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Posted in Birth Stories, Natural Childbirth, Positive Birth Movement, Pregnancy, Western Birth Practices, Your Questions Answered | Leave a comment

What is an Empowered Birth?

“For me an empowered birth is one where I am the one who makes the decisions for me and my baby. Where I am in an environment of love, support, and respect for the power within my body to successfully birth my baby. Where I can be free to express anything I need to express; sound, movement, fear, love, ecstasy in a place that my expression will not lead to interference from the outside. I believe women have the ability to create an empowering birth experience regardless of if the birth outcome is natural, medicated, or surgical.   When women are making the decisions for their bodies and their babies out of education, faith, belief and confidence in themselves and not out of fear or manipulation they will be empowered.  I believe in the human body, in it’s power, and in birth’s ability to transform a person, woman, wife, and mother.”

Dr. Nancy, Your Birth Coach

If you, too, want an empowered birth – join the community at http://naturalbirthbabyandbeyond.com.

Natural Birth, Baby, and Beyond is an online childbirth empowerment course and online community where you can get all the information and resources you need to create the best birth for you and your baby.

Posted in Birth Stories, Natural Childbirth, Orgasmic Birth | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during childbirth.

The World Health Organization has released a statement: Prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during childbirth. I am sad that this even needs to be a topic of discussion and thrilled that this is finally being dealt with on a global scale.

WHO Statement: Prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during childbirth.

Posted in Birth Stories, Childbirth Activism, Informed Choice, Natural Childbirth, Positive Birth Movement, Western Birth Practices | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Breastfeeding Mothers Pump to Feed their Children in Public?

A comment on Today’s Parent article about a nurse in that took place after a recent human rights violation regarding breastfeeding stated:

“God so sick and tired of these women who constantly complain….and I am sorry you wanna whip out your breast to feed your child….do not do it in front of me while I am eating…there is such thing as a pump and if you know your going out pump some milk, you can breast feed in the privacy of your own home.” from MOMOF1

Why on Earth would someone pump to leave the house?

Here is some context about the incident.  A woman who was travelling in Ontario with her baby stopped at Tim Horton’s and breastfed her baby.  She was asked to cover up by the supervisor and the manager.   The next day a nurse-in took place to raise awareness that breastfeeding is a protected right via the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code.  No woman can be asked to move or cover up while nursing.

It seems to me that comments, like the one by MOMOF1, clearly show how much people do not understand breastfeeding and what it would take for a mom to pump to leave the house.

One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it is available in the right quantity and temperature at all times and places and does not require the expense of any paraphernalia or time to prepare.

For a mom to pump milk to go out Continue reading

Posted in Breastfeeding | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Should Women With Traumatic Birth Experiences Just “Accept and Move On?”

I am appalled at this article on the Huffington Post entitled, Recalibrating Our Expectations of Childbirth.”

You don’t really need to go and read it, I quote the appalling parts below, but if you are interested here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cara-paiuk/recalibrating-our-expecta_b_5372955.html 

pregnant bellyThere are some good points in this article about preparing for birth and how to deal with unexpected outcomes that I wholeheartedly agree with. My opinion is that not enough emphasis is placed on really being ready for the intensity of birth physically and emotionally. Not enough women prepare for unexpected outcomes and more would benefit from independent (non-hospital based) childbirth education and mentoring.

Beyond that, this article is highly offensive on so many levels, even for someone like me, who had three ‘perfect’ births that went according to ‘plan’.

Here is where the article starts to go wrong:

“A good place to start with recalibrating beliefs and expectations of childbirth is with the image of an ideal birth with little pain, no complications or medical interventions, dim lights, and soft music. It’s a lovely and inspiring conception of birth, but we should also acknowledge that absolute perfection is rarely a reality. Most births don’t have complications but some do, and it is unfortunate when women feel they or their births are failures for failing to meet their preconceived notions of success. Women should strive for a birth that is manageable and meaningful, but without a sense of entitlement that it must be fast, painless, and stoic. Holding unrealistic expectations of childbirth can set women up for disappointment.”

I have worked with hundreds of mothers and I don’t know anyone who thinks they can dictate that their birth will be “fast, painless, or stoic,” or feel entitled for the universe to provide them with that type of birth.   It is not women’s expectation of the birth itself that is causing most of birth trauma in people I have spoken with.  It is that they are not expected to be emotionally or physically abused through the process. It is because we have grown up in a society where we understand that we have autonomy over our bodies. We have been taught that it is not appropriate for someone else to control, touch, or alter our bodies. The women’s movement has clearly outlined that we have rights over our bodies.  When someone tells a woman she has no choice over her body, having procedures done to her without her consent or against her refusal, she is threatened, yelled at, emotionally blackmailed or physically assaulted, she has every right to feel traumatized. It is how women are treated in birth that is often the source of the emotional and physical trauma, not the birth outcome itself. Yes, women all need to be prepared to make the best choices with the particular circumstances that present in their birth and understand that like everything else in life flexibility give you power but women do not need to lower the expectations of how a human should be treated.

Women need to actually raise their expectations and expect that they are seen as the only authority in their births and act in a way through prenatal visits that commands the level of respect they deserve. The same level of respect you would except when a service provider is providing you a service in any other life situation. You wouldn’t expect your hairdresser to verbally abuse you, threaten you, or physically force upon you a style of haircut you didn’t want. If that happened people would understand that you would be upset and bitter. You also don’t expect your date to threaten your life or your child’s life, yell at you, blackmail you that he will steal your baby if you don’t comply with him, or touch or cut your genitals without your express consent. We should expect no less in birth. I think the person who wrote this article has no idea the type of trauma that happens in labor and delivery rooms every day. Women giving birth should be treated with the same it not more respect and reverence than a woman in every other situation in life. She is the authority and the only one who has the legal right to make choices in labor. When those choices are stripped from her or pushed on her after her refusal of consent she has been violated in a manner that can run deeper than other forms of bodily invasion. She is in a hyper vulnerable state, she is having a transformational experience (regardless of what the birth looks like), and it is the day of her child’s birth marking it as a day that will stay with her forever and celebrated annually.

The article goes on to say:

“Nevertheless, the backlashers do bring up an important set of questions for women with traumatic birth experiences: How long do you want to dwell on the past before putting it behind you and enjoying the present? At what point do you celebrate the birth that gave your child life instead of mourning the way you experienced it in the moment? And if you have diagnosed yourself with PTSD or post-partum depression, then what are you doing to seek treatment?”

I am all for not living into the archetype of the victim and dealing with the underlying causes of our emotional challenges, but expecting women to just get over their birth trauma, or expect that all women have access to services that actually understand the depths of the wounds that are created with a traumatic birth is just plain ignorance. When we have women who do choose to seek care for post partum depression have children’s services called on them, how can they feel safe seeking help. The system is what traumatized them in the first place and now the system becomes a repeat offender. How can she feel safe to seek help, when it’s the very group of people who traumatized her, that hold the keys to her recovery?

The author shows even more ignorance and disrespect for women when she goes on to say:
“Most women recover from traumatic birth experiences within a month of giving birth. But for the women who don’t, there is no merit badge for living with birth-induced PTSD, just as there is no merit badge for an all-natural vaginal birth. PATTCh provides a list of treatment options to help women recover from their traumatic birth experiences, and I think that a comprehensive conversation of traumatic birth experiences cannot be complete without discussing the responsibility mothers should accept in seeking a way to recover.”

Old Romanian Woman

Most women are not over their births in a month. Those experienced in working with birthing and postpartum women understand it takes about 3 years to fully process and integrate even the healthiest births.  It is also well known and documented that the day you give birth, and most importantly how you were treated on that day, will stay with you, vividly, through old age.  Here is an example of how women are taking their human rights violations in birth to court.  Even seventy years later, the effects of birth real and life altering.  http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/symphysiotomy-survivors-take-torture-case-against-state-to-united-nations-1.1720961.  Read their stories and tell them they should just accept and move on.  Women living with long term physical ramification of their births that effect their daily quality of life, especially when things were carried out against their will, are going to have a lifetime of processing their trauma.

Tell me again how we should get over our births in a month, when we haven’t even yet completely established breastfeeding and may be dealing with a whole new set of traumas from bleeding and cracked nipples and a baby you love looking to you for nourishment and you wishing for more time between nursing sessions, dealing with isolation as your support network may not live close to you, the change in identity as you have just become a mother, sleep deprivation, caring for someone who needs you 24 hours a day, and possibly needing to return to work in two weeks? How exactly is a month enough time to process all the change and circumstance that happens in such a short and life altering time period.

“I understand firsthand that it can be difficult to process, accept, and move on from traumatic experiences. Life is not fair, and I too have had my unfair share of undeserved happenstances. But personal tragedies have also taught me that life is much too short to dwell on sadness and pain. Mothers who experience a traumatic birth and don’t heal emotionally may cause unintended emotional harm on their children if it affects their ability to bond and attach with them. With all due respect to mothers who have had traumatic birth experiences, I sincerely believe that children deserve for their birthday to be one of the best days of their mother’s life, not the worst. Therefore, I think it is worth exploring a different way to process, accept, and move on from traumatic birth experiences — if not for the mother’s own sake, then for her children.”

Yes, this does effect parenting and does effect every day of that woman, child’s, and family’s life and this is why birth matters, why women matter and it’s not only about having a healthy baby. A healthy baby is obviously the goal of pregnancy but that baby’s heath isn’t defined by it solely meeting the marker of being alive and not under medical care on it’s birth day. There are many long term health effects on that baby from it’s birth that are subtle and often unseen but make a huge impact on lifelong health which is why working towards an intervention free birth is important. Also, the long term health of that baby isn’t determined by it’s ‘healthy baby’ birth status. The health of that baby going forward into toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence and even adulthood depends on a healthy mother. One that can come through birth, regardless of the outcome in a positive light because she was the one making choices for herself and her baby. I suspect this ability to make autonomous choice in the face of a unwanted situation was the reason why the author was not traumatized by her birth. She had the tools to be the one making the difficult decision to go with an unexpected birth outcome. That same birth looks very different, emotionally, when it is forced on a woman and she is told she has no say over her body.

birth trauma accept and move on

If you don’t understand someone else’s trauma, you have no right to judge them and say it’s time to get over it. Would you say to a war vet with PTSD. “It’s time you get over your flashbacks and nightmares and think about what’s best for your family.” This article just adds more layers to the trauma. Our culture does not understand or give credence to the impacts of birth trauma. We see that every single day when we say to moms, “at least you have a healthy baby”. When we say this, we completely dismiss the woman and say she and her experience mean nothing because she is insignificant and the only one that matters is her baby. Do people seriously think that will help a woman who was potentially just assaulted and violated and had the most traumatic experience of her life? All it does is serve to traumatize her more. It is possible when someone has emotional maturity to hold two opposing emotions at the same time. We can be upset and distraught, even angry about our births, while at the same time grateful for the being who passed through our bodies into this world for us to love and care for.  There is a great article, “A Healthy Baby is Not All That Matters,” that discusses our culture’s eagerness to dismiss mothers’ experiences.  It’s worth a read and can be found here: http://www.bestdaily.co.uk/your-life/news/a573059/a-healthy-baby-is-not-all-that-matters.html

Telling a woman she needs to get over it for the sake of her baby is just adding a nail in the proverbial coffin. A woman was potentially told she was a bad mother while in giving birth (actually stated or implied), then told she was told at least you have a healthy baby, you shouldn’t for care about your own body, emotions and experience, and don’t have a safe space to discuss and process it and now in an effort to help with birth trauma this author is telling women they are being bad mothers because they are traumatized. (She didn’t actually say they were bad mothers, that was the implication of her words, in my opinion).

Has anyone stopped to think that maybe the retelling of birth horror stories is because women have no safe space in our culture to express that fact that are hurting because of their birth. Maybe it’s because they were shut down and told to just forget about it and get over it, that is lingers as unresolved. Birth trauma is real and the solution is not to just lower your expectations and get over it.

I agree that “children do deserve to have their birthday be one of the best days of their mother’s life, not the worst”, which is why we need to raise the bar in how we support women through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.

The helpful and important set of questions this raises are:  How can we make sure women are prepared to deal with the intensity of childbirth?  How can we inform more women on informed decision making and their rights during birth?   How can we have partners more prepared to protect their partners from abuse in labor?  How can we create a system that respects women and understands that they are the ultimate authority and decision maker in their birth?   How do we educate birth attendants to facilitate healthier births?  How do we create social awareness of the vulnerability and needs of women in early postpartum? How do we create support systems that actually help women process the experience of being traumatized during birth?  How do we create a culture that respects motherhood and supports women in this massive transition in their role in the world, their families, and in their lives?  How do we create a community of women who support each other from a place of love and non judgement?

What do you think?  Should women accept and move on or should the rest of us create ways to support these women and work toward making things better for our sisters and daughters?  Please leave your comments:  http://yourbirthcoach.com/2014/06/12/should-women-with-traumatic-birth-experiences-just-accept-and-move-on/

Posted in Breech Birth, Caesarean Section, Childbirth Activism, Informed Choice, Positive Birth Movement, Western Birth Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Medical Community Not Aware of Why Parents Abstain From Vaccines

There was a great article in the Ottawa Citizen about why parents choose not to vaccinate. Here is my response to this article:

I agree that the media and the medical community are uninformed of the reason why parents choose to abstain from vaccines, delay, or selectively vaccinate. Each time an article blames non-vaccinating on celebrities or autism I know the author/reporter is clearly uninformed on the real issues.

I have three main issues with vaccines, which are also the concerns of most of the non-vaccinating parents I know.

#1 Lack of informed choice.

Most parents are not given accurate information with which to make an informed choice. All pro-vaccine material makes the assumption that the only choice is to say yes to vaccines. Vaccine marketing is often manipulative (especially that for HPV) and parents are often coerced and bullied into their decision. Parents are presented with fear-based information about the risks of the “vaccine-preventable” infections and overstatements of the benefits of vaccines, claiming guaranteed effectiveness. That is not nearly enough information to be making an informed choice. No parent who has been given this limited amount of information has legally given informed consent. Continue reading

Posted in Informed Choice, Vaccines | 1 Comment

Stay Out of Our Vaginas

A new device is being manufactured to stretch a woman’s pelvic tissues (lower 1/3 of the vagina and pelvic floor muscles) during the first stage of labor.  http://www.maternamedical.com/the-device.html

There are so many things wrong with this idea.

Women’s bodies are not dysfunctional in birth. The system of maternity care is dysfunctional and is what is often causing damage to women’s bodies. This device is like covering the symptom of one improperly prescribed drug by taking another drug. It is not getting to the underlying cause of the problem which is a dysfunctional maternity care system that is not supporting women’s bodies to give birth normally.

In an undisturbed birth NOTHING needs to go inside a woman’s vagina. No fingers for routine vaginal checks(which give little to no useful information except in specific scenarios), no instruments, and no one even needs to be looking between a woman’s legs.

A normal birth happens with a woman upright and not her back with her knees behind her ears stretching her perineum over the vaginal opening. Support normal birth and we do away with the need for interventions and pelvic floor and perineal damage for the vast majority of births.

Besides how is a woman supposed to be walking, dancing, rocking, bathing, and everything else that facilitates the first stage of labor with a device slowly stretching her vagina in place.  This device would keep women on their backs, increasing pain and use of epidurals.  This dysfunctional positioning, increased pain and fear, and use of drugs is what is causing many perineal tears and tight pelvic floor muscles in the first place.

Sign this petition to let the company know that you want them to stay out of your vagina!

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/materna-medical-keep-your-devices-out-of-our-vaginas?tk=b2e96ZIn05c-hs20lkSiuhURshvEudX5FrY8BZnYpBs&utm_campaign=social_digest_email&utm_content=social_digest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=digest&utm_term=1

Posted in Childbirth Activism, Informed Choice, Natural Childbirth, Sexuality, Western Birth Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Porn and our Youth’s Sexuality

I have always been interested in sexuality; I am currently writing a book on sex and birth. So I have been doing some ‘research’ and have come across some Ted Talks that I have found interesting and eye opening.

For our twenty somethings and teen populations porn is affecting what is happening behind closed doors. Porn today is very different from porn I was exposed to in the 80’s and 90’s, before high speed internet arrived. The porn available now is changing the minds, expectations, and experiences of today’s young people.

Did you know that porn is actually causing erectile dysfunction in twenty year olds? Not the kind of erectile dysfunction that can be remedied with Viagra or psychotherapy as it is not a below the belt problem, nor a psychological problem. It is a physical rewiring of the pleasure centers of the brain. Watch this TEDx Talk called The Great Porn Experiment and find out more.

Porn back in the day was about the fantasy of the encounter. There was a story line, no Continue reading

Posted in Sexuality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Drinking Love

I am writing a new book.  It actually has been written in my head since my pregnancy in 2011 but I am finally putting it down on paper, well technically typing it on to virtual paper.  I was inspired by my sister to write an ovaries out, vulnerable, open, and honest introduction to the book, which I did yesterday.  You will have to read the book when it comes out to read that.  But I had a realization while writing that I wanted to share.

drinking love image

My kids love breastfeeding so much because they are drinking love!

 

I had never thought about this in this way before.  They tell me it’s the best thing in the world, better than ice cream!  If they had to choose one thing they could eat forever it would be my milk.  They don’t want it in a cup, they say ‘that’s gross’, they want it from me.  I offer that we can just snuggle but that isn’t sufficient.   Why?  ”It’s not the same,” they say.  Drinking my milk in a cup and snuggling together at the same time is not the same.  Why?

Oxytocin is our love hormone.  Essentially it is LOVE in chemical form.  It is what changes the physical structure of our brains, changes the connections between neurons, to form tight bonds with the people who are around us when it is released.   We get oxytocin in a few ways; birth, breastfeeding, sex/orgasm, and physical closeness like hugging.  The amounts of oxytocin we experience in life are highest with birth (unmedicated birth though) and then with breastfeeding, then sex, and then with other physical closeness.

When we breastfeed oxytocin is the hormone that releases our milk from our breasts and it is flowing through to our nurslings in our milk.  Snuggling and the skin to skin close physical contact tops it off to be the most oxytocin they will experience apart from their own birth experiences.  Our babies, toddlers, children who nurse are literally drinking our love.  They then experience love in their own body, what could be better in the world than that.  Not even ice cream.

I wanted to share this because it is a beautiful insight for me and I will now be less likely to say no next time they ask for a sip of LYVE.

Posted in Breastfeeding, Natural Childbirth, Natural Living | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Years After My Online Birth

Two years ago I made a decision that has changed the course of my life.

As a result of my mother’s reaction to witnessing my second home birth back in 2009, and how gentle and empowering it was compared to her ´humiliating´ birth experiences, I felt it was important that others also have the opportunity to witness a peaceful birth.

Undisturbed birth, where no one interferes with the mother, and all those present are there to support her wishes and her normal physiology, looks nothing like the images we have seen from typical hospital births. As a result, I decided to have my birth live streamed online. The birth of my son Oziah was seen by an audience of thousands of viewers from around the globe, anxious to witness a normal birth for the first time.

This birth was likely the most witnessed birth in history and progressed exactly as I had Continue reading

Posted in Childbirth Activism, Ottawa Community Events, Parenting, Positive Birth Movement | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

How My Midwife Changed My Life 7 Years Ago

I am reposting this article originally published on Ottawa Mommy Club because today is the 7th anniversary of me becoming a mother.

“You never know how far reaching something you think, say or do today, will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.” – Dr. B.J. Palmer

I think that when working in the world of birth sometimes people can forget how long lasting and impactful their work is on the life of that family. I’m sure each birth worker does recognize that each birth is a miracle in its own rite but it is easy to lose the connection with how the events of that birth will play out for the future of that family.

When I was pregnant the first time, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I wanted nothing to do with medicalized birth and the only thing I feared was the possibility of being put on the clock and being pushed into the hospital system. I had total faith in my body and even wanted minimal involvement from my midwives. (I recognize that I am the odd ball when it comes to my complete faith in birth but it was as a result of my training as a chiropractor that I understood the full potential of the human body.)

Some midwives would have been less than comfortable with how comfortable I was with birth and I know not many Obstetricians would have been able to care for me. Many people who work in the world of birth are just as afraid of birth as women are, in today’s fear based culture. Continue reading

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Birth in Nature

“This video is of my fourth birth. It was the singular most transforming event of my life and my most conscious act as a woman to date.

“How and why I chose to give birth in nature was much about the inner journey as the outward process … and equally as powerful. Afterwards I felt like my whole life had been in preparation for that one moment. My sense of wholeness and peace was bigger and deeper than anything I had ever felt before. This feeling only continues to expand and ripple out into my family, my relationships, my life. It has had a profound effect on my mothering and for my children especially.”

The only thing I did not like about this video was he pulling on the baby’s neck. It was minimal compared to a typical hospital birth but I prefer to see none.

Posted in Unassited Birth Videos, Unmedicated Birth Videos, Videos of Birth, Water Birth Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment