Thursday, December 23, 2010

Humble Birth

Today, I reflect on the nativity, the humility of the Lord's birth, and the patience and faithfulness of Mary and Joseph. It must have been extremely trying for them both to abandon themselves to God's plan, to endure the shame of a pregnancy shrouded in such mystery only to have to have the event of the birth of the Savior occur in a barn after a long and exhausting trip to Bethlehem.

What was it like giving birth under those conditions ? According to Jewish law, it was forbidden for Joseph to be present at the birth upon the appearance of blood. Immediately after birth, a woman is considered niddah and must remain physically separated from her husband for a period of seven days after the birth of a male child. Lev. 12:2. But some teachings make provisions for men to help their wives if no one else is around. This raises the question, did they have a midwife help them ?

Perhaps Mary was attended by the angels, who then announced to the shepherds what they had witnessed. Truly, this was the most amazing pregnancy and the most important birth in history.

I believe the humble estate of the birth of Yeshua should remind us all to trust the wisdom and mercy of God to carry us through birth and life, in whatever we do. Blessed Christmas to all !

I hope you enjoy this video, which highlights the simplicity and peace of birth, not in a barn, but at home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Study Shows Formula Feeding Does Not Improve Sleep For New Mothers

A new study, published November 8th in the journal Pediatrics, looked at infant feeding methods and mothers' sleep and her ability to function after giving birth  during weeks 2 through 12.  The researchers looked at factors like total sleep time, sleep efficiency and fragmentation, reported numbers of nightly awakenings, total nightly wake time, sleep quality and sleepiness or fatigue.

There was no difference between women who were exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively formula feeding or using a combination of the two methods.

These findings suggest that efforts to encourage women to breastfeed should include information about sleep.  In particular, women should be told that formula feeding does not equal improved sleep.
 To review the study online, go to

Monday, September 13, 2010

For a Safe and Healthy Baby, Let labor Begin On It's Own

In a finding with implications for elective cesarean delivery, a large study has found that babies born at term but before 39 weeks may suffer more complications than infants delivered later.

Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that elective delivery not occur before 39 weeks, many infants are delivered earlier without clear indication.

Researchers have presented studies looking at the outcomes of infants considered to be delivered at term, but still slightly early. Data indicate that the extra time can matter to a fetus, even if the difference is only days.

One study involved 12,821 births, all of which were delivered by prelabor elective cesarean at 37 weeks or more. The women, who had an average maternal age of 30 years, were enrolled in 19 centers around the country between 1999 and 2002 as part of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Units registry, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Women in the study had all undergone at least 1 prior cesarean and carried singleton pregnancies without malformations. Women were excluded from the study if they had a documented indication for delivery before 39 weeks.

Compared with infants born at 39 weeks, those born at 37 weeks had 2- to 4-fold risk for complications. Infants born at 38 weeks had 1.5 to 2 times the risk for complications. Outcome measures included a list of 7 parameters, including respiratory distress syndrome, neonatal intensive care unit admission, sepsis, or hospitalization for more than 5 days.

Even infants born within 3 days of the 39-week threshold had higher morbidity.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Renewing Our Minds and Emotions for A Better Birth Experience

One of the first things many people think about when the word birth is mentioned is the word pain
Pain is a word that, for many people, is synonymous with the word suffering. I think we can all agree that suffering is to be avoided at all costs in birth. Suffering crosses the threshold of what is acceptable in childbirth. But pain does not have to equal suffering. In an earlier Birthwhisperer post, Penny Simkin does a beautiful job describing the differences. 

But pain is a unique experience for each of us. Women in labor express pain in different ways and have unique needs. Some like to be touched and talked to, others close themselves down, going inward to cope in their own ways, and both are normal. 

How we perceive pain depends largely upon out attitudes about it. Do we see the work that our bodies are doing as a normal physiological process or do we see it as something to be feared and numbed from? 
Birth, and the laborious process that brings forth a baby is an opportunity to gain insight into our strengths, and our faith in God. I am a Christian and I believe that God's marvelous and miraculous design is designed for our good and not our ruin. 

Ask almost any woman about her birth and you will find that it can be one of the most empowering, wonderful events of a woman's life or one of the most devastating and disappointing. But rarely is it just another day. 
Education, support and preparation are keys to a positive experience. Trusting God's design for our bodies and instincts will start us on the path to healthy and safe birth. 

Pain is magnified by fear. When we feel fear, our bodies produce chemicals and hormones that work against the processes that help us birth safely. It can cause our muscles to tense up and it can cause our labors to slow down or stop. This is a vicious cycle that occurs when women enter a birth environment that feels threatening or unfamiliar. Anything that causes the mother's stress level to rise should be avoided in order to reduce the amount of suffering she experiences in birth. It is very important for her to be able to feel uninhibited, relaxed and at peace with what is happening and also who is present. 

Pain can be greatly lessened by psychologically and spiritually preparing for the birth. For the woman who doesn't realize her options and that she has the right to be informed and make her own choices, birth can be a horrific ordeal. On the other hand, by asking questions and discussing her options and concerns a woman will feel like she is in control. In one study, this was the most important thing that women said made their birth experience more satisfactory. Interestingly, this was more important to women than the amount of pain they experienced, which may illustrate that women who feel in control are also less focused on pain. 

Childbirth classes with a Lamaze certified childbirth educator can also help women avoid suffering by showing them how to work with the sensations of labor by using comfort measures that facilitate the birth rather than work against it, as some medical interventions do. Learning how to move, breathe and help your baby descend and move through your her pelvis can be a way that women work with their bodies, not against them. Many times, in hospitals, women are asked to assume positions and restrict their movement so that labor can become very painful. For example, when a woman is hooked up to an electronic fetal monitor, especially if it is an internal one, she may not be able to sit upright or walk around because the monitor might become displaced. If she is having "back labor" this could hamper her ability to get relief by getting on her hands and knees and rocking her pelvis. 

The way that birth has become so technologically and medically managed may be why so many American women view pregnancy as a nuisance and birth as a painfully frightening ordeal. In addition, our attitudes about birth may reflect our unspoken feelings about our bodies and our sexuality. Think about the negative messages American society sends women about our bodies, pregnancy and birth. 
Think about the ways that pregnancy and birth are often portrayed in the media. 
What values have been passed down from our mothers and grandmothers about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding? 

Many of our mothers and grandmothers were victims of a terrifying ordeal in which they were not adequately prepared, were made to endure alone, were completely anesthetized, were without the loving support of husbands or doulas, and then were told that artificial baby milk was superior to their own. They were robbed, just like many women are today. 
Think about the many lies that women have been, and are still being told. 
"Once a cesarean, always a cesarean."
"Your baby is too big for you to push it out."
"You can't make enough milk."
"You must not gain more than 20lbs."
How can this legacy of fear and suffering be reversed?

Expectant mothers can take the time to explore their values and ask themselves "What do I need to happen in order to feel safe and cared for?" "How do I best deal with stress and how will I cope when things become challenging?" 

The truth is that every birth, whether at home or in the hospital poses it's own set of risks. A woman should weight them all carefully and decide which environment is best suited to meet her unique needs. Many complications f pregnancy and birth can be prevented by good nutrition and a model of care that focuses on the woman's physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Midwives are the gold standard for this type of care. 

Gen 49:25
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee…..blessing of the breasts and of the womb.

Duet. 7:13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb…

Psalms 22:9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mothers breasts.

Psalms 22:10 I was cast upon thee form the womb: thou art my God from my mothers belly.

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thin heart: wait I say, on the LORD

Psalms 40:17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

Psalms 55:16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.
55:22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalms 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Psalms 27:3 Lo children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Psalms 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mothers womb.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Isaiah 44:2 Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee;…

Isaiah 66:9 Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according the power that worketh in us,

Isa 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Psa 22:19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

Psa 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Psa 29:11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

Psa 118:14 The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.

Romans 12 :2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thank You For Inviting Me To Your Birth !

Welcome to my world. A world of wonder and inspiration. A world that has forever stamped upon my heart the virtues of tenderness, compassion, courage and patience, like sealing wax. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the many experiences I have had. To be invited into the sacred space of birth by a woman is a very special thing. And every woman with whom I have allowed to be "with woman" has taught me something of immense value about the power of maternal love.

I just wanted to say "Thank-You" to all of you who have invited me to support you in birth or postpartum. What a gift you have given me !

Monday, August 16, 2010

Birth Shack BABY !

In honor of my dear friend Jane who gave birth to her beautiful breech baby boy at the Farm "birth shack" pictured above.  I was her doula, Ina May was her midwife. And it was magical !

If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says
15 miles to the... Birth Shack! Birth Shack yeah
I'm headin' down the Tennesse highway,
lookin' for the birth getaway
Heading for the birth getaway, birth getaway,
I got me a bump, it's as big as a whale
and we're headin' on down
To the Birth Shack
I got me a 'Burban, it seats about 20
So hurry up and bring your midwife money

The Birth Shack is a little old place
where we can go to labor
Birth Shack baby, Birth Shack bay-bee.
Birth baby, that's where it's at,
Ooo birth baby, that's where it's at

Sign says.. Woo... stay away fools,
'cause birth rules at the Birth Shack!
Well it's set way back in the middle of a field,
Just a funky old shack and I gotta get back

Glitter on the mattress
Glitter on the highway
Glitter on the front porch
Glitter on the hallway

The Birth Shack is a little old place
where we can go to labor
Birth Shack bay-bee! Birth Shack baby!
Birth Shack, that's where it's at!
Huggin' and a kissin', dancin' and a lovin',
wearin' next to nothing
Cause it's hot as an oven
The whole shack shimmies!
The whole shack shimmies when everybody's
Movin' around and around and around and around!
Everybody's movin', everybody's groovin' baby!
Baby linin' up inside just to get down
Everybody's movin', everybody's groovin' baby
Funky little shack! Funk-y little shack!

Hop in my 'Burban,
it's as big as a whale
and it's about to set sail!
I got me a car, it seats about twenty
So c'mon and bring your midwife money.

The Birth Shack is a little old place
where we can get together
Birth Shack baby! Birth Shack bay-bee!
(Birth Shack...Birth Shack...)
Birth Shack, that's where it's at!

Bang bang bang on the door baby!
Knock a little louder baby!
Bang bang bang on the door baby!
I can't hear you
Bang bang on the door baby
Bang bang on the door
Bang bang on the door baby
Bang bang
You're what?... Ten C's ready !

Birth Shack, baby Birth Shack!
Birth Shack, baby birth Shack!
Love baby, that's where it's at
Birth Shack, baby birth Shack!
Love baby, that's where it's at
Huggin' and a kissin',
dancin' and a lovin' at the birth shack

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Researchers Make Amazing Discovery
Birthwisperer's Note : This is a summary of an article that I was given several years ago and I recently ran across it. I think it is fascinating, and wanted to share the highlights.

 (Source : Researchers have discovered that expectant mothers undergo permanent changes during pregnancy, in which they "inherit" some of the characteristics of the child they are carrying and, through the child, also receive some characteristics of the baby's father.

The researchers found that the unborn child inherits half of his genetic patrimony from the mother. He also "hears" the outside world while yet in the womb, through the mother's body,  which substantially conditions the unborn child's life. The research also indicated that the mother undergoes long-term changes caused by the "person" of the child and, indirectly, also from the baby's father.

Professor Salvatore Mancuso, head of the gynecology institute, said: "We have proof that beginning in the fifth week of gestation, an infinite number of messages pass from the embryo to the mother, through chemical substances like hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. This information serves to adapt the mother's body to the presence of the new being.

"Moreover, it has been discovered that the embryo sends stem cells that, thanks to the mother's immune system tolerance, colonize the maternal medulla, and adhere to it. What is more, lymphocytes are born from here and remain with the woman for the rest of her life."

Mancuso continued: "From the fifth week there is clearly a passing of cells, but messages begin at conception. Even during the first phase of cellular subdivision, when the embryo is moving in the fallopian tubes, there are transmissions through contact with tissues touched by the moving embryo.

"Later, after implantation in the uterus, the dialogue is more intense through the blood and cells, and chemical substances enter the mother's bloodstream.

"Finally, the child's stem cells pass to the mother in great quantity, both at the moment of birth, whether spontaneous or Caesarean, as well as at the time of abortion, whether spontaneous or voluntary. These cells are implanted in the mother's medulla and produce lymphocytes, which have a common origin with the cells of the central nervous system; they have receptors for the neurotransmitters and can make messages pass that the maternal nervous system understands."

He added, "An astonishing area of research is opening up. This is information of enormous importance on the first phases of life."

When asked how long the fetus' influence on the mother lasts, the professor answered: "Stem cells have been found in the mother even 30 years after the birth. It could be said, therefore, the pregnancy does not last the 40 canonical weeks, but the woman's entire life.

Regarding the transfer of the father's characteristics to the mother via the unborn child, Mancuso said, "These are areas that are yet to be explored. Of course it calls for reflection on a new way of understanding pregnancy. Also, a very close tie is undoubtedly created between man and woman, because the child has 50% of the father's genetic characteristics. Moreover, the hematopoietic [blood-producing] stem cells go to the medulla and produce offspring cells, lymphocytes and neurotransmitters with the capacity to dialogue with the maternal central nervous system. It is somewhat as though the 'thoughts' of the child pass to the mother, even many years after his birth."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reducing Infant Mortality : This Video Contains Life Saving Information

Reducing Infant Mortality from Debby Takikawa on Vimeo.

If you are an expectant mother or work with them, this very compelling film is an essential resource for you and your clients. How many babies and mothers do we have to loose before we demand lifesaving changes in maternity care?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Penny Simkin's Pregnancy, Childbirth, And The Newborn Is An Updated Classic With Special Bonus, A FREE Online Guide Chock Full Of Essential Resources

It doesn't get much better than this ! Penny Simkin's updated classic text gets a makeover with an online companion guide with free worksheets to help you navigate your birth journey and arrive at your destination, fully informed and equipped for early motherhood.
Check out the free resources here and pick up your copy today !
PCN Guide

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Benefits of being Skin to Skin With Your Baby

This video about the many benefits of being skin to skin with your baby.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Doulas Make a Difference for Dads

 As a doula, I am often asked " How does a doula impact the role of my baby's father at the birth?"
 This is an important question. Other doulas may answer it differently, but here are my thoughts.
One of my goals, as a doula, is to facilitate and protect the special bond between mom and dad during labor and birth, and not to interfere with their intimacy. Most couples do not understand that working through labor and birth together offers them one of the most golden opportunities to bond emotionally that they will ever have in their lives. I hope that the mother will see the father of her baby as her "hero" when all is said and done.  And, I hope the father will be in complete awe at the strength and beauty of the mother of his baby as she gives birth.

Men should know that many women are comforted simply by their man's presence in the room and don't expect them to know everything about how to meet their needs. I have had many clients tell me, "I just need for him to be there, but not feel like he has to fix it for me, and I am worried that he will feel confused and anxious about what I need.  That, in turn, will make me feel anxious!"

Many men do feel helpless when they see the mother of their baby in what seems like anguish. Because their nature is to be "the protector," men are often ready to give in to medical interventions in order to relieve the pain, even when those interventions may not be in the best interest of the mom or baby. They really have the best intentions, but this is often because of a lack of understanding about the process of labor and birth and the very real risks as well as benefits of certain various procedures.

Enter the doula. A doula can show a dad ways to touch and massage his partner that may relieve common discomforts of labor so that potentially harmful interventions can be minimized or eliminated altogether. A doula can reassure a dad when he hears or sees something he has never encountered before by saying "she's doing just fine, she's just vocalizing" or " It's OK, babies' heads are sometimes a little misshapen for the first few hours after birth." A doula can relieve the dad so he can use the restroom or get something to eat, or she can go get him a snack so he can stay with Mom.

When things get challenging, a doula can make suggestions to the dad about helping the mother with positioning and movement. But sometimes, the mom and dad are working together and what they are doing it is enhancing their progress. These are the times that I just hang back, sit on my hands, let my words be few and just "hold the space" for them. At some births I am very "hands on" and at others I have simply been a comforting presence, because that was all that was needed. I find that when couples feel safe and secure, they will be more able to listen to their hearts and do what comes instinctively. They will be able to ask for what they need, be it more attention, or more privacy.
Then birth just blossoms in the way that it should. I believe this builds strong, confident parents as they begin their journey together as a family.

I feel very blessed to be a doula, and have heard from many appreciative Dads who said that having me at present at the birth of their children made them feel more confident and equipped to minister to the needs of their wives and babies. This is the highest compliment I could receive.

For more information on dads and doulas, please see the following articles.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Safe Sipping for Expectant Moms

It's the "dog days" of summer and where I live, near Charlotte, NC, we have been experiencing record heat. As a mom of a pregnant daughter, a doula and childbirth educator I am concerned that expectant mothers get the extra fluids they need to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.Why is hydration so important ? 

Consider your expanding blood volume. In one of the amazing feats of physiology, your body will increase the amount of blood you carry around to accomodate the extra needs of your cells and your developing baby.
Straying well hyrdated affects many important body systems, such as digestion and muscle function. In fact, when you are dehydrated, you are more likely to have uterine contractions before your baby is ready to be born.
In addition, pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of heat stroke which is a life threatening condition that must be treated quickly.The symptoms of heat exhaustion include shortness of breath, dizziness and a feeling of being lightheaded coupled with a body temperature of 105 degrees. Heat stroke refers to an abnormally heightened body temperature, exacerbated by hot weather or heavy physical exertion. For pregnant women, heat stroke is a very relevant concern in summer months. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:
• Difficulty breathing
• Rapid pulse
• Flushed skin
• Absence of sweating
• Confusion and disorientation
With any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical help immediately !
So, what's a momma to do ?

Wear light clothing, preferably in natural, breathable fibers and drink plenty of fluids. Stay out of the heat as much as possible, and if you exercise outdoors, do so in the early day or late evening when you are less likely to feel the full effects of the heat. 
Choose beverages that replenish your body, such as fresh clean water with fruit essences, such as HINT Water. Or, make your own refreshing fruit water by cutting up lemons, limes, oranges, berries to a pitcher and adding cold water and chill for several hours. 

Herbal fruit teas are a great choice too, as long as you are careful about how to sweeten them, if you must. Stick to honey, and natural sweeteners and avoid artificial sweeteners. 

What about coffee and caffeinated beverages ? They can be dehydrating, but if you must indulge a teeny bit, here is some information for you to consider.

There is no link between moderate caffeine consumption and miscarriage or
preterm birth, according to a recently-released opinion from
the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The opinion, intended to put an end to mixed messages that
pregnant women have typically received regarding caffeine intake during
pregnancy, is published in the August 2010 edition of the ACOG
Journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Moderate caffeine consumption is
defined as less than 200 mg per day, the amount contained in
about 12 ounces of coffee. Daily consumption of over 200 mg of caffeine
would be considered a high level of caffeine intake.
ACOG’s Committee on Obstetric Practice also reviewed scientific evidence
regarding the effect of caffeine on fetal growth. No clear evidence was
found to show that caffeine increases the risk of restricting fetal
growth. To review the ACOG Committee Opinion online, go to

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Help Your Unborn Child LearnThrough Sound

There is a new product out called SoundBeginnings that lets parents introduce their unborn babies to music and voices through MP3 files that have been downloaded to a player and then placed in this belt that Mom wears around her belly. Here are a few articles that might be of interest : 

SoundBeginnings is a comfortable nylon/lycra blend band with built in high quality speakers to allow expectant mothers to play music, voice or soothing sounds for their unborn baby using an MP3 player. 

The product comes with some safety guidelines such as not using before the third trimester, limiting use to two hours per day and others, please see the site at for more safety guidelines and info on purchasing and using the product. Always consult with your maternity care provider before using this device.

 *Birthwhisperer has not received any financial compensation for reviewing this product.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pamper Yourself During Pregnancy With A DIY Reflexology Pedicure At Home

Pampering yourself is important during pregnancy. Taking time to care for yourself will go a long way to enhance your health, both physically and emotionally. Have you ever heard the old saying "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy !"?

Personally speaking, I think there is a lot of truth to that. Just sayin'.

One of the ways that you can care for yourself during pregnancy is by pampering your feet. Many women enjoy pedicures and let's face it. When our feet look cute and feel good, we feel better all over.
But there are several things to consider from a health standpoint regarding getting a pedicure while pregnant, or anytime.

One concern is cleanliness and safety. Many spas are simply not clean. In fact, if you have ever seen one of those health reports on TV about the dangers of some nail salons, you know what I mean. Then there is the issue of noxious fumes in nail salons from women getting chemical processes applied to their nails. Inhaling these fumes during pregnancy could be dangerous and for women who are sensitive to smells and feeling nauseated, this could be torture ! Then there is the issue of cost which, during these tough economic times, may make a pedicure a luxury that many women cannot justify.

So Birthwhisperer would like to share some tips for self pampering, a great alternative to a spa pedicure that you can do at home. Of course if you can get your partner to help you, all the better !
Here is a list of what you will need :

1 common dishpan ( I get mine at the Dollar Tree )
Some smooth marbles or craft style river rocks, enough to cover the bottom of your dish pan ( Also from Dollar Tree )
1 cup Epsom Salts ( Also From Dollar Tree )
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil ( )
2 TBS Sea Salt
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 Candle & Lighter
1 Body & Soul Pure Relaxation CD ( From Dollar Tree, or an ambient CD of your choice )
2 Soft Towels
 1 comfortable chair to sit while you do your pedi.

Here's what I do.
 In a small bowl, pour your salt, the olive oil and two drops of your lavender oil and mix with a spoon. Bring it to the place where you will be sitting to do your pedi. This will serve as an aromatherapy exfoliating scrub for use after you soak your feet.

Dim the lights,  light the candle and start the music in the room where you will sit. Fill the dishpan with your stones or marbles.  Add warm water, about 3 inches worth, the epsom salts and 3 drops of lavender oil to the water. Swish gently with your fingers to mix.  Then, carefully place the prepared foot bath in front of your chair. You may want to place the dishpan on top of one of your towels. Make sure you have your towel and scrub handy to use when you are finished soaking.

Sit comfortably in the chair and slowly dip your feet in the bath. Gently roll your feet on the marbles or feel the smooth texture of the stones in the bottom. Take long, deep breaths and enjoy the serenity of the moment.
You may want to do some progressive relaxation exercises to get you prepared for using them in labor.

Start with breathing in deeply and focusing on your face. As you breathe in, tighten all of the muscles in your face and mouth and as you breathe out, progressively relax them so that by the end of your breath, they are totally relaxed. Rest, and enjoy the relaxation in your face and lips for approximately one minute, breathing normally. Then go to your neck and shoulders and repeat. Proceed throughout your entire body until you reach your feet. Take about 15-20 minutes or as long as you want.

When you are finished, take one foot out of the water and bring it up on the opposite thigh or knee ( if you can ) and apply 1/2 of your foot scrub. Rub it all over your foot to exfoliate. Put that foot back in the water and do the same to the other foot. When both feet have been exfoliated, take them out and dry them off.
Apply your favorite hand or foot cream, just make sure it is paraben free !

If you like, you can give some attention to your nails, always making sure to cut and file straight across and if you use polish, use something like this Polished-mama-pregnancy-safe-nail-polish

Here are the perfect pedi shoes to wear while your toes are drying, or anytime you want to be cool and comfy. They are the MADISON style slide from Oka b

Remember, a pampered momma makes for a happy family. 
You're welcome !

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Practice Good Oral Health for a Healthy Birth

About half of women experience some swelling of their gums in pregnancy. This condition, known as pregnancy gingivitis, can be the result of hormones that cause swelling of the mucous membranes in the body. It can be uncomfortable, causing slight, bleeding, redness or tenderness. However, a more advanced oral problem called periodontal disease  may also affect the health of your unborn baby. Periodontal disease is a serious gum infection that left untreated destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone. But your teeth may not be the only thing you risk by ignoring your oral heath. 

Some studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm birth and low birthweight babies. They suggest that expectant women with periodontal disease may be up to seven times more likely to have a baby that's born too early or too small. A study appearing in the July issue of the Journal of Periodontology found bacteria commonly found in the mouth and associated with periodontal diseases in the amniotic fluid of some pregnant women. Amniotic fluid is a liquid that surrounds an unborn baby during pregnancy. Any disruptions in the amniotic fluid, such as a bacterial infection, could be dangerous to both the mother and baby. These findings could have an important implication for women and babies' heath since simple improvement of dental hygiene may help to reduce the incidence of unknown complications in pregnancy and newborn babies.

Periodontal disease has also been linked with cardiovascular disease. The most prevalent bacteria in the samples from the studies may have come from the vagina; however, two of the species were recognized as coming from the mouth and are not normally found elsewhere in the body. These particular bacteria, Granulicatella elegans and Streptococcus sinensis, are known to be able to enter the bloodstream and have previously been associated with infections remote from the mouth such as infective endocarditis.

As you make your way through the “to-dos,” remember to check off a visit to the dentist or periodontist. This baby step benefits you and your unborn baby.
  • The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush their teeth thoroughly with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and floss daily
  • Have preventive exams and cleanings during your pregnancy
  • Let your dentist know you are pregnant
  • NO XRAYS or Mercury Fillings
  • Postpone non-emergency dental work until the second trimester or until after delivery, if possible
  • Elective procedures should be postponed until after the delivery
  • Maintain healthy circulation by keeping your legs uncrossed while you sit in the dentist's chair
  • Take a pillow to help keep you and the baby more comfortable
  • Bring headphones and some favorite music

My dad was my dentist growing up, and before I because a doula and childbirth educator, I worked as a dental assistant. I will never forget my Dad's words "Only floss the teeth you want to keep !"
Please remember that your oral health is very important to your own health and the health of your baby!

    Some of Birthwhisperer's favorite products for good oral health include:

    Tom's Natural Toothpaste and Antiplaque Floss
    Tom's of Maine - Natural Toothpaste, Antiplaque, Fennel - 6 oz

    The Radius Intelligent Toothbrush

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    CDC Issues Information for Expectant Women Living Along the Gulf Coast

    A Web page from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued information for expectant women living along the Gulf shore who have concerns regarding the oil spill.  The CDC says pregnant women should avoid the oil spill-affected areas, but claims that women will see or smell chemicals in the oil before the chemicals can harm her or her baby.  Expectant women who live along the Gulf coast are advised to avoid those areas where there is oil reaching the shore.  For women who are affected by the smell of the oil, which reportedly may cause headaches or nausea, the CDC advises staying indoors and setting the air conditioner to reuse indoor air and avoiding any activities that put extra demand on the lungs and heart.  For more information, go to

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services Applauds NIH Support for VBAC

    Raleigh, NC (March 12th, 2010)—After more than a decade of discriminatory practices by hospitals, physicians, and malpractice insurance providers against women who choose to have a normal birth after a prior cesarean, the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) was extremely pleased that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has finally issued an evidence-based report that supports women who want to labor for a VBAC (vaginal birth after a prior cesarean section). Read the whole story here !

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Shattering "Misconceptions" About Birth

    In this seven minute video, women and men talk about the differences in the medical model of birth and the holistic model, and how misconceptions about birth shape our approach to experiencing birth.

    It has been said that "If you don't know what your choices are, you don't have any." That may be true enough, but I also believe that too many choices are overwhelming and can lead to denial or inertia. I believe that we need a simpler approach to thinking about them when it comes to childbirth.

    In my classes, I like to focus on the biological norms of birth, long before I start talking about variations of normal, such as breech birth or things that can become problematic. Many women have heard about problems, but have not heard much about normal, beautiful, undisturbed birth.

    Most women have grown up hearing horror stories about childbirth and most of what they have seen portrayed in the media with regard to birth has been very negative or frightening. My first goal is to open women up to a new "Birth Theology," if you will. Hearing the voices of women who have birthed normally, and who have emerged with a sense of accomplishment and confidence are very powerful forces, and I like to share them as often as possible. I thought this short clip was a great example, so I am sharing it today.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    The New Thalidomides

    Recently, while on vacation in Boone, NC, I was enjoying an antique shopping adventure. I had not a care in the world, when suddenly I was reminded of the harsh realities of life. I came upon this LIFE Magazine cover from August 1962.  I was born in 1958 and somehow escaped the horrors of Thalidomide. Thalidomide was sold in a number of countries across the world from 1957 until 1961 when it was withdrawn from the market after being found to be a cause of birth defects in what has been called "one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times".

    Although thalidomide was not approved for sale in the United States, millions of tablets had been distributed to physicians during a clinical testing program. It was impossible to know how many pregnant women had been given the drug to help alleviate morning sickness.
    The word “phocomelia” means seal limb. It describes an extremely rare condition in which babies are born with limbs that look like flippers. The long bones of the arms fail to develop, but fingers sprout from the shoulders. In some cases, the legs fail to develop as well.
    Doctors began to see more and more cases, and it turned out that a drug called thalidomide, which pregnant women were taking for morning sickness, was responsible. Magazines and newspapers ran shocking pictures of seal-limbed children, and the drug was banned in 1962. By then thousands of children, had been born with thalidomide-induced birth defects.
    Today, pregnant women face many decision in the childbearing year. As a doula and childbirth educator, I have seen and read about the tragic consequences of some of those choices.
    Cytotec, among others, comes to mind.
    Since Cytotec was introduced in 1988, a growing number of obstetricians have embraced it as a "miracle" drug -- in spite of data that leave serious doubts about its safety. Lacking FDA approval and scientific consensus on how to use it on pregnant women, doctors have taken it upon themselves to administer Cytotec to their patients, many times without the women's informed consent. Clinical trials suggest that Cytotec is effective at "ripening" the cervix and inducing labor.
    "Cytotec enables doctors to practice daylight obstetrics," says Dr. Marsden Wagner, a neonatologist who served for 15 years as a director of women's and children's health in industrialized countries for the World Health Organization. "It means that as a doctor, I can come in at 9 a.m., give you the pill, and by 6 p.m. I've delivered a baby and am home having dinner."
    The Cochrane Collaboration, an international body of independent analysts and physicians that publishes widely respected assessments of drug efficacy, cites numerous reports of uterine rupture and fetal distress involving the drug. "It cannot be recommended for routine use at this stage," the group concluded last year.
    Searle sent out a memo to 200,000 health care providers warning them that "Cytotec administration by any route is contraindicated in women who are pregnant because it can cause abortion." The company noted that the off-label use of Cytotec has resulted in reports of uterine rupture, hysterectomy, and the death of mothers and infants. Without informed consent women and babies are being treated as little more than human guinea pigs. Wagner, the former official with the World Health Organization, notes that Cytotec is not used to induce labor in Europe, and chides American obstetricians for what he calls "vigilante obstetrics."  
     How many injuries from iatrogenic causes must women and babies suffer before we wake up ?
    Thalidomide was introduces 50 years ago and we are still being treated like guinea pigs even in the light of warnings from the best collection of medical and scientific evidence ever known to humankind. Please ask questions and trust your gut. YOU are the best expert of what is safe for you and your baby.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    How To Use Acupressure Points To Induce Labor in Postdates Pregnancy

    *Please note ! Birthwhisperer shares this for your information only. Please consult with your midwife or physician before employing these self-help techniques.

    Many women today face the threat of induction of labor, especially when they are being cared for by a medical provider in pregnancy. Studies have shown that due dates are arbitrary guesses, at best, and that waiting on labor to begin on it's own is the best practice for safe and healthy labor and birth. However,there are times when women may benefit from acupressure to augment natural processes, such as in the case of a stalled labor, or being past 42 weeks, or when being threatened with a medical induction, which carries far more risks to mother and baby than simple acupressure techniques as described above. Many doulas are aware of these points, and that's just one more reason to have a doula at your birth !

    Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk

    Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk 

    An Australian study may show a link between formula feeding and higher diabetes rates among mothers. The study included 53,726 women over age 45. Among those who had never had children, the rate of type 2 diabetes was roughly 5 percent. Women who breastfed each child for more than three months, the rate of diabetes was about 5 percent. Women who had children but had never breastfed, the rate of type 2 diabetes was almost double, 9.5 percent. Among those who started formula before three months, approximately 7 percent said they had diabetes. Read more in this news article .

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    This Just In : Another study confirms that Vaginal Birth After Cesarean is a Reasonable Choice

    A study in the June edition of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology reviews evidence about maternal and neonatal outcomes relating to vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).  The authors identified relevant studies from multiple searches of MEDLINE, DARE and the Cochrane databases (1980 to September 2009) and recent systematic reviews, reference lists, editorials, Web sites and experts.  Overall, there were low rates of maternal harm for both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean delivery.  Maternal mortality rates were higher for elective repeat cesarean delivery at 0.013% compared with 0.004% for trial of labor.  Rates of maternal hysterectomy, hemorrhage and transfusions were similar for both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean delivery.  Perinatal mortality was increased for trial of labor (0.13% compared with 0.05% for elective repeat cesarean delivery.  The study authors concluded that VBAC is a reasonable choice for the majority of wome
    n, since adverse outcomes were rare.  To access the full study online, go to

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Available Online: New RSV Video for Parents

    Available Online: New RSV Video for Parents
    Children's Hospital St. Louis is sharing a new, web-based, two-minute informational video about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In addition to identifying the signs and symptoms of RSV, the video offers prevention tips with useful information. Premature infants are at a greater risk for developing life-threatening complications of RSV, a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. View the video and learn more about RSV on the hospital's "What is RSV" page

    or visit the CDC website here : 

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Breastfeeding Shown To Decrease Incidence of Fever After Immunization

    A recent study conducted at a vaccination center in Naples, Italy evaluated the effects of breastfeeding on the risk for fever after routine immunization. Mothers of babies scheduled to receive routine immunizations were instructed how to measure and record infant temperature on the evening of the vaccination and the next three days.  Information about the incidence of fever was gathered by telephone on the third day after vaccination.  450 infants were included in the study.  Fever was reported for 25% of infants who were exclusively breastfed, 31% of infants who were partially breastfed and 53% of those who were not breastfed.  The authors of this study noted that the protection that breastfeeding provided “persisted even when considering the role of several potential confounders.”  They conclude that, in this study, breastfeeding was shown to be associated with decreased incidence of fever following immunization.  To read the study online, go to

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Childbirth And Spirituality

    A new study has examined childbirth and spirituality.  The study, which appears in the spring edition of the Journal of Perinatal Education, shows that there may be a role for spiritual beliefs in the clinical assessment of women having babies.  The authors recommend that caregivers ask mothers, “Do you have any spiritual beliefs that will help us better care for you?” during their clinical assessment.  Researchers conducted a secondary analysis of published and unpublished narrative data collected over the past 20 years from 250 culturally diverse women.  Themes in the study included:  childbirth a as a time to grow closer to God, the use of religious beliefs and rituals as powerful coping mechanisms, and childbirth as a time to make religion more meaningful.  To access the full study online, go to Childbirth & Spirituality Study.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Acupuncture in Pregnancy Podcast

    Acupuncture is a drug-free therapy well suited to pregnancy. It has a high degree of patient satisfaction, and an increasing body of evidence supporting efficacy for a range of common pregnancy complaints.
    Conditions which may be effectively treated include morning sickness, backache, insomnia, hemorrhoids and exhaustion. Treatment of pelvic girdle pain with acupuncture can be effective in just a few sessions, a condition for which allopathic medicine offers little help.

    There is growing interest and supporting evidence for the use of moxibustion to encourage babies in the breech position to spontaneously turn to a cephalic presentation, to avoid an elective cesarean section. Moxibustion involves heating an acupuncture point at the corner of the little toe (Bl 67) twice a day for 7-10 days.

    Acupuncture may be safely used in pregnancy, although it is important to avoid contraindicated acupuncture points and points that may induce the onset of labor before term.  

    Similarly, babies have benefited greatly from treatment of common conditions such as colic, vomiting, poor sleep, teething and eczema. 

     To access this and other MIDIRS podcasts visit

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Lyndsey's Journey To VBAC

    My Journey to a VBAC from Lindsey Meehleis on Vimeo.

    If a picture paints a thousand words, then this says it ALL.

    I am Kathryn. I am a Doula. I make a Difference.

    I am Kathryn. I am a doula. I make a difference, a beautiful, vital difference.
    I can take the hand of a woman who has not yet walked the path of labor and giving birth, and I can say will all sincerity "I know it is overwhelming. I know it's hard. Every birth is unique, but there are things that every woman who has given birth before have in common. I have walked my own paths path of labor and birth, and I will walk yours with you now. I can show you some of the ledges and roadblocks, and I know some detours. Look into my eyes and know that I have personally experienced many of the things you are feeling right now and I can completely sympathize with you. I have felt the power of babies moving through and out of my own body and into my arms. I have nursed babies at my breast. You are not alone in what you are feeling. I will not leave you. Come now, and let's walk this path together."

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy Associated With Impaired Fetal Length

     Caffeine intake of 6 or more units per day during pregnancy is associated with impaired fetal length growth, according to the results of a cohort study reported online April 28 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
    "Caffeine is a widely used and accepted pharmacologically active substance," write Rachel Bakker, from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues from the Generation R Study. "The effect of caffeine intake during pregnancy on fetal growth and development is still unclear."

    The goal of the study was to evaluate the associations of maternal caffeine intake from coffee and tea with fetal growth measured during each trimester of pregnancy and with the risks for adverse birth outcomes. From 2001 to 2005, a total of 7346 pregnant women in the Netherlands participated in a population-based prospective cohort study from early pregnancy onward.

    Questionnaires were used to determine coffee and tea consumption in the first, second, and third trimesters. Serial ultrasound studies allowed determination of fetal growth characteristics, and hospital record review allowed determination of birth outcomes.

    A regular serving of 125 mL of coffee in the Netherlands contains approximately 90 mg of caffeine (caffeinated), decaffeinated coffee contains 3 mg, and tea contains 45 mg per 125-mL serving. This was used as the standard for calculation of daily caffeine consumption. Each unit of caffeine exposure was based on 1 cup of coffee (90 mg of caffeine), and total caffeine intake was categorized as less than 2 units, 2 to 3.9 units, 4 to 5.9 units, and 6 or more units per day.

    Caffeine consumption was not consistently associated with fetal head circumference or with estimated fetal weight in any trimester. In contrast, higher caffeine consumption was associated with smaller first-trimester crown-rump length, second- and third-trimester femur length, and birth length (P for trend < .05). The risk of having a small-for-gestational-age infant at birth was increased in mothers who consumed at least 6 caffeine units per day.

    "Our results suggest that caffeine intake of ≥6 units/d during pregnancy is associated with impaired fetal length growth," the study authors write. "Caffeine exposure might preferentially adversely affect fetal skeletal growth. Further studies are needed to assess these associations in non-European populations and to assess the postnatal consequences."

    Limitations of this study include observational design with possible residual confounding; and missing data on coffee and tea consumption, which may have led to loss of power.
    "Length- or skeletal-related fetal growth characteristics seemed to be most consistently affected from the first trimester onward," the study authors conclude. "Further structural and functional studies are needed to assess organ-specific effects. Our results suggest that pregnant women should be advised to not consume ≥6 caffeine units (.540 mg) per day during pregnancy."

    The Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) financially supported the first phase of the Generation R Study. One of the study authors was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online April 28, 2010.

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    Birth Takes Time !

    Birthwhisperer finds it mildly amusing that it takes an MD, PhD to explain what midwives and women have known for years, BIRTH TAKES TIME !

    Friedman's Curve, the so-called gold standard for rates of cervical dilation and fetal descent during active labor, was developed almost 50 years ago, and is a completely worthless and obsolete method of defining safe and healthy labor. Every labor and birth are unique and women should be given adequate time to allow their labors to unfold and progress at their own pace. Every obstetrician should heed the words of their colleague on this video. And when it is time for your baby to be born, don't let anyone rush you. Trust birth.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Pain vs Suffering In Labor & Birth

    In this video, Doula and author Penny Simkin contrasts the concepts of pain and suffering in labor and birth. When I teach prepared childbirth classes, I like to talk about how labor often involves "pain with a purpose." Pain in labor signals the mother that it is time to get to a safe place to birth. If the mother is open to the sensations of labor and tunes in to her body, the pain of labor can help to guide her in moving and assuming certain postures that facilitate the process of labor, helping the baby descend through her pelvis. Pain is purposeful.

    Pain in labor can be anticipated. Since you know it is coming, you can plan your strategy by choosing your favorite coping techniques. Many women find that massage, movement, visualization, relaxation and hydrotherapy work very well. Experiment and find what works for you,

    The pain of labor is intermittent. You have periods of relaxation between contractions. In active labor, there are about 15 minutes of contractions and 45 minutes of rest per hour. Maximizing the periods of rest are key to avoiding fatigue in labor.

    And finally, pain in labor is completely normal. Because we think of pain as being associated with injury or illness, it can help to reframe the way be think about pain in labor. Birth is a normal physiological process of the female body. Nothing is wrong or abnormal. Just as there is some discomfort associated with running a marathon, so is there with giving birth. If we work with our body's signals and surrender to the process, we can prevent pain from turning into suffering.

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    YOU have a choice !

    Hear the voices of birthing families talk about the choices they made for their births and why they made them. Contrast that with the information that the L&D nurse shares in the beginning of the video.
    Is birth a medical event or a normal physiological process ?
    Is pregnancy a pathological state or a healthy state of being ?
    Are birthing women passive victims of labor, or can they be powerful, present and in control ?
    You have a choice.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Happy International Day of the Midwife !

    It's International Midwife Day, and sadly, here in the state of NC, women do not yet have legal access to a Certified Professional Midwife. The above video was made by women in Alabama to raise awareness about the need for access to a qualified attendant for out of hospital birth. Studies have shown that home birth with a trained midwife is as safe or even safer than hospital birth. In my town, women enter a hospital to give birth and 42% of them have their babies surgically delivered and if they conceive again, they are denied access to a VBAC, or Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, even though studies show it is safer than a repeat cesarean.

    I hope that the climate is better in your community, but if it isn't make your voice heard and demand the quality of care you deserve.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Every Woman Deserves a Doula

    Since May is "doula month" I have posted another video offering that highlights the value of having a doula for your birth. A doula is the only person, besides a woman's partner, who is there just for her. The doula provides continuous support from start to finish. She doesn't change shifts. She doesn't have other patients to care for. She is completely and utterly focused on you.

    A great doula is a benefit to the other members of the birth team as well. Since she does not provide a clinical role, she frees the medical team to focus on the clinical aspects of their roles. She helps to make the mother calm and comfortable.
    She facilitates communication between the mother and her clinical caregivers.

    I hope you will consider giving birth with a doula, because when you are supported and cared for, you will be better equipped to care for your new baby.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    What DO DOULAS Do ?

    Doulas give support.

    What is Support ? Support is unconditional. Support is letting a woman know that you are there for her, and that your acceptance of her does not depend on your expectation of her behavior or choices.

    Support is listening, and not offering advice unless you are asked. Support is helping a woman work through her own feelings, emotions and choices at her own pace.

    Support is caring, offering a touch, a hug, a smile. Support is showing you care in personalized ways, like finding out what makes her feel safe and cared for, or making her favorite food.

    Support is helping women identify their options, not telling them which options to take.

    Support is helping women discover their own God-given abilities and strengths in birth. Support is reaffirming a woman's value as a beautifully unique creature who has been gifted and equipped by a loving God to give birth to her baby.

    Support is reminding women that they can make informed choices about the environment in which they will give birth, and the the caregivers who will attend her.

    Support is sharing your knowledge and experience with compassion and sincerity.

    Support is what Doulas do !

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    Kathleen Kendall-Tacket talks about Breastfeeding Made Simple

    In this fascinating interview, Dr. Kendall-Tackett talks about the Seven Natural Laws of Breastfeeding and how to keep it simple !

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Get Me Out : A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank

    Randi Hutter Epstein, MD has done a fabulous job of cataloging a brief and bizarre history of birth in Western Civilization.

    Did you know that :

    There was a time in the 1900's when feminists demanded their right to be completely knocked out with drugs for delivery ?

    History bears clues about how women and their doctors view health and disease ?

    In 1522, a German doctor was sentanced to death when he was caught dressing as a woman and sneaking into the delivery room ?

    In 16th century France, pregnant women rarely left the house after dark because they were told that if they looked up at the moon, their babies would become lunatics or sleepwalkers ?

    That Soranus was a famous Greek physician who wrote the definitive book on gynecology in the second century that became THE leading text for the next thousand years ?

    Many of the earliest women's health books were written by MONKS, the very people that you would think would have the least use for such information ?

    That the blockbuster pregnancy guide of the Middle Ages was penned by Dr. Eucharius Rosslin, a government doctor who was responsible for licensing midwives. No matter that he never saw a baby born, he published a book called "The Rode Garden for Women & Midwives" published in 1513 and translated into at least five languages. it was a best seller for 200 years. In it, he wrote this poem: 

    "I'm talking about the midwives all
    Whose heads are empty as a hall
    And through their dreadful negligence
    Cause babies' deaths deviod of sense
    So thus we see far and about
    Official murder, there's no doubt"

    That Peter Chamberlen, the inventor of forceps published, in 1647, a diatribe against midwives called "Voice in Rhama, The Crie of Women and Children" claiming that midwives were ignorant and wreaked havock on childbirth. After he retired from being an obstetrician, her hid the original Cahmberlin forceps under the floor of his country mansion, trying to preserve the secret, forever. 

    That Italians invented the silliest device of all, do-it-yourself-forceps. The fad never took off...

    That in 1836 The Lancet, a British medical journal claimed that rotten breastmilk leaked down and caused the deaths of thousands of women who were really dying of childbed fever, an infection caused by doctors going from woman to woman in maternity wards and not washing their hands. 

    These amazing tidbits don't even begin to scratch the surface of the wealth of "truth is stranger than fiction"  in this fascinating book. If you have any interest in how modern maternity care came to be, this book will perplex, shock and entertain you, Birthwhisperer promises ! 

    Whether you are an expectant woman or a birth professional, this book will not disappoint. I think it would make for a great documentary film.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Maternal Deaths On The Rise In The US And Canada, While Decreasing in Other Countries

    Maternal mortality data show accelerated decreases in China, Egypt, Ecuador, and Bolivia, but very alarming increases in the United States, Canada according to the results of a database analysis reported online April 12 in The Lancet.
    In the United States, there was an increase of 42% from 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 17 in 2008, which is more than double the rate in the United Kingdom, 3-fold the rate in Australia, and 4-fold the rate in Italy.

    Carol Sakala, PhD, MSPH, Director of Programs for Childbirth Connection, and co-author of Evidence-Based Maternity Care, spoke with Medscape ( ) about childbirth in the United States, and the Transforming Maternity Care project.

    Medscape: Although many women say they want a "natural" birth, most still choose obstetricians for maternity care, rather than midwives or family-practice physicians. Do you think that women are adequately informed about the differences between the obstetrician's view and the midwife's view of birth?
    Dr. Sakala: Differences do exist in the practice styles of obstetricians, family physicians, and midwives. It is also important to recognize that practice style can vary greatly within these groups. It's a complicated situation. Consideration must also be given to differences in the make-up of their respective case loads.
    That said, most childbearing women are healthy and at low risk and have good reason to expect an uncomplicated childbirth. In the Milbank report, we support providing "effective care with least harm." For healthy women and newborns, this means avoiding invasive interventions with potential adverse effects whenever possible; and promoting, protecting, and supporting women's and newborns' innate capacity for birth, breastfeeding, and attachment.
    However, the present maternity care system has quite a few incentives for technology-intensive childbirth. As a result, 6 of the 10 most common hospital procedures are performed on the largely healthy population of childbearing women and newborns. We know from our national Listening to Mothers surveys that this style of childbirth is now the norm for nearly all women who give birth in US hospitals.

    Medscape: If you had a wish for the future of maternity healthcare, what would it be?
    Dr. Sakala: I’d like to answer this question by paraphrasing the final paragraph from the Transforming Maternity Care Vision paper, and I encourage Medscape readers to read that paper and the blueprint as well, and consider becoming involved in blueprint implementation.
    In describing the vision, the Vision Team says that:
    The 2020 Vision for a High-Quality, High-Value Maternity Care System will be actualized through concerted multi-stakeholder efforts ensuring that all women and babies are served by a maternity care system that delivers safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable, woman- and family-centered maternity care. The US will rank at the top among industrialized nations in key maternal and infant health indicators, and will achieve global recognition for its transformative leadership.
     It is the opinion of Birthwhisperer, that the failure of every community in the US to ensure that women have access to practitioners who practice the according to a midwifery model vs a medical model
    is much to blame for the fact that many more women are dying in pregnancy and birth.

    When choosing a maternity care giver, give careful consideration to whether or not he or she views pregnancy and birth as normal healthy physiological states, as opposed to the view that they are states of being, fraught with dangers from which a woman should be medically "delivered."

    As a clever women once said "Pizza is delivered, grapefruit is sectioned, but women give birth !"