birthED Owner Liz Hochman Inducted as FACCE



Congrats to our owner and lead teacher, Liz Hochman, on the honor of being inducted by Lamaze International into the Fellowship of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators.

This honor is bestowed upon professional colleagues that have made significant contributions to the field of childbirth education including promotion of the Lamaze fundamentals of Birth, research, advocacy, media and community leadership efforts. Additionally, individuals with the designation are committed to promoting and maintaining the highest standards in the field of Perinatal Education.


birthEDucated - Sleep Tips

Thank you to our Sleep Guru and birthED Teacher, Becky Bormann, for this great post. We know sleep is at the forefront of your minds - let us help.

With Baby Sleep Training being a multi-million dollar industry (1), it can be overwhelming to decipher what is the “right” way to approach sleep. What new parents realize pretty early on is that the tools needed to help your baby sleep are not a one size fits all method. Each family’s approach to sleep is different; what worked for your sister’s family or your best friend’s children, etc., may or may not match your family values and that is okay!

Meredith Westin Photography

Meredith Westin Photography

With so much information coming at you in parenting books and classes, on blogs and in parenting boards online, here are six tips to get you started:

  1. Don’t expect your baby to sleep through the night. Fact of the matter is, Only 16% of babies sleep through the night (defined as 5 consecutive hours) at 6 months of age (2.)

  2. Create a strategy around your health and wellbeing for nighttime parenting. It won’t feel like it in the moment, but you will survive this stage!

  3. Don’t believe the hype around sleep training! Sleep training doesn’t usually work long term (3.)

  4. Don’t put pillows, bumpers, etc. in baby’s crib.

  5. Do create a safe space for nighttime nursing.

  6. Don’t stress if things are different than you imagined or were told.

We’ll dig deeper into these six tips and cover so much more in our Gentle Sleep Education class on January 14th at BirthED. Please join us in preparation to get the best start possible with your baby!

1. Ockwell-Smith, S. (2016, January 17). The epidemic of baby sleep training. Retrieved January 1, 2019, from Sarah Okwell-Smith.

2. Sadler, S. Sleep: what is normal at six months? Prof Care Mother Child. 1994 Aug-Sep; 4(6): 166-7. PubMed PMID: 8680184

3. Hadfield, B. (2013). Sleep: A Brief History.  Retrieved January 1, 2019, from Dream With Me.

birthED Story - When Baby Can't Wait!

Thank you to guest author, Kelsie Zellar for this exciting birth story!

Photo Credit: 42nd Street Photography

Photo Credit: 42nd Street Photography

It was probably about half-way through my pregnancy that I started reading more, learning more, and asking questions. I have a friend that (at the time) had had both a hospital birth and an unmedicated waterbirth, and was in the midst of planning either a home or center birth for her third child. I frequently found myself going to her and asking what she knew or recommended or had experienced. She played a major role in some of my decision making – not because she wanted me to follow her ways, but because she wanted me to be informed.

Fast forward to our birth education classes. We decided to try birthED’s Breastfeeding and Newborn Care class (all because I randomly saw a sign for it posted at Baby Grand). We loved the teaching style and decided to go all in – we signed up for the Lamaze Class soon after. These classes changed things for us big time. We realized where our values were and how they compared to our provider’s. It wasn’t too far into our series of classes that I was begging Liz for help after class about which direction we should go next. At 30+ weeks of pregnancy, I switched my care from an OB to Willow Midwives.

As someone who is both hyper-aware of her feelings AND someone who struggles with change, this was one of the most difficult yet relieving decisions we had made.


My guess date for my baby was October 3. I was FULLY expecting to go past that date. When people asked me when I was due, my answer was often “early October.” I didn’t want my heart and mind set on a specific date, and I knew that first time mothers can often go well past their guess date.

So to say that I was surprised when my water broke (also NOT expecting that to happen first) at 1:45am on Sunday morning would be an understatement. I was only 37 weeks + 6 days… this wasn’t supposed to happen. I knew that baby would likely be fine – but when you have it in your mind that you’re going past your due date and not going to have a movie-worthy water-breaking moment, it comes as a bit of a shock. I woke up my husband with a nudge and said “babe.” He said, “huh?” to which I replied, “my water broke...”

I sat on our couch and called the midwife on call. I told her what had happened and she asked how I was doing... to which I promptly burst into tears and explained how surprised and nervous I was to know that this meant things were starting but that nothing was happening. I had no contractions yet and was intimidated knowing they were on their way. She told me to rest and fuel my body, and we made a plan to meet at Willow at 11am.

I must have fallen asleep… my husband, not so much. He was worried about things being in line for work that day (he works at a church) and having a little bit of the this-is-really-happening jitters. Since I was able to rest and he couldn’t, he ran into work extra early and I tried to sleep. Around 7:30 am I was starting to noticeably feel contractions – and he was on his way home.

There are many moments of my laboring that I can vividly remember and (so many) hours that I can’t quite put a finger on. I remember:

  • We made sure to eat breakfast – sausage and scrambled eggs.

  • Not being able to get comfortable – laying on the bed or the couch, walking around the kitchen and living room, being on hands and knees, using the yoga ball, etc. We tried comfort measures that we’d been taught, but I never wanted to stay in a position long enough to really try one.

  • We stayed in touch with Alicia Kornacker, our doula, but we hadn’t asked her to come over yet because we had no idea how long labor would take and it felt like there was a lot more intensity to come.

  • Before things were too intense I found a music station that I liked. It was a calming acoustic guitar station playing through our Bluetooth speaker… and that thing went It moved around the house with me, in and out of car rides with us, at the center, etc. Wherever I went, it was playing.

  • Back labor sucked. Right above my right hip. Baby was sunny side up and I felt it. But we were SO thankful that baby was head down.

  • Car rides during labor = terrible. When we went back and forth from the birth center (a 20-25 minute drive), I could never get out of that seat fast enough.

  • I drank water but refused pretty much all other foods.

We met the midwife at Willow as planned. It was the first time I was ever being checked in terms of effacement or dilation. This was VERY uncomfortable for me and one of the things I remember not enjoying the most. Turns out I was about 70% effaced and dilated about 2 cm. I remember feeling happy about the effacement – I knew this had to happen first, but disappointed that it was only 2 cm.

So the midwife sent us home to keep laboring in a familiar space. It was a lot of the same as before… I couldn’t get comfortable, I didn’t want to eat, and I hoped that I would progress soon.

Jonathan had been keeping in touch with both Willow and Alicia since I was in no mood or mindset to do it myself. Around 6 pm, we went back to Willow. We were feeling like things must have been progressing well based on my contractions… but I had only progressed from 2 cm to 3 cm and 70% to 90% effaced. This was SO discouraging to hear. I had been laboring all day and felt like that was nothing compared to how far I needed to get. At this point, Alicia was now at the birth center with us.

The ladies at Willow had also decided to admit me and start my IV for the antibiotic (GBS+). There was also a shift change - and I got the next midwife on call.

Photo Credit: Alicia Kornacker

Photo Credit: Alicia Kornacker

My doula, Alicia, gently suggested we try a few Spinning Babies moves to try and ease my back labor. This took a lot of effort and is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We did inversions and hip releases through a number of contractions. Before starting the inversions, I distinctly remember looking at Alicia taking a deep breath, and muttering, “How effective is this?” to which she replied, “it can be pretty darn effective!” (Spoiler alert: It was…!)

Photo Credit: Alicia Kornacker

Photo Credit: Alicia Kornacker

After all of that, I remember being on my side in the bed, clenching Jon’s shirt through each contraction, and thinking, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

Candace did another check to see where things were at. She said basically the same thing as Ashley had before… 90% and about 3 cm dilated. Now I really wasn’t sure if I could keep doing this. I was supposed to get to 100% and 10 cm… how on earth could I do that if I felt like I could barely do it now??

At this point we had a few options… basically we could wait around for a little longer and then leave or leave sooner and hopefully end up resting sooner in our home environment. It was already past 10 pm so we opted to head home then.

I was offered a sleep aid, Vistaril, which was like a strong Benadryl in hopes of helping me rest. I took half of the dose there before leaving and half once we got home.      

So… we left the birth center and headed home! Another uncomfortable ride… but a little different. I was feeling like a had to go to the bathroom (red flag!) and couldn’t. I never even thought to tell Candace, Grace, or Alicia this. On the way home I was telling Jonathan how miserable I felt because I felt like I had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t at all. Since we were going home, I figured I could just try until something happened and then I would be more comfortable.

Around 11 pm...

My husband started getting concerned with the way I was complaining combined with the way I couldn't get comfortable. Sitting, laying, standing, nothing helped. I felt like a restless animal.

Jonathan had me try to lay down on the couch, but I was SO uncomfortable feeling like I had to go to the bathroom that I could barely sit down (still did not occur to us that this could be my body trying to push). I laid down and about 30 seconds later popped right back up and said, “this isn’t going to work.”

At this point Jonathan is getting pretty uneasy.

He called the midwife and tried to explain how I was feeling.

She said that it sounded like normal feelings people have and that it was probably just the baby progressing/moving downward (after all, I had JUST left the center less than an hour before and I had only been at 3 cm – it wasn’t likely time for the baby to come out yet).

Jon hung up.

I said, “I feel like I’m hurting myself!” – We called back within 5 minutes.

After a few more descriptions of my discomfort Candace said, "Okay, well just reach down and tell me what you feel." To which I responded, "Uhh, that's baby's head!"

And thus begins the rush to the birth center. Mind you, it’s about 20 minutes away.

My husband to the midwife: "Stay on the phone, we're coming! We're on our way!"

My internal (and quickly fleeting) thoughts: "We're doing this?! Why aren't we calling 911?"

The midwife is on speaker-phone, my husband is driving, and I'm in the passenger seat.

Real talk: I'm wearing a tank top, disposable underwear, and a large blanket. When we left the house in a hurry, my husband said, "No time for shoes, no time for pants!"

The midwife is trying to get me to take short little breaths in an effort NOT to push.

I'm trying. It's really not working. My husband is trying to help model the breathing - I'm terrified he is going to pass out. (I also refuse to look at the speedometer!)

Every time my breathing pauses, my husband, says, "No, no, no, Kelsie." We both know that my body is taking over at this point and I can't help or prevent what is happening.

At some point, I mutter, "The head is coming out." This cues the midwife to start coaching me through instead of against it.

Baby’s head comes out, (for some reason I remember to check for the cord before anyone could even ask,) the shoulders are out, the legs. The baby is on my chest and crying. My husband is teary. I'm remarkably calm. And we're still driving down the road! Our baby was born about 5 minutes from our destination,… so naturally, we kept going.

We still don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl – it was too dark to see!

The midwives met us at the door, wheel chair waiting. Lucky for us, the placenta was delivered at the birth center, and our car was spared from any evidence of a birth. They asked Jon if he wanted to cut the cord - far too full of adrenaline, he said, "I'd love to, but I can't" so I said, "I'll do it." And I did.

Photo Credit: Alicia Kornacker

Photo Credit: Alicia Kornacker

Turns out… It’s a boy! While we sat in the birth center bed both full of adrenaline and extremely tired, we decided to commemorate the experience by changing our son's middle name. Instead of Jordan Bennett, he was now Jordan Karr. After some food, early bonding moments, and a little rest, we left the birth center as a family of 3 (about 5:30 am).

There are so many things we realize as we look back on our experience…


We never thought to stop at either of the two hospitals that we passed on our way, we never thought to call an ambulance. We were on a mission from the moment we knew the baby was on his way out! There were no complications, so we have an amazing story to tell. If things had gone poorly, I know my outlook would be much different.

It is a unique story to tell... and some don’t really understand it. But it’s our story and it’s all that I know. It is easily the most empowering, womanly, and strong, (primal even,) thingthat I’ve ever felt.

Birth Prep or Obsession?

by: Anna Barlage, LMFT

Inspired by Ashley Johnson’s blog about the things she wished she had known about postpartum anxiety, I wanted to write a bit about what I wish I had known about anxiety during my first pregnancy.

So, full disclosure, I was a therapist while I was pregnant the first time, I had a fair bit of knowledge about mental health and assessed the needs of others frequently for pay, however I did not realize the full extent of the anxiety I was experiencing, until I had something else to compare it to, my pregnancy with my son (which came with a big dose of depression, but that’s another blog post). Hindsight is 20/20, and as I started to learn more about perinatal mental health it became much clearer to me how much I was impacted by anxiety.  

I remember having trouble relaxing during the day and lying awake at night with my mind racing. I obsessed over my birth too much, reading research study after research study about interventions and how to avoid them.  I remember cleaning obsessively and organized the nursery in a way which most would find ridiculous, but it was what felt right to me at the time, the way I knew to feel “okay” with everything that felt out of control with this whole growing-a-human thing.


I wish someone I trusted had said “Hey Anna, so I know you’re really into researching birth and all, but I think you’re good… this might be more about anxiety than birth prep.” Had I known now I would have set limits for myself on how often and how much I could read/ research/ plan, and I would have made myself see a therapist weekly while I was in my birth class to process all the shit I was learning and have someone call me out on how obsessed I was.

I wish someone had asked if I was having scary thoughts, like thoughts of something happening to myself or the baby, not because I wanted them to happen, but because I feared it so much my brain kept replaying it to try to protect me from it. Someone could have told me they had a name, intrusive thought, and that they are a common symptom of anxiety. I’d have reminded myself they weren’t my fault, and made me no more likely to hurt myself or my baby. What I needed to do was see them as a symptom, not an actual threat, and have less of a reaction to them.

I would practice self-compassion for how hard it all was, by saying things to myself like “you are doing the best you can,” and “anxiety is telling you things are not okay, what evidence do you have this is true? Answer- none.”

And I would tell the anxious me to label those intrusive thoughts when I got them (there are those stupid images again!”) sending the message to my brain they are simply thoughts, not truth or predictions, and then to focus my attention back on the moment I am in. I’d do more deep breathing, and use the 54321 technique that I teach so often now.

It’s a grounding skill, and it works wonders for anxiety.

It’s a grounding skill, and it works wonders for anxiety.

So although I can’t go back in time and help anxious Anna the way I wish I could, I find it so wonderful I can share the skills and insight I learned with others. If you’d like to talk more about your experience, or are interested to learn more about the ideas above, visit my website at for more about me, or to schedule your first session.

Birth Center - What's In The Name

A usual experience for me as a Lamaze Educator is beginning our class with introductions. We often hear from students about where they are birthing, who their chosen medical provider is, and when their estimated "guess date" is. 

Inevitably there are families that say "we are birthing at FamilyBaby Center" (psst. that's not a real place, just go with it). I find so often that pregnant people and families are confused by the smart marketing efforts of local hospitals and can sometimes be led to believe they are birthing in a Birth Center just because the name includes "Center" and "Birth".  So let's talk about WHAT makes a birth center a BIRTH CENTER and why you should care.

The definition of a Birth Center by The State of Minnesota: 

“Birth center” means a facility licensed for the primary purpose of performing low-risk deliveries that is not a hospital or licensed as part of a hospital and where births are planned to occur away from the mother’s usual residence following a low-risk pregnancy.

So what's the difference anyway and why should you care? 

If you're intention is to birth in a low risk setting, with waterbirth as an option, fully staffed by midwives and a care team that supports, acknowledges and believes in low-risk normal birth a hospital just isn't going to offer that. Yes, I know, there are some beautiful hospitals locally and nationally that offer a great location for low-risk birthing people with Midwives on staff. That's great! What we are getting at here is if you intend to birth at a Birth Center (free-standing, not in a hospital) then it's important to know the difference. 


Birth Center's do not use medical induction/augmentation methods.

If you are a low-risk birthing person planning an un-medicated birth, it's important to know that when you birth at a Birth Center pitocin or other drugs/synthetic hormones will not be used to start or alter your labor.


Birth Center's do NOT do continuous monitoring.

The research tells us that intermittent monitoring of normal low risk births is actually a very safe and evidenced based option! Don't believe me, head over to Evidenced Based Birth and read about it HERE and HERE


The entire staff of a Birth Center is comfortable with the usual 'un-medicated birth plan'.

Want to move around in labor? They want that too! Want to eat and drink during labor? They insist!  Want to have  delayed cord clamping, waterbirth, doula, partner catch the baby, family involved, photographer on site? Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. 


Birthing at a Birth Center IS safe for low-risk pregnant people!

The AABC (American Association of Birth Centers) has some very good information on this topic in their National Birth Center Study.

One of the most important findings of this study was that more than 9 out of 10 women (94%) who entered labor planning a birth center birth achieved a vaginal birth.
— Evidence Confirms Birth Centers Provide Top-Notch Care by Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN

Other than nitrous-oxide during labor, there are no epidurals or narcotics for pain management at Birth Centers.

For some people who are planning an un-medicated birth having this pain medications readily available is too tempting and they want those pain meds to be in another building completely so if they decide they want it, they have to take some effort to go get it. This isn't for everyone, but if your intention is an un-medicated birth it can be a great way to set yourself to GET that un-medicated birth you're preparing for.

When you surround yourself with people who typically practice the type of birth you're intending to have, you are setting yourself up for success and if something should go off course - you have a team of people who know what to do next. 



Bottom line... Birth Center's aren't for everyone, but they might just be for YOU!

Special Thank You to

The Birthing Family

Willow Birth Center

Emily Isakson Photography

Local Birth Centers...

Meet Anna Barlage LMFT // Mental Health Therapist + Group Leader

1. What made you want to be a Mental Health Professional and how long have you been practicing? 

Anna Barlage LMFT

Anna Barlage LMFT

I have been working in the mental health field for about 10 years, with my first job being a overnight staff member at a long term residence for adult with serious and persistent mental illness while i was in college. I knew I wanted to be in a helping role since elementary school and even wrote that I wanted to be a psychologist in my 6th grade autobiography! My school counselor was immensely supportive during my parents divorce so I credit her for inspiring me. once it was time to choose a graduate program I was drawn to Marriage and family Therapy because of its emphasis on how to treat people with consideration for the system(s) they live in, since I know the people in my life have been immensely important to my wellbeing. 

2. Who are your favorite clients? 

This is a really hard one because I have worked in many different areas of mental health care, and have found I like parts about all of them. That being said, I would say my favorite two areas of mental health are working with those struggling with anxiety and perinatal mental health. Anxiety can be such a life altering and scary experience, so when I get to watch the transformation of seeing people get back to feeling like themselves again its pretty amazing. 

3. Is there anything else you do professionally outside of Mental Health work? 

No- but I am really good at cleaning!

4. What is the number one thing you wish for all of your clients? 

Peace.  One of my favorite quotes captures it perfectly:  Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart. (I just wish I knew who wrote it!)

5. If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life what would it be? 

Brunch- eggs with some veggies and cheese, bacon, french toast, maybe some hash browns. You can cover all the food groups with a good brunch. Oh and coffee, lots of coffee!

6. If you got a whole day to yourself and you could be anywhere in the world, what would you be doing and with who? 

I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, so I would go there, to some beautiful beach with my kids and husband and just play, eat some good food and soak in their joy.

Therapy sessions available Thursday evenings 5-8pm and Saturday mornings 8-12. Mother to Mother group Saturday mornings at 10:30am. 

Meet Molly Mikacevich // Massage Therapist


1. What made you want to be a Massage Therapist and how long have you been practicing? 

Massage Therapy and Bodywork are great ways to combine my fascination of anatomy and physiology and love of helping people.  I feel honored to be a part a client's journey towards health and wellness.  I have been practicing for almost 15 years.  

2. Who are your favorite clients? 

I feel incredibly grateful to be able to work with all types of clients.  I really enjoy working with people who are pregnant and postpartum and other care takers such as: nurses, midwives, doulas, teachers, parents,and other body workers.


3. Is there anything else you do professionally outside of Massage work? 

I am also trained as a Birth and Postpartum Doula and take on a limited number of those types of clients.

4. If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life what would it be? 

 I am a sugar addict, so if nutrition wasn't a concern, I would eat candy for the rest of my life. 

5. If you got a whole day to yourself and you could be anywhere in the world, what would you be doing and with who? 

 I would be on the beach in Costa Rica or Madeline Island with my family.

Massage Hours: Tuesdays/Wednesdays 10-7pm (if needs arise outside these hours please contact us)

birthEDucated - When the plan is "No"

It's a familiar conversation that comes up when my students are developing their birth plans.  I point to their dream birth choices that they have laid out in front of them and ask them how their current birth place and provider practices are different than the dream items they have selected. 

When the conversation begins to ebb and flow into "well, my provider doesn't do waterbirth, but..." or "my provider said they want to induce me at 39 weeks", or "my provider says that their practice monitors continuously and I can't eat and drink in labor", I gently ask more questions. 

Any good Childbirth Educator will tell you, that we don't care how you birth. I'm not being flippant or rude when I say this. What I mean is, I have already birthED my babies. My babies came into this world the way that they did because of who I am as a unique individual. I'm not interested in helping you have MY births. They aren't what is right for you. I am, however, VERY INTERESTED, in helping you align your values with your provider so that you can have the birth that matches YOU best. 

My good friend Amber Bastian always used to say, "Don't go to a Chinese restaurant if you're really looking for Italian food".  They are likely to be able to whip up some delicious noodles and sauce, but it's not going to be the Spaghetti and Meatballs you're after.  So what the hell does that have to do with birth?

When you line out your dream birth and then select a provider that doesn't customarily practice those elements on a routine basis. You are inevitably making a plan to say "NO" in labor. This isn't a workable plan for a multitude of reasons - but let's take a closer look with a good ol' TOP 5!

Top 5 reasons that the plan of saying "NO" in labor, is not the best approach. 


Yea yea, I know somebody is gonna get up in my grill about this one, but hey hear me out. When you spend time in the part of your brain that is necessary to make decisions, arguments, and remember logical reasoning you are actually inhibiting yourself from progressing normally in labor with your natural hormones. Don't believe me? Check out Dr. Sarah Buckley's work on The Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing. 


I can't tell you how many times I have seen a strong, powerful, take no shit mama in labor become a sweet obedient soul. We are all trying to do the right thing, PLUS you're going through some massive sensations in your body. If someone with a strong enough confident voice instructs you to do something, even the strongest of humans can be willing to do things they wouldn't normally do given the circumstances. 


Your dear partner, who has taken the classes with you, watched the documentaries, loves you dearly, is also NOW in the new and uncharted space of welcoming their child into the world. Now let's heap the role of "pay attention and fight" on to them when something comes up that is not in your Birth Preferences Letter. It's just not realistic that they will be able to know what is medically necessary at the time of birth and what simply is just a style preference of your particular care provider. 


If you are able to align your values with your care provider BEFORE birth you don't have to feel any of this yucky stuff in the first place! Just imagine with me... a birth where you feel excited to call your birth place/provider and tell them you're in labor. These places and people exist, and you're gonna work to go find them NOW (prenatally) instead of not trusting your provider in labor. If your labor takes on the twists and turns you can't predict at this point, you can at least feel a sense of full trust that they have your ultimate goals and values in mind. 


You've got this one chance at this birth to get it right and by "right" I don't mean some magical unicorn fairy dust birth necessarily (unless that's your jam, then by all means twinkle twinkle I'll be the first to grab the fairy dust). Don't wait til your 'next' birth to go to that Birth Center or try out that Midwife. Do it now and set yourself up for the birth you dream of. I trust you'll be able to roll with the twists and turns of what labor and birth gives you - you're smart and pretty kick-ass. 

Meredith Westin Photography

Meredith Westin Photography

birthEDucated - The Ultimate Postpartum List

Erin&Dan Pregnancy.jpg

I love smart people. Smart people are the coolest. I had a super smart person take my class and they came up with the ultimate postpartum list - Meet Erin and her husband Dan!

Erin is a project manager by day and is used to being an epic planner. When she was taking her birthED class she asked a lot of smart questions and built the most amazing list of things needed after her baby Eleanor was born. She graciously shared her list with all of YOU! So here goes...



The ULTIMATE Postpartum List!

Hospital Birth - Helpful Items:

Rachel Farganis Photography. 

Rachel Farganis Photography. 

  • Cooler with perishable items (string cheese, beverages, yogurt, fruit)
  • Big bag of granola bars, candy, nuts, snacks
  • Slippers (for both of YOU!)
  • Comfy clothes + Sweatpants for BOTH of you (multiple sets, because postpartum is SWEATY and birth is well... birth)
  • Essential oils you like for the bath or just to smell
  • Blanket from home
  • Spray for your bottom! I like Motherlove Organic Sitz Bath Spray and if somebody is wants to treat you, or you want to really pamper - go for the Motherlove Nurturing Life Gift Box
  • IF INDUCTION: Eye Mask, ear plugs, and a big sweatshirt or cardigan that your monitors will fit under while you sleep. 

Post Baby - Helpful Items

Breastfeeding and Self Care - Helpful Items

  • Multiple nursing bras - milk gets on EVERYTHING. Make sure you aren't using any wired bras, especially in the first month of breastfeeding. Milk needs to be able to flow freely and plugged ducts can be a problem when wires are involved. 

birthED Comfort Tips - Better Sleep while Pregnant

A common complaint I hear from students in class is that they are getting really shitty sleep during their pregnancy. Hips are aching, multiple trips to the bathroom, arms falling asleep, round ligament pain, and snoring are all to blame for the sleep disruptions my clients and students report to me.  I learned this cool sleep trick from a few really smart midwives and chiropractors in my local, Twin Cities, birthy scene.  Special thanks to Willow Midwives in Minneapolis for letting me use their gorgeous birth suite and a BIG congratulations to the mama in this video for having a beautiful baby BOY just this past week!

Want to learn more about sleep and body positioning in pregnancy? Check out my favorite go-to sources:


Mama Natural - Sleep Safely While Pregnant

Mamaligned - The Art of Alignment

Adrienne Caldwell - Twin Cities local brilliant bodyworker

Holly Suarez - Enlightened Wellness

No discussion on body positioning or fetal positioning in pregnancy is complete without mentioning Spinning Babies. I highly recommend spending time reading and absorbing Gail Tully's ideas.

The video and tips offered are not a medical recommendation, but are offered for informational purposes only. Doulas and Childbirth Educators are not medical care providers and you should consult with your physician or midwife on any positioning or other interventions before attempting.

birthEDucated - Why You Don't Want a 12 Hour Childbirth Education - But You Need One

I get it... I've been there. I too thought a full Childbirth Education Class over multiple weeks was overkill. I even remember price shopping and eventually chose the cheapest, least amount of effort class that was through the hospital system I was birthing at. Let me tell you, I chose that class for all the wrong reasons, and you know what I learned? I learned how to be a good patient and my husband learned how to give me a hand massage. I used neither of those things in labor.  I can count zero times I've used a hand massage as the method to help a woman have an un-medicated OR medicated birth as a doula. Yes, yes... I know, I hear you, one person who is now going to tell me the hand-massage is the "THING" that got you through. Glad it worked! Onward... ;)

I know you don't want to waste 4 weeks in your childbirth education class giving up all those juicy weekends or weeknights when you could be creating that nursery, enjoying a baby shower, or taking long walks around Lake Harriet. I understand! We can meet on the patio for drinks and apps after class!

But there are some really great things about putting in the time and effort into a multi-week Childbirth Education course. Plus, who doesn't love a good solid Top 5 list...

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1. You need time to process!  

Its important that you spend the car ride home, and the days in between your classes processing, researching, reading, and asking questions. The mama who shows up on day one of my class is almost never the same human I encounter leaving my class on the last day. There is a process, just as in birth, that needs to happen for the information to be fully absorbed. 

2. You can't learn everything you need to know to prepare in 4 hours.

Its just not possible! I've taught the quickie classes, and ALWAYS get handfuls of evaluations saying they wish they had 5 more hours for more time together. 

3. You don't know what you don't know.  

Yes, you can tell me on class one all you care about is comfort measures and normal stages of labor, but as an experienced doula and educator I know you need more. I know you need to hear about Meds and Interventions. Not because think you're going to use them, but because if you're giving birth in the hospital you're bound to at least encounter the conversation.  It's quite rare to have a completely hands off no Meds or Interventions birth in a hospital. You should probably wrap your head around the suggestions and/or protocols you may encounter once you arrive. If you're birthing at home or in a birth center, then why not at least be armed with the information in case a transfer happens, if not for YOU and YOUR birth - you can be the friend who knows some helpful stuff when asked.

4. You're going to need to be more pregnant before you think of that next question.  

I can't tell you how many times I have had a couple show up on class one with a very succinct idea of what is going to go down at their birth and it isn't until class 3 when they are now 35 weeks that they discover their baby is breech or that they aren't clicking with their provider or that there is a hospital policy where they are birthing that is now throwing a wrench into what they were planning. 

5. Building community doesn't happen in your 4 hour class.

The couples who have taken my 12 hour classes over the past 5 years are still friends today. They have coffee, meet at yoga class, go for walks, use each other as sounding boards during those sleep deprived weeks/months. Ya'll need EACH OTHER. Build your village by spending time with each other and having a common experience of 3 to 4 weeks of class time together. You won't regret it. 

Oct '16 class grads with their babies!

Oct '16 class grads with their babies!

First birthday celebration with November 2015 babies.

First birthday celebration with November 2015 babies.

birthEDucated - When Things Don't Go As Planned

Photo Credit: Jen Badalamenti

Photo Credit: Jen Badalamenti

Meet Steph and Ethan! Aren't they cuties?  I had the pleasure of having this lovely couple in birthED class and got to know them quite well. Their doula and Chiropractor sent them my way (*ahem* Holly is awesome). They were funny, educated, and so connected. In the beginning of their pregnancy they started with an OB group but quickly realized that they felt more at home in a midwife practice. By the time they started my class they were already enjoying their prenatal care through a local hospital midwifery group.

As the weeks of class went on they went through all of the activities and discussions to help them write their birth preferences letter.  They ended up with their top three priorities.   You can see that they had a full menu of things that they dreamed and envisioned happening in their 'best birth scenario', but through the process of asking themselves 'what's REALLY important', they landed on the items in pink, with the items in purple squares as their TOP THREE most important elements. 

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Photo Credit: Ethan Wilensky-Lanford

Photo Credit: Ethan Wilensky-Lanford

As the final weeks of their pregnancy inched a long, Steph's blood pressure began elevating, which was noticed by her midwife at prenatal visits. They began keeping a close eye on it and did some extra testing to be sure that Steph wasn't heading in the direction of pre-eclampsia. After another week or so sure enough Steph's blood pressure and other tests were all pointing toward needing baby to be born sooner rather than later in order to keep Steph as healthy as possible and avoid pre-eclampsia. It was decided that an induction was the best plan of action.  The decision is not one that most families want to make. Most families I serve are first to say "I just don't want pitocin" or "I DO NOT want to be induced."  Of course not! I get it! 

The induction started with cervidil which was placed overnight, while Steph attempted to sleep in the hospital.  After 12-hours not much change was noted in the location, softness, or opening of her cervix. Her blood pressures continued to climb and her midwives were able to collaborate with OBs to come up with a recommendation for the best plan of action. It was recommended to Steph that she needed some magnesium and also pitocin to hopefully get this baby out vaginally before she got too sick. Luckily the collaboration allowed her to KEEP her midwife for the birth with the OBs off in the wings monitoring her rising blood pressure. 

This shift in her dream birth meant she had to say goodbye to a few other items on her  list like freedom of movement, due to continuous monitoring, IVs and the recommendation that she lie flat in the bed while on magnesium. She also lost access to the tub, which thankfully she got to use the day before to relax and she felt that she did get to experience some parts of labor with the help of hydrotherapy.  

When her doula arrived active labor was just picking up. She was feeling nauseous and stuck in the bed with the magnesium treatment for her ever climbing blood pressure. After about 2 hours of good strong labor, Steph decided due to her lack of ability to move from the magnesium protocol and the fact that she was getting increasingly stronger labor with a blood pressure that remained high she would opt for an epidural. Was this in the original plan? No! However, she was already quite dilated (her midwife guessed at least 6-7 cm) and she knew her top three goals were not solely about these elements, so she kept her eye on the goals and continued forward. 

Steph's labor was cruising along and her epidural was placed. Soon after her baby had a bit of deceleration in his heart rate. The team came in and quickly remedied the situation with body movement for Steph plus some meds in her IV.  Baby boy's heart rate had dropped because Steph's blood pressure had dropped (a side effect of an epidural), but came back up and we discovered that sure enough, she was 10cm and could begin pushing whenever she felt like it. Steph pushed for about 45 minutes and although she hadn't wanted to be on her back they were able to hold to their original dream of having her husband, Ethan, catch their baby boy with the support of the midwife (DING! Top 3!).  Her baby boy was placed immediately on her skin (DING DING! Top 3!)

Photo Credit: Liz Hochman

Photo Credit: Liz Hochman

We cannot PLAN for birth, but we CAN identify our values, educate ourselves, and hone in on our top goals for birth.  Her midwife team was able to identify when she was no longer low risk and because of their professional collaborations they were able to negotiate on her behalf to continue her care, while the OB team managed her pre-eclampsia and blood pressure. She kept her team, her location, AND her baby.

We cannot PLAN for birth to meet our vision perfectly, but we can absolutely PREPARE and MANIFEST our safest most satisfying birth. 

Photo Credit: Liz Hochman

Photo Credit: Liz Hochman

Photo Credit: Ethan Wilensky-Landford

Photo Credit: Ethan Wilensky-Landford

birthEDucated - 5 Tips For Creating an Amazing Birth Plan

If you've been around the internet at all during your pregnancy you've come across the controversial topic of birth plans.  I've read everything from "birth plans don't work" to "you NEED a birth plan!" So who are you to believe? Hopefully I can help you sort through the controversy to shed some light on the real impact and importance of birth planning. 

So what is a birth plan? 

A birth plan has commonly been a document written by the pregnant person and their partner to articulate their wishes for their birth.  It is a tool that has historically been used to communicate the 'plan' of the family in lieu of having a full discussion while doing the work of labor. 

The controversy lies in the belief, that some people hold, that we cannot plan for birth. Others believe that planning for birth will inevitably leave the birthing person feeling that they have somehow 'failed' if their plan does not come to fruition exactly as they laid out. 

Those in favor of birth plans see the document as a way for a woman in labor to have her voice and to clearly communicate her wishes for her birth. 

I have identified 5 ways in which planning for birth can make for an empowered and healthy experience for both Mom and Baby.

5 Tips for an Amazing Birth Plan

  1. DON'T write a birth plan! DO write a Birth Preferences Letter. Think of this letter as a way to communicate how you would prefer your labor to be assisted by your team. Fight the urge to make a bullet pointed list of "NO" statements and stick to the positive by envisioning your experience exactly as you would want it. Your letter should be no longer than 1 page in length and should be personal to you! The process of writing your preferences is about educating yourself and communicating your priorities to your care team- not about being closed off or rigid against things that may come up during your birth.
  2. DO bring a draft of your letter to a prenatal appointment with your care provider. This is a great way to start the discussion prenatally to discover whether or not your care provider shares the same philosophy surrounding birth as you do.  Think of the calm and comfort you will feel when your provider reads over your letter and says they commonly practice all of the elements of your preferences regularly. 
  3. DON'T bother fighting over elements of your preference letter. See this as your way to learn if you click with your care provider prior to birth instead of discovering you disagree on major elements of your birth during labor. You don't need to convince anyone and if you discover that you and your care provider differ in philosophy you can always make a change to a care provider who practices in a way that supports your birthing philosophy.
  4. DO include important personal elements at the top of your letter. Allergic to latex? Put it at the top! Have an intense fear of needles? Explain that at the beginning with instructions on how to best support you in case you do need an intervention that includes needles in your birth. Partner have a history of fainting? This is good information for your care team to know!
  5. DO Get attached! One of the reasons I encourage a 'birth preferences letter' is so the mama can visualize her most satisfying birth and really OWN it as an active member of the birth team. Your birth will inevitably have twists and turns you didn't plan on, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't envision and manifest your best case scenario! Dream big, think big, and then adapt and sway with the winds like the strong capable mother that you already are and that you will be. 

birthED Story - A Dad's Perspective

Thank you to John, Kate, and baby Lucy for the gift of their story! Do you have a birth story to share? Email it to us!

I’m a second-time dad, but my wife Kate is a first-time mom. Twenty years ago, I witnessed the birth of my first child, but before our daughter Lucy was born, Kate had only witnessed the highly dramatic active labor scenes in movies and TV where the wife tells her husband she hates him. Like I said, though, I “witnessed” the birth of my first child. I was in the room but I wasn’t a participant. So I was glad to attend Liz Hochman's class Kate and I signed up for.  I just wasn’t terribly enthusiastic. I had the idea that Lamaze is really crunchy. You know: essential oils, meditations on the sacral chakra, and drug-free labor and delivery. Lamaze, in my mind, still had the reputation for hours of annoying hoo-hee-hoo breathing practice.  

Oh how wrong I was! No sacral chakras were ever mentioned and although we covered breathing, I never heard a single hoo-hee-hoo, and breathing was only one of many coping methods we discussed. 


Because Liz taught our class, we had the benefit of up-to-date research. Liz likes research! And she's great at sharing it in a way that makes you go "Fascinating!" and never puts you to sleep. Where does the research say something helps? Where does it say it doesn’t help? Where does it say we don’t know, or it’s only anecdotal but it’s not hurting? Liz armed us with choices. And over time, Kate and I made some new choices. The day of the first class, we were part of an OB program and planned on using the full buffet of available pain management during  labor. By the day of the second class, we had switched to a midwife program, and Lucy was born without a single drug aside from the endorphins Kate’s own body produced. That’s not because Liz brainwashed us into thinking one way was better than another. Liz helped us to see what kind of birth plan lined up with what we hoped Lucy’s birth would be. 

That birth plan meant that when Lucy was born in May of 2017, we were ready to tell the midwives at Methodist that we wanted to spend as much of early labor as possible at home. It meant that I knew we had not entered active labor so long as Kate was still laughing at my jokes. It meant that, whenever Kate made sounds from a horror movie and said her contractions were feeling scary, I had the confidence to say, “None of the sounds that are coming out of your mouth are scaring me.” And – most importantly – it meant that I was much, much more than a supportive witness to Lucy’s birth. Kate delivered in a tub at Methodist. I planned to catch our baby and cut the cord. But then we learned I could be in the tub with Kate. I climbed in behind Kate, slipped my arms under hers, held her tight, and rested my head on her shoulder. I had a mom’s eye view. Somebody asked me if I still wanted to catch the baby and cut the cord. I said: “No, I’m exactly where I need to be.” When Lucy emerged from the water, Kate and I touched her at just about the same time. I was a critical participant in Lucy’s arrival. 

Lessons learned by the end of the course:

  1. We had the comprehensive guide to the birth of our baby – something you can’t order from Amazon because every baby and every mom and every birth is unique.
  2. We were prepared for what would happen during labor and ready to be flexible in case what we thought would happen didn’t go according to plan. 
  3. We understood that the real experts in the room are mom and baby. Mom’s body knows what to do. Baby knows what to do. So trust them!
  4. We knew the value of a doula. The doctors, midwives, and nurses in the room have important jobs to do. None of those jobs includes what a doula offers. 


It's been 9 years since I first heard that inner voice prompting me to follow the path of supporting women and families in their births as a doula and I'm so glad I listened. Every one of those first few steps on the scary path towards working for myself was supported and encouraged by the voices around me. They said; "keep going", "this is right", "this is the work you were meant to do". I now find myself at another crossroads and again my head and heart have been filled with the voices of so many.  

You have all been there cheering me on, just as I have said, "you can do this" when you faced challenges in your pregnancies, births, and breastfeeding relationships, you are now pushing me to break down the barriers of my own challenge.   Although the path is scary and the worry of, "what if I can't", seeps into those quiet moments, I am choosing to believe all of you and set one foot in front of the other as I navigate this new landscape. 

It is with great optimism and passion that I announce my new birth and breastfeeding education company, called birthED.

Before you think I'm doing this all on my own, I must tell you that this name, philosophy, and all the words that accompany it were created and imagined by a small group of intelligent, powerful, and badass women. It is to this group of women, that I am forever grateful. 

I am asking that you share the word, far and wide.  That you tell your friends and your sisters about these classes and the passion I have for supporting them on their unique journey. I promise to take the best of care in educating them with the constant goal of helping them identify their BEST birth.  You do not have to look, feel, or talk a certain way to feel welcomed in my educational space. You do not need to have a certain type of lifestyle, birth, medical provider, or plan to be embraced.  If you've taken my class, you already know, that it is YOUR journey, and I'm here to guide you

I look forward to continuing to serve women and families, watching them find their voice, their power, and their purpose. as they rise to meet their children. 

Giving credit is, and always will be, so important to me. In the spirit of gratitude, I would like to give credit to the amazing people who have supported me, who have brilliant minds, pure hearts, and genuine intention: 

Michael, Lilly, Lucy, Mom, Steve, Dad, Deb, Aly, Alicia K., Anne M., Angie B, Angie S., Ashley, Ariana, Beth H., Briehn, Bre, Brother Jon, Candace, Carlye R.,  Cheryl, Dani C, Danica, Dorothy, Emy, Emme, Emily E, Emily B., Erin C., Ellee, Holly S, Jackie M, Jessie, Jolynda, Judith, Julie, Jenn B., Kate E., Kate K, Kelly P, Kelsey S., Krista N., Linnea, Lynn, Liz F, Meghan, Mary N., Marion S-K, Mom, Melissa B., Meredith S., Marlena C., Natalie T., Olivia, Shanna, The Brit Sarah B, Sarah B-B, Sarah M, Sister Sarah P., Shannon D., Susan, Tiarr B.,Tara L.



Most importantly, to my friend, co-teacher, and doula through this experience,  Nicole Stecker, who calls me every day for a pep talk, shows up for no pay to help me write, strategize, and plan. I would not be doing any of this without her support and friendship. 

With Gratitude and Love, 

Liz Hochman CD(DONA), CLC, LCCE

Post Partum Herb Bath Recipe

I have cobbled together this recipe of postpartum bath herbs from several super smart women I have met in my time as a birth doula and childbirth educator. I feel strongly in giving credit to the minds and skills of other women so here's who the smarties are: Aly, Kate, Jess, Emme, and Julie

You can buy herbs online at places like Mountain Rose Herbs or locally in the Twin Cities at acupuncturists or Present Moment Book Store

Photo Credit: Danica Donnelly Photography

Photo Credit: Danica Donnelly Photography

Recipe: (1 oz each)

Comfrey Leaf
Comfrey Root
Shepard’s Purse
Uva Ursi
6 - 10 small muslin bags (online or in store)
Paper bag and plastic ziplock type bag


  1. Toss all the herbs together in a large paper or plastic bag.

  2. (optional) Fill muslin bags with herbs til they are full and save remaining.

  3. Fill your largest stock pot with water and bring to a boil

  4. Toss the herb satchel or 1 cup of loose herbs in the water, turn off the heat, and cover to let steep overnight or for several hours.

  5. Squeeze out herb bag or strain loose herbs out and put into a Ziploc resealable bag in the fridge for one more use. 

  6. Pour tincture into a pitcher, mason jar, or large bucket and keep refrigerated. 

How do use:

  • Fill half your peri-bottle with tincture and the rest with water for more comfortable urination.
  • Pour 2 cups of tincture in shallow hot water bath and soak two times daily for sitz bath. 

  • Wet a few pads with tincture and keep in the freezer until ready to use postpartum. Place inside hospital pad for cooling and healing. 

Other Awesome Postpartum Healing Strategies:



The RIGHT way to BIRTH

I am fascinated by birth stories. I suppose it comes with the territory when you are a Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator and all around birth junky. Women of all ages and stages open up to me on park benches, at the post office, in the preschool pick up line, and especially across the coffee shop table.   


Photo Credit: Hannah Parker

Photo Credit: Hannah Parker

Usually the stories begin unfolding when they realize that I work in birth. I become a safe space to retell the journey that brought them their child(ren). There will be caveats spattered throughout the telling of the tale, little side notes of “my body didn’t go into labor,” “my water wouldn’t break,” or “I had to be induced.” I nod and fully engage in their story, awaiting the next twist or turn, learning their path, offering possible ideas when they get stuck on a name of a medication or intervention that was influential in their outcome or marveling at their strength and power when they made difficult choices or conquered their biggest challenge.   

Photo Credit: Liz Hochman

Photo Credit: Liz Hochman

Often the stories can take u-turns into the space of trauma, sadness, guilt, or shame. When the story begins to wind its way through to the darkness, women will often end quickly with “But they’re healthy and that’s all that matters.” And that’s where I stop. Is a healthy baby all we can ask for? Is that really all that matters when all is said and done? I’ve read countless articles and posts where the “birth experience” was torn down as simply a selfish quest of the birthing mother. Saying that the only thing guiding these women was the experience and that none of the plans, choices, or preparation had anything to do with what was best for the baby. Is there really a right way to give birth? Yes. The right way to birth, is the way that matches your values, takes account for your health history, and leaves you feeling empowered, strong, and capable when you are holding your baby. Notice that I did not say the right way to birth is a mode or method of delivery.    First I should explain my terminology. I don’t know what “natural birth” even means. I don’t use the phrase personally, since it describes such a gray space. Instead I use the phrases:

Medicated Birth

Un-medicated Birth

Surgical Birth

I consider a medicated birth to be a birth in which the baby came through the vaginal canal and used pharmacological methods to either ease the sensations of labor or to make the birth proceed. Un-medicated birth describes a birth where the woman used no pharmacological methods during her vaginal birth. Surgical birth describes a birth where the mother birthed her child in an operating room through an incision in her uterus. 

Do you know what all these births have in common? They are births. No one is better or worse than the next. Each one describes a woman, giving birth, to a child.  So why does it matter? It matters if the woman feels like it matters. One cannot whisk away a woman’s story with a quick, “All that matters is a healthy baby,” and a flick of the hand. When we say that to women we are in turn telling them “You don’t matter.” Can we not demand more from our current birthing practices in this country? Can we not say HEY! It DOES matter! It matters if this woman feels safe, supported, encouraged, and strong when she claims her baby and holds them in their arms for the first time.    The point of this whole thing is not “natural vs. unnatural,” labeling women as some how less than if they experienced something different than the beautiful images or stories that we read. Instead it’s an empowered caring thoughtfully supported birth vs one where a woman was voiceless coerced and dismissed. You can see how both an un-medicated birth and a surgical birth could be described as either one depending on the birth team and how the woman was cared for.

When you fear birth, because you know birth

As a birth doula, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat across the table from a mama with a belly full of baby and eyes full of tears. I can hear her breath dragging into her body, and its almost like she holds it there for a minute, before she exhales her next whispered word.

At nearly every meeting I have I sit across the table with my cup of warm coffee in my hand, I nod, I soothe, and sometimes I even cry. I don’t do this because I was ‘trained’ to react this way. I do this, because I feel these mamas, I know where they are, because I have been there too.

They are afraid.

These sweet mamas don’t fear the unknown of what birth will feel like or do to their body or mind. These mamas are the ones who have birthed before and are facing it again without the gift of the unknown.

Once you have felt the rocking waves of labor coursing through your body, you never forget it. Even if you had a magical, empowering birthing experience the first time, the all-consuming intensity of the experience cannot be denied. It embeds itself not only into your mind, but every fiber of your being. Sometimes if you close your eyes, you can be in that moment again and feel the waves pounding against the shore of your body and mind. It’s so real you can taste it, smell it, touch it.


So how do you move past this full-body knowing of what your body will do … MUST do … again, to bring forth life? For some, the past birth is described as pain. They think I’m absolutely off my rocker if I suggest that perhaps ‘pain’ is not the right word for these pulsing sensations of bringing forth a baby. “No, it was definitely PAIN!” some reply.

What is pain? In the English language, pain is a sensation of the body that is defined as suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury. Bringing a baby to the world is certainly not an illness or an injury — so by definition this word does not suit birthing.  

This sensation that birthing can bring to our bodies has been described in many different ways to me. I have heard it called: pressure, cramping, tightening, squeezing, intense, and heavy, to name a few. I always ask my doula clients after their first experience with birth what they would call the sensations they felt. I have only heard the word ‘pain’ a few times. It’s almost always associated with some other adrenaline element.

“When I wasn’t getting a break in transition and I was afraid it was going to last so much longer, then I felt pain.”

“Only when I was driving in the car and trying to sit in the seat, then it felt like pain.”

“When I had to lay on my back for the XYZ, that was painful.”

Almost always the pain is associated with FEAR. Usually the body senses something new (pressure, intensity, surging) and when the mind translates that new sensation to FEAR, then we have PAIN enter the picture. Other times its an external thing that causes the uptick in the ‘pain’ quotient. Riding in the car, laying on the back or being restricted to any one position, a cervical check, or other procedure are just a few.

Grantly Dick-Read was an obstetrician in the 1800’s, and the first to suggest that maybe it’s the fear that’s causing the description of pain, instead of the bodily sensations themselves. He was the first to introduce the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle. The theory suggests that when a woman is fearful of what is happening or about to happen to her body, that her body responds by flooding with adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone), which causes her to tense up. When a woman tenses or becomes rigid in labor, she almost always reports feeling pain. We must break down that cycle, by providing education and support, to assure mama that all is normal and right with her body and her process.

Yes, it’s true that birth can be painful and you certainly aren’t doing it wrong or bad if that’s the way you describe it. It is a personal experience and we all describe all sorts of things differently. I personally describe running as pain, but my best friend says it feels good! Having felt both versions in my own body, pain during the first birth, intense pressure during the second, I certainly can understand that both can, and do, exist.

If pain was part of your first birth experience, how can you work through your fear of that pain to make space for your next birthing experience, to let it unfold as its own story? 

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Hire a doula to help with comfort measures, encouragement and those all important words “this is normal”
  • Replace the word “pain” with words like “intensity” or “pressure” (this one takes practice!)
  • Make sure you decline the pain scale in your birth plan and instead request a “coping scale”
  • Open your mind to the possibility of pleasure during parts of (or all of!) your birth. Read Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth and Orgasmic Birth. Watch Orgasmic Birth, and subscribe to Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s blog for inspiration and tips
  • Listen to relaxation CDs designed for pregnancy and birthing (even if you’re not practicing hypnosis for birth, the relaxation CDs are great for anyone!)
  • Prenatal exercise, yoga, meditation, and finding a good therapist to talk through your first birth

I cannot offer any magical method or trick. I do not have a crystal ball to tell you how it will go, how long it will last, or what it will feel like. The twists and turns of your birth are, as always, yet to be discovered.

The one absolute promise I have for you as you embark on this next birth is …


You are a different woman, your body has new knowledge, as does your mind and spirit.  I refuse to take the fear away with a flick of my wrist and quick answer. The truth is I cannot take the fear away, I can only shed light on the possibility that this can be different.

That THIS birth can be a strong, intense, sensation that has value and purpose.

Fill your body with the breath of knowing.

Knowing that you can and WILL do this.

Embrace that knowing and transform it into wisdom.

You can do this.