Want To Rock Your Birth?

If you don’t mind a few colorful words and are eager to be connected with one of the most passionate ladies on the birth circuit, then allow me to introduce you to Shalome at Rockstar Birth Magazine.  (Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the F bombs!)

I first heard  about Rockstar Birth  while doing research for the upcoming book ,”The Many Faces Of Home Birth”. Shalome has created an amazing podcast, and her voice is hypnotic! After listening to every episode of the podcast, I did what any normal person would do when they instantly feel connected to someone on the Internet: I stalked her every social media account! I then got up enough courage to see if she would submit her home birth story for the book. She replied with a big “YES” and even volunteered her husband’s version of their home birth=generous and insightful.

I recently learned about the Rockstar Academy. LADIES, if you are pregnant, please check out this awesome opportunity.  For less than a typical birthing course at the local hospital, you could have four weeks of tailored mentorship with Shalome (the lovely lady to the left). You get to unpack whatever is holding you back from diving head first into rocking YOUR birth. You will receive more than 10 hours of video content and TWO hours of live chats to keep YOU in on the conversation. It’s a bargain. A real deal bargain.

The academy begins the first day of every month, so get to it!

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I simply wish to share the rocking resource that is all things Rockstar Birth. 





The Positive Birth Book Review

Milli Hill, creator of The Positive Birth Movement, has written the most refreshing and updated pregnancy book you can currently get your hands on!

I reached out to Milli Hill with a long lost hope that she would respond to my little email about being a contributor for our upcoming book, The Many Faces of Home Birth. I couldn’t believe her willingness to be a part of the project especially as she was working on finishing up her own book. I stalked all things The Positive Birth Movement and anxiously awaited the release of her book, The Positive Birth Book. 

On March 16th, the book was released and magically showed up on my Kindle! I spent the evening reading through Milli’s engaging and entertaining words. After three home births we are done having kiddos, however, the desire to learn and know as much as I can about birth never fades. I still get excited when I get to read any birth story or when I get to hear a positive perspective regarding birth- any birth. That is really the soul of Milli’s heart. Milli’s goal is to help all women experience the birth they wish to have. I love that! The goal isn’t to try to get every woman to have a home birth; the goal is to provide women with resources and information that is positive, accurate, and welcoming. When women have choices and resources to explore and plan the birth right for them and their family, everything about their perspective on birth changes. The fear fades and excitement takes over.

One of the greatest aspects of The Positive Birth Book is the overwhelming feeling that you are about to be welcomed into a group of women who are empowered by their birth choices, confident in their choices, and supported for those reasons. Because at the end of the day, it’s YOUR birth. No one else is going to be pushing that baby out or having the Cesarean. It’s all about you and your birth team.

Isn’t it exciting to know that YOU are in charge. Never before have women had the opportunity to be so educated about their births. Never before have I heard women sharing so openly and honestly about birth. Please join in the conversation, no matter what stage you are at in your family planning- it’s never too early to get educated and it’s never too late to share your wisdom:-).





A Mother and Daughter Midwifery Duo

Dear Readers,

I am thrilled to introduce you to my wonderful midwives, Mary and Pita. The narrative below is written by Mary! If you would like to hear more about their wonderful care and my experience with both Mary and Pita as my midwives, check out my home birth stories here and here. As always, I’m so happy you are here, and I hope you enjoy!

Best, Shantel

Midwife Blog Home Birth Mary and Pita

I have been involved in the birth field since 1973.  First as a Bradley instructor attending births and then as an apprentice midwife.  I started out in Long Beach, CA and then in 1976 moved to Washington State.  Before becoming a Bradley instructor, I worked as a civilian employee for the US Army as an ammunition clerk at Ft MacArthur in San Pedro , CA. I had to keep track of all ammunition used by the 6th Army Reserves and National Guard.  Before computers.  Gah!  I was also a long distance telephone operator for Ma Bell, and I worked for LA County as a dispatch operator for the LA County Sheriffs Dept.  Never in a million years did I ever expect to be a midwife until I had my second baby, Pita, in 1973.  Even then I just wanted to tell people that the Bradley Method works and that there is a better way to have a baby than to be drugged up and managed.  Knock ‘em out, drag ‘em out was how Dr. Bradley put it.  Through the birth classes I taught, I attended so many births.  Mostly the births I attended were in the hospital as a doula/photographer, but also home births.  There I met midwives and doctors that did home births.  In 1970 and on it was an uphill battle to change the way things were done.  Most births were medicated, you had to stay in bed, no food or water for the duration of labor, IV’s always, episiotomies always, spinals or epidurals always, hands strapped down, legs strapped into stirrups, no husbands in the delivery room, and no rooming in.  You got your baby 24hrs AFTER delivery and only to feed them every 4 hrs.  If they got hungry before that, the nursery would give formula.  Oh, and everyone got a high soap suds enema at the beginning of labor and a shave.  Glorious right?!  The only way things changed was that women were being educated about birth by going to childbirth classes and learning about birth.  Then the moms would request the most outlandish things like no medication, having their husbands with them at birth, no episiotomies, etc.  When we found a Doc that would oblige these mom’s, everyone would switch providers to get what they wanted.  After a bit of time and mothers requesting these things and taking their money elsewhere, the hospitals got the hint and slowly started to change their thinking.  By the time I left Long Beach in 1976, it was totally changed to a more natural approach.  Almost all of those routine procedures were gone.

Then came Vancouver, Washington.  April 1976.  I started doing public film showings at the library.  I showed the Bradley film, “Childbirth for the Joy of It” and the Brewer film, “What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know”, which people loved, and the Navy Training film that showed a normal hospital birth and all that that entailed, and also scared the bejeezes out of everyone.  What a contrast!  I was discouraged when I moved to Vancouver because the only hospital that was offering maternity care was doing everything that I fought to change in California.  They thought I was a lunatic.  Maybe I was, but I was sick to death of how the birth scene was here.  I started teaching Bradley classes and attending births and at one home birth I met the coolest lady ever, Hazel Woodward.  She was a direct entry midwife, which I had never heard of, and she told me about a midwifery school that had started in West Linn, Oregon.  I applied and was accepted and graduated from there.  Some of my class mates were Gail Hart and Patricia Edmonds among other like minded women.  Our teachers were midwives, naturopathic doctors, and chiropractors.  Some of these had been catching babies for 50 yrs or more.

What a wealth of info they had.  Way before water birth caught on, we were taught by Dr. Babnick, who was at least 80 then, to put women into a hot bath to help with labor. We got them out to births, but we learned so much from those good hearted, wise teachers.  How to not interfere with the normal process of birth.  How to listen to mothers and how to feel baby’s position with our hands and not ultrasound.  How to get baby to turn into a better position before birth to avoid problems in labor.  Dr. Jack taught us to not be afraid and to go with what we see, not the what if’s of fear based decisions. We learned herbal remedies and properties of the plants. Homeopathics also.  It was a great education and made me hungry for more.  After I graduated from midwifery school I apprenticed with Hazel for a year and then started on my own from there.  I’ve been catching babies in SW Washington and the Portland area since then.

Continue reading

Pregnancy and Acupuncture: Spin Your Breech Baby

True story: Susan burned moxibustion (moxa) on my sister-in-law’s toe, and my nephew flipped from breech to optimal, head down position almost immediately.acupuncture-and-pregnancy

Top Five Benefits of Acupuncture and Pregnancy:

  1. Conception
  2. Alleviating Discomfort
  3. Spinning that Baby
  4. Riping for Labor
  5. Postpartum Care

Susan McMigas at Flourish in Vancouver, WA has created a beautiful and healing space for women to receive care before, during, and after pregnancy. She is committed to sharing resources to ensure women have access to tools that make a real difference in their motherhood journey.

Unfortunately, I first met Susan after I had all three kiddos. After ignoring an issue with a swollen knee for three months, I finally made an appointment with Susan thanks to a suggestion from a dear friend. As I was dropping my kids off at my sister-in-law’s house on my way to acupuncture, my sister-in-law exclaimed, “Susan flipped Luke [her son], during the last week of my pregnancy!”. I’m not sure how this wasn’t discussed between us before. I told Susan of our connection the moment I met her, and we spent the better part of 20 minutes talking about the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy.

True story: Susan burned moxibustion (moxa) on my sister-in-law’s toe, and my nephew flipped from breech to optimal, head down position almost immediately. “According to TCM theory, moxa has a tonifying and warming effect which promotes movement and activity.  The nature of heat is also rising.  This warming and raising effect is utilized to encourage the baby to become more active and lift its bottom up in order to gain adequate momentum to somersault into the head down position. This technique can also be used to re-position transverse presentation, a situation where the baby’s has its shoulder or back pointing down, or is lying sideways across the abdomen” (Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond).

Susan is clear that several appointments may be needed, but they won’t be a waste of time. Take it from me, the relaxation involved is worth the effort of getting a sitter, time off work, and spending the extra money if acupuncture isn’t covered by your insurance.


Conceiving Naturally With Acupuncture

I like to say my acupuncturist helped get my baby into me and helped get my baby out of me! I won’t hesitate to go back to see her when my husband and I are ready to try for our next baby.


Missy is so kind to share her experience with acupuncture and her pregnancy journey. Enjoy!

I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 33 in 2012. At the time, I knew I wanted children, but was not in a relationship, so I decided I would do everything I could to get myself in the best shape I could to be ready to conceive once I was in a position to do so. I began taking Metformin and started a workout program. I lost about 20 pounds, but still had long, irregular cycles. My husband and I got married in 2014 and were immediately open to getting pregnant. As I was already 35, I gave us 6 months of no interventions to try to allow nature to take its course. After 6 months, I was going to return to the doctor who had said I would probably need Clomid to conceive.

Around this time my trainer mentioned that his wife had used acupuncture in their efforts to conceive. As I was hoping to avoid more invasive fertility treatments, I was willing to give it a try. I met with the acupuncturist and after reviewing my history, we developed a plan. I saw her twice a week in the beginning, and then after several weeks we went to once a week. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I conceived after about 6 weeks of treatments (after my first period I had after I started treatments). I continued treatments until I realized I was pregnant (approximately 11-12 weeks of treatments). Unfortunately, I lost my first baby between 6 and 7 weeks. After consulting with my acupuncturist and midwife, we agreed I could resume treatments after my first cycle post-miscarriage. I conceived again on that first cycle. I fully credit acupuncture with helping me get pregnant twice in 4 months.

After an uneventful second pregnancy, I sailed past my due date and was at 41+3 when I had reached my breaking point. I thought to seek out my acupuncturist again and see if she did anything for induction. She mentioned she had an induction protocol and could see me that night. I conferred with my husband, who said “What’s the worst that could happen?”, and I left immediately to see my acupuncturist. She told me that if the session worked, I would most likely wake up in labor the next morning, but that it could take several sessions. I went to sleep that night around 2 a.m. (not my smartest idea) and woke up in labor at 5 a.m.. I had a long but steady, 20 hour hard labor and gave birth at home to my 9lb 8oz baby girl in May 2016. I fully credit acupuncture with jump starting my labor, although I know it would not have worked if my baby wasn’t ready.

I like to say my acupuncturist helped get my baby into me and helped get my baby out of me! I won’t hesitate to go back to see her when my husband and I are ready to try for our next baby.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Ina May's Guide to ChildbirthAhhh, the gold standard for expecting home birth mamas! It’s true, everyone should read this gem of a book to explore the wisdom of Ina May Gaskin. In Guide to Childbirth, Gaskin uses birth stories and informative narrative to instruct expectant moms and midwives on natural childbirth. Once again, the beauty is in Gaskin’s language circling birth and the choices women make around their birth(s).

Chapter Four, Sphincter Law, was my visual guide during my first birth. I’m positive it was also my midwife’s gauge during the pushing stage. Of course many women find that the birth stories provide invaluable information and inspiration.

Chapter Three focuses on how we view pain and fear during childbirth. After three home births, I am consistently asked how I managed the pain of childbirth. In America, the images of childbirth that are in mainstream media, told around the kitchen table or  shared in the workplace are often riddled with horror and pain. Gaskin paints a different picture of birth and the pain associated with labor. As my birth teacher says, “It’s pain with purpose.” Yes and yes!

Ina May also suggests many tools and techniques to cope with the pain and fear often associated with childbirth. Gaskin provides evidence and potential side effects if one chooses to medicate in an effort to avoid pain associated with birth. This is key. I hear many women share that they didn’t realize what would happen after they chose medication during childbirth. Ask questions. Always.

Although the information and stories in  a Guide to Childbirth are timeless, approachable, and accurate, I do wish the stories were more contemporary and encompassing of a variety of women. Again, this isn’t a criticism, just an observation that frankly doesn’t matter as I was initially inspire to take the home birth journey thanks to Ina May!

Midwife Liz in Ireland

13737591_1082598538442977_423303551401227599_oImagine antenatal appointments in your home or at your place of work with the same midwife who will attend your birth. Imagine these visits lasting two to three hours and accompanied with tea and conversation generated by your concerns, thoughts, and recent research discoveries. Imagine maternity care from an open minded, evidence based seeker with enough empathy and strength to make you feel any goal you wish to reach is possible.

The women in Ireland need not imagine. Liz with UK Birth Centres/Neighbourhood Midwives is one of those beautiful souls that will move mountains to make sure you are in control and confident in your birth choices. Liz believes maternity care is a “personal friendship” and she walks the talk by listening, communicating with care, and discussing robust evidence based literature with her clients to ensure each and every choice, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is carefully made.

Liz started her midwifery career in 2006 after putting her shovel down as an archeologist, Liz has been practicing in the growing Ireland home birth community for almost two years, and she has attended, as a lead midwife, 60 home births in that time. She’s busy. Before joining Neighbourhood Midwives, Liz worked for 18 months in a large, understaffed hospital where the maternity ward cared for every aspect, both positive and heartbreaking, in a single wing. Liz spoke fondly of this experience as she learned more than she could have imagined during those 12 hour shifts that were nonstop and demanded a deep understanding of midwifery and the ability to make quick and accurate decisions. Liz also recalled the emotional capacity she quickly developed as she would often care for a woman coping with a miscarriage at 20 weeks and then a laboring women the next second in the room next door. Liz’s experience at the hospital cultivated a respectful relationship that makes communication easier if Liz has a transfer from a home birth. Liz chuckled, “They [the hospital] should trust me. They trained me!”.

During the two hours Liz carved out to talk with me, her passion for genuine, intentional care came across in every word and gesture;  it’s easy to understand why she is successful in her midwifery practice. I had heard praise from several mum’s she has worked with over the last two years, and my only wish is that I was having another baby with her in Ireland! Liz accepts, without fear, the responsibility to help women usher their babies into this world in the way they wish to do it. Even if the birth plan doesn’t go as planned, Liz has an internal commitment to work with the mother to ensure the mother feels in control and empowered to make the decisions that need to be made for the health of mother and baby. This commitment to putting the mother in control of her birth goes beyond labor. Liz is passionate about post natal care as she knows how critical those first weeks after birth are for bonding and transitioning into a new, beautiful life.

Liz, as well as all the midwives at Neighbourhood Midwives, will visit the mother and baby 4-5 times in the first week after birth, two times the second week, and once the third week. However, when a birth doesn’t go as planned,  Liz will make daily visits until both parties are comfortable. Liz has even stayed at the home until mum and babe were on the mend.

Healthcare in any country can be confusing, and Ireland is no different. Liz explained that “although maternity care is provided under the HSE, Health Service Executive, home birth is only offered by two other establishments with a narrow scope and little, to no, room for negotiation if your pregnancy goes outside their policies”. Women seeking a home birth or more control over their birth choices, look to private companies and use private insurance or pay out of pocket. Quoted from the Neighbourhood Midwives website: “Neighbourhood Midwives work in partnership with UK Birth Centres to bring private maternity services to Irish families. Informed choice is the foundation of our service. All clinical care is provided by Irish midwives employed by UK Birth Centres”. Neighbourhood Midwives is currently serving select areas in Ireland, but they hope to be country wide in the future. If you would like to have care  in your neck of the woods, reach out and let your hopes be heard!