Sunday, December 21, 2008

Herbal Tea Helps Boost Breastmilk Production

I finally made it to the health food store yesterday and I bought this herbal tea made by Yogi Tea. It's called Woman's Nursing Mom, and on the package it claims to help boost breastmilk production. I brought it home and made myself a cup of it last night. After just one cup of this tea I was able to nurse my baby 3 times in the same time period I would normally be able to nurse her once.

This tea has Chamomile Flower, Fennel Seed, Stinging Nettle Leaf, Anise Seed, Fenugreek Seed and English Lavendar Flower.

The tea smells strongly of licorice (from the Anise seed), and has a strong licorice taste. I added lots of honey to it because I don't like licorice and wanted to mask the taste as much as possible. I'll just keep adding honey to it, because so far it's well worth it for the benefits.

You should be able to get this tea at most health food stores, and it's also available to purchase online. even has packages of 6 boxes for about $18, which is an excellent price. I paid about $5 for one box, and there are 16 tea bags in each box. I plan to drink it once a day, and hopefully it will continue to boost my milk production.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Update and Herbal Tea Info

I'm 11 weeks pregnant today, so I'm almost to the second trimester! I'm feeling better than I did a few weeks ago. I don't get nauseated nearly as much as I used to. I'm not feeling starved quite so much, and my breastmilk supply is still hanging in there. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I've been watching myself closely to make sure I'm eating at least every 2 hours or any time I feel the hunger pains, and I started drinking this herbal tea blend that my midwife recommended. It's a blend of Red Raspberry, Alfalfa, Nettle, Oatstraw, Borage, Fennel, and Peppermint. It's called Sherri's Morningstar Tea because my midwife has it packaged and sold at a local health food store for the cost to make it. She recommends drinking it every day throughout pregnancy, rather than taking a multivitamin. I have a prenatal multivitamin that my obstetrician prescribed for me that has always worked well for me, and I'm taking that as well as drinking the tea. I feel I need any extra help I can get right now, and it is helping. The tea even seems to help my milk production a little bit. I've noticed on the days I drink more of the tea I tend to have a little bit more milk for my baby to drink, and that is a definite plus.

I don't like the taste of Red Raspberry tea, but I've been told about how excellent it is for good health, particularly during pregnancy. Sherri's tea has a strong taste of Red Raspberry, but if I put enough honey in it I don't mind the taste at all. It's pretty pleasant to drink with the honey.

As far as milk production goes, my doula has been telling me for a few years about a tea blend called Mother's Milk Tea that she drinks whenever she is nursing a baby. She says it's the best thing to boost milk production. I really want to try it, and I plan on buying some the next time I can get to the health food store. We have had several consecutive heavy snow storms recently, and for now I'm not venturing out anywhere that's not absolutely necessary. Once the road conditions improve, however, I plan to go to the health food store and get some of that tea.

Another thing my midwife recommended is that I snack on trail mix between meals. I have a premade mix from the store that's pretty good, but has a lot of chocolate in it and it's not the most healthy. I absolutely love chocolate, but I don't want to eat it all day long. What I want to do is go to Good Earth Natural Foods to their bulk foods section and get bags of my favorite grains, nuts and dried fruits to put together my own trail mix blend of my favorite things. Yum!

In the meantime, my good friend Heather brought over some of her homemade Holiday Granola for me to snack on. It's really good, and she posted the recipe on her blog. I suggest you try it out, whether or not you're pregnant!

Despite the exhaustion and constant need for food, which I know will subside as time goes on, I'm enjoying my pregnancy. I'm having fun finding healthy things to eat and trying new things, like the tea and the granola. I'm happy to be venturing into a new path for me, working with a wonderful midwife and planning a home birth. I still feel very positive and peaceful about these plans, and I feel so blessed to be able to do this. I simply feel blessed and grateful to have been given the opportunity to have birthed 4 amazing babies with another one coming. I love being a mother and I'm so happy to be able to fulfill this important part of my life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Study Shows Epidurals Can Stall Labor

I've heard rumors and read several books that have stated that epidurals can stall the progress of labor. Here is a Danish study which has found that to be true. The study included 2810 women each expecting a single baby (no twins).

"Vaginal examinations at admission provide useful information on risk indicators for dystocia. The strongest risk indicator was use of epidural analgesia and if part of that is causal, it is of concern."

Some characteristics they found related to labor dystocia (slow or stalled labor) were poor cervical presentation, including dilation less than 4 cm, tense cervix, thick lower segment, poor positioning of the baby (baby's head above inter-spinal diameter, poor fetal head to cervix contact), and the use of epidural analgesia.

I would like to point out that all of the above characteristics (with the exception of the epidural) are generally indications that the baby is simply not ready to come out. If the baby is in a poor position, such as high in the birth canal, or the cervix is not dilated or thinned, it's a strong hint that the baby is just not coming out any time soon. There are things that can be done to correct poor baby positioning (see my post about Posterior Positions), as well as things that can be done to help thin the cervix and augment labor naturally. If these do not yield more progress, then it may just be a good idea to wait and let your body and the baby prepare more and get ready for birth. Contrary to some current obstetric beliefs, there is no set time table for labor. Some women labor for just a few hours, while others (myself included) may labor for a few days or more. Women's bodies are made to birth babies and most of the time can do that in their own time unaided by medical intervention.

There are times that intervention is needed. For instance, when the bag of waters has ruptured there is a limited time that the baby needs to be born in order to avoid infection, but that is generally 24-36 hours and can still give a woman's body time to work and birth the baby. There are other instances, but I believe in most cases intervention is not needed, and in the case of epidurals, intervention actually can stall labor and make things more difficult.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ABC 20/20 Motherhood Special Rescheduled

I recorded tonight's episode of 20/20 expecting it to be a special about motherhood that I mentioned in an earlier post. Sadly, the episode wasn't the one I was expecting, and was about other topics. According to the Business of Being Born newsroom, the special was originally slated to air on November 7, but I've been unable to find any record of it on the 20/20 website. Last week on their website it appeared they would air the episode tonight. It now appears the episode has been rescheduled for January 2nd. In the meantime, you can read the ABC News article entitled Mothers-To-Be Saying No To Modern Medicine, which gives a brief preview of the motherhood special. I'm excited to record and watch the special, and see how it turns out!

Some Perspective

I'm not the kind of person who likes to get in people's faces and tell them what they should do. I generally avoid confrontation, and tend to quietly hold my feelings to myself.

Choosing a home birth was an easy choice for me with this pregnancy. It seemed like a natural step, and I immediately felt immense peace about my decision and knew it was right for me to plan this for my baby's birth. The hard part for me has been telling other people about my decision. I've been so afraid to even approach my close friends and family because I've been worried they would criticize me and try to talk me out of it. So far I've received more support than criticism, and I'm grateful for that. I think part of this journey for me is to help me develop some thicker skin and learn to stand my ground on the things that are most important to me, despite what anyone else thinks. I usually do what I want no matter what anyone else says, especially if they tell me not to do it, just because that's one of my strong personality traits. But, I generally just do it quietly without letting on that I'm going against the norm. I can't stay quiet about this.

I don't believe home birth is right for everyone. I don't believe natural (un-medicated) birth is right for everyone. I wasn't ready to do natural birth or home birth with my first baby, and here I am expecting my fifth and finally fulfilling my dream of a water birth. Many times when someone supports natural home birth they stay on that extreme side and tend to argue that everyone should do it that way. I don't feel that way. I feel I have a somewhat unique perspective in supporting women in whatever birth choices they make.

Some of my opinions expressed in my blog may seem extreme. I feel that in the United States we are inundated with medical information about childbirth from the medical community's perspective. Part of my goal with this blog is to offer alternatives that might otherwise be more difficult to learn about. There's a wealth of information advocating hospital births and medications, and not so much that supports natural birth and home birth. In some ways I'm trying to help even the playing field by presenting information so women can make informed decisions about their prenatal care and birthing options. I want all women to realize that they have options and to educate themselves about those options so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Abby & Ricki Visit Ina May's Midwife Farm

Ina May Gaskin is a well-known midwife and natural birth advocate. She has written many books about pregnancy and childbirth. She has a midwifery farm in Tennessee which has been set up specifically for women to birth their babies. Women come from all over the United States to give birth at the farm. They can come to the farm with their family near their due date and stay to give birth and rest afterward. The midwives there care for the mothers and babies, and in the event that a hospital birth is needed, they make the transfer smoothly to a nearby hospital.

In some states in the US Certified Professional Midwives and home births are illegal. Women from those states who want a home birth often choose to stay at Ina May's farm.

Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, creators of the documentary film, the Business of Being Born are working on their next film, and decided to visit Ina May's farm for part of their filming. Ina May's book Spiritual Midwifery was a great inspiration for the original film, and it's fitting that they are including her work in their next film. Abby documented their trip on the BOBB blog. Please take a moment to read; it's very interesting!

Monday, December 8, 2008

My First Prenatal Visit With a Midwife

I need to make a correction. I thought my midwife was a Certified Professional Midwife, but she is actually a Direct Entry Midwife. This means she is not licensed with the state. I'm fine with this, because I still feel she has the training, expertise and experience necessary for my prenatal care and my baby's birth. She prefers not to be licensed because our state has many laws which actually restrict what midwives are allowed to do, and she would rather have the freedom to practice without those restrictions.

With that said, I just got done with my first prenatal visit with my midwife, and it was a wonderful experience. My midwife likes to do the first prenatal visit at the client's home, which I think is great. At each visit she does a urinalysis and checks blood pressure and the baby's heartbeat. She doesn't do routine vaginal exams, but will do them at the client's request. I'm just fine with that as well! She does not do routine lab tests (blood test, glucose tolerance test, etc.) which is OK with me. I've had the routine tests with all of my previous pregnancies and have always had normal results from them. I'm not worried about any abnormalities or problems, and I don't feel the need to test for them. She does prenatal checkups at the same intervals as a physician would: once a month until about 26 weeks, then every two weeks until about 36 weeks, and then once a week until the baby is born.

My midwife does not feel the need to have a specific backup obstetrician. She says that in a true emergency in which the mother is transferred to the hospital, you will be left to the physician on duty at the time, and in a true emergency, any physician will have the expertise needed. In a less pressing emergency you may have time to call the various hospitals and find out who is on duty and choose your location based on which physician you prefer to have.

We talked for about an hour and a half. I have never had a prenatal visit with a physician last more than about 10 to 15 minutes. I loved it. Because of my passion for this subject, I was thrilled to have the chance to pick someone's brain and ask all the questions I could think of. She is just as passionate as I am, if not more, and seemed more than happy to talk with me, although it ended up being a late night for her as a result.

My midwife cautioned me about approaching my obstetrician with my home birth plans. I want to have an ultrasound with an obstetrician covered by my insurance. This is more for sentimental reasons than medical. All of my kids have tape recordings and printed pictures of their ultrasounds, and I'd like to have that record for this baby as well. I also like being able to determine the baby's gender positively in an ultrasound, so that's a nice added benefit. My midwife is concerned that my physician may be opposed to home birth and tell me horror stories and try to talk me out of it. I'm not worried about losing my resolve, but I really don't like confrontation. I haven't decided yet if I'll go for one visit and an ultrasound and pretend to be moving forward with my OB, or if I should be completely open about my home birth plans and be prepared to develop some very thick skin. My husband feels I should be completely up-front with my OB, and I'm leaning toward that option at this moment. My doctor has been excellent in working with me with my plans for natural birth and has worked well with my doula, but being open to un-medicated birth is not quite the same as being open to home birth. I have some time to figure it out, so I'll think about it for a while.

I've also decided not to hire a doula for this birth. My midwife has several apprentices, and one of them attends each birth with her. Each of her apprentices is a certified doula and is training as a midwife, so they are more than qualified to assist with the birth. When I birthed my babies in the hospital I needed a doula to act as my support and comfort, as well as be my advocate with the hospital staff and doctor to ensure that my birth wishes were followed. I feel I will have the support and comfort needed with my midwife, her assistant, and my husband there, and I won't have the need for an advocate because I won't be in a hospital setting.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Excellent Story on about Home Birth vs. Hospital Birth

I would love to imbed the video of this ABC story here in my blog, but couldn't find a way to do it. Please check this out: The Business of At-Home Births on The story was done in June 2008 when some of the big controversy between Ricki Lake and the American Medical Association was rising up. It's really well done, and I think it presents the different sides effectively. Please watch the video all the way to the end, because there is an obstetrician they interview at the end who offers some good information about home birth.

Please set your TiVo, DVR or VCR for your local ABC channel this Friday, December 12. 20/20 will be doing an hour-long special on motherhood. It will include interviews with Ricki Lake and other natural childbirth advocates. ABC has stated it will present both sides equally, and I'm very interested to see how it turns out. It airs at 9:00 pm MST. I think that's 11/10 Central. Please check your local listings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Choosing a Prenatal Caregiver: Doctor or Midwife?

I have read countless books about pregnancy and childbirth. Each one I've read that has a section about choosing a caregiver has stressed the importance of choosing the right one for what you want. Most often, the caregiver you choose will also determine the location where you will birth your baby, and vice versa. Your caregiver also has a large impact on how your pregnancy and childbirth are handled and any interventions that are likely to be made. I have a list of excellent books on the right side of this page that you can refer to for suggestions on interviewing and choosing a caregiver that is right for you, so I won't go into great detail here about it here, unless I get feedback asking for more information.

Here's a brief description of the types of pregnancy caregivers:
  • Obstetrician - Surgeon by trade, trained specifically to handle high-risk pregnancies. Only delivers in hospitals. Services are almost always covered by insurance. Is accountable to the hospitals at which they work, and must follow all birth procedures outlined by the AMA and hospitals.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife - Trained specifically for pregnancy and childbirth. Handles low-risk pregnancies . Must transfer high-risk cases to an OB. Can deliver in hospitals or birthing centers. Services are generally covered by insurance, depending on your plan and limitations within it. Is accountable to the hospitals and birthing centers at which they work, and must follow all birth procedures outlined by the AMA and hospitals.
  • Certified Professional Midwife - Trained specifically for pregnancy and childbirth. Handles low-risk pregnancies. Must transfer high-risk cases to an OB. Only delivers at home or in a specific setting provided for birth without the equipment provided at a birthing center. Services are almost never covered by insurance, but many CPM's are willing to negotiate costs and possibly trade for their services because they understand the financial burden on families. Licensed and certified with the state, and must follow state laws and guidelines regarding birth procedures.
  • Direct Entry Midwife (sometimes referred to as a "lay midwife") - Trained specifically for pregnancy and childbirth. Handles low-risk pregnancies. Must transfer high-risk cases to an OB. Only delivers at home or in a specific setting provided for birth without the equipment provided at a birthing center. Services are almost never covered by insurance, but many DEM's are willing to negotiate costs and possibly trade for their services because they understand the financial burden on families. Unlicensed, which allows more flexibility in birth procedures because they are not constrained by state guidelines.
You should definitely consider where you want to birth your baby when choosing a caregiver. It's a good idea to have a list of questions prepared before meeting with your caregiver for the first time. Suggestions for questions are listed in many books, such as "Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn" and "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth". Do your research and have a good idea of your birth preferences so that you can discuss these with your caregiver and get a feel for how willing he or she is in working with you to achieve the birth you desire. It's OK to discuss your birth preferences with a caregiver you've already been working with, but if your caregiver seems resistance to your wishes or unwilling to work with you, you may want to consider finding one that is more open to your wishes. This is YOUR choice!

My Decision:
I tend to go by feeling rather than facts or statistics. I find it tedious to interview several caregivers, but that's just my personal standpoint. I have chosen a Direct Entry Midwife because I know I want to birth at home. I am blessed to know a DEM who is a client of my husband's, and she had actually offered her services to me in my last pregnancy, but I wasn't ready to make the switch from OB to midwife or hospital to home at that time. She has 10 children of her own, and 15 years of experience with home births, and she is also willing to work with us in trading for most of her services to help keep costs down. I have talked with her on the phone, but not met with her personally yet. I get a good feeling about her, and that goes a long way for me. My husband also knows her very well and has a good working relationship with her, and that also goes a long way for me. I feel strongly that everyone present at my baby's birth should be able to work together well and as a team. I will meet with her next week and schedule my first prenatal checkup at that time. If at any point during the pregnancy I don't feel right about working with her, I am open to choosing a different caregiver. Afterall, this my pregnancy, my baby, and my choice.