Creative Childbirth Concepts

Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth. Doula Services. It's Your Birth. Be Creative


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Preparing your child for the birth of a sibling: 4 creative tips to encourage family bonding.

Girl Holding PlantSo you have a toddler, maybe a school aged child and now you’re pregnant again.  The first time around you and your partner took all the steps to prepare everything just in time for baby’s arrival:

The nursery – coordinated to perfection.

The birth plan – printed (with copies to spare).

So now that your estimated due date for THIS baby has been discussed and you feel it closing in week by week, what are your plans for getting ready to birth again?  Continue reading


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Can the evidence for music therapy change birth policies at local hospitals?

I had a huge opportunity this week.  I was asked to speak to members of the OB Shared Governance Committee (basically the hands on policy makers) at a local area hospital.  When I prepared for my talk, I planned to just talk about music for all the stages of labor and delivery.  After all,  I only had 20 minutes and could easily speak on the topic for 20 hours.   But I quickly realized after hearing from the postpartum nurses, surgical nurses, educators and lactation consultants in the room that they wanted more information about the applications of music therapy for the whole spectrum of the childbirth experiences.   Continue reading


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How to get creative while giving birth.

When  you’re pregnant, everyone has seems to have advice for you:

“You’ve got to get this stroller.”

“You’re going to want the epidural!”

“Don’t eat deli meat or sushi.”

“You’d better hire a doula.”

Well, what advice works for some, does not always work for everyone. There are seemingly 7 billion different ways to learn about and prepare for childbirth too.  There are birth prep classes that help you focus on breathing, childbirth models that help your partner learn to support you, and there are even birthing techniques that encourage hypnosis or ask you to travel inward to explore your fears before giving birth.

At Creative Childbirth Concepts we believe that as humans we are inherently creative.  We are designed to express ourselves through art, music, movement.  This does not change when we are pregnant.    We can relate to others through these same types of creative expressions.   Even eye contact and body language are part of our creative expression.  So,  our classes are designed to encourage you to get creative before, during and after birth.

Move your body. Don’t take labor lying down!  Research the best out-of-bed labor positions and in-bed labor positions so that no matter what type of birth you have (medicated or un-medicated) you have options to move.  Moving your body during birth helps create more space within the pelvis and allows you to work with your baby and help your baby navigate through as he or she descends for birth.

Pregnant woman

Walk, move, dance and sway during labor.

 

Use Music.  Using music during gentle movement practices makes moving your body that much easier.  You see, when music plays and there is a gentle steady tempo, your brain will be activated to plan motor movement that coordinates, or synchronizes with that musical tempo.  Ever find yourself tapping your toes without meaning to?  ipodWhile in labor, any music you’ve practiced to during prenatal relaxation or movement routines will trigger or cue your body to return to that state of mind:  relaxed, moving gently and encouraging your baby to come down.   Not sure what type of music to use, check out Tips from a board certified music therapist.

Bring Inspiration into your birthing space.  We’ve covered moving and bringing music to change up your birth space but what about meaningful visual art and items of significance?  Maybe you had a mother’s blessing, baby shower or special day to honor your baby.  Look at the items used for that day that made you feel special.  Maybe a banner or a decoration, a small token or favor from the shower.  Bring those items with you as a “art installation” if you will.  Not to just “decorate” but to bring meaning into the birthing space for you.  Perhaps you created a special piece of art for the baby’s nursery  with your partner or turned your birth plan into a “vision board.”   Don’t be afraid to bring your belongings, those things that make you feel like you belong or baby belongs, into your birthing environment.DB mandala crop.jpeg  If that is at home, create a nest or a room that you will go to and labor when you need time to reflect or be motivated.  If your birth plan involves moving to a birth center or hospital for delivery, pack the most important items on top so you can put up your flags, banners or art as soon as you arrive to help comfort your space.

Classes with Kate Taylor of Creative Childbirth Concepts® help expecting couples learn to use these and many other creative ideas during birth prep and birthing time.   Creative Childbirth classes give birth teams time to connect, express and make their birth vision into something tangible to take with.  For some that is a playlist, for others sculpture and art, flags and inspirational mantras.

What does being creative for birth mean to you?  Let us know what you did or plan to do to make your birth creative.  You never know, you may inspire someone else.   It’s your Birth.  Be Creative.

Learn more by visiting www.creativechildbirthconcepts.com and register for our upcoming three part birth class series at Premier Wellness and Chiropractic in Crystal Lake, IL. Class start October 14th, running Friday nights 7:00-8:30 for three weeks.  Classes conclude October 28th!

Register today because space is limited!

 

 


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Music Therapists can now earn continuing education credits through Creative Childbirth Concepts®. Sign up Today!

They’re called CMTEs and for many music therapists these letters are the gold standard for continuing education.  100 CMTEs are required to renew  board certification status every five years.  After re-certifying three times now, I’ll tell you those five years pass too quickly! As a growing field of allied health professionals, music therapists are constantly seeking innovative ways to earn credits while learning about the newest, most effective applications of music therapy.

Now there is a new choice.
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I have been SO inspired over the last few days!  music art growth love

All of these amazing birth workers and doulas from around the world are celebrating the work of birth support.  More and more individuals and institutions are starting to recognize the value of continuous labor support and it’s incredible to see.

 

In fact, I was asked by the nursing honors society of DePaul University to speak to their nursing students and professional RN’s next month about my work as a music therapist in childbirth.  Today they asked me for a short biography and some speaking points.  Well for someone like me who wants to passionately share every detail about my work and experience, the term “short biography” is an oxymoron.

So today, as a challenge to myself, I’m sharing my short biography for World Doula Week.

To be fair, I have written some that are 50 words or less for many conference brochures, but this one feels really good to me and is inspiring some major copy changes across my current website and my new projects too.  I had to really stop critiquing myself and write this from a place of celebrating my unique business and all of the amazing experiences I’ve been privileged to have as a professional doula and board certified music therapist.  I also had to let go of the idea of putting every little detail in it and instead just paint an overall picture of well-rounded and authentic experience.    Either way, it’s done and here it is:

Kate Taylor, MA, MT-BC is the owner of Creative Childbirth ConceptsⓇ which provides full spectrum pre and perinatal music therapy and birth services to all Chicago area families.   Through this unique music therapy practice Kate also assists women in labor and delivery as a birth doula.  Kate has advanced clinical training in providing Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) support, as well as applications of guided imagery, neurologic music therapy and end of life care.  Kate draws upon her experience of the creative arts to deliver innovative childbirth education classes, music therapy assisted childbirth and unmatched personalized support for all families.  Kate enjoys using creative writing, movement, music and art in birth preparation to help families be ready for birth and beyond.  Kate also uses these creative tools to train and supervise other music therapists and birth workers including fellow birth, postpartum and bereavement doulas.   Kate has presented her research at regional and national conferences of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), the Online Music Therapy Conference (OCMT) and the prestigious Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health.  Kate Taylor has also had the honor of speaking at the World Congress of Breastfeeding through La Leche League International and on behalf of organizations like the Holistic Moms Network.  More information about Kate can be found at www.birthmusic.net.   Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CreativeChildbirthConcepts, on twitter:  @musictherapy4me or on instagram @birthmusictherapy.


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What puts the “YOU” in DOULA? A few unique things about me as a doula.

WordItOut-word-cloud-1536563

For today’s blog in honor of #worlddoulaweek I’d like to share a list of things about me that I feel make me unique as a doula. You know why I became a doula but now it’s time to see how I use my special gifts and talents to provide the highest standard of support for you (my clients) and for all my fellow birth workers reading this who trust me as your mentor.

  • I am an excellent listener.
  • I am patient.
  • I am intuitive.
  • I accept your feelings, physical and emotional.
  • I support all of your feelings.
  • I want the best possible outcome for you and your family.
  • I can help you understand your choices.
  • I will present you with all the facts and options.
  • I can help you weigh the risks and benefits.
  • I will not make a choice for you or attempt to sway you with my beliefs.
  • I know when to let you be alone so you can do it on your own.
  • I can help you understand yourself so you’re more aware.
  • I bring out your creative side.
  • I love music but know when to enjoy the silence.
  • I see you not as mother, father, colleague, or friend but as human.
  • I have the highest regard for your life and dignity.
  • My continuous support can improve your outcomes.
  • I will make every attempt to help you achieve your goals.
  • My knowledge as a music therapist can greatly enhance your relationship with music and help you more fully embrace your experience.
  • I am professional and trustworthy.
  • I am authentic and kind.
  • I am here for you.
  • I am Kate Taylor. 2015 Headshot

Happy #WorldDoulaWeek!

Let me know how I can serve you! Email today mymusictherapist@gmail.com or visit www.birthmusic.net

 

 


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5 reasons why I became a DOULA

It’s #worlddoulaweek and today I’m counting down the top 5 reasons why I became a doula.

Reason #5:  Support

I knew I owed it to myself to hire someone dedicated to supporting me.

Just a few years before becoming pregnant with my first child, I trained in a method of using music therapy for birth.  During the final day of training I was diagnosed with an abscess that required surgery the very next day.   Continue reading


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Streaming music instead of screaming for birth.

0001(2)Yesterday my feed was BLOWING up with links to the news that Spotify streaming music service had scientifically designed a birthing playlist.  Yes, that’s right a playlist designed specifically to accompany women through childbirth by New York City-based OB-GYN Dr. Jacques Moritz.   The Huffington Post, Time.com and even YahooSports picked up the story.

This may be a new concept for some, but not for me.  I’ve built my entire music therapy practice around using music, including streaming playlists, for the whole spectrum of pre and perinatal experiences especially, fertility, pregnancy education, labor, delivery and postpartum  healing.    But Spotify already knew that I’m sure.  My profile is mymusictherapist and nearly 80% of my private playlists have birth related titles.

While I appreciate that Spotify is reaching out to OBs to curate playlists that reflect the birthing experience, I know, as does Dr. Mortiz that every experience is different.  This is why assessment of preference and familiarity is so important.  What if I played Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe at someone’s birth when if fact maybe that mom related that song to the last breaths of her loved one that died the year that song came out?  You never know, unless the birthing family chooses that song and desires to use it in their birth.  Again, it seems Spotify is just making the suggestions based on some sound advice:

  • There IS a place in labor for slow and mellow music as well as music with a strong tempo.
  • There ARE many reasons to use music with lyrics that make a women feel beautiful and connected to her birthing partner (Hello, oxytocin!).
  • Instrumental music IS often a preferred selection for relaxation and bonding, so it too has it’s place in a birth plan.
  • There IS a place for comforting and familiar music that puts mom at ease from the fear and hard work of labor.
  • There IS a science behind how music impacts the birthing mother’s limbic system (and more!)
  • Music can in fact be a wonderful distraction from the noises of some birthing environments (including the screams of other mothers who may not be coping as well or forgot to get a Spotify profile before their water broke.)

But, music for birth is more than that too.   Read a few of the testimonials from my birthing clients and you’ll see.  Their birth plans involved much more than just streaming music to drown out their screaming.  Rather, the music was an integral part to their therapeutic prenatal preparation.  Their music playlists were magical in how they connected them as a team, shaped their environment and created lifelong memories as a soundtrack to their birth.  The music helped heal their past birth experiences.  The music helped them anticipate their fears and anxiety and work through them by supporting imagery and reflection.  The music was “theirs” and the music was therapeutic.  It CHANGED their births.

This playlist announcement is kind of exciting to me as a birth expert and board certified music therapist.   Why?   Dr. Mortiz told the media that he sees nearly 70% of birthing families design a playlist of music during birth and spotify claims there are over 90,000 existing user playlists for pushing stages of labor.  While there may be music therapists concerned about telling Spotify or Dr. Mortiz how to better do their jobs, I’m sure they did their best with the knowledge (and more likely the algorithms) they had.  I’m more motivated to let the public know, there is more out there about the intentional and powerful use of music for birth!  

If 70% of birthing moms really embraced the therapeutic power of music with a trained guide who can help customize, personalize and navigate with them through the birthing experience, I’m going need a few more full time employees!

If the concepts behind the Spotify birthing playlist intrigue you, than having music designed especially for YOUR birth experience with YOUR musical preferences will really blow your mind.   Email me or contact me through my website www.birthmusic.net for a free consultation for birth music and music therapy assisted childbirth.   Tell Spotify, “Thanks for the head start” but keep on birthing and rock it in your own way.  This is just the beginning.   I can’t wait to hear more birth playlists from anyone who wants to make one.  After all,  It’s your Birth.  Be Creative.

Hey Spotify, you can email me too mymusictherapist@gmail.com!

Kate Taylor, MA, MT-BC

 


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Professional doula seeking supervision: serious inquires only.

I’d love to see a series of “want ads” like this. Personal ads placed by professional doulas who are serious about their business of being a doula, aware of the depth of their work, seeking structured and professional supervision.   Why would a doula need supervision?

Just this week, a question came across a very popular doula forum about “debriefing” or “venting” with other doulas about traumatic or difficult birth scenarios.  Let’s be honest, as doulas we are creating a market revolution of supportive, continuous, compassionate care in very savvy and innovative ways. And this is great because it means more and more families will experience what professional doulas have to offer. More and more care providers will start to see the benefits.  More and more demand for us. Which means more births to attend, more systems to navigate, more paper work, more placentas to encapsulate…

Anyone’s palms sweating yet?!

Deep focused Breathing. Feel your breath flow in and out. You’ve prepared for this surge in business. You’ve been trained, perhaps certified to handle the stages of labor and provide support throughout. You’ve honed your skills in touch and talk, bearing witness and reflective listening. You’ve advanced your business skills, done your market analysis and now you can warm chat the hell out of anyone. You know your ideal client. You’re booking 4 births a month and earning a living as a doula, doing your own taxes…Wait, my palms are sweating again.

Breathe.

Some doulas may head into this level of “busi-ness” with eager anticipation only to get knocked back a bit when suddenly the births they’ve been so well trained to attend start to wear us down.  Perhaps start to take over emotions a bit.  It may start as a reflection of how beautiful a birth was, or how strong that mother was.  Perhaps something happened that was different than what was “expected” and as a doula you witness something that hits hard.  Maybe you witness a mother experience an unwanted intervention or a difficult transition and suddenly, you find yourself remembering it all.the.time.   Feelings surface.  Lots of BIG FEELINGS SURFACE.

Now, I’m not saying all your feelings are negative or even as deep as a trigger for your own trauma.  No, not all. But some maybe.  Even just one emotion that still lingers as you read this.   What if just that one feeling  impacts you at your next birth?  What if you have a hard time staying “present” because that one feeling is still part of your thoughts?
The simple act of being present, especially in birth, impacts us, in that moment in time and in our future way of living.  I experienced these impacts early in my career.  First, I experienced it as a heart aching compassion for the parents of the children living with autistic spectrum diagnosis.   Next, by the penetrating grief of working with hospice families facing the deaths of their loved ones.  Currently, what I experience is a mix of oxytocin rush,  the dynamics of my own relationships and the ever present push to grow my birth business for world doula domination!   (Ok, maybe just big enough to pay all my bills and give back a little.)  Really, I’m a whole mess of emotions most of the time, so in some ways WE may not be that different from one another.  One difference I do see is that I can attest, from personal and professional experience, my doula friends, is that you should consider that you need more than just a “place to vent about a birth” or “someone to decompress with.”  You should consider for the sake of sustainablity as a professional doula that you too may need some skilled support.   I did.  After years of trying to bear it all myself, and process it all myself, hanging out with other doulas venting over Venti Mochas I realized,

I needed ongoing, structured and creative supervision in order to best fulfill my role as a birth worker. 

For me, the answer to my unspoken “want ad” for serious support came in the form of a colleague asking me to participate in peer supervision.  After my first two hour online peer supervision session everything felt lighter.  I felt more connected, creative and aware.  My movement felt fluid, my work more manageable.  My motivation had returned.  My work had more purpose.  

We recently published some of the results in the New Jersey Association of Music Therapy’s first ever online journal Music Therapy Clinician.  Since then, I have not looked back, never been busier or felt more balanced.    The road to maintaining that balance and achieving wellness as a birth worker feels less bumpy now and I see a few more “fueling” stations along horizon then before.  I know I can always turn to supervision for a hospitable respite, re-framing or a recharge before heading back down “Doula Road.”

This is why I offer structured, supportive supervision for doulas and other birth workers, music therapists and even consultations for parents seeking balance and mental wellness.  I believe there is a need for confidential and competent supervision in the childbirth profession.  I can relate to what you’re experiencing.  I can offer you an assessment to help you determine what you may be experiencing.  I can listen.  I can reflect.  I can try to understand and I can try to help you understand.  I can offer you unique and creative ways of processing what you witness as a birth worker, what you need as a professional and where you’re headed in life as a doula.  As a MT-BC, I adhere to a scope of practice and function under a code of ethics both of which consider the confidentiality of anyone I’m working with with the utmost importance and respect.  Therefore, what you process with me, stays with me.  What I offer is supervision, not socialization.  So while I may be sipping a venti mocha while we engage in your supervision and the caring I offer feels like a trusted friend, I am not a friend.  I’m a professional supervisor and you will be safe to share any and all reactions you have, judgements you make or feelings that surface from all aspects of your birthing business.

Please contact me, Kate Taylor, MA, MTBC at mymusictherapist@gmail.com  or visit www.birthmusic.net for more information.   Online group services for pre and perinatal music therapists are now available through the exclusive PPMT Supervision Group co-sponsored with Interlude Perinatal Support Services.

Email ppmtsupervision@gmail.com for more information about joining our next online series.


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Last week I was challenged by Julie over at Serenade Designs to consider my favorite quote and write about what it means to me.  I didn’t even have to think for more than a second before I pushed back my office chair, rolled across the floor to my bookcase and grabbed the small hand drum that contains my favorite quote.   This small hand drum has been in my grasp since the 1995 World Congress of Music Therapy held in Washington D.C.   On the hand drum is printed a quote from Dr. John Diamond the founder of the Institute for Music and Health which reads:

One day, well into the future,

Music will at last become

the Great Therapy.

And the drums of this present age

will then be acknowledged

as the first instruments

that helped Music

to ultimately fulfill

It’s long-anticipated promise.

Now, I’m not sure about you, but I see the words “music” and ” the Great Therapy” and I get pretty excited.  What’s more exciting is that since 1995 we have gained a much broader awareness and in depth understanding of the applications of music as therapy across the entire spectrum of life.  Originally, the author states, “one day, well into the future.”  Well, 20 years the future is already upon us and we, as individual music therapists and collectively as a profession, are marching toward the light of day when this future is a reality.  Each of us marches to a beat that provides us passion toward this ultimate goal of helping the world better understand the power of music and it’s role in healing and wellness.  We hold a large part of the responsibility of bringing that beat back to the forefront of everyone’s awareness.

On his blog on music, John Diamond, M.D.  has some interesting things to say about his approaches that rely on the use of music and arts for wellness, healing, and life enhancement.   The goal of the enhancing well-being or holistic health in individuals and communities is one that music therapists may find beneficial to review within their own theoretical and philosophical approaches to music therapy.   I personally find this holistic approach very useful in my own resource oriented music therapy practice especially how I integrate all of the creative arts when working with a population that is primarily “well”.  See, at Creative Childbirth Concepts® pregnancy and birth are not viewed as illnesses to be treated, but rather are as a very normal and natural part of development for many people around the world.  In fact, childbirth is one of the most universal experiences across humanity.  For even if perhaps we never bear children ourselves, we were all at one time born.  So, I’m thrilled when I find resources that challenge my understanding of music as therapy or music as a tool to unlock creativity and support multiple dimensions of wellness like psychosocial, spiritual, physical and emotional.  When I was reviewing the information available on Dr. John Diamond for this blog post, I stumbled across one of his books that I can’t wait to explore (pictured here).   I’m constantly teaching about the role of voice and song during pregnancy and the benefits lullaby at the time of birth.  I was just asking the question to a peer supervisor recently about the clinical role of “love” and “motherly nurturing” in applications of lullabies.  I do hope the text Music and Song, Mother and Love will expand my understanding of music and song in the context of mothering and love so that I can apply new understandings into music therapy for childbirth.  I’ll have to post a review once I finish.

Book by John Diamond, M.D.

Book by John Diamond, M.D.

While the specific approaches at the Institute for Music and Health may not match everyone’s specific “definition” of music therapy, it is very important in the context of our discussions as music therapists that we are aware of how the holistic healing professions are using music.  This way, we can continue to aspire towards the day in the (not so distant) future, when music therapists will be the ones who help show the world at long last that music IS the great therapy.   These words remain a constant inspiration for me to learn, to integrate what others have learned, and to always be willing to redefine how music can be used therapeutically to support universal experiences like childbirth.  So now you know how this quote inspires me as a music therapist.  How does this quote inspire YOU?  How can you help music fulfill it’s long anticipated promise to become the “Great Therapy”?