Thursday, July 30, 2009

Siblings at Birth: Sure, Why Not?

Several people have written on this topic lately, but rest assured that I am not trying to plagiarize anyone - I have been thinking of writing on this topic for a long time and am just now getting around to it. I'll keep it brief.

So... Siblings at birth. What do you think? If you'd asked me about it a couple of years ago, I would have listed it as gross, revolting, inappropriate, developmentally stunting and possibly even morally wrong.

If you ask me about it nowadays, my response would more likely be, "Of course! What else do you think we'd do?"

What occasioned the change in attitude?

Well, I can't say that I really know - it's probably the end result of watching a plethora of birth videos in which siblings are present and in which they do just fine with observing birth, plus all of the testimonies that I've heard and read in which parents tell how much easier siblings accept a new baby when they've seen the birth personally. One way or another, by the time we became pregnant with our current baby, whether or not to have our 3-year-old son present wasn't even a question to consider - it was a confirmed "of course!"

Why do most people not want their children at birth? Unfortunately, the most common reason seems to be "Because it's so gross! They shouldn't see something so revolting!" That's just sad.

If you want to have siblings present at birth, therefore, I would say "Go for it!" But here are a few caveats and/or conditions to consider:

(1) If you want your children to be present at your birth, they need to be prepared.

Natural or not, birth is both unexpected and possibly unsettling. There's blood, noise, yelling, etc. - all stuff that mama does NOT normally do! Kids may or may not take to the birthing scene naturally, so it's best to be prepared. How? Basically, by watching birth videos, talking about birth, and reading children's books about birth (try "I Watched My Brother Being Born").

Our son has been watching birth videos for years, and he's quite used to them. He even has a basic birth vocabulary - "Doppler," "heartbeat," "umbilical cord," "placenta," etc. We also give him lots of reassurance - "The mommy has to make lots of noise to make the baby come out," and "Look! There's the new baby! Hurray!!" It has worked beautifully. Whether or not he'll want to be present when it actually comes around is another story, but he's as prepared as we can make him.

(2) Younger children need caregivers.

One of our midwives' requirements is that any younger child must have a designated caregiver whose role at the birth is to do nothing but look after the child and his/her needs. This is eminently sensible. Your child will need someone to play with him, reassure him, supervise him, give him snacks and make sure his needs are met, and be close to him at the birth in case he has questions, needs reassurance or wants to leave. It's not fair to ask the daddy or doula to do this, and not safe to distract the midwife by asking her to do this. We have two babysitters lined up for our son, and that way we know that DH and I will be able to focus on the birth process without interruption or without neglecting our son's needs.

(3) Don't force it if they don't want to.

With older children (teens) there are modesty boundaries to consider, and I don't believe that they should be pressured to attend if they're unwilling. I know that I would have been very unwilling (and probably traumatized if it happened!) to attend a birth of my mom's once I passed the onset of adolescence. It's not that birth is gross, but that kids may not want to take down the boundaries of modesty once they are erected. Totally understandable.

Any additional thoughts and/or corrections, everyone?


And so.... First I got the weird looks and awkward silences for talking about having a homebirth. Then I got the weird looks (and, oddly enough, much weirder looks) for talking about extended breastfeeding. Now I'm getting them for talking about having our son at our birth!

Next on the menu of "things to do to get people to leave or change the subject".... placentophagy! Yup, you got it right! I'll write on that one soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review By Proxy: "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy"

In case you haven't noticed, I have been BAD about keeping up with my book reviews (the original point of this blog was to review birth-related books!). I have a whole bunch of book reviews stored on this blog, but I have been shockingly bad about keeping up with them. In fact, you may have noticed that my "current reading" list hasn't changed in.... maybe a year or so? In fact, I returned all those books so long ago that I can hardly remember them! Yikes!!! I do write book reviews in my head as I'm reading birth books, but right now they just don't have the time to make it onto paper.

ANYHOW, my blog-friend Kayce has written a two-part review on "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy," and I wanted to link to it! Check it out!

The end-result? Ditch this book! Or at the very least, hide it behind other books whenever you see it in a bookstore. Yikes!

"The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" Book Review, Part I
"The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" Book Review, Part II

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Responding to Commenters

A quick note: I have decided that I'm going to start responding to comments by leaving my own comment on the same entry - isn't this what most of you bloggers do? I have been trying to go to the commenters' blogs to leave comments, but it is an involved and time-intensive process that isn't usually too successful. If anyone knows anything that I'm missing, let me know.....

"You Might Be a Birth Junkie If....."

My good friend Kathy posted this, and it's hilarious! I'm afraid I'm a certified birth junkie, according to her list, though my knowledge of statistics was not up-t0-par. See what you think!

"You Might Be a Birth Junkie If....."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

34 weeks, 2 days: Time is Still Racing!

I have come to realize lately that, like it or not, both of my blogs are going to be neglected for a while. I really regret that. Not only do I adore blogging, but I spend a lot of my time "mentally blogging" - writing out entries in my head which, unfortunately, never make into onto the computer. What a pity! I have at least three articles waiting to be written onto each blog, and countless news items for my birth blog which have had to be ignored.

Why am I so ridiculously busy?

Mostly because I'm working against the clock in getting ready for baby. Because we just moved into our house in January and I have only recently felt well enough to really dig in, there's quite a bit of stuff left to do. Unpacking, organizing, cleaning, getting baby things out, learning about home ownership, working on home/yard/car projects - and that's only the beginning!

A more difficult task is regaining my life post-morning sickness, something that I've had to do with each pregnancy (though not this time nearly like last time!). This means regaining routines, cleaning habits, shopping, meal plans, getting back into cooking, etc. - it's harder than it looks! And when you add in a very active preschooler, it makes it all the more interesting.

Additionally, we are seriously considering jumping onto the homeschooling wagon - meaning that homeschool "preschool" begins this year. Yikes!! I won't say that I'm not seriously conflicted on this issue, but the current plan is to go ahead with it. So I am trying to get plugged into the homeschool community and attempting to corral my thoughts in that direction.

Also, I know that my blogging life will be seriously slowed once baby does arrive next month. So this may last for a while!

While I'm thinking of it, I wanted to say a quick thank you to those of you who sent in the idea of the hormone-free IUD as a birth control method. You all are so sweet to take the time to do that! As a matter of fact I had already considered the IUD and decided against it (for multiple reasons), but I forgot to mention that in my post. Thank you, dear friends, for your thoughtfulness!

Anyhow, this isn't a real "update" post - it is just a "this is why I'm not around a lot" post, with my apologies. Hopefully at some point (perhaps soon!) I'll be able to jump back into active blogging. But for now, it's going to have to take a back seat to baby-prep. However, I'll try to post a proper "update on my life/pregnancy/etc." post soon just to check in, even if I can't write all those juicy and delicious articles that I've been pondering for so long.

Cheers, my friends! Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

32 weeks, 0 days: Has Time Sped Up Lately?

I mean, my goodness! Every time I look at the calendar, another week has sped by! Why couldn't it do that when I was dealing with the serious nausea? Ah, well... Time flies when you're having fun... and it certainly doesn't fly when you're not!

This week I reached an exciting point in my unpacking - the point where I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The end is not here, but it's close! I MIGHT be able to finish pre-baby! That is immensely exciting. I still have a to-do list the size of Mt. Rushmore, but it is looking more doable. I've got two weeks before I need to start kicking into high gear with birth prep (ordering supplies, setting up the cradle, etc.), so if I can finish the house by then, I should be set. I want to get as much as possible done, because I know that my life is pretty much going to stop for a while when baby arrives! (Like for two years or so.) I felt like my existence terminated when our first arrived, and I know it is going to be beyond crazy with a newborn and a preschooler at once. How do you moms out there DO it? I definitely don't feel up to the challenge.

(TMI warning....)

I'm still grappling with the birth control issue. There's no easy answer, is there? Physical methods are a pain in the neck, chemical methods are no longer acceptable to us for a myriad of reasons, permanent sterilization has health ramifications for both sexes, and natural family planning requires a lot more self-control than we apparently have. So that leaves us.... where? I have no idea. I don't really want any more kidlets (at the moment - though that is purely an HG issue rather than a numbers issue), but I don't really want to permanently end my reproductive capacity either. So for the moment, I'm stuck.

One question that runs through my mind often is what I would choose to do if (God forbid!!) complications during labor necessitated transport to a hospital and ended up requiring a cesarean - which would be a perfect time for a tubal ligation (it would save a lot of trouble later!). Would I do it? Or would I wimp out? Only time would tell.... But hopefully the situation won't arise anyway!

But if I have any sense at all (something which I often doubt), this does need to be our last child. I can tell that the hyperemesis would have been much worse this time if it had not been suppressed with medication, due to the fact that the nausea hit much earlier this time (over a week before I could get a positive pregnancy test) and much harder (I was seriously nauseated by four weeks, whereas last time it didn't hit till sometime mid-five weeks). The trend with most HG mums (that I've seen) seems to be that HG tends to get worse with each pregnancy - not better. And it is almost unheard of for an HG mum to have a subsequent non-HG pregnancy (HG recurrence is well over 80%). So unless I want to risk going through the hell that some of my dear HG friends have endured, I should probably play it safe.

Well, I have run out of time! So I will have to post more later. We see our wonderful midwife team next week, something to which I am greatly looking forward, and we're off for a weekend spent up north with DH's parents. Should be fun! Next week is going to be crazy (doctors' appointments, midwife appointment, playdates, homeschool conference, houseguests, etc.), but I'll do my best to check in.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Pit to Distress" - Part II

Nursing Birth just wrote a great post elaborating on the "pit to distress" concept (the practice of an obstetrician's intentionally giving too much pitocin to a laboring mother in order to cause fetal distress and necessitate a cesarean). It is a great post - you don't want to miss it! Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reality Truly IS Stranger Than Fiction

Jill at The Unnecesarean has a fascinating post today on "Pit to Distress" - the obstetrical practice of intentionally giving laboring women more pitocin than they or their babies can handle in order to induce fetal distress and necessitate an "emergency cesarean." (Pitocin is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which causes uterine contractions.)

Here is a quote from another blogger (Jill from Keyboard Revolutionary) that Jill included about the practice:

Pit to distress.” How have I not heard about this? Apparently it’s quite en vogue in many hospitals these days. Googling the term brings up a number of pages discussing the practice, which entails administering the highest possible dosage of Pitocin in order to deliberately distress the fetus, so a C-section can be performed.

"Yes folks, you read that right. All that Pit is not to coerce mom’s body into birthing ASAP so they can turn that moneymaking bed over, but to purposefully squeeze all the oxygen out of her baby so they can put on a concerned face and say, “Oh dear, looks like we’re heading to the OR!”

This is scary, scary stuff.... Check it out here.

Breech Birth Study

Dr. Rixa Freeze at Stand and Deliver is conducting a study into breech babies and breech birth, so check it out here if you have ever birthed a breech baby or carried a baby who was breech (even if he turned later).

Arizona Birth Network: The Podcast is Here!

I'm excited to announce the first edition of the Arizona Birth Network's new podcast!! Here is the information about it:

"The Arizona Birth Network is thrilled to announce the birth of our podcast, Birth Buzz, on June 30, 2009, on the web and on iTunes, weighing nothing and 31 minutes long. Visitors are welcome! Drop in anytime via Facebook, our website, our Yahoo group, or iTunes (search with keyword Azbirthnetwork) .
"We are honored that our first podcast guest is renowned midwife, birth author and educator, Pam England. Our program also features "The Muse," with this month's poetry by Dawn Smyth. If you have ideas or contributions for future podcasts, please contact us at azbirthnetwork@

Check it out!

New Birth Book: "The Doula Guide to Birth"

A local doula and member of the Arizona Birth Network has recently published a great-looking birth book titled, "The Doula Guide to Birth." Check it out and think about picking up a copy - it looks terrific!

Here are some topics covered in the book:
  • Doulas as a form of pain relief
  • Doulas and the prevention of prematurity
  • Information for mothers and their loved ones in all family structures (married, single, partnered, heterosexual, lesbian, and mothers whose baby will be adopted by another family)
  • Labor, the hardest work you'll ever love
  • New ways to push out a baby
  • Can doulas prevent all interventions?
  • Back labor: the good news
  • Using belly dance for birth
  • How to use a "walking" epidural
  • Supporting teens: a talk with Jane Fonda
  • Doulas as leaders in health care reform
  • A list of doula groups around the world
  • When should you really go to the hospital in labor?
  • Labor is not about dilation
  • 12 alternatives to a vaginal exam
  • Are vaginal exams in labor medically necessary?
  • What is fetal distress? A guide to the baby's heart rate
  • Labor techniques anyone can use
  • Laboring with disabilities or chronic illness
  • How to use sexuality in labor
  • Eating normally in labor
  • How to sleep in labor
  • How to have a better Pitocin experience
  • How to "prepare" for unplanned epidurals and cesareans
  • When healing from unplanned interventions is needed
  • Birth plans and birth essays
  • How to have an empowering birth of twins
  • Paying for your doula using a baby gift registry
  • How to ask your heath insurance to pay for your doula
  • Celebrities who've used doulas
  • Get ready now: what really happens postpartum
  • Self-evaluation survey about your birth
Looks like a keeper! :)

The book can also be ordered here, and you can follow the authoress, Ananda Lowe, on Twitter by using the username "DoulaGuide."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gravidity and Parity - The Whole Scoop

Kathy wrote this for me at my request a while back, and I forgot to cross-link to it! It's an incredibly informative post, and I recommend checking it out. Here it is!

"Primigravida, Multiparous, Multigravida..."

The post is in reference to the common notations used for indicating a woman's gravidity (number of pregnancies) and parity (number of births). The three main methods are:

(1) G_P_ (gravida, para)

I am a G3P1 = three pregnancies, one birth

(2) G_P_A_ (gravida, para, abortus)

With this system, I am a G3P1A1 = three pregnancies, one birth, one abortus (in my case, a miscarriage, though it refers to either miscarriages or induced abortions)

(3) G_P(T_P_A_L_) (gravida, para (term births, preterm births, abortus, living children))

With this system, I am a G3P1011 = three pregnancies, one term birth, no preterm births, one abortus (miscarriage) and one live child


It's simple until you start getting into the nuances. For example....

- When does a preterm birth become a term birth? (it's rather an arbitrary distinction)
- When does a miscarriage become a "birth"? (also arbitrary)
- Why are abortions and miscarriages (which are completely different things, both psychologically and physically) classed together?

Anyhow, Kathy does a great job of untangling this knotty mess in her wonderful and detailed post. Check it out! I need to go read it again to brush up on the subject.

Happy Canada Day!