If there was one word to describe Deacon’s birth it would be LOVE. We consciously called this sweet boy into our family and throughout my pregnancy I felt an immense amount of LOVE and peace. I didn’t allow the fear of complications and the unknown that existed during my pregnancy with Eloise to creep in this time.Read More
Welcome to DR. STU'S BLOG. Along with my Podcast, I post and share my thoughts on a variety of topics on the birthing world. Advocacy for true informed consent and respect for individual autonomy are the basis for the musings you will read here. I hope you enjoy while you learn and I encourage you to comment.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #61.
by Nona Djavid, D.C. Author Bio.
To purchase this issue, Order Here.
The transition from maiden to mother is the most transformative and sacred journey I have ever taken. It’s the ultimate form of shapeshifting. I was reborn after the birth of my son, Rayan. I remember telling my midwife, “If I can do this, I can do anything.” It was empowering, and the most authentic expression of the divine feminine I have ever experienced.
The first 37 weeks of my pregnancy were extremely spiritual and enlightening. For months, I’d read Ina May Gaskin’s books on midwifery and natural childbirth. I ate healthy, exercised, practiced yoga, and meditated. I was under chiropractic care, went to acupuncture, and did everything in between. I chose to have no ultrasounds, no unnecessary tests, and no medical interventions. I had full trust in my body’s ability to do what my female ancestors had done for centuries. There was no fear and no doubt. I told my midwife I wanted a free birth—where only my hands and the hands of my husband would touch the baby. When people asked if I had a birth plan, I would often say that I wanted to squat down and give birth to my son.
I dreamed about it. I longed for it. I smiled when I envisioned it. And then, three weeks prior to my due date, everything suddenly changed. That’s when I was told my son was in a breech position, and that it was “abnormal” and that my midwife could not, by law, deliver my breech son. He would either have to turn, or I would end up with a C-section. My world was upside down. I felt an immense amount of pain in my heart. For the first time in my pregnancy, I experienced fear and doubt. You see, fear of birth is something my mother carried with her. She experienced a lot of trauma after multiple miscarriages, a stillborn child, and losing a ten-day old newborn baby. This fear was grand, and it had been carried by my ancestors, generation after generation. Stories of loss, trauma, and pain were flooding into me. I had mindfully put all of these stories away for what seemed like eons, but now the fear was deep and it was consuming me.
Shortly after hearing this news, my husband and I went to get an ultrasound to confirm our baby’s position. And yes: Our son was, in fact, breech. After hours and hours of research and phone calls, we found three OBs in all of southern California who were known for delivering breech babies vaginally. One had retired. One worked out of a hospital. And then there was Dr. Stuart Fischbein, the only OB who did home births including VBACs, breech, and twins.
We met with Dr. Stu. I remember him saying, “Breech is a variation of normal.” This was the most refreshing piece of information; my heart was dying to hear it. Something about breech being “normal” felt right, and I started to feel at peace again. He shared his research and his work with us, checked everything out, and let us know that we would qualify for a breech vaginal birth.
He continued to explain how vaginal breech options were taken away from women in the 1980s. This was due to lack of training and a lack of skilled practitioners familiar with specific techniques to deliver breech babies vaginally. This unfortunate trend coincided with a 2000 Term Breech Trial Study that showed poor outcomes for vaginal breech births compared to C-sections. Multiple studies came out afterward that proved the study to be flawed or invalid, but it was too late to make a difference. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology had already stopped teaching and recommending a natural birth for these moms, and they have not updated their recommendations since.
I now had found my sliver of hope to have my baby enter the world how I chose to—which I believe is every woman’s birthright— but I was saddened that the art of delivering breech babies vaginally was dying. As a result, fewer and fewer women would have it as an option.
Of course, I still tried everything in my power to turn my baby. More chiropractic care, more acupuncture, hanging upside down, ice, music, lights. None of these techniques worked; my baby wouldn’t turn. As I was running around doing all of these things, something inside of me felt incongruent. I felt out of alignment. I stopped and listened to my newfound instinct, and I immediately knew that nothing about this pregnancy—nothing about him, nothing about his position, and nothing about me—felt urgent.
I knew in my heart that Rayan had picked his way of coming into the world—peacefully and through the birth canal. I was there to surrender, and perhaps learn my first lesson in motherhood. I let go of the circumstances, maybe even for the first time, and began to heal.
It was time. I was in what my midwife calls labor-land. Dr. Stu and my birth team were on the couch discussing the meteor shower that was taking place that night, and hoping to catch a glimpse of it at 4 a.m., while I was finding my strength and place of surrender with every contraction. At 4:08 a.m. that early morning, I witnessed the birth of my son, butt first, Earthside. As my midwife would say, I experienced the “rebirth of a mother born by the battle she has endured and just won.”
To me, what Joseph Campbell describes as the “hero’s journey” meant giving birth my own way, on my own terms. I became a vehicle for life, and in the process was reborn. When you go through an experience that is so profound, it shakes you to the core. You begin to overcome all fears, challenges, and perceived conditions. Without the outstanding doctor who reminded me of what I already knew—that breech birth was normal—my journey would not have been the same.
Mercy Reign was born Saturday, February 3 at 4:43am by way of C-section after 40 hours of intense, unmedicated labor at home. She was frank breech, 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 23 inches long! Mercy was extra-well done (haha) at 41weeks and 3days, extra-large, extra cozy, folded completely in half, and slightly transverse, likely due to how long she was! This was not the birth story I wanted, it was the birth story God knew we needed.
Zach and I did everything we could to prepare for a home (water) birth, something we both dreamed of having. We prayed. We took A Heavenly Welcome's Kingdom Childbirth Class and the 8 week Mama Natural Online Birth class. We hired an amazing Christian midwife with 29 years experience who thoroughly cared for, educated and encouraged us from 9 weeks pregnant through the "4th trimester". We both read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth book, Hypnobirthing and Supernatural Childbirth. A word on Hypnobirthing for those whose "New Age radar" just went up: Chew on the meat & spit out the "New Age" bones - most of the info on what happens in the woman's body during pregnancy, labor and birth + the breathing techniques in this book were very accurate and helpful though I don't recommend the cd or some of the wierd visualizations. We also watched endless videos of amazing home births, and once we found out she was breech, endless vaginal breech birth videos. I LOVED The Heavenly Welcome Podcast in my last trimester, listening to all the supernatural birth stories/testimonies!!
The Lord specifically instructed me on how to prepare my body before getting pregnant, after He gave me the dream about Mercy. He gave me the words TRUST and DISCIPLINE, and challenged me to get a 1-year chronological Bible to read for 2017 (as of March 2018 I've almost completed it...hahaha...better to finish with grace than become legalistic and ashamed, right?!). I also felt the Lord instruct me to start pilates reformer classes to prepare my structure, as I was just coming off of a serious back injury involving 2 bulged discs and severe muscle spasms. He advised me to lighten my load and work on my adrenal glands/hormones, as my periods had gotten painful and a bit irregular after prolonged high stress. The Lord also nudged me to finally change over the last of my makeup/skincare regimen. I had been using Bare Esscentuals for years and justified that it was "natural enough." I finally took the time to see how EVERYTHING I was using on my face/body ranked on the EWG- Skin Deep App and did my research to find the BEST, most pure and complete cosmetic line once and for all. (I hate changing makeup/searching for new products!) There are hundreds of serious carcinogens, hormone disruptors & other toxins in most makeup/skin care products. I still make my own body butter and anti-aging skin serum, both of which I used (mixed together) for stretch mark prevention throughout the whole pregnancy (and I didn't get a single stretchmark with my 55 extra pounds of Mercy love!!!). I had pages of birth declarations and scriptures (you're welcome to use them) typed up that I meditated on for weeks to keep my mind constantly renewed and excited versus afraid. Aside from those specifics, I was already eating super clean and healthy, teaching Indoor Cycling classes 2 times per week and working a balanced schedule. I took responsibility and trained accordingly, as I knew childbirth was not something to "just wing".
Everything the Lord advised me to do paid off and served its purpose. I had a wonderful pregnancy despite the fact that it was "God's plan" and not our own in the end. Mercy was head down until the middle of third trimester when she flipped. My amazing Chiropractor, who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care, is who suspected she was breech and referred me out for emergency ultrasound for confirmation on Christmas Eve (35.5 weeks). Praise God for the wise words from a dear friend who reminded me: "Remember, home birth isn't the ultimate goal, a health mommy and baby is". That was Truth I needed to remember for such a time as this. This pregnancy and birth experience took me to another level of surrender and trust, once again reminding me that we are not in control. I so desperately wanted to have this baby naturally at home. I fully believed that God was going to honor "the desires of my heart". My recovery entailed much more than physical healing.
We prayed fervently through the end of my pregnancy and had so many others praying (even fasting for us). We did everything to get her to turn (Webster technique, Chiropractic care, Acupuncture, Moxibustion, External Cephalic Version 3 times, inversion exercises from SpinningBabies.com, essential oils, homeopathies to increase my amniotic fluid making more room for baby to move, etc). We were still lead to try to have a home birth instead of cave to C-section immediately since there were zero complications, and I was healthy and low risk through my entire pregnancy. We had to hire Dr. Stuart Fischbein (with Dr. Milo Chavira on call, his backup which is who we ended up with because Dr. Stu was out of town when I went into labor... the plot thickens!) the only Obstetricians in the area who specialize in vaginal breech HOME (or birth center) birth. Sadly, California law will not allow a breech home birth with a midwife any longer (don't get me started on that!). It is pretty much exclusively hospital policy here to force women with breech babies to have a surgical birth and not even allow them to try to deliver naturally. God kept opening doors of hope and possibility.
Something I learned from our amazing and very experienced birth team through this journey: If you are trying to deliver a breech baby vaginally, induction and intervention are major no-no's. (Of course, I'm not a fan of either unless they are truly MEDICALLY NECESSARY anyway. One intervention often quickly leads to a whole cascade of interventions, which can have adverse effects on mommy and baby). Because Mercy could not descend through the birth canal due to her position and size, my contractions never developed a regular pattern into active labor, and I never dilated past 4 cm. I had MANY 10-15 minute, excruciating, back-to-back surges as my uterus did its job to TRY to bring her down. I fought to have her naturally, but it eventually became medically necessary to transfer. My water had been broken for nearly 48 hours.
This was my Garden of Gethsemane.
“...Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” -Matthew 26:39 NKJV
There were some incredibly HOLY moments late in my labor where tears flowed from the depths of my soul. I was able to dance and worship, feeling almost zero pain for a couple hours!! I had a supernatural breakthrough and clearly heard the Lord speaking to me about restoring the family unit, the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61), and the places that have been long devastated through many generations. He spoke to us about making all things new through us, a fresh start, a new and healthy generation, and encouragement that I don't have to be afraid of me or Zach doing the things I witnessed growing up. These have been deep, tormenting and paralyzing fears throughout my life. The Lord "delivered" me as I was delivering my daughter into the world. I was fully surrendered at that point and HOLY is the only way to describe it.
Perhaps if my birth story had been "easy", I would have missed out on the healing that only comes through the kind of pain that brings you to your knees. I could quickly get caught up in grieving and re-living my birth story, wallowing in the emotions and making it an idol. Instead I CHOOSE to simply trust The Lord and thank Him for this baby girl that was worth it all!! After all, I don't "deserve" anything. Anything the Lord gives is a gift of grace in reality.
Ultimately we had our home birth...with a cesarean delivery and a healthy mommy and baby. We did everything we could and therefore, will never have any regrets. In God's mercy and grace, Miss Mercy Reign never once showed any sign of fetal distress through the entire labor or birth or postpartum!! Thank you Jesus!!!
We are in love!!! Mercy is so strong and healthy and BEAUTIFUL and FUN and squishy and delicious!!!! God's MERCY truly REIGNS and we can be grateful His plans are better than ours will ever be!!!
THANK YOU to ALL who have prayed, called, sent cards and gifts, celebrated and journeyed with us!!!
Psalm 136:1 "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER."
FUN FACT: A breech presentation is a variation of normal (like us! haha), not a pregnancy complication. It occurs in 3-4% of pregnancies and no one really knows why. Vaginal delivery is ideal for a low-risk breech baby so long as you have a properly trained birth assistant (OB or Midwife). The real problem is that medical schools are no longer training Doctors how to deliver breech babies, so there is a LOT of fear-mongering around this topic. Just as many things can go wrong during C-section delivery of a breech baby if a Doctor isn't properly trained (brachial plexus injuries, etc). It is still wise to avoid a surgical birth whenever possible unless it is truly medically necessary like mine ultimately was.
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was doubly excited, and knew I still desired a home birth. However, I realized many practitioners see all multiple pregnancies as high risk, and I would have to advocate for my wishes, while seeking out an experienced care provider. As a home birth midwife, I have assisted with natural twin pregnancies in the United States, and abroad as a traveling volunteer. While we are fortunate here to have medical interventions available, such as epidurals and cesarean sections, they are not needed for every birth, including every multiples birth. So how can you best achieve your chance for a natural birth? Education, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and trusting in yourself. Here are my top tips to natural birth success with multiples:
• Nutrition - starting in the first trimester, it is important to eat a health diet, including whole foods, lots of water, and a quality food - based prenatal vitamin. One of the most important nutrients for moms is protein, which provides amino acids, known as the building blocks to cells. With adequate nutrition, not only will you be growing healthy babies, they may also have a better chance of making it to full term, which also increases your success of a natural birth, while decreasing their risk of NICU time. Good protein choices are lean meat, eggs, low mercury fish, beans and legumes. Additionally, it is important to “eat the rainbow,” meaning many colors on your plate - think red peppers or strawberries, green broccoli, kale or spinach, oranges or carrots, yellow lemons or bananas, as each colored whole food provides different key nutrients and vitamins. Drinking plenty of fluids will ensure babies have enough amniotic fluid, contractions don’t start prematurely, and can help keep your fatigue at bay. To combat nausea, try not to get too hungry, and keep bland snacks like cereal or dried fruit nearby.
• Exercise - Once given the go ahead from your provider, prenatal exercise is another essential part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and will prepare yourself for birth. Prenatal yoga, walking and swimming are all great options. A walk outside also gives the added benefit of vitamin D! When in doubt, consult before trying something new, and avoid heavy lifting, torquing maneuvers or high impact exercises, unless it is okayed. During pregnancy, the babies need to get in optimal birth positions, and avoiding strenuous abdominal exercises, as well as doing weight bearing activity, can help make that possible. As your pregnancy progresses, a maternity cradle, or wide, elastic band will offer support when standing or walking for long periods of time. If you are placed on bed rest, ask if there is still any exercise you can do, such as leg lifts or arm exercises, because even a little movement may be beneficial. You can also practice gentle breathing techniques, such as longer exhalations than inhalations or blowing, which may be helpful to use during labor.
• Childbirth Education - Take a class with a local educator, watch natural birth videos, read childbirth preparation books and talk to experienced parents so that you have the knowledge to make an informed decision about your birth preferences, including place of birth. A natural birth can happen at home or in hospital! Research your birth preferences but be flexible. Decide which aspects are most important to you, and also what part of your plan you could modify, in case things change. In birth, preparation is helpful so you know what to expect, but the unexpected can occur, and its important to know why an intervention is being offered or recommended.
• Self Confidence - now that you’ve ate healthy, exercised gently, and feel informed about labor and birth, hopefully you can enjoy your pregnancy! I know easier said than done, but remember people have been giving birth forever. Once you’re pregnant everyone has some piece of advice to offer, so take in the positive, and let the negative stories go. Find affirmations or images that make you feel empowered and strong. These can be your mantras during labor and birth. Another essential is trusted a labor companion, which could be a friend, relative or partner, and statistics show that someone with a birthing person throughout their birth is the best thing you can do to reduce number of medical interventions. Remember, this is a special time and you can do it!
One of the best parts of an unmedicated birth is the feeling you have once your little ones are in your arms. In fact it is the highest level of oxytocin, the love hormone, that a person will ever experience in their life! However, no matter how birth happens, it is transformative and beautiful, and with multiples, only enhanced with each baby.
Here is our first family photo: happy, healthy and at tucked in at home!
Jacquelyn Ingram is a licensed midwife and international board certified vacation consultant. In addition to serving home birth clients and teaching classes for expectant and new parents, she also runs a non profit corporation, Global Aurora Foundation, which aids individuals and non government organizations around the world, that serve women and children. email@example.com