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Birthed At Home – The HBAC of Baby Ford

Guest Post from Cainna B.

After my first son was born via c-section for breech presentation, I knew that I wanted to attempt a VBAC for any subsequent children. I got in touch with Bonnie on the morning of my positive pregnancy test (she was so wonderful during my first birth that I hurried to snap her up again at the first opportunity!), and I asked her to suggest some VBAC midwives in our area. After meeting with a few and exploring our options, I realized that the hospitals near my home are not very VBAC-friendly, and that I might have to fight a bit of a battle to be successful there. This ultimately led to our decision to plan a home birth with Abundant Life Birth Care, because one of my biggest priorities was to make sure everyone present would be completely supportive. I didn’t want skeptical nurses or overbearing doctors convincing me to be afraid.

To be honest, I was a little nervous at first. The other women I know who have given birth at home were first time moms when they did it, but I had to consider the additional complexities associated with VBAC. My husband did not want to be anywhere near a hospital, so it was his enthusiasm that first steered my thoughts in the direction of home birth, and I did a lot of research (with Bonnie’s help) on the risks and benefits of VBAC at home. As the months went on, I began to develop such a wonderful relationship with my midwives; at some point I looked up and realized that any semblance of fear or doubt was gone from my mind. Just walking into the room with them made me feel at peace. My baby was growing, my body was healthy, and no one was treating me as “high risk” simply because I had a prior cesarean. I was excited to have this baby!

But when my due date came around, he wasn’t quite ready to make an appearance. As the days went by, I began to worry that I might not get the home birth I had been looking forward to all this time. If I was still pregnant at 42 weeks, I would need the backup obstetrician’s approval to legally have a home birth, and what if he said no? I was willing to wait without intervening until my baby was ready, but I was frustrated and a little angry that an arbitrary legal timeline might rob me of the birth experience I wanted for myself and my child. Fortunately, my water broke in the middle of the night just 2 days shy of the 42 week deadline, and I felt all that anxiety melt away.

Because I never labored with my first baby, we were all prepared for a long, drawn out birth process this time, as is common for many first time moms. It was quite a surprise to us all when my contractions started right away and began intensifying quite quickly. Within a few hours, both Bonnie and Maya from Abundant Life were on their way to my home. They arrived around 7:00 am, and when Maya checked my dilation I was already past 7 cm. I believe the cervical check sent me into transition, and the next two hours brought some of the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life. While Maya was busy caring for my health and the baby’s, as well as setting up her medical equipment, I had Bonnie’s undivided attention and emotional support to get me through the worst contractions.

I don’t believe anything can truly prepare a woman for the experience of childbirth, but I knew that my body had been designed for this and had just decided to let the labor happen without trying to control anything. I also had the double blessing of Bonnie and Maya calmly reassuring me that everything was happening normally, and that the pain and contractions were good, bringing the baby’s head down a little more each time. I labored in my bedroom until his head was almost visible, and then Bonnie helped me into the birth pool so I could push. Until that moment, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to actually give birth in the pool, but the feeling of relief once my body hit the water convinced me that it was the best choice.

My son was born into the water at 9:05 am, after 5 hours of labor and 20 minutes of pushing. He spent a few minutes on my chest, and then we got out of the pool so I could deliver the placenta and clean up a bit before snuggling into bed with him to rest and nurse. Everything felt so natural and so calm, and although I was in pain, I was never afraid. I gave birth while surrounded only by people who believed in me and believed that my body was not broken. I also loved recovering in my own home, without nurses taking my blood pressure at 3:00 am or waking me up because I had fallen asleep with the baby in my arms. I feel so blessed to have two beautiful and healthy children, as well as the unwavering support of my family and my birth team. God has given us so much, and I sincerely wish the same joy and happiness to every mother and her family. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story!


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Mae’s Birth Story

Guest Post from Jessica C.

She was only two days late but I remember feeling like she was never going to come. I realize the impossibility of that statement and I realized it then but still.

I went into labor around 4:30am on Friday January 17th. I downloaded an app to track my contractions and they were getting progressively stronger so I knew Mae was on her way. I let Dave sleep as long as he could before telling him what was happening since I knew he was in for a long day!

I was already scheduled for my weekly exam that morning so I called, told them I was having contractions so they said to come on in. We grabbed our hospital bag (just in case) and the yoga ball and away we went.

When they checked me at 9am, I was about 3.5cm dilated and my contractions were about five minutes apart. The doc said I could choose to go home or go to the hospital. Home was about twenty minutes away and the hospital was about two so I picked the hospital. Our original plan was to labor at home as long as possible but twenty minutes home to labor more then need to drive twenty back didn’t sound like a good plan.

Within the 15 minutes it took us to get to the hospital, get hooked up to a monitor and get checked I went from 3.5 to 5cm and the contractions were beginning to pick up steam. At the time, I was glad because I’d heard stories of people being sent home if they weren’t in active labor. Again, home and back was not something I wanted to do. I was also relieved that they had a room open as it was a full moon the night before and their 12 rooms have been known to fill up fast!

Since leaving the dr’s office I’d been keeping my doula, Bonnie, posted on how things were going. Thankfully she arrived just as the contractions became more painful.

Around noon, I was admitted to Room 5. Bonnie, Dave and I got to work. Since I had chosen not to receive any interventions (pitocin, pain meds, epidural etc…) it was actually very quiet and peaceful in our room. I did have a short visit from my mom and dad but I was quick to kick them out because I needed to stay focused and visitors made that difficult.

I spent the next couple of hours on the yoga ball with Bonnie and Dave massaging, coaching and just providing the encouragement I needed. As things progressed, I moved into the hospital bed where I just rocked back and forth for what seemed like an eternity. I do not know how I would have ever made it through that day without Dave’s support and Bonnie’s gentle affirmations. I remember watching the sky outside change colors as the contractions became more intense. I could tell by the light that it must have been around 5:30.

At about 6pm and 7cm, things were getting very uncomfortable so when the doctor stopped in I asked him how much longer he thought we had left. His guess was five hours. After laboring 13 hours, I knew I did not have 5 left in me. Thankfully he was wrong and I was right. I started feeling very nauseous (in addition to the labor pains) and truly felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I told Bonnie and Dave that if I wasn’t ready to push soon I wanted the epidural. I think they probably laughed. I was 8.5cm dilated by that point. So the epidural was out of the question.

It wasn’t long after that when the nurses changed shifts and things started moving pretty fast. I had an incredible nurse named Jade who I will never forget. She got there around 7pm and I told her I had to start pushing or else (not sure what my alternate plan was). She informed me I was at 9.5cm, did a little magic, called it 10 and we started pushing.

The rest is unfortunately really fuzzy but I do remember the dr showing up about half way through, the nurses telling me to reach down and feel Mae’s head, holding my breath, pushing with everything I had in me and feeling her wiggle out.

It was 8:11pm and Mae arrived weighing 7 pounds and eleven ounces and measuring 19 inches long.

I must’ve gone into some sort of shock after that because the next thing I can remember is seeing her dressed, somewhat cleaned up and glossy eyed from the ointment they used. Thankfully, Dave was by my side the entire time so he was able to cut the cord, get some video and have full recollection of those first few moments.

My initial plan was to hold off on family visiting until after Mae’s first feeding but we didn’t manage to do that right away so we let them come on in. My dear friend Kat was there to document those first moments. In hindsight, I wish I’d had her there sooner for Mae’s birth since I don’t have any memory of my first 15 minutes with her. I’ll probably regret that forever.

On the topic of regret, another huge one I have is having so many visitors the next day. I think 16 people came and some stayed most of the day. This is in addition to the doctors, nurses, the hearing test lady, social security rep, pediatrician, lactation consultant, hospital photographer and lab tech. It was very overwhelming and I don’t think I got to spend any time with Mae in my arms until almost 3pm. I still get pretty emotional every time I think about it. If I had it to do all over again, I would only allow two visitors at a time in short blocks. It was just too much.

The next morning we made sure it was just the three of us. It was sweet but short as they discharged us fairly early. I remember holding her and crying heavy tears as we left Room 5. I was forever changed in that room. I have never been more grateful and humbled by anything in my life and I’ve continued to feel the weight of that every day since.

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Laboring In Love: The Birth of Lincoln Edward

Guest Post from Jennifer R. 

About 1:30am on Friday, December 12th I woke up and knew I was in labor. I had previously had contractions that seemed like labor, but this was different. I was feeling pain in my back in addition to my abdomen, and I was spotting. I got out of bed because I was uncomfortable. I came out to the living room to try to sleep on the couch, as I often did in pregnancy. I decided I should let my husband Jared sleep as long as possible, since it would likely be a long process. The contractions weren’t too intense yet.

I woke Jared up around 5:30am. By that point, the pain in my back during contractions was getting stronger. They were about ten minutes apart.

For most of the morning, Jared and I did things around the house. We made breakfast, tidied things up, did laundry. I was answering work emails and trying to finish up a project. We still had some returns to make to Amazon. I started printing shipping labels and Jared boxed up the items. By this point, I needed counter pressure on my back during contractions.

Around the middle of the day, contractions went from being ten minutes apart to five minutes apart within the hour. They were much stronger, more intense and closer together. I had been texting our doula, Bonnie, throughout the morning so that she was aware that I would be going into labor imminently. Around 1pm my friend Kayla offered to come over and be with me. Jared liked the sound of that – it’d give him a break! I thought it’d be good too, because she could distract me. We talked about different labor positions; I remember sitting on the labor ball while we talked.

By approximately 3pm, contractions were much closer together, two to three minutes apart. I began to panic, thinking we waited too long to leave for the hospital. I texted Bonnie to come now!

Jared and I were in the bathroom alone while Kayla was fixing me something to eat when I got really emotional. I was thinking about labor became very fearful. I started to cry. Jared held me. I said over and over, “I’m so scared. I’m so scared.” I went and laid down on the couch while Jared and Kayla prayed over me and read Scripture over me, still crying occasionally, until Bonnie arrived. We left for the hospital almost immediately.

Jared had put together this genius contraption – a tube sock full of tennis balls, to help when his hands got tired from applying pressure to my back. Well, this thing also worked fantastically in the car to help me get through contractions. I had it wedged between my back and the seat. I would roll up and down when contractions hit. Picture a bear scratching his back against a tree. That’s basically how it worked!

Jared pulled up to valet the car at Good Sam just before 5pm. Bonnie met me at the car where I had a contraction. We then headed up into the lobby, where I had another contraction, and another in the elevator and another in the hallway of Labor & Delivery. It was the contraction in the hallway, in full view of the nurses’ station, which made them decide that I did not need to go to triage. They needed to get me into a room, since clearly, I was in labor. While Bonnie helped me up to L&D, Jared filled out all the paperwork in Admitting.

In the delivery room, I was hooked up to a fetal monitor while sitting on a labor ball. That was a pretty comfortable position. When they checked me I was 4-5 cm dialated and 90% effaced with contractions every two minutes. Bonnie and I talked while we waited for the water tub to be set up. Jared helped the folks from Orchid’s Nest get it ready. Without him it would have taken them much longer, and I was anxious to get in!


Once in the water, labor felt different. It didn’t completely alleviate pain but it was a welcome distraction. I moved around to try different positions but wound up mostly leaned forward, resting my arms on the rim of the tub. I labored like this for a while. Bonnie kept a washcloth with essential oils close to my head so I could smell the oils and enjoy the calming effect. She also rubbed warming gel on my tailbone – probably of the most amazing pain relief techniques – I loved it! Jared and I would pop kiss a lot during labor since we knew that kissing releases oxytocin, a hormone that would help me manage pain.


I was still talking and laughing at this point. I asked Bonnie half jokingly, “Why am I doing this natural? Why aren’t I just getting an epidural?” I don’t think I really wanted one, I just needed a pep talk. Bonnie said lovingly, “Because you want to be able to move around freely. You don’t want to be stuck in the bed. Remember? You’re doing great. You’ve got this.”IMG_5329

After a while in the tub I got out so they could check me. I was nine and a half centimeters and my water still had not broken. I had initially wanted everything to happen spontaneously, but at this point, I just wanted labor to move along! I requested that the doctor come quickly to break my water. Dr. Lazo came in to break my water and watched me labor for a while after that. I began to feel the need to push even though I wasn’t ten centimeters yet.

I wanted to labor standing up. I had seen a video from Ina May Gaskin about a particular position and wanted to try it. I draped my arms around Jared’s neck and every time I had a contraction I dropped my body weight. The poor man! Of course, contractions were very close together now so he was holding me like a dead weight every two minutes. Bonnie continued applying counter pressure to my back and hips. After about an hour or more of laboring like this we decided to try laboring on the toilet at Dr. Lazo’s suggestion.

I sat facing the back of the toilet, with my arms resting on the basin. I pushed like this for about an hour, with Bonnie encouraging me the whole time. I was beginning to get tired.

Jared said that Dr. Lazo just watched the whole scene in a curious manner, with a “we’ll see how this goes” attitude. It’s not every day that their practice sees a woman attempt to birth naturally. It’s more of a rarity.

We labored the final stretch in the bed with the back in a sitting position. By this point, I had been in labor for nearly twenty four hours and was getting fatigued. The team had to really encourage me. Our nurse, Annie, was amazing. She was very supportive of natural birth. She and Bonnie and Dr. Lazo all kept telling me how good I was doing and cheering me on through each contraction. They brought a mirror out so I could see Lincoln’s head. They actually had me feel his hair, he was right there! I think feeling the top of his head helped me keep going as I was beyond exhausted and longing to sleep.

At one push I finally felt his head move past the lip. It was almost like it locked into place and I could hear it move past the bone. It did increase the pressure but I was mostly relieved that this would soon be over! The doctor, nurses and Bonnie all were really excited and were exclaiming that just one more push and he would be here!

Sure enough, I pushed one more time and he came! What a glorious moment! Labor was over!

He began to cry loudly. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. Jared and I looked at each other and stared at him in wonder. What an amazing sight! Our son!


He continued to cry. I joked he sounded like a little t-rex, “Raaaar! Raaaar!” Only later did I notice that he had a wound on the back of his head that scabbed over. That may have been one reason he cried so long. Jared cut the cord after it stopped pulsing.

Annie told me a few seconds after delivering, “Jen, you’re hemorrhaging. We have to stop the bleeding.” She stuck pitocin in my arm. I didn’t mind, now that Lincoln was here, they could give me whatever medicines were needed.

Bonnie stayed for a few hours after he was born. Around 3am I told her to go home!

I held him for a long time on my chest, skin to skin. Jared had to ask me if he could hold him. Of course, I said yes! Then Jared held him skin to skin. I kept him on my chest all night, much to the consternation of the baby’s nurse. She told me it would be best to let him sleep in the bassinet. I told her it would be best for him to sleep with me, and if the hospital policy had issue with that, she could bring me a waiver of liability and I’d sign it. That was the last I heard about the bassinet. We snuggled and nursed until morning.

There’s a board book called “On the Night You Were Born”. The first time I read it, my eyes welled up with tears. “Never before in story or rhyme (not even once upon a time) has there ever been anyone like you, my friend. And there never will be, not ever again. Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.” Words never rang so true.

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Newborns and Napping

Guest Post: Melissa Perry from The Cradle CoachThe Cradle Coach Logo PNG copy 2

Even if you aren’t a routine oriented person by nature, the ability to teach your baby certain habits is crucial in working to establish good sleeping patterns. Babies thrive on routine. The reason for this: your child will learn and know what is expected from them, giving them a sense of security, and create an easier ability to fall asleep as their body’s are wanting to slow things down. If you put your baby down every day at the same time for a nap, more often then not they will become tired and fall asleep easily at that time. However, this doesn’t happen right away.

During the first six weeks of life, infants require so much sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an infant can sleep between 11 – 18 hours in a 24 hour period, with sleep periods lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours. This requirement might be confusing as you are trying to establish some sort of rhyme or rhythm in the day. It’s ok though! However they fall asleep, let them. Wherever they fall asleep, let them. Whenever they fall asleep, let them. Don’t be concerned if your infant is napping for only 45 minutes in their swing. There isn’t anything unhealthy about this at this stage. If your baby seems irritable during the day and is a catnapper, it might be beneficial to help lengthen those naps by moving her into a crib. You can use a shush pat, swaddle, and pacifier to see if you can give her a better quality nap. Here are some additional of our tips for creating the perfect sleep environment that is conducive to a good nap! But for the most part, let your infant eat and sleep as needed.

Once your baby is older than 6 weeks you can begin to establish regular nap times. Nap cycles aren’t truly defined for an infant until they are between four to six months old but you can begin working on establishing a daily routine based on their natural sleep cycles. At that time, generally speaking, a baby between 4 and 8 months often takes their first nap about 1.5 – 2 hours after they’re morning wake-up and sleep between one to two hours. About two hours after waking from their first nap, a second nap is required that can last one to two hours and finally a third nap is needed in the late afternoon for about an hour or so.

Helping your newborn develop good sleep habits takes time and a lot of patience. Baby steps work! Focus on the first goal of allowing your baby to sleep and feed as needed. Then when the time is right, begin working on establishing a routine. It’s so important for an overall healthy start to teach them how to sleep throughout the night! For additional advice, come visit us at

Sweet Dreams,

Melissa Perry

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What’s Your Story?

As a doula, I often have the honor of supporting women as they welcome their babies into the world.  Every birth story is unique and different from the one before and the one after.  There are 2 things though, that they all have in common, and that’s an immense amount of courage and strength.

Whether you choose to birth your baby at home, in a hospital, or at a birth center; I believe in you.  If you choose a cesarean section, to wait until spontaneous labor begins, or to schedule an induction; I support you.  Maybe you decided on an epidural, to birth in water, or to try for a VBAC; I applaud you.

As we near closer to Mother’s Day, we here at Coastal Doulas would love to honor all of the strong & courageous mothers in a special “Celebrate Motherhood” Blog Series.  We know it took strength to make the best decisions you could for you and your baby.  It doesn’t matter how or where you birthed your baby.  You have a story that’s worth telling, and we know that when you share your story, it will empower other moms as they birth their babies too.


Please submit your pregnancy and/or birth story to us at

Your stories will be shared on our Blog, Facebook, & Instagram pages during the week of May 1-7, 2016.  All submissions are due by April 25th.

We will let you know once we have received your story and will also let you know the day and time your story will be shared, so that you can share it with your friends and family.  If for any reason you prefer to have your story shared anonymously, please specify that to us at the time you submit your birth story.  Feel free to include any pictures you would like attached too.

I look forward to reading all of your courageous stories!

– Bonnie

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

From the time you see the two little lines show up on the stick, you are being inundated with decisions to make regarding you and your baby. These decisions continue all through pregnancy, as you near your due date, into labor & delivery, and after as you decide the best way to parent and care for your newborn.

All of the decisions can feel so overwhelming. You want to make the right decisions…but how do you know?

There is a wonderful acronym that you can use called B.R.A.I.N.. Whether you’re trying to create a birth plan, considering an induction or undecided about pain medication during labor; stop and use your B.R.A.I.N.

B – Benefits: What are the benefits of doing what is suggested?

R – Risks: What are the risks to me and my baby of doing what is suggested? Does this affect any of my other plans or desires?

A – Alternatives: Are there any other alternatives or options for me to consider?

I – Intuition: How does this decision make me feel? Am I at peace with moving forward? What decision makes me feel most peaceful?

N – Nothing: What happens if I decide to do nothing? What if I wait longer?

Click here for your own FREE  B.R.A.I.N. print out

Knowledge is powerful! Do not be afraid to ask questions and know your options before making decisions that affect you and your baby.

Here at Coastal Doulas of Palm Beach, we are invested in providing you with support, education and resources as you make important decisions for yourself and baby. Let us know if you’re interested in finding out how a doula can help you be fully informed and educated during pregnancy and childbirth, contact us today.

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Empowering & Positive Birth Experience

Birth starts with believing, and we believe in you!  We believe in your ability to make the very best decisions you can for you and your baby.  Coastal Doulas is here to provide physical & emotional support, encouragement, resources, and empowerment to help you achieve the positive birth experience you deeply desire.