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Bellymama Midwifery is a traditional midwifery practice offering a variety of services during the prenatal, birth and postpartum period. I provide comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care, offer home, birth center, and water birth, as well as VBAC. I also offer a variety of specialty services including-blessing ways, belly masks, belly dance for birthing, postpartum steam bath, placenta encapsulation, and closing of the bones. For more detailed information about these services see below. Se habla espanol.
The purpose of this visit is to provide information regarding proper diet, nutrition, and exercise which can be initiated before becoming pregnant in order to get the body in the optimum condition to create and nourish a new life. Most women don’t think about making lifestyle changes before they get pregnant, but this is actually an ideal time to develop and maintain good habits. Proper nutrition and exercise before pregnancy will set a solid foundation for the developing fetus, as well as, increase your fertility. Certain nutritional supplements are important prior to pregnancy to ensure a healthy baby. In addition, you can learn how to follow your body’s cycle and try to conceive during your most fertile periods. If you are interested in choosing the sex of the baby, try the Chinese method. Link to Chinese Chart
Good prenatal care is an important part of having a healthy pregnancy. While ultimately prenatal care is the care a woman gives to herself during her pregnancy, visits with her midwife provide essential information, guidance, and appropriate monitoring. I block out an hour for each prenatal visit in order to allow time for physical measurements, such as weight and blood pressure, and address any pregnancy symptoms, emotional issues, questions and concerns. There is rarely a wait and you are never rushed through your appointment. This time allows for providing education on nutrition, exercise, and any upcoming lab work. Your baby’s growth, heartbeat and position are also monitored. At the initial visit a complete medical history is taken, basic blood work is done, information on nutrition is provided and you are given a diet diary to complete and bring back to the second visit to review.
Most lab work is done on site, but you are referred to various locations for ultrasounds or genetic testing. All lab work and tests are explained throughly and you may refuse any test that you are not comfortable with. Both you and your partner are encouraged to take an active role and to make informed choices in your care. It is the philosophy of Bellymama Midwifery that, once properly informed, you as the parents know what is right for yourself and your baby.
This is a rite of passage ceremony designed to honor the pregnant woman as she makes the transition into motherhood. We have so few rituals in our culture to honor the mother-to-be. Whereas the focus of a baby shower is on material gifts for the baby, the focus of the blessingway is spiritual gifts/blessings for the mother. Childbirth marks a sacred, life-changing event in a woman’s life and she needs and deserves recognition for the immense journey she is about to undertake. In this ceremony, which is rooted in Native American traditions, we recognize the ways in which the woman’s life will change, offer blessings for her and her baby, offer words of wisdom from other mothers, and provide a symbolic circle of support for the woman which she can draw upon during her birthing experience. The ceremony involves several traditional rituals (and a few of my own!) but can be changed and adapted to suit the needs of each particular woman. It has no particular religious affiliation and is generally for women only.
A bellymask is an exact replica of the pregnant torso. It is made of plaster gauze in a simple one-hour process and is lightweight and durable. It may be hung in your child’s nursery or anywhere else you would like. The process of making a bellymask is a way of celebrating and honoring the profound experience of creating human life, and it is great fun! It is a creative, unique way to honor pregnancy, fertility, motherhood, and the special union between mother and child. Revealing the wonder of pregnancy, a bellymask is also a gift to your child, a permanent reminder of the special time when mother and child were one. Bellymasks can be painted, made into collages, signed by friends, or otherwise decorated once they have been dried and finished.
Belly dance, originally a dance for women and by women, was used in ancient times to increase fertility and prepare the body for birth. The fertility of women’s bodies was very much linked to the fertility of the earth and dances were often done both for personal fertility and for the harvest. During labor it is said that women would undulate in a circle around the laboring mama to remind her that her contractions were like waves in the sea, best handled by surrendering to them and allowing their energy to flow through her body. Belly dance increases both strength and flexibility in the abdomen, pelvis, hips and entire body and it is great exercise! Enjoy your voluptuous shape and learn to swivel, shimmy, and undulate in ways that may help you during labor!
To check out a theatre show produced by Bellymama Midwifery, in which I danced at 36 weeks of pregnancy go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILadnRkfjWQ. Shakti Rising: Maya’s Labyrinth explores concepts of pregnancy, birth, loss, and motherhood inside of a supportive sisterhood.
Women tend to labor and birth best in a space where they feel safe, comfortable, supported, and private. For a growing number of women, this means at home or in a birth center. These environments offer several advantages over the conventional hospital setting.
As soon as the baby is born, he/she is placed on your belly and assessed from there. The newborn exam is done right there in the room and we explain things as we go, providing education as well as performing a comprehensive physical examination of your newborn. You are informed regarding the pro’s and con’s of prophylactic eye ointment and vitamin K for babies, and you make the final decision as to whether you want these medications administered to your baby or not.
In the hospital setting you:
Many people have this idea that a birth center is somehow safer than being at home because there are more personnel or more specialized equipment. This is a misperception. There is no real difference between home and birth center birth, except that you are either staying home to give birth or you are going somewhere else. There is nothing in the birth center that the midwife does not bring to the home. Midwives carry oxygen, resuscitation equipment, and anti-hemorrhagic medications to all births. So it is just a matter of personal preference whether you choose to birth in the home or birth center. If you birth in the birth center you stay only 4 hours after delivery, so many women prefer to just stay home so that when the birth is over they are already in their own bed!
Waterbirth offers several advantages, including increased relaxation for the mother and a gentler, smoother transition for the baby. Being immersed in warm water increases endorphin levels, allowing women greater relaxation and increasing their ability to cope with contractions. Contractions are generally reported to be less painful in the water and during the pushing stage the warm water helps the mother’s tissue stretch so that she doesn’t tear. Women who wish to labor and birth in water can do so in the home or in the birth center. The birth pool (which I provide) must be clean and the water temperature must be maintained at 98.6 or higher. Research to date shows that waterbirth is associated with shorter labor, reduced use of anesthesia, a lower incidence of episiotomy or tearing, and increased comfort for the mother with no increased risk of neonatal morbidity or mortality. For more information on waterbirth you can visit these sites:
VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean and is a safe option for most women. With the rising rate of cesareans in this country, and specifically in South Florida (an alarming 51% in Miami-Dade county!), many women are faced with the question of whether to try for a VBAC in a subsequent pregnancy. Bellymama Midwifery offers VBAC for women who have a low-transverse incision and encourages all women who’ve had a prior cesarean to educate themselves about the risks/benefits of VBAC vs. repeat cesarean. Cesarean section is a major surgery with increased risks both for mom and baby, including infection, hemorrhage, breathing problems, and prematurity. Having a cesarean also increases risks for life-threatening placental problems, fetal death and uterine rupture in future pregnancies. VBAC carries with it the small risk of uterine rupture (< 1%) and its consequences. Studies have shown that 80% of women who attempt VBAC have successful vaginal births with no harm to themselves or their babies.
The greatest factor in determining a successful VBAC is having a supportive provider and birth setting. Unfortunately there are few doctors that truly support VBAC. In addition, VBACs are not allowed in birth centers in the state of Florida, leaving hospital or home as the only available options.
Postpartum care includes care of mom and baby in the days and weeks following the birth. The midwife will come to your home 3 times in the first week following the birth. Follow up office visits will be done at 2 and 6 weeks after the birth. During postpartum visits the midwife will check on your bleeding, vital signs, uterus, breasts, emotional adjustment, nutrition and elimination as well as your baby’s vital signs, weight, color, cord, behavior, feeding and elimination patterns. We also make sure you are getting enough rest and your support system is adequate.
This is rooted in traditional Mayan midwifery care and involves a steam bath or “bano de vapor” of the womb on the day following the birth. The practice restores heat or “Chi” (life force) to the body, cleanses the womb and helps to expel clots, speeds healing of the perineum and aids postpartum recovery.
Breastmilk is the best possible food you can give to your baby. It supplies all the right nutrients, in the right amounts, at the right time of development, and it is always ready, at the right temperature, and available in a soft, appealing package. Bellymama Midwifery encourages all women to breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies receive only breastmilk for the first 6 months of life and continue breastfeeding a minimum of one year. As part of the postpartum care, the midwife provides breastfeeding information and support as well as referrals to lactation consultations when indicated. For more information on breastfeeding please (click here- go to breastfeeding info section)
As much as 80% of women experience the postpartum blues, which is largely caused by wildly fluctuating hormones in the immediate postpartum period. The placenta is packed with vitamins and minerals and contains your own natural hormones that are perfectly made for you, by you. Research shows that the placenta retains hormones. Reintroducing them to your system is believed to ease postpartum and menopausal hormonal fluctuations. Nearly every mammal will consume its placenta after its born. There are various theories as to why. While it would be pretty hard to convince most women to eat their placenta after birth, your baby’s placenta can be dehydrated and put into capsules to take during the postpartum period. These capsules are believed to contain your own natural hormones, balance your system, replenish depleted iron, give you more energy, decrease postpartum bleeding, help you have a happier postpartum period and hasten return of uterus to pre-pregnancy state. They have also been shown to increase milk production and they can be saved and used during menopause to help with that hormonal transition. To read more about benefits of placenta medicine go to http://placentabenefits.info/research.asp. If you choose to encapsulate your placenta, we will take your placenta after the birth and arrange for encapsulation.
Inspired by a Mexican practice of anointing, massaging and wrapping the mother in the Mayan tradition, this is done between 6-8 weeks postpartum. After giving birth women often feel physically, emotionally and even spiritually very open and vulnerable. Their whole being-muscles, bones, spirit and psyche have been stretched beyond previous limits to bring life into the world. This ceremony is designed not only to close the physical body (bones and joints) but also to restore equilibrium to the psychic and emotional body. As the mother has been a portal for carrying new life, she has walked the threshold between worlds and needs to grounded back into her body. My custom ceremony includes rocking and wrapping of the different joints of the body, aromatherapy, massage, Reiki, and blessings to each body part for the role it has played in carrying, birthing, and nurturing new life. This practice has been used to mark the transition from the period of rest after the birth to the return to work. It brings a lovely closure to the care of her midwife and is often the first time a woman has taken a moment for herself since giving birth.
This package was designed to honor and nurture the pregnant woman throughout the pregnancy and birth in into the postpartum period. Because women are literally sculpting our future generations, Bellymama Midwifery seeks to nourish and pamper the mother throughout her journey, knowing that the mothers emotional state can actually sculpt her baby’s brain! This package is separate from services listed above and is not covered by insurance. It includes the following services that have been previously described: