With her baby in the breech position at 33 weeks, Jennifer’s doctor recommended that she see a local chiropractor to help turn her baby. The baby is still breech at 37 weeks and the doctor advised her to schedule a caesarean delivery. Jennifer has been having surges at 36 weeks that were intermittent. I explained that these are pre-labor warm-ups and when she is in true labor the surges will not stop. When we spoke on Sunday night, she had two more days of work left and she was anxious to be done. I suggested that she do her relaxation techniques after work on Tuesday, and to tell her body and her baby “I’m ready now; everything is taken care of and done. I’m anxious to meet you and I trust that you and my body will work perfectly together.”
On Sunday night she woke up to spotting and was having surges. She went to the doctor the next morning and learned that she was 4 cm. dilated, but her baby was still in the breech position. He suggested that she go into the hospital immediately and have her baby by caesarean delivery. On Monday morning, at 37 weeks, Jennifer called to tell me she is checking into the hospital that afternoon at 3pm. I meet her and her husband in the lobby and take pictures of them still pregnant. We are admitted and Jennifer asks the nurse if they could still honor her birth plan for infant care after delivery and the nurse agrees. Jennifer puts on a hospital gown. As she lay in bed, we talk about the excitement of meeting their baby girl today. Jennifer shares her fear of surgery, since she has never experienced it before. Her doctor arrives and is kind, attentive and reassuring. He brings in the ultrasound machine “just to make sure the baby hasn’t turned head down overnight.” Jennifer appreciates the gesture. “Yes the baby is still breech” the doctor says, and tells them that they will be ready to take her into surgery in 15 minutes.
Jennifer, Michael and I take a minute to put on soft music. I tell her to lightly close her eyes, take deep breaths and to send her breath into my hand as I hold it lightly on her chest. I speak softly to her, saying “with every breath you breathe in relaxation, breathe out tension and fear. Send that fear all the way out your body through your feet.” I then say “as you enter the operating room, you will become deeply relaxed knowing that you are in an area of safety and you know that you are in good hands, surrounded by caring and competent medical staff. Following the surgery you will feel very comfortable and you will heal very quickly.” It only took a minute. Jennifer opens her eyes and says “thank you!” As Jennifer walks into the operating room, her husband puts on a paper suit. We talk about him meeting his daughter for the first time. He thanks me for calming his wife and putting her in a positive place for her surgery.
I sit and wait for the family to come into the recovery room. Dad comes in first with a little 6 pound bundle in his arms. The baby is a beautiful color and is sucking on her fingers. Dad proudly tells me her APCAR score was 10. Shortly after, Jennifer is wheeled back to the room. She has a smile on her face and asks me to rub her legs to help bring the feeling back. As I rub her legs, I feel so proud to have been a part of this wonderful birthing experience with this special family. Jennifer and Michael have tears of joy and loving hugs for each other. New mother Jennifer has a beautiful baby girl in her arms and a loving husband by her side. I say goodbye and leave this sweet family, feeling warm and happy.
This is another beautiful place for the labor doula to be. Your passion for the parents and the newborn comes through you and has a place even during preparation for a caesarean birth. They are all sacred births.
Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the parents.
Jo Kilburn is a DONA certified labor doula since 2006 and a certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner since 2005. Jo loves helping her clients learn and use the meditation-like breathing and relaxation techniques that are so beneficial during labor and delivery. She has a passion and love for the process of bringing babies into our world, and joyfully attends the vaginal, caesarean and VBAC deliveries to parents at hospital, birth center and home births. She lives and practices in North County, San Diego.
Jo Kilburn is truly one of the most gentle, kind, and caring spirits I have ever met. We are honored to have her as our spotlighted practitioner, and hope that you too will discover Jo and what she has to offer to this community. We had the opportunity to ask Jo some questions about her work and inspiration; please take a moment to soak in what she had to say.
1. What is your relationship to fertility, pregnancy, birth, and/or mommy/baby care, and how does your work relate to it?
My relationship is as a certified labor doula with DONA and a certified HypnoBirthing childbirth educator. I have taught many new parents the techniques of natural labor and delivery and attended wonderful undisturbed births over the past 9 years.
2. What inspired you to do the work you do?
I had my two daughters at home and this was the true inspiration to working in the birthing community for the past 30 years. I had beautiful births in the sacred space of my home surrounded with love and support. Their births reflected on the children they were, to the adult women they have become. I feel my calling into this work is to educate and guide woman who come in contact with me to experience this bond and empowerment that is theirs to have through their birthing.
3. What is the most important thing a pregnant woman or a woman trying to conceive should know about her body, giving birth, and caring for herself and her baby, based on your personal and professional experience?
The first thing that comes to mind, for all of the above is, “TRUST in your body and your own instinctual ability.” We are not taught to trust our bodies in our society. We are taught to doubt and question if our bodies are healthy or capable, through media and competitive social structures. If we could “re-teach” ourselves how to breathe and relax through our adult life’s traumas and exertions I believe we would all be in better health for ourselves and our families.
4. What is your biggest obstacle in supporting pregnant or trying-to-conceive women and/or babies?
My biggest obstacle is when women do not believe the advice and suggestions offered to them. Our advice, as birth advocates, is to show them freedom of choice based on knowledge of alternatives both in maternity and newborn care. Birthing professionals are mostly speaking from their own experience which consists of education, attendance to births and postpartum support, birth related conferences and conclaves, extensive reading and studying with mentors throughout the birthing community. We all truly want woman to have the most fulfilling and empowering experience for themselves and their families.
5. Tell me your best success story.
There have been so many!! Experiencing with a couple, the individual love and support that comes natural with each other, during the whole process of birthing their child together, is absolutely phenomenal. A birth I recently attended was in Scripps Mercy hospital, where the young mother asked the OBGYN if her husband could “receive” their daughter. The Doctor said, “of course!” She had the husband put on the “paper suit and gloves” and then showed him how to do perineal support while his baby was crowning. Then with her hands under his and speaking instructions softly to him, he received his daughter into his hands and after giving her a kiss on her vernix covered forehead, placed her on his wife’s chest and waiting arms. Sigh, that was incredible.
Sep. 2, 2009
Jo: Since giving birth to my daughters at home in my early 20’s, I have known that being involved with, supporting and educating birth was going to be a very passionate topic for me. I started attending homebirths as a birth coach and “gopher” to the midwives and families. In my role as, “go for this and go for that”, I attended 12 homebirths by the time my daughter was 2 yrs. old. Through out the evolution of my life I have been involved with women birthing their babies.
Jo: A doula is a woman who has empathy and respect for women and families. Her role extends to those who are pregnant and preparing for the journey of labor and delivery. She is also a woman who has time and energy to spare for those women who need her support. My inspiration came from making the choice of having my two children in the warmth and safety of my home. Teaching me that birthing a child onto this planet is the most awe-inspiring commitment that any one human can share with another. Birth is a natural physiological process that the female body has the gift of giving.
Jo: The joy of conceiving a child with the one you adore allows you to approach your pregnancy and birthing experience with trust for the potential of your body and your growing baby. Helping to educate families, guiding them to the potential of their own abilities of being healthy of body, mind and spirit during their conception and pregnancy is a focus I have in relating to all women. My work as a doula and childbirth educator gives me the opportunity to share with woman and their partners the inner strength they all have in their hearts that will enhance their ability to labor with a relaxed and trusting mind.
Jo: The woman should consciously begin to prepare her body for the growth of her baby at conception. Being aware of bad habits and have the determination to eliminate them from both her body and her mind. Don’t give into pressure from ANYONE. Trust in your own strengths and abilities to know what is best for your body and your baby. Because you do!
Jo: The # 1 biggest obstacle,
is woman feeling that they are inadequate or not strong enough. Ina
May’s lament, “Your body is not a lemon” is a very strong message.
Women will give away their power of self to their families and doctors
resigning themselves that someone else knows best for them.
The # 2 biggest obstacles are our medical hospitals and professionals making laboring women feel like they are in a life and death struggle during labor.
Jo: Gosh, there are so many beautiful success stories. My first catch was in a local hospital. Mother birthing second baby, sitting up, with sheet draped over her legs. Her eyes got big and she said “something is happening.” Her baby was beginning to crown. The nurse ran out of the room to get the doctor. I saw the baby was gently easing her way out, so I put my hand down to support its head. Warm amniotic fluid washed over my hand, as she slipped onto the bed, between her mother’s legs, making little squeaks and calmly looking around. It’s a miracle to watch babies so gently come into our world.
Jo: I first joined Birth Resource Network 5 years ago in the desire to be connected with other doulas. It has since grown into San Diego Birth Network, which is a large group of natural birth advocates. Our mission has always been to bring local resources to the expectant and new family. Now with our new website, families can find information on doulas, postpartum support, lactation educators and the list goes on. www.birthresourcenetwork.org
Jo: A red tent is where
mother’s voices are allowed to be heard in a safe and sacred environment.
The Bold Action organizations concept is
to gather woman under a “red tent”, listen to mothers’ birth stories
and then record their stories in film or written word and be archived
in the BOLD Library of Birth Truths. www.boldaction.org
SDBN has hosted this event three times. We were inspired, by offering a safe place where woman in San Diego county could come together for a few hours and share their stories, tears and laughter with other woman and mothers who were there for the same reason.