Monday, December 28, 2009

"Yes ICAN" Give Birth
ICAN, (International Cesarean Awareness Network) is a wonderful resource in many ways.
ICAN keeps abreast of all of the issues surrounding cesarean section, VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), cesarean recovery, mother to mother support and much more.
There are chapter meetings in many parts of the country, but if there are no meetings in your area, there are online forums for support and information gathering.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thoughts on the Nativity

The birth of Jesus Christ is cloaked in mystery and the miraculous. Christians believe the biblical account of Gabriel, the angel, being sent by God to a young Hebrew virgin named Mary with a message that would change the course of human history forever. The message was that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that she would give birth to him and that He would save His people from their sins.

Mary is betrothed to Joseph, an honorable man, who through a few angelic interventions of his own comes to terms with the reality that they have been chosen by the Almighty to be the parents of the Messiah of Israel.
I have tried to imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to bear the reproach of their circumstances.  Both Mary and Joseph had to adjust their concepts of reality and trust in the word of the LORD. They were faithful stewards of the gift of God and were obedient to obey instructions to go to Bethlehem to be taxed, in spite of Mary being "great with child."

What must it have been like to take that long donkey ride to Bethlehem and realize that you are in labor with your first baby ?

What must it have been like to be away from your mother and sisters and close women friends at such a time ?

What must it have been like to arrive in Bethlehem and there is no room in a clean, comfortable inn  in which to give birth ?

What must it have been like to have to give birth in a stable with animals as your attendants ?

There is no biblical record of any midwives being present, but were they there ?

The humility of the birth of Jesus is astounding. The simplicity is something to contemplate and serves to remind me that this is the way that God chose to enter the world and relate to us. Pause, and think about that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nothing Says "I LOVE YOU" Like Breastfeeding

I made these cookies for a LLL meeting that I was attending.
They symbolize the slogan "Nothing Says 'I love you" like breastfeeding !
Here are some slogans that I , and others, have come up as possible tags for breastfeeding advertisements.

"The gift that lasts a lifetime."
"Kid-tested-mother approved."
"It does a body good."
"I'm lovin' it."
"The ultimate Universal Heath Care Plan."
"Purely You"
"The other white milk."
"Don't be fooled by cheap imitations"
"Colostrum, a little dab will do ya"
"With a name like breastmilk, it has to be good"
"Happy Hour"
"Domestic milk on tap, two for the price of one."
"The 100% safe immunization"
"It's what's for dinner"
"The breakfast of champions"
Better for baby than any udder milk"
"Human milk for human babies"
"A smart choice = smarter children"
"Mmmm Mmmm good!"
"Eat at Moms, two lines open, no waiting"
"Open 24 hours "
"The healthy fast food"
"The pause that refreshes"
"Because Mama knows best"
"Designer nutrition for babies of any age"
"Liquid gold"
"Choosy toddlers choose breastmilk"
"When you want to give the very best"
"The difference is measurable"
"Connecting you anytime, anywhere"
"Because you are worth it"
So easy, a cavewomen can do it"
"Eat fresh"
Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's breastmilk"
"The ultimate green energy resource"
"Why pay more?"
"Just do it"
"Breastfeeding works for working mothers"
"The ultimate Happy Meal"
"Tastes great, less filling"
"Good to the last drop"
"The very breast food for baby"
"Comes standard in two attractive containers"

Let me know if you think of more !

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Doula Advantage

Today I am reviewing a great little book, The Doula Advantage : Your Complete Guide to Having an Empowered and Positive Birth with the Help of a Professional Childbirth Assistant, by Rachel Gurevich.

An expectant Mom has so many choices these days, but choices can be overwhelming. When I first started as a doula in 1993, I was one of two in my area, and now there are dozens from which Moms can choose.
But you may be asking, "Why should I choose and doula, and how do I choose the best doula for me? "
I'm so glad you asked. That's where this book comes in.
The author interviewed 235 women and birth professionals, including yours truly !
And what she determined agrees with the research which shows that the right doula can make pregnancy and childbirth the celebratory experience it was meant to be. Doulas can also help women have more positive birth experiences, even when a cesarean, or other interventions are medically warranted. But the majority of the time, a doula will help reduce the incidence of invasive procedures that often lead to more of them.
You'll also learn the many ways that doulas provide labor support, how to find, choose and hire the right doula, how specialized doulas can help you before or after the baby's birth, how doulas help the dad-to-be, and much more. I highly recommend this book to all expectant mothers and fathers.

Monday, December 21, 2009


A recent study has shown that supplementation of asymptomatic pregnant women with one fish oil capsule per day is a potentially cost-effective intervention in the prevention of pre-term labor before 34 weeks of pregnancy.  Published in the December 2009 edition of the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, the study authors investigated the potential cost-effectiveness of alternative “test and treat” strategies in the prevention of spontaneous pre-term birth before 34 and 37 weeks’ gestation.  They studied asymptomatic women in early pregnancy and symptomatic women with potential pre-term labor in later pregnancy.  Systematic reviews found evidence on the accuracy of 22 types of tests and on the effectiveness of 40 possible interventions.  The authors conclude that the use of effective, affordable and safe interventions, like supplementation with fish oil capsules, are likely to be the most cost-effective strategies for prevention of spontaneous pre-term labor
 and birth.  To access the study abstract online, go to :

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Healthy Hydration for Expectant and New Moms
One of the fun things about blogging is that I hear from manufacturers of many cool products for expectant and new mothers. I want to say from the "get-go" that I have not been paid for this endorsement, and I will only endorse products that I have personally tested and found to be of the highest quality. 
Such is the case with HINT, a great tasting, essence of fruit infused drinking water. It contains no artificial additives and no sugar. Just a "hint" of the flavor of the fruit. My favorites are the watermelon and blackberry, but they are all very refreshing and wonderful. I am hooked!

HINT retails from $1.79 to $3.00 a bottle, depending on where its purchased.  HINT is  available at Whole Foods and Stop N Shop, Dean & Deluca and specialty stores around the country.  Check the website for retail locations by your zip code. Cases can also be purchased online at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mead Johnson Guilty of False Advertising, U.S. Court Finds

Enfamil 20 Calories Premature Lipil, With Iron  - 3 oz X case of 48

Mead Johnson guilty of false advertising, U.S. court finds.
(from )

U.S. formula manufacturer Mead Johnson's advertising for its Enfamil
brand is misleading and unfounded, according to a federal court ruling.
The ads at issue made claims that "only
Enfamil Lipil is clinically proven to improve brain and eye development"
and that other formula products could cause inferior development.

In 2004 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned Mead Johnson
against making similar claims in its ads in Canada.

Mead Johnson will pay $13.5 million to PBM, a rival company,  as a result of the suit which
will be one of the largest penalties ever levied in a false advertising
suit. The suit acknowledges PBM as the victim because the
compay lost profits as a result of aggressive adversiting by its rival.
But what about compensation for the real victims of Mead Johnson's
mistruths? Namely, the mothers who were discouraged from breastfeeding by
Mead Johnson's irresponsible claims. For a full article on the story visit:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beware of Substandard Maternity Care

Beware of substandard maternity care !
Be a shrewd customer when it comes to your care, because you and your baby deserve the very best.
Take this little quiz so that you can make choices for a safe and healthy birth.
Consumer Reports Maternity Care Quiz

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Webster's Technique for Turning Breech Babies

To read more about the Webster's Technique and how to find a qualified chiropractic physician , go here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Good for Your Sole

Fibromyalgia Hands-On Therapies

Are you feeling tired, uncomfortable, or nauseated in your pregnancy?
You may be surprised to know that an ancient form of healing called reflexology can actually help treat many common pregnancy ailments and even help you during your labor.

Reflexology, which may have been around for over 4000 years, was originally practiced by the ancient Egyptians and Chinese was first recognized in the Western world, in 1913, when William Fitzgerald observed that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an anesthetizing effect on areas in the body. They practice of modern reflexology theory was further developed in the 1930s by Eunice Ingham, who defined reflexology as it is more commonly practiced today.

Reflexology is the technique of applying gentle pressure with the hands or specialized tools to the reflex points on the feet or hands to clear the vital energy pathways that become blocked. It is thought that the hands and feet are like mirror images of the body, with various points and zones representing different structures and organs.

A treatment involves the therapist applying pressure, stretching, and movement to find the blockages and break up patterns of stress, restoring balance and relieving tension. Reflexology treatments can also improve a patient’s circulation and elimination - two very important factors in maintaining good health and well-being.

Benefits include deep relaxation, better sleep, relief from hormonally induced headaches and improved mood. Women have reported relief from common pregnancy ailments such as morning sickness, back ache, fluid retention and swelling,

Other reported benefits include:
  • Reflexology may help labor begin naturally without the use of drugs
  • Many mothers enjoy the benefits of reflexology during labor, and midwives, doulas and labor and delivery nurses have observed the benefits of treatments on the mother during the birthing process.

Although there are very few contraindications to reflexology, it should be undertaken by a qualified practitioner, preferably with experience in all stages of pregnancy.
However, there are some conditions where it should be avoided altogether and these include:
  • Pre-term labour - at any time before 37 weeks gestation
  • Placenta previa - if Grade II or III after 32 weeks gestation
  • Hydroamnios - if there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby after 32 weeks gestation
Suzanne Ezner, a midwife and reflexologist, also advises women with some conditions to seek medical advice before having reflexology. These include:
  • Women with a risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Women with a risk of pre-eclampsia
She also suggests that in cases where the mother-to be is diabetic she should be asked to check her blood sugar before and after treatments, as reflexology helps to balance the endocrine system and insulin production.

I became interested in reflexology when I took a course on it through the Utah College of Midwifery. I saw the positive benefits for my pregnant clients and decided to pursue further education and certification through Integrative Reflexology 
Claire Marie Miller, who developed this form of reflexology, has a very comprehensive knowledge of the physical needs of expectant and birthing women, so this is a great training for birth professionals. You can be sure that your Certified Integrative Reflexologist has been well trained. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

La Leche League is "ALLL" about Mother-to-Mother Support for You
La Leche League is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, education, information, and encouragement, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.
The breastfeeding community throughout the United States has access to a 24 hour toll free helpline service by calling 1-877-4-LALECHE (1-877-452-5324). This helpline provides information, education, and support for women who want to breastfeed, and to healthcare providers and others. Callers have access to the most current breastfeeding information, receive support from a helpline volunteer who is an accredited La Leche League Leader, and receive contact information for local LLL Leaders and Groups.
I have been a LLL Leader for six years, even though my children are grown. LLL made such a difference to me as a new Mom, and I want to pass that on. Call a LLL Leader today and visit a meeting. During pregnancy is a great time to start !

Monday, December 7, 2009

WIC is for Women Infants and Children

North Carolina WIC - Women, Infants & Children
Este Pagina En Espanol
(Picture of preschool children at a playground)WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children and is also called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program. WIC is a federal program designed to provide food to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children until the age of five. The program provides a combination of nutrition education, supplemental foods, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals for health care. WIC has proven effective in preventing and improving nutrition related health problems within its population.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the WIC Program. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Women's and Children's Health Section, Nutrition Services Branch administers it. County health departments, community and rural health centers, and community action agencies provide the services.

Google "WIC" and your state for more information on how to apply for this great nutritional support program. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Women With Long First Stage of Labor After Induction Are At Greater Risk For Cesarean

According to Reuters Health, in a report on Nov 27, 2009, pregnant women who spend a longer time in the first stage of labor after induction are more likely to require cesarean delivery and are also at greater risk of morbidity, new research shows.

To investigate, the researchers reviewed records for 3620 singleton, term pregnancies induced and delivered during the second stage. The duration of the first stage was defined as the time between the onset of labor (not the initiation of labor induction) to complete cervical dilation.

For most women (64.2% of firt time mothers, and 82.6% of mothers who had previously given birth), the first stage of labor lasted less than 12 hours. Compared to these women, those whose first stage of labor was from 12 to 24 hours long were twice as likely to require cesarean sections, while the risk for women whose first stage of labor lasted 24 hours or longer was 7.44-times greater. Babies born to women with first stages longer than 24 hours were 2.03 times as likely to be admitted to the intensive care nursery.

Among first time moms,, 6.5% of whom had a first stage of labor 24 hours or longer, 43.5% delivered vaginally, 10.9% had operative (vacuum, forceps or episiotomy) vaginal deliveries, and 45.6% delivered by cesarean section.

The researchers conclude: "Although we do not recommend a specific time limit for labor induction, the question of when to intervene should involve a thorough evaluation of the ongoing risks of further expectant management versus the risks of surgical intervention as well as the incorporation of patient preferences into the decision-making process."
Am J Obstet Gynecol 2009;201:477.e1-7.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eat, Drink and Give Birth

Some studies have shown that if women will eat and drink during labor, they can reduce the length of the labor by as much as 90 minutes. Labor is very hard work, and the body needs the energy to work effectively. Dehydration  and low blood sugar, means more painful contractions and slower labor.
Fatigue combined with a slower labor may make a woman feel that she needs to resort to medications.

Good things to have on hand are clear liquids, such as broth, or herbal teas such as raspberry with honey for energy. Some mothers like toast with a tiny bit of peanut or almond butter, or banana with honey. As long as you don't have an epidural, there is no reason why you cannot eat to hunger and drink to thirst in labor.

Just imagine trying to run a marathon after having nothing to eat for many hours. You would most likely not be successful. Labor is like a marathon, and your body needs reserves of energy that simply cannot be met by IV hydration. So talk to your care providers about eating and drinking in labor because birth is normal, and normal people eat !

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


According to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), more than 900 “late preterm” births occur every day in the US, with more than 333, 461 occurring each year.

The percentage of babies born preterm in the US has increased by more than 20 percent between 1990 and 2006, with most of these babies born during the later preterm period (34 to 36 weeks of gestation).

 The NCHS report, “Born a Bit Too Early:  Recent Trends in Late Preterm Births” also shows an increase in the number of late preterm births resulting from induced labor or cesarean delivery.

The "induction seduction" is something that happens every day in our country. Women think that their babies should be born on or before, their due dates. They do not understand that a "due date" is an estimate, not a definitive date. Every woman and every baby are unique. In reality,  a birth can normally take place either two weeks before or after a "due date" and unless there are very clearly defined medical reasons why a medical induction should take place ( rare ) than women should allow labor to begin on it's own. Otherwise, women risk having a baby that is born too early with all of the problems that brings, not to mention the very real risks of major abdominal surgery for themselves.

To access the report online, go to

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review : The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy by Shonda Parker

It's Thursday, and time for another review of one of my favorite books to share with my clients who want to know how to build a foundation of healthy bodies and minds for pregnancy and birth.
Shonda Parker is a trusted expert in the field of natural health, specifically, nutrition and herbal therapies.
She is a childbirth educator and family herbalist and experienced mother. 
Her book, The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy is a must have for women who believe that nourishing their bodies is the first building block in growing a healthy baby. This book is your "essential guide to nutritional and botanical medicine for the childbearing years."
Shonda gives no-nonsense recommendations on various common discomforts of pregnancy and with each, she offers both lifestyle and dietary recommendations as well as nutritional and herbal recommendations.
Written from a distinctly Christian perspective, this book is also a rich source of spiritual support for mothers who are open to a Biblical perspective.
I highly recommend all of Shonda's books and products, and her website:
Naturally Healthy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Massage During Pregnancy, Labor and Postpartum Nurtures Mothers

Claire Marie Miller, from whom I learned Integrative Reflexology, describes the benefits she received from massage in pregnancy and birth. I hope you will be inspired to seek out a massage therapist who is trained in pregnancy massage and treat yourself to the many benefits that massage therapy can bring. There are many qualified therapists out there, but if you would like to find one that has been trained by Claire herself, ( I highly recommend it !) then go to this link. Nurturing The Mother

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Eats for Moms and Moms-to-be

Today I would like to talk about nutrition. Briefly. And let me get this out of the way right out of the shoot. I am not a vegetarian, but I love most vegetarian cuisine and try to eat meatless meals several times a week. I am not doing a review of cookbooks today, but I wanted to share one of my favorite cooking divas, Mollie Katzen. She authored the Moosewood cookbooks, Vegetable Heaven, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and others. her website is chock full of great recipes too. Please check it out.

So, back to nutrition. I am a La Leche League Leader. I like what they have to say about nutrition, which is to eat a wide variety of foods in as natural a state as possible. In other words, choose whole grains, like brown rice and whole grain bread, and try your hand at baking with whole grain flour. These days it is easy to find light or white flour that is actually whole grain, and it is delicious. I like King Aurthur flour at my grocery, but you can find others. I used to buy wheat berries and grind them myself, but since I don't cook for as many people these days, I just buy the flour.
When I did my midwifery apprenticeship, I learned a lot from my senior midwife who was a big believer in the work of Dr. Brewer, who said that pregnant women should have 100 grams of high quality protein every day. Of her clients, who followed the diet, there were healthy babies and mothers. So, some good building blocks for nutrition in pregnancy are lots of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and high quality proteins. You can find great ways to put these all together with yummy recipes from Mollie Katzen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

Read all about it !

Click the link to learn about the history and significance of the International Breastfeeding Symbol. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review : The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

If you are a breastfeeding Mom, or ever plan to be, this is the book to read. Written in everyday language, in a relaxed readable style, this book feels more like conversing with a wise and kind grandmother about common questions and concerns than it does reading a breastfeeding manual.
This book is the compilation of many years experience of supporting breastfeeding mothers. La Leche League  International is the world's leading authority on breastfeeding. La Leche League Leaders are mothers who have breastfed their own babies and go through a through training and accreditation process.
They offer mother to mother support in many communities around the globe. I have been a La Leche League Leader for five years. My children are grown and I am now a grandmother, but I love sharing what I experienced a s a breastfeeding mother with younger women. I am happy that my own daughter chose to breastfeed my granddaughter !
In this book, you will find answers to the questions that plague every new mother, such as :
~ How does human milk have an advantage over commercial formula ?
~ Do I need to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy ?
~ How do I breastfeed if I need to go back to work ?
~ How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat ?
~ How do I find time for my self and meet my baby's needs ?
~ How do I find the support I need to enjoy breastfeeding ?
~Does breastfeeding benefit me in any way ?
And much more !

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was first published in 1958 and, as of this writing, has gone through seven revisions. You can be sure that the information is up to date and thorough.
The book is full of everyday mother's stories and experiences, candidly shared.
I hope you will pick up a copy of this book for yourself or a friend who may be expecting a baby.
To find a La Leche League Leader near you, go to La Leche League International

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

C is for Co-sleeping !

is for Co-sleeping !
Co-sleeping is a great way to connect with your baby. You can tune in to his biological rhythms and him to yours. A baby who sleeps in close quarters with a parent is reassured by the presence of the one he loves. Babies are kept warmer when they sleep next to their Moms, and don't need lots of blankets. During sleep time together, mother's presence helps regulate the body temperature of the baby to the optimal level. 

Babies who sleep with their mothers also are at less risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) because they spend less time in the deepest stage of sleep, from which is it harder to recover from apnea (when the baby stops breathing).  Co-sleeping also insures better breastfeeding success and encourages the mother to breastfeed for longer intervals.  This leads to a better milk supply for the baby.  Babies who cosleep are less likely to have crying spells due to lower stress and anxiety.

There are also benefits for mother ! Skin to skin contact with baby is associated with greater oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is known as the "love hormone." The effects of oxytocin on Mom are that she is likely to experience less anxiety about mothering and be more tuned in to her baby. It is also easier for her to tend to nighttime feedings when she doesn't have to get out of bed and stumble down the hall to find the baby in the middle of the night when she is awakened by cries of hunger.  She gets back to sleep more easily after feedings and when Momma is happy, everybody's happy !

Here are some safe co-sleeping tips :

Make sure the baby is sleeping on a firm, non quilted surface.

Make sure that where baby sleeps is a smoke free environment.

Avoid bedsharing with anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs or under the influence of anything at all that would make them less aware of the baby.

Avoid bedsharing with pets !

Avoid co-sleeping on any other furniture besides a bed. Babies can be easily caught between cushions and pillows and suffocate.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time for Another Baby ?

So your baby isn't a baby anymore, she is a toddler ! Maybe she is still breastfeeding, or maybe she has weaned. Either way, you are getting that "baby fever" !
You love mothering your toddler, but you miss the feeling of a newborn in your arms. Your toddler will cuddle when she is tired, but is otherwise squirmy because she spend every waking moment exploring the world around her.
You think it would be lovely to have another baby, but how do you know you are ready ?
You've just gotten your toddler to sleep soundly through the night. Are you really ready to be up again, nursing every two to three hours round the clock?  You finally lost that baby weight. Are you ready to put the maternity clothes back on ?
All of these are questions that every mother has to answer for herself.

Maybe your last birth experience was not what you had hoped it would be. Maybe you had a cesarean and don't want to repeat that experience. How will you go about finding a doctor or midwife that will support your decision to VBAC ( Vaginal Birth After Cesarean )?
Websites like can help you plan a VBAC.

Maybe you didn't get breastfeeding off to a good start last time and you would like to breastfeed your next baby. Websites like La Leche League International can help you find a local La Leche League group to attend to get lots of support from experienced Leaders and other Moms.

Maybe you didn't take childbirth classes last time, or would like to take a different series this time.
Websites like Lamaze International can help you find an accredited childbirth educator.

Every birth and every baby are completely unique ! So think about all of your questions and concerns and find the resources you need to make your next birth the best it can be.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Breastfeeding Through The Holidays

Holiday planning can be stressful, especially for new mothers ! The hustle and bustle and family gatherings, while festive and fun, can leave new mothers exhausted and frustrated. There is even a phenomenon called "holiday weaning" because breastfeeding mothers can get so stressed out trying to accomplish their holiday "to do" list that breastfeeding rhythms get interrupted.
Here are a few tips to help make the holidays work while breastfeeding.

1. Agree with family and friends to limit gift giving. A great way to do this is to "draw names." Write everyone's name on a piece of paper, and put them in a basket. Everyone picks a name and prepares a special gift for one person. This limits the stress, saves money and gives the giver more time to make the one gift extra special.

2. Lower your expectations around holiday decorating. Allow other family members to decorate the tree while you direct operations from your rocking chair. The tree may not look the way you had planned, but you may really enjoy your "nursing tree" ! Take photos to remember the moment.

3. Take shorter shopping trips and take along your baby. That way you can nurse if need be. Feed before you leave the house, so that baby has a "full tank" which will give you more time to shop.  Be sure to bring a blanket to cover up if you are shy. And bring a long a cool bottle of water for yourself.

4. If you are invited to an office party, for example, where children are not usually included, consider bringing your baby and wearing her in a sling.

5. Wearing your baby in a sling can also be helpful if you prefer that your baby not be held by lots of people at holiday parties. This is especially good advice during cold and flu seasons.

6. Don't get stressed about cooking for holiday parties. Explain to family and friends that you are breastfeeding and that you need help. One great way to ease the burden on everyone is to ask everyone to bring a dish or two to share and make it a "pot luck" event. This usually results in everyone getting to show off their newest recipe and lots of delicious food is enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Tender Gift of Doulas ~ Bring a Doula or Friend to Give Continuous Support During Labor and Birth

Dr. Kennell said "If doulas were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it !"

If you want to have a safe and healthy birth, one of the ways that you can increase your chances of this is to bring a "doula", which is a Greek word meaning female servant, to your birth. Your doula may be a professional, or another woman who has given birth and is committed to supporting your emotional and physical comfort as you go through the process of bringing your baby into the world.

I have posted about doulas before and listed resources to find a professional, as well as questions to ask when interviewing. There are many doulas in training who are willing to attend you for free or for a reduced fee. A skilled and comassionate doula is worth her weight in gold. Give yourself the gift of a doula.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Revenge of the Bullied

Today, I am happy to report that the sign in the OBs office at the Aspen Women's Clinic raised such ire, that there was a contest to "rewrite" the sign, with some pretty amazing results!
The contest is over, but here's the link.

I wish we could harness all of that passion and have a ZERO tolerance for this kind of behavior by obstetricians. Let's hope that someone has gone to the OBGYN forums and posted a link to these photos.
Let's send them a clear message that we're mad as H$#@ and we are not going to take it anymore.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Aromatherapy and Massage for Mother and Baby

Good things come in small packages, and today I want to share a very good thing with you !
This lovely little book, by Allison England, is one of my all time favorites.
It combines some basic but powerful instructions on how to safely, simply, and effectively combine the powers of touch and essential oils in making pregnancy, labor, birth and early motherhood a time to tune in to your body and mind and harness the benefits of relaxation and well being.
Allison England, a qualified aromatherapist and registered nurse, explains how to ease the more common discomforts of pregnancy, relieve the pain of labor as well as soothe and comfort restless babies and facilitate the bonding process.
She begins the book with the benefits of aromatherapy in pregnancy, a history of essential oils and their many uses, and a guide to choosing oils of the highest quality and theraputic value.
She covers all the information you need to know about the use of touch and aromatherapy from preconception to postpartum and includes a reference guide to essential oils.
Recipes on how to safely  blend for inhalations, compresses, diffusions, massage oils and creams, baths, hair rinses and much more, make this book a joy to read. There are beautiful sketches depicting techniques for massaging mom and baby. This is a great introductory text for mothers who want to know more a holistic lifestyle, and anyone who cares for women during the childbearing year.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Birth

Aromatherapy is a very powerful modality and it has many wonderful benefits.
Today I would like to share just a few oils that can be beneficial during childbirth. Some of this information is adapted from the website of  which carries the highest quality aromatherapy products.
Please visit their site for all kinds of helpful information on essential oils and a great source for purchasing oils and aromatherapy products.

Here are some oils that can be used during childbirth. Not all oils are safe during pregnancy, but are fine to use once term labor has begun. 

A research study published in Nursing Times - March 2, 1994, Vol. 90, No. 9, "Using Aromatherapy in Childbirth"
Summary: A study of 500 women in the delivery suite. Essential oils used: Lavender, Clary sage, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Frankincense, Jasmine, Rose, Lemon and Mandarine.
Methods of Application: (1) *Spray of 100 cc water with 2 drops e.o on face sheet, pillow, or bean bag or (2) 4-6 drops oil in bath or 2-3 drops of oil in footbath or (3) Inhalation or (4) Massage with 2 drops in 50 cc of almond oil.
Results: Overall satisfaction with the "aroma" - rid the hospital smell which decreased anxiety.
 Lavender - reduce maternal anxiety, pain relief, lighten mood, calm contractions if woman needed rest (Early in Labor)
Peppermint - Nausea & Vomiting
Clary sage - Increase Contractions

74% of women used no other form of pain relief

ROSE- Rose may help the Uterus to work efficiently. It is also said to have a relaxant effect for the pelvic floor, helping to open up the pelvis, much like an opening rose bud. This would best be used in the birth pool. The emotional effects of rose are very supportive during labor. It can be very overpowering if over used. So SUBTLE is the key word here! 1-drop in the bathwater would be plenty. Using guided visualization of the cervix opening as a rose bud can be very effective when used with the aroma of rose.

CLARY SAGE- Uterine tonic-again the adaptogenic qualities of Essential oils used in the correct dilution (SUBTLE) assists the uterus in effective contractions without artificially strengthening the contractions (as with pitocin drips given IV). It can be euphoric and very effective for relieving anxiety, it is calming to the nervous system. Some will not like the aroma of Clary sage alone, but mixing it with Rose, Lavender., will *almost* always produce a very pleasing aroma. Mixing to your tatse is important here, not a standard recipe! If you  do not like the aroma, the physical and emotional benefits will likely be negated. Fill a tea light diffuser bowl with water, 3 drops lavender, 3 drops clary sage and enjoy the aroma in the room. It may also have a lovely, calming effect on your caregivers !

LAVENDER-(augustifolia) is calming, soothing, and imparts a gentleness to the atmosphere when used in small amounts. It is also a very nice aromatic greeting for a newborn.You can mix a few drops with 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup grain alcohol for a nice linen spray, or put a few drops in a bowl of water to soak a cool washcloth in to wipe your brow or put around the back of your neck.

GERANIUM-uplifting and helpful in balancing emotional states. Said to be a circulatory stimulant.
Geranium can be added to the birth pool or diffused with your clary sage.

NEROLI-facilitates calm relaxed breathing (esp. with small amounts of Frankincense). The Cadillac for nervous anxiety. Can be a good choice during transition. One drop only on the pillow.

There are just a few of the many wonderful ways to use aromatherapy in labor and birth. Tomorrow, I will be reviewing one of my very favorite books on aromatherapy for the childbearing year !

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Choosing Your Doctor or Midwife ~ It's Never too Late to Make a Change

 Here are some questions to encourage a conversation and to help you get a sense of how your care provider might approach various circumstances with regard to your birth.
Remember, it's never too late to make a change if you do not feel comfortable with the care that you receive.

1. Is there a limit to the number of people who may be there to support me at my birth ?

2. Will I be able to eat and drink ?

3. What if my water breaks at, or near my due date  before contractions begin ?

4. What if my due date comes and goes with no labor ?

5. If labor needs help getting started, what might you recommend?

6. Do you perform episiotomies?

7. What is your cesarean rate ? 

8. What is your induction rate ?

9. How do you feel about VBAC ( Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) ?

10. How long have you been practicing ?

11. How do you feel about breech delivery ?

12. ( For homebirth midwives ) How do you handle back up ?

13. Who are your consultant obstetricians ?

14. Who are your helpers, and how well are they trained ?

15. How do you handle emergency transfers to the hospital ?

By asking a lot of questions, you can be better prepared to for a positive relationship with your care provider, with whom you need to be able to trust wholeheartedly as partner in helping you bring your baby into the world. And remember, your care provider is secondary to your participation and inner wisdom. If you feel like something is not quite right, follow your instincts and ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers you have been given. You are the best expert on what's best for you and your baby !

Monday, November 2, 2009

Doula Magic

 Have you thought of having a doula at your birth ?
Doulas are women who have been trained to offer skilled and compassionate support to women in childbirth. They do not take the place of the partner, but they provide gentle guidance to the mother and father during the birth process. Many doulas also offer prenatal and postpartum support in your home.
Doulas do whatever it takes to keep you as comfortable as possible during labor and birth. Some of the ways that they accomplish this is through;

massage or reflexology

helping you with breathing or positioning

guided imagery and relaxation techniques


a quiet reassuring presence


up to date information on what is safe and healthy when it comes to choices

facilitating your communication with your caregiver

and much more !

The doula stays with you, from start to finish, unlike your caregivers in a hospital setting, which rotate shifts. She knows your story from beginning to end.
I recommend that you choose a doula who has earned a certification, either as a doula or childbirth educator,  and has lots of experience helping parents have safe, normal and healthy births.

Here are some organizations that certify doulas and birth partners:


Here are some questions to ask a doula:

1. What type of training have you had ?

2. Tell me about your certification process ?

3. Tell me about your experience. How many births have you attended ?

4. What is your own personal philosophy of birth ?

5. How many clients do you take per month, and how do you handle back-up ?

6. What is your fee ?

Many women who have used a doula, feel that doulas have a special kind of magic, and that may be true.
But doulas don't have a magic wand that can make birth better if YOU are not informed and willing to take full responsibility for your birth and your choices. 
And choosing a doula is one of the best things you can do to have a safe and healthy birth !

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Waterfall Effect

In my experience as a birth doula and childbirth educator, I have observed something, known to those in our profession, as the "Waterfall Effect." It's kind of like when you set out on a journey, and you expect a beautiful trip. You are sailing along and you think everything will go smoothly, when things start to take a turn in a direction you hadn't really wanted to go. And the more you start paddling, trying to correct your direction, the more you start drifting toward the place that takes you over the waterfalls, plunging you into the depths below.

Here's how it typically starts.

Let's say you are a week past your due date. 
So your doctor says, " I think your baby is too big to wait any longer. Besides, the longer we wait, the higher the risk for stillbirth."
So he says, "Let's induce you tomorrow morning." And because you trust your doctor, and are afraid, you say. "O.K"

So you arrive at the hospital and they start an IV, and tell you that you can't eat.
Then they hook you up to an external monitor and break your water and start you on pitocin.

You want to move around, and get in the tub like you learned in childbirth class, but you are confined to the bed, because when they broke your water, the baby's heart rate went down a little.
They tell you that they want to" watch and wait a little while" and keep you in the bed.

The heart rate looks better in the monitor but you aren't having many contractions so they "up" the pitocin.

Three hours later, you are having a few regular contractions but they are not strong enough to change your cervix, even though they are really hurting because you can't move around.  And you are getting a headache from not eating, and because your head is hurting and the contractions are hurting, it is making you nauseated, and so you throw up. Three times. And so they give you some phenergan and it makes you woozy and sleepy but at least you aren't nauseated anymore. But the contractions still hurt. A lot.

So then they say to you," Let's just give you a walking epidural". You hadn't wanted an epidural at all, but these pitocin contractions feel so terrible and your head is hurting from not eating and you just want to do anything to feel better. And you say "OK".

All the while you are thinking "This isn't the way I wanted it to be, but what was I thinking? I must have been crazy to think I could have done this without drugs."

So the anesthesiologist walks in and you say, "Man, am I glad to see you !" and he says "That's what everybody says!" and he gets busy putting the medicine through the catheter into your back.

When he finishes, you lie back down and he leaves the room, promising you that you will feel better very soon. And he was right......except your labor stops completely ! And you still have a headache and now you have the shakes and you are still only 4 cm. You know this because they just put in an internal monitor.

So the nurse comes in and ups your pitocin again. But you can't feel it and you are glad.
Another 8 hours goes by and you doze on and off except for the occasional vaginal exam and the blood pressure cuff squeezing your arm wakes you up often enough that you never really rest.

And they come in an check again and announce that you are only 8cm. And then they say, "While you were dozing, we noticed that the baby's heart rate patterns were not assuring. So we have gone ahead and prepped the OR for a cesarean. We are going to watch you carefully, but if you don't make really good progress within the next hour, we are going to do a cesarean".

And you don't, and they do.

And you have complications, including excessive bleeding, and an allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics.
Your baby is fine with good strong apgars, in spite of what the heart rate monitors indicated.
But you feel too sick to interact with your baby or try to nurse him.
So the hospital gives him formula for his first feeding.....and his second and his third.
So you feel horrible, physically and emotionally and you cry.

And when you finally get to put your precious baby to your breast, he won't latch on.
And your milk isn't coming in well. And you are afraid that it never will.
And for many months afterward you second guess your insticts about everything when it comes to mothering your baby. You feel sad, alone, confused and defeated, but you don't know why.

Please don't let the waterfall carry you away and plunge you into the depths of depression. There is help for you. Many, many women have been swept away by the Waterfall Effect and have found their way home again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good Night, Sleep Tight

Yesterday's blog entry was inspired by a comment on facebook to a new mother who was  happy that  her baby had  finally slept long enough that she could get some much needed rest. One of her friends chimed in with something along the lines of "Oh, have you read BabyWise?" which led me into a diatribe of why I think BabyWise isn't. But, I digress.

So, today is the day I do reviews of resources I find helpful in my work with parents as a certified postpartum doula.  I want to heartily recommend The Baby Sleep Book, The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Rest for the Whole Family, by four supremely qualified individuals, all belonging to the Sears family. They are all health care professionals AND parents. This book is everything you need to know about getting your baby or toddler to sleep, from some of America's foremost baby and childcare experts.
The forward is written by Dr. James McKenna, director of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame.
I like the way that the authors give parents practical tips and tools while understanding that every parent and baby are individuals. Their tips will help you form your own style and how to become an expert in your own baby.  
I like the fact that the authors write to both parents, and include tips for mother and fathers.
Instead of recommending a rigid approach, they explain how you can create a sleep plan that meets the needs of your unique family. Instead of claiming that parents are "in bondage" to their baby ( like the Ezzo book ) the Sears books offers a flexible and sensitive approach to helping the entire family meet their needs for restful sleep.

The Sears also offer tips on their online Sleep Forum

I hope you will also find this resource helpful with your baby or toddler.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is Babywise a Trick or Treat ?

Trick or Treat ? It's Babywise !

OK, so it's Halloween week and it doesn't surprise me that one of my pet peeves seems to be raising it's ugly head, kind of like a vampire or zombie that refuses to die or Glenn Close jolting up out of the bathwater in Fatal Attraction.

But as an advocate of healthy and safe parenting, I am here today with my "Wac-a-Mole" mallet to beat this menace down, yet again.  "How militant!" you might say. Let me be clear. When I see this book for sale, I have made it my personal mission to buy it JUST  for the sheer pleasure of throwing it away.

Growing Families International [GFI] has been controversial within the Christian church for a long time, but more recently within the secular realm. With the publication of Babywise, Gary Ezzo extended his controversial parenting method into the secular world. 

Many, many keystrokes of parents and professionals have been logged on the internet about this controversy, and I am only nicking the surface of it in my blog post today. For more than you would ever want to know, please visit these sites.

Here's a little history.
Circa 1985 -- Anne Marie Ezzo, Gary's wife, authored and circulated a 4-page paper titled "Parent Controlled Feeding". Although contradictory at some points, it included:
  • a sample timetable for "the first four weeks" which laid out feedings at 4 hour intervals
  • advice to consider formula supplementation if the baby, by three weeks of age, isn't able to go 3-4 hours between feeds
These practices are not based in scientific evidence and have not been endorsed by leading authorities in infant feeding and health.

1989 -- The version of Preparation for Parenting that was circulating at this time including teachings which:
  • criticised demand feeding (the practice endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics),
  • criticised mothers who respond to their babies' cries, calling these practices incompatible with scripture, practiced by an "extreme fringe," primitivistic, humanistic, based in evolution, emotional, idolatrous, unhealthful, harmful to marriage, and the cause of health and developmental problems.
  • advised parents that by three weeks the baby should only be feeding every three to four hours, with formula supplementation as necessary to achieve those intervals.
  • instructed that the baby was to be sleeping through the night by six weeks, enforced by letting the baby cry it out if necessary.
    Source: quotes on file from Preparation for Parenting c 1989

1993 – 1st edition of Babywise was self-published by Growing Families International. This edition was nearly identical to Prep for Parenting, except that:
  • The explicit religious language was removed ( thank God )
  • Dr. Robert Bucknam added a foreword, praising the earlier Ezzo material which had so impressed him, and denigrating "instincts," advice to feed more often as a solution to hunger, and the practice of feeding at two hourly intervals (p.11)
  • For babies from 0-8 weeks of age, the book recommended 3 to 4 hour feedings.
  • This edition touts a benefit of fewer feedings: fewer diapers to change. (pp. 133-134.)

May 14, 1996 –The Child Abuse Council of Orange County appointed a  task force to evaluate following complaints by area health care professionals who had observed dehydration, slow growth and development and failure to thrive among babies on Ezzo programs.
The Ezzos also published so called "Christian" Parenting materials called : Growing Kids God's Way.
First of all, many Christians, myself included, find it odd that Gary Ezzo should pontificate and define for the rest of us what "God's Way of parenting should look like, especially in light of all of the bad outcomes which have been reported. Critics who have evaluated Growing Kids God's Way, Childwise, Babywise, Reflections of Moral Innocence (the Ezzos' sex ed curriculum) and other Ezzo books and curricula have shared several concerns about the expectations of child behavior these books promote.

  • Lack of age appropriateness. Requirements of child behavior do not consider age appropriateness or basic principles of child development.

  • May support parental failings and selfishness. Warnings against being "child-centered" are insufficiently balanced by acknowledgment of the extent to which parenthood involves self-giving and self-sacrifice or by awareness of the parents' own fallibility.

  • Lack of proportion. Big issues and small are treated as equally urgent matters over which parents must have control. Insisting on tight control over all matters can lead to power struggles.

  • Limited interpretation of behavior. Behavior is viewed through the lens of obedience/disobedience without adequate consideration of factors such as teething, illness, developmental stages, and emotions such as fear, loneliness, etc, that might cause or influence the behavior.

  • Undermines the developing relationship between parent and child. The level of control required by the program tends to create an adversarial relationship between parents and child, which may interfere with attachment.  Experts regard attachment as the foundation of mental health and say it develops as parents respond to the baby's cues, rather than in the context of parental control. 
Secondly, Ezzo's warped theological perspective produces this "jewel" of exegesis.
When using the crucifixion of Jesus to justify letting an infant cry. ``Praise God that the Father did not intervene when His Son cried out on the cross,'' in Preparation for Parenting.

Here are some quotes I have found from mothers who have used the program.

"I, being a first-time mom, terribly unconfident, and eager for something structured and quantifiable, bought into [the book], wholeheartedly. It was a disaster. The first three months of my firstborn's life were filled with frustration"

""My frustration is that it seems the Ezzos never took into consideration the moms who suffer from PPD. My depression was pretty debilitating and when my son wasn't "following the program" so to speak, it created a lot of additional stress."

"I took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed as FTT ("failure-to-thrive").   She spent three days in hospital.  I was told to burn Babywise and that babies should be fed on demand, that breastfeeding was a supply and demand process."

"In my mind, I knew that I should call La Leche League for help, but after reading the warnings in [Babywise], there was no way I wanted to get mixed up with those "attachment-parenting types," so I chose to give up and exclusively formula feed."

"When J. was about 3 and a half months old, I started thinking he looked a little skinny."

"I remember laying on the couch listening to her cry and cry thinking motherhood wasn't supposed to be like this."

"I would have said that we were happy following Ezzo, but I can honestly say that we are much happier now. I am so much less stressed out! I didn't realize how much stress Babywising put on me until I quit..."

"I want to share our story in the hope that it may perhaps help to warn others who are heading down the Growing Kids God's Way path. We still ask ourselves, how could we have been deceived for so long?..."

"I would give anything in the world to be able to turn back the clock and learn about the concerns and controversy surrounding Ezzo's methods *before* my dear daughter was born..."

"But even if Babywise and Prep may have a few helpful ideas, there is more chaff than wheat. As someone else has said, "What is good is not unique--you can find it in other safer books. What is unique is not good." In spite of the few helpful ideas I NEVER recommend the books to anyone. Why? Too much possibility that someone could be seriously hurt from them. I don't want that responsibility"

"Please, don't just take our word for it. Do your own research. When you are finished, we be-lieve you will draw the same conclusions we have. We thought we were following sound parent-ing information and doing what was proclaimed to be in the best interest of our son. We could not have been more wrong, and we will always live with that knowledge. We now believe nurs-ing on demand, especially in the early months of life, is among the most critical things one can do for the long-term health and well-being of their child. The harm that has been associated with the Ezzos' parent-directed feeding schedules is not always easily undone, and is simply not worth the potential risks. No other child or parents deserve to endure what we have suffered."
"With both boys I lost my milk between 4 and 5 months. I was unable to get it to come back, I tried all the tricks. Every 3 hours is not enough stimulation for my milk supply in the early months and it affected my supply later on. We were also very heavy into using punishment
(spankings) but now we are not. Our children are now better behaved since we stopped using those tactics with them."

"What was the worst we suffered from the materials?
Believing that every night waking, every phase, everything our kids did, was because they were trying to manipulate us or control us, or defy us. That everything had to be "handled". It's a twisted, sick mindset against your own children - and it's simply not true. We have come a long way - and still have a long way to go. We are far removed from that mindset now, but it haunts us. We find more and more that the truth is that children are new, all that they do is experimentation, and normal. A good dose of guidance, understanding and teaching goes 10 times farther than one punishment."

If you have questions or are frustrated with infant feeding issues, especially breastfeeding, please talk to a qualified professional, and seek the time trusted advice of someone like Dr. Sears.  

Dr, Sears has authored numerous books of preganancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting, including great books on nghttime parenting, fussy babies, discipline and many, many more.

Here is an excerpt from Nighttime Parenting by Sears  published on the La Leche League website that talks about SIDS. ( Sudden Infant Death Syndrome )

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"V Section" is often as Traumatic as "C Section" for Many Woman

Did you know that for many women, a vaginal birth with an episiotomy can be just as traumatic and painful as birth with a cesarean ? It's true. The birth of my oldest child, who weighed on 5lbs and 5 oz was delivered via a mediolateral episiotomy and forceps. It was extremely painful. I refer to that birth as my "V-Section" because that's how it felt to me. I felt sliced and diced. And I WAS !

I had many, many stitches that itched and burned and nothing made it go away. This continued for several weeks. I was breastfeeding and it was all I could do to turn over in the bed without pain so intense that it made me nauseated and faint feeling. I had to have someone "spot" me every time I got up to use the bathroom because I was afraid I would faint. I was completely incapacitated.

In case you are unfamiliar with the term "episiotomy", here is some information, and illustrations.

Patient Information on Episiotomy


Here is what some other women have said about their  experiences with episiotomies :

"My husband and I had a baby boy on Christmas day. The doctor performed an episiotomy and it has been 8 weeks. I thought it had healed just fine but last week on Valentine's Day my husband and I tried to make love and I was unable to due to pain in the area of the episiotomy."

"I had my only child four years ago and I had an episiotomy.  Now, four years later, my scar is itchy, swollen and irritated.  I also have been having strange feeling in my right leg that feels like something is cutting off the circulation at my upper thigh."

"My episiotomy was not slight. It was severe and not only did it take me weeks before I could pee without crying, but it took me a year before I stopped itching my crotch. It was like a yeast-infection on speed as it was healing. Not fun at all. Not only that, but it STILL doesn't feel the same down there. He cut through the muscle tissue so the whole vag-area feels just very funky and sad."

And here's a sad report about a death from episiotomy:

New Mother Dies from Episiotomy Infection

Aug. 2, 2001 - El Paso, Texas - Eight days after giving birth, a new mother died from toxic shock, due to an infection at the site of the episiotomy done while she was giving birth.  Treatments were unable to halt the progress of the infection, resulting in kidney failure, pneumonia and ultimately heart failure.  She leaves a grieving husband, baby daughter and other family.

I have known women who have developed rectovaginal fistulas after episiotomies.And I know a woman who developed a MRSA infection in her episiotomy.
These women have had to search out services like these:

Urogenital Repairs

Even though the practice of episiotomy has not been supported by the medical literature as providing any benefit in a normal vaginal delivery, many doctors still perform them routinely. Talk to your doctor or midwife about episiotomy and make an informed decision. If it were me, I would just say. "NO"!

I want a bumper sticker that reads: