bring a level of calmness to the room that only comes from training, experience and a compassion unique to these highly skilled professionals.

doula support with epidural

When it comes to epidurals, there is a myth that a woman will simply not feel any pain. Consequently, one may assume she won't need any support if she isn't in any kind of pain. While an epidural is usually very effective at relieving pain, many women still feel pressure or some level of discomfort during the birth process. It's also wise to consider the time leading up to the point of receiving the epidural - whether labor moves more quickly than expected, or the anesthesiologist takes longer to administer the medication, you may have a period of time where no medical pain relief is available to you. Once administered, it takes about 20 minutes for the medication to take effect and be adjusted properly. In all that time, you may experience both pain and fear, and are required to be still in bed, and a trained and experienced doula who can comfort both you and your partner is indespensible.

Then there are women who have such fast moving labors that by the time they reach the hospital, it is time to push and the time required to administer the epidural simply is not available. This has happened to a dear friend of mine TWICE! Though it was a blessing to have labor progress quickly, she certainly had not prepared for the physical and emotional experience she encountered, and would have greatly benefited from a doula's support!

Epidurals effect every patient differently as well. Some women do not receive the amount of pain relief they expected, whether too much or not enough, while others feel extremely uncomfortable with a feeling of numbness. While less common, it is possible for the epidural to offer only partial, patchy, or one-sided pain relief. Doulas are there to help you feel calm no matter the situation, and are well equipped with alternative methods of pain relief and comfort measures for the duration of your labor experience. This is the main reason I always encourage my clients to prepare for a natural childbirth as a way of backing up any other plan. This way, they have thought about and practiced a variety of comfort measures to put in their "toolbox" in order to prepare for any outcome during the birth process!

Regardless of your choice of pain relief, two things that never change about labor are movement and gravity. Changing positions often and moving through your available space utilizes gravity and helps change the shape of the pelvis to encourage fetal descent and progress labor. If you do opt for an epidural, continuous electronic fetal monitoring is necessary and usually restricts you to your bed. A trained birth doula can assist you with creative ways to change positions and still utilize gravity to make sure labor continues to progress instead of stalling.

Lastly, all women giving birth, unless you require a cesarean section, have to push that baby out at some point! Your labor and delivery nurses and doctor are usually very effective in coaching you to push, but a doula is yet another layer of support. She will have been with you continuously throughout the labor experience whereas nurses come and go, have shift changes, and your doctor will likely arrive only when it's "game time." You will have developed a rhythm with your doula and she will know the best and most effective ways to encourage you, and because you've discussed your needs and wishes with her, she will be familiar with those as well. Doulas are well trained in the anatomy of childbirth and know effective and ineffective ways of pushing. Epidurals often decrease the urge to push and can make it difficult for women to push spontaneously and effectively. Doulas have the experience necessary to help women overcome this pitfall and successfully birth their babies, reducing the need for instrumental and cesarean deliveries.

Benefits of having a doula accompany you at your birth, as referenced in numerous clinical studies, include the following:
  • shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduction in negative feelings about the childbirth experience
  • reduction in the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
  • reduction in requests for pain medication and/or epidurals
As you continue your journey of pregnancy and anticipation of the birth of your baby, please consider these other wonderful resources as you gain information and make plans!

At Honeybee Mama, I want to show mothers they don't have to be afraid of childbirth and that they can have the birth experience they truly desire. I'm committed to getting you the tools and resources you need to make informed decisions about your birth. If you want to know more about your options, contact me or schedule your first conversation today!

More pregnancy info!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Morning in the Hive

What is it about Saturday mornings that's so special? It could be sleeping in, if that were something that occurred in our home, but it's not. Marc had to leave about 6:45 to work this morning (bummer), and the kids were awake before he left.

Maybe it's cousins that spend the night, and cartoons,

or eleven-year-olds that hide in their beds pretending to sleep to avoid the noise of the littles who are not-so-asleep,

or the trash leftover from last night, because on Fridays we usually leave the dinner mess because we feel lazy.

I think it has something to do with kids requesting s'mores pancakes. I've never made "s'mores" pancakes, but I think I can work something out!

Carter doesn't want anything to do with s'mores pancakes, though. He likes 'em good and plain!

Chocolate chips and marshmallows combine to make some deliciously oozing pancakes! No graham crackers, but I think we'll live without them!

Alec didn't want marshmallows, but he did want chocolate chips.

Sometimes, on Saturday mornings, I sneak a little something extra into my coffee.

And because everything is better with bacon (including turkey sausage), I went ahead and threw some in the pan. What's a Saturday morning without bacon?!

And because Corrinne isn't really a fan of pancakes at all, I threw some biscuits in the oven for her!

Happy Campers!

And while they munch, I get to sip on my wait for Pioneer Woman to com on the Food Network!

How are you spending your Saturday morning?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spreading Some Small Business Love

So, I've been planning all kinds of fun activities to do with the kids to share some great ideas for fun things to do around Tulsa on my Tulsa Kids blog, and as fate would have it, things haven't gone as planned!

One of my little guys was sent home with a terrible cough yesterday morning, so I had to cancel a play date I'd planned with a few other moms at Bouncy Barn's new location in Broken Arrow. Don't worry, it's been rescheduled for next Monday, so you can look forward to my review!

With sick man in tow, I needed to get a few errands done, and since I was in the neighborhood I thought I'd stop by Sage Culinary Studio to check out hours and get some info on classes. It's something I've wanted to do with the kids and knew it would be a great thing to share with my readers. I was SO SAD to arrive and see a "Closed" sign in the window along with a letter from the owner saying that due to the financial toll on her business she's had to shut down immediately.

I thought the only right thing to do was to hurry out and support a small business! One of my favorite places to shop for gifts and treats is On the Corner on Main Street in Broken Arrow. It's a store filled with shops of different local vendors, so it's really lots of local businesses all in one!

In my opinion, the best sweets in town come from Sweet Sherry Pies, who made our wedding cupcakes. She sells her cupcakes at On the Corner, and I seriously have to hold myself back from supporting her business too much! Yesterday there were Butterfinger and Red Velvet cupcakes. If you like OTC's page on facebook, you'll see daily announcements of what kind of cupcakes are available!!

Are you familiar with Jill Solomon's photography? She has a studio right in the store!

Have you heard of Piggies & Paws? So genius. I attended a P&P party a couple of years ago and came away with some treasured pieces of artwork with my little's hand and foot prints! You must check them out.

Look at Tweet Baby Design's adorable designs. I know some boys that will love those adorable dinosaur pillows on their beds! She makes a brilliant chomping necklace that is great for teething littles.

I failed to catch who made this piece, but I love it. I think surely I could magically make some space appear in my home for this guy. Hmmm, maybe I should check with my husband first.

There are stores with accessories and party planners too!

Check out these sweet pacifier clips from Spiffy Monkey! She also makes sweet custom baby bedding and other gifts.

I'm totally in love with Fig's store too. I think I might be considered fashionable if I just follow her lead and buy her stuff! She has a mustache pillow that absolutely cracks me up!

On the Corner also sells one of my favorite products. Maybe I shouldn't be telling you about it, because the whole idea is that "No one else will ever know..." but it's Poo-Pourri. My dad bought me some a few years back, probably as a gag gift, and it has turned out to be a staple I will FOREVER keep in our hallway guest restroom!

After ooh-ing and ahh-ing at pretty much everything in the store, I found a cute little camo crayon wrap for the littles from The Laughy Giraffy, picked out our cupcakes and headed to the check out.

I'm a sucker for cute wrapping too. It wasn't even a special occasion!

Those cupcakes were amazing (as usual), and you know what? Supporting a small business is totally worth cheating on your diet!

Love and Honey,

{my moment}

{my moment}
A moment captured from the week that captured my heart.
A weekly ritual inspired by Soulemama.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comment!
Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

haiku wednesday

can't shake this dumb cough
loving lemon zinger tea
homemade chicken soup

Book Report: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

My fascination with Marilyn Monroe started in the dining room of a Red Robin restaurant here in Tulsa. As I was on my way to the ladies room, a poster of Marilyn's famous white swimsuit photos stopped me dead in my tracks.

She captivated me. What struck me is that the images were untouched. Several of the pictures clearly show bulges of her thigh beneath her suit, and her perfectly un-flat tummy. No airbrushing. And she is not a waif. She is curvy, with hips, thighs, and a waist. And her captivating smile.

I brought Marc over to see the poster, and do you know what he said? He said, "You know who that looks like, don't you?" I stared at him blankly. He then covered the face of one of the pictures with his hand, looked at me questioningly, then pointed to my own body. "Babe, you have a gorgeous hourglass figure just like her!"

Like most women, I feel intimidated seeing the seemingly perfect images of celebrities on magazines. Impossibly flat stomachs with make believe belly buttons (seriously, they air brush those in - did you know that?), surgically and artistically altered breasts, and erased blemishes and wrinkles all combine to make me feel bad about myself. I was awestruck at this icon who was beauty incarnate, with no help from anyone's imagination or computer.

Could it be true that MY body is just as beautiful as hers? Could yours? I think so. I think to break the hold modern fashion and beauty images have on our confidence (or lack thereof), we can turn to images of the past, to a time when women's bodies were appreciated as they are: curvy, soft, and full of life.

But I digress, and should get onto the book report part of this book report! We left Red Robin that day and went straight to Barnes and Noble to find me a biography of Ms. Monroe to dig into. I was officially hooked. I had to know more about this woman who was so captivating, just as she was. I scoured the back covers and introductions to maaaannnnny biographies and landed on this one:

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli
What sealed the deal on this one is that it's one of the newer biographies available and goes more in depth about Marilyn's private life, and what was going on behind the scenes of her public acting and modeling life. In particular it goes in depth into her history with mental illness and desperate drug use. There are also several things unique about the research for this book, including the recent release of FBI files on her from the days of J. Edgar Hoover's infamous investigations.

Taraborrelli puts to rest many rumors and incorrect reporting over the years about her relationship with the Kennedy brothers, and even the night of her tragic death. Her life truly was one of tragic beauty filled with both vulnerability and hope.

It was LONG (476 pages, before the appendices), but a read that was well worth the work and time invested. It even has 24 pages of rare photos, several from the author's personal collection, many of which have never been published.

I feel like I know Marilyn. I feel like she's a friend of mine, or maybe like I knew her at another time in my life. Learning about her has inspired me in many different ways. Though she was troubled, beginning her life as an orphan and ending it struggling with a variety of mental disorders and drug abuse, she was known and loved for her drive, tenacity, and love affair with the American public. She was accessible, waving at blue collar men who whistled at her on the street, and allowing the most common of citizens to snap pictures of her at events. The men she married were not boldly attractive like the men who shared the screen with her, but were rather seen as "every day" men. In a way she was like all of the rest of us, and never really seemed to fit in with the Hollywood scene at the time. In the end, her home was no bigger than the average American, and modestly furnished.

I'll leave the rest for you to find in the book, and do hope you'll read it. The author was as meticulous in his research as he was in his writing. The book is informative, without being drab or lecture like. You won't be able to put it down...unless your life is as busy as mine and it takes you as long as it took me to finish. Trust me, though, I never put it down because it was boring!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Exercise in Pregnancy

Happy Mama Monday, friends! Today I'm writing about a subject that is very important to any expectant mama: Exercise!

Many expectant mothers have questions about exercise, often a result of fear. It is understandable and expected that a woman would want to protect her growing baby, and as a result women often fear harming their baby with the strenuous, jumpy, or jerky movements associated with exercise. Add to that fear the intense fatigue that accompanies pregnancy, and the notion of exercise can quickly fall by the wayside! Always, always consult your physician first, but generally, if you are experiencing a normal pregnancy without any high risk factors, you should be able to engage in low impact activities to stay healthy and prepare for birth.

Here's the deal: I want to emphasise that exercise in pregnancy is less about curbing weight gain and has so much more to do with keeping you healthy and to prepare you for childbirth. Childbirth is referred to as labor for a reason; it's work! Think of it this way, if you knew that you had been signed up to run a marathon nine months from now, and had no way of getting out of it, wouldn't you put some thought into training for it? I bet you would!

Whether or not you plan to receive medical pain relief through narcotics or an epidural, your body still has a marathon to run in order to bring your newborn into this world. Making sure to take care of your body through nutrition and exercise is vital to ensuring a safe, healthy, and memorial birth experience.

What to Expect When You're Expecting includes an informative section on exercise in the "Fifth Month" chapter. The authors emphasise four kinds of exercise that are important to incorporate into your prenatal routine: aerobics, calisthenics specifically designed for pregnancy, relaxation techniques, and pelvic toning (Eisenburg et al, p 190). Let's take a brief look at each of them in detail.

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises are those that increase the flow of oxygen into your lungs, muscles and bloodstream. Activities that do this include walking, jogging, swimming, or other activities that raise your heart rate and speed up your breathing. While you should always check with your doctor before engaging in any amount of exercise during pregnancy, a good rule of thumb for aerobics is anything that gets your heart rate up for 20-30 minutes every day. You should be breathing more heavily than usual, but not gasping for air or straining to breathe in any way. The benefits of aerobic exercise include improved circulation, increased oxygen and nutrients in your muscles (good for you and baby!), increased muscle tone and strength (you need those muscles to birth your baby!), and it can help you control blood sugar levels and burn calories. Also, the better your body is working as a result of good nutrition and adequate exercise, the better you'll feel and have a better chance of relieving many of the discomforts of pregnancy and childbirth!

To incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily routine, choose activities you enjoy. Do not use this time in your life to begin training for a triathlon, but know that anything you have been doing regularly up until conception you can continue to do as long as it is comfortable to you. Jogging, running, weight lifting, aerobics or dance classes are all safe as long as they do not cause too much strain and as long as they are activities your body is already accustomed to. If you regularly engage in yoga or Pilates, please seek out instructors who offer these classes specifically for pregnant women. In those cases, there are specific considerations that need to be made. Avoid contact sports, as falls and strikes can be detrimental to your growing baby. I really enjoyed the Walk Away the Pounds workouts with Leslie Sansone during my pregnancies. You can choose from 10, 20, and 30 minute walks which incorporate light weights and plyometrics which work your thighs and abs! Swimming is also great because it's easy on your joints and facilitates the forward position conducive to the ideal fetal position for birth (head down, face towards mom's back).


Calisthenics are another type of aerobic exercise that incorporate movements that increase both flexibility and strength. Kicking, stretching, abdominal exercises, and push ups are just a few exercises that fall into this category. Some exercises may be too strenuous for pregnancy, but most can be modified and are still important to maintain as you anticipate the birth of your baby. For example, while crunches and sit-ups aren't recommended, you can still exercise and keep your ab muscles strong by sitting on a birth ball and doing alternating knee lifts, as well as standing knee lifts and kicks. Walk Away the Pounds videos incorporate these kinds of low impact ab training exercises! You can also modify push ups by standing and pushing up against a wall. Find a good list of safe calisthenics for pregnancy to decide what to include in your workouts.

Relaxation Techniques

Some women think they don't need to worry about relaxing until they're in labor; however, learning and practicing relaxation techniques is helpful to your mind and body while you are expecting as well as while you labor to meet your baby for the first time! There's no question that relieving stress for your mind and body improves your health, sleep, and overall demeanor. Find a time daily that you can be alone and resting, either lying down in bed or reclining (on your left side, not your back), while you listen to soothing music, pray, or meditate for a half hour or so - long enough that you feel completely relaxed. Whatever you do during this time, make sure focus on your breathing by taking long, slow and deep breaths, as well as try to relax every muscle in your body. For some people, it's helpful to make a mental checklist or use guided relaxation to relax everything from head to toe. Your partner can help you by reminding you, "Relax your forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, chin, neck, shoulders, and so on."

It's also a good time to begin creating a music playlist for labor, if music is something that helps you relax and focus on your breathing. This is extremely helpful if you already have children or a hectic home; you can just plug your earphones into your ipod and melt away into your tunes! You may also enjoy showers, baths, or massages by someone specially trained to work with pregnant women. Try treating yourself to a manicure and pedicure too, since it gets a little difficult to reach those toes later on in pregnancy!

Pelvic Toning

Pelvic toning happens to a certain extent through other forms of exercise, but there are some specific exercises that you should really focus on during pregnancy for a few different reasons. Keeping your pelvic muscles, abs, and lower back strong will help alleviate strain during pregnancy and keep your body fit enough to handle the stress of labor. Also, exercising a group of muscles called Kegels keeps your pelvic floor strong, which supports your uterus during pregnancy, helps to make contractions effective during labor (and decrease need for episiotomy), and lessen the possibility of incontinence problems after you give birth!

Pelvic tilts or pelvic rocks (lying on back until fourth month, and standing or on hands and knees thereafter) are the number one way to keep your pelvis toned during pregnancy. Begin with your pelvis in a resting position (usually slightly curved backwards with the curve of your lower back), and slowly bring your hips and buttocks forward, imagining a "c" shaped curve toward your belly button. Try to hold for 5-10 seconds, then release, and repeat as many times as you can in a sitting. Shoot for 30-60 a day, splitting between a session in the morning when you wake up and in the evening before you go to bed. It's a great way to kick off your relaxation time!

Kegel exercises are specifically for toning the pelvic floor, and are accomplished by contracting the muscles in your vagina and buttocks. An easy way to access them is to use the same muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine when using the restroom. Men can exercise these muscles too, so get daddy to do them too! You might feel less silly about the exercises knowing your partner is doing them throughout the day along with you. Squeeze and hold the muscles for a beat or two, and repeat 10-30 times, several times a day. To remember to do them, set yourself a goal to do ten each time you come to a stop light, eat a meal, or while brushing your teeth or watching TV. These are important muscles to keep healthy for all women, not just mothers. Keeping your Kegel muscles strong will lessen problems with incontinence as you age (and after you give birth) and will also improve satisfaction during intimacy!

Stay fit and take care of those babies with these great online resources:
Love and Honey,

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    {my moment}

    {my moment}
    A moment captured from the week that captured my heart.
    A weekly ritual inspired by Soulemama.

    If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comment.
    Happy Weekend, Lovies!

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    haiku wednesday

    ballet yesterday.
    apparently i have calves,
    didn't know it. ouch!

    Monday, January 16, 2012


    Tonight, I took the little bees on a promised trek to the playground at their school. The school is within walking distance of our home, about 8-10 minutes away.

    We had just enough time before the sun set and before dinner time, and it was such a beautiful night I couldn't think of a better way to end our day - with a little fresh air and exercise!

    This simple walk always seems like an adventure. The boys both wanted to bring Hippo (aka Mr. Momo) and Madison (who was my teddy bear as a child) along with us. I'd told them if they took good naps we could go; they both emerged from their room with their animals saying they'd had good naps too!

    Alec invented his own hippo sling!

    Somehow, I missed Aidan learning how to swing by himself. He must have learned it this year in school. He even got up into the swing and took off all on his own! They get so big, so fast.

    My little guy still needs a little help.

    Watching them swing takes me back to childhood. Even as a sixth grader, I would rush straight to the swing at recess and swing until that whistle blew.

    There's a freedom and a magic on the swingset found nowhere else on earth.

    You can also find it balancing on a cement wall against the backdrop of a breathtaking sunset.

    And hanging upside down.

    And in chatting with your bear friend about what he wants to play next.


    Time to go. We always get one last trip down the slide before we go. Bears welcome.

    Hippos, too.

    And the walk home.

    As they march on fearlessly, far from my hands, I'm reminded again how they'll never be this little (which isn't feeling so little these days) again.

    Love and Honey,

    Find me at Tulsa Family Doulas

    Join me at the 2015 SMTULSA Conference!

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