Birth True Blog has Moved!

We are now a .com!  All new posts will be on the new Birth True website found here  Hope to hear from you there.

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Birth True is Now a .Com!!!

Visit our new website at!

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Can I Breastfeed? Should I Even Try? – Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

It is no secret that breastfeeding is the way that babies were meant to be fed, nourished, and soothed.  Through the consistent results from studies conducted on the benefits of breastfeeding, we know that breastfeeding is absolutely worth giving it a really good try if nothing else.  It is worth being committed to, no matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, work out of the home mom, or a work in the home mom.  Women didn’t need scientific studies to tell us that.  We know that there is a commonsense element to the whole issue.  Our breasts are there.  We grow them in relation to becoming fertile.  Our breasts change throughout our pregnancies, and they fill with milk about three days after our babies are born without us telling them to.  Our breasts were meant to feed our babies.  Why with these obvious clues as to the importance of our breasts to our babies, would we ever second guess that breastmilk is the best nourishment for our babies?  Why would we ever second guess our ability to breastfeed?

I could spend the remainder of this post listing the many reasons why women do second guess their ability to breastfeed.  I wrote about these reasons before in a post titled – There’s More Than Choice Involved When it Comes to Breastfeeding.  But instead, I want to say – Yes You Can!!!!!  You Can Breastfeed!!!!

Do you have small breasts?  Large ones?  Are you a busy mother?  Are you worried about being seen as perverted by people who misunderstand breastfeeding?  Do you want your partner or family to be involved in feeding the baby?  Do you wonder if it will be a hassle when you are out in public?  Are you afraid it will affect your partner’s relationship with your breasts?  Are you afraid that there is some sort of sexual attachment involved because you only know your breasts as a sexual body part?  Are you concerned that it might make your breasts look different?  Do you worry that you won’t be successful and then somehow feel guilty?

Those are legitimate questions with answers.  The short answer is – Yes, you can breastfeed.  If nothing else, you can commit to learning more about breastfeeding, and giving it your best effort once your baby is born.  There are few mothers who don’t face some sort of obstacle when it comes to breastfeeding.  But, with the right support, you can move past most of those obstacles, and have a great experience with breastfeeding.

Who should you talk to about breastfeeding to get helpful answers?  Mothers who have breastfed their babies and feel like they did the right thing.  You can find them in your community or through breastfeeding support groups (like chapters of La Leche League).  WIC peer counselors are available through many of the health departments across the country (including here in Letcher, Knott, Perry, Pike, and Leslie counties in Kentucky) and they can help you with learning more before you make any kind of decision to breastfeed, as well as during your breastfeeding time.  Lactation consultants.  Many pediatricians, OB/Midwives, hospitals, and family doctors are hiring full time lacatation consultants to be part of the care they give mothers and babies.  Why?  Because they value breastfeeding and know that by providing that service, they can help their patients receive the lifelong benefits of breastfeeding.  Choose a care provider who knows the value of breastfeeding, and will help you through the process, because it is worth it.

One thing not to do is to feel guilty.  If you do decide to try breastfeeding and for whatever reason it does not work out, don’t feel guilty.  As mothers we do the best we can with what we have to work with.  Did you give it your best try?  Did you or your baby experience an illness that hindered your ability to continue breastfeeding or begin breastfeeding?  Those are not things within our control, and therefore guilt should not be involved.  At the same time, know that most problems you might face when it comes to breastfeeding can be overcome with the right kind of experienced and/or professional help.

Watch this short video to learn more about choosing to breastfeed, and give this option a fair chance as you consider how you will feed your baby.  Please, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at  I’m more than happy to share what information I have with you.

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Empowered Birth – Exciting Times for Birth True!

I’m really excited this week.  I announced that Birth True Childbirth Education is now a duo!  Heather Bates joined with me last week as part of Birth True.  She is a certified prenatal yoga instructor (one of the founders of North Fork Yoga) and a trained birth doula.  Heather is also the mother of two sweet little gals.

I’m so excited because changes are abreast for mountain mamas when it comes to pregnancy, giving birth, and the journey into motherhood.  Positive changes.  Women deserve to experience birth as empowering.  As an experience that they are at the lead of.  By increasing a woman’s knowledge of how to maintain a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, and by providing her with the resources she needs to make informed decisions, we are playing a part in making her pregnancy, labor, birth, and early motherhood as positive an experience as possible for her situation.  This is something that all mothers are deserving of, no matter from where they are coming to the experience.

Throughout the first week of September, we’ll be celebrating Empowered Birth Awareness Week!  What is an empowered birth?  It is a birth where all major decisions are made by a fully informed mother in conjunction with her family, friends, and care provider as she sees fit.  It is a birth where a mother is fully support by a team of people she has chosen to be with her during birth.  It is a birth where the mother’s immediate needs are met in ways in which she desires.  The mother doesn’t feel afraid, has no mistrust, doesn’t have to settle for less, and even if things become complicated the mother has the complete information she needs to understand what is necessary to help her give birth safely and to feel like the care she and her baby receives is the best care possible for her situation.  It is a birth that she can be at peace with.  Where she is always respected and cared for in a kind manner.  Where the strength and wisdom needed to birth is always held by her, and her power is never overridden.  The natural process is uninterrupted unless the process reveals red flags and those guarding the woman’s safety need to intervene for the health of the mother and baby.  It is in all ways peaceful and loving.

During birth, a woman has needs which are caused by her
biology. When these needs, such as privacy and security from
intrusion are met, the primitive brain will take over and her
physiology will orchestrate just what is needed to birth her baby.

Moving freely, vocalizing, and going deeply inward without fear
or self consciousness will allow her body to release the proper
concoction of hormones which will make birth what it was meant to be; an event that is amazing, empowering and deeply intimate. – Birth Power

I’m honored as is Heather any time a woman chooses to invite me into her journey.  It is an extremely unique and special time for any woman and her family.  With Birth True we do our very best to offer as much as we are capable of, and what we can’t provide in terms of support services, we do our best to help women find them within their community.  We offer online classes (with one on one instruction) for those outside of our community and those whose schedule or budget might not allow for in person classes.  We offer also private and group Lamaze Childbirth Preparation ,early pregnancy classes, doula services, and prenatal yoga.  And another exciting addition – Conscious Conception Counseling – available both online and in person.  Find out more by visiting our website – Birth True Childbirth Education.

Many happy days to you and yours!


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Daddies in the Birthing Room and as Labor Support

It does a man good to see his lady being brave while she has their baby… it inspires him. – Ina May Gaskin CPM (midwife)

Some of my most memorable moments as a childbirth educator and doula has been watching men transform into fathers and realize that they have an important part to play in the pregnancy and birth of their baby.  Most men I’ve met would like to be included in the birth planning, the learning, and the birth.  I’ve heard frustration in the voices of men who felt like there was nothing for them to do despite the fact that they wanted to be useful in the process, and intuitively they knew that they were needed – they just weren’t sure how.

It is so easy for everyone in the labor and birthing room (even the laboring mother), aside from those who work there on a day to day basis, to feel like they should just stay out of the way and let the professionals do their work.  Sometimes, those who choose homebirth can even feel that way.  Let the nurse, nurse’s assistant, doula, midwife, OB, take care of it.  I’m liable to just screw things up.  The truth is the most crucial roles in the labor and birthing room are filled by the laboring mother and those she chooses to attend to her needs whether it is her husband/partner, family, friend, or doula.  Those people will be with the mother longer during labor and birth than any of the medical team.  Not only are the mother’s labor support team with her longer, but they are a huge part of creating an environment around the mother that can help her remain calm, relaxed, and focused on her labor.

And baby makes 4

In this picture you see our first family photo after my second daughter was born.  We are all tired.  The birth was around 30 hours total from beginning to end.  My husband was by my side the entire time.  He never once left me.  I also had a doula and midwife to attend to my needs.  So, in a situation where there is a doula, midwife, nurses, or OB, what is the father’s/significant other’s role?

His earliest role in the birth process was to ensure survival – to protect the family from wild animals, or perhaps other tribes.  As birth has become more industrialized, his role appears to have altered.  But could it be that by entering the birthing room, the father is returning to his initial, primal, role of protecting his loved ones? – Patrick M. Houser “Protecting the Cave” Pathways to Family Wellness Issue 24 Winter 2009

I believe Mr. Houser is on to something.  In my experience, this is the role that most fathers/husbands/significant others want to take in the birth experience.  They want to ensure that everything stays safe, and goes well for the mother and their baby.  They want to understand what is happening in the woman’s body during labor.  They want to know what sorts of complications they might face in order to be mentally prepared.  They want to be a part of making a birth plan, and most don’t mind a bit to be the one to talk about the mother’s wishes to the medical staff if that is needed.  They like to know simple and often hands on ways of helping the mother deal with any discomfort she might feel.  They want to take on that role.  Fathers/husbands/significant others should have room to participate in whatever capacity they and the mother sees fit.

Daddies and Doulas

Kelli was an amazing help to me.  She was able to give (mama) instructions without me getting yelled at for them.  I would definitely recommend her to any soon to be fathers.  It will help keep you out of the dog house.  Plus, it gives you someone with a wealth of knowledge for advice and help. – brand new father from Perry Co., Kentucky

This is a quote from the husband of one of my doula clients.  I am sharing it here because it also shows that doulas do not take the place of the father in the birthing room.  Doulas are there for fathers as well.

I have found that some fathers like my presence to assure them that the way they are massaging the mother is correct, or to give them ideas of ways to help her move.  I’m there to relieve them when their arms get tired, or I am the one to do a lot of the physical support while they hold the mother’s hand, gently stroke her hair, or whisper sweetness in her ear.  I most often work as a team with the father or other labor support.  I also provide them with informational support if something should come up that they aren’t familiar with, or if they aren’t sure what kinds of questions they should ask about certain procedures.  For some mothers, as the father mentioned above, they find it easier to listen to the voice of a doula or other experienced woman while in labor, while the father is there to receive instruction from mom, or to guide her with kind looks and a firm touch.

Doulas do a whole lot to enhance the labor experience for both the mother and the father/husband/significant other.

Daddies and Childbirth Education

A quality childbirth education class will offer information geared toward both the expecting mother and her labor support person.  Fathers and any other labor support people should come away from a childbirth class feeling more equipped to be helpful during labor and birth.  In fact, taking a childbirth class together is a great way to get some good couple time in before the baby is born.  It is something you can enjoy together.

Begin by watching this short video, and take your exploration from there!

A great book to look at together would be The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.

For more information on classes offered by myself through Birth True Childbirth Education (including online options for those who have busy schedules or no complete childbirth education near you) visit the Birth True website.  Or, you can email me at

Many happy days to you and yours,



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We Do Have Something to Offer our Pregnancies and Births!

“You are constructing your own reality with the choices you make…or don’t make. If you really want a healthy pregnancy and joyful birth, and you truly understand that you are the one in control, then you must examine what you have or haven’t done so far to create the outcome you want.” –Kim Wildner-Mother’s Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth

This quote is very much the truth. Whatever we believe about ourselves so often becomes our reality.  If we don’t feel like we have much to offer a situation, what will motivate us to try to accomplish anything within it?  We give up before we try.

Carrying out what Wildner challenges you to do in this statement as someone who is planning to conceive, or someone who is already expecting begins with deciding how you feel about pregnancy and birth and your part in the process.  Are you intimidated or scared?  Is pregnancy and birth like a normal process to you, or does it feel more like a condition to be managed?  Do you feel like you have anything to offer your pregnancy and birth?  Is there any part of it you are in control of?

The answers to these questions matter, and depending on how you answer them, they could greatly impact your pregnancy and birth.  There are a great many things we cannot control in childbearing, but there are also a great many that we can.  Once we are aware of what we can do to make childbearing as low-risk, healthy, and safe as possible for ourselves and our babies, what do we do with that information?  Do we actively participate in our healthcare?  Do we make lifestyle changes and decisions that will put us on the path of the pregnancy and birth experience and outcome we know could be possible for us?

Being that birth in most instances is a normal, natural life event, how we conduct ourselves during pregnancy, and the choices we make about our birth will either contribute to a positive and healthy outcome, or will be a detriment to our health and that of our babies’.  Sure, there are times when we aren’t aware of some simple things that could make huge differences.  Those times happen to all of us, and we can only learn from our experiences and remember them when a time to use what we learned comes around again.  It will happen to many of us during pregnancy and birth.  It happened to me.  But, once we are made aware, it is our choice to act on that awareness or not to act that we must take responsibility for.  Doing all we can to keep our pregnancies and births low-risk, healthy, and safe, will also do a great deal to keep away the what-if, sad, and/or guilty feelings that no mother should ever endure surrounding her pregnancy and birth experience.  The peace that comes with knowing you did all that was within your ability to create the best possible outcome, is true satisfaction.

Ariana Southard and her third baby Aidan. I was the doula. 🙂

Get informed…

The first thing that I recommend that anyone planning a pregnancy or already expecting do, is inform yourself about healthy pregnancy and birth.  Get informed so you have something to work with… so that you know the choices that are yours to make.

If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any. -Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, authors of A Good Birth, A Safe Birth: Choosing and Having the Childbirth Experience You Want 

If there is ever a time when I know for certain that ignorance is not bliss, it is during pregnancy and birth.  Assumptions cannot be relied upon, and simple beliefs can often let us down.  There is a huge responsibility placed on the pregnant woman in our culture to be aware of, or to seek out on her own the information she needs to be an informed decision maker in her maternity care.  It is in many situations that or to depend upon her care provider to inform her.  In the United States the average OB visit is 6 minutes in length (in time actually with the doctor), the average certified nurse midwife visit in hospital or clinic setting is 15 minutes.  After the essential care is performed, how much time does that leave for informing and questions?  Many insurances won’t pay a doctor if the visit lasts much over the average visit length.  It is up to mamas to pick up the slack, and to ask as many questions as you need answers for from your care provider.

How do I get informed?

  1. Check out from the library or buy some good pregnancy books.  Sure, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a fine book, but I’d recommend you take a look at several more, especially if you are planning a natural childbirth.  I have several great books listed at the bottom of the Cesarean Awareness Radio Documentary page.
  2. Utilize the multitude of information you can find online, but beware of unreliable websites.  Check out my post on reliable online pregnancy and birth websites.
  3. Watch some of the many movies out there for pregnant mamas such as The Business of Being Born, Pregnant in America, and Orgasmic Birth all of which are available from Netflix.
  4. Take a childbirth education class, or several.
Informing yourself can be one of the most fun parts of your pregnancy.

Eat a Healthy Diet…

Yes, this is highly important.  I could link you to all the recent studies that have proven that this or that related to what a pregnant woman eats can reduce or raise the risks of so many awful health conditions for both mothers and babies.  You can find nutrition information from a variety of sources for pregnancy.  I recommend looking at the March of Dimes website and The Brewer Pregnancy Diet.  The book Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck is also a great resource.  In the Birth True class Setting the Stage for a Healthy Pregnancy and birth, this topic is covered as well as other mentioned in this post.  I now offer this class online as well for mothers not in my general area of the states.


Moving your body is important in pregnancy.  It has so many benefits it would take me a long time to mention them all here.  But, I have written about pregnancy exercise a few times here, so I’ll link you to those posts. Prenatal Yoga and general exercise and Yoga for Motherhood
Learn about the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices…

Explore Mother’s Advocate to learn more about these birth practices and choosing the care provider and birth setting that will best support your choices.  This is an amazing website with video and written information on so many birth related topics.

If you do these simple activities, you will have done so much for yourself and your baby.  But, I must say, that above all these – trust your body and your baby.  Trust that your body was made for birth, and both it and your baby know what to do throughout pregnancy and on that big day.  Trust it, because it is true.

Many blessings to you and yours,


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Mommy, Me, and the 3Ps (Planning, Pregnancy, and Parenting) – Tomorrow Hazard, KY @ ARH Medical Mall

I’ve been working hard on a presentation that I will be giving tomorrow for ARH’s (Appalachian Regional Hospital) Women’s Health Series.  Tomorrow’s topic is Mommy, Me, and the 3Ps (Planning, Pregnancy, and Parenting).  My topic is Healthy Pregnancy and Birth which has been something that I have devoted quite a bit of time over the last 6 years to researching, thinking on, and sharing with others.  It is a topic most important to me, and I’m very honored to get to be a part of this event.  I’ll be presenting along with Dr. James Dawson (OB/GYN) and Dr. Anthony Yonts (pediatrician).  This event is a luncheon.  If you would like to reserve a spot for your and a guest, RSVP at the contact information below.  Hope to see you tomorrow!

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Happy International Day of the Midwife!

Today, we are celebrating our midwives and sending them love.  Midwives do a tremendous work in the communities they serve.  The Midwifery Model of Care brought the opportunity for healthy birth to so many mothers whose options were limited.  We thank our midwives for believing in the normalcy of birth, creating safe spaces for us to birth in, their sacrifices, and all their long hours of loving our babies into this world.  Blessings to you.

Some of my posts on the benefits of midwifery care:

Supporting Homebirth and Birth Center Midwifery Care for Rural Kentucky Women

A Bill Proposing Federal Recognition of CPMs to be Introduced Soon – Great News for Rural Women

The Closing of a Historic Tradition – Mary Breckinridge Hospital Maternity Ward

More on Homebirth and the New Meta-Analysis

Is Homebirth a Safe Option?

Choosing A Care Provider

Watch Gentle Beginnings: Having Your Baby with a Midwife

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Article for The Daily Yonder and Pregnancy Awareness Month

I wanted to take a moment to welcome in Pregnancy Awareness Month by sharing with you the article I wrote which appeared in The Daily Yonder last week.  I am very excited about the response it has generated.  There has been some lively conversation and it was highlighted on  The article is called Closing Maternity Wards: Costly and Risky.  Click on the picture below to read the article.

It only takes a quick Google search for rural options in maternity care to see that this issue is not very transparent.  As we  move through Pregnancy Awareness Month, I hope to highlight some of the issues that rural mothers face when expecting a new addition to the family.

“Like” Birth True on Facebook to discover some ways you can celebrate PAM!

What have been your experiences with maternity care if you are a rural mother?

Many happy days to you and yours,


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Remembering My Second Birth Journey

Three years ago yesterday, at around 5pm, my water broke right after ordering dinner at a little restaurant called Karma Cafe.  It didn’t just spring a leek.  It released the flood.  I sloshed myself to the bathroom to check the released fluids.  There was meconium (baby’s first bowel movement – can be a sign that the baby has been or is in stress).  We got our food to go, went to our van, and called our midwife to meet us at home where we planned to give birth.  I was a little alarmed about the meconium, but I felt my baby moving normally and that reassured me.  That is how my birth journey began.

My second daughter was born at 2:12am on April 28th.  Ivy Pearl weighed 11lbs. and was 22 inches long.  She was born healthy and hungry via cesarean section about 8 hours after we transferred to the hospital.  She wasn’t positioned in a way that would allow her head to engage in my pelvis, her cord was wrapped several times tightly around her arm, and her head was not tucked.  However, I know that labor was good for the both of us, and neither of us were ever in any danger throughout that labor.  I am happy and thankful to have had the opportunity to experience labor and for my baby to choose the day she would be born despite the fact that it was a long process which ended in cesarean.  I knew the chance of needing the surgery was there as we knew about the positioning ahead of time, but I also felt it was important to let the process determine the course it would take.  When it was clear the surgery was our best option, we consented.  It was a blessing to make those decisions on my own with advice from healthcare professionals whom I trusted to care for me and my baby’s wellbeing.  It is a wish I have for every birthing mother.

7 months along with my second daughter

After moving out of recovery to our room - Daylight appears

Sisters meet for the first time.

A tired family of 4.

My Mommy Received Prenatal and Birthing Care from a CPM!

Many happy days to you and yours!  Now let’s have some cake and ice cream!


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