Saturday, May 19, 2012

Birth Story Video: Jennifer's Waterbirth

Here is the birth story and wedding/birth video of a plus-sized mama I thought readers might enjoy.  It's not a short video (about 6 minutes) but it's well worth watching!

Below is the mother's story (which includes 4 previous miscarriages) and what she wants other women of size to know about pregnancy and birth.
My name is Jennifer. I live in southern Oregon and am a midwife apprentice. I have attended many births and have caught 4 babies under supervision. Of the many births I have attended, a good handful have been to plus-size mommas. 
Two off the top of my head were between 300-400 lbs. Both mommas had very healthy uneventful pregnancies and wonderful easy labors, and both mommas delivered in water at home. Water is great for plus-size mommas because it allows you to move more easily into different positions.  
I myself am a plus size momma. I am 5'6" and started my pregnancy at 232 lbs., about size 18. I finished my pregnancy at 276. I know doctors like to tell you to only gain 15 lbs. if you're "obese" but that's one of many reasons I didn't choose a doctor! I am a firm believer that as long as you gain your weight on healthy food then you gain what you need, and restricting food can cause issues in pregnancy. Nutrition is key in pregnancy, especially protein!   
I had a wonderful very healthy pregnancy with a midwife, and gave birth to a beautiful baby at home on Christmas eve.  A baby girl,  9 lbs. 12 ounces, 20.5 inches. 
Being plus size and pregnant is a challenge but I think it's because we set up obstacles in our minds. Will I look pregnant, how much weight will I gain, will I be able to handle the physical demands of labor, will I be bullied into tests and procedures because I'm overweight? 
Remember that you are a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman who can birth a healthy baby, regardless of your weight. If you aren't comfortable being your own advocate, then hire a doula! Get educated, know your options, and don't forget to celebrate this beautiful rite of passage!


JeninCanada said...

Awesome. Just amazing. :) Congrats, Jennifer!

Myndie said...

Great video! Thank you for sharing and your words of wisdom. I have a question, though. I've seen it in other videos, but is it necessary for the midwife to rub the baby's head as she eases to way out of the vagina? What is the purpose? Thanks :)

Jennifer Johnson said...

A midwife can be doing a number of things by touching the babies head or doing something that looks like u are so here is a list.
Checking for cord
Helping baby flex head to help baby out
Sometimes there supporting perenium of mother and it looks like touching baby
Checking scalp color
Those are ones I can think of off the top of my head. In my video she's providing support for my tissues and then later checking for cord

Jennifer said...

Congratulations! That was awesome!

HBF said...

Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!

Jennifer said...

That was beautiful. I am 6 weeks pregnant with my second baby and watching you bring your beautiful daughter into the world brought me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing! :)

Anonymous said...

Help! I'm the old(for having kids - just 43),fat,but now miscarrying for the 4th time in a year mom. I have a 2.5 yr old who brings me much joy, but can't seem to keep a baby in me now...I only use a midwife -do not do doctors. She says its probably just 'old sperm' causing genetic disorders. I want to think its something else I can fix. I did need progesterone suppositories so had been doing that and kept my levels up. Had ultrasound at 9 weeks, saw strong heartbeat and moving baby, exactly 2 weeks later am miscarrying. This time I found the baby though and got her (my hope) out of the toilet. I 'examined' her and had my midwife look too. She appeared fine - developing perfectly. So I'm just dying to know if anyones had this kind of issue? I have read that some people had this happen and next time took one baby aspirin a day and it did something with clotting or something and they had healthy babies...IF i get preg again, I will try that on top of my progesterone but I'm scared to death that I will miscarry again...any ideas, suggestions (besides testing by doctors I can't afford - no insurance!)

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Anonymous, I'm so sorry for your loss. Recurrent miscarriage is SO hard. And it's hard to solve without testing. If you truly can't see an expert, here are a few thoughts to get you started, but you really should talk to some folks more well-versed in fertility issues than I am.

Progesterone levels are indeed one thing that can cause recurrent miscarriage. Glad you are watching those. Another thing is "weak ovulation," in which the hormone levels are off because of things like PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and so the woman has difficulty ovulating, or ovulates but has difficulty supporting the pregnancy to term because the hormones are not quite in balance.

I would suggest doing some research on PCOS to see if you think it fits you. I have some pages on that on this blog, and more to come soon. If it fits, there are things that might help, like certain herbs (vitex is one), certain medications (metformin is one), acupuncture, or lifestyle modifications. (I'm not a medical professional and can't recommend any of these, but am just passing on that some women have found these helpful.)

Another possibility, as you mentioned, is a blood clotting issue, and sometimes baby aspirin can help that, but that has risks too, so it shouldn't be attempted without a care provider's guidance.

I don't have that much knowledge about fertility issues, so again I'd suggest going to a secondary infertility forum to see what kind of information they might be able to share beyond this. has some forums that might be useful, although I must caution that although it's for plus-size women, it's not a diet-free zone.

Big hugs to you for having to endure such a difficult journey, and many prayers for you for the future. Keep us updated.