Delmarva Birth Stories: The Birth of Nellie

It’s been a while since we’ve shared a Delmarva Community Birth Story! I love love love this family and their story! I especially love waking up to instagram DMs with birth announcement news, which has happened a few times and is just the perfect start to a good day! If you live/birth on Delmarva and would like to share your story, we would LOVE that! ALL birth stories are worthy of sharing—vaginal, cesarean, induction, unmedicated, epidural, hospital, home, birth center, etc!!!! You do not need to be a THRIVE client or class participant to share! Email me at [email protected] and we will chat <3 Now here’s the birth of baby Nellie, told by her strong and brave mama, Jena.


I was advised to schedule an induction because I had gestational diabetes (diet controlled). My induction date was set for 6 days after my due date. I didn’t want to be induced, but I didn’t want to go against medical advice. We went fishing Wednesday evening, the night before my induction was scheduled (maybe not advised to induce labor but we thought we would give it a try).

When we got home from fishing, I was having contractions and was really hoping they would pick up throughout the night. They did not.


We got to the hospital at 7am. They checked me when I got there and I was 2-3 cm dilated. I told the nurse that I was trying to labor as naturally as possible and she was so supportive from the beginning. She brought me an exercise ball and a wireless monitor to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and contractions.

The midwife suggested Cytotec to help ripen my cervix because I was already dilated. They gave me two doses, which took 8 hours. I was hooked up to the wireless monitor so I could move around. I spent most of the time bouncing on the ball, pacing, while my husband binged watched a Netflix series. I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they never once told me I couldn’t eat after any point.

After the 8 hours on Cytotec, my contractions were stronger, but the nurse said they were in an irregular pattern. The midwife did not want to use Pitocin, so she just recommended we wait to see if my body picked up with the contractions, which they did. The wireless monitor was having battery issues and the nurse was getting frustrated with it. She then said we could take it off because I was not on any medication and they would intermittently check me and baby’s vitals.

Then they manually broke my water around 9:30pm, but offered to do it sooner. I opted to wait and see if my body would continue to progress on its own. The contractions kept up but were still irregular, according to the nurse (not very long, but three in a row then a break). At 1am they checked me and I was around 6cm.

At like 3am I was crying and begging Brian to get the nurses and an epidural. I was in a dark place having super intense contractions, like 3 in a row with no recovery. I couldn’t rest. Every position I got in besides standing would cramp my stomach or bring on a contraction. I hadn’t slept at all and didn’t know how long I could go without sleeping and then potentially have to push for a while. I spent most of the time on the toilet or standing up pacing and rocking. At one point, I was sitting on the toilet throwing up into the biohazard trash can. I had read that sometimes women vomit when they are close, so I was really hoping that was the case.

I felt like if they checked me and I hadn’t made much more progress, I would be mentally defeated. I couldn’t rest in any position, and in 2 hours, I would have been awake for 24 hours. I did not want to be exhausted from no rest when it was time to push. Brian went out into the nurse’s station and asked them if we could discuss pain medication. They told him that it would take 45 minutes to get it because the anesthesiologist was on call. The nurses came into the bathroom where I was on the toilet. They checked me and said I was 8.5-9cm and that I didn't need an epidural because it would regress me. I thought to myself, and probably outloud, “Well, I am not going through this again,” and I decided against an epidural. They offered me other pain medication.

Brian came into the bathroom and asked the nurses to leave for a minute and he just held my head close to his and he comforted me and told me I could do it. The nurses kept saying that I needed to get to the bed because I was still hovering over the toilet. 

I felt like I needed to push so they helped me get to the bed. The nurse checked me one more time and I was 9.5cm. She kept her fingers in on the next contraction and helped the cervix get to 10cm. I rolled from my back to all fours with my upper body over the back of the bed in the incline position. Brian was up near my head holding my hand and my face. I began pushing very soon after that. It felt like 10 minutes to me but Brian said it was about 45 minutes. And then she was here!

I rolled over to my back and they put her on my chest. I could not believe that she was inside of me! She looked so long! She curled up on my chest and the nurse encouraged me to breastfeed her. I swear she climbed right up to my breast. It was so amazing to me that she knew what to do.

Looking back, the Natural Childbirth class from Thrive was so informative to my husband and me. He knew how to support me. We knew what to expect in the labor stages. I knew what to ask for in a birth plan (but didn’t even need to ask because the Birthing Center at Easton Memorial Hospital automatically did everything that I wished for). I knew what to do to get through the stages of labor without pain medication, even though I was in the dark moment at 3am. I knew the risks and rewards for pain medication. My husband knew how to relieve pressure and support me during the pushing stage. My husband also knew what NOT to do...

Maria answered my questions after the class via email and social media. She is the best! I cannot recommend the class enough!!!!!!!

…Omg, I forgot to include this in my story- when Tiana {midwife} asked Brian if he was ready to cut the cord, he said yes and whipped out a pocket knife! I was mortified and the midwives eyes were huge! He just started laughing and said, “gotcha!” Gosh, she probably thinks we are such rednecks....


7 Essential Questions to Ask Your Partner in Pregnancy

Whether we like to admit it or not, being new parents will bring your relationship matters with your partner to. the. surface.

The strengths in your relationship will be magnified. And the weaknesses in your relationship will be magnified.

Preparing for that shift and transition is important, and one of the best ways to do that is to just talk! And remind each other that you’re in this together, and you have each other’s backs.

It’s so easy to focus on the birth, and then the logistics of baby: How will we feed? How will we sleep? What products do we need? What should we register for? How long will I take off work? And it’s so easy to neglect the bigger picture: YOU’RE GOING TO BE PARENTS FOREVER AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING YET.

Either schedule a date night or plan to talk with each other on your next long drive about exploring these parenting issues as you prepare to bring your baby into the world.

Can we just talk about this photo for a second? I searched stock photos online to find something eye-catching and HOLY SMOKES I CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF OF THIS POWERHOUSE COUPLE.

Back to it: Have a date night. Spend some time loving on each other and have a deep discussion to help prepare you both for exploring the life you’re about to embark on. Go through these questions slowly and thoughtfully, exploring each one as far as you’d like to go. If your partner is sharing, be the best listener you can be. Listen intently to their responses, memories, and thoughts without interrupting. And then request that they do the same for you. (Communication skills are important for parenthood, too!)

Disclaimer: these questions may be difficult to answer and may be triggering to share about, depending on your past. If you feel like the guidance of a therapist may be helpful to begin these discussions, contact Arise Counseling (or your own therapist) for a little extra help! *not sponsored or anything, I just think this can be extremely helpful, and she specializes in this stuff and offers online sessions if you’re not local!*

  1. What are some of the ways that your parents/guardians raised you that you think benefited you greatly and that you’d like to impress upon your own family as well?

  2. What are some of the things that your parents/guardians did that you definitely don’t want to repeat with your own children? Why?

  3. How were you disciplined as a child? Were you spanked? Put in time out? Grounded? What are your thoughts about these and how did they make you feel as a child? How do you wish your parents handled discipline?

  4. What are your strongest core values as a human? How can those help guide you as a parent?

  5. What are your biggest strengths? What are your biggest weaknesses? How can you foresee those making an impression on parenting?

  6. What do you want to see from your children? Do you want them to grow up to be independent? Do you want them to have a great education? Do you want them to be kind and giving? Do you want them to not have to worry about money? Do you want them to have more opportunities than you did? (there’s no right or wrong answer here!!!) And how can your early parenting (baby/toddler years) have an impact on these long-term goals?

  7. Newsflash: Being a parent to a baby (although rewarding and fulfilling) is also exhausting and can be frustrating and overwhelming. If you are on the edge (this WILL happen), can you develop some sort of “code word” or phrase that will let your partner know that it’s very important that they help now with no judgement? What will you need from them when that happens to you? Examples are: time and space for alone time, making sure that you’re fed and have water, having your partner take the baby for a little while, getting out of the house for a walk or drive, words of affirmation or encouragement, not receiving any advice about what you’re doing right or wrong, or being asked “what can I do for you right now?”

I hope this is helpful! It’s something I wish I had explored a little more in pregnancy with my own husband, but if you’ve already had your babies, it’s not too late! You can still have these important discussions and questions anytime.

What are your thoughts? What would you add to this list?

Interview with a Doula

Did you know that I used to be a music teacher before I became a doula? I used to have a sweet private piano student who is now in college studying to be nurse! (WOW I AM SO OLD)

She is in her OB rotation and she and her classmates are working on a project specifically about continuous labor/doula support. She asked (because we follow each other on instagram!) if they could come up with some interview questions for me to help them with their project. As I was answering these questions, I realized that I’d love to share them! So here goes nothin’…

What reasons have you come across for why women choose not to have a Doula? (or maybe are not able to have a Doula?)

The main reason that I've found that women choose not to hire a doula is simply a lack of knowledge about what a doula is, what service we provide, and the value of that service.  In larger cities, doulas are more widely recognized as a profession and service (although still only 1-5% of women hire one), but in rural Delmarva, we're a bit behind the tide, unfortunately. I'm working on that!  The second most common reason is finances.  Like any service provider, we have fees to support our business and ourselves, and if a family is either unable to afford a doula fee or doesn't prioritize that fee as a necessary expense, they will pass on the support. Occasionally, a woman will not be interested in doula support because she already has a knowledgeable support person by her side (mother, sister, friend, etc), or just prefer that the birth remains as intimate as possible between her and her partner.

Why are Doulas helpful/needed in the labor process?

There is a lot of evidence to support the use of doulas, or one-on-one labor support!   I don't actually believe we're "needed" at all, though.  Babies will come out with or without doula support.  In the hospital setting particularly, most women are being treated by a care provider who has maybe never met them before, or who has only met them a few times throughout their pregnancy, and perhaps didn't have time during appointments to form much of a relationship.  Their nurses are mostly strangers, and have (too) many responsibilities, patients, charting, etc.  The doula is oftentimes the only person in the room who is an expert in childbirth, and also has a formed, trusting relationship with the women and her partner/family.  Because the relationship is formed throughout her pregnancy, she can feel safe and comfortable with their presence and support.

What do you do in every labor with your clients? (techniques?)

Every labor looks vastly different.  Primarily, I'm there to protect her mental state so that she can feel valued, heard, supported, and leave her birth experience without regrets and with a lasting positive memory of the day that her baby was born.  Her care providers treat everything from the abdomen down.  And I support everything from the abdomen up (the heart and mind!).  Evidence shows that women (like every other mammal) birth most safely when they feel safe, unobserved, comfortable, and protected.  Stress, fear, and tension all result in the release of cortisol, catecholamines, and other stress hormones.  Those hormones have an impact on the release of the necessary, productive, and protective labor hormones (most notably oxytocin), and so my job is to reduce her level of fear, and impart strength and trust.  I do that in a variety of ways, dependent on the woman's personality, her needs that she's discussed with me beforehand, and by being a keen observer and fostering intimate connections during childbirth so that I can predict her needs based on how her labor is progressing.  That can include:

  • Staying close by, 24/7, so that she benefits from continuous support (unless, of course, she needs some alone time or time with her partner! or if I have to pee or eat!)

  • Non-judgement-based communication, with absolutely no agenda other than supporting her needs and desires (I don't have an opinion about her medical care or decisions that she makes, regardless of what they are)

  • Educational/informational support: sharing risks/benefits/what to expect of certain procedures, interventions and processes of labor; reassuring mother and family when things are "normal" (since they can feel *very* intense to a loved one); sharing about what to expect in their particular birthing setting; and facilitating communication between them and their care provider(s)

  • Providing physical support: hand holding (surprisingly important for many women), special techniques to relieve back pain (massage, counter pressure, etc), rebozo techniques, position changes, use of material tools (birth ball, peanut ball, squat bar, bath, shower, etc), activities/positions for various labor "issues" (stalled or prolonged labor, discomfort in particular places, baby's position, long pushing periods, etc)

  • Words of encouragement when the mother is open to them and needs some additional support, vocalizations with the mother, and breathing with the mother through contractions

  • An overwhelming belief and trust in *HER*, which unfortunately most women don't receive from anyone (in my opinion, this is the most valuable and priceless "perk" of a good doula)

photo credit:  Sincerely, the Kitchens

What are some ways to demonstrate what exactly a doula does?

Attend a doula training or labor support workshop! Attend a birth with a doula present! Watch a birth video on Youtube with a doula present! Ask a mother who has had a doula exactly what support she received that was most important to her.  Ask a doula to show you some common physical techniques/positions/support she utilizes in labors.

What are some barriers to receiving a doula’s help?

Barriers can include:

  • finances 

  • inability to find a doula that they feel comfortable and safe with (every person is different and will feel a connection with some doulas and not others)

  • not receiving support from the partner or family to hire a doula

  • birthing with care providers who do not support the use of a doula (and the mother doesn't want to cause strain in the birthing room) OR hospitals/care providers who have banned the use of a doula altogether (I haven't personally experienced this too much, but I know it happens.  Honestly, I believe it happens primarily because of doulas who are exhibiting behaviors that interfere with the care provider's or hospital's ability to care for the mother's medical needs, which is something that I'm aware of and recognize is *not* my role.)

Was there anything you were surprised by? Do you have anything to add?

6 Things to Consider Before Inviting Someone to Your Birth

You're in labor.  The hospital allows 3-5 guests in the Labor & Delivery room.  Who to invite?

This question comes up with every doula client and in every childbirth education class.  How do you know who to invite to your birth?  What if you hurt someone's feelings?  What if you change your mind?  How will you know if they are the right person to have in the room?

photo taken by our amazing  birth photographer   alexis southward

photo taken by our amazing birth photographer alexis southward

Let's be honest.  The birth of a baby is a frikin' miracle.  Who wouldn't want to witness or take part in that?  But, birth is not a spectator sport.  The way our bodies work best as mammals when we're birthing is when we feel safe, unobserved, comfortable, and can stay focused on what's going on inside of you, rather than around you.  

A couple of quick questions to ask yourself before inviting anyone to the birth of your baby--

1. Will this person have a ROLE?  For instance, your partner's role is to be supportive.  Your doula's role is to provide additional support and expertise.  Your photographer's role is to capture memories.  Your nurses and care providers roles are to keep you and baby safe and healthy.  What role will an additional person serve?  Maybe your mother is incredibly supportive and will be the person most comfortable holding your hand.  Maybe your friend has had many babies and knows what to expect at your hospital, and may be helpful when you and your partner are alone in the room laboring.  But, if you cannot identify a role for each person in the room, what is their purpose for being there?  And will they be making your experience better in any way?

2. Does this person make you FEEL GOOD? Plain and simple: If you don't absolutely love their company when you're *not* in labor, how the heck are you going to feel when you ARE?!

3. How supportive of your choices is this person? I, unfortunately, have attended births where the family of the birthing mom is pressuring her to make decisions that she's uncomfortable making.  If you're planning to invite someone, are they aware about your birthing preferences?  Do they support them wholeheartedly (even if it's a decision they wouldn't make!)?  If the answers are no, then what can they offer you?  If support isn't on the table, what else is there?

4. How vulnerable have you been with this person in the past?  It sounds crazy, but unless there is a deep level of trust in your relationship, it will likely be difficult to be vulnerable in labor.  Can you imagine yourself feeling uncomfortable being physically exposed or making noises in front of them? 

5. Will you regret this decision? If you're not sure, perhaps you can invite them to wait in the waiting room and if you decide during labor that you'd like their presence, you can invite them in.  And then, if you want them to leave, simply ask them for some privacy for a while.  None of these decisions have to be set in stone!  Ultimately, if you can potentially see regret at the end of this tunnel, it's best not to enter.

6. Will you be EXCITED to call them when the time is here?!  I remember when finally going into labor with my second daughter (41 weeks and 5 days!), I called my doula with the news.  She asked how I was feeling and I replied "I have butterflies in my stomach" because I was so excited.  Side note: I later regretted feeling excited for that labor in general, because shortly after that phone call I felt as if I was being run over by a truck.  #worthit.  If calling someone while you're in labor to join you feels like a chore or just something you need to check off your list, maybe they're not the right person.  

Ultimately, whoever you invite to join you on this big day should be aware of your wishes beforehand and understand what to expect on your birthing day.  Bring them to your childbirth education class, invite them to a visit with your doula, share your birth plan, or bring them to the hospital tour.  The more comfortable they are, the more likely that they will be able to focus on you!

What do you think?  Who are you considering inviting to your birth?

Breastfeeding in Public: A Doula's Thoughts

It's World Breastfeeding Week!  And, if you haven't heard, there are now laws in all 50 states protecting women breastfeeding in public.  It was a pretty big news story last week, and I was actually contacted by WBOC (our local news station) to be interviewed with some of our clients about our thoughts on the new legislation.  It turned out that the interview didn't work out due to unforeseen events that came up for WBOC.  But, since I had been giving it so much thought, I decided to share some of those thoughts here. 


Obviously, we support women breastfeeding wherever their babies need fed.  And if I'm being honest, part of me wanted to be a little snarky and sarcastic.  "Gee, THANKS for permission to feed my kid with my own body in the mall."  LOL! But, that wouldn't have gone over well.

When we get right down to it, the most obvious points come up and we've all heard them before:  Our babies deserve to be fed.  We deserve to not have to sit in a toilet stall to feed our kids.  If we're more comfortable with a cover or in a private setting, then we should use a cover or go to a private setting.   If we're more comfortable (or our babies are more comfortable) without a cover, then we shouldn't use one.  Breasts are designed to feed babies.  Breasts are not just used for sexual purposes.  Breastfeeding is not sexual.  If you don't like to see it, just don't watch.  

They are all true.  But when I was pondering the larger issue, I started thinking about my own transition to becoming a mother.  Motherhood is this all-consuming metamorphosis.  You are different forever, in an instant.  You have a completely new identity.  Your old friends might not call you anymore.  You don't have the freedom to do the things you once did with your time.  Everyone is giving you advice or judging your parenting/birth/feeding choices.  Your body has changed and it will never go back. Your brain chemistry has changed and it will never go back.  You probably don't have the amount of support that you need and deserve (in our culture, anyway). You've gone through a rite of passage and rites of passage are not designed to be easy!  Motherhood is hard and overwhelming and beautiful and ever-changing.  

This complete transformation often leaves us feeling lonely.  And confused. And overwhelmed with love and with frustation.  And anxious.  And we're healing physically and mentally and all of our time is consumed with taking care of our babies.  And breastfeeding is HARD ENOUGH!

To ask a woman who is in the middle of the most intense transition and metamorphosis that exists on Earth to further seclude herself just to meet the non-stop needs of her new baby is unethical and inhumane. 

(Can you tell I have big feelings about this topic?)

Women are designed to thrive in communities.  And with other women.   It is in our DNA to go through this mothering journey IN COMMUNITY.  Doing it alone is *impossible*.

What are your thoughts about breastfeeding in public?

THRIVE's First Birth Photography Client!!!

We finally were able to photograph our first birth photography client! WOOT!

Our photographer, Alexis, got a sweet deal with this one!  She arrived just 20 minutes before the baby was born and was able to stay for at least an hour or so after the birth to witness and capture breastfeeding, those first postpartum moments, and baby's first exam.   She is amazing and got some beautiful shots!

PRMC in Salisbury, MD, was accommodating, respectful of the birthing mom and her family, and (as always) postponed baby's first exam and measurements until at least an hour after the birth so mom had some time to breastfeed and bond with baby.  Midwife Lisa was calm and amazing, as usual :-)

If you're interested in birth photography, fill out a contact form and we will give you a call.  We mail out a beautiful welcome packet with all of the information you need, and offer you a free in-person consultation with Alexis to view her portfolio and ask any questions you have. 

Without further ado, here are Brittany, Austen, midwife Lisa, and the grand entrance of sweet baby Chloe.

IMG_9533 (1).jpg




When Things Don't Go According to Plan...

You've made a birth plan.  You took a childbirth class.  You did your research.  You know what you want and what you don't want.  You're doing great work!

Seriously, you are.  If you want to be informed and really have the knowledge to make decisions that are right for you, you gotta get educated and figure that stuff out.  Your care providers will know that you're invested in your experience and they will have your birth plan to use as a guide for your care.

One of the most important topics that we cover in our childbirth education class is about accepting the unpredictable nature of birth.   Visualizing your experience is super valuable! Doing research and making choices is important! Knowing your preferences beforehand is necessary! But, we all know that birth, like life, rarely goes according to our plan.  When we do the mental work to accept this before labor even begins, we're in a much better place to stay focused when the road of birth begins winding and becomes more and more bumpy.

How we might feel when life doesn't go to plan (below).  This is not generally not a good solution in labor LOL!


How can we prepare for this if we don't even know what it will look like?  We can use a tool by master personal development guru Todd Herman called: Script Your Setbacks.  When we're in labor, even the smallest "setback", can send you through emotional turmoil.  All of our senses are heightened, our fears and deepest emotional issues rise to the surface, and when they're triggered, it can be very difficult to stay in the calm mindset that you worked so hard to create and sustain!  So, let's try an exercise where we script a setback.  We want to do this so that if that setback pops up during the course of your labor or pregnancy, you'll already have a script prepared and won't need to waste your precious brain power on drafting a new plan.

This is just a made-up example:  Let's say your birth plan states that you do not want your water artificially broken.  But you've been laboring for many hours, are very tired, and a care provider asks if you're interested in having your water broken to potentially speed things along.  You're caught off guard, you didn't expect them to ask, but you're also surprised at your instinct to want to say yes because YOU'RETIREDANDREADYTOHAVEABABYNOW. 

A couple things could happen: You could stumble all over your words because you're caught off guard, you could say "absolutely not how dare you ask me when I put it on my birth plan!", you could say "YESPLEASEDOITNOWIWANNAHAVETHISBABY", or you could simply state your script that you've already practiced, "Can we have a few minutes to talk about that?".  

Your care provider leaves, you discuss your feelings or the pros/cons with your partner and doula, you make a decision, and you are prepared to share your decision with your care provider when they come back.  No regrets, no fear, no split decisions, and who knows? Maybe your water will break on its own in the meantime.  

We want to spend the majority of our focus on positive things when preparing for labor, but the reality is that sometimes life throws us curve balls and the more prepared we are, the less likelihood that we'll have a negative experience or make decisions we regret.

What are some other curve balls that labor could throw your way?  How would you script that setback?

P.S. If you want some extra guidance on crafting a birth plan, click the image below to go to our doula's guide to the perfect birth plan!

THRIVE TV: Oxytocin and Hormones in Labor

After a hiatus (the Expo, opening a second company, going to births, encapsulating placentas, hiring new doulas, teaching classes, going to midwifery retreats, ETC), THRIVE TV is back!

Today I'm chatting with THRIVE doula Chloe French all about our hormones and their function and role in the labor process!

Why do your hormones matter?

What role do they play in your labor?

Why is it important for you to even know about this?

In our childbirth education class, How to Have A Natural Birth, we discuss these hormones in detail to get a great understanding and picture of what your body is up to while you're having a baby, and what you can do to protect the process!

\n","url":"//","width":854,"height":480,"providerName":"YouTube","thumbnailUrl":"//","resolvedBy":"youtube"}" data-block-type="32" id="block-yui_3_17_2_1_1528371176051_22011">

" data-provider-name="YouTube">

THRIVE TV: Diastasis Recti


This is important stuff.  And unfortunately, pretty common stuff.  Have you ever heard of diastasis recti?  It's essentially when the walls of your abdominal muscles are separated, which can happen most frequently after a pregnancy.  If you're not sure what it is or how to find out if you've got symptoms, it's all laid out in the video below.

It's important to know this stuff because if you do have abdominal separation, you want to be really careful about the types of exercises you do postpartum, so you don't make your symptoms worse.  When you're finished with the video, go to this link and grab a free PDF we created for you which outlines the test to determine if you have diastasis recti symptoms and includes our favorite resources for correcting and healing your abdominal separation.

\n","url":"//","width":854,"height":480,"providerName":"YouTube","thumbnailUrl":"//","resolvedBy":"youtube"}" data-block-type="32" id="block-yui_3_17_2_1_1522159702803_26326">

" data-provider-name="YouTube">

THRIVE TV: The Flexible Straw

Weeeeeeee're back!

Today on THRIVE TV, I'm sharing a useful labor/birth tool, especially for partners! As silly as this video is--take this seriously, partners. You've got an important job to do so your baby mama doesn't get dehydrated. The less words you have to use while she's in labor, the better. The less she has to request things, the better. The less she has to MOVE, the better!

Of course, you've got to bring more than just a cup and a straw to your birth, so we're giving away a FREE printable hospital bag checklist. All you've got to do is click this link, download the PDF, print it out, and pack that bag!

And tell me... What material item could you have not lived without during labor or your hospital stay?

\n","url":"//","width":854,"height":480,"providerName":"YouTube","thumbnailUrl":"//","resolvedBy":"youtube"}" data-block-type="32" id="block-yui_3_17_2_1_1521308963181_26978">

" data-provider-name="YouTube">

THRIVE Spotlight: Alexis Southward

I'm not sure if I've ever been quite as excited about anything as I am about having Alexis Southward on our team as our birth photographer!  I'm officially declaring the grainy, dark, blurry, old iphone photos of the moment you meet your baby not good enough!  So, we brought in the best.  And what's a better way to get to know her than to ask her to share all of the weird and fun facts about herself!  We have put the spotlight on all of our team members when they've joined us!  Click to read Catie's, Meisha's, Elisha's, Chloe's, and Maria's fun facts!

  1. I currently have a zoo of 4 dogs, 2 cats, 2 ferrets, 2 guinea pigs, a Russian Tortoise and a tank of Dalmatian Mollies who I raised from Hatchlings.

  2. My Rescued Australian Shepherd, Astro, is my soul dog. Basically my soulmate, but a dog.

  3. I wholeheartedly believe in love at first sight. My husband and I have been together since the first time we ever saw each other.

  4. I am totally obsessed with Audiobooks. I am an avid bookworm, but since it's hard to read and take care of adult chores all of the time… I mostly listen to my books now.

  5. I am totally, unabashedly unashamed of my love for all things Harry Potter. 

  6. I LOVE Classic Rock. 

  7. My favorite thing to get at Island Creamery is a Coke Float with Wallops Rocket Fuel Ice cream. Spicy and sweet. It's heaven on Earth.

  8. I am a vegetarian. Except sometimes I eat crabs, because… crabs!

  9. I co-own and LOVE Little Dreamers Wellness Center in Berlin. It’s my happy place.

  10. My favorite age to photograph is the “terrible” twos… because when you finally get that smile, it's just everything!


If you're considering or intrigued by birth photography, give us a call and we'll be happy to answer all of your questions!

THRIVE TV: Doulas Aren't Just for Hippies!

...although if you are a hippie, that's cool, too.

On the second episode of THRIVE TV, I'm chatting with another THRIVE doula, Elisha, about her wildly different experiences as a doula.  She's supported women and families in scheduled cesareans; unplanned cesareans; home, birth center, and hospital births; unmedicated births; birth with epidurals (that were planned and unplanned); VBACs; and more!

Please share with us--If you've considered hiring a doula or hired a doula before, tell us your experience!

\n","url":"//","width":854,"height":480,"providerName":"YouTube","thumbnailUrl":"//","resolvedBy":"youtube"}" data-block-type="32" id="block-yui_3_17_2_1_1520520728903_35782">

" data-provider-name="YouTube">

We're hosting a "Meet the Doula" night at our pregnancy group on March 24, 2018! We'll be there to chat, talk about all things pregnancy/birth/postpartum/parenting, and answer your questions about doulas.

Visit the Facebook event for more details: //

THRIVE TV: The Magic of the Bedside Bin

Well, this was something else. Why is being on camera so flipping hard? I was extremely vulnerable. Nervous. A little embarrassed. But I knew I wanted to see if I could do it.

Then, I realized. Dude, that's how my clients feel in labor when I'm supporting them! If they can do that, I can make a flipping video and put it out into the world with hopes that it will help someone!

So, that's what we're doing. Today, we're launching THRIVE TV!!!!!! And we're chatting all about the magic of the BEDSIDE BIN.

\n","url":"//","width":854,"height":480,"providerName":"YouTube","thumbnailUrl":"//","resolvedBy":"youtube"}" data-block-type="32" id="block-yui_3_17_2_1_1519915455091_6511">

" data-provider-name="YouTube">


Okay, now please make me feel like it was worth it! Share your postpartum item that you needed at your side at all times! And if you're pregnant or want to give the AMAZING gift of a pre-made bedside bin to a pregnant friend, click here to grab that free PDF with a list of all of the items you can add to your bedside bin!

Why I Wish I Had a Birth Photographer

They say your wedding goes by in the blink of an eye.  And it's true.  You spend all of this time preparing, writing vows, trying on dresses, interviewing and hiring DJs and bakers, DIYing your decorations, and tackling the pages-long list of things to do.  And then the wedding day comes and goes. And then it's gone.  Forever.  And you're married.  And THANK GOD you hired a professional photographer or videographer to capture the day that already seems so fuzzy in your memory just a few months later.

If you've ever given birth before, you know that childbirth is exactly the same.  And once again, whether the labor felt long or short, the details get hazy before you can even celebrate your child's first week of life.  As mothers, we're wired to tell and retell our birth story.  We want to know what happened from every angle and from every vantage point and we want everyone's perspective.  It's part of processing our experience.  

The birth of our baby is the most important day of our lives.  We want it to be ingrained in our memories forever as joyous and worthy of the most magnificent celebration. We want to remember how hard we worked and how relieved and elated we were when we finally held our babies in our arms.  Every year on the day of your child's birthday, you recall the story of how they came to be here on Earth and how important they are.  And each year, the story becomes less and less detailed.  

When I gave birth to my first daughter, Clara, I wanted a photographer, but there weren't any options on the Eastern Shore at the time that I knew of.  I had a long, slow, and relatively low-key birth experience, but yet it felt like the world stopped!  It was intense, insane, and beautiful.  When I came home with her, I couldn't even unpack my birth bag.  I didn't want the biggest moment of my life to be over.  It felt so new and yet so far away all at the same time.  My eyes were closed for most of the labor, but when she was born, she looked directly into my eyes and we stared at each other in silence for what seemed like forever.  I was in denial that such an earth-shattering moment could be lost in time and I would be only left with my quickly fading memory.  I eagerly talked to all of the people at my birth and wanted them to tell me all the little details I missed, like how in the car on the way to the birth center it was raining so hard that my husband couldn't see more than one car in front of him ON THE BAY BRIDGE.  I wished over and over that I could have had a photographer to document that whole evening so that I could use those photos to jog my memories in the future.

It sounds kind of funny to say now, but during my days of "baby blues", I was feeling really nostalgic about my birth and I just desperately wished I could experience it from the outside.  I felt so "out of body" throughout the whole experience that I had a hard time recalling details.  I just wanted to see my face when she was finally born and to hear what people said around me and to watch her look into my eyes from the outside.  And then, one night, I ACTUALLY SAW IT.  I had a very clear and vivid dream.  It was literally the video of my birth, taken from my left side, as if a camera really had recorded it.  I watched the video from the last few pushes.  I saw myself pull her up out of the water beneath me. I heard the noises I made.  I saw my face crunch up as I cried tears of joy and relief.  I heard her first weak cry.  I watched us lock eyes for what seemed like hours.  

And then I woke up.  And that was it.  And I felt like a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders.  And I finally unpacked the birth bag and did my laundry that day.  It felt so refreshing and like my birth experience was finally complete and I could move on to my new life and role as mother.

the only photo i have of me in labor.  my doula was thoughtful enough to snap this on her cell phone (in the dark).

the only photo i have of me in labor.  my doula was thoughtful enough to snap this on her cell phone (in the dark).

When my friend April* hired a birth photographer, she explained that since it was her 3rd birth and she had been through labor and childbirth before, she knew that she needed something in print to give her inspiration during her postpartum time.  Her postpartum experiences had all been difficult, as the change of lifestyle and hormone transition took a toll on her physically and emotionally.  She knew that this time, she may be having her last baby, and she wanted this phase of her life to be remembered forever in beautiful media.  The day she received her birth photos, she sat and looked through them for hours while holding her warm, swaddled newborn.  And each day, when life began to feel overwhelming, she came back to her birth photos and video to remind herself of the treasure that was her baby's birth and what that special day meant for their family. 

That's why I knew it was important for our community to have a photographer dedicated to capturing these memories.  

Alexis Southward, THRIVE's birth photographer, will come to you in active labor, preserve the experience of your birth on camera without disrupting your labor or the space around you, and will return your professionally edited photos in an online gallery within 14 days, while it still feels fresh!  Professional printing, birth storybooks, and a slideshow with video clips and photos set to music are also available.  

To request a free consultation with Alexis, contact us today and we'll be in touch.  Our first 5 contracts will be offered a special "portfolio" discount while we build our photography gallery--save $200!

*Name changed for privacy

10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for the New Baby

You're having a new baby soon.  You hope your older child (or children) will be able to transition smoothly to having a new little one around.  As parents, we usually have concerns about whether the older child will get enough attention, how you will divide your time (and love!), whether they will be jealous, and whether they'll express those new emotions in new and unwanted behaviors.  

The good news?  Evidence shows that when you take dedicated time to help prepare your little one(s) for the new baby, children exhibit fewer anxieties, are better able to express their feelings, and parents are better able to cope with the new responsibility of an additional family member.

We've come up with 10 fantastic and easy ways for you to prepare your child for the new baby while you've still got time!  We often spend dedicated and carved out time during pregnancy to prepare ourselves, such as attending a birthing or parenting class, reading books, reading blogs, researching and shopping for baby items, etc.  But our children's worlds will be turning upside down too!  They need and deserve the same attention and preparation.  In addition to preparing your child for this new life change, it will give you some final opportunities to spend time together and bond.


1. Read age-appropriate books about birth and having a new sibling.  

Take your son or daughter to the book store to pick out some books about having a new baby.  There are some fantastic books for toddlers as well as older siblings, too.  Read books about the birth process and talk to them (in age-appropriate language) about how the baby will come out of your body. 

2. Go through your child's own baby photos and videos and talk about the things you did together when they were a baby.

Children LOVE to see themselves as babies! Show them photos and talk to them about the blankets they used to love and how baby sister or brother will likely sleep with that same blanket, too.  Show them their own videos and talk about what kind of sounds and movements babies make.  Share with them how cute, cuddly, and adorable they were and how you can't wait for them to snuggle up with the new baby!

3. Visit friends with babies or infants.

Nothing beats the real thing.  Your child(ren) will have the opportunity to see how the baby eats, how they sleep, experience the "hush" in the room when the baby falls asleep, and understand how to hold baby safely.

4. Place an ultrasound picture in your child's room.

We all hope our kids will form an amazing bond and be best friends forever, right?  Why not start encouraging that now?  Put an ultrasound picture on your child's wall so that he can look at his baby sister whenever he wants.  When the baby is born, he may be sad to know that his sister sleeps in a different room, so he can still look at her when he misses her.  You can replace the photo with a real photo after she's born, if you'd like.

5. Take your child on the the hospital tour with you.

To a child, the hospital may be either completely unknown or a place for sick people.  It may ease their mind to understand where their parents are for a few days while the baby is coming or finally here.  Take them on the hospital tour with you if you feel like they're old enough to understand a bit and talk to them about where you'll be and what will be happening.  "This is the room where the baby will come out.  I'll be doing hard work in here and those nice nurses will be helping me!"  "This is the room where I'll go when your little sister is here.  We will rest after all that work until we're ready to come home.  You will come visit us in this room and see your sister!"

6. Let your child help you pack your hospital bag.

In order to help prepare your child for the time when you're away having baby, they can help you pack your bag. "We're packing pajamas because we'll be gone for a few nights while you sleep in your bed with grandma."  "This is your sister's first hat! Do you think she should wear this on the car ride home from the hospital?"  It will hopefully keep your child feeling involved and give them some ownership of the process and decisions, even while you're away at the hospital.  

7. Talk to your son or daughter about baby names and hear their input or opinion.

Kids can come up with the craziest names!  It's so cute to hear their opinions and ideas!  If your son wants to call his baby sister "batman", maybe he can call her that while she's still in your belly.  And when she comes out, we can all agree to call her a different name.

8. Let them help you decorate or organize the nursery and baby's items.

They can bring you clothes to fold from the laundry, help you organize the changing station, or bring you wipes and diapers. This can help them feel involved and like the "big brother" or "big sister" before baby is even here.  Hopefully, they will still be able to help you with those same tasks after baby has arrived.

9. Encourage them to talk to baby and feel his/her kicks.

Babies in utero are SMART.  They can hear us talking to them and like to kick our hands when we feel around, too!  Encourage your little one to talk to his/her little sister, tell her how she's loved and going to have so much fun when she comes out.  Let him feel her kicks and tell him that she loves him too and this is her way of playing right now!

10. Create a "countdown" to baby's predicted arrival.

Depending on your child's age: You may create a countdown chain to your due date and have your older children take off a link each day.  You can tell them that when the chain gets small, the baby could arrive anytime!  And when the link is all gone, you can celebrate your due date as a family and get them excited for the surprise arrival! If you've got toddlers or little ones, talking to them about the "season" or "big event" that will happen when baby is predicted to arrive may be a little easier for them to understand. "When it gets hot out and we have beach days again, you know your sister will be here soon!"  "Your little brother probably won't be here until after Christmas."

BONUS: Take a sibling preparation class!

Research has proven that taking a sibling preparation class with your child can ease the transition into being a new sibling and prepare your family for a smoother and less stressful beginning.  If you're on the Eastern Shore, get ready! We're gearing up to release our Big Brother/Big Sister class!

Delmarva Community Birth Stories: The Birth of Jude Thomas

We've started something here!  Our community is contacting us left and right and asking if they can share their stories.  Ummmm.... YES!  This was such a special birth for me.   Although now that I'm thinking about it, they're all so special.  Enjoy reading the story of the birth of baby Jude, written by his reflective and talented mother, Alaina.

Xo, Maria

“If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.”

Words from a favorite song at the time spoke to me months leading up to the conception of my fourth child and stuck with me through my pregnancy and birth.  My husband and I decided to add on to our family during a time when many likely questioned “what are they thinking having a baby right now?” We chose not to put our lives on hold and move forward, because God’s plan is never our own. I was in tune with my body’s natural rhythm, experienced in sympto-thermal charting, and was prepared to make it happen. I wasn’t prepared for the struggle of conceiving this baby. Being the fourth child, I assumed I would conceive quickly like my others. My “struggle” seems relative because it can in no way compare to what others have gone through, including those close to me. Nonetheless, it was a difficult time of confusion, sadness, and anger. I had this idea in my head of what was to come and a timeline prepared in my head, as is my usual style. As with most things, my timeline fell to the wayside and baby #4 was finally conceived in March 2016.

The birth of my fourth child was a culmination of my previous births and everything I had learned. It was an experience that allowed to me to come full circle and to feel I had actually conquered what I knew I did NOT want the birth to be. To accurately describe this birth, I need to go back to the beginning. The birth of my first child was rather traumatic for me, so my goal with the subsequent births was basically anything to avoid a repeat. My daughter suffered a significant trauma to her neck due to shoulder dystocia and I was not in much better shape. With my second daughter I chose a route that I thought I was “supposed” to go. I chose to be induced a second time and got an epidural immediately. My mindset was if I don’t feel anything maybe it won’t happen again.  It wasn’t until my third child that I realized what I experienced the first time was not “normal.” I had finally figured out that the way I thought birth was “supposed” to be was not at all accurate. I had learned that the trauma to me and my first daughter could have been avoided. I became more in tune to natural births, familiarized myself more with the trauma and came to learn so many things I had no idea about. With the birth of my third daughter I set out to have a completely different birth. I would not be induced and it would be a natural birth free from intervention. This baby would not have a shoulder dystocia and get stuck! Well, she did get stuck and I did receive pitocin after hitting that magical time clock after my water had broke before active labor began. Despite it not going exactly how I had planned, it was a major step towards a better birth experience with a different provider and different location. With my fourth I read and re-read countless books and familiarized myself even more with shoulder dystocia, determined to beat the odds that were stacked against me. I watched videos constantly of peaceful births, determined to have some quiet, introspective birthing experience. I actually wrote down a birth plan instead of just having ideas in my head. I practiced different exercises and positioning to avoid a possible repeat shoulder dystocia. I visited the chiropractor often, despite all of my midwife providers not acknowledging any correlation to adjustments, baby’s positioning, and shoulder dystocia. I had my plan in place. It would be perfect and peaceful and since it was my fourth it would be quick (HA!)

I knew at the beginning of this pregnancy that I wanted to hire a doula. I would be faced with many challenges and likely opposition given the extremely high risk of a third shoulder dystocia. Also, my babies were getting progressively bigger and having a cesarean was something I wanted desperately to avoid. I needed another person in my corner, someone to validate my decisions and not make me feel weak or feel strong-armed into something I was against. With all of my births I have always had my husband, mother, and mother in law present. To some this is a lot of people, but each had a very specific role that didn’t quite match up with what I would need from a doula. I needed my mother’s presence because she’s my mother. I think my first birth really terrified her so she generally took a back seat and waited patiently, offering support towards the end just enough to let me know she was there. This was what I needed from her. My husband offered physical support when I needed it, a hand to squeeze, and words of encouragement. I needed his presence more than anyone because he’s always been my rock and makes me feel stronger. But, he’s not so comfortable with birthing and always felt too out of his element to really learn more. I was comfortable with his feelings and did not pressure him into doing things he wasn’t comfortable doing. My mother in law, which is surprising to some, was the person that truly took an active role. In fact, she was a little offended that I would hire someone to take over what she thought of as her role. Okay, she was a lot offended. She has attended 12 of the 14 births of her grandchildren. She was with me for my previous three births. She was the one to coach me in my breathing and pushing. She was a calm presence, but also fierce. She has a strong personality, one that I knew would be confident in standing to protect me.  At the same time, she generally sides with the typical medical stance and recommendations which I felt may not quite suit my stance with this particular birth. My births thus far had been far from ordinary and uneventful, which was something she was not accustomed to. So I hired my doula Maria, someone to share my birthing thoughts and plan and wouldn’t necessarily side with the medical professionals unless myself or the baby were in true danger. It was difficult balancing the roles of the doula and my mother in law “doula,” but I feel like it worked for me at least.  

I had my team ready and I was ready. I chose to see the midwives in Easton for a second time and give birth at their hospital again. Despite the many changes I heard had taken place locally, the memories and sour taste in my mouth from the previous births were still there. I knew what to expect in Easton and felt my chances of having a midwife of a similar mindset was greater. I met with a few different midwives before I finally had an appointment to meet with one that I just knew would be of the same mind and be supportive of this birth, despite the risks. She had a wonderful reputation and I was hopeful. When I met her one of the first things she discussed was a scheduled cesarean and advised me to consider that route given my high risk of repeat dystocia. I was devastated. How could this be? None of the others had advised this and I thought for sure this woman would be the one to absolutely be in my corner. After leaving the office I immediately called Maria. I weighed my options of changing providers to Salisbury mid way through the pregnancy or continuing with what I felt was questionable support of the Easton midwives. I felt dismayed and defeated but chose to stick it out, feeling that in the end I at least had the support of my team. We would watch the baby’s size closely and revisit this later on if the baby seemed extremely large. In the weeks towards the end of the pregnancy I became much more aware of baby’s position. I could feel even the slightest angle of the head being not quite centered. I saw the chiropractor nearly every week and on a Friday, 2 days before the 41 week mark I noticed another shift in the baby’s head more to the side. Coincidentally the same side my others were stuck on. After an adjustment she used the rebozo on me to “shake the apples,” a technique among many I had read about and practically memorized on a website about spinning babies.  I felt baby move and shift.  At this time most would be growing impatient, but all of my children were born after the 41 week mark so I was prepared for that day to come and go.  It was in the early hours the morning after, around 3 AM on Saturday December 17th, that my water broke. As I did with my last child I tried to convince myself I just didn’t make it to the toilet fast enough. At 3 AM that seems totally logical, right? So I used the bathroom, got back in bed and shortly after got the urge to pee again, partially feeling like I was actually peeing but mostly just gushing amniotic fluid. And that went on for the rest of the morning until my children woke us up. I told my husband, “I’m pretty sure my water broke last night.” He casually asked if we needed to go to the hospital to which I respond no, because I wasn’t having any contractions. I called Maria later that morning and told her the same, that I thought my water had broke but I may have just been peeing but as I said it out loud to someone who’s way more familiar with births than me I realized just how ridiculous I was being. Of course my water had broke, I just didn’t want to acknowledge that this birth was beginning the exact same way as my last. This birth was supposed to be different! My water was supposed to break and labor would actually begin and I would barely make it to the hospital before I had my baby, or maybe even have my baby on the hour and a half drive. HA! I walked around the house, bounced and rolled on my birthing ball, and listened to my husband blare on repeat “Hey Jude.” After three girls, we were hoping for a boy. I guess playing the song on repeat was one last ditch effort. I rested at times but mostly went about the normal day taking care of the kids having intermittent contractions of little intensity. We had an ice storm the evening before and the Vienna bridge was closed, so even if I wanted to go to the hospital I couldn’t have. We decided later in the afternoon after the bridge had reopened to head to the hospital. Even though there was really no established pattern to my contractions we didn’t want to risk the roads freezing again that night.

When we arrived at the hospital my contractions were still not regular and the ones I was having were not strong at all. Déjà vu. We walked, laid, bounced, massaged, prayed, and waited. It was later that evening that the midwife informed me that the person on the next shift was an OB, not a midwife. It was at this time I felt like I spiraled into fear. I felt like with an OB present for this birth I was for sure going to have a cesarean. Also, my water had broke and that time clock I was on with the last birth was slowly ticking away again. Though I didn’t acknowledge this time frame myself, I knew it would become an issue with the providers. So I called Maria to come to my corner and mentally prepared as much as I could for a fight with this OB. My mind was quickly put at ease when my new nurse came in and it was the one I had and loved with the last birth, Stephanie. She was such a calming presence and in that moment when my baby was stuck she calmed my fears and managed to quickly get me into a position to perform the McRoberts maneuver all while keeping me from freaking out and continuing to coach me through breathing and pushing. She was amazing and with her I again felt confident that this could finally be the intervention free birth I was hoping for. Another person on my team! Maria arrived to probably the calmest and most uneventful birth. She suggested side lying with the peanut ball which is when the contractions began getting stronger and developing more of a pattern. I knew that given the history of shoulder dystocia the best position I should birth in was on all fours. I prepared myself by first getting on my knees and then laying against the back of the bed. I remember laying my head down between contractions and falling into the strangest sleep/awake cycle for brief moments. I could actually hear myself snoring and I was aware of voices around me, but I didn’t really care what they were saying. I would quickly be awakened by another contraction and eventually felt the urge to start pushing. Pushing in that position against the back of the bed just came naturally to me. It was where I wanted to be and could easily sway from side to side. I labored and pushed like that for what felt like an eternity, with Maria applying the most wonderful counter pressure.


Eventually my knees became weak and I needed to try something different. The nurse brought in the squat bar. The thought of using this never entered my mind as part of my birth plan. I lay on my back between contractions and begged for a break. Like if someone could just press pause for an hour so I could rest I would be good to go. When each contraction began everyone would help hoist me up over the bar. The uneven bars were my favorite event as a young gymnast, but something tells me I probably looked a little less graceful with this bar! With the bar under my armpits, I held myself up and pushed through each contraction.


I reached a point of sheer exhaustion and couldn’t hold myself up. I resorted to lying on my back, even through contractions, which is exactly where I didn’t want to be starting out. Lying on your back is the worst position for a potential shoulder dystocia. I felt like I was failing giving in to this position, but looking back it was where my body needed me to be. It was at this time that the OB checked me and noticed I had a “cervical lip,” a swollen portion of my cervix. The baby’s head was pushing against this lip causing it to swell, further preventing baby from coming out. She suggested Benadryl to help reduce the swelling and in order for that to work I had to stop pushing.  It was at this time she and the nurse also brought up pain medication to allow me get the rest I needed and to assist in refraining from pushing. I refused, then quickly said yes to IV meds, then quickly said yes to an epidural, and in my mind I was thinking “just cut me open” but thankfully I didn’t voice that one out loud. I was utterly defeated. Everything I did not want I was allowing to happen. In that moment where you have no idea where you are at in birth, how much longer it will be, and what exactly is happening your mind can wander in so many different directions. And oh how my mind strayed.

“If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.”

The Benadryl was administered and a bolus began in preparation for an epidural. This was by far the hardest part of the birth, lying there and having to breathe through a contraction without pushing. Is this even possible? Apparently it is but it wasn’t an easy pause button like I had hoped for. This was Maria’s shining moment. Though she was fully present, helpful, and supportive throughout the entire time, this was when I needed her most. She helped me to do quick breathing through each contraction. I’m pretty sure I may have broken a few of her fingers and melted her face with my horrendous breath, but she continued to breathe right along with me, right in my face to keep me focused and it worked. It was amazing, and wonderful, and horrible at the same time.

“If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.”

About 20 minutes after the Benadryl (I’m relying on other’s timeline here because my concept of time had escaped me long, long ago) I couldn’t breathe through the contractions any longer. I would start the quick breathing and would find myself pushing in the midst. There was no holding it back any longer. I was nowhere close to being ready for the epidural I had agreed to, but this was happening, the baby was coming and I was relieved that I wouldn’t be getting that epidural after all. The nurse or OB, I can’t remember because my eyes were closed, told me to stop pushing and I replied, or likely screamed I can’t, I HAVE to push. The nurse checked me and immediately gave me the ok, as if she could have stopped me anyway. The swelling was gone.  I wasn’t prepared to feel so nauseous at this time though. After each contraction and pushing I would get a wave come over me and feel it rise in my throat but nothing ever came. Then I felt the “ring of fire” which was amazing. I’m sure no one describes it as such, but it was amazing to finally feel something that I knew and understood. It was something familiar and a kind of measure of progress and timing. I knew what it meant, where I was in the labor process, and I knew that my baby was finally coming. I don’t have a concept of how long I pushed partially because I was so exhausted, but also because I didn’t really care to know. I didn’t want to hold myself to anyone else’s standards nor have unrealistic expectations based on others experiences. I just wanted to push my baby out without getting stuck. And on December 18th, 2016 at 7:49 am I did! And not only did this baby not get stuck, but it was a BOY! A gigantic 8 pound 8 ounce baby boy; the largest of my babies and not even close to the predicted weight at the ultrasound just a few days prior. The wave of excitement and disbelief was so overwhelming that when they laid him on me I did not notice his coloring. He was on my chest briefly when they brought up the clamp and scissors to cut his umbilical cord and I immediately said “no no no.” My birth plan had included delayed cord clamping, something I had not done with my others but really wanted to with this one. The OB simply said “no, I have to.” I had no idea what was happening, but knew something was not right. I didn’t recall his heart rate changing at any point in time, but I quickly realized there were no sounds coming from my baby. Maria held my hand and comforted me telling me “he needs help,” a vague yet comforting response. I lay there, attempting to watch but being fully blocked, waiting, and praying. I carefully watched my husband as he stood next to our son, trying to read his face for some kind of clue as to what was happening.

“If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.”

And then our baby cried and I saw the emotional relief wash over my husband and I could breathe again.


This birth was anything but peaceful and introspective. It was not quiet, it was not quick, and it was far from what I had envisioned. Yet it was everything for me. There were hiccups and struggles, exhaustion and fear, but so much joy and hope in the process. I felt like I had conquered the odds that weighed so heavily against me. I had proved not only to myself, but to everyone around me (and hopefully some nay-saying medical professionals) that my gut intuition and the knowledge I gained from my shoulder dystocia research was all valid. The empowerment I wanted and needed didn’t have to come from a beautiful, peaceful birth that I had envisioned. This was enough.

After 15 years together, 10 years of marriage and 3 beautiful little girls, God finally gave us Jude. We had chosen the name Jude years ago as a nod to the Beatles and our love of all things 60’s. As our lives took a drastic turn from the path we had chosen, the name Jude came to take on a very different meaning in our lives. There is not a day in our lives that God has not already seen and though I never could have imagined the events that took place, God knew.  Saint Jude calls us to be faithful and persevere under difficult circumstances, giving hope to the hopeless and despairing. God has heard our prayers and blessed us with Jude during a time in our lives when we were in absolute despair. He blessed us with Jude when I was feeling completely hopeless during labor, wanting to hit the pause button and take a break, then crying for it to just be over. He blessed us with Jude as we prayed for him to begin breathing. Jude is our sign of hope that things will be okay, a reminder to remain faithful.  This may not be the road we have chosen, just as it was not the birth I had fully envisioned, but I know that God is with us on this journey as He was on December 18th.

“If He can hold the world He can hold this moment. Not a field or flower escapes his notice oh even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow.”- Jason Gray, “Sparrows”


Unmedicated Birth & The Two Things I Needed Most To Get It Done

I always love to have my own clients share their birth stories with our blog.  It's interesting for me to see their side of the story, all written down after careful reflection.  Even though I was there, I always learn something new when they share.  Something I didn't know they were thinking, or something that led to their decisions that I wasn't aware of.  Or something I said that I totally forgot!  

When Michelle sent me this, she said "use if for the blog if ya want!".  When I read it, I was in awe.  I hope you find it as inspiring as I do!  Xo, Maria

For months before I welcomed my little boy into the world, I spent time preparing for the momentous occasion. I watched video after video on YouTube, conveniently skipping over the ones that seemed a bit too “screamy” and intense, telling myself, “you won’t be like that, you got this!” and landing comfortably on birth videos where the mama serenely breathed her baby out into a pool of warm water in a seemingly effortless way. This was the way, I told myself, I will have my baby. I read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, calling it my “birthing bible” and allowing its wisdom to guide me into the mindset that giving birth is a divine gift that women are given and that it does not have to be painful with the right set of tools. Birthing could be an orgasmic experience, Ina May said, and this was the way, I said to myself, I will have my baby. Determined to have as much control over my birth experience as possible, given that I was opting to birth in a hospital and not in the comfort of my home, I began stocking my own tool box with birthing essentials. In it, among warm socks, post-labor snacks, and a curated playlist, were the two things I thought I needed most to succeed in having the peaceful, pain-free birth I imagined: a well prepared support team and a strong state of mind.

On the beach reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth...

On the beach reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth...

My birth team consisted of my husband, my mother, and my doula. I spoke frequently to my husband about how I envisioned my birth. We thoroughly discussed the bullet points of my birth plan. When anyone said to us, sneeringly, “no epidural? Good luck with that!” he was the first to jump in to defend the decision. He had my back, he understood my “whys,” he didn’t question them, and I loved that. He made me feel completely supported in my decision to have an unmedicated birth. Additionally, in all of the readings I had done about birth, there was a pattern of surrounding oneself with strong women in your life— for me, that was my mother. I knew that I didn’t need her to specifically do anything or fill any well-orchestrated role during the birth, but I knew that I needed her there. It was that simple. Thirdly, from the onset of deciding to birth in the hospital setting, I knew I wanted the support of a doula to help me stick to my birth plan in the case of possible opposition by hospital protocol, to provide a hand to hold and encouraging words in case my husband was caught up in an emotional moment, and to counter pressure the hell out of my hips when no one else could find the exact spot to squeeze. A doula has been there to support many women through this experience before me, and I absolutely needed someone there who knew the drill, someone who was a professional in this birthing bit, someone who was 100% on my side, someone who didn’t work under the hospital agenda, someone who believed in the beauty and transformative power of giving birth; I needed my Ina May. From the moment I signed the contract with my doula, I felt a weight fall off my shoulders—that no matter what happened during this birth, I wouldn’t have to do it alone.

With my power trio ready to go, I felt externally well-equipped.

My internal, mental and emotional preparation was much more of a winding journey. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to need to be able to serenely breathe my baby out while in a hospital bed. I continued reading birth stories, I spoke to women in my circle about their birth experiences, I meditated and envisioned what I wanted this birth to be like, I spoke to my baby about how we were going to do this thing together. I was picking up pieces of experiential wisdom from women, women I knew and women I had never met, who had been there-done that, specifically those who experienced unmedicated births. I had an arsenal of mental and emotional support tactics built up, unsure of which I would ultimately employ in the moment. I was confident, however, that between my satchel of essential oils, my learned acupressure points, and my birthing mantras, something would speak to me and guide me through. The three things that I ultimately called upon in the moment: 1. a personal mantra; 2. a labor ritual; and 3. the ability to let go of expectation. 

So how exactly did it go down? Were my support team and my strong mind enough to get it done in the way I imagined I could? If you’re wondering if I had a painless birth, the answer to that is a resounding #&%$ no! It was not painless, it was not orgasmic, it was more intense than any YouTube video that I skipped over could have prepared me for. However, in all of the intensity of contraction pains and the uncertainty of not knowing how long each phase of labor was going to last, perhaps driven by sheer exhaustion, there were moments of euphoric peacefulness that happened when I turned completely inward and allowed time and my surroundings to drift away from me. 

Because I had a birth team around me who I trusted implicitly to support me when it came to what I needed physically and emotionally (though I mostly ended up needing quietness), I was able to trust in what was happening externally and focus every ounce of my consciousness on what I needed to do internally get through the physical intensity necessary to birth my son. My husband was amazing. When the midwife on duty recommended Pitocin for the third time since my hospital arrival, my husband, completely exasperated, digging through my hospital bag, yelled, “where is the birth plan  change of environment ended up being a welcomed saving grace for about an hour. He poured hot water over my arms in the shower while it beat down on my back and held my hand through contractions. He used techniques from our natural birth workshop, and he gave me the space to do what I needed to do. He demonstrated wholly what it means to be a life partner, and it has since strengthened our relationship in a way that I had not written into the context of my birth expectations. Member two of my entourage, my mom, got ice and water when I needed it and she was there, present, just as I needed her to be. Now that the birth has come and gone, I reflect on how important this role was for me, because she was witness to the entire process. When I need to relive a moment from the day, ask a question about how something happened, or just get a little verbal high five, she is a phone call away and always eager to hash it out with me. The only person more proud of what I accomplished than I am might be my mom. Lastly, there was the “closer,” my doula, who we called about 6 hours after I went into labor (without Pitocin!), when my contractions were becoming extreme and I had doubts in my capabilities to continue on, and about 5 hours before the baby came. By the time she arrived, I was pretty far into my own state of Labor Land, pretty turned inward, and pretty uninhibited outwardly.  I remember her sitting calmly next to me, not scared by the deep moans and wounded animal sounds I was making, and holding my hand. I asked her questions, like “how much longer,” and she sweetly said, “I don’t know, but you’re doing great.” She supported me in a way that was comforting but strong; she did not feel bad for me for the pain I was experiencing, she did not want to take that pain away from me like the people in the room who knew me and loved me and wanted to protect me. There were no “aw, I’m sorry”s, there were only words of encouragement, empowerment, and reassurance that an amazing gift awaited me. As I crushed her hand with mine, I knew that she and I were about to do something amazing together because we both believed I was strong enough to accomplish it, no matter how many times I said I couldn’t go on. To any woman interested in an unmedicated birth, do yourself a favor, and buy yourself a cheerleader (I mean HIRE A DOULA!). I am so grateful to my doula, and I would never have had such a positive birthing experience without her.

While all of these things were happening outside of me, inside I was calling upon the techniques I learned from women-past, scouring my mental catalogue for what was going to work for me. To handle the intensity of my contractions, I remembered the metaphor used by Ina May; that each contraction was a wave, and I just had to ride each wave out— easy, right? Being a beach babe, this metaphor resonated for me, and it became my mantra with each contraction, as it gave each contraction a clear beginning, and more importantly, a clear end. If someone was talking as I entered one of the waves, I threw up a hand and said “shhhh,” unable and unwilling to speak words. I closed my eyes and swayed from side to side, seated in lotus pose on my hospital bed. Upright and seated this way, legs crossed, was the most comfortable position for me for much of my laboring. This position and this motion became my laboring ritual that I came back to. I breathed deeply and I said to myself with every wave, “I am going up the wave, I am on top of the wave, I am going down the wave,” and I envisioned my body actively riding up the backside of a big wave, perched on the top of the wave, and gliding effortlessly down the wave. Between contractions, I continued to sway, often dozing off to sleep for the short minutes before another came and getting right back into the ritual partnered with the mantra. If I was awake between contractions, I would tell myself another mantra I had constructed weeks before I went into labor at the recommendation of a friend: “My body is strong, my mind is strong, my baby is strong.” Through the combination of a position that felt comfortable, positive self talk, and reliance on the wave metaphor, I was able to breathe my way through most hours of labor. 

The end of labor, the most intense part, right before you get to meet your baby, required something much more difficult for me; it required letting go of everything I expected to happen in order to allow it to happen. I strongly relied on the “process” of birth, and I took comfort in the notion that everything would proceed according to a well ordered plan— Nature’s plan, the miracle of birth. I should have thrown this heavy reliance on process out the window when my water broke and I didn’t go into labor for another 24+ hours (hence the Pitocin talk). I didn’t throw it out because I needed to trust the process in order to get through it. I trusted it to get me 4 cm and I trusted it to get me to 6, but when I heard “6 centimeters” after what seemed like forever, I wanted to give up. My support team assured me this was great progress, but to me, for whatever reason, it seemed like failure. How could I have progressed so little and given so much effort? This is when I asked for the last time “how much longer?” and again no one knew. How could anyone know? In this moment, I had to give in to this not knowing. Up until this point, I felt great control over the process— I had successfully avoided induction, I was handling my contractions like a champ, I was doing “birth" the way I had prepared to do it, but then I had to let go. So I did. In that instant, I felt weak, physically and emotionally. I wanted to cry but didn’t have the energy to waste. Giving into the unknown, this moment of “weakness,” was one of the strongest things I had to do. Oh, the irony! In reflection, never in my life have I, nor will I, experience feeling both the weakest and the strongest at exact same moment. After this relinquishing, it didn’t take long to get to the point of saying, “I’ve gotta push!”. My birth plan stated that I did not want to be coached on how to push my baby out. I overheard the new midwife on duty (the one who would amazingly deliver my baby) restate my birth plan to one of the nurses in the room. When I heard the words, I yelled out, “NO! Coach me!”. I learned the lesson throughout the process that I was adaptable and that I needed to let go of what I thought I wanted the process to look like. Ultimately, what I wanted most was to push my baby out was however the midwife recommended it be done to allow it to happen the fastest. Within a half hour, I was holding an 8 pound, 15 ounce beautiful baby boy on my chest while a room of supportive women (and my husband!) cheered for me and the miraculous thing I had just accomplished. 

As I write this, I have a perfect sleeping boy on my lap and a profound respect for my body and for every woman who has ever birthed a baby, no matter how she accomplished the daunting task. My reason for choosing an unmedicated birth was a selfish one— I wanted to experience the gift of child birth in all of its intense, unpredictable glory. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to execute birthing in the way that I wanted to, surrounded by my tribe of support. It is my hope that every woman takes immense pride in what her body is capable of doing, and that (if she wants) she has the capacity to build her own tool box, equipping herself with the tools necessary to birth exactly as she wants to, feeling empowered and like the rock star that she is.

unnamed (2).jpg

More than the Blues: Perinatal Mood Disorders

Today we are welcoming Jaime Coates, LCPC, NCC, on our blog to share her personal and professional story that led her to supporting with perinatal mood disorders.  We hope you find this informative and inviting.  Jaime is a sweet soul who is fantastic at her job and if you're experiencing symptoms that are "more than the blues", we hope you'll reach out.

If you are preparing for pregnancy, are pregnant and planning to deliver soon, or have recently given birth, you have probably heard the term, postpartum depression or baby blues. What is this exactly? How do you know the difference between the two?  You have probably wondered if you are at risk for developing these symptoms or might be experiencing these symptoms and not sure how to handle them.

Jaime Coates, LCPC, NCC

              I am a Licensed Clinical Therapist and currently provide mental health therapy at Seaside Counseling and Wellness Center in Berlin, Maryland. I have been working in the Behavioral Health field since 2009 and more recently have expanded my practice to work with the perinatal population. After becoming a mom two short years ago, the transition into parenthood was way more than I expected. My husband is the oldest of 6 siblings and frequently reminded me of how much work parenthood would be. I have been the youngest in my family and usually carry a determined and go-getter attitude, so I would always quickly respond with, “we can handle it, how hard could it be?” Transitioning to this new role as a mom was one of the hardest challenges I have ever faced. I enjoy sleep; I value sleep and believe it is extremely necessary to function appropriately. I was prepared for going to the hospital, I was prepared for the delivery, and I was prepared for being tired, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of exhaustion we would undergo the days after delivering a newborn. I wasn’t prepared for the changes in my body, the hormones, and the uncertainty. I wasn’t prepared for how hard breastfeeding would be, the newborn cries that made your heart ache or the difficulty with night time. I think I searched a million forums trying to find answers or reassurance that what we were doing or the way she was acting was ok. Long story short, this adjustment to parenthood was tough. I always valued and appreciated my parents, but this new role provided me with a newfound respect for parents, mothers and especially single parents; as I highly appreciated the support and help from my husband throughout this transition.

Abigail Coates-0069.jpg

As a mom, we can sometimes be perceived as these magical, strong creatures that can handle anything (which is true), however we also need some time to ourselves, time to heal, time to understand our emotions. It’s ok to feel the way we do, it’s ok to be tired, it’s ok to feel drained while going through these adjustments. It’s ok to take care of ourselves!

Moving into a private practice agency this past year, I became more aware of our local resources and supports.  I soon realized that there were not many, if any therapeutic services in our community with a sole focus on moms, parents or those interested in becoming parents and struggling with infertility.  A lot of women may be experiencing severe stress, anxiety or depression and are hesitant to seek help or support due to underlying fears or unknown judgments. A lot of moms don’t get the support or help that they need because they are nervous, scared, embarrassed or believe, “this could never happen to me.” One out of seven moms experience postpartum distress related to depression or anxiety, but yet there is still limited conversations about it. The more we talk, the more we help! Once one person speaks out on infertility or mental health issues or seeking parenting help, so many others join in with the same questions or share that they too have been in a similar situation. My goal is to raise awareness for perinatal health, for women and parents going through tough or challenging adjustments. I want to help expecting or experienced parents know that they are not alone and that there is professional help that can provide tools or resources for a happier, less stressful transition and lifestyle.

What is a Perinatal Mood Disorder?

              Perinatal is the term used to describe the period of pregnancy and the first year after the baby is born. It is important to remember that a disorder is considered when these symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily functioning and can occur in more than one setting.  Perinatal Mood Disorders include Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder as well as Postpartum Psychosis. Perinatal Mood Disorders can appear during pregnancy or days or months after childbirth. Even though the known term is “Postpartum,” symptoms and disorders can begin during pregnancy.

Baby Blues versus Postpartum Depression

The baby blues effects between 60%-80% of new moms. Symptoms for baby blues includes crying, feeling overwhelmed with this new role as well as feeling uncertain, some sleep deprivation and fatigue. These symptoms arise partly due to the extreme hormone fluctuation after giving birth. Baby blues lasts no more than 2 days to 2 weeks after delivery. Baby Blues is not as severe as postpartum depression, the timing of symptoms occurs soon after delivery and the duration is no longer than 2 weeks. Depression can include a prolonged period of sadness and crying, possible suicidal thoughts or ideations, appetite changes, sleep disturbances, poor concentration and focus, irritability and anger, hopelessness or helplessness as well as guilt or shame, feeling extremely overwhelmed, lacking feelings towards your baby, possible inability to take care of yourself, loss of interest in activities, possible anxiety, isolation mood swings or worthlessness. It is important to remember that a disorder is considered when symptoms are severe enough to interfere with one’s daily functioning.


Helpful Therapy Services

              The world of Women’s health and wellness is ever growing and is starting to expand on the Eastern Shore. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms or changes related to perinatal mood disorders, difficulty with a pregnancy or becoming pregnant, adjusting to parenthood or are experienced parents going through life adjustments of high stress, mental health therapy can help.

I have recently received a certification of training in Perinatal Mood Disorders from the Postpartum Support International and have over 8 years experience working in the mental health field, dealing with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other related mood disorders. I provide a safe and non judgmental environment to help clients discover their strengths with the use of client centered, solution focused, strength based and cognitive behavioral therapies. Therapy helps by meeting the client where they are at, and assists in building appropriate skills for the presenting problem. Therapy can provide education or act as a support and motivator by helping to improve symptoms of stress or sadness, communication skills, reduce irritability and learn how to maintain a healthy and happier lifestyle.

I understand how difficult it can be planning a pregnancy, the transition into parenthood or managing the different phases of your child’s life. With my professional background and training, I am here to support and help other moms or future moms and parents with these adjustments. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms or changes, please call me at Seaside Counseling and Wellness Center at 410.973.2525 or you can check out my website at or for more information and to learn more about the different Perinatal Mood Disorders.  

“No Matter How Tall The Mountain, It Cannot Block Out The Sun.” -Chinese Proverb


Birth Planning: Tips from a Doula


As you're preparing for your upcoming birth, you are probably considering many options, like:

Should I use drugs for pain management?
Will I want to labor in the hospital bed or move around?
Are my IV fluids necessary?  Can I request not to have them?
And SO many more!

Just thinking about all of the "what ifs" and procedures in labor and birth can be exhausting and overwhelming.  But when it's time for the big event, you may find yourself uncomfortable, trying to make decisions while laboring, scared, and not able to express yourself.  These feelings are normal!  Which is why it's so crucial to be prepared beforehand so that you aren't left feeling confused, fearful, and overwhelmed on what is supposed to be the best day of your life!

When I was hired by my very first doula client, we spent a considerable amount of time planning and preparing for her birth during our prenatal visits.  I wanted to know exactly how she wanted to feel and exactly what her wishes were so that I could do my best to support her.  We crafted a simple birth plan that covered some of her wishes and her thoughts about how she would like her experience to unfold.  She felt prepared, excited, and ready to meet her baby.

Of course, birth is unpredictable, and life threw her a few curve balls.  The best thing about creating a birth plan is the process that you go through to create it.  You learn about common interventions, procedures, and other possibilities that could come up in the course of your labor.  You develop an understanding about what is normal and what is not, and you've already done the research to know how you might want to handle each situation.  You've set your intentions, but you're educated about ALL options.

When it was clear that her birth plan had to change, she had already done the work beforehand to accept that birth plans aren't set in stone.   We quickly designed a new "plan", which took into account her unexpected situation, but was still respectful of her wishes and desires for her experience.  

We arrived at the hospital and cautiously handed the birth plan over to the nurses.  I had never done this before, so I was a little worried about how they would react to the list of desires.  Guess what?! The nurse relayed to the midwife that they were about to have a natural birth and everyone quickly jumped into action to support her!  The nurse gave her an overview of what to expect in her situation as the labor progressed, the midwife grabbed a birth ball and turned off the lights in the room so my client could relax.  I could tell that there was a special energy in the room.  Everyone seemed excited to witness this labor in an unusual situation.  They gladly welcomed me and did their best to make sure that my client's wishes were met.

It was a beautiful, hard, humbling birth that started a little rocky and unexpected, and ended with a gorgeous baby in her arms and a happy mom who said that she would do it all over again! 

Over the past years, we've written our own birth plans for our own birth experiences, helped women write theirs in our childbirth education classes, and guided our doula clients in crafting their birth plans.  We've been able to see what works and what doesn't in each local hospital and with different care providers.  And my team and I have come up with a fantastic document that guides you through the process of designing the perfect birth plan.

From start to finish, you'll feel confident and secure knowing that you've considered every possible option and designed a clear and concise birth plan that perfectly expresses your wishes and how you want to feel during this most important day!

Download now! THRIVE Doulas 6 Tips for Creating the Perfect Birth Plan:

I'm also interested in...
Check all that apply

What Do Amniotic Fluid and Tacos Have in Common?

She's 9 months pregnant and strolling the aisles of the grocery store picking up last minute things to make freezer meals before her baby comes.  Her water breaks and there's a big gush of fluid rushing down her legs onto the floor.  Contractions start immediately and she's panting and groaning through them.  Everyone rushes to get her in a car and the vehicle flies through traffic lights and stop signs to get her to the hospital just in time for her to scream her baby out.  EMERGENCY!!!

I hope you already know that it rarely ever happens that way.  And if you didn't know, I'm here to tell you: It probably will not happen like that to you.  In fact, only about 10% of women have their water break before labor starts.  The majority of waters rupture well into the labor process, and quite often, very near the end.  

What do Amniotic Fluid and Tacos Have in Common-.png

Now I bet you're wondering why the title has the word "tacos" in it, huh?  Well, if you've given birth before, you've probably experienced a situation where your care provider asks you if your water has broken yet.  If the answer was yes, they may have asked you a few questions about it.  Check those questions out now so you know what to look for next time and can be prepared to answer them!  If your water breaks, remember "TACO":

T (Time): 

What time did your water break?  Care providers will want to know how long your membranes have been ruptured.  In most cases, there are protocols for how long you can have ruptured membranes before birth.  The concern is an increased risk of infection, as your protective bag of waters is no longer surrounding your little baby inside.  If your water broke and you're not already in active labor, remember to limit the risk of infection by not inserting anything into the vagina, including tampons, fingers, having intercourse, etc.  Take showers instead of baths.  Remember, each time something (even a gloved finger from a care provider) is inserted, the risk of infection goes up.

A (Amount): 

Was it a huge gush of fluid that came out like a waterfall?  Or did you happen to feel a few small leaks here and there?  Could the leaks have been urine?  Have you had sex recently?  Could the leaks have been semen? Could the leaks or fluid be vaginal discharge?  Many women experience a lot of discharge in late pregnancy.  Those may sound like silly questions, but they all happen and that's okay!

C (Color): 

What color was the fluid?  Normal amniotic fluid is colorless and sometimes a bit cloudy.  Occasionally it is lightly tinged with small amounts of blood or mucus. Sometimes it has white flakes in it, which is just vernix that came off of baby's skin.  The reason why they ask this question is because sometimes the fluid can be slightly or heavily tinted with meconium. Sometimes, baby passes his/her first stool while still in utero.  This is common and very rarely an indication of a problem, but the care providers like to know because each hospital has a different protocol for how to respond to this situation.  In our local hospital, they invite a respiratory therapist into the labor and delivery room just before birth.  The respiratory therapist stands in the back and out of the way.  If the baby has trouble breathing on his/her own, the therapist is there to help, so the baby doesn't aspirate any of the meconium in the water.  Usually the baby is born, cries and breathes just fine, and the therapist quietly slips back out.  If you're concerned about this or would like to know the protocol in your own hospital, make sure to ask your care provider during your pregnancy.

O (Odor): 

What does it smell like? Yep, you gotta smell it to answer this question.  Either your underwear or a sanitary pad that you're wearing.  Most people describe amniotic fluid as smelling odorless, sweet, clean, or like semen.  I suppose each person thinks of it differently.  Here's why we smell it.  We want to make sure it doesn't smell like urine, which has a distinctive smell.  And we want to make sure it doesn't smell foul.  Foul smelling amniotic fluid can be a symptom of a uterine infection that you'll want to get checked out.  In most cases, though, you're just trying to determine if it's amniotic fluid or urine.

So, there you have it.  Tacos and amniotic fluid DO have something in common!  If you think your water has broken or are unsure, go through these little questions yourself so you already know your answers for when you call your care provider. 

Now, did I ruin Mexican food for you for the rest of your pregnancy?  I hope not.  If I did, just rearrange the letters and remember the word "COAT" instead!