Polk County Birth Network

Polk County Birth Network

This new endeavor has been in the works for several weeks, due to an ever growing need for birth advocacy in our community and it is finally ready to roll out. We are very excited to share and announce the launch of the new Polk Count BirthNetwork headed up by Chapter Leader, Sarah Wingrove!  

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Birth Story Healing, A Different Way to Revisit Your Birth Story

Birth Story Healing, A Different Way to Revisit Your Birth Story

A woman’s experience of giving birth and becoming a mother is a powerful transformational journey. Birth is a life event that tests a woman’s physical and inner resources. In some instances, childbirth goes beyond the expected intensity, and a mother is left with unanswered questions and feelings of disappointment, deep sadness, regret, anger, blame or guilt about the events surrounding the birth of her baby.

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Empowered Birth: Do You Know Your Options?

Empowered Birth: Do You Know Your Options?

As part of its ongoing mission to serve the greater Tampa Bay community, TBBN is pleased to offer free, public seminars on understanding care and delivery options in childbirth.  "We believe that knowledgeable women are empowered women," said Tampa Bay Birth Network president, Christie Collbran. "When parents-to-be are presented with facts in a low-pressure environment, they're able to imagine their child's birth and make the best choices for themselves."

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It's Time to Get on the Bus!

This is a guest blog post from TBBN Community Partner, Barefoot Birth.

We are ecstatic to finally announce that after several bumps in the road the Barefoot Bus is going to be up and rolling!!!

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The bus is getting stocked, checked over, test driven and spruced up in preparation! Many, many hours of hard work and sweat have gone into the bus and we are so ready to have it on the road! 

Thanks to our super successful crowd funding last year and some VERY generous private donations- we have been able to finish the bus and have it ready to meet our new families! 

If you are not familiar with our project you can read all about it hereherehere, and here

Our final logistical task, which has proved to be the real patience-tester, is having the bus wrapped with our sponsor's logos. We are hoping that will be done in the next few weeks! 

We have partnered with the University Area Community Development Corporation in Tampa to bring the Barefoot Bus into their community-in-need starting Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014, and continuing each and every Wednesday going forward! For those who do not know, the UACD serves the University Area Community, where high crime, poverty and a lack of basic resources has plagued the area for decades.


Of those served, 95 percent are below poverty level. They work to improve the economic, educational and social levels of the community through youth programs, adult education and resource assistance. Funds provided through grants, private contributions and public appropriations help residents participate in most programs free of charge. We could not have asked to find a more perfect partner in our mission to bring quality care to ALL families. 

We will be seeing Medicaid and sliding scale clients on the bus in front of the UACDC, adjacent to their awesome playground, which serves as a lovely reprieve for families as mamas are seen for their visits. This central location provides for heavy foot traffic and ease of commute via public transportation if necessary. We are within minutes of the University of South Florida campus as well to serve any students who may find themselves uninsured or in need of referrals to other community resources. 

We will be seeing clients each Wednesday from 9am-5pm for the first few weeks and extended hours may be implemented based on community need. 

Everyone is welcome for care regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. We will offer care on a sliding scale and help families who qualify apply for Medicaid. 

A very special thank you to everyone who has supported this project and stood behind us as we all worked hard to get everything in motion. We are looking forward to loving on lots of mamas and serving families right in their community. Everyone deserves a healthy pregnancy, beautiful birth and most of all to be respected throughout the entire process.

Thank you for believing in us and making this a reality for so many! 

Love and gratitude, 
The Barefoot Family 

How to find the Barefoot Bus: 

Address: 14013 North 22nd Street, Tampa Florida 33613 

From the South: Head North on I-275 to the Fletcher exit. Turn right onto Fletcher Avenue and proceed to North 22nd Street. Turn left on 22nd and go 1/2 mile until you see the University Area Community Center (UACC), marquee and turn right into UACDC entrance.

From the North: Head South on I-275 to the Bearrs exit. Turn left onto Bearrs Avenue and proceed to North 22nd Street. Turn right on 22nd and go 1/2 mile until you see the University Area Community Center marquee and turn left into UACDC entrance.

Contact 813.944.9120 or email us via our contact form here for more information or to schedule an appointment. 


This blog post originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission.

Don't Ask, Just Do

How often do we give authority to other people when it rightfully belongs to us?

My friend -- the one who had a cesarean for her second baby (breech) and whose third baby was breech until a successful ECV -- had her third baby several weeks ago. It was a precipitous labor, and she made it to the hospital just minutes before her baby was born. I was hoping to drive out for the birth, but when she called me in the middle of the night with contractions that were 1-2 minutes apart,I knew there was no way I'd make the 3-hour drive before her baby was born.


She told me me her story later on that day and a few things jumped out at me. Once she made it to the birth room, the nurse said, "now let's get you on the monitor." She said, "no way!" and went to the bathroom, where her water broke with a dramatic gush . She started feeling really pushy, so she headed back into the room. The nurse said, "let's get you on the bed." She said, "no way, I'm lying down!" Instead, she grabbed a Chux pad, knelt on the floor next to the bed, and pushed her baby out a few minutes later.

I was present when she had her second (breech) baby. She went into labor when the one OB who did vaginal breeches was out of town, so she knew she was heading for a cesarean. She labored for several hours at the hospital before consenting to the surgery. During that time, if she didn't want to be on the monitors, she'd simply unplug herself and march into the bathroom. When she was done laboring in the bathroom, she'd go plug herself back in, standing up and swaying next to the bed. She didn't ask permission to get off the monitors--she just did it. Because of her "I know what I'm doing; don't mess with me!" attitude, the nurses didn't bother her.

This is the same woman who, during her first birth, gave birth kneeling.It was the first time her OB had ever seen an upright birth. My friend had tried to lie down as requested but found it impossibly painful, so she got up on her knees and stayed there. She would have preferred to give birth standing up, but knelt as a concession to the OB, who was nonplussed enough as it was with my friend's unconventional birth position.

How many times have we read stories where laboring women weren't "allowed" to get out of bed, where the nurses wouldn't "let" them get off the monitors, or where the doctor said they "had" to lie down to push and couldn't change positions? This has happened to many, many people I know both personally and through my blog.

I don't want to minimize the enormous power institutional and medical authority have over laboring women. Nor am I implying that it was a failure of the individual laboring woman when she was told she couldn't do x or yNot at all


What if we simply stopped asking permission? What if we simply did what we wanted to? What if the mantra of laboring women became "don't ask, just do"?

Don't ask if you can eat or drink. Just do it. Don't ask if you can get out of bed or walk around or go to the bathroom. Don't ask if you can change positions or give birth kneeling or squatting. Just do it. 

Do it with confidence. Do it with an "I know what I'm doing, and please don't mess with me!" attitude.

Just do it.

Let's joinDr. Michelle Harrison's vision of a new womanly revolution, from her book A Woman in Residence:

"I used to have fantasies at Doctors Hospital about women in a state of revolution. I saw them getting up out of their beds and refusing the knife, refusing to be tied down, refusing to submit – whether they are in childbirth or when they were forty and having a hysterectomy for a uterus no longer considered useful. Women’s health care will not improve until women reject the present system and begin instead to develop less destructive means of creating and maintaining a state of wellness."

Dr. Rixa Freeze has a longstanding personal and professional interest in childbirth, maternity care, breastfeeding, and women’s issues. Learn more about about her and read the original post of this blog.

Laura Irmis - Artist, Educator, Doula

Get to know the members of the Tampa Bay Birth Network!

Let us introduce you to Laura Irmis.

 Laura Irmis, Artist, Educator, Doula

Laura Irmis, Artist, Educator, Doula

Tell us about you? 
I am a childbirth educator, henna artist and postpartum doula working to normalize and revalue all aspects of motherhood in our society via education, outreach, support, community events and activism. I am passionate about educating and empowering expectant mothers and couples about their options and choices for a beautiful birth journey. 
How did you get into this line of work? 
Birth changed me. During my first pregnancy my husband and I took Bradley Method classes and the passion of empowerment overtook me. I consumed myself in understanding birth and American birth practices. I wanted to make my own decisions about my body and my birth. As I continued to transform as a mother I realized how impactful birth could be for the rest of our lives. I felt the need to share this with other mothers in hopes they could feel the same joy and empowerment in their birth(s) and lives. 
What services do you offer? 

I am a Certified Childbirth Educator in the Bradley Method, however I offer both private and group classes. The childbirth classes I teach prepare the couple together on their journey. My classes stress the importance of Healthy Baby, Healthy Mother and Healthy Families. I attract families who are willing to take the responsibility needed for preparation and birth. I share a wide variety of information making each course specific to the students needs; it's a very custom and comprehensive course. Think of it as an all-in-one childbirth class. 

With my henna art, I create designs or freehand style to make the pregnant mother feel even more magical! Henna body art is an ancient way to honor the pregnant woman's inner strength as she prepares for birth. I combine essential oils in henna paste, a natural stain found in crushed henna leaves, for a beautiful expressive experience. 

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As a postpartum doula I offer support during the postpartum phase and "mother the mother." Things I can help with are: 
  • Routine newborn care and education in bathing, cord care, diapering, calming techniques, and newborn nutrition and development.  
  • Assistance in unexpected outcomes in providing support, guidance, and information
  • Help taking care of you and your baby so you can rest
  • Breastfeeding support and education
  • Pumping assistance
  • Phone and email support throughout your pregnancy and early postpartum period
  • Access to my lending library of childbirth materials to support your learning in preparing for birth, breastfeeding and newborn care.  
  • Newborn care in general.  
  • Helping care for siblings.  

What locations do you service? 

St. Petersburg and surrounding Tampa Bay areas. 

Could you share a success story from a family that received your services?

I have several testimonials that my students have given me; here is one of my favorites:
 "My birth was the most exhausting, yet the most exhilarating day of my entire life. I just want to say thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart for teaching me, encouraging me, etc. I couldn't have done it without you and trust me when I say you are going to make such an impact on so many people's lives if you continue on the path you are on. I have never felt so strong in all my life and I have such an amazing sense of pride that I didn't even know was possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you... A million times thank you!" - The Millers 

Are there any events coming up that people should know about? 
My next Bradley Method class begins September 11, 2013 at the Growing Up store in St. Pete. Seats fill quickly, sign up now! 
The Improving Birth rally will be happening on Labor Day, Monday September 2nd, 10:00 am - noon. We are working on finalizing the details and will announce the final location and specifics very soon. You can visit Improvingbirth.org or find us on facebook here: 

Anything else to share? 
As a ceramic artist, I have been super busy creating birth focused work. I am getting my hands dirty creating a new series including meditation labyrinths, "Fruitful Sculptures", inspirational hearts, essential oil burners and functional pottery. Visit here to see my work. 
To connect up with Laura check out her site at: www.laurairmis.com or give her a call at: 727-560-0340.



Childbirth Options Seminar Success

The Tampa Bay Birth Network hosts regular free educational Childbirth Options seminars for our community. Our next one is scheduled for July 13th, 3:00 pm at Suncoast Waldorf school and it is a "Meet The Midwives" theme. There will be childcare provided. Come join us, bring a friend, meet other expecting couples and birth professionals and learn about your local birth options!



 "Before even becoming pregnant I knew I wanted to have a natural birth. Once I was pregnant I started doing research to find a place where I could receive prenatal care and that would also respect my birth plan. In looking for those resources I came upon the Tampa Bay Birth Network. Their website had great resources. At that time they were offering the Childbirth Options seminar. I had discussed with my husband my wishes to have a natural birth possibly outside of a hospital environment. He was not 100% sure that it would be the best option. He agreed to attend the Childbirth Options Seminar. After attending the seminar, my birth plan turn out to be OUR birth plan; my husband was 100% with me. The Tampa Bay Birth Network presenters did such a great job. Also, having the opportunity to speak one on one with members of the network really helped us as well. We felt welcomed and felt comfortable to ask questions. I would recommend this seminar to anyone that wants to obtain more information on childbirth options in the Tampa Bay area, and especially if you are wanting to enlighten your partner or a family member as to why you have made certain choices related to your baby's birthday." - R.H.