Student midwife recap, 2016

Hello all! I wanted to pop on here and give an update for anyone even slightly paying attention to my midwifery journey. I have just completed my first year at Midwives College of Utah. This college is MEAC accredited and I am pursuing my Bachelor's of Science in Midwifery. After I graduate, I will take the NARM exam to become a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife). Due to previous experience and college credits, I am on course to finish this degree in 3 years. I have 2 years left, starting in January. The school runs almost continuously from January to December, with 2 week breaks between the "trimesters" and slightly longer over the Christmas holiday. It is demanding and rigorous but that is to be expected from such an important field of education. I completed my NRP and CPR training earlier this year, as well as certification for placenta encapsulation and my observe phase for the clinical portion of the program. I am awaiting approval for the assist phase. The "assist" phase simply means I can get credit for some of the things I do in clinic and at births when helping my preceptors. 

As of this week, I am honored to be working with 3 amazing local midwives. They are beyond generous to open their practices up to me and invite me in to learn midwifery from such great practices. I am humbled and appreciative of them. This step has most definitely taken the dream into reality. Watching these women run their personal practices, interact with expecting families, overcome obstacles and always remaining ever supportive and encouraging is inspiring. I thank them from the bottom of my weepy student midwife heart. 

My favorite class to take this year was a tie between Midwife's Assistant and Herbology for Midwives. Anyone that knows me knows I love plant medicine. For this course, I was *requried* to plant a midwife's garden! Can you believe it! My favorite herb to grow by far was chamomile. I am also eagerly awaiting next year to harvest from my Vitex tree. Midwife's Assistant was really fun. I learned some basics and got to walk through case studies. 

Captured by my husband, while I studied late one night. 

Captured by my husband, while I studied late one night. 

My chamomile garden! I made tea, tinctures and glycerites from this amazing crop of herbs. 

My chamomile garden! I made tea, tinctures and glycerites from this amazing crop of herbs. 

My most challenging class this year was Prenatal Care. This was the very first "midwife" specific course I took. I was required to think like a midwife and with that brought the enormity of what I am actually doing with my life. While I love the piles of books that sometimes even contradict each other, I really enjoyed the live conferences I had for this class. When you're in such a diverse group of people, some of whom might have even been practicing as a midwife already, it's really nice to be able to ask people who have more first hand knowledge than myself what they might do in a given situation. 

In August, 2 other local student midwives and I attended a week long school conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the school is located. It was so nice to be with a group of student midwives who love to learn! We had great meals, met other amazing women, experienced growth and increased our knowledge. Salt Lake City is a beautiful, albeit hilly, place to visit. Wear your most comfortable walking shoes and take in the view. On our last night there, a group of us took a moonlight hike. It might have been my most favorite thing we did. We sat as a circle of women, at the top of the beautiful Red Butte Canyon, honoring the earth, the importance of our work, and each other. A truly spiritual experience. On the way down, the full moon showed her stunning self over the top of the butte. 

Holding sweet baby Dash as he sleeps, while his mama holds his sister. 

Holding sweet baby Dash as he sleeps, while his mama holds his sister. 

Our charming Air B&B, located a few blocks away from the retreat center our conference was held at. 

Our charming Air B&B, located a few blocks away from the retreat center our conference was held at. 

Amy, practicing IV skills on me. We did a lot of hands on learning over the course of the week. 

Amy, practicing IV skills on me. We did a lot of hands on learning over the course of the week. 

One of my successful placements! Thanks for the amazing arms, Libby. 

One of my successful placements! Thanks for the amazing arms, Libby. 

Great food. Great women. Great friends. 

Great food. Great women. Great friends. 

Looking into the city from our hike.

Looking into the city from our hike.

The full moon, lighting the way for us. 

The full moon, lighting the way for us. 

This year was interesting. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to learn. I have always been a fantastic student but this learning while holding down 2 jobs and raising 3 boys with a husband that also has a full time career thing is hard! I realized my limits include needing to leave the house to get anything done. I split my study time between the doula offices at Thrive Mama Collective, Panera Bread and All About Cha (get the Goguma's fantastic!). I also learned I actually retain more than I thought. This in itself is the highlight of my year because I thought 3 pregnancies made my brain a sieve. 

Study time at Aspen Coffee Shop. 

Study time at Aspen Coffee Shop. 

Looking forward to next year, I am excited to get more core classes under my belt, as well as working more consistently beside my preceptors and more closely with local expecting families. I am very thankful for the guidance of my preceptors and fellow student midwives, as well as their friendship. This is a hard road and we only make it by lifting each other up. This entire journey would not even be slightly possible without the support, love and encouragement of my amazing husband. I am away from my family often and he ensures the children are well taken care of and the household runs smoothly on a daily basis. He is my rock and I appreciate all of the sacrifices he makes to pave the way for me to move forward in this career. I am lucky to have him and thank him from the bottom of my heart for all the ways he stands beside me. 

My super amazing partner in crime. 

My super amazing partner in crime. 

Herbs and Pregnancy

Herbs are a part of every day life for many of us. From the basil in the marinara to infusions, tinctures and teas, herbs have many uses and many forms. I am often asked about the safety of herbs in pregnancy. There are many herbs, that while considered safe in pregnancy, consulting a certified herbalist is still recommended due to the many multi-faceted uses of most herbs. Just today, there was a discussion in a mother's group I am a part of about Red Raspberry Leaf. One person mentioned it was a uterine tonic; another mentioned it was a hormone balancer. It's both! This is the beauty of herbs. They are multi-functional. 

Below are my top 5 herbs for use in pregnancy. Remember to consult your provider about your own health care needs when choosing an herbal regime. 

1. Red Raspberry Leaf-

This herb is such a great herb for women in all aspects of life. From the young girl, just starting her cycles to the women who is going through menopause, RRL has an amazing ability to adapt to our body's needs. 

Raspberry leaves are the most famous of all the herbs used during pregnancy. They have both relaxing and toning, or astringent, actions, with a particular affinity for the uterus. Throughout history, RRL has been used to speed up birth and to stimulate lactation after birth. 

GRAS, no contraindications or side effects Starting in the 2nd trimester, take one cup of infusion daily, increasing to 3 cups daily in the 3rd trimester. While in labor, take a cupful every hour. Continue with this mixture after birth, 1-3 times daily, to tone and strengthen the pelvic tissues. 

2. Chamomile- 

A gentle herb, considered very safe, is great at relieving stress and tension. Great for babies and children. Chamomile is served in hospitals throughout Europe to calm and relax patients. Great for stomach tension, indigestion and inflammation. It is easily cultivated and beautiful in the gardenCommonly used for stress, digestive complaints, nervous disorders, inflammation in the joints, and for wounds. It is an excellent remedy for all manners of women’s disorders. 

There are many uses for chamomile including thrush treatment, fever reducer, relieves tension and spasms in the digestive tract, relieves nausea and sickness in pregnancy, relieves painful periods, mastitis treatment, premenstrual headaches, eases the pain of childbirth, used as a pain reliever, used for asthma and hay fever, used externally for eczema and to heals wounds. 

For medicinal purposes, try C. recuitita. Some people can experience an allergic reaction to chamomile since it is in the compositae family. Anyone who suffers from pollen-bearing plant allergies, should use with caution. Chamomile is exceptionally volatile and should not infuse for more than 30 minutes. 

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3. Nettle- 

Common name is stinging nettle. Nettles usefulness can be traced back to antiquity and its popularity as food and medicine has hardly waned over the years. Nettles were used in ancient Greece and Rome to treat gout, rheumatism, and poisonous snake and insect bites. The tough stalk fibers were used as fabric. Steamed young nettle tops serves with olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of feta make a delicious dish according to Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist. Native American women used nettle as a tonic during pregnancy and as a remedy for treating postpartum hemorrhaging. 

When taken over a long period of time, nettles are a tonic that will benefit the entire body. It’s ideal for anemia. Sprinkling the powder on a wound helps it stop bleeding.  Tea is useful for asthma, chronic and acute urinary complaints, urinary stones, nephritis and cystitis, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, chronic arthritic and rheumatic problems. 

When tea is drunk during pregnancy, it helps lower high blood pressure. Drink several cups of infusion during labor to help prevent hemorrhage due to the high Vitamin K content. Nettles help with varicosities, kidney issues, encourages rich, abundant milk postpartum, are excellent for young women starting their cycles and for women in menopause. 

4. Dandelion-

Also known as Lion’s teeth and fairy dock. The whole plant can be used as medicine and is highly nutritious. Roots are best harvested in the early spring and late autumn. Leaves should be picked when young in the spring and early summer. Dandelion is most famous for a gently detoxifying bitter tonic. Dandelion has high estrogen properties and is used for a lot of female issues. 

Dandelion is used for digestives issues, liver disease, jaundice, enhancing the appetite, easing digestion, cleansing the liver, hepatitis, gallbladder infections, gallstones, skin problems and headaches. Dandelion increases insulin secretion, is effective as a diuretic and useful for hypoglycemia. 

To use, make a standard decoction or use 10-30 drops of tincture. ½ cup infusion, every 30 minutes to treat stomach aches.          

5. Echinacea-

I saved my favorite herb for last! Echinacea is my go-to for so many things. This herb is called Purple Coneflower locally. It grows wild across Oklahoma, but is also easily cultivated for personal use. I appreciate it's gentleness in easing all things in the "sick" category. 

Echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells. It increases the number and activity of immune system cells, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation and inflammatory skin conditions. It also kills yeast and slows or stops the growth of bacteria.

Echinacea purpurea has no known toxicity and has an excellent safety record, being very well tolerated by most people. However, Echinacea purpurea should not be used in progressive systemic and autoimmune disorders such as tuberculosis, leucosis, connective tissue disorders, collagenosis and related diseases.

For additional information on herbs during pregnancy, see this handy visual aid I made! 




“The Way of Herbs”, M. Tierra, pgs, 184-5

“Complete Women’s Herbal”, M. Tierra

 “Herbal Healing for Women”, R. Gladstar, 

‘Wise Women Herbal for the Childbearing Years”, S. Weed







5 Things to Include in Your Birth Plan

Almost every mom these days has a birth plan for their upcoming birth. But what exactly is a birth plan? And what should you include? Below, I am going to give you a few tips to help you in deciding what is important to you for your birth and what should be optional based on your birth experience. 

  • Who will be attending your birth?

It is helpful for the hospital staff or midwife to know who you want in your personal space when birthing. If your partner, doula and birth photographer are all you can envision being there when your little bundle arrives, make sure the people supporting you understand your wishes. Nurses are great allies when that unwanted visitor shows up to the hospital. I often offer my families my assistance in redirecting well-meaning family members to the waiting room, or even better, sending them on a "very important" errand! 

  • How do you want to labor?

Do you envision yourself moving a lot in labor? Do you see yourself laboring in water at some point? Do you think you’ll like to have music, candles, aromatherapy or other ambiance to set the tone of the room? Include these wishes in your preferences. Moms who move during labor instinctually work with their bodies to get baby into great birthing positions. Having the opportunity to move as and when you feel is best helps with an uninhibited birth.

property of Ian Norris photography
  • What routine procedures do you want to opt out of?

Not a fan of needles? Does the idea of continuous fetal monitoring seem counterintuitive to you? Speak to your provider about your options for hep-lock or IV refusal. Find out what your provider feels comfortable with and discuss how you can both get what you’d like. Do you want to eat and drink during labor? Research is actually on your side for that one! Asking your provider what routine procedures are typically expected will give you a good base for what you might want to decline. 

  • How do you want to actually give birth?

In many instances, mothers will give birth in uncomfortable positions and with interventions they do not actually want but due to being in labor, can’t have that important discussion to decline something or clarify her wishes. It is best to have this discussion before you ever go into labor so your provider knows what to expect. If you’re birthing in a hospital or birth center, it’s a great idea for you or your doula to discuss with the staff what your expectations during pushing are so they can uphold them. If there are things that are very important to you, such as no counting or delayed cord clamping until pulsation stops or placenta encapsulation, make sure that is highlighted in your plan.

  • Newborn baby procedures!

Do you want immediate skin-to-skin with baby? How about erythromycin? Do you want baby to be suctioned upon birth of the head or not at all? Are you leaving baby intact or choosing to circumcise? These are all important baby procedures that need to be discussed beforehand with your care provider. If you are wanting anything out of standard hospital procedures for a birth in a hospital, be sure to alert your nurses as well. Most midwives will encourage you to hold your baby right away and will not disrupt that bonding time until you are ready, unless it becomes medically necessary. 

I include all of this information and so much more during our prenatal visits together. I also offer the option to come with you as you discuss your birth plan with your provider. It is helpful for us all to be on the same page and aware of everyones roles and expectations when working together. 

For more information and tips on creating your ideal birth plan, please contact me! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter as well. Just click on the icons at the bottom of the page! 

5 Reasons to Hire a Doula

1. Information- Yes, you are perfectly capable of reading books and taking childbirth classes without a doula! What you will not usually have is extensive training on labor and childbirth and how to give families up to date information on the questions they might have. Educated and informed consent and refusal is ideal for all families. Through my multiple doula trainings, I have discovered the best ways to offer local families information on the questions they have, while remaining neutral regarding their decisions. I want you to have a beautiful birth, however that looks for you. 

2. Hands-on support- I love to see a partner supporting a laboring mother. I also know what it’s like to offer a double hip squeeze until my arms are about to fall off, I haven’t used the restroom in at least 12 hours and I am asleep on my feet. That is a lot for your partner to take on while they are supporting you in labor and are excited to meet their child. Having another support person in the room that knows and understands your birth goals can be priceless, to you and dad. Often, partners and I will tag team physical support for a birthing mom. There are times I leave the room to offer some privacy to the birthing couple as well. I love utilizing the rebozo, massage, effleurage, counter pressure and physical support to my clients. You never know when you will need this, but having it can be so beneficial to your labor and birth experience. 

3. Intuition- There are times that I just know a baby needs something specific to be born vaginally. I cannot explain how I know this but I often give these intuitive suggestions to the mother to utilize with much success. After years of watching mothers in the Oklahoma City metro area labor and birth, I have come to be able to know what certain sounds a mother makes mean. Offering position changes, hands on support, visual distractions, guided breath and reassurance help not only mom, but her partner and baby as well. Being in tune with my doula clients is important to me and an advantage to them.

property of Ian Norris Photography

property of Ian Norris Photography


4. Sounding Board- Sometimes, augmenting labor becomes a real possibility. When this happens, it is beneficial for the family to have another, objective person in the room to discuss the possibilities with. Often, there is only one choice presented by the provider. When this happens, I can help you navigate the options and need for the suggestions being given. You are the one to advocate for yourself via open and honest communication with your provider. I am there beside you to remind you of your goals and how these choices might affect those outcomes. Supporting you in the decision you make is a given. I love an empowered family!

5. Snacks- I have a Mary Poppins bag of goodies, which consists mostly of snacks and food items. I happily share with both mom and partner. On any given day, you will find in my bag some sort of raw nuts, nut butters, honey sticks (great for energy!), various protein bars, jerky (dads love this!), hard candies, mints, gum, fruit, and sometimes chocolate. Keeping your energy up while laboring is so important. Birth is a marathon, not a sprint. If you have not prepared to go 24 hours with no sleep, food or physical rest, it can really take a real toll on your body and mental status. That is why I offer snacks to my clients. What about the "no food or drink" rule imposed by most hospitals, you ask? It is a practice that is not backed by evidence and is actually not needed. If your provider gives you grief over food or drink, you are able to sign a right of refusal. *I also carry new lip balms for mom. Mouth breathing dries out your lips. 

I hope this post has been of some help to anyone in the Oklahoma City area who is considering hiring a doula. There are many other reasons why my services is invaluable to your home birth or hospital birth. I would be happy to go over them during a face to face consult. Please go to the contact me section to set that meeting up as space is limited! 

Peace, Deanna