Thursday, April 28, 2011

PMS: Pregnancy, Motherhood & Sisterhood

When I was in grade school I remember my sister Danielle sitting me down in our living room because she'd decided to read me The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. The problem was I had no desire to listen to her read a book that was CLEARLY uncool. Don't worry, I dodged that bullet by putting my fingers in my ears and screaming until she gave up and went away. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Well done me. ;) When your older sister has 6 years on you she tends to try to mother you. While this drove me crazy when I was little, I don't know what I'd do without it now.
Photograph by
Danielle is my theater loving, well traveled, big dreams older sister who's always got the answers to my questions. And if she doesn't she can find them on her iphone in 15 minutes or less! She grew up in Texas and moved to Utah when it was time for college. Soon after she met her husband Tom and 6 years later they got married. :) In between the hello's and I do's she broke several hearts and earned a bachelors degree in Psychology.

When I moved out to go to college I found myself 20 minutes away from her and Tom with an open invitation to dinner. Since then she's taken care of me every time I've asked her to, and several times I was too proud to ask. She covered everything from dinner to laundry to groceries to boys, always willing and cheerful. As I've mentioned a few times before my sister is very wise, and has won the loyalty of my husband's stomach.
photograph by
Something else you'll need to know about her is that she's very passionate. When she makes up her mind on something she goes for it full force. So when she got pregnant with their first daughter she decided she needed to get all of the information she could to prepare for the big day. She started reading books, researching doctors, and exploring her options. I can tell you that just about everyone who knows her was shocked to hear that she'd decided on a natural childbirth with a midwife. I myself have known from a very young age that I would need a very large, very powerful epidural and a well trained MD.
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So I admit I doubted her sanity a little, but she persevered. I, unfortunately, ended up in the same room in the birth center when Danielle gave birth to Ainsley. The delivery went great and she had no complications, although needless to say it was a while before I let Tad touch me again. :) Anyways, back on point. Danielle had her 2nd daughter this last summer, and this time she opted for a home water birth with a midwife. This time around I was pregnant and due a month after her so she asked me to come to one of her birth class that she went to once a week. While I couldn't help picturing myself being force fed wheat grass smoothies and learning chants about mother earth from women who would gasp in fear when I revealed my intentions in getting an epidural I, for some reason, agreed to go. Luckily I was pleasantly surprised, the birth class was more of an informal party where pregnant woman and their husbands could feel comfortable discussing the questions and concerns they might have. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed myself, although I was ready with my answer should anyone try to suggest a natural birth to me!

Now, after 2 great experiences Danielle has decided to start her own Birth Class. She's gone through the rigors of getting certified (which is surprisingly tough), and is starting her first class this summer. Today she's agreed to share with us some great information about what she's doing, and why you might be interested in learning more about it.
What made you take your first birth class?
I was a little freaked out, as I think most first time moms are :) and going to a class felt like a way to get a handle on what was going on. And I knew my mom had really fast labors and wasn't able to get pain meds in time when she had her kids and I wanted to find out about all I could do to deal with the pain in case that happened to me too.

What's your favorite thing about them?
Honestly, spending one night a week with my husband talking about this big thing that was happening. It seems like life gets so busy, it was so nice to have a specific time each week that made us slow down and focus on us and the baby. I really think it helped us grow closer. And we learned so much! I felt like my husband understood more of what was happening to me, and how he could help. I definitely felt more appreciated.

What's your least favorite thing about them?
Well, the first birth video I ever saw totally freaked me out. lol. Though looking back I think I really needed to see that. I needed to know exactly what was going to happen and that it CAN work, lol.

What's something you learned that really surprised you?
Just how well designed the female body is. It's amazing all the little things a woman's body chemistry and anatomy does that helps this process. I mean, we GROW PEOPLE in our tummy's! How crazy is that, lol. But seriously, the more I learn about pregnancy and birth the more amazed at us I become. Girls Rock!

What made you want to do a class of your own?
There's just so much information out there that isn't general knowledge. I'm excited to be able to pass on genuinely useful information that can make a big difference in such a huge event in a persons life. In our fast paced lives today, we often don't make time to really learn about birth. We generally spend more time researching what digital camera to buy than having a baby. We figure our doctor will let us know what we need to know, but the 10-15 minutes you get at each appointment doesn't leave a lot of time for teaching. I'm, obviously, a big fan of natural childbirth, but what I really want is to empower women to make informed decisions to get the kind of birth they want.
Why should someone take a class like this?
I think a class like this is a great fit for a lot of people. If you are looking for a natural childbirth experience, it offers great support and guidance. If you aren't sure you are up for going au natural it's a great class to learn all your options and what risks and benefits are associated with each of them. Even if you are dead set on getting those drugs ASAP this is still a great class to take, because it is about so much more than how to handle pain. We also talk about:
• Pregnancy exercises and nutrition
• Postpartum care
• Newborn care
• Breastfeeding
• How your partner can be an active participant (in pregnancy & birth)
and so many other things that are important no matter what you choose to do about pain relief. It's also a great place to ask those millions of questions you have when you are pregnant. A teacher doesn't offer medical advice, but she's a great resources for reliable and helpful information. Plus, giving birth can be a little scary and the more you know, the less scary it is. Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Knowledge is the antidote to fear."
In my experience, yes the doctor's only spends 10-15 minutes with you, but the ladies in the waiting room spend at least an hour. ;) Also, I think it's a lot easier to ask the questions you have when there's a room full of other soon to be moms who are asking questions too. You don't feel quite as dim-witted about not knowing everything already.

What advice would you give someone who's looking for a class to take?
Find a comprehensive class which goes into depth about pregnancy, birth and will cover breastfeeding topics and issues. If you really don't have time for a ten week class some teachers will offer a weekend crash course. I would also try and see, by email or on the phone, whether you click with this teacher. Does she listen to you, respect you, and do you feel she's knowledgeable and up to date when she talks about her classes? Do you feel comfortable with her and feel good talking to her?
What is a typical class like?
The classes I teach are two and a half hours long, once a week for 10 weeks. Some people are surprised at first by how long they are, but as they near the end they can't believe its almost over and feel like there's still so much to talk about. :) There are usually 4-8 couples, all due within a month or two of each other. We usually spend some time getting to know each other, talking about any big questions they are having at the time, and then in each class we discuss different topics. We play games, we watch videos, we practice exercises and comfort measures (like showing partners good places to massage or apply pressure to relieve the aches and pains of being pregnant as well as in labor). We share complaints and suggest remedies. We laugh and talk.
And eat snacks!

Any advice you have for expectant mothers?
Gather as much knowledge as you can, form your philosophy/beliefs about birth and then go for it. This is your body and your baby and your birth and you only get to do this birth once!
Some books I recommend are:
"Your Best Birth" is a great book that gives a well-rounded view of all your birth options
If you are interested in really investigating the natural birth world, I loved Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, which is definitely more natural childbirth minded. The first half is all natural birth stories and the second half is full of great information, helpful advice and suggestions and just great explanations on how the body works in birth. Other author's I recommend are Henci Goer and Penny Simpkin, among others. You can find a list of 'recommended reading' on my website.

*Any extra you want to add?
The in depth, longer classes may cost more, but as in life, you generally get what you pay for. My husband likes to joke that they are way cheaper than an epidural, hahaha. Be sure and check with your insurance company, a lot of them will pay for part or all of childbirth classes.
You can go to to find out more about what I teach and to see if there are teachers in your area. If you are interested in contacting me, you can email me at danielle4birth(at) and you can find out more about me at
Thanks Danielle for taking the time to answer my questions. As always, you're the best!
Remember to check out the Website for her class.


  1. oh I love the skin to skin photo! Her and I are very alike in this aspect :)

    and thanks for looking at my blog! I would love to get to know you when we move back up. I have been hesitant. Its kind of awkward and I am very intimidated by you. But I would like to try :)

  2. I'm a skin to skin fan too! That would be great to hang out. Believe me, once you meet me you'll see what a dork I am!

  3. Great interview of an awesome woman! Kudos to you both.



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