We love seeing the photos and stories that our families post on Instagram! Each one is a special moment that we were honored to be a part of. Most recently, we were showered with good messages for International Day of the Midwife. Thanks to all our clients who thought of us and shared their stories!
The COVID vaccine became available to Vermont healthcare workers in December, so we all signed up and received ours as soon as we could. We want to do everything we can to help keep all our families and clients safe during this time, and being vaccinated is one thing we can do to help. We encourage everyone to get the vaccine when it's your turn in order to protect the most vulnerable Vermonters. Questions about the vaccine in pregnancy or with breastfeeding? We are happy to chat anytime to make sure all your questions are answered and you have the information you need about the various vaccines and how they work.
Did you know how amazing placentas are? Here's a few placenta facts (from Kaylee Lambert at the Huffington Post):
1. The placenta acts as lungs for the baby.
When you breathe, your body provides oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, the placenta does the same thing for the fetus. The oxygen passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord to be delivered into the baby’s bloodstream. The placenta also acts as the baby’s kidneys by filtering out waste.
2. The placenta can provide immunity to the baby long after birth.
During pregnancy, the placenta transfers antibodies from the pregnant person to the fetus that provide immune protection. These antibodies can provide three to six months of immunity for the baby after being born.
3. Both the pregnant person and baby’s blood passes through the placenta, but they don’t mix.
The pregnant person and baby exchange oxygen and nutrients through the placenta, but if their blood was to intermingle it could cause problems with the pregnancy. The pregnant person’s immune system would create antibodies to get rid of the baby’s blood and it could destroy the pregnancy. Instead, the blood passes through separate arteries. Incredibly, about 20 per cent of the pregnant person’s blood flows through the placenta every single minute.
4. Babies can send cells through the placenta that protect and heal the pregnant person’s organs.
Fetal cells can transfer to the pregnant person during pregnancy, and they seem to target sites of injury. These cells have been found in the skin, liver, kidney and bone marrow in healthy people as well as people with autoimmune diseases. They have also been found in people with diseases like hepatitis C and cervical cancer. There is evidence that the presence of these cells is increased in diseased tissues.
5. The placenta has spiritual significance in some cultures.
In different parts of the world, the placenta is seen as more than just a disposable organ. In Nepal, the placenta is considered a friend to the baby, in Malaysia it’s an elder sibling, a twin in Nigeria, and part of the baby itself in Hawaii.
Excerpt from "Placenta Facts: The 'Least Understood' Organ Is Pretty Freaking Amazing
The placenta is “the least understood human organ."
Kaylee Lambert, The Huffington Post
06/14/2016 03:38am EDT | Updated June 14, 2016
Ever wonder what a typical first pregnancy and birth is like here at Full Spectrum Midwifery? Our past client Catherine shared her story:
"I came to Full Spectrum midwifery at the tail end of my first trimester of my first pregnancy. As a first-time Mama, I had loads of questions. Overall, I would say I was a pretty anxious pregnant person- it was hard for me not to worry about what I was doing and whether it was the right thing for our baby. “Can I eat this?” “Is this normal?” “Should this look like that?!” April and Peggy always replied to my questions quickly and thoughtfully. They were reassuring and incredibly knowledgeable. Pregnancy, as April would say, is “full of sensations.” And they helped me roll with a very sensation-full pregnancy.
As it got closer to the time to meet our babe, they instilled confidence in me and my husband that we would be able to have the birth we wanted. I was very uncomfortable at the end of pregnancy (as most women are) so Peggy and April gave me some herbs to help move things along at 40 weeks and 3 days. The night I started taking the herbs I had my bloody show. That was a Monday. I had mild contractions that night but slept a full night. Then Tuesday, contractions went away and my husband and I puttered around- tapped our maple trees, played scrabble with my mother who was in town to help with the birth, and ate good food. Then, as evening came on, my energy began to dip and the contractions began to rise again and this time stronger. Being first-time parents, we were very excited. We called April and she let us know she’d come later that night. After a long night of mild contractions, April checked me and we learned I had only progressed to a few centimeters and contractions were slowing as the sun rose. April and IvyRose tucked us into bed and suggested it was time to get some sleep. We did our best not to be disappointed and we slept for a good chunk of the late morning and early afternoon.
I awoke at 4 pm on Wednesday to roaring contractions. Nothing like what I had felt the prior two nights. My husband drew me a bath and by the time I got out, I was on another planet. April and Shari arrived around 7 pm and I was 7 centimeters! I was GBS positive so they got the IV drip in right away. The tub was then set up and I got into it as soon as I could. The warm water felt amazing. I was pretty quickly in transition and I rode all of transition out in the tub. The experience, for me, was powerful, primal and sometimes scary. But the midwives were there to reassure me that everything was happening just as it should. Most of the time, it felt like my husband and I were laboring alone, in a good way. It was a very intimate and raw experience. Then, I felt something change and was able to verbalize to the birth team (all of whom were sitting in the bedroom next to our bathroom where the tub was) that I felt like I needed to push. I remember that they said “Yay!! We thought that was happening!” The relief I felt hearing their encouragement and support at that moment took me right through 2.5 hours of pushing! The birth team had me get out of the tub, warm up, dry off and start pushing in the bedroom. We tried a few different positions, but ultimately, my husband was behind me, and I was on my back, holding my heels in a very active happy baby pose. Mesa was born at 1:41 am on a Thursday. I reached down and Shari gently and quickly handed him to me. He spent the next hour on my chest or my husbands. We were in complete awe of him.
I did not tear, and I credit that to the expert coaching of the birth team who helped gently guide our baby out and encouraged me to rest between contractions. I did have some slight excess bleeding after birth and April administered pitocin- another example of how this expert team takes a cautious, diligent approach to care. Before they left, the team meticulously cleaned the birth areas, made sure we ate, and were all cozy. Again, they tucked us into our bed. This time with our sweet baby, Mesa. We are so grateful to the team at Full Spectrum Midwifery for our beautiful, safe, and powerful homebirth."
Did you know that midwives are trained to care for newborns for the first 2-4 weeks after birth? We do a full head-to-toe check up on baby's birthday, including weighing, measuring and giving any routine newborn medications you have opted for your baby to receive. We also do two more home visits in the first week to check on baby's wellbeing and provide breastfeeding/chestfeeding support. We then see baby in our office for their two week check-up, at which point we send all our newborn records to your pediatric care provider for ongoing care. We offer all the same routine tests done at hospital, such as the newborn screening, heart/oxygen test, and hearing screen. New parents love having their first baby checks done right in their own home. And, taking care of babies is one of our favorite parts of the job!
(Amazing photos by Amanda Young Photography)
We are sisters and we just had our first babies 10 weeks apart. Early in our pregnancies, we each set out on our own birthing journey in order to make the best decisions for our families and our babes. After reading many books and articles, talking to OBs, midwives and doulas, visiting the hospital, and some serious soul searching, we each came to the conclusion independently that home birth was the best option for us, specifically with Peggy, April, Shari, and Ivyrose.
Laura and Chris’ story:
February 4th, the due date, came and went with no signs of labor. A couple of days later we had the biggest snow storm of the winter. We live out in the woods and were a bit nervous that the midwives wouldn’t make it to us in the storm, but it passed and I was still pregnant. The morning of February 9th was fairly normal, I thought, because I had never had a baby before and have no idea what contractions might feel like! After timing them for a bit and getting over the initial denial phase, we accepted the fact that this could be it!!!
We were SO ready to meet our baby and find out the gender! The afternoon was filled with timing contractions, laboring over a yoga ball with Chris putting counter pressure on my hips, my mom, dad, and pregnant sister feeding me snacks and ice and occasionally relieving Chris and taking over hip duty. And my dogs stayed very close to me and were the best support puppies you could ever ask for. Then Peggy and Shari arrived! They checked on our baby’s heartbeat and checked me over and then started setting up the birth tub in our bedroom. I was PUMPED for that birthing tub. Quite possibly one of the best things ever- there was a hot tub in my bedroom! As soon as that tub was filled, I scooted upstairs as fast as I could and hopped in. I labored in the tub for about an hour and a half with Chris holding me and supporting me the entire time. A birth playlist of relaxing music played in the background and the lights were dimmed. I completely let everything go. I gave into my body and turned off my mind, which I had been practicing with hypnobirthing. I let out loud, low moans through each wave to help my body open up and when transition came I could feel my whole body shudder. It was like the entire world was shaking. I let out some crazy laughs and continued to breathe as deeply as I possibly could. THEN you relax and there is this magical moment after transition where your body pauses and rests. I was ready to push this babe out! As I started to push, my water had just broken and we could start seeing our baby’s dark hair coming out. Peggy and Shari coached me on my breathing so I could control the pushes and stretch my skin slowly. I reached down and felt the little head coming out and was soooo excited! A few more pushes with Chris supporting me, my mom taking photos, and my sister and dad holding my legs, our baby arrived! We pulled her up to my body, cut the cord and she took her first breath. Once we were all out of the tub and on the bed we finally realized that we had a daughter!!! Hadley Jean was born at 11:24pm and she is perfect. Chris and I both couldn’t believe the experience we just had bringing our daughter into this world. We were able to experience her first moments in this world and our first moments as a family in the comfort of our own bedroom. Shari and Peggy checked her over and helped with getting her latched. They checked me over and helped me shower and pee for the first time (slightly scary but not really at all when you have Peggy and Shari supporting you.) I had minor tears and did not need stitches, which I had been terrified of for months (thank you very much, perineal massage and coaching to push slowly to prevent tearing!) Once Peggy and Shari gave us our directions and made plans to come back the following day, they left and we looked at each other like “holy moly, what just happened!! That baby just came out of my body!” I felt SO empowered! I had been training my body physically for childbirth and training my brain mentally and emotionally for childbirth and had just accomplished exactly what I set out to do. My husband, Chris, was just amazing. My dad, mom, and sister April were an incredible support team. Peggy and Shari (and not in attendance but equally as important, April and Ivyrose) made me feel safe. They coached me in all my appointments leading up to the birth to help prepare me, and by being my birth team, they gave me the feeling of safety so that I could deliver my babe at home with no worries or concerns holding me back. I knew they would keep me safe and keep my baby safe. Their knowledge and expertise has given me the best birth experience I could ever imagine.
April and Collin’s Story
My home birth journey began when Laura first told me she was going to have her baby at home and my first thought was, “I would never do that!” I had just found out I was pregnant myself and knew I wanted an unmedicated birth, but I wanted the safety of the hospital, as I believed at the time. Collin and I had our first meeting with the midwives to discuss how they assist during hospital births. We walked out of there and decided on the car ride home that we wanted a home birth instead! I don’t remember exactly what they said to us that day, but we immediately trusted them and learned that home births are incredibly safe with the right support. We then began to prepare and learn all we could about pregnancy and birth.
At thirty weeks pregnant, I attended my first birth ever, the birth of my niece at Laura’s home. I am so grateful for the experience because it allowed me to see how amazing birth, specifically a home birth could be! It was nothing like the movies! While it was a very peaceful water birth,it was still a powerful experience and being pregnant myself, I couldn’t help but feel nervous for my own birth. I allowed myself a week to panic and then refocused on my hypnobirthing practice and preparing my mindset for my own birth.
I was feeling so prepared and confident that my parents, sister, and Collin would be there to support me during the birth...and then Covid-19 happened. While having a home birth gave me the opportunity to choose who would be at the birth unlike at hospitals, we decided it was too risky for my parents to attend due to their age. I was devastated. I also couldn’t spend the last month of my pregnancy with my family. We had many social distancing backyard get togethers during that time. We even spaced out my last appointment enough at the end so I could have a hug from my parents before giving birth. It was definitely needed as my due date approached.
On April 20th, my due date, I went to my appointment with April. She sent me off saying that the baby probably wouldn’t come in the next few days and to try walking and other things to get things going. We went for a walk that night and went to bed thinking it could still be a week or longer until we met our baby. At around 3 AM, I began to feel crampy but went back to bed. I didn’t realize until around 5:00 that the cramps were probably contractions. I texted my mom and sister that I was having contractions and to stay tuned for updates! I remained in bed until 8:00, when Collin asked if he should take the day off. I told him I wasn’t sure and was surely in denial that the baby would be coming soon. We began timing contractions and they were 3-4 minutes apart, but they were only 30 seconds long. We texted April and Peggy and agreed to keep them informed. Laura arrived around 11:00 and we worked on a puzzle and watched a show as I labored. Active labor kicked in around 1:00 and I bent over the stairs in my living room while Laura and Collin took turns pushing on my hips during contractions and encouraging me to drink water. My Contractions were still very close together but they weren’t long enough for April to come over just yet. My parents were checking in a facetime with us on and off throughout the day. We told April to come over at around 3:00 and she arrived around 3:45. As she set up her equipment, my water broke and I felt the urge to push. I asked her to check me because I was having a hard time not pushing during contractions. She checked me and gave me the all clear to push. I was still in my living room! She encouraged me to move up into the bedroom that was set up, so I could get into the bed right after. I have no idea how I made it up those stairs! I got on my hands and knees and with the next contraction, I began pushing. My parents were on a facetime call, and I could see them cheering me on on the computer screen in front of me. After just a few pushes, we could see the head, covered in blonde hair! I could feel movement with each push and this baby was coming fast! I knew I needed to go slow so I wouldn’t tear but it was hard to slow down. April said that I was stretching nicely and not to worry. The head came out on the next push followed by the rest of the body right afterward! The baby was handed up between my legs and Collin announced that it was a boy, Lochlin Joseph, born at 4:20. Despite him coming into the world like a rocket, I only had a small tear that didn’t need stitches.
We moved to the bed and Lochlin wanted to nurse right away. April and Ivyrose cleaned everything up. My parents came over and met Lochlin through the glass door. Then everyone left and we were alone to enjoy our baby by 7:00. It was such a whirlwind but the whole time I felt so supported and safe. It was such a relief to be home and sleep that first night in our own bed.
Before our own births, we didn’t know what to expect from home birth and felt anxious about the unknowns that came along with it, especially during a pandemic. After experiencing the comfort that comes along with laboring and giving birth at home, as well as the incredible support we received from Full Spectrum Midwifery, there is no doubt that we will continue to have our babies at home and spread the news about the joys of home birth!
Hypnobirthing class at Wellspring Hypnotherapy with Carolyn Lewis
Acupuncture (at 38 and 40 weeks) with Stewart Cohen
Prenatal yoga and strength training classes at Evolution Yoga
"Did you know the US has one of the worst maternal death rates in the developed world and that African American women are four to five times more likely to die from a pregnancy related cause than their white counterparts? A quick read through the CDC’s website will confirm this. As a nurse and a black woman in the state of Vermont this information scared me. What scared me more was thinking back about the experiences shared with me by my friends, family, and even strangers whose needs were not listened to during their labor and postpartum. I didn’t want to end up a statistic and wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t comfortable with home birth at the time so my husband and I made the decision to see an OBGYN and continue our research on home birth as a back up. My fear of being another statistic did not go away and after every appointment I attended, my fear got worse. I felt like a number in a deli store; arrive at the appointment, wait 10-15mins in the waiting area, wait another 10-15mins in the examination room, and when the OB finally arrives the appointment was over within 5-10mins and he/she was out of the room and moving on to the next person. I felt rushed. I also felt like I had to have my questions ready to go or I would miss the opportunity to ask them. After my 3rd appointment, I had enough and took a leap of faith, I chose to contact Full Spectrum. After our initial first appointment, my husband and I immediately felt at ease. We no longer felt rushed and instead found ourselves searching for more questions to ask as all of our original and followup questions had been answered. We felt at home. I never felt like I had to wait to be seen and most importantly I never felt unheard. Whenever I had a question, anytime, day or night, I sent a text and my question would be answered. The ladies at Full Spectrum really do go above and beyond. When I went into labor on 5/29, three of the four ladies were by my side the whole time paying attention to every detail. I felt encouraged, supported and empowered. I delivered my healthy son on 5/30 in the comfort of my home. Within a few hours my home was cleaned and back to its normal state. My experience didn’t end there, as a new parent I had many questions regarding my son, which were also answered within minutes via text. If you are considering a home birth I encourage you to do so. If your still nervous it’s ok, do your research and I’m sure you’ll love what you find. If you can I would strongly recommend going with the ladies at Full Spectrum. I can’t speak highly enough about them and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to choose them." -Mimi Eide
When one of our clients discovers she is having twins, we are there to help prepare for a healthy hospital delivery, offer labor support, and do lots of home visits after they arrive to make sure breastfeeding is off to a good start! This family found out they were having twins at their 20 week anatomy scan ultrasound. They went on to have an all natural hospital birth, and both twins are growing fast with successful breastfeeding!
Having a baby during the COVID-19 outbreak is stressful for new parents. What is the best way to stay healthy as the big day approaches? We are recommending that all expectant folks self isolate in the last 2-4 weeks of pregnancy, to ensure that they start labor as healthy as possible for themselves, their newborn, and their care team. This means no outings except to see your midwife, and to enjoy some exercise and fresh air in an area where you can stay away from other people. This also means no visitors, except us if we come for a home visit. All family members who live in your home should stay home as much as possible, and practice good hygiene and hand washing as well as strict social distancing if they need to be out for any essential reason. Ideally, this is continued through the first 2 weeks postpartum. This can require some planning. Tell friends and family well ahead of time that you will have no visitors. Place a sign on your door reminding people of your house rules. Put aside staples for your pantry, and set up a "meal train" of people willing to bring you groceries. Groceries can be left on a porch or cooler, with a sign thanking people for their help. Although postpartum is usually a time we welcome extra support, during COVID-19 we recommend no friends or family come inside your home. Grandparents can meet baby through a window or with FaceTime. We realize this is a difficult time, but also a time to feel safe and secure in your own private "nest" that will welcome the baby.
What are affirmations? They are messages you give yourself in pregnancy and labor to remind yourself how strong, healthy and capable you are! They can help give you a positive focus throughout the labor process. Candles, notes placed throughout the labor space, and coloring books are a few of the creative ways we have seen folks use affirmations to help guide them through pregnancy and birth.
Hello! My name is April. I created this blog while working at Full Spectrum Midwifery. Although it is now inactive, there's still lots of great stories and information here-- enjoy!