Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Birth Processing, Part I: Review of Birth Hopes/Fears

I was looking for a completely different post, and I ran across this one that I wrote last August about my fears and hopes for my upcoming birth! Let's see how I did!

My Fears About Birth

- Pain

Yes, there was pain, but not nearly as much as the first time. Ladies - second births are SO much easier than first births!! All births should be second births!!

- Not being able to handle the pain

I was still a total, complete wimp. But all in all, not bad! I handled pain the exact same way I did last time - closing my eyes and making a lot of noise. On the video (review coming soon, I hope!) I actually looked pretty decent. Not birth-goddess quality, but decent.

- Doing something that disgusts people (I won't give details... there are a lot of possibilities)

Oh, well.

- Something happening to the baby (not that this would be minor, but I have complete trust in the competence of our midwives)

Baby did have a slow start into the extra-uterine world, but (as I said!) my midwives were totally competent and took care of it beautifully with a minimum of fuss.

My Hopes For This Birth

- Having an easier time, pain-wise


- Being able to handle the pain better than I did last time


- Experiencing birth ecstasy/high - last time I totally missed out on this, bummer!!!

No! Bummer! I guess I am just not a "birth high" kind of mother! Bummer! But I was at least happier this time. Last time was "I just want to go to sleep" and this time was "okay, we're done with that, let's move on and see what baby looks like!"

- Better bonding with baby - last time I was just in too much pain from afterpains

Unfortunately the afterpain issue still prevented bonding - my body just does not know how to shut up with the afterpains! But there was a bit better of bonding with baby.

- Easier start to breastfeeding

Gosh, no - much worse. Oh, so much worse. If there ever is a next time, I am getting baby checked for tongue-tie about 30 seconds post-birth - NOT 6 weeks post-birth.

- Better connection to DH during the birth

I still prefer being surrounded primarily by women during birth, but this was better. At the beginning, DH started doing the one thing that made me want to clobber him last time - that is, sympathizing ("I'm so sorry you're going through this") - but I asked him to avoid that, and all was well from there.

- Better connection to doulas

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness, I love my doulas!! (Not that my doula wasn't great with birth #1 - I just didn't have much of a chance to bond with her.)

- Easier postpartum period - I think that this will definitely happen, barring complications - last time I was so exhausted from the hyperemesis that I started out utterly exhausted pre-birth, and it just got worse from there

Postpartum - not so great. Nursing issues and various other stresses made postpartum a rather awful time, though the physical recovery was much faster. Maybe next time - that is, if there was going to be a next time! Which there will not be, LOL!


Did anyone else out there have birth hopes/fears that were resolved or fulfilled? I'd love to hear them!

VBAC Birth Story - With Pics

I'm a sucker for any birth story with pictures... and this birth is a lovely VBAC as well!

Happy Birthday John Carl Fischer!

Many thanks to Nursing Birth for posting this link, as well as for being the inspiring spirit for this VBAC! And welcome back, NursingBirth, to the blogosphere!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Waterbirth Pics - Beautiful!

A lovely collection of pictures from a waterbirth, with dad catching:

Pics of a Watched Birth

These pictures are really clear, because (1) mom is birthing on hands and knees, and (2) the birth is kind of half in water, half out of water - so the picture quality is great (unlike my own birth, where the birth was fully underwater).

Oh, and upon further investigation it looks like baby was born in a caul! Very, very cool! (This is where baby is born in the amniotic sac.) Check it out and let me know if you think that is the case as well.

Thanks to "Midwife: Sage Femme, Hebamme, Comadrona, Partera" for these pictures!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Birth and Mustard Greens

You know the birth bug has bitten....

..... when you see mustard greens and think "birth."

Yes, seriously!

The other day, I was eating lunch with our 4yo (lunch = a conglomerate of leftovers from three separate meals; yes, life as a SAHM is weird), and I happened to look down at the mustard greens I was eating. I immediately felt a thrill of recognition as the thought popped into my head - "Wow! The veining pattern on these mustard greens looks exactly like the pattern of blood vessels on the fetal side of a placenta!"

Then I sat there for a while and contemplated the interconnectedness of life, etc. etc. etc. When I got finished singing "Kumbaya", I finished lunch.

No, seriously, I just finished eating lunch. But what does this tell me?

#1 - The birth bug bites hard! But we all knew that, I think.

#2 - I love placentas! Seriously, I think I am starting to have a placenta passion. I am so impressed by this beautiful organ, and by all that it can do. I am also (as I mentioned) starting to look into doing placenta encapsulation. At a birth meeting last week, two of three mothers telling birth stories spontaneously broke into praise of placenta encapsulation for post-partum mood control. I want to spread the word on this incredible resource!

And thirdly, I need to get to bed! Good night, all!

Birth Story: Rebecca Overson's Story

I found a lot of really interesting material in this birth story!

Rebecca Overson's Birth Story

This is an LDS woman's story of giving birth, and it is interspersed with a lot of spiritual thought. Although I do not share her faith (being a Protestant Christian), there was a lot that got me thinking - especially about the need to face fears, rather than living in constant fear (a bad habit of mine). I love what she says here:

"Tears streamed down my face as I realized I have lived my whole life in fear of so-called bad things happening to me, that could in fact, be the very things that I need to experience in this life to attain glory in the next. If that is the case, why would I shrink back from anything? In my attempt to avoid the fear and pain and discomfort that comes with mortality, I couldn’t help but see how I drew it nearer to me and caused more pain. In this new awareness I found myself saying, “Yes, I AM willing. I Am. So be it.” My heart burst wide open and all those fears just slipped away as I said YES to all of life."

She then linked that principle to birth:

"It was in this state of mind- this intense willingness to feel what it feels like to be alive – to intently receive EVERYTHING that life has to offer me – that I gave birth to our second son. I was totally, completely willing to experience birth fully, unlike I had ever done before. I knew it was going to hurt, but I was willing to feel whatever it felt like. I knew I was going to reach that intense point during transition and have thoughts like “I can’t do this, I’m going to die” - and I welcomed those thoughts. I didn’t take them seriously. I knew they would come, and I welcomed them. I was totally open to the possibility that this could be another 15 hours of excruciating back labor."

One reason I especially loved this birth story was the two photos shown at the end. They are gorgeous. Beyond gorgeous. When I saw the second picture, the one immediately post-birth when she is holding her baby, I immediately thought: "THIS is why I am blogging. This is what I am passionate about. I want EVERY woman to have this moment!"

Thanks for sharing!

Vitamin K Shot Article

When I find sites that I want to link to, they stay in my browser until I get to them. Eventually I have so many tabs open that I can't fit any more into my screen, and so I have to post! Here is one of them:

The Dark Side of the Routine Newborn Vitamin K Shot

I am not a fan of the vitamin K shot. To say that God/nature has made all babies vitamin K deficient and therefore all babies need vitamin K supplementation really seems a bit silly. If babies are "low" in vitamin K, then they are low for a reason. It's like cord clamping - if the cord needed to clamp sooner, it would do so naturally. It seems more reasonable to say: "Babies have lower vitamin K levels than adults. In some cases, vitamin K supplementation is used when necessary."

However, this is not one of my specialty areas of knowledge - input is welcome!

We refused the vitamin K shot with both babies. Our midwife told us that she recommends the shot only in case of a traumatic birth, when it might be necessary (and we agreed that we would go with the shot in that case).

Thoughts, anyone? Civil discourse is always welcome!

Homebirth Twin Picture

I found this adorable photo posted last week from a recent twin homebirth:

They Have Arrived!

What BIG twins! (Not to mention adorable twins!) And furthermore, this was an (unintentional) unassisted twin homebirth! She writes:

"Antonette (Annie) Irene, weighing 8lbs 6 oz and her sister Ramona Jean, who weighed 7lbs 6 oz were born yesterday at around two o' clock in the afternoon here in our home. Labor was only an hour and was certainly intense! My dear sister in law, Rebecca, was the one to catch both babies since my midwife did not make it in time."

Very cool! Congratulations to this family!

Post for a Friend: Info Needed!

If any of you can recommend a doula (or any other great birth resources) in the Chicago area, would you let me know? I promised a friend that I would do a little searching for her, but so far it seems that my resources don't reach that far. Any information would be appreciated!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cesarean Section Rate

I saw this article regarding the rising cesarean rate:

C-section Births Hit Record High

But apart from the "One in every three babies in the U.S. now arrives via Caesarian section" part, I couldn't find any actual numbers. Have the 2009 numbers been released, or is this just a report on the currently-reported cesarean rate (31.8%)? I couldn't find any other articles, so I suspect the latter.

Placenta Medicine Article

I saw this article and was so excited that I immediately shared it on Facebook.

Then I sat back and thought, "Oh my goodness, what have I just done?"

Having now horrified my entire set of Facebook friends (some of whom are probably pressing "delete friend" as we speak!), I wanted to post it here:

Unusual Practice Thought to Help Beat Baby Blues

I am very enthusiastic about placenta medicine. It's unusual and counter-culture, and takes some getting used to thought-wise, but it had such a profoundly positive influence on my postpartum experience that I want to tell the whole world about it! After all, something that is practiced by the entire mammalian kingdom, including most traditional human communities, can't be that bad! :)

I'm actually thinking of trying out placenta encapsulation as a sideline... I'll post about it if that ever goes anywhere!


I'm going to copy the whole article here, just to have it in case the link is taken down:

To the average New Brunswicker, the practice may seem unusual, to say the least, but in many cultures around the world consuming the placenta after a baby's birth is commo

Natalie Arsenault, a Traditional Birthing Attendant, offers a placenta encapsulation service. She will receive the placenta, dry it and then encapsulate it for mothers who do not wish to do their own.

The theory is that the placenta contains hormones that are beneficial to the mother.

After a baby's birth, a mother's hormone levels drop off rapidly, which is thought to cause the baby blues.

The idea behind placentophagy -- eating the placenta -- is that it will help balance hormone levels by re-introducing the very hormones the mother produced during pregnancy.

If the thought of serving your baby's placenta as lunch is a bit too much for you, placenta encapsulation may be a more palatable choice.

Natalie Arsenault of Moncton is a traditional birthing attendant who also offers placenta encapsulation services.

Soon after birth Natalie dries the placenta, then grinds it up, divides it into capsules and delivers them to you.

While the use of the placenta is less common in North America, Natalie says it is used in a lot of Chinese medicine.

"It is the most absorbable source of iron," she says. "After you have a baby, it is very important for energy, for helping with milk production and for sleeping right."

Creating a good milk supply may be one of the most important benefits for moms who breastfeed.

"You are intaking some good nutrients," Natalie says. "Sometimes what makes us tired is that the baby is feeding all the time and maybe he is feeding all the time because you are not producing enough milk because you are tired."

The capsules can help stop that vicious cycle, Natalie says.

It takes hours to prepare the placenta for encapsulation.

First Natalie steams it, then she transfers it to a pan and sprinkles it with coarse sea salt, garlic, and organic rosemary, which is strictly to add a familiar flavour in case you happen to burp after taking a capsule.

She then puts it in the oven to dry at a very low heat, a process that usually takes about eight hours.

Natalie says it is important to cook the placenta on low heat in order to preserve its molecular structure.

When the placenta is completely dry, it looks much like beef jerky. Natalie then grinds it into a fine powder and fills the capsules by hand, although a new drug store that has opened locally has offered to take over that part for her as it has a machine that can do the encapsulation.

"For the whole process I tell mothers to give me a good 24 hours," Natalie says.

Each placenta yields 100 to 200 capsules, depending on its size.

Because she is currently filling the capsules by hand, Natalie uses larger capsules than she would like and so recommends new mothers take one each day.

Ideally, though, she says one morning, noon and night would be best, and she is hoping when the pharmacy takes over the encapsulation, it will be able to use smaller capsules.

Natalie normally recommends a new mom start taking the capsules three days after her baby's birth and continue taking them for at least two weeks.

"On day three, that is when the hormones really plummet and when you start to get weepiness or the baby blues," she says. "That adrenalin rush, the joy of the new baby is ebbing."

Natalie says some women notice a striking difference in their mood once they take the capsules, saying they reduced aggressiveness and the blues.

After the initial post-partum period, Natalie tells her clients to take the capsules as needed.

She says they can continue to be used for years as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place. She keeps her own in the freezer and says she still takes them from time to time.

"I take one when I feel something coming on or if I feel low or my milk supply is low," she says.

While the encapsulation process isn't all that difficult, it is time-consuming, which is why many women opt to have someone like Natalie do the work for them while they tend to their newborn. The service is still fairly rare, so Monctonians are quite lucky to have that option locally.

It costs about $200 to have your placenta encapsulated, but "It is a pretty small investment in your health and your sanity," Natalie says.

"It is your safety net. Maybe you won't have any issues with the blues, but if you do, it is a great way to cover yourself... If you do need it, it could be a lifesaver."

Research into the benefits of using the placenta in this way has so far been limited. Natalie points out that there is no financial benefit for pharmaceutical companies, for example, to determine if there is good science behind the theory.

However, she says an American university did just win a research grant to do some work on the topic.

Natalie says the buzz word in the medical community these days is bio-identicals -- hormones derived from plants that are biologically identical to the hormones found in the human body. They are usually compounded by a pharmacist to create a custom blend specifically for one individual.

Natalie says capsules and tinctures derived from the placenta are suited perfectly to that mother and to her mother, who can use the products to fight symptoms of menopause.

While any placenta would provide iron and nutrients to anyone, each woman's hormones are different, so her own placenta is exactly the right potency for her.

Natalie says some people do just eat the placenta. She says she's made it into a soup for clients and she knows of others who have made it into a stir fry.

"But then you have it in one or two sittings and you get a big boost, but then it is gone," she says. "It is a little bit of a smarter game plan (to make it into capsules)."

Natalie says she's offered the encapsulation service for about four years and estimates she has encapsulated more than 50 placentas.

She has a booth at the Moncton Market and she says more and more women seem to have heard of placenta encapsulation when she talks about it with them.

"It is becoming more and more mainstream," she says. "Midwives are more aware of it."

Getting the placenta at the home births Natalie attends isn't an issue, but she says clients who have had their babies in hospital haven't met any resistance locally when they have asked to take their placentas home.

"They package it up in a hazardous waste container and usually the father shows up here," she says, adding sometimes one of her children or her husband answer the door and the husband, who often is wondering if his wife has lost her marbles, starts stumbling through an explanation.

"My husband just takes it and says, 'Yes, this is the place,'" she says.

Natalie says there have been cases in the U.S. where a hospital has refused to give the mother the placenta, so while there haven't been any issues in Canada, she says she usually advises clients to ask for it without going into too much detail about why they want it.

Some people do request the placenta for other reasons. Some bury it, for example. In many cultures, there are rituals surrounding the disposal of the placenta, which is viewed with honour.

Because the placenta is, essentially, a meat product, it needs to be treated as such and kept refrigerated until it is prepared.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Fetal Heart Tones

I was observing an online discussion of whether or not an OB's application of forceps had been an appropriate intervention, and the subject of second stage decelerations came up. A midwife-friend of mine said:

"Fetal heart tone interpretation is a bit more complicated than I think most people give them credit for... It's *when* they decel (when in the labor, when in relationship to the contraction), how much they decel, how long they are down for, how fast they are to recover, how variable they are without the decel, the beat to beat variability.... It's not quite as simple as "baby's heartbeat went down, it's an emergency". Subtle changes that a lay person may not even notice can appear quite ominous....and hearing deeper decels that can freak most people out might not be too notable because of other reassuring signs.

"In other words: it's complicated, it's an art, and it's even something that birth professionals are still trying to figure out and fine-tune (as 90% of "late decels" - which are considered much more
concerning - are considered 'false positives" for fetal distress)."

Interesting stuff!

This website was given for information, and it looks interesting! Check it out:

Intermittent Auscultation for Community-Based Midwives

This is a whole new subject for me; I'm looking forward to learning more!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Belly-Casting Doula

Here is yet another article featuring one of my amazing doulas, Rose Day:

Pregnancy Remembered Forever Through Art

Rose is an terrific doula (if you need a doula, call her up!) who did a fantastic job at my birth, along with her partner Nikki. She is also an amazing woman (homeschooling mom to 7, childbirth educator, professional doula, doula and birth educator trainer), and one of her newest sidelines is doing bellycasting. I have seen her work, and she truly does a fantastic job. If you're interested, give her a call!

I thought about getting a bellycast done with this past baby, but never got around to it because of (a) money, and (b) it wasn't something that would really fit in my decorating scheme. But they are truly beautiful, and moms who have them done for more than one baby usually say they can see amazing differences in how they carried their babies. Several moms I know have them hung on their living room walls - beautiful and great conversation starters!

Nurse to Haiti - Read All About It!

Trot on over to The LaborPayne Epistles (the blog of a nurse/lactivist/birth activist)! She is on the first day of her trip to Haiti, where she is doing medical work with a team of relief doctors and nurses, and she is blogging through her trip. The first few entries have been fascinating, and I'm looking forward to hearing about her experiences.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Premature Cord Clamping: Another Head-Banging Moment

Sometimes you just want to head-bang - and it's not because you've found the perfect beat.

It's because you see something about birth in the media that makes you want to run to the nearest wall and banging your head against it. Repeatedly.

Okay, well, maybe this one wasn't one of the "violent head-banging moments" - perhaps just a "moderate head-banging moment." But it's about one of my special birth interests - premature cord clamping - so that kicked it up a notch with me.

I firmly believe that clamping the umbilical cord while it is still pulsing (that is, while blood is still being actively transferred from the placenta to the baby) is harmful. There is plenty of evidence that this is true, and that delayed (or physiologic) cord clamping (DCC) is beneficial (for example, see this great article), but unfortunately immediate cord clamping (ICC) within seconds of birth is still the standard of practice.

If you have doubts on this issue, consider the following: How many baby animals have you seen in the wild who are dead and dying because their umbilical cords weren't clamped and cut immediately? That's right, none. And how did people survive before the advent of premature cord clamping, which is only about 100 years old? That's right, the species survived just fine - because it's not a necessity. (There was plenty of mortality/morbidity surrounding childbirth, but delayed cord clamping was not an indicated factor.) If umbilical cords needed to be cut before they stopped pulsing, then they would clamp down naturally. It goes along with my new maxim - in the absence of pathology, go with the default. Routine interference with a natural process or state is risky.

So it's not surprising that in the story below, the 911 operators told the children catching the baby to clamp (tie) the cord.... but it's still saddening, and somewhat revolting (tie it with a shoelace??).

California Kids Help Mom Deliver Baby

Let's look at the possibilities. Possibility #1: The dispatcher tells the kids to leave the cord alone. The cord finishes pulsing on its own, ensuring that baby gets all the blood it was meant to have, and the cord can later be cut with a sterilized instrument. Possibility #2, which is what happened: The dispatcher tells the kids to tie the cord with a string:

"After the baby was born, the dispatcher can be heard telling Faith to wipe the baby with a clean towel and tie, not cut, the umbilical cord with a string or shoelace about six inches from the baby's body."

Meaning what? (1) Baby loses a substantial amount of blood which he would have otherwise received. (2) The cord is tied with a non-sterile, possibly quite dirty piece of material which could possibly contribute to infection. Both are completely unnecessary risks introduced artificially into the situation by bad protocol.

I wonder if there is any way to contact emergency services to encourage them to change their childbirth-coaching protocol?

There are multiple other problems with this situation, which I won't go into, but for now - I really hope that some influential MDs can get ahold of the premature cord-clamping issue and start championing it. Until then, it will stay a grassroots issue. But definitely one worth fighting for!

This reminds me of something that a midwife-friend of mine said a month or two ago. She was talking about a report from post-earthquake Haiti in which doctors delivering babies were complaining about having to use dirty twine to tie umbilical cords and a non-sterile shared knife to cut cords. She said (and this is a paraphrase): "This is where my midwifery knowledge would come into play. I know that immediate cord clamping and cutting is not necessary. In this situation, they could just leave the cord intact, bundle the placenta together with the baby and then cut the cord the following day when it has completely clamped down and is dry - and the risk of infection is nil. The way they are doing it, they are just asking for infection and tetanus." (Not to mention the whole issue of blood-deprivation.) Good thoughts.

Comments, anyone? Thoughtful and civil discourse is always welcome!

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

Amniotic Fluid, Vernix, Breastfeeding - And Why the Default Option is Usually Best

Thanks to Kathy for posting this article!

This is a fascinating short article describing a study which has shown that vernix (the coating on a newborn baby's skin) and amniotic fluid have antimicrobial properties similar to those found in breastmilk, and thus are vital to preserving baby's health. Thus, modern childbirth procedures (i.e. sacred cows) such as routine artificial rupture of membranes and immediate cleaning of baby's skin are not only pointless, but harmful. Check out the article:


Here's a quote from the article:

"The results of this study also call into question the routine use of some newborn procedures. Early bathing of the baby removes vernix, which contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against group B. streptococcus and E. coli. Delaying the bath and keeping the newborn together with his or her mother until breastfeeding is established may prevent some cases of devastating infections caused by these bacteria. The fact that preterm babies tend to have more vernix than babies born at or after 40 weeks might mean that healthy, stable preterm babies derive even greater benefit from staying with their mothers during the immediate newborn period.

"Finally, this study illustrates how the normal physiology of pregnancy and fetal development is part of a continuum that extends beyond birth to the newborn period. The immunologic similarities between amniotic fluid, vernix, and breast milk provide further evidence that successful initiation of breastfeeding is a critical part of the process of normal birth."

This article illuminates what I have come to believe more and more: In absence of pathological conditions, the default is always best. In other words, God (or Nature, take your pick) knows what he is doing! If a natural bodily process or state exists, there is a reason for it and it ought to be left alone in the absence of a problem. In other words, intervention ought to be the exception rather than the rule. Examples:

- Episiotomy - can be important when done in an emergency; when done routinely causes many problems

- Premature cord clamping - Not only unnecessary, but harmful!

- Cesarean section - Life-saving when necessary; a major contributor to maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity when done routinely

- Induction - See comment on cesarean section.

In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Every part of the childbirth process is uniquely orchestrated for the benefit of mother and child, and routinely interfering in that process can cause more problems than are solved. When truly necessary - sure! - but not as a matter of regular routine.


Homebirth in a Bovine Sense

Lately I have been rereading my beloved James Herriot series. Sound familiar? Any fans out there? James Herriot was a country veterinarian in Yorkshire, England; he began his practice in the 1930's and eventually wrote five books about his experiences. They are excellent - check them out if you haven't heard of them! Here are the Titles: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, Every Living Thing.

Anyhow, I hadn't read these books since sometime in high school. Now, having ten years more life-experience, plus more knowledge of science, medicine, and history, I am seeing a whole new side to these books that I find absolutely fascinating. (Isn't that always the case when rereading childhood favorites in adulthood?)

A lot of the medicines and techniques he uses, for example, are now antiquated to the point of being in a museum (he started working before the advent of antibiotics or modern pharmaceuticals). Additionally, he was present for the advent of a lot of world-changing medical techniques and drugs - the first antibiotics, the beginning of widespread use of abdominal surgery for farm animals (including the cesarean section), etc.

Some things amaze me - for example, the fact that vaginal and rectal examinations on farm animals were done without gloves. Wow. That would be enough to knock me out of the veterinary circuit! Yikes!

I find it interesting to remember that even though the "birth bug" didn't bite me for another ten years, the most fascinating cases in his books to me were the ones concerning obstetrics- and they still are! An interesting forerunner of the future.

Anyhow, I got interested in a breech calf birth last night while reading, and ended up surfing the net for a while finding out about breech delivery in cows. I can't figure out how to link directly to this file (since it's a PowerPoint file rather than a website), but if you click on this link and then click on the first selection ("Do's and Don't of Delivering Calves"), you'll get a really interesting slide show which is a breakdown of the common obstetric complications in bovines and methods of sorting them out. Extremely interesting stuff! Let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"On Call" for the First Time

This past week was the first time in my life that I have ever been "on call" for a birth. That is, "sort-of" on call! Actually, though I was on call for a birth, it had nothing to do with a birth. I am doing substitute accompanist work at a church while their full-time accompanist is on her maternity leave, and as she wanted to work up until the very last second, I was on call!

I did get "the call" on Saturday afternoon that she thought she might be in early labor, so I did end up playing on Sunday morning. Thankfully I was prepared even though I didn't think I'd be called! (And baby was born shortly after midnight on Sunday morning - which is one oh-so-very short labor for a first time mama!)

So, what did I think of being on call (as it's basically the same thing I'd be doing in any doula or midwifery work)? Interesting! Very interesting. Kind of a low-level nervousness, a "high-alert" method of walking around my normal day, a heightened awareness of listening for the phone, making plans, wondering. I don't know if I'd be good at it or not! I know it wouldn't be easy, as I'm a list-making, control-freak, planning type - it would definitely take some adjustment. The future may or may not tell for sure (based on whether or not I ever dive into that work), but it was an interesting first experience.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Arizona Birth Network Enters Blogger-land

Check out the Arizona Birth Network's brand new blog!

Arizona Birth Network Blog

Very cool!

The AZBN is an incredibly well-structured and active organization that coordinates and hosts tons of activities here in Arizona - birth circle meetings (in about 6 locations every month), classes, picnics, seminars, conferences, etc., as well as supporting and promoting local groups like the Arizona Student Midwives, Arizona Homebirth Circle, local midwifery groups, etc.

You can hook up with the AZBN at their Yahoo! group as well as on Facebook (links are on the blog). Definitely take time to check this amazing group out!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

I've had this post ready for some time, but as the time neared I found I was having difficulty actually posting it. I had nerves, jitters, second guesses, the whole shot.

Why? Well, for several reasons, all of which revealed some fairly revolting character defects. Let's look at it....

Firstly... I like to be liked! I just do! I admit it. I can obsess morbidly over criticism for days, if not weeks. Posting about a controversial topic is a great way to get criticism and/or personal attacks... and I found myself shrinking away from it.

Secondly... I have more to lose than I did last year when I posted on this subject! I love blogging, and I now have (*gasp*) a few blog followers! How many are going to click "unsubscribe me now!" after reading a pro-life entry? (The fact that I would even consider that factor disgusts me even as I write!)

What can I say? Apparently my character needs some work. A friend of mine this past week told me how much courage it took for her to post something controversial on Facebook, knowing how it might be received. I need the same kind of courage to post about things I believe in. And, after all, as one author wrote (I don't remember who, and this is a paraphrase) - "If nobody hates you, maybe you aren't speaking enough truth." I should probably take that to heart.

And so, without further ado, here is my contribution for National Abortion Provider's Day.

As always, civil, thoughtful and kind comments/questions are always welcome. Comments that are rude, spiteful or hateful will be deleted immediately without response.


Abortion is…

A young life

Ending in violence

A baby dying horribly

For our convenience

Abortion is…

An infant

Whose life is unwanted – and thus disposable –

Because her conception

Was not perfectly planned

Abortion is…

A baby with birth defects

“Sorry, baby – We only wanted you

If you were healthy and normal.

We’ll try again for a better baby later.”

Abortion is…

A baby with fatal anomalies

Dying - not at peace in its mother’s arms

Hearing a whispered “We love you, sweetie; go with God.” -

But an end of coldness, fear, and pain

And a careless disposal of its precious tiny body

In a hospital’s biowaste trashcan

Abortion is….

The biggest abuse

Ever perpetrated

Against the world’s women

And their little ones

Abortion is…

The greatest tragedy mankind has ever wrought

Upon itself.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Great Article: "Lessons at Tuba City Hospital"

I saw this article posted on a group I follow, and it was amazing - it covers a small hospital here in Arizona (serving primarily Native American women) which has amazingly low cesarean rates and high VBAC rates.

Lessons at Tuba City Hospital About Births

The article goes into some of the reasons why this hospital has such a low cesarean rate, and some of them are very interesting. For example:


On malpractice:

"The hospital and doctors are federally insured against malpractice, in contrast to other hospitals, where private insurers have threatened to raise premiums or withdraw coverage if vaginal birth after Caesarean is allowed.

"'As a result,' Dr. Leib said, doctors in Tuba City are free to “think about what’s best for the patient and not what covers our butts.”


On joint midwifery/obstetrical care:

- "Nurse-midwives at these hospitals deliver most of the babies born vaginally, with obstetricians available in case problems occur. Midwives staff the labor ward around the clock, a model of care thought to minimize Caesareans because midwives specialize in coaching women through labor and will often wait longer than obstetricians before recommending a Caesarean. They are also less likely to try to induce labor before a woman’s due date, something that increases the odds of a Caesarean....

"Dr. Kathleen Harner, an obstetrician in Tuba City, said: “Midwives are better at being there for labor than doctors are. Midwives are trained for it. It’s what they want to do.”

"Dr. Amanda Leib, the director of obstetrics and gynecology at Tuba City, said: “I think the midwives tend to be patient. They know the patients well, and they don’t have to leave at 5 to get home for a golf game or a tennis game. As crass as that sounds, I do think it has some influence.”


On physiologic labor:

"Donna Rackley, a nurse-midwife in Tuba City, said that at a previous job in North Carolina, doctors who did not want to work late would sometimes set an arbitrary deadline and declare that if a woman did not deliver by then, she would have to have a Caesarean.

“I found myself apologizing to patients,” Ms. Rackley said.

In Tuba City, she said, if labor is slow but there is no sign of fetal distress and the patient wants more time, the doctors will wait.


On VBAC guidelines:

"Something that has led many other hospitals to ban vaginal birth after Caesarean poses less of a problem at Tuba City. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that an obstetrician and an anesthesiologist be “immediately available” during labor for patients who have had a previous Caesarean in case something goes wrong.

"Many hospitals, especially small ones, say they cannot afford to pay these specialists to wait around. But in Tuba City, doctors live on the hospital grounds or just minutes away, and they are immediately available even if they are at home."

(My note: I love that! Why didn't we ever think of having doctors live on-site?)


On financial incentives for birth outcomes:

"Doctors and midwives here earn salaries and are not paid by the procedure, so they have no financial incentive to perform surgery. (Doctors earn $190,000 to $285,000 a year, and midwives $80,000 to $120,000.)"


On birth culture and birth support:

- "Some of Tuba City’s success probably arises from Navajo culture and customs. Couples often want more than two children, but repeated Caesareans increase the risk of each pregnancy, so doctors and patients are motivated to avoid the surgery. Also, Navajos regard incisions as a threat to the spirit, something to be avoided unless necessary."

"Birth is a joyous affair here, and the entire family — from children to great-grandparents — often go to the delivery room.

“'I’ve had 12 family members in the room,” said Michelle Cullison, a nurse-midwife. “I’ve frankly never seen a place like this. Whoever that woman wants to be there is there. It’s something I would take out to the community.'

"Linda Higgins, the head of midwifery at Tuba City, said: “'All of a sudden Mom is surrounded by women, and they’re all helping her and touching her.'

"As a result, many young women have already seen children born by the time they become pregnant, and birth seems natural to them, not frightening.


Great food for thought!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Birth Story: The Gift of Giving Life

I read this birth story the other day, and really enjoyed it:

The Gift of Giving Life

It is an LDS woman's story of pregnancy and birth, and besides being well-written and enjoyable to read, it includes a little bit of everything - starting out with an OB, transferring to a homebirth midwife, a home labor and then a hospital transport and birth - lots of stuff, not to mention a difficult marital separation during her pregnancy (this seems to be more common than one would think - it happened to a friend of mine).

I love what she said after her birth:

"I didn’t remember being graceful. I thought I had lost it. Later, when watching my birth video I realized that I was indeed graceful. (Another good reason to film your birth—you don’t remember it accurately)."

This is SO TRUE. I just watched my own birth video yesterday, and it really surprised me! My own memories involved me acting something like a bull moose during mating season... but when watching my video, I saw that not only did I have that dreamy, somewhat graceful look that all naturally-laboring women have, but I didn't actually do too badly! So ladies, make sure that someone is filming your labor and birth! (And don't do as we did with our first birth - wait until 20 minutes before the birth to get the camera out, only to discover that it is completely dead and gone. I will always regret that.)

The author of this birth story is in the process of compiling a book of LDS pregnancy/birth stories, which should be a fun book when it is released.

Upcoming Arizona Birth Events

Wow, we have a lot going on here in Arizona! Check out these events.... if you'd like to be involved or receive regular updates, check out the Arizona Birth Network website or join the Phoenix Birth Circle Yahoo Group.

First off: "A Picnic in the Park," put on by the Arizona Birth Network:

"The AZBN is proud to sponsor "A Picnic in the Park" on April 24.
This community, pot-luck style picnic is open to the public.

When: 4/24/10
Time: 11am - 3pm
Location: Papago Park Tempe (NOT the Zoo) @ Curry Rd and College Ave
Bring: You, your friends and family, and some yummy grub to share


- Great raffles prizes for everyone and an AZBN Member-Only gift
- Bring 3 canned food items, to benefit St. Mary's Food Alliance, and receive an extra raffle ticket.
- Clothing/Toy Swap: Bring your gently used toys/clothing and have fun swapping. Leftover items will be donated to Maggie's Place.


Secondly: An open house event at one of Arizona's biggest and most comprehensive midwifery groups - Nurturing Hearts Birth Services:


"We are welcoming Spring by offering all of you the opportunity to
sample all of our wonderful services for FREE!!

"Our first ever OPEN HOUSE will be on Sunday, March 21st (Spring
Solstice) 1pm-5pm. Sample our services, enjoy the snacks, sit in on
classes, watch the screening of "What Babies Want"....

"Please help us spread the word!!! If you know someone in the Phoenix,
AZ area - please let them know of this opportunity!!

"Services offered:
~ Free henna art (upgrade designs available for a fee)
~ Free chair massages
~ Free lactation consults
~ One free professional portrait
~ Snacks and Drinks provided
~ Coupons and Discounts for future services
~ Drawings for free give-a-ways

1:30 - Jenny Dubisar-Brost, chiropractor, will explain how
chiropractics can help through pregnancy to prepare for birth
2:00 - Noelia Waldo, certified Hypnobabies instructor, teaches a
seminar on hypnosis and childbirth
2:30 - Stephanie Soderblom, licensed homebirth midwife, will answer
common questions regarding homebirths.
3:00 - Tatiana Indresik, international board certified lactation
consultant, teaches a class on breastfeeding
3:30 - Rose Day and Nikki Ausdemore, childbirth educators and doulas,
speak on the importance/benefits of labor support
4:00 - MOVIE: "What Babies Want" - a 1-hour movie narrated by Noah
Wyle (ER fame)

While we're on the subject of "things to do in Arizona for birth junkies" - don't forget our regular meetings!

(1) Birth Circle meetings! Locations: Anthem, East Valley, West Valley, Queen Creek, Flagstaff and Phoenix. This monthly forum meets to discuss birth-related topics; I have been attending for 2 1/2 years and have enjoyed every meeting - truly an awesome night. Join us!

(2) Arizona Homebirth Meetings - I'm not a regular attender (too far away), but these are well-attended as well.

(3) ICAN of Central Arizona - Meets monthly in different locations around the valley. I'm not always able to attend, but this is an awesome forum, both for cesarean mums, VBAC-hopefuls, and everyone interested in cesarean awareness.

(4) Arizona Student Midwives - An incredibly well-organized group that hosts monthly meetings, multiple study groups, a book club, social events, classes, and seminars for midwifery students, apprentices, hopefuls, and interested citizens (such as Yours Truly).


And lastly..... An upcoming fall conference! Woo hoo!

"The AZBN is pleased to announce plans for "Community Conference 2010", a conference scheduled for the fall that will host a variety of informative seminars on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum topics. Discount admission will be offered to all AZBN members!

"****We are in need of ideas for venues to host this event, particularly any that may offer discounts to non-profit organizations. We are in need of 2 conference-style rooms and a large space for a vendor exhibition.****

"Do you have any ideas for us?" (If so, contact the Arizona Birth Network!)


It's a great time to be a birth junkie in Arizona.... feel free to jump in!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First Baby vs. Second Baby, Episode I: Solid Food

Here's a small glimpse into the vast difference between first and second babies.

The event: Baby's first non-milk food!

Baby #1:

The day is put on the calendar. I'm madly reading books on baby food. I select the food - it is to be (drum roll, please!) sweet potatoes. Is it the right food? Is it not? Tension builds. The day arrives. Baby is in high chair, daddy is ready with the camera, food has been carefully prepared with ultra-clean dishes. First bite; entire family cheers; moment goes down in history.

Baby #2:

The day after baby's six-month birthday, I'm sitting at the table eating breakfast with our son; baby is on my lap. Suddenly I realize "Oh yeah, he could have some food now!" So I pop my spoon into my yogurt, nip up a bit of it and stick it in baby's mouth. I go on eating breakfast.

Need I say more?

Actually, I'm thinking of holding off on solids for a little bit - making baby food (though fun!) is time-consuming, and some things I've read lately have downplayed the importance of solid foods prior to baby's first birthday. I probably wouldn't wait that long, but I'm not going to fuss about a month or two. And since we don't see our ped for another four months or so, he won't have a chance to fuss either! (Heh heh heh.....)

Love to all! Off to watch kidlets!