You're Not Strong Enough

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from  Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

 (this was written by me and published on a different website about 2.5 years ago, but was removed after the business closed. When I originally wrote this there was a comment that this article is saying that moms who use medications or have cesareans are somehow less of moms.  I want to let any of you who may feel that way know that my intent in this article is to be affirming and supportive of those women who have thought about or want to have an unmedicated childbirth, to strengthen them, NOT to tear down moms who don't want or were unable to have it.

Sometimes women need to choose a medicated birth, sometimes despite everything they do, their child must be born by cesarean.  I have the utmost respect and love for all women, no matter what their story is.  It also takes great strength to get through a difficult birth, especially when things don't go the way you had planned.  Those of you whose stories were these, you are warriors! May you know that your experiences have also helped you be the exact mother that your child needs.)


Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from  Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Today there is a lie that is running rampant in our society. Women everywhere are being told they're not strong enough.

You read that right.

From doctors to hospitals to friends and family, if you are of child bearing years or currently expecting, you will hear it everywhere:

"you're going to want that epidural."

"Do yourself a favor and get the epidural"

"there's no way you can do it without pain medicine."

"just get the epidural, there is not a prize for natural birth" 

The underlying message is clear, "you're not strong enough. You need to be rescued from the pain."

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from  Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

This probably isn't the first time someone has told you that you weren't good enough, able enough, knowledgeable enough, talented enough, strong enough, or enough of whatever it was you needed to accomplish something in your life.  Sometimes you may have listened to those voices outside of yourself, maybe more times than you'd like to admit. 

But at least one of those times you probably did it anyways. You listened to the voice inside of you saying you CAN do this. And you did it! It was more than likely a difficult road getting there, but it was worth it. Every time you got back up and kept going made you stronger. It's part of what made you who you are today. So it is with birth.

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from  Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

The truth is you ARE stronger than you think and you are made to do this. Not only can you do this, but doing this will prepare you for motherhood like nothing else can. Yes, birth can be difficult. Yes, birth, can be hard work, some of the hardest work you've ever done. Yes, it can be painful. Yes, it can push you further than you ever thought possible, and then beyond. Birth is also beautiful and amazing and rewarding and worth every bit of work you do to get there. It is only the first of many things in parenthood that take hard work, patience, and perseverance to succeed.

Being a parent will try you like nothing else you've ever experienced. You will have moments that you feel like you can't go another second, and moments that you wonder how you ever lived your life without this beautiful amazing little person that is your child, along with moments filled with so much love that you feel your heart could burst, often all of these in the same day.

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from  Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Don't buy into the lie. Birth is not something you need to be rescued from. In fact, when well meaning people try to rescue you, they unwittingly steal from you something most precious. Labor and birth are a gift. It is the opportunity to see how very strong you really are. It is the opportunity to work with your baby to accomplish something amazing. It is the chance to bond with your husband or significant other in a way that nothing else can duplicate. It is the chance to let your body do what it is made to do, and see it for the intricately designed work of art it is.

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from  Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Image provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from Bump 2 Baby and Beyond

Birth is not a scary, horrible thing. It is love, beauty, and work all rolled together. My hope is that if the people around you do not believe in you, that you will stand up for yourself and find others who will. That you will birth in a way that you are honored, and protected, able to birth on your own terms. That you can come to the other side of your birthing time and realize that the strength was in you all along. You are strong enough now and you will be then, too. It has always been in you.

Image provided by Professional photographer,  Karina Schuh

Image provided by Professional photographer, Karina Schuh

written by Liz Derry, CPM, LM

Labor and Birth images in this blog entry were provided by birth photographer/ doula Melissa Rodriguez from Bump 2 Baby and Beyond in Corpus Christi, Texas AND final image was provided by Professional photographer, Karina Schuh, from Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Hula Hooping in Labor ?!?

I recently wrote a blog entry on another website I am a part of:

You can read it in it's entirity at the above link.  Her is a brief excerpt: 

"Not all women will hula hoop or do anything like it in labor, but most women when supported by a caring midwife and in an environment they feel safe in will be able to be more relaxed and work with their body well, and even be able to enjoy  their labor.  Yes, it is possible to enjoy your labor and birth."

and an image from the post: 

hula hooping in late labor. image provided by Trish Motheral Photography out of McAllen

hula hooping in late labor. image provided by Trish Motheral Photography out of McAllen

and there is even a link to the video of this mom hula hooping in labor in that blog.  Enjoy!

Is the Fairy Tale Real? The Truth About Dads at Birth

by Liz Derry, CPM, LM

 (This post when first published online was originally titled "WHAT CAN A DAD DO? FATHERHOOD DURING LABOR, BIRTH, AND BEYOND". )

[an aside as I repost this, when this was originally written I had a few comments about these images and ideas presented being merely a fairy tale.  The truth is, that I see these type of images and behaviors between laboring couples more often than not.  When couples are well supported in their wishes and being watched over by a midwife they trust, it is amazing what happens.  I have also seen dads and moms connect and work together with love in well supported hospital births with a doula present.  Even the most reluctant dad when he feels safe and secure and when he sees that is wife needs him can be there for his wife.  Not all dads are the same.  They each have their own style of support.  This is perfect.  Each mom is different as well, and the father of her child is uniquely suited to help her. I will repost soon the post that talks about ways Dad can help support Mom.]

Today the majority of babies are born to moms and dads in hospitals. A large percentage of these moms will have epidurals. Many of these labors and births will involve mom laying in bed resting, watching tv, surfing the internet, giving the play by play on Facebook. All while Dad does the same. There is very often little interaction between mom and dad leading up to the birth of their baby, and the extent to which dad plays a part is often left to merely being the designated cord cutter.

It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, I truly believe it shouldn't be that way. Labor and birth should be a time of intimacy and love between mother and father that strengthens their bond and helps them enter parenthood closer than ever.  


It should be a time that husband can marvel at the strength and beauty of his amazing wife, and wife can feel safe in the warmth of her husbands arms. A time that is filled with whispered words of I love you, tender kisses, and deep embraces.

Labor is an opportunity for dad to trust his wife completely. A time to show this trust by not trying to fix her problems or take her pain away, but to walk through it with her. It is a time for him to be completely there for her, without distraction. It is a time for him to support her in ways that only he can.


Each mother and father are unique. Their relationship similar to that of others yet different in the details. Husband does not have to be someone different for his wife while she labors and births. In fact the very things she loves about him, the reasons that she has chosen him to walk beside her in life, are the things she most needs from him as she works hard to bring their child into their arms. What she needs more than anything else is to have him there for her 100%.


As they take this journey together, and come to the other side, with the birth of their child, their love for each other will be overflowing.

In that moment that they have transformed from husband and wife to mother and father, they will look at their new baby with wonderment and awe at what they have accomplished together.


When dad has been an integral part of the labor and birth of his baby, he can't help but want to play an active part in caring for his little one. With the renewed respect and admiration he has for his wife he can't help but look at her with a reverence that filters into their daily lives.

Labor and birth is not just about having a baby. Labor and birth is about making a family. It is about making a strong mother and father who trust each other completely, and will weather the storms of parenthood and life together no matter how strong the winds blow. 


People often ask why couples choose to give birth naturally without epidurals or other chemical pain relievers. They ask why couples choose to birth with midwives outside of the hospital at home or at birth centers.

If they truly understood what birth could be, if they saw the bonds that form, the love that grows, and the strength and beauty that blossoms out of unhindered birth between a mother and father, they would ask instead why doesn't everyone want to birth this way?


(all images in this blog post provided by Tiffani Cisneros with 

The Birth of Asher Anakin (written by his Mom, Tera), (an at Home Water Birth of an 11 pound baby)



It all started the night before the big day. I was thinking I might be in labor and texted my doula to tell her, she told me she wasn’t feeling well and didn’t think it would be wise to attend my birth if I were actually in labor, and that she had a backup for me.

I was immediately heartbroken and turned to my backup photographer who is also a doula and a friend, Shanna. The photographer I hired had an emergency and had to go out of town and that broke my heart too. I was telling her I couldn’tbreathe from crying so much and how I had been visualizing my birth and Meredith (doula) and Tiffani (photographer) had always been present. Shanna walked me through breathing, put my mind at ease and told me to use my Breathe essential oil to, yeah, you guessed it, BREATHE!

Thankfully it helped and I was calm enough to get to bed. I should add that I had been pretty confident about this birth and so very excited from the start, but started having little doubts creeping in. Thankfully my midwife, Liz Derry, talked to me days before to put all those fears to rest. She kept assuring me that everything will happen as it’s meant to and that she knew my birth would be amazing!

I woke up at 2:30 AM on December 14, 2013 feeling some stronger contractions. Still unsure that I might be in labor, I started timing contractions and discovered that they were coming three minutes and 30 seconds apart on average. I had been having contractions on and off for a couple weeks before the big day, so that’s why I was unsure. I woke up Travis, my husband, to let him know I was “feeling something.” Shortly after, I went to the restroom and had some bloody show and then I knew that this was it!



Around 3:30 AM I texted my midwife asking her to head on over. I called Meredith begging her to come. She said she had just woken up and suddenly felt better and then made sure that I was okay with her coming over even though she had previously felt ill. I was. While waiting on them to arrive I put out the birth affirmations that my doula and I had made, got some candles out, and put some clothes and makeup on (I had to get my mind off of everything-why not put some makeup on, right?).

Travis and I spent some alone time together and were so excited that the time had come and we were soon going to meet our new baby. Meredith walked in the door at 4:30 to find me laboring on my birth ball. At this point I was handling contractions very well and could still talk through them. She immediately gave me a big hug and started massaging me and guiding me through contractions. I had planned on us playing connect four during early labor for fun, so we sat down and played a couple rounds of the game. I won both rounds and Meredith teased me saying something about me having supernatural powers because I was in labor.

When I became unable to focus on the game anymore, we decided this was definitely active labor. During this time Travis was busy setting up the birth pool and getting last minute things ready. The air pump was pretty loud, but not loud enough to wake up my snoozing 2 year old, Zayne Rex. Meredith lit candles and placed them throughout the room and dimmed all the lights.


At this point I was laboring in our living room floor in front of the Christmas tree. The atmosphere in our home was so peaceful and warm. The scent of my favorite essential oil blend, Elevation was in the air and the candlelight mixed with the Christmas décor was so nice and cozy. I remember saying something like” I don’t know why I was so excited to do all of this” and Meredith reminded me that this is an amazing rite of passage and that soon I would be meeting my baby. Her encouraging words throughout labor always put me back on the right track.

My photographer, Shanna (who is also a doula) came over just after 5:00 and sat down in the floor with us. She started rubbing my feet while Meredith played with my hair and massaged my top half. Having both of them pampering me was amazing and I felt like I was having a spa day. We decided on a change of scenery and stepped outside in the backyard. The fresh, cool, crisp air felt so wonderful and the grass between my toes grounded me. We spent a few contractions outside with Meredith applying counter pressure to my back.


It was great being surrounded by people I felt safe and comfortable with, I could be myself, crack the jokes I wanted to, and just be free. I remember telling them in a very serious manner “I like it when there’s not a contraction” and they just laughed.

I started feeling a lot of pressure and needed to go to the bathroom, so back inside we went. It ended up just being a turd, not the baby, bummer. Then I decided I wanted to lie down and relax on the bed. I now realize that this was my body resting up before going through transition.

I got comfortable on my side with a pillow between my legs to leave my pelvis open. Meredith and Shanna began massaging me all over again. It was taking a lot of focus to get through each contraction which I am guessing my doula could see because her voice and words were able to take me to a comfortable and happy place inside, so happy I was smiling a lot and even laughing during active labor.

We had taken hypnobirthing class together and it really paid off. I had previously taken a Bradley method class with my first child which also helped. I started having more intense back labor and Meredith applied Deep Blue essential oil blend to my back while rubbing my lower back and hips. All along I just kept saying “I can do this, I got this, I am doing this!”


Liz walked in the bedroom door around 6:15. I was so relieved to see her. She got all set up and took my vitals, which all looked good. She listened to Asher’s heart rate and it was perfect too. Since my midwife was finally here, we had a little gift giving ceremony where I gave Liz and Meredith each an engraved necklace that symbolizes birth, one saying “midwife” and one saying “doula”. I wanted to give them something special that signifies the important role they played during my journey. I also wore a similar necklace during the birth that reads “support without fear”.


Afterwards, I got up from the bed and the pressure intensified. Liz was right there and had me hug her and she supported all of my weight. Her arms made me feel so safe and taken care of. I had no fear. I started feeling “poopy” again and Liz encouraged me to labor on the toilet through a few contractions.

This was awful. Laboring on the toilet was the most uncomfortablefeeling, but did help bring Asher down and helped me progress. I started saying things like, “I don’t want to do this anymore” as if I could stop it! The birth team knew I must be in transition. 


 I told Meredith that I needed some pain relief and so she and Liz suggested that it was time I get into the warm water in the birth pool. I was hesitant because I thought I was going to be in there forever and wanted to wait. All of a sudden I got this urge and I yelled out “I want to get in the pool now!!” and stripped down to my bra. As soon as I got into the pool, I felt immediate pain relief.


These feelings of relief were quickly followed by me feeling like a caged animal. My doula, photographer and husband were right there touching me, putting cold rags on me,wafting oils under my nose and giving me water, but they all felt very far away from me. A switch went off and I suddenly feltvery independent. I felt like it was all up to me, my body, and my baby at this point. Nobody was going to birth this baby but me.

Soon after I started to feel the urge to push; I started pushing at 7:25. I looked at Liz and said “I feel pushy” and she just smiled, nodded and said “uh huh, push when you feel like it.” At the exact moment that I started to push, we heard Zayne cry out from his crib and my mom and sister walked in the front door. Perfect timing!

My mom had Zayne and let me give him a kiss because for some reason that’s all I wanted to do while pushing his little brother out. It was better than what I was doing seconds before, slowly and harshly saying the F word repeatedly. Oops!


Zayne made it so sweet and must have given me a boost of oxytocin with that kiss because just a moment later at 7:37 AM, Asher Anakin Peeler was born. Daddy caught him and passed him between my legs and up into my waiting arms. I brought him in close to revel in all of his beauty. I was simply amazed to be holding my BIG, 11 pound 2 ounce baby so soon.


He came into the world so gently that he didn’t even cry. He automatically opened his eyes and saw me and his daddy smiling down at him. It was truly an AWE moment. My jaw dropped with amazement and my mind was flooded with thoughts. I was in shock that I just had such an easy birthing experience (yep, I was calling it easy minutes after it happened). It was fast, about 4 hours of labor, and I was astonished by his size and beauty.


I got out of the tub and walked over to my bed to deliver the placenta which was later encapsulated by my husband. We sat there and Zayne was so excited to kiss and get close to his little brother. I felt whole. I felt complete. I always thought that sounded cliché, but at that moment, I felt it. It was real. My baby was finally here, and everything went smoothly.


The ooh andahh’s were nonstop, and one of my favorite memories was the weigh in. I heard the gasps from everyone who saw the number that showed up on the scale and I couldn’t wait to hear it. My midwife was telling me that he was her biggest baby, her trophy baby! Eleven pounds and 2 ounces was mind blowing, but even more mind blowing to me was that I did not tear, like at all!!!


We went about our Saturday morning with much love and appreciation. I was surrounded by my family and the awesome birth team (including Becky who is a student midwife and showed up right after the birth) who got to experience such a glorious time while getting pictures of all those first precious moments. From the first latch, to our first herb bath, and our family cuddling on the bed, everything was simply perfect. Perfect! 


maternity image provided by tiffcphotography 

all other images provided by Shanna Wright Photography  


The Birth of Seraphina: A Soundbirth (Written by her Mom, Sandra)

     Two days before the birth of our daughter,(September 30th), Spirit was trying to send me messages, in the form of dragonflies. A lot of dragonflies flew through our yard and the meaning of dragonflies is that change and transformation is about to happen. I also had decided on a name for our baby that same day, which we had not known the gender. Seraphina, that is all I had decided on, no name if it was a boy. She knew and agreed and thus was ready to embark on her journey with us on earth.

Midwife Liz listening to baby's heartbeat with a handheld doppler.   Image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

Midwife Liz listening to baby's heartbeat with a handheld doppler.

Image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

        When my water broke on the 1st of October at 10 pm, I really felt the need of nesting and making sure my house was tip-top. But I did go to bed and slept very well until the early morning hour, arising with the sun, and feeling some mild contractions. Liz came by early to check on me and the little one that was about to enter this world. Around 4 pm I could feel that my contractions were different and I was called away, becoming less present during my contraction that were not mild anymore but a little stronger. Whapio states that the waves of contractions repeat with increasing intensity and frequency and the Mother is swept toward the Unknown. I was still very talkative in between my contractions but wanted peace during my contractions. I was ready to get into the birth pool and by this time, Shanna my doula had arrived and Shar, who played her crystal bowls next to me has had also arrived.


Shar plaing the crystal bowls

Shar plaing the crystal bowls

I entered the birth pool at 5:55 pm (the meaning of 555 is that a change in your life path has just occurred and it is time for you to change too) and heard the crystal bowls playing and immediately went into a meditative state. Sitting on the raised part in the pool, with my legs apart and a relaxed body. I wanted to travel this stage by myself and was breathing through each contraction while listening to the crystal bowls, helping me enter this other realm of the altered state. While traveling this journey by myself, and needing this peace, everyone in attendance was so calm as well; I did not even realize they were there. I felt as if I was the center of the day, until Seraphina arrived. It was so primal, like in a Native American tribe. I was surrounded by all the wise women and I was in the center, feeling safe. I felt a shift, I knew something changed. I opened my eyes and visualized the area in front of me.

Sandra relaxing through labor in the birth pool moments before Seraphina was born  image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

Sandra relaxing through labor in the birth pool moments before Seraphina was born

image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

I became aware of the shift, got on all four and then held on to the side of the birth pool. My doula at this point knew as well and put my hair up, stroked my shoulders. This was the most intense part of this whole journey, and at one point I wanted to yell out that I cannot do it anymore (I think I did yell out, unaware of what was said). But instead I remember all the toning I practiced during my pregnancy. I moaned and did not care! A woman should not care, as toning is so helpful during labor. The moaning really helped! I was so thankful for Shanna to have read my Mantra “I’m opening up in sweet surrender to this beautiful baby in my womb. I’m opening up in sweet surrender to this beautiful baby in my womb. I’m opening. I’m opening”.

I knew at this point, this is it, and knew baby is about to arrive. I was told to reach down and feel baby’s head; I did and felt her head. Had a contraction, I felt her head emerge and with another contraction I felt her body come out, at 6:20 pm. Instinctively, I turned to ‘Welcome’ our new baby. Pulled her up onto my chest and was relieved that this stage was over. Dad was right there and watched as his daughter entered this world.

moments after baby was born... "It's a girl!"  image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

moments after baby was born... "It's a girl!"

image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

I was speechless; when we found out she was a GIRL. The love hormone surrounded me and our new daughter and I was in so much LOVE with her. I sat there quietly for a few minutes, called my mother in Germany. Shar continued to play her crystal bowls and it was so beautiful. The boys came into the room to welcome there new sister. Tears of joy and awe filled the room, as they observed their sister and touched her.

big brothers meet baby sister for the first time  image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

big brothers meet baby sister for the first time

image provided by Shanna Wright Photography

The placenta was ready to be delivered. After the delivery of the placenta, I got out of the pool and our little family was sitting together in the corner of our tiny bed, in awe and in love. From here on Seraphina has been showered with pure LOVE only.

Some reflection on my birth. I truly believe that I was meant to search the web for Soundbirth and find Nicole Lloyd, who is the owner of Soundbirth, which is based in Australia. Even though she lives that far away, we still connected, talked on the phone and are friends on Facebook. As I had a traumatizing childhood, and I was afraid that I would not open up and relax enough to birth our baby, I really believe that Spirit has lead me to Nicole and through Nicole, who encouraged me to have someone there to play crystal bowls live. I know Shar and she was the first person to come to mind and I am so happy that she agreed, this was her first time playing her crystal bowls at a birth. She brought different kinds of bowls, and one of them was the sacral one. I know my sacral chakra had been blocked and I did not want this to be in the way of the birth. I was happy that she brought the sacral bowl. I believe wholeheartedly that it helped me open up and relax to the core.



How to make the best out of your hospital birth

Before the Hospital

  1. Do your homework.
    1.  Research the hospitals in the area and their common birth practices.  Do they have portable monitors for the laboring mother?  Do they have squat bars available for pushing? Do they have birth balls available?  What is the c-section rate?  How often do they use Pitocin or other medications to induce or augment labor?  Do they allow family members in the room for the labor and birth? Is there a limit to the number of family members. What is the nurse to patient ratio for the labor nurses. What is the experience of other people you know who have attempted a natural/ un-medicated childbirth
    2. Research your care provider.   How many other doctors are in his/her practice? What is the likelihood that he/she will be at your birth if you go into labor on your own? Are the other doctor(s) in the practice also friendly to natural childbirth options.  How does your doctor feel about natural childbirth? Will he/she allow mom to go into labor on her own, and how far past the due date will he allow her to go before talking about induction? How does your doctor feel about doulas?
    3. If possible, Hire a doula.  Local Corpus Christi doulas include:  Liz Derry with Bay Area Birth (361) 904-6868
    4. Avoid Induction if at all possible.  Ask your care provider early on in your pregnancy how far past your due date he/she is comfortable with you going.  It is important that he/she is supportive of your choice to let baby come when he/she is ready.  Remember, that even if the doctor is pushing for an induction, provided your baby is doing well, you still have the choice to refuse induction.  ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) describes post date pregnancy as beyond 42 weeks gestation.
    5. Labor at home as long as possible.  At home, Mom is able to move about freely, eat and drink to comfort, has only loved ones around, and is not restrained by tubes, wires and monitors.  Mom will be most comfortable laboring at home.  Labor at home until contractions are consistently 3 minutes apart (lasting 60 seconds or more) and starting to get a little closer, or, if you live 30 minutes or more away from the hospital, are consistently 3-4 min apart.  If mom starts showing other signs of transition, such as self-doubt, nausea/vomiting, head in to the hospital immediately.

After You Arrive At the Hospital

  1. Get the nurse on your side. Be nice to the nurse.  Ask her for her help.  Thank her for everything she does.  Praise her when she has done things well or gone out of her way.  Instead of saying things like: We want the baby with us at all times.  We want delayed cord clamping, etc.  Try saying: we were really hoping if everything is ok to keep baby in mom’s arms for the first hour after birth.  Could you talk to the other staff and help us make that happen? We have talked to our doctor ahead of time about delayed cord clamping, but were hoping you might be able to help us by reminding him prior to delivery that that is our desire?  We really want to have an un-medicated birth.  Anything you can do to help us with that would be wonderful!
  2. Get out of bed.  Even with the monitors on, you can typically do things like sit on a birth ball, stand or walk at the side of the bed, sit in a chair beside the bed, kneel in bed and lean over the edge or over the ball.
  3. Go to the bathroom frequently.  This gives you an opportunity to get out of bed more, and move around as much as possible. Ask the nurse to show you how to connect and disconnect the monitor to go to the bathroom and ask if it is ok if you do it yourself.
  4. Get permission to eat and drink from your doctor ahead of time if possible, and if not at least ask the nurse to get the ok for clear liquids while you are laboring.  You need them for energy.
  5. Ask for a heplock (a small plastic tube left in your vein and secured in place) for your IV instead of continuous IV fluids if at all possible.  This will give you more freedom of movement.