Friday, July 31, 2009

Breastfeeding Best for Mom & Baby

"Nature has intended that babies would be fed breast milk, and the body is made exactly to produce the perfect food for babies. And breastfeeding is recommend for all babies."

I'm so proud of my local news for airing more stories about pregnancy, childbirth and babies. This particular article focuses on breastfeeding and the benefits for mother and baby:

Breastfeeding Best for Mom & Baby

At the end of the article there is a link to Baby Your Baby, which can be a valuable resource for expectant parents, offering information on breastfeeding and other pregnancy concerns.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Waterbirth - Myths and Realities

Thanks to a fellow doula, I found this very informative article about water birth. I think it's a wonderful resource and answers a lot of common questions that people have about water birth. Please take a few minutes to read through it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lactation Cookies

These cookies are supposed to help boost milk production. From what I heard, the oats and yeast are what help so much. I figure it can be fun to eat cookies and boost milk supply at the same time! Enjoy!


1 C butter or non-dairy buttery spread (ex. Earth Balance)
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
4 T water
2 T flaxseed meal (no subs)
2 Lg eggs
or Vegan Option 1: 3 teaspoons of Egg Replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons of water
or Vegan Option 2: 4 teaspoons of flaxseeds mixed with 4 tablespoons of water

1 t vanilla
2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
3 C Thick cut oats
1 C Chocolate chips
2 T to 4T Brewers Yeast (no substitutions)


Preheat oven at 375.

Mix 2 T of flaxseed meal and water, set aside 3-5 minutes.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs or vegan substitutes.
Stir flaxseed mix into butter mix and add vanilla.
Beat until well blended.
Sift: dry ingredients, except oats and choc chips.
Add butter mix to dry ingredients.
Stir in the oats and then the choc chips.
Drop on parchment paper on baking sheet.
Bake 8-12 minutes

I found this recipe on: Facebook: BirthDiva LLC

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Home Water Birth Breech Delivery of Liam

By the time I received the surprising news that I was pregnant with my fifth baby, I had given birth to two of my babies in the hospital completely medicated and to the other two in the hospital without any medication. I had learned a lot about my body, mind, and spirit, and what they are capable of. I had worked with a doula to achieve the natural birth I had always wanted, and I had even started the process of training to become a birth doula myself. At the time I was reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and birth. I felt like a sponge. I had discovered a deep passion and I was soaking up every bit of information I could.

In my studies I had learned about the option of home birth. It was something I had never considered before in my life because I didn't know until then how safe and wonderful it could be. I knew then that I had some options I had never even thought about with my previous pregnancies. I had always been interested in water birth (giving birth in a tub of warm water), but it was not an option in the hospital because of the policies in place. Even after the birth of my fourth child I had felt a sense that something was still missing from my birth experiences. I felt that home birth would fill that void. As I thought about my options, the idea of a water birth at home gave me great peace. The peace I felt surprised me, but I welcomed it. I prayed about planning to birth my baby at home, and that resounding peace filled my soul. That peace stayed with me throughout my entire pregnancy. I never felt fear about my choice to birth at home.

Along my journey I had been blessed to meet people with wonderful skills. Through his work in massage therapy, my husband had gotten to know a midwife who specialized in home birth, and had been working in that field for 15 years. I called her and we started meeting regularly for prenatal visits and monthly forum meetings at her home. She did all of the clinical work that my obstetrician had done at the prenatal visits, but she also offered emotional support that I had never experienced with a birth care provider before. Over the months my midwife and I developed a close bond and friendship that I had never expected. I was able to meet all of her birth attendants (all trained birth doulas who were either midwifery apprentices or midwives themselves), and to familiarize myself with the people who would be at my baby's birth.

I went to my obstetrician's office three times in my pregnancy for various medical tests that my midwife didn't offer (such as an ultrasound). I knew which medical screenings and tests I wanted and didn't want, and I knew my reasons for choosing them or declining them, and I felt informed and comfortable in my decisions. I felt that I got the best of both worlds on my own terms.

My children had already started to become familiar with birth terms and concepts from the many times I read about and talked about pregnancy and birth with my friends. My older children had started asking me questions about what the terms meant and I answered their questions in simple ways that they could understand. They were interested and I decided to use that curiosity to teach them. I didn't know whether I wanted my children to witness the birth, but I knew I wanted them to be prepared for it. I didn't want them to be scared and I hoped they would understand what was happening whether they were present in the room for the birth or not. I wanted them to understand what we were planning and why, especially because it was so different from what most people in our society do.

As the baby's due date came close, my husband and I worked to organize our home to avoid unnecessary clutter and chaos. We tried to foster an environment of peace and love. It was difficult at times with four rambunctious children, but we worked together, prayed often as a family and worked hard to turn the moments of chaos and confusion into bonding times in changing those moods into positive moments.

I had several days of early labor, spread out over more than a week. The contractions were mild and I could walk and talk through them and go about my day. I started to feel very anxious about having my baby, and at times I got frustrated when the contractions would stop for a day or so. My mood was all over the place. I had never experienced such violent mood swings before, and my husband was a life saver in helping me calm down. My midwife assured me that the mood swings were a symptom of the hormonal changes my body was experiencing while preparing for the birth. What was good for labor was hard on my family. I tried to used this time to make peace with myself and resolve any emotional issues that came up.

While driving to my midwife's home for a prenatal visit the day before the due date, I was thinking about having my children witness the birth. I had been hoping to birth in the middle of the night while everyone slept. For the first time I felt a strong desire to have them there. I felt it would be a special bonding experience for our family, and I decided I would like to have my two oldest children at the birth. I decided to see how labor played out and go with the flow, with the hope that they would be able to be there.

At the visit my midwife checked my cervix and found I was dilated to a 1 and my cervix was soft. She did some things to try and help stimulate labor naturally, and she was able to help stretch my cervix to a tight 3. We discovered that the baby's head seemed to be in front of the cervix, rather than on top of it. It was not lined up properly. She recommended some positioning (such as knee-chest) to try to move the baby out of his position and encourage him to move into a favorable position by alternating the downward and upright positions. I used these positions over the next few days, hoping the baby would move where he needed to be for labor to progress well.

About four days after the due date, my midwife brought the birth tub to our house and we set it up in our bedroom. My midwife checked the baby's heartbeat and the kids all got to hear it, with grins and wide eyes. She also checked my cervix and found it was dilated to a 4, almost a 5, and 80% effaced. After she left, my contractions gradually started to build in intensity and frequency. It was evening and I was cautiously hopeful that we would have a baby sometime that night or the next morning. I stayed busy doing things around the house, doing whatever I could think of to prepare and keep my mind off of the growing pressure. I called my midwife to let her know what was happening, and she suggested I go for a walk and call her back if things changed. I walked through the neighborhood around midnight and the contractions started coming every two minutes. I could still walk through them, but it was becoming less comfortable to do so. I called my midwife and she started on her way to our home.

My midwife arrived and my husband helped her set up her things as I moved about the house doing what I could to help and get comfortable. She checked me and found my cervix was at a 5. I was completely calm, able to move about freely as I wanted to. I had my birth ball in our front room, and would lean my torso against it in a kneeling position during each contraction. I was using focused breathing through them at this point, but was managing well without needing additional support. Our 18 month-old fell out of bed and woke up, and I held her as I labored for a while. We all decided to lie down and try to rest while my contractions were so manageable, and get her back to sleep. By the time the contractions were strong enough to wake me I was focusing intently on breathing through them, and my little one was asleep. She was placed back in her bed and I got into the birth tub. At some point my midwife checked me again and I was dilated to a 7. She called her attendant to come assist.

As I stepped into the warm water, the pressure seemed to completely melt away and I felt instant relief. My husband sat behind the tub as I leaned against the back of it. He held my hands to support my arms, and pressed some acupressure points to alleviate the pain. It worked wonders. It seemed to me that my contractions were slowing down and much less intense, and my midwife assured me that I was still having them, but feeling them much less because of the water. Between contractions we chatted and enjoyed each others company, and during contractions I closed my eyes and focused while my husband held me and pressed the points on my hands. The next time my midwife checked, I was dilated to a 9. We were elated, and anxious to have a baby! She stepped out to talk with her attendant and my husband and I talked about how this was the easiest birth by far, and how wonderful it was to be at home and for everything to be so calm and comfortable.

When my midwife came back in to see if it was time to push yet, she found that my cervix had started to close back up! I was back to a 7, and my cervix was swollen and hard. We were perplexed and disappointed. We had no idea why my body had gone backwards. We talked about our options. If I had energy we could try some things (like walking and going up and down the stairs) to get things going. I was tired, and we all decided to lie down and try to rest. My husband laid down behind me to press on my sacrum during contractions to help relieve the pressure in my back. It felt good to breathe deeply in and moan as I exhaled, and I slept between the contractions. My water broke a little bit when I was in bed, and my midwife broke it the rest of the way for me.

The kids started waking up and the midwife's attendant helped them get cereal and keep them busy for a little while. I sat on the birth stool to encourage progress and allow gravity to help. My husband pressed on my sacrum and my midwife applied counter pressure on my hips. My children helped by placing their hands on me or stroking my feet. We soon realized that our littlest one was upset and confused about why mommy couldn't give her attention. We called grandma and asked her to take the kids, but the oldest two wanted to stay and help. We promised to call them back home when the baby was ready to come out. I got back into the birth tub in an upright position and my husband pressed on my back.

It was only about 20 minutes after the kids left that my midwife checked me and found I was at a 9. We called the kids and the older two came home. I was finally able to push, and my kids stood at the side of the tub while my husband sat behind my head and supported my back. It felt good to stretch my body out as long as I could and arch my back. The urge to push wasn't as strong as I remembered it being with my other births, and I had to will myself to push harder than the urge.

With the first really good push it felt to me that the baby's head was about to come out, but it went back in. My midwife asked me to stop while she cleaned some stool out of the water. She soon realized it was meconium from the baby and wondered why there was so much of it. When she checked, she found that it wasn't the baby's head that was about to come out, but his bottom! I sensed worry in her face and her voice as she announced that the baby was breech, but I wasn't worried. I knew my baby would be fine and I waited to be instructed on the next step. My midwife told me to stop pushing and was about to have me get out of the tub. She later told me that she thought she should have me on the bed so she could help manipulate the baby to come out. Her attendant quickly stepped in and said “No, it's alright, let's just keep her here and keep going”.

They instructed me to push and don't stop; just keep on pushing! I forced myself to push harder than my body wanted to as the baby's bottom came out, then one leg, then the other leg. As my midwife reached to help the baby I heard the attendant say “No. See how he's kicking? He's doing just fine!” I closed my eyes, focused and kept on pushing, and they told me his torso came out, then one arm and then the other arm. I felt every movement as the pressure eased with each body part that came out. Then, as my 6 year-old describes it, the baby “put the feet and the hands on the bum cheeks and pushed his head out!”

My baby was out! They immediately lifted him out of the water and placed him in my arms. He was beautiful and perfect, and I just held him against my body in the warm water. The midwife had me hold him above the water with his face down and he immediately spit out the fluid from his lungs and took in a big breath. He let out two little cries and instantly started to pink up.

My husband and midwife described to me how the baby had kicked his legs in the water while I was pushing, and moved his body to help wiggle his way out. I didn't realize until I talked with my kids later that he had actually used his arms and legs to leverage himself against my body and help get his own head out. My kids had the best vantage point, and had seen the process better than my husband, who had been sitting at my head. My midwife herself had been amazed. She didn't have a lot of experience with breech babies, but her attendant who was there had experience birthing more than 20 breech babies, including 3 of her own grandchildren. The attendant had known exactly what to do. It was good for me to be in the water and allow the baby to feel the weightlessness similar to the womb and be able to manipulate his own body in ways I never would have imagined possible. I was immediately grateful I was at home in the tub.

A second attendant had arrived sometime around the time the baby was born. I held my baby as I was helped out of the tub and onto the birth stool to deliver the placenta, which came out in one push. The placenta was then wrapped in a chux pad and placed at his feet while I held him. We were helped into bed and snuggled for a while and enjoyed each others company with my husband and other children while the midwives cleaned up. I had no concept of time, but it was a while later that the midwives came back in and clamped the cord. The kids put on latex gloves and our oldest son got to cut the cord. The midwives inspected the placenta and explained it to the kids. They then weighed the baby at 7 pounds, 15 ounces. I was given a cayenne drink to minimize bleeding and told to drink as much as possible.

I had a small tear, and my midwife stitched me while her attendants examined the baby near me on the bed and went through the long checklist, making sure everything was good. The baby was completely calm as they checked him, and my husband held him. The baby's legs were straight up with his feet by his face because of the way he had come out of the womb, and it took some time for him to let his legs down. One of his hips had been dislocated during his birth, and the midwife suggested that my husband do some craniosacral therapy on him to help his hip. He was given an APGAR score of 9/10 and measured at 21 inches long (once his legs were down).

I don't know what would have happened had I been in the hospital, whether or not they would have wanted to do a cesarean section due to the strange pattern of labor or the fact that the baby was breech. My labor with this baby was different than with my other children. There was no clear pattern to me. The contractions did get more intense as things progressed, but they stayed fairly far apart, and I never felt I experienced a clear transition stage. Even the urge to push was not very strong compared to what I had felt with previous births. I wonder how much the baby's position contributed to these differences. Despite the strange labor, the whole process was very peaceful and beautiful for us. My husband and I both felt calm through the whole thing, even with the surprises that came up, and we are both very happy we made the decision to have this baby at home.

We're not sure why we didn't know the baby was breech beforehand. The midwife is still wondering if she could have detected it earlier. When she had checked me earlier in labor she had noticed that the “head” didn't feel normal, but thought what she felt was the molding of the crown in the cervix. I don't fault anyone for not knowing he was breech. We didn't know, but God knew, and provided us with what we needed to handle it. My husband and I feel that everything happened as it should, and we are thrilled to have our beautiful, healthy baby.

The Birth Survey - An Excellent Childbirth Information Resource

The Birth Survey

This is a cool website that's been set up for childbearing women and maternity care professionals everywhere. You can:

  • Share your own birth experience by taking the survey,
  • Connect by viewing consumer feedback on hospitals, birth centers, doctors, and midwives in your community, and
  • Learn, by viewing hospital intervention rates.

I think this is an important resource, as it can provide a great amount of information to help you make informed choices in your own prenatal and birth care.

Here is a statement from the group who created The Birth Survey project:

"We believe that women of childbearing age must have access to information that will help them choose maternity care providers and institutions that are most compatible with their own philosophies and needs. We hope that the Transparency in Maternity Care Project will provide information that will help women make fully informed maternity care decisions.

We also believe that maternity care practitioners and institutions must have access to feedback from their patients. We hope that doctors, midwives, and hospital administrators will find the information generated through the Transparency in Maternity Care Project useful in quality improvement efforts.

Women need accurate, objective data in order to make fully informed choices about birth settings and providers. Practitioners and hospital administrators also need data to evaluate whether they are delivering quality care. We hope this project will fill a void by providing much needed information that benefits all parties engaged in maternity care."

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Cracking the Couvade": Involving Fathers in Pregnancy and Birth

I found a good article on that discusses the level of involvement fathers have had in pregnancy and childbirth throughout history. I found it to be very informative and interesting, and it raises some questions about our current traditions.

Click here for the complete article: Cracking the Couvade

Here's a small snippet of the article:

"In the 1800s, anthropologists started to document a strange phenomenon seen in other cultures across the world. They described fathers setting aside their weapons and sharp tools, wearing loose clothing, and doing nothing but lying in bed during the last stages of their partner’s pregnancy.

"This was far removed from men in our western European culture at the time, who sought to be distant and authoritarian with little emotional response to life or death. In the Victorian age, anthropologists, who were almost exclusively male, were embarrassed and even offended by the tribal birth rituals they encountered, and quick to attach their own meanings and interpretations, often describing men who participated in birth or childrearing as weak or savage.

"Nowadays, fathering has a very different meaning from mothering, which denotes an ongoing process of nurturing. In the book Manhood, Steve Biddulph suggests that for some, fathering might be reduced to “two minutes (in the back of a van)!” Fathers are often excluded from the build up to a birth and are later seen as the mother’s helper, rather than an equal parent. Despite gradual changes in paternity leave, society usually expects fathers to return to work as soon as possible following a birth, and prizes men who do this as, responsible."

Please take a few minutes to read this article. I'm really glad I did.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alternative Birthing Options

One of my local television networks has aired a story about Alternative Birthing Options. It's a brief article, but pretty good. I think it's good for this information to be presented to the public and help people see that they have options other than the standard norm.

Information/education = informed choice = empowerment

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Genetic Testing During Pregnancy

I recently found this article about prenatal genetic testing. I feel everyone should know about prenatal tests, risks and benefits, and who the tests are recommended for. Your prenatal care provider can help you with this, and there are really good books available that will help you educate yourself to make an informed choice. Some of my favorite books on the subject include "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer and "Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn" by Simkin, Whalley and Keppler.

"Whether this is their first pregnancy, or their fifth, women often worry about the health of their unborn baby.

Doctors have a range of genetic tests available to make sure the fetus is healthy.

Cristina Flores sat down with Annette Crowley, a registered nurse with Selecthealth, who is the Perinatal Care Manager.

Cristina: We should start by saying most babies and most pregnancies turn out just fine, right?

Annette: Absolutely, the majority of women who get pregnant, the pregnancies go along perfectly, and the baby is lovely, everything is fine. Only about 3% of all pregnancies have a birth defect associated with it. It's a very small percentage of all pregnancies.

Cristina: On that note, who needs to have these genetic tests while they're pregnant?

Annette: That's a good question. For the majority of women they are already seeking prenatal care, and that's great to be seeing their doctor. But for women who have had a baby who had some sort of birth defect or genetic problem, women who have a family history who have some sort of genetic problem, or women who are over age 35 are encouraged to look into genetic testing, or prenatal testing.

Cristina: And, to get these test, just talk to your doctor, right?

Annette: Yes, the nurse practitioner or doctor that you are working with has the information available and they can certainly walk women through what their risks are, and if they need to look into these tests.

For more information, head to"

Originally published at: Genetic Testing During Pregnancy

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Childbirth Education Logo

I am all about educating and empowering expectant couples. If I were at a place in my life to teach childbirth education classes, I would absolutely love to do it. I'm not trying to convert the world into thinking that every woman should birth at home, or every woman should give birth naturally with no medication. I want women to educate themselves about pregnancy and birth. Learn about the whole process, about your body and the changes you will go through. Learn about your baby and its development and growth. Learn about your partner and how he/she can support you in labor and birth, and how you can grow together to embrace the changes in your lives. Learn about your care and birth options, so that YOU can take control of your care and make the best decisions for you.

I found a nice little article in ezine articles that talks about some of the benefits of childbirth classes:

You Don't Really Need That Childbirth Class, Or Do You?

I'd like to also list some childbirth education resources. I'm sure I'm missing some, but these are some of the big ones I could think of right now:

Lamaze International
The Bradley Method

You may also be able to find childbirth classes available through your local health department, or even through a local hospital or clinic. Please keep in mind that childbirth classes sponsored by a hospital or doctor's office is more likely to have biased information because they are using the classes to promote their particular venue (hospital or clinic, etc.). Any education is better than none, however, so if your options are limited don't let that keep you from attending a class. Many childbirth educators will also offer online instruction as well, so if you are in an area where you don't have access to local classes, please look into that option.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cloth Diapers I've Sewn

I've been using cloth diapers for over a month now, and I love them. I've also been doing research and figuring out the best pattern to use for sewing my own cloth diapers so I can build up my diaper stash. I've posted about cloth diapers twice before: All About Cloth Diapers and More About Cloth Diapers, so I won't go into great detail here about cloth diapers, but I would like to share photos and a little info about what I've been doing to make my own.

I use prefold diapers (basic flat diaper with a thick section in the middle for added absorbency) in waterproof covers. I haven't sewn any prefolds of my own yet, but I have some cotton flannel material I plan to use for that.

I based my diaper cover pattern on Rita's Rump Cover pattern. I chose this pattern for two main reasons: maximum adjustability to fit most children, infant to toddler age so I don't have to make different sizes for my different sized children, and the nice trim fit of this diaper.

I made some alterations to the pattern to fit my needs, including adding touch tape to avoid using diaper pins, removing the front wings, and folding the front and back over to help hold in a prefold diaper.
Here is the diaper cover by itself, inside view, ready to be stuffed with a prefold diaper. The green part is PUL fabric, especially designed to be waterproof. I used cotton flannel on the top to conserve my PUL where it wasn't needed, and to add some color to the cover.
Here is the cover stuffed with a medium size prefold diaper
You can see where I've added long strips of touch tape for maximum size versatility. Hook tape on the front, and loop tape on the inside of each wing.
I also added hook touch tape to the outside of one wing so the wings can stick to each other for a secure fit, and hopefully to avoid drooping or having my kids take their own diaper off. I've had problems with drooping with some of the retail covers I've tried.
This is the front of the diaper, stuffed and closed.
And here is the back. The back panel is key for size versatility. For a toddler, just put the diaper on as is, and for a younger child simply fold down the top back of the cover to create a lower rise to fit the baby.
Here is a photo of my 3 1/2 year old wearing the diaper. Notice that the wings don't overlap because of his size.
The backside of my big boy. The flannel panel isn't folded down at all for him.
A side view. Notice how trim the diaper is.
This is the same size diaper on my 18 month old. Notice how much the wings overlap on her, and it still fits her snug. I used a different piece of flannel when I made this cover, but everything is the same as the diaper my son is wearing. She had been wearing this diaper all night and I took the photo first thing in the morning, so it was very full at this point.
Here is a back view of the diaper on my 18 month old. The back flannel panel has been folded down to fit her nicely. She wouldn't hold still for me to take a side view.

I'm really enjoying using and making cloth diapers. I look forward to using them on my infant soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Birth Matters Virginia Educational Video Contest Winners

Back in February I blogged about an Educational Childbirth Video Contest conducted by Birth Matters Virginia.

I'm happy to announce that the video contest is over and the winners have been announced!

Click here to view the contest results

There are links to all the winning videos, as well as the other finalists. Please take some time to watch these wonderful films.