Birth Story: The home birth of Bear York

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Aug 162016
By Echo Zielinski I had thought every day for the two weeks leading up to my August 2nd due date that this baby would come. It was SO low in my pelvis and I was having consistent braxton hicks so I just didn't think my body would hold out...but it did! On Monday the 1st I began having a slow leak of fluid off and on throughout the day. With my girls, labor began with my water fully breaking so this was a whole new experience for me. I felt all day that we may be having a baby in the night but I didn't want to tell Andy that because I knew he was very overwhelmed with the August 2nd launch of the Nike+ app he has been working on since starting his new job at Nike (we kept saying baby can come any days but the 2nd or 3rd-- haha- I am pretty sure when you declare something like that it makes the opposite a reality!) We went to bed around 10:30pm and I was awoken around 12:30am with what felt like stronger braxton hicks- I still had to feel my belly to make sure I was even having them but I knew these might turn into the real thing. I immediately got out of bed and began making sure the house was in order for what may be ahead. By 1:14am I knew that they were getting a tad stronger (though totally easy and manageable) and due to Poppy's fast labor, I texted my midwives to give them the heads up that I thought things were starting and they decided it was best to head on over. After knowing that my birth team was on it's way, I thought I better wake Andy up and let him know we would be having a baby! At his 1:30am groggy state, he jumped into gear and began helping me fill up the birth tub. At this point my contractions were still totally bearable and I would just pause at the kitchen counter in between warming pots of hot water on the stove, breathe through it, and then continue on my way. Right around 2am I got my first contraction that actually felt somewhat painful- I looked at the clock to take "note" of when I thought active labor might be beginning. Pretty soon my whole birth team was in my living room and asleep on my couch while they gave Andy and I the space to do our thing. He parked it on the other couch near the birth tub and I climbed on in. We chatted and joked in between contractions and I remember thinking "this could take awhile because this is just too calm in between still"- Not having had my water break this time made it so different as I had that "buffer" that kept baby from shooting down so quick. I finally checked myself and sure enough I could feel the head about 3/4th's of a finger in. I decided to feel during each contraction and it was amazing to feel the progress of the head coming lower and lower each time. I felt empowered and like I was able to know exactly what to expect and when to wake my birth team to come into the room. Right before 5am I could tell my body was beginning to push, but because I was touching the head during each contraction, I knew I had time before I needed anyone there. Around 5:06, Lynette (my apprentice midwife) heard that I was pushing and I let her know that I indeed was! She alerted Jennifer and Mary and pretty soon I had the calm presence of 3 skilled women there to witness me give birth to my baby. Once the head was close, I could get a better feel and realized that it was so smooth and bouncy and that it was actually my bag of water I was feeling and not the head! This was such a cool thing because I had never gotten to experience an intact bag with my other two. As my body pushed though, I realized that the "balloon" like bag was getting in my way and I wanted to get my baby out. I nicked it with my nail and it broke and immediately the head was about to be born. One more contraction or so and the head was out and I reached down and felt the sweetest little ear. The baby then rotated (coolest feeling ever) and at 5:19am our new baby was born. IMG_2689 I waited a few seconds and then lifted it off my chest so that Andy and I could see what our baby was... a BOY! The look on Andy's face was amazing. The man ADORES his girls but I knew how much a boy would mean to him. Andy finally had his little dude, all while his big sisters slept in the other room :)

Bear York Zielinski // August 2nd 2016 at 5:19am // 8 lbs 15 oz // 21 inches long


Jul 232016
By Brittany Vuylsteke When you sign up for surrogacy through an agency you are asked at least a dozen times “why do you want to be a surrogate?” I’ve thought about this in the years leading up to my decision to commit. Shawn and I are very blessed to have our little family. James is everything to us. His birth made not only parents, but aunts, uncles, and grandparents. He was surrounded by love and added to so many other lives. If I can complete my family, why not help someone else complete theirs? We had our single embryo transfer in January and we were blessed to have her decide to stick around. The pregnancy was pretty uneventful and about as “textbook” as you could get. Toward the end it started to wear down on me. James was born a few weeks early so we assumed this one would end the same way. By 41 weeks I decided to give in and have a small intervention. I went in and had my membranes swept. I started cotton root bark and pumping that evening. I went to bed that night hoping that in the next 24 hours labor would start. The next morning, I slept in, since I wasn’t allowed to go to work anyway. About 9:30 I woke up and rolled out of bed. I was having some contractions that were a little different that the ones I had been having for the last month, but they weren’t painful. I jumped into the shower and by the time I got out I knew I was in labor. Before I could even get dressed I called/texted my entire team. I started bouncing on my labor ball, breathing, and changing positions. By the time Shawn arrived home at 11:00 I knew I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I didn’t care if I was going to spend the next two days in labor at the birth center, I knew I wanted my giant tub of water! I called my midwife and asked her to run the water. We arrived around 11:30 and I requested she check me. I was already a 5! I got into the water and all of a sudden a huge sense of relief came over me. Her dads, my mom, my sister, and my doula arrived shortly thereafter. I had my doula to the left and my husband to the right. Her dads pressed on my hips and I felt surrounded by support. The pain soon returned and by around 1:00 I was beyond exhausted. The pain was completely different than with James. All I could think of was the fact that I had to do this for many more hours. I knew I couldn’t do it so I started to think about requesting a transfer to a hospital for an epidural. That’s when I got curious and reached down. I felt something and decided to call in the midwife (my support actually decided to call the midwife after I yelled “I feel something” multiple times.). My midwife came in and she told me I was complete. James was out in about ten minutes so I figured I was almost done with this labor. I was WRONG! After awhile of pushing my midwife did an exam and she told me there was cervix left. She told me I could either try to breathe through a couple contractions or she could push it behind the baby’s head. I basically told her no. She was actually very respectful of that decision. She could have reached in and moved it, but she respected my decision (as insane as it was) and allowed me to push. I ended up pushing for about 75 minutes before she was finally born. It probably would have been cut dramatically if I had allowed her to move my cervix, but this was the decision I made and everyone respected it (in case you can’t tell this was really important to me). brittany One of her dads sat on the side of the tub the entire time I was pushing, just waiting to catch his baby. After over an hour of pushing she was finally here, still in her sac, and he got the chance to grab her. It’s all a little blurry from here and I’m sure facts are missing. What I remember is trying to catch my breathe (I wasn’t going anywhere, I had done my part), when my midwife in the strongest voice said to me “you need to get out the tub NOW”. She has never spoken to me like that before so I knew she meant business. I hopped out and they put her on the ground (on a blanket and warmer) while they tried to get her to breathe. This little girl isn’t my daughter, but as long as she’s still attached to me, I still feel responsible for her. They ended up having to give her a few puffs of oxygen in order to get her to breathe. As soon as she started crying they were able to cut the cord (it was done pulsing anyway). Once again my midwife got stern with me and told me to lay down. She told me she needed me to trust her because I was losing a lot of blood. It took three shots in the thigh, two pills up the rear, and an internal attempt to stop the bleeding. After I was done bleeding I was able to take the focus off myself and watch her dads start the bond with their baby. They were already skin to skin falling in love. Words can’t describe what I saw, and I’m not articulate enough to do it justice, but I’ll try. Watching them with her, especially in those first few minutes was almost as amazing as the first few minutes with my son. They had worked so hard and put in so much energy into becoming parents and at this moment they finally had her in her arms. I was surrounded by my  husband, mom, sister, and doula in those moments so I was surrounded by support. They eventually took her upstairs to their room and I had a chance to focus on my healing. They came down a few hours later and I got a chance to see her and hold her. My son arrived later that evening after daycare and he finally got a chance to put a face to the name and bump. My other sister had arrived so everyone got a chance to see and hold her. She was perfect and healthy. I spent the next two days resting and having great visits from her. I watched her dads learn about her personality and preferences. I loved watching them figure her out. I got 10 months (yes, it was technically 10 months), to learn about her (like she kicks even when she sleeps), but this was their chance. Ten days postpartum we dropped them off at the airport so they could return home. This was the end of a chapter in all of our lives, but not the end of an amazing relationship and friendship. The bond we have formed with our two families is something that can’t be recreated. I have already enjoyed watching her grow via pictures. I love to hear stories about her, but I’m glad to be back with my family too. James completely understands the entire process and has had no problems processing it. We were very open from the beginning about the entire thing. I’m so grateful for all the love and support I have received from everyone. Looking forward to our next journey…. Maybe she needs a sibling……
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Jun 172016
By Bethany Rydmark My firstborn Lucie spoiled me rotten by coming at 39 weeks and 6 days, sparing me from even experiencing the “this is my due date” feeling. This time around, 40 weeks came…and went. And 41 weeks came…and went. What did I do with myself, waiting for an overdue baby? First: focus on the reminder that “overdue” isn’t as precise as the calendar makes it seem. Then: eat deep dish pizza (and Eggplant Parmesan – what the heck), go for pedicures and foot reflexology, have tea parties with my two year old, finally hang those frames for my gallery wall, eat doughnuts, attend toddler book club, buy fudge at the Made in Oregon store… I accepted the help of kind friends who came to play with energetic Lucie while my beach ball belly slowed me down. I walked my way along the Columbia River, watching airplanes come and go at PDX International. I tended my little orchid, focusing on the unknown of that re-bloom and taking solace in the reminder of nature’s rhythms are full of wisdom. I went to the movies alone and cried over immigrants…sinking deep into theater seats and memories of family stories of those who came by sea to this continent. Thinking of the ways we’re born into family by no choice of our own, inheriting lore and legacy. Pondering the pains and bravery of so many searching for a new home, a new life. Imagining my own little girl, soon leaving everything she’d known for the past nine months to arrive in a new world. And then, on a Friday morning, just after midnight, another round of contractions began. In preceding weeks, I’d been through a few sessions of long, semi-regular contractions that didn’t end in a baby. I trusted they were doing their job of getting baby well positioned and my body ready for the task, but frankly I was tired of asking myself, “Could this be it?” I’d been going to bed most nights listening to my hypnobabies tracks, relying on the same words that helped me through Lucie’s drug-free labor and delivery to prepare me again for a hoped-for water birth. This time, though, as contractions started up again in the darkness, I thought, “Nope. I’m sick of those recordings, and I’m not going to get my hopes up.” [While simultaneously getting my hopes up, because, well, let’s be honest.] With a feathered hug of pillows under my belly and between my knees and behind my back and under my head, I put my headphones in, and instead turned on Audrey Assad’s brand new album, and closed my eyes again. I drifted in and out of consciousness, awakened by those tugging muscles and lulled to sleep again by peaceful songs. The hungry two year old snapped me out of my trance around six in the morning. She’s always bright and cheery and starving when the sun comes up (and sometimes before). As I fed her breakfast and packed her for her day, helping her finish up Valentines for her classmates, I sadly felt the contractions dissipate. Oh well. Ted took her to school, and I took a shower. (Oh, the days!) When I was alone again, the contractions came back to say hello. I couldn’t decide whether to keep my 10am acupuncture appointment or lay low at home, but after chatting with my midwife I decided to throw the bags in the car just in case and have Ted come back to drive me. I had a few more regular contractions in the waiting room and while I was on the acupuncturist’s table. Then one huge one toward the end of my session was enough of a nudge to help us decide to head into the birthing center afterward rather than go home. 11:30am: We arrived at the birthing center, and I felt sheepish, like maybe I shouldn’t be taking their time just yet. I didn’t want to be sent home after a false start. 11:45am: Ted and I settled into the birthing suite, and I tried to lay down and rest…but nothing felt comfortable. 12:00pm: My midwife and her assistants continued to check in on us, but I really just wanted space. I spent an hour with my music and my birthing ball and eventually Ted convinced me to get into the warm water, though I still didn’t feel like I was really “ready.” I mean, it sounded nice, but I didn’t want to risk it not being helpful later when I really *did* need the relief. Good thing I listened to Ted. Somewhere in that noon hour, everything shifted and a switch flipped. I knew it was the real deal. One way or another, we were having a baby before we left the building. 1:00pm: Ted texted our families…and I started to panic. If it was already this intense this early in the “this is real” stage, how on earth was I going to last another six…eight…hours? Oh, silly me. At some point I remember laying there in the water, eyes mostly closed, muttering something to Ted and the midwife about how, “I keep thinking of all the hard things I’ve ever done in life, and if I’ve done those I can do this.” I didn’t tell them then, but I was picturing Dead Woman’s Pass: the hardest, highest point at 13,828′ of oxygen-deprived elevation on the Inca Trail. Jello-legs, pitted-out clothes, and enough apprehension and dread stored up beforehand to fuel every last ounce of determined stubbornness needed to reach the top. I’d climbed the Middle and South Sisters (10,047′ and 10,358′) in Oregon. I’d climbed Pike’s Peak in Colorado (14,110′). I’d pushed myself through 80 kilometers of brutal sand-fly, mud-pit trekking in New Zealand’s Kahurangi National Park and something like 70 wild kilometers in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. And of course, I’d birthed an 8lbs. 6oz. baby just a few years prior. Labor was hard, but I knew I could push through this, too. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was to look up and find that I was only a few dozen steps away from the summit. 1:31pm: A baby with a full head of hair and two curious eyes maneuvered her little arms against my shoulder, trying to look me in the face. Just like that, she was here. Marion Frances Rydmark. “I’d say about ninety minutes of active labor,” my midwife told me afterward. An hour and a half to change my whole world. Twenty minutes after, I stood up from the tub, took one glorious hot shower, and stepped into the next great adventure of our lives… Erin Tole Photography
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Jun 012016
By Lauren Hartmann  
The birth story of our third child little Miss Alice could not have been more different than the birth stories of her big sister and brother. Even though she’s pretty new around here, she is already showing us that she is going to be a girl who blazes her own trail and does things her own way and in her own timing.
My Birth Story: The Birth of Alice Rosalie // via The Little Things We Do
If you haven’t read my other birth stories you can read Fern’s here and Clive’s here, but the basic gist of it is this…
My first birth was at an out-of-hospital birthing center (Andaluz Waterbirth Center) where I delivered my daughter Fern. Her birth was 12 hours of steady and straight-forward labor from start to finish. She was a brow presentation which made pushing incredibly challenging (3 hours long), but in the end she made her way into the world was was healthy and alert and I felt strong and empowered. My second birth was at home. My labor was longer and harder – 19 hours with 4 hours of pushing. Clive came into this world weighing in at 10 lbs. 8 oz., 23″ long and with a gigantic 15″ head. He was also posterior (well almost…”sunny side sideways”).
That labor left me a bit scarred to say the least. It was technically successful and my midwives were wonderful, but it was just really difficult for me to process emotionally. As a result I decided I wanted to go back to the same birthing center where I had Fern. Essentially there isn’t a ton of difference between a birthing center and a home birth as I would have to be transferred to a hospital in the event of an emergency, but for some reason it felt “safer” to me. I just couldn’t really get over the mental hurdle of being in the same place as my last birth.
Over the course of this third pregnancy I learned that this little lady I was growing was going to challenge me and push me to my limits in an entirely new way. The entire process was just harder all around. More aches and pains…nausea well into my second trimester (even though I barely had it at all with my other pregnancies). We had a worry with our 20 week ultrasound where they found a soft marker for Down’s Syndrome. I also dealt with severe anemia and then borderline high blood pressure and a preeclampsia scare which led to NSTs throughout the final months of pregnancy (after the initial scare and some interventions everything leveled out, but I still received wonderful close care). It was a lot. By the time the final weeks of pregnancy rolled around it was a fairly strong understatement to say that I was feeling a bit anxious . Our online pharmacy offers generic medicines .
For weeks all I could think about what birth and how much I was dreading it. In my worst-case-scenario-forming-mind, I just “knew” it was going to be long and terrible and horrifically painful. I psyched myself out to the Nth degree and pretty much cried every day about how much I didn’t want to have to give birth. At the same time, I found myself wanting it to come quickly so I could just get it over with, because I now know that my body makes BIG babies and I simply couldn’t escape the fear that with every day that passed our “little Alice” was quickly turning into a “great big Alice” who was going to be super painful to deliver.
I tried to stay positive about the whole thing in the days leading up to Alice’s birth. I filled up my calendar with fun activities like dinners with friends, mani pedis and having my house professionally cleaned. But once my due date came and went my anxiety level began to steadily increase. Every morning I woke up in tears, filled with disappointment that I hadn’t gone into labor during the night and lamenting how big Alice was going to be the longer she cooked.
Finally on the 5th day after Alice’s due date, I decided it was time to “let it go”. In my heart, I truly believed that part of the reason Alice wasn’t coming out, was because she and my body could feel my fear. It might sound weird – and maybe it is a little – but I really do believe that the mind is a powerful tool when it comes to birth. I had gone to a midwife appointment that morning and after an unsuccessful attempt at stripping my membranes or even having a cervical check (apparently it was in a weird, tilted-back position because of Alice’s position which made it difficult) I was definitely feeling discouraged and needed the cathartic release of all of my fears and anxieties. So, I sat down and wrote this blog post.
Around 3:00 PM (within about about an hour of publishing the post), I had a couple of contractions. I had been having them for weeks at this point, but they were always erratic, so I didn’t think much of it.
Around 4:00 PM I decided that these contractions felt different than the others I had been having before this, so I called my husband at work to tell him to be sure to head home right after work “just in case”. My contractions were varying from 20-40 minutes apart, lasting about 30 seconds to a minute, but I figured it would be nice to have him around to entertain the kids and make dinner since it wasn’t the most comfortable. I was able to handle them fine though.
Around 6:00 PM I called my parents to ask if they could come take our kids for the night. My contractions were still 20-40 minutes apart and definitely manageable, but having kids hang on me while my uterus contracted wasn’t my favorite and I figured with them gone I could maybe get some rest before labor “really started”…hopefully sometime during the night. I texted my midwife to let her know what was going on so I would be on her radar for the evening “just in case”.
Around 8:00 PM my parents picked up our kids and my husband and I sat down to watch “Fear the Walking Dead” and eat ice cream (as one does during labor). I asked Craig to pause the show a couple of times during contractions so I could get comfortable and breathe through them, but then we just went back to watching the show.
Around 9:00 PM I texted my midwife because the contractions had gotten to be 10-15 minutes apart and were lasting for a minute to a minute-and-a-half. I told her I was going to take a shower and rest, but that it seemed like maybe labor would be “really starting” during the night sometime. I tidied up the house for about 15 minutes before heading to the shower and during that time had 4 pretty strong contractions lasted at least a minute (some almost two minutes). I texted my midwife again to let her know that things were speeding up so maybe we would be going to the birthing center sooner rather than later.
Around 9:50 PM I realized that I probably wasn’t going to make it to the shower. My contractions had ramped up in intensity really suddenly and were coming every 2 minutes and lasting for at least a minute. I called my midwife to tell her I thought we should meet at the birth center. She said my birth team could be there by 11:00 so we agreed to meet then.
Around 10:20 PM I started wondering if my birth team was going to make it to the birth center in time. We live close to the birth center, so I knew that we could get there quickly, but I didn’t know if 11:00 would be too late. It seemed ridiculous in my mind because I had never had super fast labors in the past, but these contractions were so close together I was starting to get a little nervous. Craig packed up the car and I made him grab extra towels “just in case”.
Around 10:45 PM we arrived at the birth center. I was thankful that one of the apprentice midwives was already there and had filled up the tub. I immediately stripped down and got in. I labored in the tub for just a bit, but couldn’t get comfortable and quickly moved to the toilet – my odd, but most-favored birthing position. I labored there for a bit, but couldn’t get comfortable there either. I kept moving around, which was something I never did in my other labors. I simply couldn’t seem to do anything to stay ahead of the pain from the contractions. I tried standing, leaning on Craig, leaning on furniture…it was just beginning to feel like too much. I got in and out of the tub two more times. It just felt SO fast and overwhelming. I was getting worried that I had endless hours of this left and I didn’t feel like I was equipped to handle it.
Around 12:15 PM I was back on the toilet laboring and getting loud (like real loud). I asked Craig to go get my midwife who was in the next room. I was freaking out, because I felt like I “had to poop” but I wasn’t sure if it was poop or if I needed to push. I didn’t want to exhaust myself pushing if it was too early (and I was almost positive that it was too early), so I wanted her to check me. There are typically no cervical checks at the birth center, unless you request them or there is a reason for concern. She checked and confirmed that my cervix was “completely gone” and I could start working on pushing. This was the part I had feared the most. For me pushing is absolute hell and lasts SO long. I pushed on the toilet for a bit longer, before getting back into the tub.
Each contraction was brutal and they were coming one right on top of the next. The pressure was insane and I kept feeling like her head was “right there”, but there was no way it could be, because it was just “too fast”. At this point it’s all mostly just a blur, but within minutes I could feel myself at the edge of the gloriously awful precipice known as “the ring of fire”. I knew that if I gave a couple of really strong pushes that baby bowling ball was going to explode out of me. I tried to hold back a little, but I knew I had reached the point of no return. She had to come out sometime, so and it was now or never. During one insanely long contraction I gave push after push and suddenly her head popped out! It freaked me out a bit, but my midwives and Craig were able to calm me down enough to make it through one more contraction.
At 12:43 PM I had my last contraction and Alice Rosalie officially made her entrance into the world. 9 lbs. 4 oz. and 20.5″ of tiny perfection (ironically a 9 pound baby is “tiny” in my world). When her body came out and I could actually see/feel her do that cool spin movethat I’ve seen in birth videos so many times, but have never quite experienced because of my oddly positioned babies. So amazing!
My Birth Story: The Birth of Alice Rosalie // via The Little Things We Do
My Birth Story: The Birth of Alice Rosalie // via The Little Things We Do
My Birth Story: The Birth of Alice Rosalie // via The Little Things We Do
My entire labor from the very first far spaced contractions was just 9 hours, but active labor was only 2-3 hours and pushing was only 20 minutes! Such a far cry from my previous birth experiences. I had friends and family praying that this birth experience would be a redemptive one for me and it was exactly that. While it was definitely an intense, fast and furious labor, it was such a great experience and we all just kept marveling at how insane it was that she arrived so quickly!
This is probably (most likely) our last little one, so I am very thankful that my last birth experience was such a positive one. We are all over-the-moon to finally have our Alice here (especially Fern and Clive!) and we can’t wait to get to know the little trail blazer she will become!
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May 262016
 Andaluz is proud to support and be a Sister Birth Center to MamaBaby Haiti; a birth center offering free prenatal, birth, and postpartum care to the most vulnerable mothers and babies in the western hemisphere.  As many of you probably know, on January 12th 2010, the Caribbean island of Haiti was rocked by a powerful and devastating earthquake that killed over 160,000 people and displaced close to 1.5 million more. Prior to the earthquake, many had no clue where Haiti was located, what kind of impoverished conditions it’s people were living in, or about it’s rich history of slavery and overcoming the French. Once the giant earthquake hit though, Haiti was once again “put on the map” and many have since fallen in love with it’s people, it’s tenacity, and have committed their hearts, time, and money to help support these people whom they have grown to love. MamaBaby Haiti was birthed just after the earthquake when a few local Portland midwives (Jennifer and Patricia were a part of the founding crew) went down to help provide relief; what they saw when they got there though, was something they knew they could not walk away from. Mothers and babies were dying every day and not from extreme illness or catastrophic conditions, but simply because they did not have the proper skilled attendants assisting them in something as normal as giving birth. In Haiti 1 in 263 women who have a live birth will die in childbirth or in the immediate postpartum period.
mamas and babies

Healthy women make for healthy families

The reason why women do not seek prenatal and birth care in Haiti is twofold. One, they do not have access to skilled birth attendants, and two, they cannot afford to pay what is typically charged for a woman to give birth. This is where we come in! MamaBaby Haiti is a birth center and health clinic and we provide a safe place for Haitian women to receive compassionate and respectful FREE prenatal, birth, postpartum, and onhealthy canadian pharmacy and gynecological care at the hands of skilled Haitian midwives. Where there is severe poverty, mothers often have to choose between food for their family or having a skilled attendant at their birth- it is our core belief that no mother or family should every have to make this impossible choice. We are dedicated to improving the health and well being of the women and infants of Haiti, one woman and one child at a time. This vision is achieved through the application of evidence based midwifery care, delivered primarily by Haitian midwives and supported by volunteer midwives from around the world.

The clinic has been open now for just over 5 years and is doing some incredible things. Apart from the daily grind of providing hope and care to the women and babies they see, MBH is now in the process of starting their very own midwifery school. Currently, the nearest school is in Hinche, which is a 5 hour bus ride away on treacherous roads. All of their midwives currently come from this part of Haiti, which has forced them to live apart from their families for much of the year. MBH is planning on training local Cap Haitian nurse auxiliary’s to become internationally recognized midwives where they will then be able to serve their own communities, stay with their families, and work at the birth center and in mobile clinics so that no mother will be without prenatal and birth care. MamaBaby Haiti also has big  dreams to purchase their own land so that they can expand their services and build a birth center that will meet the needs of the mothers, midwives, and those who give their time to serve at the birth center. They are dreaming big and excited to see what the next couple of years brings!
wideline teaching

Haitians serving Haitians

MamaBaby Haiti wants to see Haiti and her people thrive. They daily feel honored to be able to play even the smallest part in providing education, jobs, healthcare, and hope for a new way of life to each and every Haitian they meet. To find out how to get involved, visit!  
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May 212016

Last week seven midwives had a fun hour in the warm afternoon playing with seven happy babies.

Bouncing Babies

Playing with our cuddly babies.

Having fun. Getting ready for the pose.

Working on keeping babies happy

Bouncing babies!

Midwife photo 2016

Ahhh... the perfect pose!

Midwives standing

Gotta try a standing pose.

A scheduled seventh baby didn't show but we had an extra laying around at the birth center, hehe.  What a cute little new bundle! Tracy was so glad momma and poppa were open to letting him see the great outdoors at just a few hours old!

Squirmy baby! Carrie has strong arms, so she won't drop her!

Oni has a perfect smile and pose. Baby has something other than a photo shoot in mind...

Baby asks, "Why is everyone staring at me?" Patricia says, "Because you are so dang cute!"

Just another day for Marilyn. She is ALWAYS smooching on her clients babies!

I think Megan is enjoying this snuggle...

Jennifer w/laughing baby

Laughing babies make everyone smile. Never mind the drool on the shirt!

Thank you to the mommas who brought their babies to share, and thank you to Heidi Helser for the lovely photos! She is so good with babies!

Go to our midwife page to see the final pictures we chose!

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May 162016
Written by Echo Zielinski 6241256621_87f40e757f  

Poppy is just over 48 hours old now and I am sitting on my couch while she lays asleep on my shoulder and Alomae is upstairs asleep. It is incredibly quiet in my house and the perfect time to write down Poppy’s birth story…it’s a quick one!

Wednesday October 12th was just another day of being pregnant! I feel like the only change that day was the Peace I felt from fully surrendering my pregnancy as written about here. It’s funny how once we surrender (and I mean really surrender) God sometimes just lets us have what we need!

I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions (just tightening, no pattern or pain) but nothing note worthy off and on for days. At around 6pm Andy left for SEVEN which is 7 weeks of prayer and fasting for the city of Portland that our church puts on every year. I joked as he walked out the door “Pray a new baby is born in portland tonight!” He looked at me like I was a little nuts and continued on his way!

I settled in on the couch with Alomae and decided to do the new iphone update. I plugged my phone in and let it do it’s thing for the next hour or so… with 10 minutes left until I could use my phone, at 7:30pm my water broke! I could not help but laugh as I stood in my living room doing a little dance as I figured out where to go or what to do since my phone could not call out! Alomae just looked at me and smiled, not having a clue what was going on! at 7:40pm I was able to unplug my phone and I ran upstairs to the bathroom where I made my calls. call 1: to my sister who lives 3 hours away and would need to make the drive down! call 2: to Andy, my husband call 3: to my midwife My sister hit the road, Andy headed home, and my midwife told me to call her when I wanted her to come! At 8:15pm (ish)  Andy arrived home and at about the same time my first contractions began. Nothing major and I could still talk through them as I walked around upstairs and made sure everything was ready and that Alomae would be okay (when I was in labor with Alomae my contractions were so intense that I could not focus or think for about 3.5 hours so I wanted to know everyone was good if/when I got to that place.) At 8:20pm My midwife and I were texting to try and coordinate when she should come. I told her that my contractions had begun but that I could still focus through them, that they were every few minutes and that I was fine! Her text back was “I am just going to come to you!” She headed to the birth center to pick up extra birth supplies and arrived just as the clock turned 9:00pm. during this time I just sat in my little bathtub (I thought it was way too soon to fill up the birth tub!) listening to my playlist of Patty griffin, Eastmountainsouth, & Rosie Thomas (“wedding day” was playing when Poppy was born!) and organized the folders on my iphone that the update had messed up (I did this until about 15 min before Poppy was born- I really did not believe I was in very active labor!) I would have a contraction, blow through it and then pick up my phone and be on my way until the next one came! Silly, i know! While this was going on, (around 9:10pm now) Andy was trying to put Alomae to sleep but she knew something was up and was too excited to lay down! So out she came and hung out by the tub by me. My midwife and Andy decided to hook up the hose and fill up my tub! But that was not going to work! We live in an old downtown NW apt and the sink was too old and could not handle the pressure so it instantly began to leak from the bottom! So the tiny bathtub it was… Little did we know I would not be spending much more time in my tub! About 5 min later I began to feel pressure and told them I think she is coming! One uncontrollable push later Poppy’s head was out and a minute after that our sweet baby was born at 9:18pm (1 hour after the first contraction began!) It was crazy and I was laughing! I could not believe Poppy was already here and that my birth really happened like that! Andy called my sister who was driving from Seattle to say “we have a baby!” I don’t think she quite believed it until Poppy gave out her first cry for her to hear! That very cry was the only part that scared Alomae, and she too began to cry! I asked her if she wanted to get into the tub with Poppy and I and she lit up and was happy as can be after that! (before you think gross, the water was still very clean because I did not birth my placenta for another hour, in which Alomae was not in the tub!) My second midwife arrived about 20 minutes after the birth and both midwives were gone by 11:00pm! it was fast, it was crazy, it was amazing! truly truly amazing! I spent hours in the middle of the night unable to sleep from the adrenaline and pure awe of replaying the birth over and over in my head! I trusted my body and it came through for me! It worked above and beyond what I knew it was capable of and I am so thankful to have such a beautiful experience and memory! You can watch the birth of Poppy below (forgive me for the poor quality, We had high hopes for a beautifully photographed and videoed birth, but she came so quick so all we got were some iphone clips!)  
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Sep 262015
Our annual summer potluck is one of our favorite events of the year! We love seeing our growing families year after year as well as clients who are just joining our community. It was a beautiful day at Hoyt Arboretum and as usual, we danced to the music of Fools in Paradise, ate yummy food, and enjoyed seeing everyone's families! IMG_0202 facebook_1443328595143 The children especially enjoyed the face-painting! facebook_1443328618269 facebook_1443328662792 We made some great memories. Thank you to all who came! IMG_0197 facebook_1443328693952
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Aug 172015
We are so excited to announce we have a new Andaluz Mom's Group starting this week!
This is a space for moms with littles to be in community and to support one another through this exciting and sometimes challenging time. Our Moms group is free and open to all and is led by Andaluz mama Blair and her baby daughter. Come catch up with friends from birth class or make new friends, and invite your friends as well. Drop in and join us on Thursdays, starting August 20th, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at our Belmont studio at 3825 SE Belmont, Portland, Oregon 97214.
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Jul 062015
20150706_110651 Recently, Andaluz Waterbirth Center sent our midwives Oni Tschudy, Marilyn Milestone, Patricia Couch and Tracy Lawson-Allen to be trained as instructors in the mamalates method. Mamalates classes are movement classes for mamas, based on pilates principles, that have a specific focus on recovery from birth but also include essential exercises for pregnant mamas and mamas who had a baby long ago as well. Our midwives loved the training and learned so much, especially about how to check for separated abdominal muscles and how to bring them back together, and also how to help mamas recover from cesarean births. 20150706_104153 When we took the training, we were eager to bring what we learned back to our clients at Andaluz and have already started to share what we learned with our clients. But at our training we also discovered that we had the opportunity to continue the operation of Studio mamalates that was already going strong on SE Belmont as it was planning to close otherwise! And the new Andaluz Waterbith Center satellite studio will not only continue to offer mamalates and yoga, but will also have childbirth and birth-related classes, babywearing meetups, and more. Watch the Andaluz website for more info on our new studio offerings!20150706_110354

Wendy Foster, mamalates owner, is a wonderful teacher. She is very excited to have the midwives of Andaluz teach mom & baby mamalates and represent her brand!


The Belmont Studio is at 3825 SE Belmont in Portland.


Andaluz Waterbirth Center's first mamalates series starts July 29th and runs for four weeks on Wednesday mornings from 10-11:15 a.m. Pregnant and postpartum moms are welcome. Babies are a welcome part of the mamalates routine! Cost for the four week series is $70 and includes Wendy Foster's mom+babe DVD. To register, contact Tracy at
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