Anne Margolis transcript

Written by Julie Kelly

Nov. 11, 2015


Julie:    Hello and welcome to the Paleo Baby Podcast. I'm Julie Kelly. Today, I am joined by Anne Margolis. Anne Margolis is a homebirth midwife among very many other things. I'm not going to read her whole background because it would take up most of the podcast. Let's just say she's a very experienced and well-decorated midwife who has a fabulous practice in New York called Home Sweet Homebirth.

I followed her for a while on Instagram and on Facebook. I just really love the message that she sends out to the community of women and birth enthusiasts all over. So I'm really pleased to have her with me today. Hi, Anne. How are you?

Anne:    Hi. Great.

Julie:    Welcome.

Anne:    It's great to talk to you.

Julie:    You too. So not everyone will know this and I probably shouldn't even say it, but this is the second time we're recording together because the first time our sound got totally maxed up. So we're starting over. I feel actually pretty lucky to get to talk to you again and have this whole conversation over and see what else we can discover.

Now you practice homebirth midwifery but you've worked in a hospital setting and you've worked in the home. What kind of started this out for you? How did you decide you wanted to become a midwife? What kind of led you to becoming a homebirth midwife specifically?

Anne:    That's a great question. I think what started the actual decision to become a midwife was my work as a nurse in obstetrics and having my own first two babies on the unit where I worked. I think that's what started it. I was an OB nurse. I saw just a lot of complications and like disasters and problems that were caused by a lot of the interventions. It just seemed that we were making birth much more complicated and more risky.

My hands were tied as a nurse. With my first baby, I wasn't as informed as I am now. I was young. I was about 24-25. I thought I was well-prepared. I took Lamaze. I was having her on the unit with doctors that I worked with, with nurses that I worked with.

The first of birth was very traumatic. I was going into it thinking that I could just do it. I didn't realize the actual impact on my own labor, of being not allowed to eat, tied to the monitor on my back, not allowed to move, change positions and things like that. So it was not a surprise that I wasn't dilating fast enough.

I can look at it back now and look at it in a different way, but then I was really scared. The doctor kept coming in and doing an exam and sticking his hands up and saying, "You're still four. You're still four." He walked outside the room. He said, "We're going to hang Pit." He didn't even talk about that with me. The next thing you know the nurse comes in. These were my colleagues. I was young. I didn't know that I had a voice to speak up.

So they hung the Pitocin. I couldn't use the natural coping techniques that I learned because the intensity of Pitocin simulation of contractions is just too much especially having to stay still attached to these monitors. And then my daughter's heart rate bottomed down. They called for a stat emergency cesarean.

I was very active physically and dancing. Just the thought of being cut open and having major abdominal surgery -- and I've seen that as a nurse -- I was really scared of it. They called for the stat section. I was in the OR for over an hour waiting alone. Nobody was monitoring me or my baby. I was scared I was going to have a dead baby.

They called for an emergency cesarean in the hospital. An hour later the assistant surgeon hadn't come in to do the surgery. I don't know what. It must've been the epidural's spiritual effects or whatever, but I started pushing in that hour. It's unbelievable because most people who are that scared don't us labor well.

So I started pushing. There was a whole crisis. The doctor was screaming "Get me a vacuum." He cut this huge episiotomy. I was like petrified that my daughter was going to be dead or damaged. She's perfectly fine.


First of all, I said to my husband I'm never having any more kids. I really felt raped. I mean it was traumatic. Of course, I'm pregnant again two years later. I was still working as a nurse. I have not even heard of a home homebirth or midwife yet.

Now, I'm a multi, meaning I've delivered before, so my body knows just what to do. The same doctor, he goes out and he says, "The head is so high. Just call a section because the baby's posterior." He didn't even talk to me. I was a colleague. Now, I'm a midwife. I mean just get the mom up out of bed and on her hands and knees and maybe we -- you know what I mean. There are so many things that can be done but I didn't know that.

I voiced a lot of my frustrations just having my own two in this way. I asked him actually to turn the baby. He actually stuck his hand way up and turned the baby, and then I had her but it was a very painful experience. I was talking to some friends of mine who knew my frustrations with typical hospital routine obstetric care. She said, "You might want to speak to his friend of mine who's a midwife." I'm like "What's that." I was maybe 27.

I actually spoke with her. I went to midwifery school. It was like I came home. I was very fortunate to have out-of-hospital clinical experience because it's very hard as a midwife to get out-of-hospital experience. Most of the clinical training is in hospital. We had an awesome out-of-hospital freestanding birthing center, so I did a lot of clinical there but I still hadn't really heard of homebirth.

I felt much more that I resonated with the birth center sort of care because it was run by midwives and physiologic birth was considered normal and encouraged. I just resonated with that. I saw that it worked when everybody just left it alone and treated women with sensitivity and compassion. They had their babies. Not only did they have them safely the vast majority of times. The women felt so positive and empowered and they loved their birth experience for the most part. Whereas where I worked as an OB nurse, most of the women were either traumatized or very upset with their experience. I saw a lot more emergencies and disasters than I ever witnessed as a midwife, and I can still say that today.

I was pregnant with my third when I was in midwifery school. So I chose a midwife, a whole different route to give birth for my third and my fourth. I remember saying to the midwife the first time that I went to her, I said, "I'm in midwifery school now so I really believe in this but I'm not sure it's going to work with me. So I have to see that it's going to work with me for me to really be" -- I told her my experience. She said, "Oh, don't worry. You'll be fine." It was so healing. It was like night and day, just night and day, those two experiences.

When I graduated midwifery school I worked in a hospital setting which was a wonderful team of two obstetricians and six midwives. It's an ideal sort of model. It's kind of what they do in England. The midwives provide care for everybody even high risk and low risk as well because the doctors felt that the midwifery component of care was essential for all women.

They didn't really want to be bothered with anybody unless there was something that required medical or surgical expertise like someone who was -- they would manage someone who's an insulin-dependent diabetic. They would manage the insulin. They would come in and do a rare cesarean. We did vaginal breaches.

They really believe that women got better care. The vast majority who were normal, healthy pregnant women, midwifery was the best model of care for them because midwives have expertise in normal and helping healthy pregnant women throughout pregnancy birth and postpartum. And their expertise is complications and disease. They're surgeon. They wanted to reserve their specialty for that.


So it was a great, great team. We worked together. I saw and experienced a lot that way.

The homebirth practice, that evolved. Even in the hospital when I was working as a midwife, we kind of had to tiptoe around sort of archaic hospital procedures and policies that were really not in the best interest of, let's say, each individual but it was the way they did it, their routine. Sometimes our hands were even tied as midwives because of hospital policy. It's really geared for mass production, preventing lawsuits and they're much more focused on cost. It's all about saving money. Sometimes policies and procedures that we had to follow were not necessarily midwifery care-based. It was based on the institutional policies.

I had a friend who was a doula who said, "Why don't we just start a homebirth practice?" This was about 18-19 years ago. I had not really thought about homebirth. I knew about freestanding birth center. We got together and looked into it. She had her babies at home. We just started the entire practice from scratch. It just evolved all this time.

What I love about homebirth is that we're much freer to practice midwifery care. It's very similar to a birthing center. The care is much more individualized and personalized. It was really our baby. We created it. She eventually became a nurse. She went to midwifery school. We worked together for a long time.

It's just awesome to be a homebirth midwife because I feel that it's not like we're bound by any institutional policy. We can provide care that's in the best interest and safety for each family, for each mom and baby.

Julie:    That's really cool. I love the arc of that whole story. It's very relatable because I feel like no matter who I talk to -- I am very struck by your words. I think even you posted this not that long ago. I think I shared it. You posted that a woman will forever remember how she was made to feel at her birth.

That just really hit home for me because I think it's very true. I had a very healthy birth. It's almost exactly what I envisioned it to be, wanted it to be. I don't have any regrets other than I wish I would have stayed home. And I probably should have because I almost delivered at home anyways.

Anne:    Your first baby?

Julie:    Yeah. My first baby. I stayed home the whole time. I was already pushing. I stayed in the shower basically the whole time I was in labor.

Anne:    You could have had a homebirth.

Julie:    Yeah. I know. That's what I wanted. I wanted to stay home up until the very end and then I'd go to the hospital. I had a midwife and everything. Once we got to the hospital I really thought it was going to be "Okay. You're obviously ready to push. Let's just have this baby." Instead it was "Let's hook her up to all the monitors and get her an IV because she was anemic during her pregnancy so she might need a transfusion so we have to get drip ready" and all this stuff. I'm just like "No. You don't understand. If you just let me push we'll be done with this in a matter of minutes."

Anne:    Yeah. You do that.

Julie:    No. They put me in the bed on my back. Of course, the baby's heart rate dropped because I just transferred from home to hospital. So I was expecting that to happen but I really didn't want to be on my back. Of course, same thing. They're hollering for a vacuum.

I think it was that fear that actually, just in my head, I said, "No way. No way am I going to have this end badly now that I've come this far." So I was just like bear down and out she came. I'll never forget that, just looking at my midwife. In that end stage of labor, you're kind of out of body. You're present but you're not really present in your self.

Anne:    You're in labor land. Right.

Julie:    Yeah. Exactly. I had so many things I wanted to say but it was like I was up in the corner of the room just watching all of this stuff happen and unfold.


I just remember looking at her going "Why aren't you helping me? Why aren't you helping me make this the way that you said it would be?" I just felt really kind of betrayed.

I wonder about that. I wonder about midwives in hospitals being so tied to keeping their hospital privileges and if that really hinders their midwifery care and their midwifery practice because --

Anne:    Well, it does. I've known some amazing midwives that stood up to it. For example, in the birth center, if a mom's water had broken and it's been 24 hours before active labor, they had to transfer. She knew that that was a ridiculous policy. If women did not have an infection and if babies were not infected and these are healthy moms, they didn't need to be in the hospital, she wouldn't chart it.

Not every midwife could do that. She says, "I don't want to know that your water broke." I admired her for that. A lot of midwives are scared. We had a policy in our hospital that every VBAC had to have an IV and be on the monitor. That's setting them up for failing, just those two things. That was a hard thing to get around.

Julie:    Yeah. It's frightening. I think that's an important thing to point out. I love to kind of dispel myths around these women's health issues because I think a lot of times we're kept in the dark on purpose. There's a lack of education on purpose because it just makes the Western medicine policies and procedures just run a little bit more smoothly if there's not somebody questioning them constantly.

Anne:    Yeah. And then it became that you couldn't have a VBAC and be at the birth center. I'm on the border between New Jersey and New York City. New Jersey law was that a midwife could not attend a homebirth if a mom was 42 weeks or if she's a VBAC. So what was happening was women were not telling their care provider that they had a previous cesarean because they wanted to VBAC. These are laws and policies that make it harder for women to have a VBAC which is much healthier for them to do if they are good candidates.

Julie:    Yeah. It just actually creates a more unsafe situation. It's probably not a good thing to not report those things but on the other hand I understand, wanting to take your health into your own hands.

Anne:    Not report it or the midwife wouldn't chart it or that they would just have an unattended birth or come in as late as possible. It's so much better when it can just be giving care that's appropriate and safe for each family.

Julie:    Yeah. I wish I had done a little bit more digging when I was trying to pick a midwife. I've always had midwifery care just for my general female well visits since I was a teenager. And then when I became pregnant, I was in a different city and I didn't really have a general care practitioner so I was kind of in the market for both.

Just on a recommendation of a friend, I interviewed one. She was great. I chose her. I wish I had interviewed more because she had previously been a homebirth midwife and had since become a hospital midwife after she got birthing privileges in the local hospital. I was toying with the idea of homebirth at the time. I asked her questions about it. She basically convinced me to not have a homebirth.

What really did it for me were the rates that she quoted me for hospital transfer rates. Not only was the rate really high, something like 40% for homebirth in that area which I thought was ridiculous --

Anne:    My transfer rate is like 7%.

Julie:    Right. I just felt like if that's the transfer rate, well then I might as well just go straight to the hospital. What's the point? It was in conjunction with kind of this laundry list of other things that were kind of slightly -- a painted homebirth in my mind is kind of a hassle or just not really worth it.


I really wish I had done a little bit more digging and talked to someone that was an active homebirth midwife because knowing what I know now it couldn't have been further from what I actually wanted once I got to the hospital.

Obviously rates vary by practice per practice. If I had to do this all over again and I was interviewing people, what were some of the things that I should be looking for in terms of transfer to hospital rate and cesarean section rate? What are some other things that someone who is considering homebirth should think about when they're interviewing practitioners?

Anne:    That's a great question. Well, first of all when you say a 40% transfer rate, that's very unusual. We have Google group and we meet periodically of like the tri-state area midwives. Everybody would have a transfer rate, I would say, well under 10%. I would say averaging 5% to 8% is the transfer rate.

First time moms are predominantly the transfer rate. So the vast majority of transfers are nonurgent like first time moms who, let's say, just have stuck labors and you've tried everything, you've used all your tricks, A to Z. It's just a mutual decision at some point. Mom's exhausted and stuck at a certain point in her labor, and there's nothing else that we can do. So that's usually the main reason we have to go in. But having to transfer a mom that's given birth before, I can't even remember, it's been well over like 10-15 years.

Ina May Gaskin is a spiritual midwifery. She talks about it. She has her statistics at the farm. That's like a role model. I think her transfer rate was like 1.9%. I'm remembering this off the cuff but it's very low, very low. I think that's very important to find out about the transfer rate and the cesarean rate. My section rate is under 5%.

Julie:    What about some of the other things? One of the things that seem so stupid to me now thinking that this was something that held me back from having a birth home, but just thinking about like cleaning up the mess afterwards.

Anne:    Yeah. The mess control. Well, we have a whole system. I have a whole list of supplies that they bring. We bring the same equipment to the house that an out-of-hospital birthing center would have. There's a list of things that they have to have ready. Most of it is either for comfort or mess control. Some of it they even have in the house, old sheets, old towels, picnic table cloths, things like that.

I actually posted on that, homebirth supply list. There's a free download you can get. It's on one of my posts, just suggestions of things to have in the house. I tell everyone we have ways of covering everything wherever you're going to be so that you're not left with any kind of birth mess, just a laundry bag, a bag of garbage and hopefully a very nice, beautiful, healthy baby.

Julie:    Yeah. Right.

Anne:    Yeah. So mess is not as issue. We do make a plan prenatally with each family that they have set up with care in the house, either friends or family, so that mom is off the radar. She doesn't have to deal with cleaning up or cooking or childcare, let's say, of older siblings or errands like how they used to do and how they do around the world in many cultures. Women support women through the process, at least four to six weeks postpartum. So she has that support. The mess is not really an issue.

In terms of interviewing. You're in California. Not everybody has access to a lot of homebirth midwives. They may be across the country and in areas of the world. There may be, let's say, no access to homebirth midwife or they have one. If you're fortunate and you have those to interview, I think it's really important that you feel a really close connection with that person, that you can feel totally relaxed and uninhibited because it's a very intimate relationship.


We spend two and a half hours at the first prenatal visit and then each visit after is about an hour. You're going to be birthing with that woman, laboring with that midwife and her team. I think it's important that you feel comfy. Sometimes it's just personality. Your philosophies and what you want I think need to be very closely aligned with the midwife.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's really true. That was also going to be one of my next questions, just how to select that person. I think that's probably really accurate, making sure that you can kind of build a relationship with someone and you feel like you could deliver.

I guess even before that I can think of some friends that have been pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant in the last two years, and just not even knowing where to start because with our culture these days, we don't grow up with a ton of extended family around us and aunts and grandmothers and lots of women to look to. Oftentimes the stories of the birth that have come before us or even our own births are not ones that we are really looking to as an example that we'd like to follow.

What are some things that she can do to even try to begin to understand what birth means to her and how to approach it and how to even kind of figure out what kind of birth she wants to have?

Anne:    Yeah. Like I say, in the modern world there's so much work that needs to be done because all throughout history, it's like a fluke of history that we have not been surrounded by women having natural childbirth. Women since the beginning of time have helped other women and have been surrounded by women having babies and breastfeeding. So it was just part of life.

A lot of moms, they find out they're pregnant today, because of this lack of exposure -- that really just happened maybe in the 1920s to '40s when birth was moved to the hospital -- in some parts of the modern world. The vast majority of babies are stillborn at home, believe it or not, in the world. I'm talking about modern USA, it's still a minority.

When moms find that they're pregnant they're like at a loss. They think it's an emergency. They have to go to the hospital. Media creates this whole drama and a lot of negative and fears around being pregnant and having a baby. They have a false sense of safety in modern technology and hospitals. Not everybody is comfortable or trusts that their body knows what to do. They just assume to go to a hospital.

I feel very strongly about not convincing a mom where she should birth. I think mom needs to birth where she feels most comfortable. Sometimes I'll help moms have a homebirth like experience in a hospital, meaning that mom is only going to feel safe being in the hospital. I tell each woman "Dig deep. Where do you think you would feel best or safe?" Whereas if dad feels more concerned but mom knows, "Absolutely I want to give birth at home," I'm not as concerned because the mom is the one that's laboring. If she's not feeling safe she won't labor well.

So many times I hear from doulas that women are laboring beautifully at home, and then when they go to the hospital they stop because they're more afraid or they're --

Julie:    Just unsure.

Anne:    Right. On the other hand at home, if I'm going to be with a woman in a home setting, if she's deep down scared of being home, she's not going to labor well until we go to the hospital. So that's why in the interview prenatally I really try to get them to dig deep and feel where they really feel safe and feel best because that's where they're going to labor best.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's important. What else can women do to just prepare? Everybody kind of scoffs at the idea of a birth plan because very commonly they can go out the window pretty quickly.

But I think for me specifically, I had had the lucky experience of seeing my three brothers born. They're all significantly younger than me.


I attended each of their births. I was definitely a mother's helper to my mom. But I can't say that any of those births are what I really aspired to have. My mom was very much a proponent of just show up early, get the epidural and just go to sleep and wake up.

Anne:    Right. I have a lot of people that ask me questions through the Instagram, ask the midwife. They want to consult with me. "I'm pregnant. What do I do?" So the first thing is you want to find a provider, whether it's a midwife or an obstetrician, who's in a setting, whether it's now freestanding birth center home or hospital where you're going to feel comfortable.

So then I say, "Okay. I have a reading list of really good books." I think it's so important now. Years ago we didn't have to read about birth. Our bodies knew how to do it. We were supported by a culture that encouraged normal natural childbirth. Today, there's lack of confidence and just pure lack of education.

I have a list of books on my website. I also posted my 15 favorite on Instagram where you can just free download it. There's a link. At least I want them to start reading. I have 15, maybe 20 books but they can't read them all. So we come up with maybe the top 10 or whatever.

I think it's important for them to watch birth videos. Ricki Lake's The Business of Being Born is a great one. There's Orgasmic Birth which actually we're in. But both of those are really awesome documentaries. Did you see either one?

Julie:    Yeah. I did. I really enjoyed them. Yeah. I did.

Anne:    Yeah. I have a list in my practice of other homebirth moms who say it's okay for me to give their name out. I like to connect women with women. If women are pregnant and they're going through a similar experience, it's so helpful for them to be surrounded with other moms who've had -- let's say, they want to have a home birth -- to be connected with other homebirthing moms. They'll come to me and they'll say, "I don't know anyone having a homebirth. It seems like I'm the only one." I say, "I know tons of people that have had homebirth." So I connect them in that way.

In New York and I'm sure in California, certain areas of the country, there's birth circles and mamas' groups, prenatal yoga, babywearing groups, La Leche League, there's a lot of different holistic mom network, attachment parenting, homeschooling moms, where you will likely meet other moms having homebirth or natural birth so that you can have a network, a tribe. I think it's really important to surround yourself with this fortress of positivity around yourself.

Pregnant women are so receptive and sensitive. So if someone sees them pregnant they have to tell them their horror story. I encourage every woman to just pleasantly excuse themselves from that conversation and really surround themselves with people who are telling empowering, positive birth stories because there are so much of it.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's huge. I think that's what I really was craving. I felt like I wanted to read. I wanted to know that my body knew what it was doing. I think I knew that deep down but I just wanted to be affirmed by other birth stories. So reading Ina May's work, reading Birthing from Within and just taking from it what I needed to take from it was all that I really needed to just go forth and conquer.

The rest of it was kind of staying away from horror stories and really just focusing in on some of the things touched on in those books that really give great suggestions for kind of how to dig dip, how to look inward and make connection with yourself and kind of reconnect with those kind of primal, early instinctual things. I think that that's something that women don't even know that they can do or are supposed to do. So I really encourage doing some homework. We've got nine months of time to kill.

Anne:    Yeah. In the pregnancy is the time where I'm building up confidence. Your body knows how to birth like you can breathe. We have to get your mind out of the way. So that's one of the reasons I love prenatal yoga and meditation, just basic breath work and skills of meditation so that they can practice and know how to get into that calm space, out of the thinking brain, more into the body and the sensations and the spirit and the heart and the gut because that's the vastness of who they are and that's what's going to birth, not their heads.


So in the pregnancy I encourage them to learn these things so that when they're in labor they know how to turn their brain off and let their body do it. Their body knows exactly how to do it or we wouldn't be here today. Connect with the lineage of birthing women since the beginning of time. Our capabilities haven't changed but the management has changed in just a short period of history. I think there's a lot we have to do just to restore that basic confidence that our bodies know what to do.

When a woman goes into labor and she realizes, "I'm safe. I've had prenatal care with a midwife." We do screen and we are making sure that everything is still healthy and safe and appropriate to be in the home setting. We bring the same equipment, like I said, to the house but most of the time we don't have to use it. The more and more years of practice as a midwife the more I realize the best intervention is no intervention.

When all is going well we don't really have to do anything. The best thing is to not disturb a mom when she's in the process of having a baby. It's amazing how it works. We're there, obviously, as lifeguards. We hold that space of that sacred space of birthing. Our hearts are there to encourage and to give loving support. Her body knows exactly how to give birth to that baby for the vast majority of times.

If not, if there's an issue, very simple suggestions can make a huge difference like "Let's get out of the tub. Maybe we can take a walk. Are you drinking? Have you been eating? Lets position change." There are so many things that we can suggest that are just very simple, noninvasive suggestions that can help a mom when she's birthing.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's really important. This is the Paleo Baby podcast kind of for a reason. A lot of stuff kind of harkens back to nutrition. I kind of wonder what your take is on nutrition and pregnancy and how you see that kind of play out in your practice, if you see that nutrition or diet is making a big impact on your practice and in birth outcomes.

Anne:    Yeah. I'm very holistic and integrated in my approach. I try to encourage every mom that's in my practice to have healthy lifestyle habits as much as possible. So nutrition is a big component. As much as possible everything that they put into their body should be ideally whole and real and minimally processed and varied. I do have vegetarians and vegans in the practice, but if anyone is going to eat meat, ideally organic and free range.

I've seen amazing results. People have made huge changes. A lot of women when they're pregnant they want to make better, healthier lifestyle and healthier choices. Not 100%. I'd say 80/20. Most of the time. The vast majority of food that you're putting into your mouth and what you're drinking is whole food, organic, all-natural real food. Occasional, whatever, 10%-20%, it's okay, not to feel bad about it.

I'm a big believer in nutrition. I think it makes a huge difference in preventing a lot of health problems. I encourage, definitely, whole food supplements, whole food prenatal and the omegas. Depending on their D, they might need some D and calcium. The probiotics, I think, is great to prevent the group B strep. I like to prevent it.


Julie:    Yeah. I think that's great. Not a lot of people talk about that but I think that's huge. When I was pregnant, my husband and I were kind of just like reeling with all of the decisions we had to make about what testing I was going to have done or not have done. The group B strep really threw us for a loop. I was like "Well, I'll have the test done but I'm probably not going to do anything about it even if I have it."

Anne:    That's a hot topic. I would say it's so common. Group B strep is a normal bacteria that is part of the normal flora in the colon and can be in the vaginal area. It's only a problem when a mom is in labor and her cervix is open and the water breaks. The baby can be exposed to it. 1 in 200 babies can get seriously ill but they're giving everybody antibiotics if they're positive, IV antibiotics in labor. It's not taken lightly, but either a strep.

Strep is potentially serious but does that mean that every single mom needs antibiotics to prevent that? People are starting to question that. In the United States and in other countries they would treat only if there's a risk factor, give antibiotics. I've had great success with a very high account of the good flora, the healthy flora. Probiotics, if they take it in pregnancy, can prevent a lot of the strep vaginally.

Julie:    That's really interesting. You mentioned meditation. I know you're a yogi at heart too.

Anne:    I'm aspiring.

Julie:    Yeah. Definitely. I've seen your poses. I think you qualify. That's awesome. I know you do prenatal yoga. You can teach prenatal yoga. How have you seen that kind of impact? Has it changed the way that you practice at all? I think meditation and mindfulness is something that we always work into our protocols with people that we work with at Nourish Balance Thrive. It's just kind of this vital thing to build a whole person is this has to be built it.

Anne:    Right. [0:42:30] [Indiscernible]

Julie:    Exactly. So is it something that's new to people when you introduce it to them when they're pregnant? Are they already doing it?

Anne:    No. Not everybody. Some people have their own way of relaxing and tapping into their -- they can ground themselves, they can center themselves, they can get into the space of calm. Yoga is a science of well-being. It's a science of healthy, mind, body and spirit.

I'm very into exercise. I think it's important for women to be active. We were born to be active. It's not healthy to be sedentary. I encourage women to find a sort of exercise if they don't have one, even if it's just brisk walking or dancing, being active in their pregnancy as long as it's not anything extreme contact sports or something like that. I've had dancers perform in their ninth month and marathon. Runners run and do their triathlons.

I recommend it not necessarily as an exercise. It's deeper. I mean it is a form of exercise but it's much deeper. It's for inner strength and balance and flexibility but also on a deeper level. It's a way to quiet the mind to find this inner calm. When they really take yoga from an authentic teacher -- I'm not crazy about gyms that offer the power yoga -- I mean really authentic yoga --

It depends on the person I'm talking to because some people, they want to hear about the research. There's so much research on it reduces depression, anxiety, many risks of chronic disease, it eases pregnancy and the aches and pains of pregnancy and it eases labor and postpartum recovery. There are so many benefits to a regular practice.

Some people get scared of the word meditate. Basically what it is is just a time that you can even make for yourself, 20 minutes each day just to focus on breathing and to get out of your thinking mind. It's just being still, being quiet. We're overloaded, overstimulated today and too much in the thinking. If they can learn the skills, it helps them feel more inner calm.


So many women come to me, they're stressed out. They have a healthy diet but they're full of internal stress. I'm not talking about the stress on the outside. People can have a relatively calm looking life but inside they're stressed. Some people have what would seem to be a lot of stress but they're managing it. They're not feeling internal stress. It's the internal stress that can cause a lot of health problems and impair labor, make labor and birth much harder.

So it's just a tool that I see that works so well. If I can get a woman to really learn how to get to that space, whether it's Savasana or just even seated meditation where she's just focusing on breath and either a deep like head to toe body scan of relaxation, mindfulness, sensory awareness just to be in the actual present, learning those skills, we use it in labor, she'll do so much better. I see huge benefits. It's been studied and researched. It's an ancient science of well-being.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's hugely important. I'm so glad that you include that in your practice because I think there is no better time than, especially during pregnancy, to really kind of wield that power and really understand how to use it and tap into that because that's exactly what you need for labor.

I have been practicing it for maybe a year and a half, two years I guess before I had IV. I wouldn't say that I was ever very good at meditating but that's exactly what was needed for labor and delivery. I'm so glad that I even could comprehend that that's where I needed to be in my head or out of my head I guess.

Anne:    It takes practice. It's not about being good or bad. I remember when I started learning about it I was like "There's no way I could sit for five minutes." I just have too many thoughts. What am I going to do? I can't even imagine. So I'm in such a different space now. Once I started studying it and really wanted to take it on as part of a practice -- it's like night and day. Once you have a taste of what it's like to get into that space, it's so delicious, you want more.

I'm just seeing women so busy. They're working and they have all these projects they're doing and they're also mothering and they have a family and their spouse. They're just trying to handle so many things. It's almost like there's this glorification of having these tight schedules, busy, busy, busy. There's no downtime. I see the effects of it. So I see the benefits of having the downtime.

Even if you're stuck in traffic, that's a great time. Okay. I'm stuck in traffic. I'm late. That's a great time I can practice. Just slow down and deepen my breathing. That just lessens the stress that they feel.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's really great. This has been a really great conversation just like our last one.

Anne:    [0:49:04] [Indiscernible]

Julie:    No strange noises in the background hopefully this time. Do you have any specific advise or wisdom that you'd like to share with people listening today that you've learned in your career, something that you just like to pass on to everybody today?

Anne:    It would be my dream that healthy women rediscover and relearn that their bodies know exactly how to grow in birth and breastfeed babies. The process of pregnancy, birth and postpartum is a process that works. There's tremendous wisdom in it. When all is going well, it works best when it's not disturbed. Women should be supported and encouraged in all settings to have undisturbed healthy, normal childbirth, passionate care.


Julie:    Thank you for that. That was good advice. Thank you for passing that on. So where can people find out more about you, figure out how to work with you? I absolutely love following your Instagram and your Facebook. So I definitely think people should check that out. Where can people learn more about you and connect with you?

Anne:    Well, the Instagram was started because I love to take pictures and write little captions and educate and inspire. My daughter told me "You should be on Instagram." I was like "What's that?" That's a little over a year ago. So now what I love doing is the online consulting. I have women from all over the country and world that call me with their questions. It's unbelievable that they just don't have access to a holistic midwife.

So that started the whole Some of them are more general questions. When they go into that, askthemidwife, they can ask questions if they're general. We have a monthly newsletter or sometimes I randomly answer. I try to answer the general questions, all of them, either by email or through the Instagram or through the newsletter but what happen is people are asking a lot of personal questions.

This is a very important personal question, whether it's postpartum depression questions, specifically they're struggling with something. They want to really know. What can I do? I had a very traumatic birth last time? What can I do this time to have a safe but also more positive healing experience? So I work with them. That started the So I do the online consulting. It's just been awesome. I see that it really has helped people. So I'm just so excited to be able to do that.

Instagram and the Facebook page are the same Home Sweet Homebirth. The website is My Home Sweet Homebirth. I have a lot of handouts that I've made throughout the years on pretty much the holistic integrative approach to handling pretty much every complaint that a mom would do, like colds and heartburn and depression and fatigue and aches and pains and constipation, how to have a healthy pregnancy and life. So I'm making them all into an e-book and we're doing some videos.

It's been a lot of exciting things that have come out of this whole Instagram community. It's just an amazing experience. It's lovely group of women. People resonate because all over the world people are pregnant and we all kind of want the same things. We want to have a wonderful experience. We want to have a healthy baby. We want to feel good. We want to feel encouraged, inspired, connect. No matter what culture, it's a universal need.

Julie:    It definitely spoke to me so I highly encourage everybody else to check it out. Thank you again so much for chatting with me today. It was a great conversation. I'm sure everyone will enjoy it. Hopefully we'll have you back on to talk again maybe about some more yoga or maybe do some postpartum discussion next time. All right. Thanks, Anne.

Anne:    Thanks. Bye.

[0:54:11]    End of Audio

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