Mercy Reign was born Saturday, February 3 at 4:43am by way of C-section after 48 hours of intense, unmedicated labor. 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 chose 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. (UPDATE 11/8/19: After an extremely traumatic & extended postpartum journey, God has taught me A LOT. I absolutely do not recommend the book Supernatural Childbirth, which is recommended in the Kingdom Childbirth Class, and the subtly false theology it teaches. This was a pivotal stumbling block for me that nearly destroyed my faith and spiraled me into deeper postpartum depression. I have since learned of thousands of women who have had the same story. Stay tuned for more teaching on this. I have since discovered a solid, Bible-based pre & postnatal ministry, course & resource called Courageous Mom to help me recover and prepare for another pregnancy, if God wills.)
Also, 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 weird visualizations.
Ok, back to my story: 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!!!). 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 35 weeks 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 and at home. I fully believed that God was going to honor "the desires of my heart".
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 after 40 hours of labor. My water had been broken for nearly 48 hours. I had to surrender.
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 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, if not more, 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.
My heart grieves when I hear people say "Girl, you get to eat and do whatever you want! You're pregnant. It's YOUR time."
Friends, pregnancy IS a precious and sacred time! Pregnancy is an honor! IT'S CERTAINLY A GIFT!! And it sure can be a LOT of FUN! It is also a season where more rest and focus is required. Receive the gift of rest and slow down. Take care of yourself and rearrange your priorities. Let people bless you (it's crazy how excited people get about babies & baby bumps! I had NO IDEA!) It's a season to bask under the shade of God's grace and ponder the MIRACLE of new life! But grace (pregnancy) IS NOT permission to live by the flesh. The consequences can be long-lasting and are simply not worth it. Stay with me... this is a long one, but there's much to understand to see my point. And please remember that while I'm on baby #1, I have been helping people/patients (pre-natal, pregnant, post-natal, children, adults, families...primarily WOMEN of all ages) for over a decade to restore their health. I often work with very challenging cases. It's not difficult to see where the root of the problems are.
Pregnancy is NOT a time to be selfish, neglectful, and disobedient. It is not the time to eat/do whatever we want and justify gluttony and complacency. It's NOT the time to quit exercising unless there's a TRUE medical emergency/necessity. It's also important to take advice from those who specialize in HEALTH care and healthy birth, not from "sick care" providers whose answers tend to be fear-based and lean toward "more intervention." In fact, some good pelvic floor, core, and mild resistance and cardio training are ideal for helping us carry and birth our babies.
EXERCISE IN PREGNANCY
I taught Spin class 2x/week (yes, turning my resistance and intensity down as the Lord has lead me to), walked and stretched until 30 weeks pregnant. I'm 40 weeks pregnant as I revise this today. I did prenatal pilates through most of the 2nd trimester until I pulled an adductor muscle, unrelated to my workouts, and had to shift gears. My body is used to Indoor Cycling (especially because we ride to worship music & God's Word!) so I continued in what felt good for my body and it sure helped. NOTE: I have FREE online Christ-centered Indoor Cycling videos if you are looking for a safe, grace-based, low impact cardio option, and it feels right for YOUR body. To add 25+ pounds to our female frames in a few short months and then persevere through labor requires strength and flexibility to prevent pain & injury, reduce recovery time, and assist with birthing that beautiful baby into the world. MOST women gain even MORE, myself included... I've gained 50 healthy pounds and don't believe I could have done anything different to gain less. I am not ashamed. I have had a wonderful, complication-free pregnancy and my goal is to create and birth a healthy baby to God's glory, NOT to fit into some man-made estimation of what MY body "should" gain. Exercise discernment and seek the Lord on what kind of exercise is best for YOU and YOUR pregnancy, and ask HIM who should be advising you. It is equally important not to over-do it. Over-exercising can be just as detrimental, and if the Lord says REST, you need to rest. If you are hurting or feel "wiped out" after your workouts, you can assume it is too much or not the best movement for YOUR body right now. Walking is one of the best exercises for pregnancy. Stretching (but not over-stretching... I think that's how I strained my adductor. Thanks Relaxin!) is vital. My hips/pelvis let me know around 22 weeks what was working and what wasn't. During the third trimester, the Lord clearly told me to rest more than anything else (keep in mind, I was still working on my feet for about 7 hours straight 2 days/week in my third trimester), and if anything, the Christ-centered dance workouts on RevWell TV felt better than walking. Each week was different, and listening to the Lord over following some "pregnancy program" has proven quite valuable!
Friends, we GET to make human life in our bodies. A baby, a HUMAN LIFE, is made from the raw materials, love and nourishment (physical, emotional AND spiritual) we put into our bodies. Most women are in labor longer than it would take to run a marathon! How long would you set aside to train for a marathon??
It takes work to create, birth and care for a baby. We need to "train" and prepare. It's a sacrificial time. A high responsibility. A time to seek the Lord and be as healthy as possible, NOT so that we can "avoid gaining weight" or "squeeze back into our old jeans postpartum as quickly as possible" and then show off our "hott mom body" on social media. NO! Name of Jesus. Rather we train and care for our temples because we have been ENTRUSTED with the gift of LIFE, of caring for this CHILD OF GOD, hand-made by HIM, placed in our womb, to change the world and be a Light in this dark world. We want to give our children the BEST CHANCE at coming out healthy, alert, whole and thriving. We are the sole care-giver to this baby while it grows in our womb. OUR HEALTH affects baby's health.
PREGNANCY AND NUTRITION
If we have Candida overgrowth, leaky gut, constipation, auto-immune disease, food allergies, hormone imbalances, irregular cycles, chronic fatigue, skin problems, sleep issues or "other random symptoms," INCLUDING (but not limited to) unhealthy thought patterns, childhood trauma, excessive fear or control issues... THIS IS THE EVIDENCE something is not balanced, the liver and gut ARE NOT well, and that, IF POSSIBLE we need help BEFORE we get pregnant. For those who are already pregnant or who get pregnant unexpectedly, you can STILL DO MUCH to improve your health WHILE you are pregnant, we just have to be more strategic. I recommend making an appointment so that you can SAFELY get the most results in the fastest amount of time by having a custom plan written for YOU. Attempting to self-diagnose via the internet and asking friends on social media, buying random products online from people who aren't actually experts in health will drive you crazy and waste a lot of time and money. Most patients that walk in my office have this story these days. Working with a Holistic Doctor and a good midwife is the best pre-natal care you can get. The way I work: After 1 affordable visit in which I spend an average of 1 hour LISTENING to you, praying with you and testing your body, you will know exactly what's going on with YOUR body, exactly what to do about it, what to eat/not eat/take, and you'll leave with a lifestyle and nutrition plan customized specifically for YOU, giving you the best chance at having a wonderful, healthy, SUPERnatural birth experience! It's not that complicated when you know what you're doing. It may surprise most women that half of the patients I test do not need a prenatal or multi-vitamin. Most of them are synthetic/garbage or aren't what your body really "needs." In fact, I bought the "best of the best" prenatals to try for myself, and they ALL made me feel worse. I simply didn't need a 1-size fits all supplement. I needed more support for my thyroid, adrenals and liver and not just a little of everything. My needs (plan) changed every few weeks as my body changed and baby grew :) That's normal.
The Brewer's Diet is a good and reputable site for general pregnancy nutrition questions/recommendations. Again, keep in mind, this is general information, not custom information for the woman who really needs to get well quickly without a bunch of trial and error or guessing before/during pregnancy.
Keep it simple: Every BODY needs real, organic foods, high protein, plenty of good fats, lots of greens & veggies, fruit and way less sugar. Lots of water. Real sea salt. Lot of minerals. The specifics from here will depend on the person/patient. Most people will benefit from incorporating raw, fermented foods, as well. There are always exceptions to every "food rule", which is where working with a Holistic Practitioner who specializes in nutrition will greatly help you feel your best, maintain your energy, avoid complications, recover quickly, and grow/carry a full-term, healthy baby!!
NOTE: Throughout this blog you'll see several links to the MamaNatural.com website because this is a resource that has been helpful for me at times! I have no affiliation or kickback from this site. I just see no sense in reinventing the wheel as this is already a reallllly long blog ;)
PREGNANCY & CHIROPRACTIC CARE
If you're having aches and pains, please get in to see a Chiropractor asap (ideally one who specializes in pregnancy) to start getting your pelvis, body and internal chemistry (hormones and emotions) aligned BEFORE the big BIRTH-day. If our pelvis (or spine and other joints) are "twisted" or imbalanced, then the uterine (and other) ligaments are pulling unevenly on the uterus and bones that anchor them. The uterus becomes like a twisted balloon, and the baby no longer has a large, straight shot out of the birth canal. If the sacrum (tailbone) is "stuck" or misaligned, then the sacrum cannot open properly (which is the back side of the birth canal). Bottom line: we want to make sure everything stays aligned and in place and opens/closes properly (as the body grows and changes) so that baby can come out as easily as possible, and at the right time. Don't set yourself up for an episiotomy (which is NOT backed by scientific research, by the way), induction or C-section. Be proactive. Poor posture, weaknesses, imbalances and misalignments are another common cause of the start of the cascade of interventions. Good Chiropractic care will have a SIGNIFICANT and POSITIVE impact on your body's ability to deliver naturally, reduce pain, prevent tearing, reduce pushing, speed up recovery, and keep you calm and strong throughout your pregnancy and recovery. Good Chiropractic care literally has hundreds of other benefits to all the other systems of the body that most peopIe are unaware of. I personally get adjusted at least once a month regularly and now every 1-2 weeks in my third trimester of pregnancy. Baby Mercy will get her 1st adjustment on her BIRTH day since all that twisting and squeezing through the birth canal can cause misalignments to the cranium, TMJ, spinal column, and other bones/joints which affect EVERY other system in the whole body. Interference in these bones causes interference in the development and function of the brain/nervous system, which affects baby's (and all living creatures) ability to latch, breastfeed, digest, rest, sleep, learn, progress, etc. Watch this newborn baby get his 1st adjustment! It's not scary. Again, I implore you... don't listen to gossip, assumptions and fear-based information from people who really don't know what they're talking about. Ask God for more discernment and wisdom. I practice what I preach and it works! ;)
Mommies with known symptoms BEFORE pregnancy are pre-disposed to having miscarriages, complications, extended morning sickness, bed rest, pain with pregnancy, gestational diabetes, C-sections or inductions, a traumatic birth experience and prolonged recovery. They are high risk for falling victim to the cascade of interventions that quickly follows the first intervention. Furthermore, the baby is then pre-disposed to having problems such as food allergies, ear infections, colic, sleep issues, diaper rash, thrush, cradle cap, eczema, and/or reflux (spitting up all the time). All of these "symptoms" simply tell us there is something wrong, there is a "gut problem", and our child is not properly digesting/absorbing their food to grow & thrive as best they could, which all goes on to affect learning, behavior, development, brain function and so much more). Sadly, other symptoms and more detrimental side effects (like ADD, learning or behavior disorders, asthma, anaphylaxis, skin problems, etc) typically won't show up in our kids until several months and years down the road. Furthermore, this tells us that mom likely has symptoms she didn't know what to do with (or ignored) before/during pregnancy. Candida overgrowth and leaky gut (amongst other layers of problems) are SO COMMON now that I am witnessing over and over again why so many kids are sick. We add severe insult to injury by vaccinating these kids, giving them an immune overload that can cause severe, lifelong consequences. If we can properly educate mommies and get them well BEFORE (or even during) pregnancy, we can prevent much of this in the next generation. It is absolutely possible to stop this sick cycle in your family. I am living proof! Regardless of whether it starts with mommy or if the awareness comes through a child being sick/having chronic health issues, you must make some changes in how you approach your health/symptoms. Western Medicine is going to keep medicating you and keep you in the "sick cycle." Take this simple home spit test to see if you or your kids possibly have Candida overgrowth. Are we onto something? If so, you MUST stop taking chemical antibiotics and drugs for infections and illness as much as possible (often starts with kids and ear infections) which are adding insult to injury. There are safe, natural antibiotics and medications that are incredibly effective that do not wipe out all of your good bacteria (probiotics) in the process. Once you learn how to kill infections/support the body without chemicals and prescription drugs, you will find that you rarely, if ever, "need" them. Yes there are times when the benefits of traditional medicine outweight the risks, but is is FAR LESS COMMON than what we are being recommended and scared into believing. Neither Zach (my husband) nor myself has taken a prescription antibiotic in well over a decade. I'm not saying that to boast, rather to encourage you that God has a better way, a less invasive way that does not do further harm. We are proof that it is true! With traditional antibiotics, you'll VERY LIKELY end up with recurrent infections, a depleted immune system, and a slow and gradual progression into more symptoms and sickness. Kids are now being BORN with Candida overgrowth and leaky gut because so many mommies have this and don't know it. Stay off the internet to avoid false information and confusion (unless God is clearly directing your research), and find a local Holistic Doctor (quickly) who can properly assess you, educate you and get you on track. The proof is in the healing and I see it every day. This is not "wierd," extreme or rocket science. If you're lead to work with ME, I see both local and long-distance patients of all ages. This is not a process you want to navigate on your own. If not handled properly, the process can drag out for years, the yeast will keep growing back and you'll feel like nothing is working long term. There are usually other layers to address and a GOOD, licensed Holistic Doctor or possibly a Clinical Nutritionist (not a "health coach") will know how to help you. As you pray about who is best to help you and your family, you can refer to this blog to help you make some changes. Watch my Dr. Mom 101 videos to start learning natural remedies THAT WORK that you can use to begin helping your family. When something is over your head, be wise, and see your Holistic Doctor instead of driving yourself crazy. You'll learn more and more over time, and eventually you'll need to go to any Doctor less and less :) YAY!!!
HERE'S THE TRUTH
What's in our body DOES pass on to baby, whether it is a toxin (yeast, heavy metals, vaccines, parasites, chemicals, etc), medication, emotional baggage, fear... OR ON THE HEALTHY SIDE: good nutrition, love, peace, security/safety & healthy emotional patterns. I strongly encourage mommies-to-be to get healthy/make an appointment BEFORE getting pregnant (when possible), and then surrendering and trusting God with the timelines for conception. It's worth the wait IF God says "wait" or interrupts your "plan" ;) God directed me to WAIT on Him after He gave Zach and I the desire to have a baby, and IT HAS BEEN WORTH IT. I was coming off of a stressful, busy season. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. My cycles were getting a little irregular. The warning signs were there that I needed some self-care. There were other things to "get in order" since God has not called me to close my practice and become a full-time, stay at home mom (at least not now). I heeded His conviction, asked Him for direction and how to best prepare ...and I waited. This is the verse He gave me at the beginning of 2017 as I sought His lead for my body to refresh and heal and prepare to conceive in HIS time.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength (physical, emotional, spiritual); They shall mount up with wings like eagles (able to soar, endure, be present, stay healthy & sane; prevent unnecessary future problems), They shall run (bear children; raise children; keep up with their children; play; have JOY; ENJOY motherhood) and not be weary (vibrant, healthy, strong, playful, disciplined; persevering), They shall walk (day by day, patient, in step with the Lord) and not faint (crumble under the pressure/fear/work load; not end up medicated, overwhelmed, depressed or sick). *(emphasis = mine)
We actually CAN avoid unnecessary consequences of prolonged morning sickness and nausea, excessive fatigue, miscarriage & infertility (of course I'm only talking about those with all their "parts" still), gestational diabetes, and c-sections. These are typically signs that symptoms were ignored prior to pregnancy. Women with the MTHF-R Gene Mutation, like me, are going to be even more susceptible to morning sickness, nausea and fatigue because they have a genetically compromised liver. We need to be even more proactive about our health, diet and stress so that our babies do not suffer as a result of our choices/lifestyle habits. We can do MUCH to prevent our children from being born with or having colic, cradle cap, reflux, food allergies, asthma, eczema, autism spectrum disorder, ADD, learning disabilities, etc. I realize this will offend or bother some people, but my intention is to bring people HOPE for what IS possible, not to shame or blame. We don't know what we didn't know. But now we know.
Grace and more grace.
My intention is NEVER to cause shame or regret, but to give you HOPE. Hope that YOU CAN CHANGE, whether you want (more) children, are raising children, or have grown children or grandchildren, etc. You have hope to share with others. Hope because there are answers. Hope because God is merciful and gracious and powerful to heal and redeem what the enemy has meant for destruction! I see it happen in my practice every week!! This is HOPE for those who doubt they can get pregnant. Hope because we don't have to suffer as a society as much as we are. If you don't know my story, I was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 24 and told I'd never be able to have kids. LIE. But God... I haven't had "endometriosis" for a long time, and I never had to battle "infertility" in trying to conceive at age 37 (Medical Doctors say I'm HIGH RISK; God says "this is the perfect timing"). I also have 1 of the MTHF-R Gene Mutations working against me (my liver doesn't detoxify properly without a me taking good care of myself on a daily basis >> no wonder I have always felt so sensitive to processed foods, drugs and chemicals!). Yet I've had a wonderful pregnancy with minimal nausea, great energy, good sleep, stable hormones and emotions, and textbook pregnancy measurements/progress! I had mild nausea for about 3-4 weeks and threw up once because I tried to take too many supplements the day the nausea hit... and up came my eggs and breakfast! I've had some hip pain that I mentioned earlier which has been managed through rest, massage, Chiropractic care, stretching, exercise and essential oils/herbs. Yes, God is indeed merciful. God is able to do far above what we ask or imagine, but we must take responsibility for our health and our sin so that we can heal. Obedience matters. ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE with God... cuz the Bible says! ;)
Neglecting ourselves before & during pregnancy has consequences to our babies and the next generation. It can lead to years of stress dealing with your own and your children's health problems. It can wreak financial havoc and marital tension that can lead to divorce, division, adultery, abuse, and other unforeseen consequences that are unfair to our children. OUR NEGLECT & UNNECESSARY ILLNESS robs our families and The Church (The Body of Christ) of the blessing of our full potential. Who wants to spend their life sick, running to Doctors, filling prescriptions, fighting with insurance companies, run down and chasing another diagnosis?? How much more short-tempered, angry, irritable & depressed are we when we "just don't feel good." How is this affecting our witness of Christ to this broken world?...and to our kids?...our families?...our friends? It's exhausting trying to change our own lifestyle habits & our children's diets once poor habits have set in, BUT it's never too late! Don't let that discourage or stop you if that's where you are starting. I work with families and help them make healthy changes every day. Ideally, we get well before the next pregnancy.... proactive & intentional (again, if possible). Prepared. Trained. HEALTHY >> so we can enjoy the moment & bond with our baby instead of spending 9-10 months sick, miserable, depressed, medicated, overwhelmed & completely exhausted before baby even arrives. If you have already had all your children, but they are sick... Grace! You simply take the next step in the right direction. Ask the Lord where to begin. If you are lead to work with me, we will find a plan that works for your family. YOU CAN CHANGE and YOUR BODY CAN HEAL!!!
So much of this is the result of us not being informed as to how to properly care for our temples. Most of the traditional information and training and education and beliefs about childbirth and pregnancy are fear-based and not rooted in Truth or HOPE. Even much of the nutritional advice, books, apps and other resources are full of garbage, lies & fear. Anyone can put anything on the internet. We must learn to sift everything through the hand of God. The BEST, Christ-centered resource I would recommend to every pregnant woman is: The Courageous Mom Pre & Postnatal Course, resources & ministry. This is also ideal for the mommy-to-be who wants a do-over on her next pregnancy and birth (like me! - regarding recovering from the postpartum trauma I ended up going through and preparing for a VBAC home birth, God-willing).
Childbirth has become big business, man-made, mechanical and treated like a disease. This is NOT God's plan. Childbirth is every bit physical, emotional AND Spiritual. We were designed to carry & deliver babies (not plan their due dates for our convenience and have them cut out of our bodies because it's more convenient for us or our Doctor or because we are afraid of the pain or because we are 2 days past our due date. What??) Ultrasounds are a blessing for us to be able to take a look inside (WHEN medically necessary) to make sure everything is ok. However, they were never intended to be used (abused) routinely at every pre-natal visit or for our viewing pleasures, especially not the new 3D and 4D Ultrasounds, which are purely for pleasure and not "diagnostic". These are not good for our fragile, developing babies. They are big money for Doctors who make us think we "need them" every visit, and it's easy to say YES when insurance covers it and we (understandably) can't wait to "see" our growing babies. Again, hear me, praise God for them WHEN MEDICALLY NECESSARY.
My (bold) questions are these: How many are really "necessary"? Has anyone ever even mentioned to you that doing multiple ultrasounds during pregnancy has risks, and is even thought to be linked to autism, developmental issues, etc? If you knew the risks would you still do it? And is our impatience to "see" everything ahead of time really worth the potential risk? Each of us has to pray and decide that for ourselves. It's not for me. I've posted more info at the bottom of this blog on this topic.
Now before someone gets offended, I am aware and grateful that there is a time and place for emergency C-sections and Ultrasounds. Praise God for them (WHEN medically necessary)! But much of what leads to a high risk pregnancy or emergency CAN BE PREVENTED if we are patient, properly educated and encouraged. We must prepare and learn what proper pre-natal care is and what a healthy (not a typical) pregnancy and birth looks like. We MUST learn to walk by faith and trust God above all else in more areas. Fear & hospital birthing are 2 of the biggest inhibitors to a natural, unmedicated, vaginal birth. Did you know: The most common major surgery performed in the U.S isn’t to remove an appendix or replace a knee anymore. It’s to deliver babies by C-section. Approximately 1 out of every 3 babies born in the US is now born via C-section (Born surgically!) This is so sad and so unnecessary. A C-section and multiple ultrasounds are easy to justify when insurance covers it, your Doctor promotes it, your friends are doing it, and you think it's the easier (safer) way to go. But it's not safer. Please, ladies. Wake up. Get informed. We are hurting our bodies, our children and the next generation. There is so much to learn about how enjoyable & simple childbirth CAN BE. There is a better way, the narrow way (literally...haha), the way that leads to more abundant life. God made our bodies to create & birth life!! FEAR is robbing us of our God-given abilities and supernatural birth stories.
We have NOT been taught to seek God first before letting our insurance or Doctors dictate our healthcare decisions, or before letting fear convince us we "can't" do this or that. God provides! Are we seeking GOD before reading this book or that blog or taking this class or listening to that friend? We are taking advice from people who don't have the experience we desire for our pregnancy and childbirth. We hold onto stories of fear and trauma, and then other people's baggage & realities become the LIES we believe. This all passes into the womb, onto our kids and into our parenting, and then it becomes our childrens' stories. God is ultimately in control, but there IS MUCH that we are given control of. We can do better, friends.
THERE IS SO MUCH HOPE
Sisters, we are not our friends. We are not our parents. We are not our last birth experience. We are not motivated by fear. We are not the lies we have believed. A baby doesn't complete us and a baby won't save a marriage.
WE ARE a clean slate, a new generation, a new story, a new creation in Christ, daughters of the MOST HIGH GOD (the God of peace, power & miracles). We are forgiven, teachable, redeemed, and unconditionally LOVED by a GOOD FATHER who knows how to parent US and our children and lead us perfectly. We CAN birth our children naturally and with much less pain. We are not afraid of pain for pain itself births so much healing and goodness as we work THROUGH it instead of constantly trying to avoid it. We cannot avoid pain in this life. The FEAR of pain is a place God wants to heal in us. In the moment of labor & delivery, we surrender to the process, let go of ALL fear so our body (uterus, cervix, vagina, perineum) can relax and naturally expel our baby, letting the story unfold, as long as it takes, according to God's will. (C-sections are there in case of emergency. We don't need to panic).
I do strongly recommend sitting with the Lord and asking the Lord if there's anything He wants to teach you. Ask Him who should be in the room when you are giving birth (regardless of WHERE you are giving birth). ANYONE who brings up fear of any sort can inhibit labor & your desires for a natural (vaginal), unmedicated birth. If you feel strongly about delivering in a hospital, then pray about hiring a doula as your natural birth advocate. We live in a culture of extreme FEAR. Fear causes three physical, detrimental reactions in the body―tightening of the muscles, reduced blood flow to the birthing muscles, and the release of certain hormones―which increase the pain and discomfort of childbirth. Being properly educated, supported and prepared will significantly help you achieve the safest, healthiest and most enjoyable birth possible, even in a hospital setting.
Also beware that the term "natural birth" is being misused, so ask the right questions to the right people and seriously consider working with a midwife (I am using a midwife vs Ob/Gyn and have loved every second of it!) if you truly desire a NATURAL, UNMEDICATED BIRTH WITHOUT INTERVENTIONS, a home birth or a birth center birth. Many women claim to have natural births simply because they have a vaginal birth, yet it's a vaginal birth with a whole slew of interventions, including epidurals. That's... not... natural. What has happened to our common sense? One naive intervention on a scared, misinformed or unprepared mother's part can QUICKLY turn into a cascade of interventions you never wanted that can wreak havoc on you and your baby, sometimes for the long haul. With the rate of c-section births in the U.S. being MORE THAN DOUBLE the “medically necessary” target of 10 percent to 15 percent that WHO says is ideal & safe, I personally wanted to stay as far away from a hospital as possible. This is the highest percentage in history and apparently the statistics are even worse here in Orange County, CA! Furthermore, infant and mother mortality rates have NOT improved with these statistics. My midwife has delivered well over 2000 babies and has had to transfer only about 5% of those women to the hospital. And of those, only about 1% had to have c-sections. This is what the statistics SHOULD look like. Statistically birth center and home births are safer than a hospital birth. Pray, do your research and talk to women who have amazing birth stories.... then decide what's best for YOU.
Something has gone seriously wrong. Our culture teaches women to fear birth as a painful and traumatic experience. We are RUSHING something that should not be rushed, often pushing when we need to be relaxing, and panicking over things that don't call for an "emergency". The medical (business) model of childbirth is pushing us to become selfish (yes, I said it) and afraid, and we're being pressured to control everything that happens to us. This is not freedom. This bondage to fear and control is NOT God's best for us or the next generation. Women are being taught to plan everything ahead of time and to intervene and panic when things don't go perfectly according to someone else's agenda/timeline. We are leaving no room to wait, walk by faith and let God's perfect timing and plan unfold. We are being robbed of great JOY and peace. We are being robbed of beautiful birth stories. Childbirth is a great time to "exercise" patience and faith. After all, we're going to need it as we transition into the next season of motherhood, right?! :)
Every woman, every baby, and every birth story is different and it should be.
Trust your body, His amazing creation.
YOU CAN have an amazing birth story & experience!
SOME HELPFUL RESOURCES YOU MAY ENJOY:
Courageous Mom Pre & Postnatal Course (best overall; Christ-centered & holistic; ONLY resource to cover pre AND post-natal, which is essential)
Hypnobirthing (book & CD/course)
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (book)
Mama Natural Online Birth Course & Website (Holistic, accurate, thorough, affordable)
My own Birth Scriptures & Birth Declarations (I encourage you to create your own declarations, too)
*Don't let the word "HYPNObirthing" scare you. As with ANYTHING, chew on the meat & spit out the bones. I am not at all confused or dappling in New Age. A lot of info in this book is incredibly helpful, especially understanding how the pregnant/birthing body works & the breathing techniques. I skipped over most of the visualizations & did not find the CD helpful ;)
**You'll pay less for these 2 Online Birth Courses than you would pay for 1 local, specific technique course (like Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, etc). We felt totally prepared, encouraged & informed, while not being limited to 1 technique. Neither course is fear-based, whereas many hospital courses can be.
A (growing) LIST OF THINGS TO CONSIDER/PRAY ABOUT PREGNANCY/CHILDBIRTH:
WHY does Natural Childbirth matter?
Here is a list of the MANY benefits of going natural.
If you're being told you HAVE to have a C-section, FIRST find out if that's actually true utilizing the resources in this blog and praying. Get a second opinion from a trusted natural mama or midwife, someone who won't be "gaining" convenience or financial reward from you having surgery.
There ARE times when C-section is medically necessary (such as placentia previa, breech birth like mine, etc), in which case you can still opt for the healthier version of surgery. Check out this article on Gentle Cesarean and know what your options are. Then do your research to find the best hospital to accommodate YOUR birth plan and desires.
Midwife vs Medical Doctor (Obstetrician):
Midwives are specialists in (healthy, low-risk) pregnancy and giving birth with the role of looking after a pregnant woman and her baby during pregnancy, labor, birth and for a time, post-natally. The care and education you receive working with a midwife is so special and personal. They serve as an advocate FOR you, respecting YOUR desires, YOUR birth plan, and YOUR beliefs surrounding NATURAL CHILD BIRTH. They are licensed practitioners and beyond qualified to help women birth their babies naturally. They support the belief that less intervention is best, allowing you to birth in peace, without fear, without pressure and surrounded by lots of love and encouragement. They are also equipped for trauma, stitches, etc and know when to transfer a woman to the hospital in special circumstances. Since anyone can find an OBGYN or deliver in a hospital, I want to educate you more on the alternatives and the benefits of choosing a midwife. Perhaps you'll be inspired to consider giving birth at home or in a birthing center vs a hospital. Here's a link to my midwife's FAQ's page to help you.
Here's another list of interview questions to help YOU find the right midwife.
A few more resources about midwifery:
Midwives Alliance of North America
California Association of Midwifery
California Families for Access to Midwives
Medical Sharing vs Insurance:
Personally, we made the switch from Health Insurance to (Christian) Medical Sharing in 2014. Zach and I are both self-employed and could not justify paying $700+/month for 2 healthy mid-30's adults to have insurance that doesn't cover real health care. We only use traditional health care in the case of an ER visits or trauma. We switched to Medi-Share (but after baby will likely switch to one that covers more alternative health care like Acupuncture, Chiropractic care & Supplements) and have never looked back. We pay less than $200/month and CHOOSE how we want to INVEST in our health. We CHOOSE to carry a high deductible that won't "sink us" in the case of a major health tragedy but at a risk level we are comfortable with. We can get our monthly Chiropractic adjustments, Acupuncture as needed, all our supplements and even pre-natal massage as needed for less than what we HAVE to pay for full coverage insurance we don't use. We don't waste money on alcohol or junk food anymore, so it is more affordable to buy organic, healthy foods (though we still try to be frugal with our spending). We can save the rest (now it's being applied to our home birth... yay!). For my pregnancy we KNEW we wanted to do a home water birth, so we are paying the discounted, out-of-pocket, cash price for that (still less annually than what we would have paid for insurance!). All pre-natal labs are included in the $5400 midwifery fee, Ultrasound is not. When you pay out-of-pocket, you see how much is "covered by insurance" that is not really necessary, and how the traditional health care system is so abused and confused. You THINK about every decision you make when you SEE the money come out of your bank account. We will meet our "deductible" with the pre-natal expenses this year, so if anything unexpected comes up (or for some reason I did have to get transferred to a hospital during child birth or otherwise) all those expenses will be covered at 100%. This is what works for OUR FAMILY because we choose to take responsibility for our health, use natural medicine, and don't run to Doctors quickly. We have been proactive for many years.
Typically, families with traditional insurance will choose whatever is covered by their plan. I get it. I would simply encourage you to get informed and educated and hire a doula to help you and advocate for you if you will deliver in the hospital. It is still possible to have a healthy, enjoyable, natural birth in a hospital setting, but you may have to fight for it. You may need to ask trusted friend WHICH hospital is best. You'll want a birth plan. You'll want to know how to best prepare. You'll want to know the different pressures you will likely face.
I personally want to enjoy every second of this once in a lifetime experience. We want the freedom to make certain decisions ahead of time (such as: knowing my midwife WELL & knowing SHE will be the one at my birth with another certified birth assistant/midwife, no vaccines, no Vitamin K shot, no Hepatitis B shot, no antibiotics, no chemical induction or drugs, no epidural, no early cord clamping, freedom to choose my birthing position, freedom to use herbs & essential oils & flower remedies as needed, freedom to use the birthing tub, freedom to be patient/breathe without fear/pressures for C-section, freedom to snuggle our baby immediately and welcome her in a loving, peaceful environment and then remain in the comfort of my own home, freedom to play worship music & read scripture cards, freedom to open the windows, eat healthy, drink, etc etc). Statistically, home birthing is safer and healthier (facts you won't get from the hospital, Doctors, or traditional western medicine). Bottom line >> Be informed about your rights, your options, and God's ability to provide for you and your family!
Alternatives to Routine Newborn Procedures:
This is a well written article. No need for me to reinvent the wheel ;)
Did you know that there are risks to having routine ultrasounds, 3D/4D ultrasounds and excessive doppler heartbeat checks?? The rule of thumb is the less intervention, the better. They should ONLY be used when medically necessary. Ultrasounds are supposed to be DIAGNOSTIC tests, not a photo booth for the fetus each month. We are abusing these privelages (we need to train PATIENCE, a fruit of the Spirit, and FAITH) and our children are likely suffering for it. Even the FDA (shocker) warns AGAINST 3D & 4D screenings. Here is a great article that thoroughly covers this topic.
(Delayed) Umbilical Cord Clamping:
Traditionally (especially in the hospital), the cord is cut immediately. It is ideal to WAIT until the cord quits pulsing (20-30min, sometimes more!) before clamping/cutting the umbilical cord. There is vital nutrition, rich blood, stem cells and immunity that come from NOT rushing the birth process. Again, patience. This makes a HUGE impact on baby's future health, further eliminating any need for Vitamin K shots/drops and other "medical intervention". Many hospitals will not allow you this privelage, and it is not an option with a C-section, as they must suture you back up asap to prevent infection and get you off of anesthesia asap.
Read my blog called: Educate before you vaccinate. There is a growing list of resources at the bottom of the blog for you to do your own research.
Watch the informative (not fear-based) 9-part docu-series called Vaccines Revealed. From here you can get many other resources, as well.
National Vaccine Information Center (website, social media, newsletter & calls to action)
Children's Health Defense (website, newsletter & social media pages)
ImmunityEducationGroup.org (website, social media pages & podcast)
God's lotion! This is the cheesy white stuff that covers your baby's skin at birth. Try to prevent your support team from wiping it off. Instead, rub it in and don't bathe baby for a few days...or over a week!
Vitamin K & Delayed Circumcision:
Regarding Vitamin K, we personally will NOT do this (and wouldn't even if we were having a boy). Babies are not supposed to have high Vitamin K levels the day they are born. It's NORMAL. Their levels actually peak on Day 8 as they develop and get good nutrition from mommy's perfect food, breast milk. Isn't it interesting that God told Abraham to circumcise all newborn males on the 8th day?? Genesis 17:12 "From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth." Interesting eh?
Check out this blog I found that co-references scripture with science! And for the record, if we ever have a baby boy and decide to circumcise (my husband gets the final say on that decision- ha!), we would still wait until Day 8. Typically, you can find a Doctor's office or Rabbi to do it.
Mega-dosing babies with Vitamin K (which is NOT a vitamin, by the way >> Learn more & see ingredients in the Vitamin K shot) is dangerous and illogical. Oral Vitamin K is safer, yes, but in my opinion (IMO) still unnecessary and risky (I simply ask God to give me wisdom because you'll find arguments & "research" these days to match anything you want to believe). IMO, the benefits DO NOT outweigh the risks. I plan to intentionally eat Vitamin K-rich foods and drink Nettle tea in my last month of pregnancy (we should be eating these regularly anyway).
My opinion: The further we have gotten from taking responsibility for our own health, refusing to see our own sin, getting good sleep, eating real, organic foods, and eating PLENTY of servings of produce each day (some people get none), the more we are seeing serious chronic health issues and gut problems. We are passing false information, bad habits, fear and illness on to the next generation. Thus, our children and grandchildren are suffering for it. The Body of Christ is suffering (unnecessarily). Western Medicine sees the "symptom" and makes another medical intervention and drug for it instead of educating and encouraging people, never getting to the root of the problem. Thus, there will be no "cure". Medical research also fails to include Biblical, foundational Truth. When it comes to health and "health care", we tend to follow the world's ways blindly without question, uninformed of the risks involved. Does intervening with pregnancy as much as we are and injecting a NEWBORN baby with all these drugs and vaccines really make sense? Does it feel natural? Are we really healthier as a society as a result? (I'll answer that...NO! In fact, we are worse). We have some serious health crises on our hands.
Please pray about this... and make sure you cast down ALL FEAR and pride ;) Lord, help us. Teach us. Lead us. In Jesus name. Amen.
MERCY REIGN. God has already used this baby girl to bring so much healing, revelation and joy to Zach and I. GOD'S MERCY (kindness & compassion) is a promise to all of us!! We get another chance, whether you are pregnant, desire to be pregnant, are a mom already raising her children or a grandmother, OR a female friend who speaks life & Truth (that's all of us!). YOU are a mouthpiece of HOPE & TRUTH for your family and other women! Praying blessings and Truth over all of you and for a healthy new generation, in Jesus name!!
Check out a podcast I had the honor of recording with Alisa Keeton, founder of the Faith-based Fitness Ministry: Revelation Wellness (available on Podbean App or itunes). The RevWell Instructor Training Program changed my life & played a HUGE role in my freedom, which ultimately lead to me saying YES to God's will & bringing children into this world! What blessings we would have missed out on had I stayed "stuck" in my sin and fear and pride. I'm still a work in progress, but I can certainly share what I have learned and what God has redeemed thus far!