Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on June 14, 2013
It’s here! It’s here!
This is the project I’ve wanted to do for months and I’ve finally got it done! And it’s all for you: parents-to-be, doulas, child birth educators, and care providers.
Check out the Birth Planning Toolkit on Birth Walk for links to the forms.
You will find forms for:
- Pregnancy Wellness and Goals
- Birth Plans (including for Cesareans and inductions)
- Newborn Care
- Postpartum Care
Please share these far and wide. I’ve already had great feedback from clients and hospital providers that these are really user-friendly forms.
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on February 22, 2013
I’m excited to announce a new class beginning in March, 2013!
Bringing Baby Home: Creating Your Postpartum Care Plan will give expectant parents a chance to explore what life might look like after baby arrives. It will help parents answer questions like: how will I plan my meals, take care of older siblings, breastfeed and return to work? How do I “get back to normal” when so much has changed, including my own sense of identity?
This is the class I wish I’d had before having children. We tend to be so focused on preparing for birth that what comes after becomes an after-thought. Talking about it before baby arrives will help families set reasonable expectations for themselves as well as give them resources and tools for life with baby.
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on February 2, 2013
I get a lot of reading done while I breastfeed. I especially like to catch up on current news and trends in the birth, breastfeeding and parenting world.
Here are a few of my favorite blogs:
Science and Sensibility–This research blog from Lamaze International is a go-to for me as I help parents navigate through the world of birth.
Evidence Based Birth–I don’t know what birth professionals or parents did before this one came along. This blog by Rebecca Dekker,PhD, RN, APRN, does an excellent job dissecting the research available about different pregnancy and child birth practices to determine best practice and it does it in a way that breaks it down for those of us who are not researchers. I also love the printable practice bulletins that she puts together that parents and professionals can share with care providers.
Improving Birth–This is a great site for maternal health advocacy. This is another one that puts together really accessible summaries of evidence based birth.
Best For Babes–These ladies know how to help women succeed with their breastfeeding goals! Their Booby Trap series does an amazing job breaking down the barriers that many women face while trying to breastfeed in today’s medical and social culture.
The Leaky Boob–Advice on breastfeeding as well as a very active community of peer support, especially on their Facebook page.
PhD in Parenting–Articles ranging from birth and breastfeeding to every day parenting. Decidedly “attachment parent” in its philosophy.
Peaceful Parenting–As the name implies, gentle parenting with a mission. This blog is a great resource for all things parenting, but is an especially wonderful resource for research and articles about circumcision.
Remember to add Birth Walk to your RSS feed and never miss a post!
What’s in your feed?
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on January 2, 2013
Boy, oh, Boy! What a year this has been!
I recently wrote a little about getting Birth Walk launched this year and some new directions I am going to take and while so much has happened already, I feel like I am just scratching the service of everything that is to come. You should see my wall–covered in lists and diagrams trying to keep straight all of the pieces I am trying to put together, trying to extend my hands to reach more women who are becoming mothers.
At the heart of my vision for the next year is my belief in the power of community to nurture, mentor and support. There are two pieces to this, really:
First, right now most women who have a doula present for their birth are blessed with some degree of affluence. They are mostly educated, professional-types with the means to hire additional support. Yet, many of the women who would benefit the most from a doula wouldn’t know a doula from a dingbat. These are women who are at risk for having unplanned or disappointing outcomes because they don’t even realize they have choices or the impacts of those choices on their future wellbeing. I want to expand doula access and education to as many women as I can (and I can’t do it it alone)!
Second, a year in to my doula journey, I have learned a lot and have pushed myself hard to learn things as quickly as possible. One thing that would have helped me and will hopefully help other emerging doulas is a kick-ass mentor program. Mentoring works. It can help someone truly find their gifts through a nurturing professional relationship and can give a newbie a real boost when it comes to creating lasting connections in a professional community. We can learn so much from one another if we’re willing to share what we know.
So, without further ado, here’s a sneak preview of some of the projects and collaborations I am working on for 2013!
- Complete doula certification and start certification process as a Childbirth Educator
- More Clients! (Maternity leave is OVER!)
- Add Postpartum Care
- More blogging, including guest posts and a very important series coming up–about choices for birth.
- Creating a community for women to share their journeys
- And the one I’m super excited about: a Birth Planning Took Kit on birthwalk.com
Projects & Partnerships:
- Teaching Classes via Mama’s Hip. Mothers At The Well, a writing and rite of passage workshop is already on the calendar, with more in the works!
- Create a mentoring program for doulas in the Louisville area through Birth Care Network
- Design and coordinate a volunteer/ low-cost doula program with Louisville-based Mama To Mama (oh yeah, and write a grant for funding!).
Do you think I can manage to do all of this in one year??? I can’t wait to find out!
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on December 30, 2012
There’s a reason I picked the name Birth Walk for my business and blog. Walking. It’s the great milestone of the first year of life and is the basic form of our movement and mobility for the rest of our lives. It’s something that most of us probably take for granted, but walking both literally and figuratively plays a vital role in birth.
From a very practical perspective, staying upright and walking during labor can help dilation, and bring baby into the best position for birth. Walking can speed up labor, or can help start a stalled labor–all benefits that are lost when women are forced to labor in bed or on their back, as tends to happen in most hospital settings!
During both of my pregnancies, I tried to walk as much as possible, not only to prepare my body for the hard work of labor, but, just as importantly, to prepare my mind for the mental work that takes place when giving birth. There are several cultural mythologies around women giving birth in indigenous communities throughout the world that involve walking. In some of these stories, pregnant women walk long distances in search of a place give birth when it is time. From a biological perspective, this could be tied to how animals of other species of animals will seek out a location or den to birth–out of a need to secure safety for their vulnerable babies. For humans today, whose physical safety may not be threatened, there is still a need to create a “protected space” in the mind when it comes time for birth.
As the African proverb above suggests, when women birth they must walk through a vulnerable place within themselves in order to bring a new life to this side of earth and simultaneously give birth to a new identity as a mother–a process that continues to unfold long after the initial birth of a child. When I was 39 weeks pregnant with my son, I urgently felt the need to hike up my favorite mountain by our house. In fact, though I’d been moving pretty slowly for a while, when I started that particular hike, I felt a lightness and a deep need to practically run up the mountain. I HAD to reach the overlook at the top because I knew that when I arrived there I would make peace with any fears I had about giving birth.
When we reached the top, I sat in meditative quiet and felt my son stirring within me and knew that I would hold him in my arms soon and that no matter what, I was going to birth this baby. I was ready.
Walking continues to be my outlet–my opportunity to be in my body and mind. It is the space where I learn more about the mother that I am and the woman that is emerging during this rite of passage.
So, for birth and for life: Keep walking. Don’t stop.
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on December 19, 2012
So you have a brand new baby in your arms that you just birthed days ago. You stare adoringly into her little face as you breastfeed her. You take her for her first pediatrician appointment and are informed that she’s not gaining weight as quickly as they’d like to see. And then you hear the dreaded words, “we’d like you to supplement”.
First of all, don’t panic, it’s time to do some investigation.
Before supplementing with ANYTHING, see a lactation professional such as and IBCLC. Many hospitals have IBCLCs on staff and provide free help to mothers that birthed at their hospital. Some hospitals have free programs for anyone, regardless of where they birthed.
When we don’t see optimal weight gain, there can be many minor things that can be contributing to the issue, such as:
- A latch that needs adjustment to help baby get more milk at the breast.
- breastfeeding management–are you following baby’s hunger cues and feeding immediately or are you scheduling feedings too far apart? A newborn baby has a tiny tummy and needs to eat very frequently, as many as 10-12 times a day (around the clock).
- Anatomical issues that need attention such as a tongue tie or lip tie.
- Delayed milk production. For some women, it takes longer than “average” for their mature milk to come in fully.
Most of the time, correcting any breastfeeding issue such as those above, will correct the weight issues.
If it is determined that supplementation will be necessary for the health of your baby, you HAVE CHOICES. Many people in the health care field are not trained in lactation. This means that even pediatricians and nurses may mistakenly recommend formula automatically when a baby needs additional nutrition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following “hierarchy” for supplementation of infants:
- Your own expressed breast milk
- Donated human breast milk
In other words, your own expressed breast milk is by far the best option, if you are able to provide it!
If you decide that formula is the best choice for your situation, it is not the end of the world! Overall, human breast milk is the optimal food for human babies. It is more calorically dense than formula, meaning that breastfed babies need less of it than they would formula. Ultimately, I think what’s most important is that you get to know your options and make your own choice.
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on December 8, 2012
Big News! In 2013, I will begin taking postpartum doula clients!
Why hire a postpartum doula?
Once upon a time, women were surrounded by family and friends to support them in the days and weeks following giving birth. In some cultures, women are EXPECTED to observe a 40 day “babymoon”, where the mother is excused from housework and care of other children; so that she can recover from the birth and get to know her newborn. Today families are scattered and it’s common for new families to lack support for the major transition of bringing a new baby into their life.
Moreover, the postpartum period can be very difficult emotionally as new mothers process their birth experience and emerging identity as a mother. Having someone present to nurture the new mother can make a huge difference for her wellness as she undergoes this transition. A postpartum doula can help fill these roles.
What do postpartum doulas do?
- breastfeeding support
- light housework
- help with newborn care and logistics
- provide information, referrals and advocacy
- take care of a mother’s needs
What training do postpartum doulas have?
Most postpartum doulas have read extensively, attended some kind of comprehensive training workshop (similar to training for labor support) that prepares the doula to work with the specific needs of a postpartum mother, and have experience in caring for babies and/or families.
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on December 7, 2012
It’s been about six months since I started this blog. It’s crazy to think what all has happened in that time! I started a business, became a certified lactation counselor, started attending births, HAD A BABY, and have been concurrently working on lots of partnerships and projects within the Louisville area. I’ve also loved having a blogging platform to share information with families and flex my writing muscles a little bit.
But I must confess I’ve been struggling about what to do with the Birth Walk Blog. When I started it, I initially wanted it to focus on sharing research and information, maybe with a few pertinent, more personal stories thrown in there. Since then, I’ve found that I deeply wish to share more of my own doula and mother journey via the Birth Walk blog.
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to depart from my original intention and follow this project where it seems to want to go. While I still plan to share evidence-based articles (duh! I’m still a research junky!), I need this blog to get personal and I have a feeling you do to!
Emily, The Birth Walk Doula
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on November 21, 2012
I am utterly devastated. I’m sure many who watched my current TV guilty pleasure last night, AMC’s The Walking Dead, are also grieving over Lori’s death in childbirth. I could say plenty of my sadness about the loss of a character I really liked, or the shattered innocence of her son Carl, or several other things about the writing of future episodes, but what I really want to talk about is my disappointment over how the writers portrayed the birth.
As soon as I learned in season 2 that Lori was pregnant, I was excited to see how the show would deal with the birth. Would it be realistic? Would the baby survive? Would she breastfeed, or would they stupidly look all over for formula in the midst of a zombie apocalypse? When the show revealed that Lori had had a previous cesarean section, I started to grow worried, especially when the characters indicated that they expected that she may need another one simply because of the first one . First off, there’s no reason to assume that a woman who has had a cesarean, by default, will need another one. Since they conveniently had a character who might be able to help her have the baby (even by cesarean if necessary), I held out hope that all would be well. Heck, maybe the writers would even have Lori rock a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). That would be awesome!
What transpired, was nothing short of just one more over-dramatized (or more like -traumatized) hollywood birth scene. I was hopeful initially that I might get to see that VBAC after all, when Maggie tells Lori that her body will know what to do. She even proceeds to labor upright and not on her back. Yes! But then after approximately two minutes of labor, Lori feels the urge to push, followed by a gush of blood and a panic in which Lori decides she will need that cesarean after all. But wait! There are Zombies outside the door and no trained people to do a cesarean and in one last mother’s sacrifice, Lori
bleeds out gives her life to save her unborn child via an unanesthetized cesarean section in a boiler room.
Besides the fact that as a mother, such a scene was horrific to watch, I felt gypped out seeing an empowering birth experience. Instead of a birth in which a woman trusts her body’s wisdom to give birth; once again, I saw birth portrayed as something scary, where a mother has no control, where nature is violent and only medical intervention (obviously unavailable in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world) can save her life.
I know it is was written to be high drama (and is based on a comic series where she also dies eventually), but I could do with less drama and more real birth where a mother’s power and wisdom is valued. It kind of makes me want to leave The Walking Dead behind. I think I’ll go catch up on Call the Midwife.
Posted by Emily Whitsett Pickett on November 5, 2012