Friday, April 30, 2010

Cesarean Awareness Month

With the newest posted cesarean rate higher than even before, what a great time to be observing Cesarean Awareness month! If you don't subscribe, head over to the International Cesarean Awareness Network's Blog and check out their cesarean and VBAC story series that they are running this month. They have been posting multiple stories every day - so many that I haven't been able to read them all! I'm keeping the site up and am slowly reading through the birth stories as I have time. Great stories, great material - I am so glad that this concentration of cesarean-awareness material is hitting the air waves. Hopefully lots of mamas will read it and learn lots of great birth tips and information!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Planned Live Online Waterbirth

Parents-to-be Shawna and Ernie of Ontario, CA are planning a waterbirth at the AquaNatal Birth Center of Chino, and they are planning to webcast their birth! Pretty neat. You can register to watch the birth and be notified when her labor starts by registering at the center's site:

AquaNatal Birth Center

Shawna says this about her first in-hospital birth:

"However, while in the hospital they were EXTREMELY restrictive. They said I was progressing too quickly, and wanted me to lay down, I couldn't eat or drink anything, I wasn't even given ice-chips. I felt like a prisoner. I always expected the birth of my first child to be a calm, peaceful birth, but it was anything but. During my labor I remember feeling helpless, that no matter what I asked for I was always denied. Even after Christian was born, they placed him on my stomach for a few short moments while they wiped him down, then the nurses took him to weigh him, and so forth. My doctor had performed on me an episiotomy, without my consent. I didn't even know she had done it until she was stitching me up, and I asked her "did you give me an episiotomy?" She responded "yes" as if it were no big deal. Needless to say, I hated my entire experience with the hospital staff. I remember sitting in the hospital bed thinking "if I ever have another child, I really don't want it to be in a hospital."

When they conceived their second child, they decided to move to a birth center birth, hopefully for a waterbirth.

Sounds intriguing! My main hope for them is that they don't experience "performance anxiety" when push comes to shove. It has been postulated by some that some recorded and/or webcast natural and/or homebirths have "failed" is simply because the mother, knowing she is being viewed and recorded, is under too much pressure and stress to relax enough to birth naturally. This was mentioned with Lynsee's online birth, and also (I believe) with a homebirth that ended up transporting. Thoughts, anyone? I don't have time to research that thoroughly - it's just something that came to mind.

Best wishes to Shawna and Ernie! I hope that their upcoming birth is everything that they could wish for!

Survey for Homebirth Mothers

I am reprinting this letter verbatim as it was received on a Yahoo group to which I belong. Feel free to link, cross-post, spread around!

I took the survey, and it took about 10 minutes. Not bad!


Dear home-birthers,

I’m conducting a research study of women who planned a home birth in the U.S. with a trained birth attendant. The purpose of the survey is to take an in-depth look at women who have chosen to birth their babies at home. This project will investigate the reasons women choose home birth and try to determine their common characteristics. Your participation is important! Other women may benefit in the future from what we learn as a result of this survey. The results of this study may help to ease the stigma associated with home birth. The information you provide will be kept confidential. The results of the study will be used for scholarly purposes only. The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Simply click on the link below, or cut and paste the entire URL into your browser to access the survey:

*If you know of others who have planned a home birth and may be willing to complete this survey, please give them the link to this survey or ask them to contact me at the email address listed below.*

Feel free to contact me by email if you have any questions or comments, or would prefer to complete a paper copy of the survey. Thank you so much for your consideration!

Julie Grimsley
M.A. Psychology candidate
University of West Florida
Pensacola, Florida

Friday, April 23, 2010

Articles: Dads and Doulas

I cross-posted this article as soon as I saw it! I love it!

Dads and Doulas

In attending community birth events, one of the most common refrains that I hear is "I would really like a doula, but my husband doesn't want one." That is a completely normal human response from a loving husband who wants to take care of his wife and protect and care for her, but it's also an unfortunate response - because doulas truly are a dad's best friend! There's no question! A doula is there for the dad as well as for the laboring mother, and she can be of tremendous help to the father - helping him through hospital lingo, dealing with hospital personnel for him, giving him a break during a long labor, reassuring him, encouraging him, suggesting ways for him to help his wife - in fact, I'd say that a husband has a better chance of being helpful to his wife when they have a doula rather than otherwise.

Definitely pass this article around!

Office-Opening Party Pictures

Here are some lovely, lovely pictures from my midwife's new-office-opening party last week! It is a gorgeous office and was a great party!

New Office Party!

We have now been with our midwife for five offices! We signed on with her during the last week when she was seeing clients in her house. I remember that visit so well - we were sitting with her and her student in her room, talking... I was feeling quite nauseated, but I was still at the "I'm nauseated! This is so exciting!" stage - as opposed to the soon-to-come "I'm nauseated and I'm going to die!" stage, and everything was fun and exciting. Then she moved into her first office (still my all-time favorite), then for our next baby we saw her in offices nos. 3 and 4, and now #5! Good, good memories. I have special memories of each office.... the best of times.

Good luck to our wonderful midwife and her new partner in this new space!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Hometown Is Famous!

Jill at Unnecesarean has published the 2008 California cesarean rates on her blog. I scrolled down to see how the hospital where I was born did (35.1%, above both the national and state averages). I then idly scrolled to the top to see which hospital was the #1 worst in the state... and found that it was my hometown hospital, Corona Regional Medical Center, with a cesarean rate of 70.5%. That's right, ladies and gentlemen.... 70.5%. Women escaping without a cesarean are in the fringe minority. Oh, my goodness. This is seriously just a few miles away from where I grew up. If I hadn't moved away I might just have birthed there.

Let's imagine for a moment:

"Hey, did you hear? There's a possible vaginal birth going on in Room D."

"A what?"

"Vaginal birth. You know, where the baby comes out normally instead of through an incision?"

"Heavens! We can't allow that! People, let's get a move on! If we don't act fast to get this woman to the OR, she's going to birth before we can cut!"

Well, to be honest, my mother has been to that hospital and has said she would prefer not to be treated there.... these numbers just confirm that. I'm really sad about this.


Later note:

I wondered if Corona Regional might be a high-risk hospital, which usually results in a higher cesarean rate (though the 70.1% rate would be unacceptable even for the highest of high-risk hospitals), but upon perusing their obstetrics webpage, I could find no indication of this. So I decided to write to them instead. Here's what I wrote (I'll report in if I hear back):

Dear Corona Regional,

In perusing the 2008 Cesarean rate statistics, I notice that Corona Regional had the highest cesarean rate in the state of California (70.1% of births were via cesarean, as opposed to the state average of approximately 32%). Can you offer any reasons why your hospital average is more than twice the state average? Additionally, what is being done to lower your cesarean rate?

Sincerely Yours,
Diana J.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"50 Best Blogs for Midwives"

Check out this list! I thought I had all the best blogs on my reader list, but I just added at least 10 new ones that I hadn't seen before. I'm really looking forward to reading some new OB and doula blogs.

50 Best Blogs for Midwives

Yours Truly is not included on the list, but I didn't expect to be! I'd have to put in a lot more time on this blog than I am right now. Maybe sometime!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breastfeeding: Can You Handle the Truth?

I keep meaning to write an article on breastfeeding, but dang it, other people keep writing them first! And furthermore, writing better articles than I could have written!

When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can't Handle the Truth

This lovely article (thank you, Feminist Breeder!) is a great commentary on the newest breastfeeding study out, which has shown (surprise, surprise!) not only that breastfeeding is "best," but that the the lack of breastfeeding in this country is costing us the lives of over nine hundred American babies every year. Every year.

She makes a great point that I love:

"Why can’t we get on board with this research? The problem is that people don’t want to hear it. But I’ll say it anyway.

"Breastfeeding. Saves. Lives.

"You know what else saves lives? Car seats. So, why aren’t people spitting mad at the NHTSA for saying that? Why aren’t they leaving thousands of comments on car seat articles saying “But I just couldn’t afford a car seat, why are you trying to make me feel guilty?!?!” Well, maybe it’s because our society will admit that car seats save lives, and we’re willing to give them out free at fire stations and hospitals if we have to because it is that important."

Good point.

Breastfeeding is not easy - at least not for me. Both times I have had horrific starts to breastfeeding, and both times I nearly gave up. If not for my terrific team of midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, and a top-notch breastfeeding-supportive pediatrician, I probably would have done so. But it is so worth it to push on past the difficulties and reach the other side.

My experience (through my friends) has been that American doctors are breastfeeding-supportive - but only when everything is going perfectly. The second that any shadow of a problem makes itself even possibly known, their first instinct is "Abandon ship! Abandon ship! Give that baby some formula now!" And if a breastfeeding relationship does survive the initial onslaught of formula-happy docs at the hospital, it is generally ended by six months due to social pressure. It is the unusual woman indeed who breastfeeds to a year (the bare minimum according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and half the minimum recommended by the WHO). The end result is simply that most mothers do not receive the support they need to breastfeed, and they quit. If I had been in a traditional hospital/doctor setting, I believe that both of my babies would have been formula babies.

Some day I really will get around to writing that breastfeeding article (along with a host of others), but in the meantime - read this one! :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Letter to a Friend: Avoiding Epidurals

I recently received this question from a high-school friend (who has probably noticed my birth-obsession on Facebook): "I am about to have my first baby; how do I avoid an epidural?"

This is what I wrote; if anyone would care to make additions, I'd love to hear them!


Dear ------,

My friend, that is a dangerous, dangerous question.... You may never get me to shut up. THEN where will you be? :)

Okay.... Well, I could write for hours on this topic. I'll try to condense, so feel free to ask me to clarify. Or to just be quiet.

I have had two drug-free, all-natural births. They were the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most empowering, transformational, life-changing events of my life. I wouldn't change it for anything, and any more babies we have will (hopefully) enter the world the same way.

To be completely honest, the thing that helped me get through probably the most was simply not having pain meds available. I chose to birth at home with a midwife, where pain medication is not an option. That honestly helped a lot, because I didn't have to think "should I, shouldn't I, etc." - I could just focus on getting on with the job without that struggle. It's a bit trickier in-hospital.

In answer to the question "How can I have a natural birth?", I would honestly say that the most effective techniques have nothing to do with labor and everything to do with before-labor preparation. Here are some things that come to mind:

(1) Reading. SO important. That way you can be an informed consumer and really know what you want. Do you want to avoid an episiotomy? How about an induction? Do you want to remain mobile throughout labor? Use an upright birthing position? Do you want baby to have vitamin K shot or the Hep B vaccine? Do you want an IV? Do you want delayed cord clamping? It's so helpful to know the issues and know what you want. That will also help you in-hospital when various interventions are offered - you'll know pros and cons. In the middle of labor is not the best time to be asking questions and trying to learn about labor & delivery care, LOL!

Here are some of my favorites:

"The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" (Henci Goer)
"Creating Your Birth Plan" (Marsden Wagner)
"Active Birth" (Janet Balaskas)
"Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" (Ina May Gaskin)
"Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care" (Jennifer Block)
"Hey! Who’s Having This Baby, Anyway?" (Breck Hawk)
"Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First" (Marsden Wagner)
"Giving Birth"
"Gentle Birth Choices" (Barbara Harper, RN)
"Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth" (Boston Women's Health Book Collective) *
"The Natural Pregnancy Book" (Aviva Jill Romm) *

(2) Taking really good childbirth classes is SO helpful. And while hospital classes can occasionally be okay, usually they're not. They're generally not about "how to get a natural birth" - they're usually about "how to be a good patient and do what we tell you without asking questions." They vary. There are occasionally good ones out there. But out-of-hospital classes are usually very good. My favorite methods are Bradley and Hypnobabies (not Hypnobirthing). The longer the better.

(3) After one has figured out exactly what one wants, it's helpful to make sure that one's OB or midwife is on-board. Having a supportive care-provider can make or break a natural birth. If I say "I want delayed cord clamping, an upright birth position, water for pain relief, and no IV" and my careprovider says "no" or hems and haws, I know it's time to change careproviders.

(4) My number one help for a natural labor is hiring a doula. There is nothing like having a knowledgeable and helpful trained doula on your birth team to help have a natural birth. She would also be extremely helpful to your husband as well. I could go on and on about doulas, but I already wrote about that, so here's that piece:

Doulas can be anywhere from free to quite pricey. Having now had both, if I had to do it again, I would choose the pricey one (for experience). However, there's a doula to fit everyone's budget.

(5) As for actual things to use in labor:

If you use a doula, she will have a whole arsenal of pain-relief techniques to use, and she can discuss those with you before your birth. Things that worked for me: laboring in water, either the tub or the shower; vocalizing during contractions, being free to move around, being undisturbed in a room with low lights so that I could concentrate, not knowing my dilation (knowing one's dilation and being checked a ton can be extremely discouraging - at least it was to me!), having my doula touch and talk me through contractions (that was super helpful), being surrounded by a supportive birth team (SO helpful - they would say things like "You are doing great! You can do this!" instead of "Are you sure you can do this? Do you want something for the pain?")

Anyhow, does that help any? Birth lore is my hobby, so I spent a lot of time immersed in the subject. Feel free to email me any other questions.

Regardless of how baby comes (natural, non-natural, cesarean, etc.) - it will be the most precious day of your life!!! :)


P.S. Oh, oh, oh! Forgot one really cool thing - "The Business of Being Born" movie is informative and also entertaining (also a great way to show your husband things without bogging him down with books).

P.P.S. I finally found the link I was looking for on comfort measures! Here it is:


Thoughts, anyone?