Saturday, October 3, 2015

Recommendations on Natural Birth in Houston, Texas

Several months ago, a reader emailed me saying he was looking for a midwife who would support his wife's vegan diet. I immediately took time to respond with my thoughts on my birth team and recommending additional resources to him. He and his wife just discovered the pregnancy, and he was grateful for my honest opinions and feedback. After reading the information below, he and his wife chose the same birth center I delivered my daughter at in February 2015. I'm hoping my information below will help other couples when it's time to choose plans for their births, too!

I highly recommend Holly Shearman, my midwife who delivered my daughter in February, at West Houston Birth Center. They were supportive of my vegan diet during the pregnancy and were amazing. I miss going to my appointments and wrote a testimonial soon after delivering.

I haven't yet posted my birth experience, but Holly was very patient while I labored 7 hours at the birth center (and 11 at home!). She was calm and helped me birth the baby without any complications or fears. I also hired Debbie Hull, a doula here in the Houston area to be my birth coach. Together they were an amazing team and have worked together during dozens of births in the past.

West Houston Birth Center
I never hesitated to go there and always felt very safe, even at hour 18 of my labor. Holly has been the midwife at nearly 20 breech births (out of the hundreds she's attended), so I was totally confident in her experience and ability to handle any situtation that arose.

I made an appointment when I was 5 weeks pregnant, so I was under their care from weeks 5 to 38.5. They were prompt, friendly, and experienced. I became comfortable with several of the RNs there and there were a few midwives (although Holly is the owner).They were supportive of the Bradley method and Hypnobirthing. Neither of those methods worked for me while I was in labor, but nonetheless they are open to your "birth plan" and wishes.

We also didn't call our family until we were on our way home from the birth center.

Debbie Hull, doula
Debbis is very knowledgable. As I said, the class was intense, but it gave me the confidence and strength to get through labor. She offers a free interview with her and you meet up for coffee and chat to see if you like her and want to hire her. Well worth the money I felt!

We also attened Debbie's couple's class called BirthWorks which delves VERY deep into the entire process of birth. It is a 15-hour course spread over five weeks (three hours each), so it is intense, but extremely helpful. I was able to use that knowledge for multiple birthing positions that I otherwise wouldn't have even know to try during labor. I purchased the package that included the BirthWorks class and Debbie's support during and immediately after labor. A few hours after I gave birth to Eleanor, I looked at Debbie as I got into the car (three hours after the birth... they send you home within 2-6 hours or so if all is well) and practically wept because she made the experience moving and also gave me the strength to literally push as she talked me through each contraction.

She showed up at the birth center after I labored at home for 11 hours. I immediately leaned on her basically hugging her through some contractions and swaying with her. She spoon fed me yogurt and offered me a sip of juice and water between every contraction. She didn't leave my side during labor and was next to me always.

She also made sure my husband was OK. Debbie never overstepped her boundaries and does an in-home visit a month before the due date to discuss your and your partner's wishes during the labor and to see what you want her to do specifcally—very thorough.

We didn't want anyone else at the birth except my husband, Debbie, and the birth center staff (which was Holly and a nurse named Meagan). That was it. During our initial interview with Debbie, she asked me how I was feeling, and I found myself spilling everything that had been weighing on my in the past few months and my issues with too many people potentially attending the birth. 

Debbie immediately began brainstorming with me on how approach this issue and how to come to the conclusion that I felt most comfortable with. My bottom line: this is about you and your partner. And that decision can only made by you. My birth team fully supported me and respected me for it. It was awesome to be confident in my decision and focus on me and my baby during labor.

I can go on and on and on about how great they were! It's been more than a year now since I found out I was pregnant and I remember being terrified and elated all at once. To those who are also expecting a little one, go with your gut and do what you feel is right for your and your family. I never once doubted my birth team and I had such an awesome experience.

A quick note about deciding to give birth "without drugs"—you won't regret it immediately after the baby is born. It hurts, but I was completely alert within seconds of birthing our daughter. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Best experience ever.

Documentaries worth checking out:Happy Healthy Child—Great series that offers four hours of info on natural birth. Several experts in the field are interviewed. The trailer makes me super sappy just watching it! Well worth the money.
Birth Story—Ina May Gaskin and the midwives at The Farm in Tennessee. You'll hear her name often as you research natural birth and midwives.
Pregnant in America—Documentary a guy made when his wife was pregnant. My favorite scene that describes natural birth, as told by Robbie Davis Floyd [5:08-7:05]. Full doc is on YouTube.
The Business of Being Born—If you have any doubts about natural childbirth, this will calm your fears. Full doc is available on YouTube.
What Babies Want—Interesting doc on the conciousness of babies. It's about how the feel pain and are acutely aware of their surroundings and have emotions like adults. Full doc is on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Snag Some Deals Using Groupon Coupons

You're standing in line at [insert your favorite place here] and you've been contemplating whether or not you should make this purchase. If you're like me, you immediately whip out your phone and Google [store name + coupon]. And why wouldn't you? Everyone loves a deal. Groupon now offers coupons, and with more than 75,000 coupons available at over 9,300 stores, you should be typing in [store name + Groupon coupons], or better yet, check their site for the complete listing to shop smarter.

I'm a (new) mom, so the first place I clicked during my coupon hunt was the "Babies & Kids" category. There are eight categories to choose from and all the top names you shop at anyway as a parent (BabiesRUs, The Children's Place, and, to name a few!).

Not a mom? No problem. There's a total of 48 categories to choose from, ranging from Art and Haircare to Free Samples and Pet Supplies. No matter where your interests are, there's a coupon out there for you. In my attempt to round up the best categories for my readers, read on and find the persona that best describes you!

Mommas | I'm the mom who had a cabinet full of baby food—when Eleanor was only three months old and not even thinking about solids. Guess how I stocked my cabinet? That's right. Lots and lots of coupons. I'm a big believer in saving money when and where you can, because I'm constantly looking at our budget and trying to reallocate funds to make it all work.

Categories you'll love: Babies & Kids | Cleaning Products | Free Samples | Grocery | House & Home

College Students | This was me, nearly a decade ago! I totally get it, and I know how super broke it feels to be a student. I always wanted to rebel against the sky-high textbook prices, although I never really knew how to take a stand. Luckily, there are great deals to be found online for used textbooks. Because, seriously, how do they charge $140 for a book that looks to be seven years old? Insane. Save your money for your college loan payoff!

Categories you'll love: College & Education | Computers, Laptops & Tablets | Electronics

Creatives |  I guess it's just my love for words, but I find myself gravitated towards to all things DIY and crafty. I've found myself scrolling through Pinterest saying, "I could totally make that myself" one too many times. And I often surprise myself every time it turns out just as good or even better. Crafting can become expensive, so it's best to save where you can so you can splurge on more glitter.

Categories you'll love:
Art | Craft Supplies | Hobby & Collectibles | Musical Instruments

Night Owls | While my nights are filled with snuggles and eskimo kisses with a seven-month-old baby, I dream of the days where we spontaneously drove to a movie theater (Without even looking at the movies playing beforehand!). Those were the days! Now, I tend to stream more than anything and settle for episodes of Chopped! instead of going out with a baby. Because, really, I just don't have the energy anymore! But for those of you who can sneak away from the house or have some time, this is perfect for you!

Categories you'll love: Event Tickets | Movies & Music | Flowers & Gifts | Restaurants & Bars

Young at Heart | I consider this persona as someone who loves to have fun. I'm talking about the person who always volunteers to have a party at their place, or is up for adventure whenever! I love playing games (and only wish I had more time to log hours on some good ol' RPGs, but alas).

Categories you'll love: Costumes | Outdoors | Party Supplies | Toys & Games | Travel

Pampered Divas | I'm all about saving money, but when I have to spend it, I'd like to get great deals on food, clothing, and all things beauty-related. I've bought Groupons for great deals at my favorite vegan restaurant ($15 for $25 worth of food!), but this is when you're standing in line with a pair of jeans at Kohl's (see scenario I described in the first paragraph) and want to snag an extra discount. You know what I'm talking about! And I can't even tell you how often I'm looking for a great deal on a massage, either. Nothing beats a great deep tissue massage.

Categories you'll love: Clothing | Fitness & Diet | Food & Gourmet | Haircare | Health & Beauty | Jewelry | Department Stores

This conent has been sponsored by Groupon.