Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Arizona Birth Blogger

Just a quick note to let everyone know about a new-to-me birth blogger, Tracy Hydeman, a student midwife here in the valley:

Misadventures of a Student Midwife

Looking forward to reading!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's That Time Again......

..... Time to make the hubby happy by cleaning up the tabs in our browser! (I haven't counted, but I think it's somewhere close to thirty.)

Here goes!

Have you ever wondered how natural childbirth tied in with Santa Claus? Well, now we know! The Feminist Breeder gives us the scoop:

On Being Honest With Our Children

I'm in the middle on the Santa Claus issue - I completely see the reasons both for and against. Since I didn't devote much time to the issue, we have gone with the flow and "done" Santa Claus, but I find it absolutely fascinating how TFB (by definition, a feminist) and the more conservative Christians among us have come to the same conclusion on Santa Claus - for the same reasons! Interesting! (I love what TFB has to say.... Even when I disagree with her, she is both brilliant and witty.)


Now here's an interesting question for you: Should the teacher of a natural childbirth class have herself given birth naturally? (*Singing the Jeopardy song while you think about this.*)

My instinctual answer is "yes" - how can one teach what one hasn't experienced?

But my experience is quite different, in that several of my caregivers were nulliparous and were excellent in their roles - including both of my midwives (one of whom is a G0P0 and one of whom was a G1P0 and pregnant while attending my birth - she gave birth 3 weeks later) and one of my doulas (who was a three-time cesarean mother and who taught classes and attended births for several years before her HBA3C). But does the same apply to childbirth educators?

I would still say no, simply because birth work is a calling - and I don't think women should be held hostage to their birth experiences before being able to work in the field (I have heard arguments saying that no woman should be a doula or a midwife either until she gives birth). What do you think? Here is an article from a blog that I absolutely love, in which she argues against non-natural-birth-moms teaching natural birth classes:

Should Your Natural Childbirth Educator Have Given Birth Naturally?

Interesting thoughts! Note the conversation down below in the comments as well.


Moving on. Have you all heard about the recent birth done in an MRI machine? The images are fascinating, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth over that one.


Well, for a lot of reasons. I love what Lesley has to say here:

"The stated intention behind this crazy endeavour was to set up a study which seeks to examine why doctors "have" to deliver so many babies by C-section. They want to unlock the mystery as to why some women can birth 10 pounders and others have 7 pounders which get stuck. They want to understand why so many babies' craniums are disproportionately large for their mothers' pelvises. When the article went on to state the researchers were trying to get a better understanding of the mechanics of birth, I didn't know whether to laugh my head off, barf, or hit someone."

My sentiments exactly.

Want to know why world cesarean rates are skyrocketing? The answers are there. The answers are obvious. And they don't require an MRI machine to find out:

Money. Greed. Hospital policy. Bad science. Unnecessary labor induction. Convenience induction. Iatrogenic complications leading to cesarean. The dead baby card. Prone labor positions. Lithotomy birth. Overuse of pain medications. The Friedman curve. Impatience. The cascade of labor interventions shipwrecking an otherwise normal labor. Control. Power. Litigation risks. Medical malpractice costs. Patient overloading. Counter-productive birth practices with bad outcomes (routine AROM, cervical checks, denial of food/drink in labor, etc. etc. etc.). Lack of respect for normal birth physiology. Lack of support for vaginal and/or natural birth. Culture. Social conditioning. VBAC bans, by doctor or by hospital. Doctor discouragement of VBAC. Once a cesarean always a cesarean. Insurance companies. Ignorance. Lack of education. Fear.

Did I miss anything?

Not one of those reasons has anything to do with women's bodies being broken, or women being unable to give birth. And not one of those problems can be solved by sticking a birthing woman flat on her back and taking pictures of the birth process in an MRI machine. Try attacking the financial, political, social, and medico-legal factors instead.

Additionally, birth in an MRI tube is - to me - a violation of the sacred. It is like having someone die in an MRI tube so that we could take MRI images of the last moments to "investigate how death really happens." Regardless of the data gathered (and it would be just as unneeded as birth MRI images), it is - to me, at least! - sacrilege. Birth is sacred and should occur in a sacred space, surrounded by loving and supportive caregivers. In an MRI tube? In my humble opinion, "My friends, these things should not be!"

Thoughts, all?

Anyway, here is Lesley Everest's ("Musings of a Montreal Doula") take on it, and I love everything that she has to say:

Missing the Forest for the Trees: Birthing in an MRI Machine


And a quick article on one mama's experience with placenta medicine - my favorite!

Birth Activist: Placenta Encapsulation: Power Pill Creation

Love getting the word out on this!


Here is something that EVERY birth professional needs to read... I mean this! Please read!

Morning sickness is a run-of-the-mill occurrence that most mamas experience in some form or another. Hyperemesis gravidarum, or extreme nausea/vomiting of pregnancy, is a completely different animal. In your work with pregnant mamas of hyperemesis, DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that morning sickness cures will do squat for HG. HG moms are usually battling to keep their sanity. They are vomiting water because they can't even keep that down. Do not say "Have you tried ginger? How about ginger ale?" She may just deck you!

It's really important for birth workers to understand HG - especially those of us in the natural birth community, because we have a tendency to underestimate physical concerns or the need for cold, hard pharmaceuticals. Having been-there-done-that, this is another of my passions.

Did you know that something like 95% of "therapeutic" abortions (i.e. those done for health reasons) are done for hyperemesis? That's right, these are much-wanted babies whose mothers could no longer stand the torture of HG. One HG mother (a conservative, pro-life Christian) told me that if she ever got pregnant again, she would either abort or commit suicide rather than face hyperemesis again. It is serious. Super serious. Take women seriously on this one.

My Pregnancy Nausea Made Me Consider Terminating


Now, on a lighter note - an article that I simply loved, from one of my favorite authoresses, Rixa of "Stand and Deliver". Need I say that I LOVED this article?

Don't ask, just do

Read it. Love it. Pass it on.


Something fun: I am in the middle of watching this video - "The Essential Ingredient: Doula" - and it's very good! Pass it on to pregnant mommy friends!


And a homebirth story from here in the valley this past week, one with a very interesting complication - a spontaneous last-minute placental abruption. Excellent work to the midwife involved, and congrats to this family!

Anna's Birth Story


And lastly - have you heard? There's a break-off movement from the Bradley Childbirth International - called Bradley Reborn, and I think also Brio Birth. I can't find the detailed website I looked at last week - just this one.What do you think? I participated in a brief conversation on this on my local birth network, and it looks like a lot is going on.

Since I'm not a Bradley teacher and don't have any inside scoop on the issue, I won't attempt to write about it, but it's definitely worth researching and looking into. As would be expected, it seems that tensions are running high between loyal Bradley teachers and teachers who have decided to go with Bradley Reborn.

For myself, I am very excited about Bradley Reborn simply because it seems to address a lot of the concerns that I have heard from Bradley students over the years about the Bradley methods and materials. One woman who I know locally and who is an excellent teacher is going with Bradley Reborn, and that lends a lot of credibility to the movement in my eyes. I am excited to see where this goes, and I wish them the best of luck.

(*Later Note: I found out today that Bradley Reborn is now calling itself Brio Birth due to litigation from Bradley Childbirth over the use of the Bradley name. I don't know if the renaming is permanent or temporary, but that's the scoop on that. That's also why the nice website has disappeared and the new one is so sketchy - they're in-process of moving everything to a new site, so they're trying to get everything up and running. There was quite a bit of info on the original site, so if you wait a few days and go back, there will probably be lots of good stuff there once again.)


And to end this article on a Christmas-y (and hilarious) note, here is a link to our favorite Christmas song spoof - definitely check it out: The Abominable "O Holy Night." Love it.


As always, I welcome civil conversation on any of the above subjects! However, comments that are unkind, cruel, or rude will be deleted immediately without comment. But I love hearing from you all - thanks for your comments! 


I hope that each of you is having a good month and a happy Christmas season! We are enjoying the holidays tremendously, and I am crossing my fingers and praying that we can get to Christmas without getting sick. We always manage to get sick just in time to have to cancel most of our holiday dates (parties, etc.), and it hasn't happened this year.... but there's still over a week to go, so I'm not counting any chickens!

Lots of news going on in the birth world, lots of things happening - it's an exciting time to be involved!

I hope to check in before Christmas, but if not, have a lovely Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Note on Breastfeeding

I have many, many things to say about breastfeeding.... and no time at all to say them. Thankfully many of you wonderful bloggers out there are saying them for me!

But in the meantime, here is a note on our non-culture of support for breastfeeding.

This afternoon I received a phone message telling me the protocol for pre-procedure fasting for our baby (age 15 months). It went something like this:

"Before the procedure, baby can have solids till 4 a.m., formula till 6 a.m., and clear liquids till 9 a.m. If for some reason he's still breastfeeding, he can have breastmilk till 8 a.m."(Emphasis mine.)

Do I really need to say anything more? The easy assumption that "of COURSE a 15-month-old baby is weaned" does not reflect well on our current medical culture.

We have work to do.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Midwife Blog: Check It Out!

One of Phoenix's many great midwives, Shell Walker, has started her own midwife blog! (And the people rejoiced!) Here it is:

Phoenix Midwife

Check it out... can't wait to read it! This is now two midwives from here in the valley who have midwife blogs.... the more the merrier! (The other is Stephanie Soderblom's Vita Mutari.... Now to convince my own awesome midwife to start her own!)

Thanks for writing, Shell!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wonderful Stuff!

When I get more than 20 tabs open in my internet browser, I know that I need to blog so that I can clear them up and stop frustrating my husband! (He's a one-tab sort of guy.)

So here goes!

This will be quick, though, because today is Lepkuchen Day! (see my other blog for more information) and I have a ton to do to get ready.

To start, an article on my pet subject (physiologic cord clamping, known popularly as delayed cord clamping):

Don't Clamp Umbilical Cords Straight After Birth, Urges Expert

The gist of it? Basically that the research community is realizing that immediate cord clamping (i.e. baby is born and cord is clamped within 10 seconds, still the normal practice in U.S. hospital) is not healthy for baby.

I am so thankful this is finally getting some media attention!

"Write About Birth" has written up a nice little summary of the article (the original article from the British Medical Journal, that is):

British OB questions premature cord clamping

Good stuff!

The one thing I find frustrating about this is the following (from the first article I linked):

"Obstetricians and midwives should wait a few minutes before clamping the umbilical cords of newborn infants so that babies are not harmed by the procedure..."

Okay, okay. I know it's progress, but couldn't we move straight to the logical conclusion? If clamping the cord before it stops pulsing is unnatural and unhealthy, let's just move to the end-conclusion right now - waiting to cut clamp the cord until it is totally done pulsing, not just waiting "a few minutes." I can just see new hospital protocol - "The cord shall be clamped and cut three minutes - not four or five, but three - after the birth." It seems that progress must always be made in grudgingly tiny increments.

However, progress is progress, and I am overjoyed to see it.

Also, from "Write About Birth" - a fascinating look at the language of childbirth:

Why Natural Childbirth is Not a "Great Accomplishment"

Absolutely fascinating. I never would have thought of those points. Definitely also check out the article she links to - "Watch Your Language."

Really good stuff!!

Also, from the Huffington Post:

Women Speak Out About What's Gone Wrong with the United States Birthing System

Can I say that I LOVED this article? Way to go!!! Thank you for writing!

On the subject of shoulder dystocia (a fascinating topic), the following three videos from a Midwifery Today Conference:

Shoulder Dystocia I

Shoulder Dystocia II

Shoulder Dystocia III

I have always found shoulder dystocia (a birth emergency in which the baby's anterior shoulder is impacted behind the maternal pubic bone, and which can cause injury to the baby if mishandled or death if is not resolved quickly) a fascinating subject. Why? Well, (1) it's equally an emergency at home or in hospital (because it's too late for a cesarean), and (2) it's an emergency in which natural childbirth - and thus a mobile mother - is a HUGE bonus, and (3) the best resolution is usually through the Gaskin Manoever, which was named after midwife Ina May Gaskin, who brought the procedure to the United States.

I have also found the subject of shoulder dystocia rather amusing, because obstetric textbooks often ignore the Gaskin Manoever (which is basically hands-and-knees for the mother) in favor of more severe - and gruesome! - procedures, such as the symphysiotomy (cutting the pelvis open by cutting through the connective tissue of the pelvic bone - OUCH!) or the Zavanelli Manoever (shoving the baby back up the vaginal canal and doing a cesarean - very bad results due to trauma to the baby and time from emergency to birth). Turning a mama over on her hands and knees is much more pleasant - and effective!

Oh, and if you want to see something screamingly funny, try this video - it is actors portraying (with the use of a model) a shoulder dystocia in-hospital. I'd be laughing if it wasn't so sad - get the mother off her back!!! The incidence of shoulder dystocia is drastically reduced in upright, mobile and unmedicated mothers.

There's probably more, but I am OUT of time! Off to make delicious Lep Kuchen! Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Questions About NFP

TMI Alert! TMI Alert! TMI Alert!

That being said....

My husband and I (sort of) use NFP (Natural Family Planning) for our family-size control method. In case you haven't heard of it, NFP is a method that uses three main variables - basal body temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position - to track a woman's fertility. Abstinence is observed through the fertile period. When used correctly, it is just as effective as the Pill, and without all the nasty side effects.

On the whole, NFP is great. No ethical concerns, no health side-effects, no wait-time for getting "off" of it, no cost, etc. For birth control, it's great.

However, I'm finding it very hard to use right now.

When we started using NFP, it was at a great time - when we'd just evicted our son from our bed, so I was sleeping through the night (they say that you need 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before taking one's temp to get accurate readings), and the overnight break from breastfeeding seemed to be enough to allow cervical fluid to return to normal - and readable - cyclical patterns.

However, at the current time, I am still co-sleeping with our baby. This means that I am NOT getting enough sleep to get good temperature readings, so I'm not even trying (I did try for one month, and my readings were all over the chart - it was unreadable). Also, my cervical fluid seems to be pretty screwy as well.

With all of that, we're pretty much playing with fire! Does anyone out there have any tips for using NFP while breastfeeding and co-sleeping?

Also, another complaint about NFP - the fact that "off limits" times are - predictably - during the time when one is most "receptive" to marital intimacy. Ahem. This makes sense, because sexual receptivity and peak fertile times are well-matched in order to assure greater chances of conception. But for birth control, it's a pain in the neck! What it means is that when one is wanting intimacy, the red flag is up, and by the time the green flag gives the go-ahead, intimacy sounds about as interesting as organizing cupboards. Or rather, less interesting, as I'm an organizational freak who enjoys organizing cupboards.

How do you NFP users deal with that issue?

One mother whose blog I read (don't ask me who, because I don't remember) made the interesting comment that she believes NFP can be harmful to marriages - probably because of the above, and also because NFP does put large limits on sexual activity between marriage partners. What with one's period and the off-limits fertile times, "abstinence time" accounts for more than half of my cycle. I think she probably referenced the Bible verse about "not denying each other unless it is for a time, for prayer, and then come together again lest Satan should tempt you." Thoughts, anyone?

I suppose we could just use a physical barrier method during the abstinence period, but that always makes me nervous - it lowers the effectiveness rate to the level of the barrier method used (which generally isn't too good) as opposed to the higher rate of NFP. But one of the reasons we started with NFP was to avoid the pain-in-the-neck nature of barrier methods! So that would be rather circular in nature.

I suppose we could throw it all to the wind and become a quiverful (no-birth-control) family, but the thought of going through hyperemesis every two years makes me want to run screaming.

If this entry feels rather round-about, know that I am very, very tired! So I should be doing something like getting ready for bed rather than typing - which I think I will do.

And again, I don't really want to malign NFP, because it really has a good thing going in many ways. I'm just perplexed by its difficulties. I would love your thoughts!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Theoretical Questions

I love theoretical questions! I think them up constantly, and then fire them at DH while he's showering or similarly unprepared. "Hey! Say that such-and-such happened. What would you do then?"

DH, in true spousal opposites fashion, despises theoretical questions and avoids them like the plague. That's why I catch him in the shower, when he can't get away. :)

So tonight I threw some really good ones his way, concerning birth. We couldn't quite think of the answers! What are your answers?

(1) Say you were in an area with only one midwife.... but you didn't like her or get along with her. Birth with a midwife you don't like, birth in-hospital, or go unassisted?

(2) Say you were in an area with only one midwife... but you disagreed with her over some point or belief that was absolutely vital to you? (i.e. pro-life v. pro-choice, etc.) Birth with a midwife you have deep disagreements with, birth in-hospital, or go unassisted?

(3) What if you're in an area with NO midwife? Birth in-hospital, or go unassisted?

(4) What if you're in an area where homebirth midwifery is illegal? Birth with a black-market midwife, birth in-hospital, or go unassisted?

Can you think of any other theoretical questions to add to this list? What are your answers to the ones above?

Kids Really Do....

.... say the darnedest things!

And when you add a birth junkie for a mother into the picture, they really really really say the darnedest things!

The following conversation occurred spontaneously last week, just after I had served our son (4yo) his cereal.

Son: I wish I had a uterus.
Me: (after shocked silence) Why's that?
Son: Because I want to have a baby.
Me: (another pause) Well, when you get married, your wife will have a baby for you.
Son: (grudgingly, after pondering for a moment) Well..... okay.

Over the past six months he's been insisting that our midwife should come over so that he could have a baby, so I guess he must finally be accepting biological inevitability.

You never know quite what they're going to say!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lovely, Lovely, Lovely Home Waterbirth Video!

A friend on the Arizona Birth Network posted her birth video from the birth of her son this past May. I am so pleased and excited to share it, with her permission!

Katie's Birth of Baby Lincoln: A Home Waterbirth

Can I say that I loved - LOVED - this video? It brought tears to my eyes from the sheer beauty. Many, many congratulations to this sweet mama and her family.

Some things I especially loved about this video:

I loved the combination of still photos and video footage. I would love to do that with my birth pics/video if I knew how! A great way to combine the artistry of photography with the reality of video footage. Beautiful.

I also loved how real this birth was. It showed the pain and the effort alongside the beauty and the power. It was a truly honest look at natural birth - all aspects of it. I loved that.

And also, this was just a great birth. Great support from the husband and the birth team, respectful and loving care from the midwife, undisturbed birth conditions leading to a physiologic birth (note, again, the longer second stage with an absence of the "Push! Push! PUSH!" mantra so typical in traditional American birth). Good stuff.

This was a beautiful birth! Thank you for sharing!

Also, in honor of this video, I have started a new sidebar! (I know, I know, "Stop with the sidebars, for crying out loud!" I can't help myself.) The name of it - "Beautiful Birth Videos"! This is first on the list, and I'll be adding gradually. I want mothers out there to have a list of good, positive birth videos to watch instead of the horrific ones (or highly fictional ones) on television. Here's to a wonderful start!

Just lovely.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lovely Article: "Hey, Doc!"

Never would I have thought that I would ever write enthusiastically about an article with this title, but hey... you just don't know what life will bring. Surprises, to say the least!

Anyhow. One of my - many! - passions in the birth world is questioning, and encouraging the cessation, of procedures during pregnancy and birth that in the end prove to be either pointless or harmful. Slaying sacred cows, if you will. Examples? Well, things in the old days such as enemas and pubic hair shaving (which are actually still done in something like 5% of births, according to a midwife friend of mine), and also modern-day sacred cows such as continuous electronic fetal monitoring, premature cord clamping, routine IV insertion - and vaginal exams during pregnancy and birth.

I've already written my own article on the subject of routine vaginal exams:

The Sacred Cow of Modern Pregnancy Care: Routine Cervical Exams

And a midwife friend of mine also wrote up the subject on her blog:

Cervical Exams: Who Needs Them? 

If you check out those two articles, you'll have the gist! But I saw this lovely new article come out this past week, and I wanted to post it:

Hey, Doc! Keep Your Fingers Out of My Vagina!

From the article:

"One of the things a lot of women get used to during pregnancy and birth is tons of strangers sticking their fingers in their vagina for cervical checks. It's invasive, and often embarrassing, but we grin and bear it as a necessary evil.

"Thing is, it's not necessary. Not in the slightest, and believe it or not, something so simple as just checking your cervix can cause a whole slew of problems, from infection to induction and even potentially a c-section.

"And most of the time, this check means absolutely, positively NOTHING."

The main points of the article:

- Cervical checks do not predict how soon labor will start or how fast it will go.
- Cervical checks pose many well-known risks with no known benefits.
- Competent birth caregivers have many other ways (listed in the article) of knowing how near or how far-advanced a mama's labor is.

Also - did you know?

"The US Public Health Service recommends no routine cervical exams until 41 weeks of pregnancy, yet a lot of practices not only check you early in your pregnancy, but start checking at every single appointment in the third trimester."

A new tidbit of info for me. She continues:

"And why? To just see if you're dilating or effacing ... no other reason.

"A woman can walk around dilated to a four or five for over a month. A woman can also be completely closed and have a baby a few hours later. The dilation and effacement don't always determine labor. The only time it's an issue is if your cervix opens and needs to be closed until the baby is viable -- an issue completely unrelated to third trimester checks."

Good stuff. This is definitely a sacred cow that needs slaying.

As I've said before, I went to my midwife's office fully prepared to strip down for the usual pelvic exam. It didn't happen then... or the next week... or the next week. My midwife eventually explained the above - that there is no point to routine, i.e. non-indicated, cervical checks, and that she therefore does not do them. I got through two pregnancies/births with her with a total of one cervical check.

Thanks for posting!

Unassisted Homebirth Video

Many thanks to my friend Kathy for posting this! I saw it this morning and watched it in pieces over the course of the morning and afternoon. Just wonderful! I thought I knew birth "up close and personal," but this one really takes the cake. Some midwifery or medical school needs to scoop up this gem pronto for use in teaching about birth.

Jaime's Birth 

Wouldn't it be lovely if med schools used videos like these to teach new doctors about birth?

I loved this because it is just a grand picture of natural, physiologic birth - birth as it should be. Loved the position, loved the hands-off nature of the birth, loved the encouragement of the surrounding friends/family... perfect.

This birth was titled as "unassisted," so I am assuming that there was no official midwife present, but the (unseen) woman who was talking to the mama did, in my opinion, act as a midwife in the place of the midwife - talking to the mother, coaching her, encouraging her. If she is not a midwife, she should be! I would be interested in knowing more about the actual dynamics present - was she a student midwife? A doula with midwifery aspirations? A woman who doesn't yet know her calling but will some day be a midwife? Interesting.

I will admit that not having intermittent fetal monitoring did make me nervous - or would have if I hadn't already known there was a good outcome. I suppose that it is because both of our babies have had problems with heart decels during second stage - one of them seriously - so I'm not personally comfortable without some sort of monitoring. What do you think?

I did love that second stage was so non-hurried... in many hospital births, unfortunately, the staff would have been yelling at the woman "Push! Push! Push! One! Two! Three!" This was lovely.

I loved one very amusing quote from the video (this isn't exact; I'm going from memory) - the woman coaching said something along the lines of, "You're looking just great! (Pause) Well, not literally." That cracked me up.

Also on the amusing side was my four-year-old, who was sitting in the room while I watched the video: "Mommy, she sounds like a jet plane getting ready to take off." Loved it.

The sounds this mama made while pushing brought back a ton of memories for me, because I remember making the exact same sounds.... pushing is not a fun time for me. But this birth showed me - again - how beautiful it can be!

Thank you for sharing your birth with us! Congratulations!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doulas Teaching Doctors

This was an excellent article from "Musings of a Montreal Doula" in which she talks about an experience of getting a chance to talk to doctors about birth support:

Doulas and Doctors

She writes:

"To be an excellent clinician in no way means you automatically know how to approach birthing women with wisdom..... to be a doctor means to interact with patients, in this case vulnerable, open, life giving women who are having peak experiences of pain and physical/emotional catharses. Some manners to keep that experience sacred, if you will, are important to learn."

She notes the following, which is absolutely spot on:

"I have known of and seen residents do the following (please don't judge them harshly...they are learning, and most of them are young and sweet...they make me want to feed them soup): talk about the baby in the next room who just suffered from major shoulder dystocia while they are standing between the legs of a woman whose baby is crowning...answer and talk on a cell phone WHILE doing a vaginal exam...allow a discussion to unfold, inspired by the fact that the woman in front of them has been pushing for a long while, about the baby earlier in the day who died from a complication and that that mom had been pushing for a long time too....tell a woman that she CANNOT deliver unless she BLOCKS her air and GETS MAD at the baby and PUSHES it out HARD........

And then - I love this! - she works on the solution rather than the problem (emphasis mine):

"So instead of us getting mad at them and irate about their insensitive treatment, why not get more pro active and guide them towards a bit more awareness of the quality of their presence? I believe in people's hearts, and I truly do not think any of these residents held bad intent in theirs. They are simply so busy learning how to be fantastic clinical care providers that it can be easy to forget that behind the pelvis is a woman and her partner...who are extremely vulnerable. The fact that doctors are entering into their practices NOT necessarily having been taught Ina May's words to live by: "If a woman doesn't look like a goddess in birth, someone isn't treating her right," means that there are gaps in medical training. Because as midwives and doulas, we are acutely aware that labour can malfunction when a mother becomes physically and emotionally distressed."

She spends the rest of the article talking about the talk/demonstration she was able to give about skills for dealing with laboring women in a supportive, encouraging, empathetic way - wonderful stuff. We need more activism like this! Instead of signs and picketing, how much more effective to teach classes to nurses and doctors so that change can come from the inside out.

Thanks for the article and for your work!

By the way, if you're not following this blog, you really should be - it is excellent! Great stuff in every post that I've read.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Open House Night

Tonight we spent two hours in Phoenix at Blossom Birth and Wellness Center's Open House - a lovely evening (music! food! bounce house for hyper children!) and an even lovelier birth center. I was absolutely astounded at the beauty of their gorgeous and spacious facility.... whoever did the decorating needs to mosey on over to my place for a few weeks. They have two or three beautiful birthing rooms, also a room with a labor/birth tub, plus a kitchen, a common room, rooms for prenatals and consultations, and rooms for a few other professionals (acupuncture, etc.). It was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, and I am so excited about finally having a birth center to recommend to mamas who want something in between hospital and home.

Congratulations, ladies!

A Mother's Birth Story Collection

Jessica at Working on a Full House has posted an entry telling her four birth stories - with accompanying adorable baby pictures!

My Birth Stories

Her first birth was a hospital birth - epidural, episiotomy - that she describes as follows:

"I really regret having her in the hospital and that way. It was all so un-natural and off. They swooped her away from me and I did not get to hold my little girl for 45 LONG minutes because they said they needed to get stuff out of her nose and clean her up.......Then they left and I tried to nurse and it did not go well. The nurse was rude, I was clueless and just did what they said. I remember them wheeling me into another room and told me I needed sleeping drugs and I said "okay" then they took Gracie for the night and fed her formula from a cup without my permission and brought her to me the next morning. Also, they gave her a vitamin K shot without me knowing and put some antibiotic in her eye without me knowing(which I believe led to a year of a clogged tear duct for her) and it just disheartens me thinking about it all. We were so ignorant and young."
But she also says:

"I do however remember just being head over heals in love and like I was just given the best gift in the whole world. I remember praying and thanking the Lord and asking Him to make me better for her. I wanted to be a better person because of this little life. I remember crying with joy often because I was so in love and grateful for Gracie. She captured my heart like nothing else had before. She was the beginning to a new life of rewards and blessings that I could have never dreamed up."

What a sweet tribute to a new little one!

Her subsequent three births were all-natural births in a midwife-run birth center, which she rates very highly.

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to hearing your next upcoming birth story! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Arizona Birth Story

Check out this birth story of a very recent birth by an Arizona mama, attended by one of our wonderful local licensed midwives:

Birth Story

Congratulations to Alli & Jack on the birth of their little one!

Later note:

You can see their birth video/montage here:

Birth Video

Just lovely! I would so do this with our pictures/video if I had the know-how. Thanks for sharing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's 9:00 p.m. ..... Do You Know Where Your Midwife Is?

I know where mine is! She is currently - yes, really! - at The Farm in Tennessee, cavorting with internationally renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin and having a blast. May I say that I am dying of envy? I can't wait to see her pictures and hear all about it when she gets back! If she posts pictures publicly, I'll link to them.

For anyone to whom that was gibberish... Ina May Gaskin is one of the United States' (and the world's) most famous midwives - she was one of the founders of the United States grassroots midwifery awakening movement (I just penned that phrase) that got homebirth back as a reality in the United States. She has an obstetrical maneuver named after her - the Gaskin maneuver, for relieving one of birth's most serious emergencies, shoulder dystocia - and is an acclaimed lecturer and teacher on the subjects of homebirth, birth in general, and breech birth. She has authored the books "Spiritual Midwifery" (an early, hippy-type text) and the wonderful "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth," which is one of my favorites.

Have a wonderful time, dear friend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accidentally unassisted homebirth

I loved this birth! Wow, talk about fast!! One minute twenty-three seconds - at 0:00 she is getting into the tub, and at 1:23 she is cradling her newborn - and indeed, has been doing so for at least thirty seconds! Wow! (I watched it again later and found that the time from "woman climbing into tub" to "woman holding new baby" is about 22 seconds. Amazing!)

This is an accidental unassisted birth - the midwife was five minutes away, but didn't quite make it.

When I was watching this birth, my one concern was why the mum was so disengaged from the person videotaping. Why wasn't she smiling and talking and making eye contact?

And then I read the caption - not only did the midwife miss this birth, but so did her husband! He went down to meet the midwife, she got in the tub, and BAM! Hubbie and midwife both came back to find a mama and baby cuddled up in the tub. What a woman! Loved it!

(The video says disabled for some reason, but just click on it to watch it on YouTube.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Update on Baby Ewan

This sweet little one did not make it through his difficulties - he died last night in his mama's arms, having just passed his 2-week birthday, due to a bacterial infection complicating all his other issues. You can read his sweet story here:

The Hope That We Have

Praying for his sweet parents in their time of grief and mourning.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Interesting Article: Birth Rape

I have been following the birth rape debate (i.e. the "do women have or not have the right to call certain birth abuses "rape"?) for a while now, and it's an interesting one.

Do I believe that birth rape exists? Absolutely. Try checking this out at Navelgazing Midwife:

Birth: Rape and Otherwise

And here's the thing: I have heard the same stories, over and over, from every doula with whom I have ever spoken. Laboring women being held down, being given forced, unwanted vaginal exams, being cut (given episiotomies) against their express, spoken wishes - all sorts of absolutely horrific abuses that come under both the categories of assault/battery and rape. This stuff is not being made up. If you want to know more, just google "birth rape" and you will find some of the ugliest, horrific stories you have ever known. (And perpetrators are not limited to obstetricians - they include also midwives and nurses and other healthcare providers.)

Navelgazing Midwife also wrote another excellent article on the subject - I encourage you to check it out:

What Doesn't Feel Right, Isn't

I read another fascinating article on the subject today, which I encourage you to read - an excellent perspective:

It's Not RAPE Rape

Does anyone have thoughts on this? Discussion is welcomed. (Though it must be polite, calm, respectful and thoughtful. Any sort of hatefulness or rudeness will be, as always, deleted automatically and immediately without comment.) But this is a very thought-provoking topic, though a very saddening one.

I thank God that I have only known the most humane and respectful treatment from my pregnancy/birth care providers - some women aren't so blessed. A big thank-you to all the obstetricians, physicians, midwives and nurses out there who are out there providing wonderful, respectful, loving care to pregnant and birthing women! We love you!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Birth With Forceps

You find birth everywhere, don't you?

I am currently reading "The Late Talker" (Agin, Geng & Nicholl) in an effort to learn more to help our little one, who is likely going to have speech delays. In reading the forward, I ran across this:

"... Dakota, who had severe respiratory and devlopmental problems due to a traumatic forceps delivery. Dakota had suffered torn neck muscles, crushed facial nerves, and internal head bleeding - and he was a late talker. From birth he had been under the observation of a neurologist and receiving therapy."


I wondered then - how often are forceps needed during unmedicated births? I have never heard of an unmedicated mother needing forceps - the only times that I have heard of forceps being used have been with medicated (i.e. epidural) mums.

In looking it up, I found that there is a definite association between epidural use and forceps delivery. Here is one article that was very interesting (though it was quite old - 1985):

Epidural analgesia during labour: Why does this increase the forceps delivery rate?'

Here is a quote from the article:

"It is postulated that this rise in the incidence of forceps delivery is at least in part due to the abolition of the Ferguson reflex due to blocking of the pelvic autonomic nerves, as demonstrated by Goodfellow et al. (1983). Since there is an increased instrumental delivery rate in those patients with epidurals in whom cephalopelvic disproportion has clearly been excluded, the need for instrumental delivery must be due to deficient expulsive forces. Maternal bearing down effort is certainly compromised by the lack of sensation, but in the light of the above studies it is thought that there may also be a deficiency in uterine activity."

From the website Childbirth Solutions, I found this listed under epidural risks:

"Often slows second stage by reducing or eliminating the normal surge of oxytocin; and by reducing pelvic floor muscle tone, which may lead to more deep transverse arrests or persistent occiput posteriors. In addition, forceps or vacuum extractor are required more often (20-75%)."


Considering that homebirth midwives safely attend naturally-laboring women with no forceps or vacuum, it seems to be likely that forceps and medicated labors are inextricably intertwined, as are unmedicated labors and the absence of a need for forceps.

The only time that I have heard of homebirth midwives being unable to bring babies out naturally are when baby is good and truly stuck, and a hospital transport is made for a cesarean (as happened to a friend of mine two months ago). But if baby can fit, then forceps just don't seem to be needed with an unmedicated, mobile, and usually-upright mother.

Whatever the cause, forceps are associated with occasional incidents of gruesome injuries, like this story from last year (poor baby!) and others.

Definitely a reason to favor unmedicated birth whenever possible, and a reason to favor vacuum extraction when any sort of extra assistance is needed, rather than forceps. (As a matter of fact, I believe that the vacuum extractor was developed in part to avoid the injuries observed with forceps births.)

Thoughts, anyone? More data to share, or stories? Please share!

Lovely Birth Story with Pictures

A new acquaintance of mine, and a new member of our local birth community, recently posted her birth story, with associated pictures. Lovely!

Why a Midwife?

Her midwife, Stephanie Soderblom, is the owner of Nurturing Hearts Birth Services and the author of the blog Vita Mutari - she is amazing. Her doula, Rose, is one of the two doulas who attended my last birth - similarly amazing! I highly recommend them both. 

Here is what she has to say about her decision to switch from OB care to a midwife:

"After several classes, I decided OK, maybe I could do natural childbirth, maybe. So at about 32 weeks pregnant I began discussing this with my OB/GYN. She responded with a slew of questions and comments from, "define no medical intervention" to "you know, there is no medal for doing it natural". Now, mind you, these are the last things you need to say to an already scared-ish first time mom....

(after switching)

"From the start, Stephanie cared more about me as an individual instead of a statistic. We met in her beautiful, small, cozy office. Neil and I sat on a couch, not a paper covered table (why do I have to sit on a sterile, paper wrapped table to be weighed & have my tummy measured on the outside?) . She talked with us about what kinds of parents we would be, what our fears were, how she could help us have the birth WE wanted.  It was, after all, our child. Our appointments were an hour, not ten minutes. She used organic lotion on your belly that smooths in, instead of that cold goo at the doctors office. She taught Neil how to feel the position of the baby on the outside of my tummy. She listened to his heartbeat the old school way."

Her labor description is the essence of midwifery:

" Shockingly, there isn't much to do for a naturally laboring woman besides well, supporting her.  So I labored (and labored) like they did in the old days, in the company of women (and my husband) that had walked that path before. That is where Rose, our doula came in.  That was her job, to help me.  Every minute I had her support, I was in my own space, comfortable (well... you know what I mean) confident and safe. I don't think I possess the right words to accurately describe what a room full of women, who have been called to help bring babies into this world, really feels like. It is probably like the safest hug you ever had, contrary to mainstream thought.  Every well wish, positive vibe, good energy was present in my bedroom.  The baby's heart rate was monitored, I wasn't disturbed or hooked up to anything.  It was intense, but beautiful.  While I labored, Stephanie and Rose massaged my arms and back and Stephanie knitted baby caps outside in the hall.  That's what she does.  Knits caps for all "her" babies they day they are born. No generic pink and blue stripes. Homemade, heartfelt, perfect.  Every knit a prayer for the mama and baby in front of her."

This is how she concludes, regarding her decision to choose a midwife:

"So, for those people that are wondering about the quality of care and expertise that a midwife has, I think it is safe (no pun intended... really :) to say we hit the jackpot.  This is not to say that people that see doctors are get less than quality care, not at all.  There are fantastic doctors/nurse midwives/ nurses and hospitals. Don't misunderstand me. I am so glad that there are OB's out there, I am also so thankful that we were not in a situation that we needed one.  This is just why we chose a midwife, what was best for our family. 
"So there it is, the biggest and best choice we made to date.  This is why midwife?.  I love Stephanie so much at I am forever grateful for her presence in our lives.  I am glad that there are people like her on this Earth.  It gives me hope.  I hope she is there for all of my babies births, that each one of my children get a cap made on the day of their birth and get sang "Happy Birthday" in their first hour Earth side.  Having a baby is not just about the labor but the experience, and without Stephanie, it wouldn't have been as sweet.  I am leaving out details how amazing our doula was too, maybe the next post. All these reasons are why we chose a midwife. I feel incredibly blessed to have had this kind of birth story.  I wish a personal version of this for every woman/family.  Stephanie ( helped me, my husband and my son become a better unit, a better family.  I now have the confidence and power to make my own choices regarding my family, my body and my life.  And there is no better feeling than that."
Thank you for sharing! 

Birth Story & Prayer Request

This is an absolutely beautiful all-natural (after a medically-indicated induction), doula-attended hospital birth.... check it out:

Ewan's Birth Story

And what a lovely OB she had - I loved how sweet, gentle, and concerned she was - really concerned about both baby and mama, but giving choices and respecting decisions. Just lovely.

"She explained to us what our options were. She could send us home, seeing as the baby was obviously doing fine at this point. Her concern was that there might be a drop in activity that we wouldn’t know to be alarmed about and that they wouldn’t be able to get him out in time. That’s what my heart can’t handle, she said, choking up and her eyes misting over. The other option was to stay and induce. She would try some natural means first, stripping the membranes and seeing how that worked before we tried anything like pitocin. She left us so we could discuss, and would come back to check and see what kind of progress I might have made already."

Just lovely! What a great doc. 

But now, for the most important - really important - part of this post: a serious and urgent prayer request for this baby and his family. This family needs your prayers right now.

The parents knew that baby Ewan would have problems, but he has turned out to have far more extensive health concerns than was believed. He is currently not doing very well, and his parents may have to make end-of-life decisions very soon if he does not pick up very quickly. Would you pray for this baby? For his healing and his health to progress, and also for peace and strength for his parents. You can follow their story as it develops at the above link.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blog Notes

(1) I just got around to changing my email address for comment notification, so I may not have seen your comment if it was left during the last 3-4 weeks. I scrolled down my recent entries to see comments, but any comments left on old posts have probably not been seen - if you need me to see something, please resubmit. Sorry about that!

(2) I'm afraid I've been very, very, very bad about using blog category labels - in fact, I haven't done it for the past, oh, 18 months or so. Thus, I have installed search bars on both my blogs so that visitors can search for a subject of interest. I'll probably get rid of the label category side bars soon.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blessing New Mothers

Quick quiz:


When you received visitors to see your new baby, what were two things that almost every visitor said?


"Let me know if you need anything," and "I'd love to babysit for you - just let me know."


Exactly how many of those people did you contact to take advantage of their sweet offers?


That's right, none.

Or, to put it conversely, how many new mamas whom you have visited have called you up and said, "You know how you offered to bring me a meal if I needed it? Well, I could really use it tonight."

That has probably never happened - in fact, it would probably feel a bit odd if it did.

Why? Simply because women have an incredibly hard time asking for help. We also have an intense need to put on a front of "having it all together." That's just how we are.

I'm the same way. During my last pregnancy, the deaconesses at our church offered to arrange meals for us when I was at my sickest point. I declined. And declined again. When I was finally so desperate that I accepted, one of the deaconesses emailed me - "Diana, it's about TIME you accepted help!"

Yes, like most women out there, I have serious problems accepting any form of help.

Now I'd like to showcase two of my friends - these are just examples out of many who blessed our family; these are not the only ones.

Friend #1 - After our first baby was born, she called me repeatedly and said "I want to babysit for you so that you can get out and do something. When can I come over?"

If she had said "Do you need babysitting?" I probably would have declined. Because she used a more forthright method, she was successful - and I got a 2-hour break.

Friend #2 - She heard that I was really sick with my second pregnancy, so one afternoon she called and said "I have some meals I want to bring over for your freezer. Is this a good time?" She did the same after baby arrived.

If she had said "Do you need food?" or "Would you like some meals?" I probably would have declined. Again, the forthright method works better.

So, here is the announcement!

Women of the world, we need to change how we try to bless new mothers (and people dealing with illness, hospitalization, and life transitions of all kinds).

Fact #1 - Women try to appear like they have life handled, regardless of how sick, exhausted, busy or stressed they are.

Fact #2 - Most women have trouble asking for help, even when needed.

Fact #3 - Most women will decline offers of help, even when needed.

Therefore, here's how to do it.

When you see a need, here is what not to say (not because it's not very sweet, but just because it's generally unsuccessful in getting mamas to accept the offered help!):

- Can you use some help?
- Let me know if you ever need anything.
- Call me if you would like me to babysit.
- Let me know if you'd like me to bring some meals by.
- I'd love to help out, so just let me know.

When you see a need, here is what you need to say instead:

- I want to babysit so you can get out for a bit. Would you like that? When would be a good time?
- I would like to bring you dinner. Would tonight or tomorrow work better for you?
- I have some meals for your freezer. When can I drop by?
- I want to help out with your situation. Would you like some meals or would you prefer help with housework?

Get the point? This is really important. It's the difference between mamas and families having needs met and being blessed and mamas and families having unmet needs that are needlessly neglected while families suffer in hard circumstances.

I have taken the example of my friends above to heart, and that is my new method. When one of my MOMS Club friends hurt her back, I tried it out - I called her and said "I'd like to bring you dinner tonight! Would that be okay? When can I drop it off?" And it worked!

Try on this method and see how much more it enables you to bless families who need the help.

Oh, and need some ideas for new-baby families/mamas? Try these out!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Arizona VBAC Success Story!

Missy at On the Road to a Better Birth has blogged about her journey toward a VBAC... and her journey has now been realized! Congratulations to Missy and her hubby! You can see a pic of her adorable little one here, and you can read her birth story here:

The Waiting Game (Dallin's Birth Story, Part I)

The Birth Pool (Dallin's Birth Story, Part II)

Perfectly Different (Dallin's Birth Story, Part III)

I haven't gotten a chance to go through her birth story yet, but I got to hear it in person on Thursday at the east valley birth circle, and it was a lovely story! She had an awesome experience with The Bethany Midwives and a wonderful VBAC.


Pushing for How Long?

A midwife friend of mine posted yesterday that she attended a birth in which the mama pushed for (wait for it)...

.... seven hours!

Yup, that's right - seven hours of active second-stage labor. What a woman. And what a midwife! That is a powerful couple of women there - the woman for doing it, and the midwife for being patient instead of throwing in the towel and transporting. You can pretty much guess with accuracy that if this woman had birthed in hospital, she would have been sectioned (unless she had a beyond-awesome doctor or hospital midwife).

Baby and mother are doing beautifully. Congratulations!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Et Voila!

This past week or two, I have been working on a new project - updating my link lists on my sidebar! Check it out! I have at least doubled the amount of links that I have for local birth resources. My links now include:

- Midwives, group listings
- Midwives, listing by practice
- Birth Doulas
- Postpartum Doulas
- Childbirth Education, by type
- Childbirth Education, by practitioner
- Arizona Birth Centers
- Prenatal Yoga
- Pregnancy Chiropractic
- Pregnancy & Infant Massage
- Breastfeeding Support, by Practitioner
- Breastfeeding Support groups
- Pregnancy Photography
- Bellycasting

Plus all of the informational link lists (which could stand to be updated as well.... another day!).

If you are an Arizona birth professional and would like to be listed, let me know! I just need a name or business name and a website - if you don't have a website, give me a contact number or email address (and I'll just put a blank website like Google up to link to).

Thanks to everyone who has helped me with this project! (And if you're someone who sent me information that I listed incorrectly or only partially, let me know!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Upcoming Breastfeeding Class

And to follow up that wonderful note by my friend Michelle, here is the information on the upcoming breastfeeding class that she will be teaching! She is an awesome woman and a great teacher - don't miss it if you're looking for a great class!


Good morning!

I wanted to let you know that I'm teaching a Breastfeeding 101 class next Friday at Blossom Birth and Wellness Center in Phoenix, and invite you to join me for a fun and informative class all about getting the best start on nursing your baby!

The class will be held on October 1 from 11:00am-12:00pm. The fee for the class is $10. We will cover the basics about breastfeeding -- how to get started and making it work for you!

TO REGISTER: email the following information to
1. Full name
2. Estimated Due Date
3. Address
4. Phone number
5. Email address
6. Do you have children? Ages?
7. If you have children, did you breastfeed them? For how long?

The class will be followed by a Breastfeeding and Postpartum Group for New Moms -- my 101 class attendees are welcome to stay and hear the discussion from mamas with new babies!

Feel free to ask questions! I hope to see you there!

Warmest regards,
Michelle Hottya CD(DONA) AZCCE
Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator
www (dot) hottya (dot) com

Breastfeeding and Hiking the Grand Canyon

I just love it when someone else writes my posts for me! This is an awesome note written by my friend Michelle, who is a wonderful doula and breastfeeding advocate (and who, incidentally, is teaching a breastfeeding class for expectant mamas on October 1st at our newly opened birth center, Blossom Birth and Wellness Center). I loved it and asked if I could post - so here it is! Thanks, Michelle!


"I just wrote this in response to a comment in a friend's FB thread. I posted a link to Dou-la-la's blog post, "The difference between "I can't" and "I won't" - and why it matters to all of us." . I decided to publish this to my notes because I feel it sums up how I view a major hurdle in the breastfeeding debate: setting mothers up for failure rather than success.

"The article I posted was a great reminder that we should not judge each other for our parenting choices, but I think that is only part of the point. The real issue is that our system does not provide women with the adequate support to achieve her goals for breastfeeding and undermines her attempts to succeed, then pats her on the back with words like, "At least you tried," and gives her a free can of formula.

"Of course there are situations like the ones that Matt pointed out where breastfeeding is difficult to the extreme or impossible. But those cases do not make up the 25% of mothers who are formula feeding by the time they get home from the hospital, or the 50% of mothers who stop breastfeeding before the baby is six months old. Within those numbers are women who sincerely wanted to breastfeed and yet were told "it's okay to quit."

"When I was preparing to hike the Grand Canyon from top-to-bottom, an athletic feat that I had a mere six weeks to prepare for, I never heard someone say, "Oh, you're too fat to do it. You're too out of shape. It's too hard. I couldn't do it, so you probably won't be able to either. I tried, but didn't make it more than a little ways in before I quit. Don't feel bad if you give up. Don't be afraid to quit. Hiking one mile is just as good as hiking all seventeen."

"If I had heard that, I would not have made it through the whole hike, and might not have even tried.

"Women are regularly told, "Breastfeeding is too hard. It's painful. I couldn't do it. You're breasts are small like mine so you might not make enough milk. Don't feel bad if you give up. Don't be afraid to quit. Breastfeeding one month is just as good as six months."

"No wonder women feel so conflicted about breastfeeding. No wonder they project their feelings about not meeting their goals on the people around them.

"What I heard when I was preparing to hike: "That's awesome! Good for you! I know you can do it! I can't wait to hear about your success! I will train with you! I hiked it too--here's what I did to make it through. How exciting! You're going to love it! I wish I could do that! You've inspired me, I think I will hike the Grand Canyon too!" And from my hiking partner: "I know we can do this -- we can help each other. We will be able to tell our amazing story afterwards. It will be great!"

"How many more women will succeed at breastfeeding if they get the same encouragement as I got for a two-day hike?

"When a woman and her partner work together to bring their baby into the world, then they work together to learn to take care of that baby, the community should support, encourage, help and praise them -- not set up roadblocks, use discouraging language or get judgmental and condescending for their choices. Maybe some women will succeed at breastfeeding, maybe some will have to combine bottle and breastfeeding, and maybe a few will have to stop breastfeeding all together. But if we set them up to succeed, rather than fail, then we will all be happier in the end."

Two Conferences - "Birth Blooms in the Desert" and the Fall Midwifery Conference

The Arizona Birth Network will be hosting its first Valley Birth Conference, "Birth Blooms in the Desert," on Saturday, August 23rd. There will be vendors, professionals to talk to, and a host of speakers and seminars. It should be great! Check it out on the AZBN's blog here.

According to the announcement, seminar topics will include:

- Pre/Perinatal Psychology
- Benefits of Flower Essences
- Cloth Diaper Class for Beginners
- Organic Living for the Family
- Benefits of Chiropractic Care
- Perinatal Massage
- Breastfeeding Overview and Tips
- Benefits of Naturopathic Care
- Baby Wearing Demo & Fashion Show

I doubt that I'll be there, as I have a nursing baby - bummer!!! But if you have the chance to go - whether as a birth fan, expectant mama, or interested citizen, definitely check it out! The prices are (I think) now lower than those listed on the site, so contact AZBN for more info.

Also, a conference I am very excited about - the Arizona Autumn Midwifery Conference! Very, very exciting. Here is the information:

Arizona autumn midwifery conference

Combining evidence based medical knowledge
traditional midwifery skills

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This will be our 3rd annual autumn conference and we’re so excited! We have three wonderful and wise women speaking this year!
Sharon Hodges-Rust, midwife, herbalist and researcher will give us the newest info regarding vitamin k and the newborn

Claudine Calligan, CNM, CPM, FNP, will explain the how and why of the physical examination... midwife style

Special guest Gail Hart from Oregon, midwife, author, and well known speaker will be newly returned from the Midwifery Today conference in France and will be teaching us on a variety of topics

8:00 Registration..... continental breakfast
8:30 Welcome and opening
9:00 “First hour belongs to mother-baby” Gail Hart (1.)
10:00 “Vitamin k updates” Sharon Rust (1.)
11:00 “Prolonged labor” Gail Hart (1.5)
12:30 Lunch
1:15 “Hemorrhage” Gail Hart (1.5)
2:45 “Friendly holistic physical exam” Claudine Calligan (1.5)
4:15 “GBS & vaginal health” Gail Hart (1)
5:15 Closing- and a gift for you- to unite us all
6:00 Dinner
7:30 Dessert, drumming, dancing .... hot tub & champagne will be bubbling

This conference is open to all interested midwives, student-midwives, doulas and women in the birth community.
As always, nursing babies are welcome!


7.5 contact hours are applied for through MEAC and certificates will be provided at end of day.


Good, good stuff.... I may try to make this one if I can. Join us!

Local Doula in the News

One of my fabulous doulas, Nikki Ausdemore (whom you can see in my birth pics), was in the news this past week when her son suffered a severe "brain bleed" due to a congenital brain defect (which only manifests when it "goes off"). He survived it, miraculously (this condition has a 30% initial mortality rate), but is in the hospital and underwent brain surgery this morning. You can read the story here:

Headache Almost Turns Deadly for Valley Boy

First of all, prayers for this sweet family would be greatly appreciated! Secondly, this catastrophe unfortunately struck when the Ausdemore family was without health insurance. When this is all said and done, they will be tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars in debt. If you would care to contribute (and keep up on the updates), here is the Facebook page for that:

Jake Ausdemore Healing Fund

Anything to support this sweet family in a time of real need is a blessing to them!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Absolutely Lovely - Birth Story and Video

First, the story:

My Beautiful Birth

I love her opener:

"Spoiler Alert: I end up with a baby."

Dang! She spoiled the ending! :)

And then her lovely birth video:

Leila's Homebirth

A beautiful birth, and an absolutely gorgeous media job - I lovely the seamless integration of still photos and video footage. Simply beautiful. If I was a techie genius, I would put that together for my births too! But then again, I wouldn't have her gorgeous hair and photogenic labor-looks, so it would likely be all for naught. :)

Congratulations, new mama!!

Six Babies and Counting

That's six babies that I've "nursed" - so exciting! Two of my own, and four others from our stored milk.

We had major nursing problems with #2 - I'm still procrastinating on writing up that story - and for about seven weeks, baby was bottle-fed while I pumped milk for him. I heard repeatedly that pumping would eventually kill my supply, but for those seven weeks, the reverse was true - I went into oversupply, and for a good while was freezing an extra 12 ounces a day (besides that which I had to throw out from unfinished bottles!).

A few months ago, as the expiration date started coming up on the milk, I posted to see if anyone could use it - and it quickly went winging its way to a friend's sister-in-law who needed it for some NICU triplets. Hurray!

I kept a small box for myself in case it was needed. Then, as I realized that it too needed to go (before it expired), a good friend posted on Facebook - "Help! I need milk!" - so two weeks ago, my last bit went to her new little one.

Moral of the story - Milk-sharing is wonderful! If you have milk stored in your freezer, don't let it expire just to throw it away! Get it out there! There are TONS of babies out there who can benefit from unneeded breast-milk supplies. Good things happen when extra milk is spread around.

Video: Birth in a Caul

I loved this birth! Check it out! It is a waterbirth with baby born in a caul - that is, with the amniotic sac intact around the baby. Thanks to Lisa for posting!

Homebirth Video - Born in the Caul

I have always wanted to have a caul-baby, but both of my labors have started with SROM (spontaneous rupture of membranes). If we have another at any time, I'll hope to experience this!

I used to think that birth en caul was extremely rare, but a homebirth midwife friend of mine writes "just had another caul baby!" posts on Facebook at least every month or two. I know that birth with a caul has been almost eradicated in hospital birth due to the unfortunate practice of routine AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) in laboring mothers. Such a pity, for many reasons.

Another thing I loved about this birth - it is done at a natural pace. Something that I find so disheartening about many hospital births is the continued presence of "purple pushing" - i.e. caregivers shouting at the mother to "Push! Push! PUSH! Harder! One! Two! Three! PUSH!" It is an outdated practice that has been shown to have negative repercussions for both mother and baby, but dinosaurs take a while to die - especially in the labor room. Check out this article by Holistic Doula NYC:

Pushing During Labor: Coached Pushing vs Physiologic Pushing

Purple pushing - not a good thing. The second-stage (pushing phase) of the birth in the video above is obviously done in perfect harmony with the mother's urges to push - that is, slowly and gently. A pattern for us all to follow, for sure!

Good stuff here!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Placenta Medicine Link

Anyone reading this blog for more than a week or two will know that I am passionate about placenta medicine! Placenta medicine, or the maternal consumption of the placenta post-birth, is an amazing, awesome way to regain energy after the birth, prevent postpartum baby blues, lessen after-pains, and keep emotional balance. It's counterculture in the West, but it is oh-so-worth-it!! Anyone even remotely interested, check it out!

An Arizona midwife just posted her experience with placenta medicine - a very interesting read.

I Did It - Ten Days of Eating My Placenta

She took it to a more spiritual level than I did (I just focused on the physical benefits), so this was really interesting for me to read.

Oddly enough, I was just in Sedona this past weekend.... hopefully I'll get to meet this midwife sometime!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Six Couples, Six Years, 24 Babies

About six years ago, six young married couples (myself and DH as one of them) met at a church within the span of about five months. We immediately formed a group and bonded really well, and though since then we've all gone our separate ways and are now scattered across the country, we have all kept in touch.

When we met, we were almost all childless - one couple had a six-month-old, and one couple had lost a baby in a tubal pregnancy. But all of us were in the market for parenthood, and over these past six years our babies have arrived in waves, for a total of 24 babies at present (12 of which are embryo-adoption babies) - nine born, one in-utero, six in waiting (EA babies not yet transferred) and eight in heaven.

It has been fascinating to watch the paths that the six families have taken with their childbearing - we have been all over the map. I thought that I'd write down just some of the experiences that we have had - we haven't experienced everything, but it's been close. So here goes....

As a six-couple set, we have experienced among us:

Fertility issues:

- Easy conception
- Fertility problems, short-term
- Fertility problems, long-term/permanent
- The full range of fertility testing
- Embryo adoption

Baby/Pregnancy losses:

- Early miscarriage (~4 weeks)
- Miscarriage at 8 weeks
- Failed IVF embryo adoption transfer
- Miscarriage after successful embryo adoption transfer
- Ectopic pregnancy, followed by emergency surgery


- Morning sickness-free pregnancies
- Mild morning sickness pregnancies
- Hyperemesis gravidarum, untreated
- Hyperemesis gravidarum, treated
- Gestational diabetes
- Pregnancy hypertension
- Breech (resolved)
- Preterm labor
- Postdates (one of the group regularly goes to 42 weeks)
- GBS+

Childbirth Education

- Hypnobirthing
- Lamaze, hospital classes
- Self-education
- Bradley


- Hospital birth, unmedicated
- Hospital birth, medicated
- Bradley birth
- Induction with a provider whose limit was 41 weeks
- Cesarean section after failed induction
- Elective repeat cesarean section
- Induction with the "dead baby card" played
- Homebirth
- Home waterbirth
- Homebirth transport to hospital
- OB care
- Midwifery care (CPM only, no CNMs yet)

I'm pretty sure I've missed some of our adventures, but that's a good beginning list. It has been quite an experience for all of us, sharing both our triumphs and our losses together. The adventure still continues, as well.... some of us are done (as in DONE), some of us are just beginning, some of us are still on the journey, some of us aren't sure where we are.

I'm looking forward to meeting however many more little ones join us!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You Know You're a Birth Junkie If....

My blogging sister Kathy posted the original list - here is mine! (Kathy's list is more of a serious list - this one is just for fun. Some are seriously spoof, and some will apply only to some of us.)

You know you're a birth junkie if.....

- You are vaguely surprised to discover that there are non-birth blogs out there. So weird.

- You experience an inexplicable magnetism toward all pregnant women.

- The question is not "if" you have a placenta in your freezer, but "how many?"

- Your husband can pontificate, at length, on the benefits of natural birth and the evils of the cesarean epidemic, because he's already heard the sermon so many times from you.

- There is no longer any topic that is labeled in your mind as "too much information" when it comes to birth. Occasionally, you embarrass yourself by discussing vaginas with your friends' husbands before you think. Oops.

- When the bread gets stuck coming out of its plastic bag, you think "Shoulder dystocia!" and then quickly recite to yourself the major methods for resolving it (McRoberts, Gaskin, Zavanelli, etc.)

- When you hear that someone has a baby, your first question is not "How are you?" but "How did your birth go?"

- When you are staring off into space and your husband says "What are you thinking about?", you often respond with a passionate and long-winded sermon on a birth topic.

- When your birth friends post their labor updates on Facebook, you spent the entire labor stalking Facebook (along with the other local birth junkies) until the entire thing turns into a riotous labor-stalking party, ending with a flurry of congratulations to the mama when the final post "Baby is here!" is made.

- You have to make repeated, stern commands to yourself to avoid giving unwanted, unrequested advice to pregnant mamas. (Just breath.... and again.... and again.)

- You regularly hear birth stories that make you want to bang your head against a wall. Violently and repeatedly.

- When you hear of a mother who does not eat her placenta, you think "Oh! How odd!"

- You are working on building your birth library, and it does not contain a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Except perhaps as a special display with a stake through its heart.

- When you see a pregnant mother on the street, you have the immediate urge to walk over and start giving her information about doulas, natural birth, childbirth classes, homebirth, and local birth resources. Sometimes you do.

- Your idea of "free time" is watching birth videos on YouTube or blogging about birth.

- Your mind operates in "birth space" most of the time that it's not actively engaged on real-life topics.

- When you hear about news in the birth arena, you're already writing a mental blog post about it before you have finished reading the article.

- Your idea of "girls' night out" is not dinner and drinks at a local restaurant, but attending a local women's birth forum discussion group.

- A positive, empowering birth story totally makes your day. Ditto for the announcement of a new pregnancy.

- When you reach out and discover your local birth community, you have the feeling that you've finally found your tribe. :)

- Your husband is heard to mutter things like, "With a frank breech, they should have considered a trial of labor before funneling that mother into an automatic scheduled cesarean birth. It's not like it was a footling."

- You can't watch TV shows like "A Baby Story" because they make you so angry and depressed that you can't function.

- You can reel off reams of birth-related statistics - current and past cesarean rates, WHO recommendations, local cesarean rates, etc.

- Getting to tell someone your birth story is a special treat because you love to remember it.

- All of your Facebook friends know that you are a birth junkie because you compulsively post a steady stream of birth-related articles. Some of them probably think you're more than a little strange.

- You are known as "the birth lady."

- You think it would be fun help catch a baby in an emergency (plane flight, etc.). In fact, you've put some thought into how you would do it.

- You know and can recite from memory the reproductive history (pre-conception, prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum) of every woman at your church, MOMS club, etc..

- You consider having another child just because you miss your visits with your midwife so much and because you love giving birth and/or being pregnant.

- You greet your husband at the door with, "Hi, hon! I've got a birth video that you've just got to see!"

- Topics like the cultural determination of episiotomy methodology, various placenta preparation recipes, and dilation-determination techniques are common subjects of dinner-table conversation.

- Your husband tries to talk his co-workers into having homebirths.

- You find analogies to birth in just about everything. My friend Kathy found an analogy to hospital birth in dishwater and to pregnancy length in seedlings (right, Kathy? I'm going from memory only); I found myself contemplating mustard greens and meditating upon the nature of placenta blood vessel patterns (they are remarkably similar!).

- When interviewing a new doctor or caregiver, you intentionally throw out the term "midwife" or "homebirth" to see how s/he responds in order to find out if you really want to work with him/her.

- Your idea of a dream vacation is not a cruise to Hawaii but traveling to Tennessee to visit Ina May Gaskin at The Farm.

And last, but most certainly not least...

- Your husband has seen more of your birth-community friends naked than clothed - because you showed him all of their birth pics/videos before he met them in person!!


Got any more to add? Let me know!

One Year Ago

One year ago this morning, I had labored most of the night in our bathtub, surrounded by my amazing birth team and family. One of my doulas said, "Look! The sun is rising!" And so it had - the light was gradually dawning through the darkness. And at 6:47 a.m., after 7 hours and 11 minutes of labor, our baby was born into water into the waiting hands of his daddy. Thank you to our amazing midwives who guarded and guided us, our doulas who encouraged us, and to my husband and son who accompanied me through our second labor journey. Happy First Birthday, sweet baby!!

Lots of Stuff.... Plus, My First Placenta!

I can tell when I need to get blogging.... it's when the number of tabs open on my browser climbs past the 20-something zone. And when my husband starts complaining - "Why do we have so many tabs open on our browser?" It's because I have to save them to blog about, of course!

But, as usual, I have zero time for blogging. So here goes another stream-of-consciousness blog entry - a little bit of everything!

First of all, in birth news - I encapsulated my first placenta! Or rather, my second, as I did my own, but I don't usually count that one as "official" because I had so much help. This one was 100% on my own, and it was easier than I expected, and a ton of fun. I did it to help out a friend who couldn't take this client due to being on vacation, and I'm glad I did. I want to do more! However, if I ever get into the business myself, I shall be offering only raw encapsulated placenta - cooking a placenta sounds both unnatural (what animals do you know that cook their placentas?) and rather disgusting. So there you have it!

Speaking of placentas, on one of my favorite new blogs, I found this great article - check it out:

The Placenta: Essential Resuscitation Equipment

In other words, knock off the premature cord-clamping, people!!

Also, another favorite blogger of mine (and personal friend) blogged recently about placenta medicine - this is my new article to send to people who are saying "Why???" Here it it:

Placenta Medicine: Why Do It?

In Arizona birth news, this article came out in our local paper recently, and it includes a brief interview with a doula friend of mine, Althea. Love seeing doulas getting in the news!!

Doulas Offer Support, Encouragement During Childbirth

I found this set of articles quite randomly while surfing the web - it is a mama's account of her (very recent) vaginal birth of twins. It's not a homebirth or a pro-natural-birth account, but it is definitely interesting - especially in a day when most twins are automatically funneled into cesarean:

The Birth, Part I

The Birth, Part II

I especially loved how her doctor handled Baby A's birth - this was great!

"She gave some instructions to the people in the room (there was over a dozen people there, I’m not exaggerating) and then she gently told me, “Okay Molly, whenever you want to push, just take a deep breath and push. You’re gonna see your babies soon.”

Loved that.

And, for our head-banging moment of the day, an article on CNN:

Ripple effect seen from rising C-sections in first-time moms

Actually, the article itself is really good. It examines the factors behind our absurdly high cesarean rate, namely, extremely high c-section rates in first-time moms followed by abysmally low VBAC rates. The article concludes:

"Carol Hogue, a maternal and fetal health expert at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, was on the NIH panel. She strongly believes that moms-to-be need to be better educated before they have their baby. "C-section itself is not a benign thing," says Hogue. While many people may no longer view Caesareans as a major operation, she says women need to remember that there are risks for a mother because it is still major surgery, which can include complications with anesthesia and scarring. 'The process of labor helps the baby survive," Hogue adds.

"Just last month, ACOG reaffirmed its guidelines that VBAC is a viable option and urged physicians to counsel women who have had one or two previous C-sections to consider delivering their baby naturally.

"The study concludes that if fewer women were induced, if better guidelines for the timing of Caesareans existed and if women were better educated about their ability to deliver a baby after a surgical birth, it could help lower the number of C-sections in this country."

Don't you love how "naturally" means "anything less than a cesarean" nowadays?

Anyway, the head-banging moment comes not from the article, but, as is often the case, from the comments. Try a couple of these on for size:

From someone who was probably trying to be a jerk:

"I speak for all husbands when I say that a C section is great for us. We don't have to be traumatized that a human came out of where ummm we like to go into."

And then a (believe it or not) serious comment from a dad whose wife chose an unneeded elective cesarean:

" It seems barbaric to us that doctors still allow women to have vaginal births with all the risks that are involved (vaginal ripping or tearing or purposeful cutting by the doctor, The infection that can result from it, long strenuous painful labor, umbilical cord entanglement, ect...)."

Oh. my. goodness. That is wrong on so, so many levels. Rather than go into it, I'll just continue the head-banging.

A lot of the commenters bring up an extremely valid point - that OBs, like other doctors nowadays, are pressured into practicing backside-covering medicine rather than evidence-based medicine simply because they are often sued up one side and down the other whenever they don't. It is a deeply complex issue, and one that needs serious addressing in order to turn western hospital birth around.

Speaking of hospitals, did you know that Disney has a hospital? It does! Read all about it here, as well as Dr. Fogelson's comments on how this hospital could (and possibly should) be used as a model for hospitals on a larger scale - rather than a pleasant exception to the rule

Healthcare “Onstage” at Disney’s Celebration Health

And lastly, loved this unassisted birth story - a breech!

The Unassisted, Surprise Breech Birth of Serenity Danilyn

I think there were more, but it's time to wake up the kidlets! Happy Wednesday, everyone!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homebirth Video - Lovely

A friend posted this on Facebook, and I simply have to share! Gorgeous!

This is an extremely up-close-and-personal look at an all-natural homebirth. The midwife does an awesome job of encouraging the mother during those challenging last moments of birth, and she also does a lovely, hands-off job of facilitating and guiding the baby's birth. This is a simply lovely birth - what birth should be. Enjoy! (Just click on the "YouTube" icon to watch it on YouTube full size.)

May I say that the mama does a great job too??? Congratulations!! (This is one of those births that makes me think, "Ah, shucks! Let's have another one!") :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fun Stuff!

I loved these articles, but as usual, don't have the time to devote a separate blog entry for each!

So here goes....

First off! A video only marginally related to birth (okay, quite related, but only in the general sense of having to do with healthcare) - extremely funny! Hat tip to the Academic OB/GYN:

The Singing Doctors in "Damaged Care"

Next on our list! One of my favorites midwives, Stephanie Soderblom, has been blogging up a storm, and they're all worth checking out: "Pelvimetry" - and why she doesn't agree with the practice; "Vitamin K Injection and the Newborn" - Need I say? I agree!; and my favorite, "Public Breastfeeding" - an examination of the underlying issues concerning the western public's dislike and disgust with public nursing. I've been meaning to write almost the same article for quite a while, but she got there first! (As have several other bloggers.) So while you're waiting anxiously for my article, read hers! (It's probably better than mine would be anyway!) Also, an earlier post that I really liked - "Birth Plans" - dealing with the difficulties with and subtleties of the "birth plan" movement.

While dealing with other less-popular birth subjects, I saw this article and loved it....

The Down and Dirty

It's a subject that could use some airing in childbirth education classes. Not that I would know anything about the subject. I just mention it academically. *Ahem.* Moving on....

By the way, the blog mentioned above ("Push It! Push It Real Good!") is a new and wonderful blog by an L&D Nurse - definitely check it out!

Another blog I just discovered and love - "Midwife Thinking's Blog" - published this article on the OP (occiput posterior, or "sunny side up") baby:

"In Celebration of the OP Baby"

Good stuff! Great food for thought! The other articles that I perused on her blog are similarly excellent - I can't wait to read more! And did you note the awesome placenta picture on the top of her blog? Very neat!

I'm sure there is more, but dishes and family are calling-calling-calling, so ta ta for now! Have an awesome weekend, all!