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  • 06/09/2020 - Kelly Martin 0 Comments
    Blogging Again

    Hello everyone!  I am excited to begin blogging again!

    I hope that this Blog post finds everyone healthy and well!  It seems that we are all constantly being bombarded with Covid-19 information and statistics,  Treasured Birth, LLC is one of the businesses that was required to close due to the quarantine, and direct-contact with our clients. 

    However, we are very excited to announce that we have been approved to begin our re-opening for business, June 1st our Minnesota Senator gave the okay for Massage businesses to re-open.  This is exciting news for us — and yes, we are Open for Business; but we are including a few important changes in order to maintain the safety of both us, and our clients.  Those changes are included below.  We are happy to see all of you soon!  Please recommend us to your friends, family, and clients (please remember that we only do massage for our women clients, however, Childbirth Education and labor support focus on couples!)  Again, we are taking appointments, and scheduling classes through our website.  Please visit our website at to learn more, or to schedule your class/massage!  Help us to get up and running again!  We look forward to hearing from you!  

    A Letter to Our Clients, Friends & Family


    Dear Treasured Birth, LLC Clients and Families,

    We would like to share with you what we know about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and ways we are addressing potential risks at our offices, and when visiting you in your home.

    In order to keep our clients and families as safe and healthy as possible, we are instituting measures to prevent potential exposure as we return back to work. The goal is to "prevent the spread". We plan to do this by following the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines to help decrease the spread of illness.

     First, it is important to know the symptoms of COVID-19.  Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath

    The current recommendation is that if you are experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19 that you isolate at home during the illness. Do not go to work, school or public areas and avoid public transportation. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and manage your symptoms with over-the-counter medications at home. Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19.

    Treasured Birth, LLC, will not be testing for suspected COVID-19. We are attempting to keep a zone of wellness at either of our offices.  If you suspect you have COVID-19 we suggest you contact your primary care provider. CALL AHEAD and let them know you have or suspect you may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

    When to reschedule your appointment (all types of illness):

    • If you have a fever. Wait until 48 hours after your fever (temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) is gone to reschedule your visit. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
    • Individuals with suspected or confirmed flu, who do not have a fever, should stay home for at least 4-5 days after the onset of symptoms. Persons with the flu are most contagious during the first 3 days of their illness.
    • You have diarrhea or a "stomach bug." Wait a minimum of 48 hours after diarrhea has resolved to reschedule your appointment.
    • You have vomited in the past 24 hours.
    • If you have recently traveled from China or another affected areas and have symptoms associated with COVID-19.


    We will only be allowing one massage client at a time into the office.  Please do not bring your family along for your appointment. 

    Upon your arrival to the office building, please wash your hands at the Prevention Station before entering, and we will be requesting that you wear a mask (we can’t provide you with one, so please bring one along).  


    How you can help

    • Stay home if you are sick to help "stop the spread." If you have a fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, or sneeze, please stay home and reschedule your appointment.
    • If you plan to bring a child with you to your visit who has the above symptoms, please stay home and reschedule your visit.
    • Cover your cough and sneezes with your elbow, not your hand. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
    • When you get home, get in the habit of the first thing you do is wash your hands.
    • Practice routine cleaning of high touch surfaces (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables).

    Prevention Station

    We will be setting up a prevention station with hand sanitizer, and tissues when you enter either one of our offices.  Before entering our office, please immediately go into the bathroom and have everyone, including children, wash their hands.  While soaped up, sing the song Happy Birthday twice before rinsing.  Please dispose thoroughly of your towels when finished.  When you arrive for your appointment, please stop and sanitize your hands.

    If you come to one of our Treasured Birth offices exhibiting flu/cold-like symptoms, we will require you to immediately leave and reschedule your appointment.

    Children’s Toys in the Office

    All toys have been removed from the office.

    Prenatals/Postpartum Visits

    We are moving all doula prenatals and postpartum visits to online.  We will use Skype, or FaceTime, or WhatsApp for our meetings. We will be contacting families who have signed up for meetings, or births in June onward with further information.

    We encourage you to join our online Facebook group to stay connected to community. Join here:

    If You are Pregnant or Breastfeeding

    Pregnant women should take the usual preventative actions to avoid infection – such as washing hands often and avoiding people who are sick. Here is an article with more specifics for breastfeeding and pregnant women:

    How to Stay Healthy Every Day

    These are just suggestions that are common sense and that everyone can do. 

    • Eat a whole foods diet. Avoid sugar.
    • Get plenty of rest. Go to bed by 10pm every night.
    • Stay hydrated. Ensure you are drinking 60-80 ounces of water daily.
    • Supplements (adult dosing)
    • Multivitamin or Prenatal Vitamin – Thorne Basic Prenatal Vitamin (3 capsules a day with food) or Thorne Basic Nutrients (2 capsules a day with food)
    • Vitamin D3 – 5000IU daily
    • Vitamin C – During illness 1,000mg every 4 hours when you are awake. Maintenance dose is 1,000-2,000mg daily.
    • Elderberry – 1 tbsp (15ml) of elderberry syrup taken three times a day to treat cold or flu symptoms OR 2 capsules (600mg) a day.
    • Zinc – no more than 30mg a day.
    • Probiotics – Metagenics UltraFlora Balance – 2 capsules a day

    We will continue to update our recommendations as more information becomes available about COVID-19 Coronavirus. The global picture of COVID-19 is a fluid, evolving situation and although we endeavor to stay as updated as possible, the information posted here may not reflect the latest news.

    Reliable Resources

    • Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
    • Center for Disease Control (CDC)
    • World Health Organization (WHO)
    • National Perinatal Association (NPA)

    On behalf of the Providers and Staff at Treasured Birth, LLC,

    Kelly Martin, Treasured Birth, LLC

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  • 04/07/2020 - Kelly Martin 0 Comments
    Herbs for Women

    In this time of Covid-19, we are all becoming more aware of our vulnerability as human beings.  But learning about how we can naturally stay healthy using alternative methods is going to become more commonplace as we all make the journey into this new Covid-19, and virus vulnerable world.  If we actively pursue learning, we can empower ourselves with the self-knowledge that the old "granny midwives", and our Post-WWI and WWII ancestors knew.  From the book "Herbal Healing for Women," I make the following post.  Please be aware that this is not to diagnose or prescribe, and it is not being stated in any way as a cure for anything.  It is more a nutritional suggestion — please consult with your provider before using anything herbal or alternative.

    Herbs for Women

    (Rosemary Gladstar pages 111-113)

    There are many remarkable healing herbs used specifically for the female system.  They serve as tonics, feeding and nourishing the reproductive system, and many are also used for healing specific ailments by herbalists.  The following herbs are Rosemary Gladstar’s favorites, and they are the ones most often used in her herbal work with women.  (For a detailed description of each of these herbs, please see the Materia Medica in Part II of this book).

    • Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
    • Black Cohash (Cimicifuga racemosa)
    • Black haw (Viburnum prunifolium)
    • Blue Cohash (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
    • Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
    • Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)
    • Don quai (Angelica sinensis)
    • False Unicorn Root (Chamaelirium luteum)
    • Ginger (Zingiber offiicianle)
    • Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza globra)
    • Motherword (Artemisia vulgaris)
    • Nettle (Urtica dioica)
    • Pennyroyal leaf (Hedeoma pulegioides and related species)
    • Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus, R. strigosus)
    • Squaw vine (Mitchella repens)
    • Vitex (Vitex agnus casus)
    • Wild yam root (Dioscorea villosa)
    • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

    Though all of the above herbs are used frequently for the female system, they each have different properties and physiological actions and are indicated for different needs and specific actions.  It is important to have a basic understanding of the primary actions of these herbs on the reproductive system.  This will help you choose the most appropriate herb(s) for each situation and also give you a rudimentary understanding of how and why each herb is working.  The following categories characterize the major physiological action of herbs used for the female system.  Since herbs are multifaceted and have many actions, most will fit into one or more categories.

    Uterine Tonics

    These herbs are specific for toning and strengthening the whole female reproductive system.  They are generally extremely potent in vitamins and minerals.  They feed and nourish the reproductive organs, are used for restoring vitality and balance, and give general tone to the system.  They are generally recommended for use over long periods of time and have little or no known side-effects.  Some examples of uterine tonics are black cohosh root, comfrey root and leaf, dong quai root, ginger root, licorice root, motherwort leaf, nettle leaf, squaw vine, strawberry leaf, and vitex (chaste berry).

    Emmenagogic Herbs

    These herbs help stimulate and promote normal menstrual flows.  They are very beneficial for relieving menstrual cramps and for bringing on suppressed, or delayed menstruation.  While many emmenagogues are also uterine tonics, some promote menstruation by irritating, or stimulating the uterine muscles.  Be sure that you know whether the emmenagogue herbs you are using primarily promote menstruation through a tonic, nourishing action, or through a stimulating or irritating action.  Some examples of emmenagogic herbs are:  Angelica root, black haw, blue cohash, cramp bark, dong quai root, false unicorn root, ginger root, motherwort leaf, mugword leaf, pennyroyal leaf, squaw vine, and yarrow flower and leaf.

    Hormonal Balancers and/or Regulators

    These are herbs that balance and normalize the functions of the nedocrine glands.  They balance estrogen production and regulate the activity of these and other hormones.  Hormonal balancers are useful in all aspects of menstrual dysfunction.  Contrary to popular opinion, they do not actually contain hormones, but are considered hormone precursors.  They provide the necessary elements, or building blocks to produce hormones.  Most are also considered prime "liver" herbs, since much of the activity of hormonal production is dependent on the health of the liver.  Some examples of hormonal balaners are:  Black cohosh, black haw, dong quai root, false unicorn root, licorice root, vitex (Chaste Berry), and wild yam root.

    Uterine Contractors

    These herbs promote uterine contractions and are used for stimulating delayed menstruation, stimulating contractions during prolonged labor, and as abortifacient agents.  Some of these herbs contain oxytocin, which encourages the production of prostaglandins in the body.  High levels of prostaglandins in the system stimulate uterine contractions.  Some uterine contractors work by stimulating blood flow to the uterus.  Other uterine contractors cause contractions by irritating contractors are actually toxic and should be avoided.  Though these herbs are a potentially helpful group, you should be sure to understand them, and their particular function well before using them in your herbal work.  Some examples of uterine contractors are:  angelica, blue cohosh root, cotton root bark, parsley root and leaf, pennyroyal leaf and flower, rue leaf, and tansy leaf.

    Stay tuned for the next posting which we will talk about herbs during pregnancy!

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  • 01/12/2020 - treasuredbirthllc 0 Comments
    Treasured Birth’s Statement of Non-Bullying and Ethical Professional Support

    Treasured Birth has a long-term goal to uphold the Ethics of Professional Midwifery Practice that supports the International Confederation of Midwives Statements made in 2003, which is the formulation and maintenance of healthy relationships, and an effort for midwives and students to work, support and validate each other. This includes the encouragement and growth of new midwives to practice in our communities. I vow never to bully, or belittle any student, or colleague in our community in order to better or make myself look good. The change starts with me — and you.

    "Professional Ethics in Midwifery Practice" by Illysa Foster, page 121:

    "It is a great travesty to the profession when new, educated inspired midwives are discredited and undermined by those who are threatened by shifting ways and ideas. To overcome these dynamics, midwifery organizations must take a stand on professional behavior among midwives. The ethical principles of beneficience, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice must be applied when working with other professionals, including midwife colleagues and their students."

    Page 120.

    "People who bully often feel threatened and are resistant to change (Marinah Farrell, 2007) Overt monitoring, humiliating, persistently criticizing, spreading malicious rumors, and excluding or ignoring are common bullying behaviors (Hadikin, 2001). Hierarchical structures may support bullying, much to the detriment of the quality of midwifery care."

    "To overcome these dynamics, midwifery organizations must take a stand on professional behavior among midwives. Midwifery organizations can explore the concept of the integrity of the healthcare professional and create codes of conduct that set parameters on the behavior of midwives regarding their relationships with others. Midwives must not tolerate bullying in their labor and delivery units or their community. To stop bullying behavior, an individual or group must confront the perpetrator, or perpetrators, explain the effects of their behavior, and ask them to stop. Bullying is damaging to the bully, the victim, the community, and the profession. Greater awareness of bullying and codes of professional conduct that focus on professional relationships are needed."

    There are several organizations that have created Codes of ethical conduct regarding collaboration, referral, or transfer of care. ICM’s International Code of Ethics for Midwives (2003) contains the most developed guidelines relating to working with other professionals. "It is important for midwives to seek and understand the reasons for disagreements with clients and colleagues. Midwives should not stop with just understanding, or respect however. They must work to also resolve those conflicts that need to be resolved in order for ethical care to continue. The emphasis is on the relationship, to go beyond quelling the disagreement and to actively seek resolution of conflict."

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  • 04/04/2019 - treasuredbirthllc 0 Comments
    Requirements of a Minnesota Birth Center

    I am currently exploring the idea of opening a new Licensed Birth Center in Southeastern Minnesota.  In order to do so, I will be making several blog posts about the process.  Not only do I need to find a suitable location, but there are many steps to becoming a licensed birth center.  Here is the Minnesota law that addresses the legal requirements for a Minnesota Birth Center.  If you have knowledge, suggestions, connections in response to this blog, please feel free to let me know.  This is the law as published by the Minnesota Department of Health.

    144.615 Minnesota Birth Center Requirements.

    Subdivision 1.Definitions.

    (a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions have the meanings given them.

    (b) "Birth center" means a facility licensed for the primary purpose of performing low-risk deliveries that is not a hospital or licensed as part of a hospital and where births are planned to occur away from the mother’s usual residence following a low-risk pregnancy.

    (c) "CABC" means the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers.

    (d) "Low-risk pregnancy" means a normal, uncomplicated prenatal course as determined by documentation of adequate prenatal care and the anticipation of a normal, uncomplicated labor and birth, as defined by reasonable and generally accepted criteria adopted by professional groups for maternal, fetal, and neonatal health care.

    Subd. 2. A License is required.

    (a) Beginning January 1, 2011, no birth center shall be established, operated, or maintained in the state without first obtaining a license from the commissioner of health according to this section.

    (b) A license issued under this section is not transferable or assignable and is subject to suspension or revocation at any time for failure to comply with this section.

    (c) A birth center licensed under this section shall not assert, represent, offer, provide, or imply that the center is or may render care or services other than the services it is permitted to render within the scope of the license or the accreditation issued.

    (d) The license must be conspicuously posted in an area where patients are admitted.

    Subd. 3.Temporary license.

    For new birth centers planning to begin operations after January 1, 2011, the commissioner may issue a temporary license to the birth center that is valid for a period of six months from the date of issuance. The birth center must submit to the commissioner an application and applicable fee for licensure as required under subdivision 4. The application must include the information required in subdivision 4, clauses (1) to (3) and (5) to (7), and documentation that the birth center has submitted an application for accreditation to the CABC. Upon receipt of accreditation from the CABC, the birth center must submit to the commissioner the information required in subdivision 4, clause (4), and the applicable fee under subdivision 8. The commissioner shall issue a new license.

    Subd. 4.Application.

    An application for a license to operate a birth center and the applicable fee under subdivision 8 must be submitted to the commissioner on a form provided by the commissioner and must contain:

    (1) the name of the applicant;

    (2) the site location of the birth center;

    (3) the name of the person in charge of the center;

    (4) documentation that the accreditation described under subdivision 6 has been issued, including the effective date and the expiration date of the accreditation, and the date of the last site visit by the CABC;

    (5) the number of patients the birth center is capable of serving at a given time;

    (6) the names and license numbers, if applicable, of the health care professionals on staff at the birth center; and

    (7) any other information the commissioner deems necessary.

    Subd. 5.Suspension, revocation, and refusal to renew.

    The commissioner may refuse to grant or renew, or may suspend or revoke, a license on any of the grounds described under section 144.55, subdivision 6, paragraph (a), clause (2), (3), or (4), or upon the loss of accreditation by the CABC. The applicant or licensee is entitled to notice and a hearing as described under section 144.55, subdivision 7, and a new license may be issued after proper inspection of the birth center has been conducted.

    Subd. 6.Standards for licensure.

    (a) To be eligible for licensure under this section, a birth center must be accredited by the CABC or must obtain accreditation within six months of the date of the application for licensure. If the birth center loses its accreditation, the birth center must immediately notify the commissioner.

    (b) The center must have procedures in place specifying criteria by which risk status will be established and applied to each woman at admission and during labor.

    (c) Upon request, the birth center shall provide the commissioner of health with any material submitted by the birth center to the CABC as part of the accreditation process, including the accreditation application, the self-evaluation report, the accreditation decision letter from the CABC, and any reports from the CABC following a site visit.

    Subd. 7.Limitations of services.

    (a) The following limitations apply to the services performed at a birth center:

    (1) surgical procedures must be limited to those normally accomplished during an uncomplicated birth, including episiotomy and repair;

    (2) no abortions may be administered; and

    (3) no general or regional anesthesia may be administered.

    (b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), local anesthesia may be administered at a birth center if the administration of the anesthetic is performed within the scope of practice of a health care professional.

    Subd. 8.Fees.

    (a) The biennial license fee for a birth center is $365.

    (b) The temporary license fee is $365.

    (c) Fees shall be collected and deposited according to section 144.122.

    Subd. 9.Renewal.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a license issued under this section expires two years from the date of issue.

    (b) A temporary license issued under subdivision 3 expires six months from the date of issue and may be renewed for one additional six-month period.

    (c) An application for renewal shall be submitted at least 60 days prior to expiration of the license on forms prescribed by the commissioner of health.

    Subd. 10.Records.

    All health records maintained on each client by a birth center are subject to sections 144.292 to144.298.

    Subd. 11.Report.

    (a) The commissioner of health, in consultation with the commissioner of human services and representatives of the licensed birth centers, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Minnesota Hospital Association, and the Minnesota Ambulance Association, shall evaluate the quality of care and outcomes for services provided in licensed birth centers, including, but not limited to, the utilization of services provided at a birth center, the outcomes of care provided to both mothers and newborns, and the numbers of transfers to other health care facilities that are required and the reasons for the transfers. The commissioner shall work with the birth centers to establish a process to gather and analyze the data within protocols that protect the confidentiality of patient identification.

    (b) The commissioner of health shall report the findings of the evaluation to the legislature by January 15, 2014.


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  • 01/09/2019 - Kelly Martin 0 Comments
    Massage Techniques for Labor


    Article Published in:  "A Midwife’s Touch," by Elaine Stillerman.  © 2008 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.

    [Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 84, Winter 2008. Portions of this article were taken from Prenatal Massage: a textbook of pregnancy, labor and postpartum bodywork, by Elaine Stillerman.]

    1. Start your massage between contractions with an effleurage (long, gliding stroke) in her mid-back down to her sacrum, in the direction of the muscle fibers. The pressure should be as deep or light as she prefers. She can be sitting on a stool, leaning over a bed or pile of pillows, or side-lying. Gradually work deeper into the lower erector spinae muscles from T11 to the sacrum using your fingertips, thumbs, knuckles or elbows across the muscles fibers from the lateral borders of the erector spinae to the transverse processes of the spine and down to the lumbosacral joint.
    2. Stroke up her entire back from the sacrum, up the spine and over her shoulders. Massage around and over her shoulders and up her neck.
    3. When a contraction starts, apply counter-pressure at the site of any pain or discomfort. Keep your wrist neutral and alternate between using your wrists, knuckles, elbows or knees (on her sacrum). Hold this counter-pressure throughout the contraction—and remember to breathe.
    4. Use the sacral lift during a contraction to reduce the pressure of the fetal head on the spinal nerves, relieve lower abdominal pressure, ease engorgement of hemorrhoids and support the bulging pelvic floor. Place your hand low on her sacrum and lift upwards and slightly towards her umbilicus. (This stroke cannot be performed on anyone with coccyx pain or subluxation.) Use your knuckles, forearms, shoulder, knee and foot as alternatives to your hands. Hold this for the entire contraction. This is best performed when the mother is sitting down, but can be very effective in a side-lying position using only your neutral fist. Fold a small hand towel or dry wash cloth over your knuckles to prevent bone-on-bone discomfort.
    5. During a contraction, use the pelvic tilt, done with your client on her side. This elongates the lumbar spine, stretches the compressed muscles and reduces lower back pain. Use your fleshy forearm on her top hip and gently pull toward her head while your lower hand is on her sacrum gently pulling toward her feet. A variation of the pelvic tilt is the knee press, also performed with your client on her side. Sit behind her and secure your hip directly next to her sacrum. Lean over and clasp your hands around her top knee. Position her hip at a right angle and pull her knee toward your hip. For additional support, press your body onto her hip, thereby providing a pelvic squeeze at the same time.
    6. If she has backaches, try the pelvic press or hip squeeze (locate the center of her buttocks and using your fists with your wrists neutral, squeeze in and slightly up—forming an X—and hold for contraction). An acupuncture point can release a lot of back tension during labor: Gall bladder 34 is found in the depression anterior and inferior to the small head of the fibula on both legs. Hold both points at the same time for a count of 10, repeating a total of 10 times.
    7. Another acupuncture point that minimizes pain is found posterior to the outside corner of the nail of both little toes. This point is Bladder 67. In China, this point is needled to stop the pain of labor. (It is also needled or treated with moxibustion [heated herbs] in the 37th or 38th week of pregnancy to turn a breech presentation.) A recent study of this ancient Chinese technique has proven it to be effective in relieving labor pain. Large intestine 4 is found in the webbing of the thumb and index finger. Although contraindicated during pregnancy, when an ice massage is given to this point on the left hand for 20 minutes or until the 4th contraction, whichever came first, pain was cut in half. Icing the right hand reduced pain by 19%.(12)
    8. To speed up labor at any stage, use pressure on certain acupuncture points, especially when used during a contraction. Hold each point bilaterally for the duration of the contraction, releasing only to relieve your fingers. These points are: Large intestine 4, found in the webbing of the thumb and index finger; Liver 3, found on the top of both feet about 2 inches down from the first and second toes, where the foot bones meet; Spleen 6, the expression of Female Energy, found on both legs approximately 2–2½ inches from the top of the medial ankle bone, under the tibia.

    Active Labor

    As labor progresses into the active phase, a noticeable shift occurs in contraction pattern and mother’s emotional response. The midwife’s goal is to keep her calm, comfortable and focused and to encourage the normal progress of labor. Another important task is to meet her emotional needs with understanding, nurturing and respect. This will give her a greater sense of control over labor, which can lead to heightened self-esteem and a more satisfying, empowered experience.(13)

    The bodywork techniques must now be adapted to the mother’s emotional and physical needs and changes. Her breathing pattern will be different and should be encouraged by breathing (or intoning, moaning, etc.) with her.

    Techniques for Active Labor

    1. Encourage her to change positions whenever she needs to, but at least every 30 minutes to treat backaches and speed up labor.
    2. Hold pelvic tilting throughout a contraction.
    3. Use hot or cold compresses with or without rolling pressure on her lower back.
    4. Use knee press with mother sitting in a chair with her back supported by pillows. Press just inferior to her knees and sustain this pressure for the contraction. If your wrists tire from this exertion, sit on the floor and turn away from her, facing outward. Lean against her knees with your back, saving your hands.
    5. Use a pelvic squeeze to alleviate the pain of back labor, as it repositions the sacroiliac joints that are being stretched by the back of the baby’s head against mother’s sacrum.
    6. Do gentle lymphatic drainage, stroking towards her heart, if her legs shake or feel tired and heavy.


     As labor progresses into the transition phase of stage one, most women are no longer comfortable with long, gliding strokes. Some women may actually pull away from touch altogether as they focus on the task at hand. Hot or cold packs, or ice chips (perhaps imbued with an herbal remedy such as black cohosh, if her blood pressure is low and stable) may be welcome. Holding, rocking or swaying with her may be all the support she needs. Placing your hand on an area of tension or firmly applying pressure on her sacrum during a contraction can relieve back pain. (Don’t forget to keep her face and jaw relaxed, since a lot of women in late labor grimace in pain and lock their jaws.)

     Quiet encouragement and reassurance are paramount during transition. Keeping her relaxed and calm lets her natural rhythm of labor proceed smoothly and on course.

    Stage Two

    After the short resting phase of stage two where she may enjoy a few gliding strokes on her back or belly, strong contractions resume and the urge to push becomes involuntary and compelling. Relaxation is vital to the conservation of her energy and smooth passage, particularly her pelvic floor and adductors, as any physical tension could increase pain and slow labor. Gently and quietly remind her to release tension and allow her body to open.

    Helpful ways to support her include encouragement, staying calm and helping her follow patterned breathing and chosen relaxation strategies. Help her change positions and rub any tense areas—if she wants the touch. The strokes of abdominal effleurage during the active phase begin at the fundus and move toward the pubic bone in tandem with uterine contractions. Between contractions, try effleurage of the lower back, or she might prefer gentle pelvic rocking. Leg cramps or muscle spasms can be treated with active or passive stretching or appropriate light leg massage. She will most likely need assistance straightening her legs after squatting to either stand erect or sit down.


    Most of the support during the baby’s birth helps to calmly remind mother to stay relaxed and conserve her energy. You can offer some physical support such as counter-pressure or perineal support and help her find a comfortable birthing position.

    Expulsion of the Placenta

    In the tribal world, placental birth was usually very fast because women were in good physical shape and they used efficient birthing positions. Standing and stretching can expedite placental delivery.(14) Massage was used almost exclusively to encourage expulsion of the placenta in tribal societies. Other procedures included contracting the abdominal muscle, having the woman sneeze, having the new mother bite on something very hard or having her blow into her hands or an empty bottle.(15) Heat applications were also used to effectively expel the afterbirth.

    The women of Morocco soak the end of the severed umbilical cord in oil heated over hot coals. Within a few minutes of the treatment, the new mother stands and the placenta falls out.(16) The Filipinos warm the handle of a wooden rice ladle and press it against the woman’s navel. In certain regions of Mexico, a hot tortilla is placed against the mother’s right side.(17) In India, the birth attendant oils her head and rubs it against the standing mother’s belly until all the blood comes out.(18) In Tahiti, the afterbirth is expelled as mother kneads her own abdomen while bathing in the sea. Her husband presses his foot against her to stimulate further expulsion of fetal detritus.(19)

    Abdominal massage from the fundus to the pubic bone, skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby (kangaroo care, nursing), nipple stimulation or oral stimulation (by the partner) promote the release of endogenous oxytocin that encourages the uterus to contract and expel the placenta. Midwives can stimulate acupuncture point Spleen 10 to release the placenta. Place the heel of your hand at the top border of the mother’s knee. Your thumb should reach the belly of the vastus medialis muscle where the point is found. Hold for a count of 10, repeating until the uterus starts to contract.(20)

    If mom starts to shake, squeeze the arches of her feet to control the trembling and guide her through gentle breathing.

    Many helpful bodywork and massage techniques, along with numerous comfort measures and coping strategies, can have a positive impact on the way a woman perceives and experiences her labor. These techniques also provide midwives with additional ways to keep their clients calm, comfortable and relaxed.

    Elaine Stillerman, LMT, has been a New York State licensed massage therapist since 1978. She began her pioneering prenatal practice in 1980. She is the developer and instructor of the professional certification workshop "MotherMassage: Massage during Pregnancy" ( and the author of MotherMassage: a handbook for relieving the discomforts of pregnancy (Dell, 1992); The encyclopedia of bodywork (Facts On File, 1996); Prenatal massage: a textbook of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum bodywork (Mosby, 2008); Modalities for massage and bodywork (Mosby, publication date to be announced). She is the researcher and writer for the PBS-TV show "Real Moms, Real Stories, Real Savvy" and is proud to have helped organize the March 2008 Midwifery Today conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


    1. Englemann, G.J. 1884. Labor among primitive peoples. St. Louis: JH Chambers.
    2. Hrdlicka, A. 1908. Physiological and medical observations among the Indians of Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 34.
    3. Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. 1993. The effect of continuous emotional support during labor. Los Altos, California: Mental Health Update, The Center for Health Sciences.
    4. Field, T. et al. 1997. Labor pain is reduced by massage therapy. J Psychosom Obstet Gynecol 18(4): 286–91.
    5. Birch E. 1986. The experience of touch received during labor. J Nurse Midwifery 31(6): 270–76.
    6. Stillerman, E. 2007. Prenatal massage: a textbook of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum bodywork. St. Louis: Mosby; Lowdermilk, D.L., and S.E. Perry. 2004. Maternity & Women’s Health Care, 8th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.
    7. Stillerman, 2007.
    8. Lowdermilk and Perry.
    9. Ibid.
    10. Lowe, N. 2002. The nature of labor pain. Am J Obstet Gynecol 186(5): S16–24.
    11. Cogan, R. 1976. Backache in prepared childbirth. Birth 3(2): 75–78.
    12. Waters, B.L., and J. Raisler. 2003. Ice massage for the reduction of labor pain. J Midwifery Women’s Health 48(5): 317–21.
    13. Olkin, SK. 1987. Positive Pregnancy Fitness. New York: Avery Publishing Group.
    14. Sousa, M. 1976. Childbirth at home. New York: Bantam.
    15. Ibid.
    16. Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. 1971. Our Bodies, Ourselves. New York: Simon & Schuster.
    17. Lacey, L. 1975. Lunaception. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan.
    18. Hart, DV. 1965. From "Pregnancy through birth in a Bisayan Filipino village." In Southeast Asian Birth Customs. New Haven: Human Relations Area Files Press.
    19. Ibid.
    20. Stillerman, 2007.
    21. Ibid.
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  • 10/20/2018 - Kelly Martin 0 Comments
    Editorial Post

    For years the story of the Little Red Hen has been going on in this local birth community. I have asked many times for connection and support in helping to finish my midwifery education and clinical training, only to find it necessary to need to leave this great State of Minnesota to find the education and community in states other than Minnesota.

    I want to publicly thank those midwives who have really been there for me– to teach and mentor me, those who didn’t haze, those that followed through with their promises, those who actually cared whether or not I succeeded, those midwives from other states, like Washington, Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, Utah, Wisconsin, Florida and California, who have mentored me, and encouraged me to keep walking with my education, even after pursuing it for 14 years.

    My education has spanned far and wide and when it is completed, which will be very soon, I will be a caring, knowledgeable and empathetic midwife who knows what it is like to have both a caring, and an uncaring birth community behind her.

    For those who are current midwives in Minnesota, I ask you for this — don’t say words like: "I think we need more midwives!"… and not take any personal action to make those words come true. If you are truly a midwife who wants to support the overall growth of midwifery, then follow through with what you say.

    Don’t be like the Little Red Hen. The story of the Little Red Hen is one in which the hen does all of the work, getting the garden ready, planting the garden, weeding the garden, watering the garden, harvesting the garden, and then making bread to eat from the harvest. The Little Red Hen from beginning to end had no help, no support from her closest people. She remained dedicated to doing the project from beginning to end, overcoming all obstacles to keep going. Throughout her journey, she kept asking for help, support, friendship, invested time, but no one helped her. until she was ready to present the final product–that is when everyone comes to her and asks for a piece of her work.

    Minnesota hear my words — if you are wondering why this nearly educated student midwife is not a part of your community, you should probably remember the story of the Little Red Hen. When she completed her project, she alone sat at her table and enjoyed the fruit of her labor. That will be Treasured Birth. This chick is getting ready to hatch! !


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  • 04/24/2018 - treasuredbirthllc 0 Comments
    The Many Benefits of Birth Doula Support, Part 3 by Kelly Martin

    Part 3

    Women’s memories of childbirth and their perceptions of its personal impact have been the subject of a number of investigations, most of which indicate that women have vivid memories of the events and strong feelings about their birth experiences (Hodnett, 2002).  Studies of long-term birth memories have found varying degrees of consistence (Bennett, 1985; Simkin, 1990; Simkin, 1991; Waldenstrom, 2003).  The intensity of women’s positive or negative feelings often changes over time, especially when compared to their feelings a day or two after the birth.

    The immediate relief felt by parents when labor is over and their enchantment with their baby lasts for a few weeks postpartum, and often temporarily overrides negative experiences.  However, memories of unpleasant birth aspects, such as complications, frightening moments or decisions, or unexpected or coerced interventions can emerge later as this "halo effect" wears off (Bennett, 1985).  Women’s impressions of the psychosocial care they received (i.e., sharing of information and decision making, respectful treatment, attentiveness and emotional support, a welcoming environment, an opportunity to process the birth afterwards) tend to remain consistent over time, and when these impressions are positive, they may be associated with overall satisfaction and positive impressions of their births (Simkin, 1991); Waldenstrom, 2004).  When a high degree of attention is given to women’s psychosocial needs there is a long-term positive effect on women’s perceptions of their birth experience (Simkin, 1991). 

    During labor if a woman experiences unmanageable pain and emotional distress, her body produces hormones called catecholamines.  High levels of this hormone can result in a physiological response known as the "fight or flight" response.  Because the body cannot distinguish between physical danger and emotional distress, it reacts as if the distress could result in bodily harm.  Blood flow to the uterus diverts to the skeletal muscles to aid in fighting or fleeing.  This results in the slowing of contractions, and the stall of labor progress.  The fetus’ movements and heart rate slow to conserve oxygen for the fetal brain, and in response to this reduction in blood flow the placenta receives less oxygen.  This mechanism explains how maternal distress contributes to dysfunctional labor and fetal distress.  From this it can be concluded that some labor complications are preventable if excessive pain and maternal distress are avoided (Taylor et al., 2000).  If those caring for a laboring woman understand and respond appropriately to possible sources of distress, it may be possible to prevent the surge of catecholamines that interfere with normal labor progress.  Doulas are trained to know this and make it a high priority to maintain a relaxed, non-stressful environment in which the woman feels empowered (Odent, 1999).  When personal control and involvement in decision-making was present, a woman’s satisfaction with her birth experience was enhanced.   Trials that examine this satisfaction level found increased levels of satisfaction among women who had doulas attend them during birth (Hodnett et al., 2004; Simkin & O’Hara, 2002).

    "Birth trauma" is an event that can occur during the labor and delivery process that involves actual or perceived threatened serious injury, or death to the mother or her infant.  The birthing mother experiences intense fear, helplessness, loss of control and horror (Beck, 2004a, 28).  This definition of "birth trauma" is consistent with the definition of "trauma" that applies to any life event, as described in the authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (ADA, 1994).  An extensive literature review reports that many studies have surveyed pregnant and/or postpartum women to determine the incidence and causes of birth trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Beck, 2004a).  Traumatic births are reported as occurring in 33% to 34% of births.  Women suffering from these disorders will require time and effort of support to process and resolve their difficulties.  Thankfully, most women with birth trauma do not go on to develop the full syndrome of PTSD, however 1.5% to 5.6% are affected (Creedy, Shochet, and Horsfall, 2000; Soet, Brack, & Diloria, 2003; Beck, 2004a).  Numerous studies have identified a number of PTSD-associated factors that can occur during the birth process that are preventable.  These would include a lack of support, a feeling of not being listened to, a perceived lack of communication or a feeling of being ignored, insensitive caregivers, negative comments from the medical staff, and a feeling of a lack of control by the mother (Beck, 2004b).  PTSD can even occur when labor is normal.  One study reported an incidence of 3% among 274 women who had normal births; that is they included no obvious physical trauma (Czarnocka, Slade, 2000).

    There are no studies specifically investigating the impact of the doula on birth trauma and PTSD.  The top priority of doula care, however, is to provide those elements that were almost always missing for women who have PTSD after childbirth – reassurance, expression of needs and feelings, continuing and undivided attention, and a sense of control.  The doula supplies the kind of care that may prevent many traumatic births from progression to PTSD.   Therefore, the doula plays an essential role in maintaining the psychological and physical well-being of laboring women.  A doula can improve short and long-term birth outcomes by encouraging the reduction of catecholamine production in the first stage of labor through striving to maintain a consistent and relaxing environment during labor.  A doula can empower the mother and encourage positive communication and information sharing between the parents and the caregivers.  She can eliminate much of the fear by bringing her experience and knowledge into the birthing room, and support both parents by supporting a feeling of control in the labor room.  A doula strives to nurture and protect a woman’s memories of her birth experience, and help her to process all that happens in a positive way.

    In the United States, pregnant adolescent girls – particularly those living in poverty with an unintended pregnancy encounter overwhelming medical and psychosocial challenges.  These challenges encompass not only their pregnancy but also their future (Corcoran, 1998).  Adequate social support during pregnancy to disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged populations of women improves perinatal outcomes for the mother and her infant (Norbeck, DeJoseph & Smith, 1996; Schaffer & Hoagberg, 1997). 

    Teens from underserved communities can benefit from a connection to a doula.  Goals of community doula programs include increasing knowledge of pregnancy physiology and nutrition; promoting the health benefit of breastfeeding; encouraging high school completion and further education; working toward higher cessation rates of smoking and lower rates of alcohol and illicit drug use; and connecting to community resources that lead to increased access to health care, as well as demonstrating a decreased rate of pregnancy-related illness and infant mortality and morbidity. It has been proven that with doula support teens experience similar benefits and positive birth outcomes with doula support.  Teens have a significantly lower cesarean rates, as well as lower epidural rates in comparison to the general population.  More than 80% initiate breastfeeding (Altfeld, 2003), and feel encouraged to hold and talk to their babies immediately following birth (Abramson, Altfeld, & Teibloom-Mishkin, 2000).  This model of doula support is very personal, and rooted in and embraced by the communities that are being served.  These doulas "hold" young families as they experience the challenges of pregnancy, birth and parenting, the value of this kind of support is being revealed through outcomes within the passage of time (Atfeld, 2003). 

    The program is currently meeting or exceeding its goals.  With a cesarean section rate of 12.9%, it is far below the national level of non-doula attended births which is at 60%; low birth weight babies is at 4.8%, compared to the Oregon average of 6.1%; breastfeeding initiation rate is 99%.  This is going to have a positive impact on the health of many children, saving future taxpayers and current insurance companies vast amounts of money. 

    The Chicago Health Connection (CHC) is a Federally-funded program held up as the model maternal-child health organization.  They state that the measurable cost savings of community-based doula programs include the thousands of Medicaid dollars saved by an averted cesarean section ($10,000), or an epidural ($3,000), with an additional cost savings possible due to reduced length of hospital stay (24 hours for vaginal delivery, and four days for cesarean or complication birth).  There is an additional cost savings to public health from increased breastfeeding, which can total anywhere from $300 to 1,400 per child per month, and $500 per family.

    Promoting long-term health benefits such as breastfeeding and achieving personal educational success goals with help these teens to stand on their own two feet to be productive and health citizens.  For many of these teen parents, this is the first time they have had a caring adult in their lives who listens to them, and provides useful suggestions and respects their individual choices.  This model addresses the disparity of needs for teen parents as a result of diminishing resources, and shows that doulas can have a positive effect on birth outcomes for teens.  Birth can be a transformative experience for a teenager.  A positive birth experience can transform teens into parents and produce positive long-term benefit implications for their children and families. 

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  • 04/19/2018 - Kelly Martin 0 Comments
    The Many Benefits of Birth Doula Support, Part 2 by Kelly Martin

    The Many Benefits of Birth Doula Support

    The experience of childbirth reverberates throughout a mother’s lifetime.  The constantly changing sweep of personal, family, and community history are intertwined with the cultural and psychosocial meaning of birth — for the mother, the child, and the family.  In this way, childbirth is seen as one of the critical life events that can either connect a family – or disconnect a family.  It is society’s responsibility not to allow the moment of birth to shrink into an invisible, unacknowledged episode of medical intervention.  As a society, it is imperative that to rally for the right to birth choice and support. 

                A great deal of research has been conducted that addresses the positive effects that supportive caregivers, such as doulas and labor assistants, can have on outcomes in women’s childbirth experiences.  A doula is an advocate for a woman in labor.  Drs. John Kennell and Marshall Klaus used the Greek word "doulos" (meaning a willing servant without the need for bondage), to describe a trained professional that recognizes birth as a key life experience (Klaus, Kennell, & Klaus, 1993).  A doula is described as a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother during pregnancy, during labor, and just after childbirth (Klaus, Kennell & Klaus, 1993).  Dr. Dana Raphael, an anthropologist, in her book published in 1973 called "The Tender Gift:  Breastfeeding," may have been the first person to publish the title "doula" to identify a female who gives psychological encouragement to a postnatal woman.   A doula does not perform clinical tasks, or provide medical care.  Instead she focuses on emotional and social support.  She may provide education, logistical planning, and social support.

    The use of a doula is an innovative option to address complex disparities in health care during pregnancy, labor and postpartum.  In the broadest sense of role, a doula is a community health worker (or paraprofessional) who provides skilled and intimate continuity of care throughout the childbearing year.  

    A great deal of research has been conducted regarding the impact that supportive caregivers such as doulas and labor assistants can have on women’s birthing experiences.  A doula’s role encompasses all non-clinical aspects of care.  DONA is a certifying doula agency in the United States that trains women to be practicing doulas.  Their core standard of ethic is that a doula can provide emotional, mental, and physical support to a mother – but she is unable to perform anything "medical."  She doesn’t take blood pressure, or do cervical checks for dilation, or provided I.V.’s or injections.  She simply "mothers the mother."

    More than fourteen randomized clinical trials have been documented in a number of countries that have shown that continuous social, physical, and emotional support can help control pain, reduce the length of labor, and decrease the use of cesarean sections and other invasive procedures (Scott, Berkowitz, & Klaus, 1999; Hodnett, 2002). Other positive effects of support involve increased psychosocial benefits such as healthcare system cost savings, reduced resource utilization, and increased patient satisfaction.  Labor support has also been correlated with improved breastfeeding rates (DONA International, 2005; Hodnett, Osborn, 1989; Hodnett, 2002a), and a decrease in postpartum depression (Beck, 2004b; Creedy, Shochet, Horsfall, 2000; Czarnocka, Slade, 2000).

    Two hallmark studies were conducted in Guatemala, the first was a randomized control study by Sosa et al. (1980), which studied the amount of time women labored with a supportive birth companion, in comparison to women who did not.  This study found that labors were significantly shorter labors for the women with support (8.8 versus 9.3 hours).  The second randomized control study by Klaus et. al. (1986) found that supported women had a reduced incidence of cesarean section birth, had fewer perinatal complications, and had a decrease in oxytocin induction/augmentation (Madi et. al., 1999). 

    Several studies were conducted in North America to determine if these findings could be replicated.  The studies all found the same positive outcomes with continuous doula care. 

    Study 1

    Pascoe (1993) studied nulliparous women who were referred to two community birth companion programs in Michigan from 1983 to 1987.  Training was provided to the volunteer doulas (i.e., birth companions).  Length of labor was shortened in the group who received continuous doula support during labor.

    Study 2

    Gordon et al (1999) randomly assigned laboring women who received care from a health maintenance organization in northern California, to receive care from either a trained doula providing continuous labor support, or to a usual care group.  A decrease in epidural anesthesia use was reported from the group of women who were supported by a trained doula.

    Study 3

    Hodnett and Osborn (1989) studied the effects of continuous labor support in a North American hospital.  Continuous labor support was provided by professional self-employed lay midwives or midwives in training who had previous experience providing continuous intrapartum support to a minimum of twenty laboring women.  Although continuous labor support did not have an effect on the length of labor, or the cesarean rate, those participants who received continuous labor support were less likely to need pain relief, and to have episiotomies compared to those who received traditional nursing support.

    Study 4

    Campero et. al., 1998 study examined women’s overall experiences with doula support.  This qualitative study investigated the experiences of childbearing women who received doula support during the perinatal period.  The doulas provided the same support as in the previous studies, and provided further evidence of the importance of forming trusting relationships with caregivers (Hodnett, 2002), and the value of being prepared for birth (Zwelling, 1996).  The evidence provided by these trials suggests that lay labor support would be an invaluable addition to modern maternity care in the childbirth and the postpartum period.  Despite the health and cost-effectiveness of doula care, one national survey indicated that only about 8% of women have used doulas at their births (Sakala, Declercq & Corry, 2002).  It is believed, however that this number has increased substantially in the last decade (Lantz et al, 2005). 

    The range of doula support varies, as does who the doulas are themselves.   The Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE), Birth Works, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), Doulas of North America (DONA), and the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) produced a survey recently to examine who doulas are.  Current members who were residents of the United States and had started, or completed doula/labor assistant certification were surveyed.  A random sample of 1,000 doulas was selected, including 700 certified doulas and 300 with certification in progress.  Over 57% of the respondents were certified through DONA.  The respondents had the following sociodemographic profile:  94% reported their ethnicity as white, 3% African American, 2% Hispanic, and 1% other ethnic groups.  The average age was 40.3, with a range from 20 to 71 years old.  The majority of doulas were currently married (82%) and had given birth at least once (88%).  In terms of education, almost 49% reported that they had a college degree or more, with 20% credentialed as a nurse or midwife.  In addition, one out of three respondents reported prior training in some type of childbirth preparation instruction.  The average income in 2002 from doula work was $3,645 amount certified doulas with almost half reporting that they made less than $1,000.  The research revealed that doulas represent individuals from a range of academic and professional backgrounds united in their desire to support and enhance the childbirth experience of women.  The primary characteristic that differentiates the professional doula from other support people is the technique of continuous care.  The professional doula is committed to being present with the laboring woman 100% of the time.  The research revealed that doulas represent individuals from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds whose commonality was in their desire to support and empower women birthing.  The primary characteristic that differentiates the professional doula from other medical support professionals is simply that they have the ability to give continuous care.  A doula is committed to being present with a laboring woman 100% of the time (Hodnett, 1996). 

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  • 04/18/2018 - Kelly Martin 0 Comments
    The Many Benefits of Birth Doula Support Part 1 – by Kelly Martin (Family Social Science 2010).


    This blog post investigates how the presence of a birth doula positively impacts expecting parent’s labor and birth experience, thereby encouraging or discouraging closer bonding and positive long-term familial interrelations between parent and infant.  The consistency of birth support, care given by a doula, as well as one-on-one doula support has been found to consistently result in positive birth outcomes throughout the newly formed familial system.  These positive outcomes encompass the areas of psychosocial, interpersonal, and physiological health.  Parents who do not receive the support of a doula have a higher correlation of medicalized births and use of pharmacological interventions, whose effects can cause a disruption of the long-term positive formation of a healthy parent-infant bond, which in effect interrupts a healthy, interactive familial system.

    Key words:  Doula, birth, childbirth, benefits, bonding, support, healthy family, medicalized birth, pharmacological interventions, natural pain relief measures, positive birth, empowered birth.

    This blog post will be posted in sections over the next few weeks.  Watch for sections.  Today please enjoy the article introduction.


    Women maintain vivid memories of the events during their labors and births.  They formulate extremely strong feelings about their overall birth experience (Abramson, 2004: Bennett, 1985;  Hodnett, 2002) that become embossed and embedded into their everyday lives.  The birth of a child is a life-transforming event – a momentous and empowering occasion.  A woman’s birth experience can change and revise their self-image.  A positive birth experience can give rise to lifelong self-confidence, and feeling of empowerment.  It can gift a woman with the idea that she can conquer anything in her life, which enables her to ascend to new heights of accomplishment.  This transformation can enhance her quality of life, echoing into an ability to be a strong parent, solidifying her ability to form strong familial bonds, healthy bonds with her new baby.

    There is a great deal of research regarding the impact birth doulas and labor assistants have on perinatal outcomes.  Within the psychosocial and cultural context, more than fourteen randomized trials in several world countries have shown that provision of continuous, social, physical, and emotional support of a birthing mother can encourage long-term positive effects on a woman’s life (Breedlove, 2005; Brill, 2005; DONA, 2005).  Women who are attended by doulas have a documented decrease in the need for pain medication, a reduction in intrapartum interventions used during labor and birth, a reduction in the incidence of cesarean delivery, and a significant increase in overall satisfaction with their birth experience (Hodnett, 1989, 2002, 2002b).  In addition, labor support has been correlated with improved breastfeeding rates, a marked decrease in incidence of postpartum depression through decreasing maternal isolation, and successful initiation of breastfeeding.  Positive results are particularly striking when labor support is given to mothers continuously, throughout active labor and birth, by lay women, versus medical professionals (Hodnett, Lowe, Hannah, Willan et. al, 2002).   These findings suggest that labor support is an invaluable and necessary addition to modern maternity care.

    Culturally competent, lay perinatal social support is an imperative component for multicultural populations of childbearing women.  Having a doula from the same culture, who is also herself a mother, who speaks the same language, is tremendously reassuring to a birthing woman.  Birth doula’s improve communication and encourage a positive birth experience for everyone involved (Kennell, Klaus, McGrath, Robertson, Hinkley, 1991; Kennell, Klaus, Klaus, 1993).  Doulas fill in the gap where there is hospital understaffing, or a cultural separation between care provider and birthing parent (Berkowitz, Klaus, 1999; Romano, 2008; Shelp 2004). 

    Doulas provide comprehensive models of maternity care that include appropriate and sufficient psychosocial support, especially in those populations of at-risk women who would normally receive sub-standard birth and perinatal support.  A community-based doula model can contribute to increased power among families living in fragmented communities (Atkins, 2009; Baldwin, Jones, 2000; Beck, 2002; Breedlove, 2005).  In these environments, the daily stresses and limited availability of social and cultural support are magnified by poverty and are often associated with negative birth outcomes (Czarnocka, 2000; Fearn, 2004; Hodnett, 1989).  Environmental, social and behavioral patterns within these communities greatly influence the level of stress experienced by mothers.  According to (Romano, 2008) teen population births are again on the rise.    All of these factors work for naught contributing to America’s high incidence of preterm births, and low birth weight infants within at-risk populations (Scott, Berkowitz, Klaus, 1999).   Negative birth outcomes are associated with a lack of education and support, and are magnified by the fractionalized life-circumstances of poverty.  With education and community doula support, these populations can grow and improve.  Positive, supported birth practices have long-lasting implications for families and children.

    Pregnant incarcerated women are an at risk population that can greatly benefit from the support of a doula.  These women have birth experiences that fall extremely short of the healthy ideal birth conditions that are described in "Lamaze International’s (2007), Six Care Practices That Support Normal Birth."  These women experience a lack of screening and inappropriate medical treatment which leaves them and their babies at high risk for life-long mental and physical health problems (Baldwin, Jones, 2000; Beck, 2002).  With adequate perinatal support, prenatal care and education, incarcerated expecting mothers can be encouraged to discard negative lifestyle choices that would affect them and their babies (Fearn, Parker, 2004; Fogel, Harris 1986).  The Community Doula Model can provide the psychosocial support these women lack, and empowering them to grow into healthy parents.

    Consistency of birth support provided by a doula which includes the giving of care, as well as one-on-one psychosocial and cultural support, has been found to improve overall birth outcomes.  These positive outcomes strengthen familial systems by encouraging new parent and infant bonding within all populations.  These positive outcomes encompass the areas of social, interpersonal, physiological, and psychological health of birthing parents.  With an inexpensive intervention known as "doula support" it is possible to aid in the empowerment and strengthening of women and families in all populations through the childbearing year.


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  • 11/06/2017 - treasuredbirthllc 1 Comment
    Massage After Cesarean Section Birth

    Cesareans can save the lives of mothers and babies; however, the reality is that a cesarean is a major surgery.  It is possible for a full recovery.  Postpartum healing and recovery can be aided by receiving regular postpartum massage.  During any kind of surgery, in this case surgical birth, a mother’s body will register a gamut of feelings and emotions that will need to be addressed later during her healing.

    Release Adhesions With Massage
    The Women’s Surgery Group, along with other groups of research findings estimate that adhesion formation is extremely common in post-surgical patients.  In 55 to 100% of patients who have gynecological surgery involving the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries (including cesearean section), adhesion healing difficulty is common.  In a cesarean surgery other issues may also occur such as extended healing time, chronic pain, pain during intercourse, bowel obstruction and even occasionally infertility. Repeat cesareans have an even greater occurrence of adhesion formation.
    It is required occasionally, additional surgery is required following the formation of adhesion scars.  Sometimes chronic pain is established after a surgery; this could indicate scar tissue adhesions from surgery.  Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that can distort anatomy and bring organs and tissues into abnormal locations causing discomfort.  Adhesions can be indicated when external scars appear.  Tissues can look puckered, or uneven as the top layer of skin is pulled down into deeper tissue layers.
    Surgery for "lysis of adhesions," or removal is performed resulting in 303,000 hospitalizations at $1.3 billion spent annually.  Adhesions can actually reform after this kind of surgery, and they can reoccur 80% of the time, simply as a reaction the surgery meant to release them.  Instead of surgery, certain massage techniques such as neuromuscular therapy, deep tissue sculpting and postpartum therapies limit the formation of adhesions and scar tissue in new injuries, and often reduce existing scar tissue to make it more pliable at old injury sites; thus reducing the need for a second surgery for repair.
    The Emotional Scars of Surgery
    During the actual surgery, the body registers physical pain in her body, and in her spirit and unconscious memory.  Following the surgery, regardless of whether it is a planned surgical delivery, or an emergency, the mother usually feels a sense of loss at not having had a vaginal birth.  Additionally, especially in the event of an emergency or unexpected cesarean birth, she could feel a sense of being violated.  When this occurs, the body reacts by trying to protect itself from further injury with involuntary muscle contractions, and tension in the injured area.  When this newly established "body guard" is established, unconscious muscle tension and secondary pain may even outlast the original cause.
    During and after surgery, physical damage reports flood the nervous system.  Even while anesthetized, a patient’s heart rate and/or blood pressure respond to surgery.  Unconscious psychological controls can be activated, potentially producing anxiety, jumpiness a lowered pain threshold, even a subconscious feeling of betrayal and anger at the experience and those people involved.  Emotions may not be rational, but are valid.  Long after the scars are healed, a woman who has had a cesarean may feel overwhelmed, by details and obligations; she may distance herself from other people, from herself, or from her experience.  She may not be aware of, or allow herself to feel her emotions, instead, storing them in her body.  Her life continues, she cares for baby, and if she doesn’t address or process this experience, she may not get the emotional healing she needs.
    A massage therapist can provide a place for her to feel safe enough to release both the stored emotions, and the muscle contractions her body is using to protect itself.  She may continue to guard both physically and emotionally the areas where pain has lodged itself.  Massage therapy can be empowering, involving more than just the physical body, but helping to reconnect the brain’s emotional centers.  As a client becomes aware of the feelings stored in their body.  She can use this awareness in the healing process.  Once those feelings are acknowledged, instead of blocking them, or guarding, she can guide their release.  The more deeply hidden the issues are, the more difficult they are to resolve.  If a woman hasn’t dealt with them by the next labor, she will likely have to deal with them in the middle of it.
    Complete physical and emotional healing is possible for the client who seeks appropriate care.  Releasing deeply ingrained emotions may require the additional help of a psychological counselor.  But for a woman who would like to pursue a VBAC or TOLAC, this emotional release is a vital part of the pursuit of complete healing; physical and emotional; from adhesions causing chronic pain and infertility.  It is imperative that the deeper scars that follow surgery be healed.


    When can a massage begin after surgery is done?
    Use of very delicate massage and thermal therapy, first using body heat from the hands, helps by increasing circulation.  This kind of massage discourages the new formation of scars and adhesions, and encourages tissues that are swollen with excess fluid to drain.  The body can then re-establish normal lymphatic flow, thus encouraging the body’s healing immune system to work more efficiently.  The client can also aid this process on their own at home by doing gentle, circular strokes on their abdomen in a clockwise direction.  This will aid the abdominal organs to regain their normal functions.  .


    As a Therapeutic Massage Therapist with specialization training with Prenatal and Postpartum mothers, I will work with a woman 24-hours after delivery, and/or as soon as a client’s provider approves, massage can be received.  Also, massage can be received within 24 hours if a mother had a vaginal birth with no complications.  If a cesarean birth has occurred, a mother must give a written release from their provider authorizing massage therapy, before a 6-week follow-up visit.
    About two weeks after surgery, gentle vibration of the skin over the incision can be used, progressing to deeper pressure as healing occurs.  This will stimulate re-connection of nerves and a reduction numbness due to healing nerve connections.  At 6-weeks post-surgery, tissues can also be gently stretched to encourage greater movement and loosen existing adhesions.  Trigger points in the abdomen (irritable spots) that can make the muscles prone to spasm, should be located and loosened.
    More Than Just a Rub
    As an experienced doula, massage therapist, and student midwife,I have observed that labors following a previous cesarean delivery are greatly influenced by old thoughts and emotional experiences from the previous birth, especially if they aren’t actively processed beforehand.  It is important for the mother, her baby, and her family to explore the more deeply hidden issues that need to be resolved before the next birth.  Complete healing is possible if a client allows herself to seek and accept appropriate care.  As a massage worker, I can provide one of the safe places for her to develop awareness of her body and muscles, including those affected by emotional memory.  I can help her to process her surgery through massage, and re-connect with her body and emotions.
    1.  Women’s Surgery Group, "Adhesions.  Available at (accessed July 2010).
    2.  N. F. Ray et al., "Abdominal Adhesiolysis:  Inpatient Care and Expenditures in the United States in 1994," Journal of the American College of Surgeons 186, no. 1 (1998): 1-9.
    3.  Cook, M. Healing Inside and Out:  Massage for the Cesarean Section Client.  Originally published in Massage Bodywork Magazine, September/October 2010.  Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals.  Massage Therapy website recovered 10/13/2017.
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