Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Family Fights for the Birth They Want

After having a successful vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) at her local hospital a few years ago, Joy Szabo was denied the option of having another VBAC at the very same hospital.

Due to an erroneous interpretation of ACOG guidelines, the hospital changed its policy on VBAC births, and no longer allows them.

"After they lost that fight, Szabo and her husband, Jeff, made an unusual decision. About three weeks before her due date, Szabo moved nearly six hours away from their home in Page, Arizona, to Phoenix to give birth at a hospital that does permit women to have VBACs.

"In the end, the Szabos got the birth they wanted. On December 5, their son Marcus Anthony was born in Phoenix via an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, weighing seven pounds and 13 ounces.

"'It was such an easy birth,' Szabo says. 'I was in the pains of labor for about four or five hours, then I pushed once, and he popped out.'

"The Szabos' story has a happy ending, but it shows that with the rising C-section rate -- now one in three babies is born via Caesarean -- women who want vaginal births sometimes have to fight to get them." (italics added)

What can women do to help ensure that they are given their rights? This article gives some good advice about asking questions, being specific and keeping open communication with your care givers:

I love this story, because it shows what we can do when we know our rights and insist on them. It also shows that hospital policy is not always what's best for mothers and babies. This woman avoided an unnecessary c-section, and even though it meant temporarily moving her family 6 hours away from their home, she got the birth she wanted. The local hospital refused to let her have a VBAC because of a policy change, even though she had already had a successful VBAC in that same hospital just a few years earlier. I think more women should know their rights, and I'm really glad this story is getting nationwide coverage.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Perineum's Vital Role in Female Health and Birth

"You know that thong of tissue that keeps your tongue anchored to the floor of your mouth? It’s your frenum. And the translucent cartilage between your nostrils is your septum. And the flesh that stretches like a hammock between your vagina and your rectum is your perineum, and you and it are going to have a special relationship in the childbearing year.

"You will want to be on good terms with this most tender of tissues. You will want to get to know it well. You will want to become, in fact, your perineum’s pal."

My Perineum, My Pal

This is an informative article which explains the function and importance of the perineum in female health and childbirth, as well as detailed ways you can strengthen your perineum, prepare yourself for birth and take care of yourself postpartum. This is information I believe every woman should know.

I also found a video all about incontinence (bladder control) problems during pregnancy. It's really interesting, and it explains why it happens and what you can do to minimize such problems:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cloth Diaper "Try It Kit"

I've posted about cloth diapers before:

All About Cloth Diapers

More About Cloth Diapers - Plus Some of My Favorite Links

Cloth Diapers I've Sewn

Click here to see all 3 of the above posts in the same window

I've been very, very happy with my cloth diaper experience so far. I use prefolds and covers. I'm ordering new prefolds from here and I'm still using the covers that I made, and I love them!

I also found a great cloth diaper kit that you can order online: The "Try It Kit"

This kit allows you to try cloth diapering without investing a lot of money in the process. It supplies enough cloth diapers to get you through one day of cloth diapering your baby. The kit includes 6 prefolds, 2 covers, and a snappi fastener.

For anyone who is curious about trying cloth diapers, but unsure whether or not to invest in a full stash, this is a great way to try out cloth diapers and see if you like them! If you decide not to continue using cloth, the prefolds can easily be used as burp cloths, and it never hurts to have a few extra diapers on hand in case you run out of disposables!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why Choose Cloth Diapers?

This article, posted by the Real Diaper Association, is a really good reference about cloth diapers. It explains the reasons for choosing cloth diapers, including cost, health, environmental, and avoiding rash and skin problems.

The logo above is from Miracle Diapers, a non-profit organization that helps provide cloth diapers to qualifying families nationwide. I am so grateful for their services, because they helped provide me with enough cloth diapers to get started while I worked on building my own stash.

I'm really glad I made the choice to switch to cloth. My only regret is that I used disposable diapers for over 9 years before making the switch.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Labor Induction Overused and Puts Mothers and Babies at Risk

My labor was induced with pitocin for the first 2 of my 5 children. After my second child was born I made the conscious decision that I didn't want to be induced again. I didn't like being hooked up to the IV and monitors for the entire labor and being confined to bed, as well as the lack of control over the process of birth itself. I felt that induction was unnatural, and I wanted to see what my body could do on its own with no medical induction or augmentation. That decision played a big part in my birthing journey, which has helped me learn to honor, work with, and trust my body, and has given me greater confidence in myself and faith in the natural order of life.

"In his classic book Husband-Coached Childbirth, Robert Bradley, MD, compares the arrival of human babies by nature's schedule to fruit ripening on a tree. Some apples ripen early, some late, but most show up right in season. Along with Grantley Dick-Read, the father of what we now call 'natural childbirth,' Bradley advocated relaxation, trusting nature, and allowing babies to show up when nature intended."

Let The Baby Decide: The Case Against Inducing Labor

This article goes into great detail in explaining the medical and cultural reasons and ramifications of inducing labor, and it touches on some of the same reasons I chose not to be medically induced again. There are so many reasons women and their care givers choose medical induction, and I think that expectant couples should understand the risks involved with those choices so they can make an active, informed choice in their own care.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Modern Day Wet Nurses - Touching & Beautiful

Yes, formula would be much easier, but it wouldn't give this baby the best nutrition for his physical growth, and it certainly couldn't provide the emotional well-being and sense of family that this group of women have provided for the infant's entire family.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It Feels Good to Feel: The Pain and Pleasure of Natural Childbirth

It Feels Good to Feel: The Pain and Pleasure of Natural Childbirth
by Kaitlin Rose

There are many confident women who say they are simply too afraid of the pain to have a natural birth.

But here’s the secret about that pain of childbirth that nobody tells you.
You may never have thought of this way: the pain of labor and childbirth is the only physical pain you will feel in your life that is not associated with something being wrong with your body. You are not hurt. You are not injured. It is the only constructive pain you will ever feel in your life.

I'm not trying to say that it was easy.
It was definitely the strongest, most intense pain I have ever felt. But I can tell you, like many women before me have said and many more to come are bound to say, the pain was worth every minute of it for the result.

I went into labor Tuesday morning. By 7 am Wednesday morning I was only dilated 5 cm.
Now I know I was in transition. I didn't know it then. I felt extremely tired. Fatigued. But I asked myself a very important question, which inevitably helped me move through my transition and be fully open just an hour and a half later.

I asked myself this: what would I do differently right now if I were in a hospital?
My answer was: NOTHING.

I would not get an epidural. I would not ask for pitocin to speed up my contractions. There would be nothing anyone could do for me, because I wouldn't let them. And that crossed my mind too. I was relieved to know I was still in control and I had to keep going for both of us.

The rewards of having a drug free labor and delivery are life-long lasting.
There was a moment during some of the hardest contractions that I had, (and I don't even really remember this, but my doula told me of it later) when my doula asked me, "aren't you glad you are feeling this?" And I said, "yes," in the midst of it all. It was true! I was so glad that I was 100% PRESENT during the experience of my labor and childbirth. I felt everything.

Natural childbirth is truly an empowering journey that you will never forget. You will come out feeling stronger than ever, the experience instilling in you a quiet confidence that will continue to build over time.

Pieces of my life started to come together in ways I could not have fathomed.
I felt a new respect for my mother, and even a different understanding and closeness with womankind in general. I actually had a very profound "ah-ha" moment the day Ella Rose was born. I was holding her, watching her sleep in my arms. That perfect little face, so worn out from the previous days of labor...

This is the closest I can come to describing it: It was as if everything finally made sense. I felt so connected to all living beings on earth. It was positively overwhelming; the grandness of it all.

Ella and I worked together for the first time of many in our lives together.
I am proud (and blessed) to have had a natural birth. And I am proud of my daughter too.

Wishing all of you a safe and blessed birth,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Benefits of a Continuous Doula

Benefits of a Continuous Doula
compiled by Penny Simkin, PT, CD(DONA)

Obstetric Outcomes
In hospitals where intervention rates (epidurals, oxytocin, and cesarean deliveries) were very high, doula care lowered the intervention rates.1-6

The most dramatic improvements in obstetric outcomes came in those hospitals where:
• interventions were high
• women were not allowed to have a loved one present
• the doulas were not clinically trained (not nurses, midwives or students)

Psychological Outcomes
All six trials that investigated postpartum outcomes found that women who had doulas had these more positive outcomes 4 to 8 weeks later than those without doulas.1,7-11
• enhanced breastfeeding
• better maternal-infant interaction
• less postpartum depression, anxiety, and greater self-esteem
• higher maternal assessments of their baby when compared to the "standard baby"
• greater satisfaction with the birth experience

In summary, the doula is emerging as a positive contribution to the care of women in labor. By attending to the women's emotional needs, some obstetric outcomes are improved. Just as importantly, early mother-infant relationships and breastfeeding are enhanced. Women's satisfaction with their birth experiences and even their self-esteem appears to improve when a doula has assisted them through childbirth. 12 "Given the clear benefits and no known risks associated with intrapartum support, every effort should be made to ensure that all labouring women receive support, not only from those close to them but also from specially trained caregivers. This support should include continuous presence, the provision of hands-on comfort, and encouragement." 13
1 Sosa R, et al. "The effect of a supportive companion on perinatal problems, length of labor. and mother-infant interaction," N Eng J Med, 303:597-600, 1980.
2 Klaus MH. et al. "Effects of social support during parturition on maternal and infant morbidity." Br Med J. 293:585-587, 1986.
3 Kennel] JH. et al. "Continuous emotional support during labor in a US hospital: a randomized controlled trial." JAMA 265:2197-2201, 1991.
4 Hodnett ED, et al, "Effects of continuous intrapartum professional support on childbirth outcomes.-- Res in Vi-sing and Health . 12: 289-287, 1989.
5 Kennell JH et al. "Labor support by a doula for middle-income couples: the effect on cesarean rates." Pediatric Res. 32:12A, 1993.
6 McGrath SK. et al. "Induction of labor and doula support." Pediatric Res. 43:13A. 1998.
7 Garcia C. "The eighth doula study: social support during birth in Mexico.- Conference proceedings of Doulas of North America. Austin. TX, June 20. 1997. 89-93‑
8 Hofmeyr J. et al. Companionship to modify the clinical birth environment: effects on progress and perceptions of labour and breastfeeding." Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 98 756-764. 1991.
9 Landry SH, et al. "The effects of doula support during labor on mother-infant interaction at two months," Pediatric Res. 43:13A_ 1998.
10 Walton D. et al. "The impact of a hospital based doula program in a health maintenance organization setting.- Ain J Obstet Gynecol. 11. 1998.
11 Wolman WL,. et al. postpartum depression and companionship in the clinical birth environment a randomized. controlled study." Am J Obstet Gynecol. 168. 1388-1393. 1993.
12. Hodnett E, Gates S. Hofmeyr G. Sakala C Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003 Issue 3. Art No CD003766 DOI: 10 1002/14651858 CD003766.
13 DONA International position Paper The Birth Doula's Contribution to Modern Maternity Care DONA International: Jasper. IN- 2005

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

What is a DOULA?

The Greek word doula means woman caregiver. We now use the word to describe a trained and experienced labor companion who provides the woman and her husband or partner continuous emotional support, physical comfort and assistance in obtaining information before, during and just after childbirth.

A postpartum doula provides care to a family with a newborn baby.

A birth doula...

...recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life...

...understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor...

...assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth...

...stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor...

...provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint, and assistance to the
woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions...

...facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers...

...perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman's memory of her birth experience.

The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well being of mothers and infants.

Definition from the DONA International approved Doula training manual.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Unique Gifts That Help People in Need

"Support women and children from the very start.
Help train a midwife working in rural communities to provide prenatal care and birthing support to pregnant women. It’s this simple: when you educate a woman, your gift grows. She’ll help keep women healthy and enable mothers to give their children the best possible start in life."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home Birth Photo Slide

A fellow blogger has shared the photos from her recent home birth. The more of these photo slideshows I find, the more I wish I'd had a professional photographer for my own home birth - just amazing!