Monday, November 30, 2009

Birth in Slovenia

"I am from Slovenia (neighbour country to Italy and Croatia....).

"We dont talk about giving a birth in that "pain" way. We are talking regarding what is the most natural and normal way of giving birth for mother and for baby. That is why we do not have so many epidurals, as they are saying that a lot of babies are then being born with a help of vacuum....possible complications...

"My both grandmothers are still alive and one of them had 11 children and the other had 9 childer. They all gave birth at their home, alone, no midwifes....nothing....and all of my aunts and uncles are normal, succesfull people. So we all believe that womens body is "designed" to carry a baby and to give a birth and we shouldnt make out of that experience a mediacal procedure. In Slovenia, you can not have scheduled c-section, unless there is a medical health reason for it. A group of doctors, beside yours, will decide, if you need c-section or not. And it is really rare.

"You are talking about mortality of babies...I dont remember if i have heard of maybe 2-3 babies in last 15 years, being born dead or died right after birth in Slovenia.

"And another very important thing that my grandmothers told to me....lets say advices: when you feel that the proces of birthing had begun sit on a hot will help you open more easily, warm showers; move, move and move - walk.....; and for the last part of the birth, when you feel urge to push...go into sitting position, hold your self to something solid, and then push. They dont understand how a woman can give birth by lying in bed.

"All of my girlfriends and the other women that I know, have given birth in hosptital, totally naturally, or in our meaning normally, with their housbant at their side and midwife. When you see a doctor during birthing process you know that there is something really wrong. Even when you have induced contractions, they dont give a women epidural.

"When I was talking to a few friends and my mom that I am thinking about epidural...she told me why? Birthing a baby is a normal end of a carriing process, and why would I like to robb myself from that wonderful experience, of baby being put to your chest right after birth, and of knowing that you did your own birth. She sais that it is very empowering feeling at the end, and that she feels "sorry" for the man, that they do not have privilege to feel that, like we do. And my mom was under induced contractions for 12 hours with me.

"And another thing. We also do not have a mesaument for "timing" a normal birth. If a women is not dialeted at least 4-5 cm, they wont accept you into the hospital.....unless they diagnose, that something is not ok while checking you.

"Best to you all......:)"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Does Elective Cesarean Surgery Improve Newborn Outcomes in Ultra-Low-Risk First-Time Moms?

"Henci Goer is an award winning medical writer and speaker. She has published two books: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth and Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities (a new edition of which is in press)"

In her guest blog post on the International Cesarean Awareness Network blog, Henci Goer scrutinizes a medical study that supports elective cesarean section.

I've read her book "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth", and I've been very impressed with her intelligent evaluation of the modern medical maternity system. She provides sound perspective amid the confusing debates surrounding pregnancy and birth.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Birth Transformation

I credit my mother for instilling in me a desire to give birth naturally, without pain medication. She was having babies in a time when women were being confined to bed and separated from their husbands, and even being knocked out with ether or chloroform during labor and having their babies delivered by doctors with forceps. Often they would wake with no memory of birth and wonder if they had a boy or a girl. My mom felt strongly that birth is a natural process and she could do this without the medical interventions of the day. She took Lamaze classes with my dad and went on to give birth to 6 healthy babies, each without pain medication other than a paracervical injection to numb the cervix for the pushing stage. She spoke openly about this with me and my sister when we were growing up, and I wanted to have that experience for myself.

When I was pregnant with my first baby my husband and I took a childbirth class at the local county health department and they taught us some basic breathing techniques and comfort measures. However, the majority of the class was dedicated to educating us about the actual function of birth, complete with diagrams and charts and explanations of the stages of labor and when to go to the hospital. I joined online birthing websites and read books and tried to educate myself as much as possible about birth. I felt if I could be well-informed then there was no need to be afraid. Unfortunately, I was still not prepared for what I would experience.

My water broke spontaneously and I had no noticeable contractions. Of course, I had been told to immediately go to the hospital if my water broke, so I did as I had been told to do. The hospital staff immediately started me on pitocin to get my labor going. It was a long, hard battle. The pitocin did indeed get my labor going, but it also made the labor so intense and difficult that I didn't know how to handle it. I forgot everything I had learned in our childbirth class about breathing and working with the contractions. I had told myself that I wanted to birth naturally, but if it got too hard then I would get the epidural, and that's exactly what happened. The epidural slowed my labor, and then the baby's heartbeat was erratic. The doctor explained that they would stop the pitocin to give the baby a break from the onslaught of contractions and give him some time to recover. They would then start the pitocin again and see if my labor would progress after that. He used the dreaded c-word and explained that if my labor did not progress at that point, they would do surgery. My greatest fear was materializing and I was terrified. I cried, and my family comforted me.

Thankfully, the plan worked and a c-section was not necessary. My epidural wore off just in time to start pushing, and I went from feeling completely numb to feeling absolutely EVERYTHING. I was not prepared for that kind of pain, and I endured it for 90 minutes while I pushed my baby out. It was traumatic. He was born in the middle of the night, healthy, after a full day of hard labor, and we were both exhausted. The nurses told me they would take the baby to the nursery so that I could rest, and I complied because I thought they knew best. I slept fitfully, and then woke up around 6am in a panic without my baby! I paged the nurses and had them bring him in immediately, and I did not calm down until he was with me. Breastfeeding was a challenge because he was so sleepy. I hadn't had the chance to establish breastfeeding immediately after birth and the baby was tired and sluggish, and I didn't know what I was doing! The lactation consultant was not helpful, but thankfully we figured it out and I went on to breastfeed my son for over a year.

Three years later I was pregnant with my second child, and I had decided that childbirth was just too much for me to handle without an epidural. When my doctor told me we could schedule an induction, I thought it was wonderful that we could plan it out and know when the baby would be born! I didn't know anything other than induction and epidural, and this was my way of taking control of the situation. It was a wonderful experience, and I remember chatting and laughing with my husband and the obstetrician while I was pushing. It was 4 ½ hours from the time they started the pitocin until my beautiful baby boy was born, compared to over 14 hours with my first. I was in a smaller community hospital this time, and the atmosphere was calmer and I felt I got more attention from the staff. I was able to hold my baby very soon after he was born, after the staff had checked him out and weighed and measured him. I had him latched on and breastfeeding before the doctor even left the room. I didn't like how long it took for my epidural to wear off after he was born. I wanted to be able to move around and enjoy my baby and the birth being over, and that was an annoyance.

Two years passed and I was expecting our third baby. My husband, Matthew was in massage therapy school and he worked at the front desk of a massage clinic. He told me that one of the therapists there was a doula and she wanted to work with me and provide support for me at the baby's birth. I didn't know what a doula was, but I wanted to talk with her because I had many questions and I thought maybe she could help me. Mandy and I immediately bonded. I told her I had always wanted to give birth without medication but I didn't know how to do it! She told me she would help, and she answered all of my questions and helped me feel at ease about approaching birth in a new way. She helped me write a birth plan, outlining my wishes for childbirth. I realized that I had choices and could let the doctor and hospital staff know how I wanted to handle things rather than let them take the lead and tell me what to do. My obstetrician was very open to my wishes and willing to work with me, and I checked with hospital policies to ensure that my desires were feasible within their limitations.

I didn't know what to expect because I had never experienced my body starting labor on its own. I was sent home from the hospital three times because I wasn't progressing enough to be admitted, but I was determined not to be induced. I had early labor for about two days, and Mandy taught me how to breathe with the contractions and work with my body. The third time I was sent home from the hospital I decided to go home and sleep. My labor stopped for about a day, and I rested as much as I could. The next morning, my water broke while I was in bed, and Mandy met up with us at the hospital. It was beautiful! Because of the practice I'd had with my early labor, I knew how to breathe and focus.

Mandy and Matt worked together to provide comfort measures for me, including acupressure points and counter pressure on my hips, knees and lower back. I wasn't hooked up to an IV pole or monitors, and I could move around as I wanted to, leaning on the birth ball or walking around. I even got into the tub in my room for a little while, but it was too shallow to give me much comfort. I focused through the contractions and enjoyed the company of my husband and my doula between them. Only once during transition did I feel I couldn't do it, and Mandy told me “You ARE doing it!” She kept me focused and helped me through it all, and the hard part was relatively short. My healthy baby boy was born within a few hours of arriving at the hospital, and I felt like a super hero! I was energetic and happy, and I had never before experienced such euphoria after giving birth. I was able to breastfeed my baby immediately after his birth, and we spend some quiet time with him in our room without any interruptions from hospital staff. The nurses were very curious and asked me which birth method I preferred (epidural or no medication) and I told them I would do natural birth again without a doubt!

When I got pregnant with my fourth baby, I knew what I wanted. I had been permanently converted to unmedicated birth. My husband had a client who was a home birth midwife, and she offered her services if I wanted to have my baby at home. I politely declined, explaining that I had my OB, my doula, and my birth plan and I knew what I wanted. This time I was determined not to be sent home from the hospital, and I intentionally labored as long as possible at home. Again I had two days of early labor, and the labor stopped for a few hours while I attended my baby shower and then started up again later that night. My husband and I were watching TV, and when I got up to use the bathroom I felt a leak. I told him that either I had wet myself or my water had broken.

We called Mandy and made arrangements to meet her at the hospital. I was admitted in the middle of the night and labored for a few hours, using focused breathing and trying to rest between contractions. The doctor arrived in the morning and suggested that he could break my water to get labor going faster. It turned out the leaking I had was a fore-bag and not the actual bag of waters. I was ready to have a baby, so I agreed and he ruptured the bag. After that things went quickly and our beautiful baby girl was born within a few hours. Once again my husband and my doula worked together to give me the support I needed, and it was a wonderful, empowering experience. The baby latched on immediately and we bonded. My baby was beautiful, and I was thrilled to finally have a little girl, but there was a subtle nagging feeling in the back of my mind. I felt like something was missing.

When my daughter was still a newborn I decided to become a birth doula. I wanted to help other women as my doula had helped me. I felt she was indispensable in my achieving the beautiful natural birth experience I had always wanted. I started reading all the required books and took the doula training. I couldn't get enough information about birth! I watched The Business of Being Born, and learned that some women still safely give birth at home rather than at a hospital. Within a year I found I was pregnant, expecting my fifth child. I felt that I had some different choices to make, and I started thinking about planning a home birth. I researched it and thought about it and prayed about it. I felt peace, and it was a wonderful overwhelming peace. I knew I wanted to have this baby at home.

I called the midwife whose services I had declined for my daughter's birth, and started going to regular prenatal visits with her. I went to my obstetrician's office a few times during the pregnancy for certain things like an ultrasound, blood work and screenings, but the rest of my prenatal care was provided by my midwife. I trusted her and her 15 years of experience with home birth. I also met her birth attendants who were all doulas and midwives.

I had early labor, on and off, for over a week. I was anxious to meet my baby, but I had to practice more patience than ever before. I used the time to prepare things in our home for the birth. Four days past the due date, my midwife brought the birthing tub to our house and did a brief check for the baby's heartbeat, with my four children watching. Later that evening, my contractions were coming closer together and stronger. My midwife came over and set things up and we settled in to have a baby. I was focusing and breathing through the contractions and leaning on my birth ball. I labored in the bed and rested between contractions, and in the birth tub immersed in water up to my neck. The water dissolved the discomfort of the contractions and my husband pressed acupressure points while I breathed through them. We chatted with the midwife and enjoyed the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. I have never experienced such peace in the hospital.

As things progressed, a second midwife came to assist, and she cleaned my kitchen and helped get the kids settled when they started waking up in the morning. At one point while I was resting in bed, my water broke in a small leak and my midwife ruptured the bag the rest of the way. The kids went to play at grandma's house and things really picked up! We called the two oldest boys to come home and as I was pushing we realized the baby was coming out breech! His bottom was coming out first. I was in the birth tub, and it felt really good to stretch my body out as I pushed. His bottom came out, then one leg, and then the other leg. Then his torso was delivered, followed by an arm, and then the other arm. And then, as my 6 year-old described it, “he put the hands and the feet on the bum cheeks, and he pushed his head out!” I only pushed for a few minutes, and my beautiful baby boy was here! He was healthy and perfect. I held him in the tub with me for a couple of minutes before the midwives helped me out to deliver the placenta, and then into bed. We cuddled and bonded as a family, and our oldest son cut the umbilical cord.

I've realized since my home birth that if I had planned a hospital birth for my breech baby, it would have ended in a cesarean section. If that was the only benefit of having him at home, it was definitely worth it, but there were many other blessings of having our baby at home as well.

I don't consider my home birth to have been a painful birth. I felt intense pain with my hospital births, and there were moments of discomfort during my home birth but never what I would describe as pain. I think it had to do with the peace I felt and the confidence I had gained from my previous birth experiences. I am no longer the meek woman willing to submit to whatever the doctor tells me I should do. I know exactly what I want and how to achieve my goals. I know what I am capable of, and I feel stronger than I ever have in my life.

I used to regret my earlier birth experiences, wishing I had experienced unmedicated birth from the first rather than the traumatic experience it was. Now I'm grateful for those earlier experiences for the way they've shaped me as a person and as a mother. My first birth experience was an important catalyst in motivating me to find a better way for me to give birth. I don't feel that there is one birth choice that is best for every woman, but I hope that each woman can know that birth is beautiful and empowering, and if you don't experience it that way then find out how you can.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Breast Crawl - Baby's First Meal

I had heard about a newborn's ability to find its way to the breast by crawling to it without assistance. This is the first video I've seen of it, and it's amazing. The video shows a fully exposed breast.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Honoring Our Cycles: Using Fertility Awareness to Achieve or Avoid Pregnancy

"Like the earth's surface, a woman of childbearing age moves through cycles of heating and cooling, which in turn create moistening and drying, which in turn provide a fertile environment for life to evolve. Rocks, glaciers, plants, and animals (including humans) all evolve in concert with these processes. Just as a meteorologist can observe and measure cycles in the earth's surface to determine weather patterns, a woman can observe her daily waking temperature, cervical fluid, and the cervix's changes to gauge her gynecological health and to determine when she can and cannot conceive. According to Leah Morton, an MD with a family practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 'The first step in being healthy is knowing about yourself and respecting nature. Fertility Awareness provides a way to learn these things.'"

"With Fertility Awareness, a woman can be in sync with her own cycles, and couples often experience enhanced communication and intimacy."

This article gives an introduction to Fertility Awareness and how it can be a benefit to couples. For more information about Fertility Awareness, please read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, by Toni Weschler.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Fight Against Iatrogenic Prematurity

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

"Iatrogenic prematurity refers to the birth of a physiologically immature and/or low-weight infant who is delivered prematurely as a result of medical intervention."

The United States recently received a "D" on the March of Dimes 2009 Premature Birth Report Card. This is alarming, and raises some serious concerns. Much needed research is being done on the causes and possible prevention of preterm labor.

Monday, November 16, 2009

15 Breastfeeding Myths Explained

Does Breastfeeding hurt?

Are breastfed babies healthier than formula-fed babies?

Does food the mother eats affect the breastfed baby?

These questions, and more, are explained in this article:

It's a short article, clear and concise, and helps explain the truth about breastfeeding.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some thoughts about my breech baby

There was something I neglected to mention in my blog post about my home water birth. A few weeks before the baby's due date I went to my OB's office to get the Group Beta Strep screen. My midwife had recommended it and it was only the third time I'd been to the OB's office during my entire pregnancy because I had been seeing my home birth midwife for regular prenatal visits.

As part of the visit, the nurse-practitioner checked the position of the baby. When she felt the large mass down near my cervix she looked confused and really started to feel around more. She told me she wasn't sure it was the baby's head that was down, and that I should have one of the OB's double-check the baby's position the next time I came in. I had no intention of returning to their office, so I brushed it off.

When I got into my car to head home I sat and thought for a moment. I remembered that my midwife had felt the baby at each prenatal visit and said he was head-down. I wondered "what if my baby is breech? Would it change my plans?" I realized that no, a breech position would not change any of my plans. I knew that my midwife had caught a surprise breech at a home birth just a few months before my baby was due, and I trusted my midwife to be able to handle any situation at our planned home birth.

If you've read my birth story then you know that my baby was indeed breech, and we didn't realize it until I had already started to push him out! At the time I was extremely grateful to be at home in the birthing tub with a wonderful support team, and all turned out beautifully well.

Since the birth I've come to realize that if I had planned a hospital birth with my breech baby it would have ended in a cesarean section. I know this without a doubt, and this knowledge has brought me greater gratitude and appreciation for my amazing birth experience. I'm so grateful that I was open to home birth and able to embrace it fully. I had peace with me throughout my pregnancy that home birth was exactly the right thing for this birth, and I also had peace knowing that my baby would be healthy and all would be well. For me this peace came as a result of much study, careful introspection, and prayer. I personally feel that God was loving and gracious in offering me a natural, peaceful means of bringing this precious baby boy into our family, and I am eternally thankful for that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


This is not specifically related to pregnancy or birth, but it's beautiful and uplifting, and I would like to share it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This is why I do this

The other day I was writing posts for my blog and I noticed the post count on the right side of the page. The number struck me, and I realized that I've been blogging for over a year now. Wow. I do this for myself, as an outlet, because I can't talk with just anyone about the things I'm passionate about. Sadly, a lot of my neighbors and close friends don't want to hear about natural approaches to pregnancy, birth and beyond. It can get pretty lonely at times when I feel like I have no one who understands how I feel or why I do the things I do.

I have a lot of friends and family members who don't understand why anyone would want to go through labor without pain medication, or in any setting other than a hospital. I'm guessing they haven't experienced the beauty of the ups and downs of labor with the intense focus through the strong waves of pressure, followed by a respite filled with both calm and excitement at the same time, all building toward the miraculous birth of a new life! For me, the experience was much more powerful and incredible when I didn't have pain medication compared to when I did. There is nothing in life that compares to the experiences I've had through embracing my body and everything it's made to do and learning how to work with it to achieve something truly amazing. It's something that simply cannot be accurately described in words. It's beautiful, miraculous, spiritual, empowering, and simple.

I also blog because I hope to spread the good word about things that are important to me. I hope to somehow reach others who could benefit from some of the information I've found as I've been on this amazing journey. I don't expect to convert everyone to home birth or even to unmedicated birth, but I do want every woman in the world to know that birth is an uplifting and wonderful experience. If you don't experience it that way, then find out what you can do to have that experience. I didn't have a blissful, peaceful experience with the birth of my first baby, but that experience was a catalyst that helped push me into action in finding a better way for me to give birth. I feel I've found that, and I want to share it with anyone who will listen.

I was on the phone with our family pediatrician's office recently, and the receptionist asked me about my home birth. She told me that her son and his wife want to have a water birth at home and she (the grandma) didn't know anything about water birth and how it's handled, or what precautions are taken to help ensure a positive outcome. She asked me if I would do it again, and I told her I absolutely would. She wanted to know about things like having a backup plan in case a transfer to the hospital is needed. It was so neat to talk with her and share some of my feelings about my home birth and some information to help put her mind at ease. I love those moments, and I'm so grateful for those times. This is why I do this!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Beautiful Photo Depiction of Home Birth

I recently came across a photographer's blog post:

Welcoming Jakob Asher: Here Comes the Son!

It's an amazing photographic depiction of a home water birth. The mother is a doula, and she was able to have a pain -free birth at home with no medical interventions.

Please take a look.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Women Seek Humanistic Care in Pregnancy, Labor & Birth

"Women are not seeking “designer” births. They are looking for humanistic care during pregnancy, labor and birth and are increasingly having difficulty finding that in many hospitals."

Media out of focus on Midwifery - The New Haven Register

Monday, November 2, 2009

Advice regarding breastfeeding for mothers with possible H1N1 infection

"Advice regarding breastfeeding for mothers with possible H1N1 infection
Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D., FAAP and John S. Bradley, M.D., FAAP

As published in AAP News - Official Magazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics

"Neonates and infants younger than 6 months of age are at risk for complications from seasonal influenza and presumably 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu), although the morbidity and mortality from this new virus have not yet been described.

"While the advantages of breastfeeding are well-known, this close interaction of mother and newborn also can facilitate transmission of influenza virus. The benefits and the risks of close contact must be considered carefully.

"To protect the infant from possible serious infection while allowing essential and encouraged mother-infant bonding to occur, a compromise is required until more data are available. The following precautions are suggested to minimize the risk of infection to the infant, particularly while still in the hospital and while the mother is symptomatic with fever and coryza:

"Pay careful attention to handwashing prior to any contact. Prior to breastfeeding, wash the breast with mild soap and water; rinse well The mother should wear a surgical mask to prevent nasal secretions and the spontaneous cough or sneeze from inoculating the infant. Use clean blankets and burp cloths for each contact. Monitor the maternal-infant interaction on perinatal floors for compliance with the above precautions. These precautions are designed to minimize the risk of transmission until mother’s immune response to H1N1 influenza is established, and increased, specific immune protection may be provided by breast milk. Note that influenza virus does not pass through breast milk.

"Although the most effective way to prevent influenza transmission is complete separation from her infant when a mother is receiving antiviral treatment, separation may create more long-term problems in breastfeeding success and mother-infant bonding than any potential benefit achieved from avoiding infection in the newborn infant.

"For any mother with H1N1 influenza infection who presents in labor to a health care institution, testing and empirically starting therapy for influenza with an antiviral is suggested. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) will hasten resolution of symptoms and infectivity, particularly if treatment is started within 48 hours of onset of illness. Neonatal exposure to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) excreted in breast milk is extremely low.

"Immediately following delivery, the precautions listed above should be instituted as the newborn infant is first placed into mother’s arms. These precautions should be followed until mother’s illness is resolved, i.e., no fever, as measured without antipyretics, for 24 hours.

"While no data exist to support these suggestions, it is believed that these represent an appropriate balance between the benefits of mother-infant interaction and the risks of serious neonatal infection. Institutions may wish to modify of these suggestions to address their needs and medical practices.

"Dr. Lawrence is chair of the AAP Section on Breastfeeding executive committee. Dr. Bradley is a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases."