Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lack of Breastfeeding Costs Lives, Billions of Dollars

A recent study concluded that "if most new moms would breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, it would save nearly 1,000 lives and billions of dollars each year."

Here's a link to the CNN article about the study:

This is important information! The study shows that breastfeeding actually saves lives.

The sad thing is how few mothers actually breastfeed their babies for the minimum recommended first 6 months of life. This is recommended by the World Health Organization, the Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"A 2009 breastfeeding report card from the CDC found that only 74 percent of women start breastfeeding, only 33 percent were still exclusively breastfeeding at three months and only 14 percent were still exclusively breastfeeding at six months."

Why are breastfeeding numbers so low? The article states that mothers "receive mixed messages and often lack support from the moment their babies are born." The articles also says that mothers are not to blame, and that we need improvements in maternity care to give mothers adequate breastfeeding information and support.

One thing I run into when I post and talk about breastfeeding is that women often feel guilty if for whatever reason they did not breastfeed their baby. The guilt turns to defensiveness and seems to only build barriers in trying to communicate the amazing benefits of breastfeeding. I really feel that breastfeeding advocates (including myself) are not trying to hurt anyone's feelings or give anyone a guilt trip. We are really trying to educate mothers, fathers and their families and friends about the importance of breastfeeding.

There is a really good editorial blog post about this issue on the Public Health Doula blog:

Are you ready for another one? An Absolutely brilliant blog post about breastfeeding and American culture. I couldn't have written it better myself:


Check them out and tell me what you think!

Monday, April 26, 2010

TLC's A Baby Story Features Planned Home Births

This week TLC will air five new episodes of its show A Baby Story, all featuring planned home births. A new episode airs each day this week (starting today) at 11am MDT.

I've noticed they've been showing more unmedicated births and home births on A Baby Story this season, and so far I'm enjoying this trend. I'm anxious to see how the show will portray home birth overall.

Here's a list of the episodes:
Monday: #725, Baby Eisenberg
Tuesday: #726, Baby Malak
Wednesday: #699, Baby Sheehan
Thursday: #700, Baby Breen
Friday: #727, Baby Millers
I also discovered an excellent episode from 2008 that showed a home birth: #597, Baby LaRocco

I'm not sure if the episodes are available online.
Please let me know if you have an online source for them!

The Best Way To Diaper Your Child

If you follow my blog then you probably know that I switched from disposable diapers to cloth diapers last year. Since I made the switch, I have not looked back. I love cloth diapers for many reasons, and most of these things took me by surprise.

I made the switch to cloth simply because of finances. I could no longer stomach the thought of running to the store and spending another dime on diapers that would be peed and pooped in and thrown away. I was literally throwing my money away, and it made me sick.

I personally love the self-sufficiency of cloth diapers. I don't have to depend on a store to provide diapers for my children. I have built up a very economical stash of diapers, using inexpensive prefold diapers with covers that I sewed myself. I've had the opportunity to try other diaper cover brands, and none of them fit my children as well as those that I made. I can wash the diapers and use them as much as we need to. I no longer worry when my child immediately soils a fresh diaper I JUST put on him, because I'm not wasting money by throwing away that diaper!

I also find that our garbage can doesn't get filled to the brim anymore. I can set it out for pickup each week, and it's usually only halfway filled or 3/4 full. When we used disposable diapers our garbage had a horrible smell and was overflowing each week. I also take comfort that I'm no longer contributing to the 50 million diapers a day that are going into landfills! Did you know that one disposable diaper takes 500 years to decompose? Why would I want to add to that any more than I already have?

Plus, cloth diapers are cute!

I recently found two articles about diaper options:

Diapering a newborn: disposable vs. cloth: This includes a good cost analysis that compares disposable diapers to cloth. It's really good for anyone considering the best way to diaper their baby.

Environmentally friendly ways to diaper a baby: This is a short article about diapering options, and it includes some in-between diapering suggestions as well as more environmentally friendly disposable diapers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Green Mama Benefit Auction Highlight: Winkydinks MEDIUM repurposed lambswool diaper soaker/cover - polka dots

Here's another fantastic item from the Cloth Diaper Foundation's Green Mama Benefit Auction: Winkydinks MEDIUM repurposed lambswool diaper soaker/cover - polka dots

Size Medium Polkadot Re-purposed Lambswool Diaper Cover/Soaker

This cloth diaper soaker is re-purposed from a 100% lambswool sweater. Gray colored body and trim, with multi-colored gender neutral polka dots. The waist is made from the sweater's trim. The 100% wool (re-purposed) dot appliques are securely machine stitched. This is a medium weight wool - great for daytime use.

Approximate measurements of soaker:
Waist: 15" (stretches to about 20")
Rise: 17 1/2" with about 2" stretch vertically in the rear
Thigh: 9" (stretches to about 11")

Please measure over the diaper to ensure proper fit.

This soaker will come to you lanolized and ready to wear. Hand wash in warm, using wool wash containing lanolin. A free sample of a solid wool wash bar is included, along with more detailed washing instructions.

Bidding has already started! Click here to access the auction

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Green Mama Benefit Auction Highlight: Bella Bottoms

Here's another fantastic item from the Cloth Diaper Foundation's Green Mama Benefit Auction: Bella Bottoms!

This diaper appeals to the pragmatist in me. It's a good dependable diaper for a reasonable price.

The INCREDIBELLA one-size pocket diaper has everything you and your baby want in a diaper.

Here are some of the reasons Bella Bottoms pockets are special:

  • Unique fold-down snaps and 9 sets of waist snaps for a perfect fit for any baby! The snaps on these diapers are all hidden, so there will be no snap marks on baby's delicate skin.
  • Openings in BOTH the front and the back, making this diaper easier than any other to stuff. Plus, you don't even have to remove the soaker if you don't want to. The diaper is designed so the soaker will easily come out in the wash! These diapers each include a 100% cotton tri-fold soaker AND a 100% hemp bi-fold doubler.
  • Lastin elastic! This elastic is the ONLY elastic that will withstand exposure to urine and hundreds of washes.
  • A stay-dry layer of butter suede on the inside to keep your baby drier.
  • Top quality waterproof 2mm PUL to prevent leaks and wicking.
  • Unique snap-down adjustable rise. INCREDIBELLAs have 3 rise settings for a terrific snuggly fit on any baby from birth to potty training!
  • Made in the USA...Austin, TX!

Remember, the benefit auction begins tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Green Mama Benefit Auction Highlight: Custom Monthly Grace Starter Kit

Monthly Grace is a unique and wonderful cloth menstrual product.
Each pad is handmade with love and care using the finest products.
Monthly Grace pads are made with a fleece layer for both waterproofing and breathability. The 10 inch and 13 inch pads are made standard with an inner core of Zorb for maximum absorbency. The pad topper is quilted only to the inner absorbency layers, and not to the waterproof layer, in order to prevent wicking. Each pad comes with Grippies(R) attached to the bottom, to prevent slippage.

Custom Starter Kit
With this kit, you'll get one 8 inch light flow pad, one 10 inch regular flow pad, and one 13 inch overnight pad. This way, you'll get one of each length to try, and find which is right for you! You choose the fabrics! Printed minky and solid colored fleece, black OBV and coordinating knit (hidden fleece), or natural OBV and coordinating knit (hidden fleece). OR... try all three!

The auction starts in just 2 days...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Green Mama Benefit Auction Highlight: Sojourn Sling & Blanket

The Cloth Diaper Foundation is having a huge benefit auction April 22-30, and they have some amazing things up for auction.

The purpose of the auction is to celebrate Moms and Earth Day to support the Cloth Diaper Foundation, a wonderful group which helps provide cloth diapers for families in need all over the continental United States.
My favorite item in the auction is the Sojourn Sling and matching blanket. This design is called "Dancing in Dublin". Isn't it divine?

"With the energy of a downtown Dublin Street, this lively design in hues of green and grey is sure to put a spring in your step."

The Sojourn Sling provides a snug, fashion-forward approach to globetrotting for mom and baby. An innovative pouch-style sling designed for comfort and versatility, the Sojourn Sling features a reversible print on stretchy 100% organic cotton. A curved base seam and tapered shoulder allows more comfortable placement for baby and less bulk. This particular auction item is for a size small.

A soft, stretchy blanket that features double layer organic cotton knit with print on one side and solid on the other, finished with coordinating solid color binding. Dimensions: 34 x 29

Many people have already expressed interest in this set, and the bidding hasn't even started yet! I think this is going to be a HOT item in the auction. Who wouldn't want this for their baby?
Plus, you know that any proceeds from this benefit auction will go to a VERY good cause.

Happy bidding!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Home Birth is Better Than It Was 100 Years Ago

After I had a wonderful home birth experience I was talking with my mom about it. She told me that my grandmother had been really worried that I was planning a home birth, and she was very relieved that all had gone well. I was stunned by this, and felt sad that my grandma had been so worried about my decision that I had felt such peace with.

I thought about the situation. My grandmother was born at home at a time when there was no access to emergency care or hospitals. Sometimes a doctor could make it to the home in time to help "deliver" the baby, but the majority of the time a laboring mother was supported by whichever woman was closest to her and could be there to help. Many times this was her own mother, sister, neighbor, or even daughter. In true emergency situations there was nowhere to go for help, and even the local doctor had huge limitations in what he could do. Birth was a wonderful but potentially dangerous situation, but when there were hard outcomes it was accepted as a part of life.

By the time my grandmother was having babies birth had been moved from home to the hospital. Birth had become even more dangerous due to doctors unwittingly spreading deadly infections because they simply didn't know to wash their hands when going from treating very sick patients and performing surgeries to catching healthy newborn babies. Fear about the pain and dangers of childbirth became even more rampant as doctors and hospitals struggled to find ways of handling childbirth in a new setting. Women were seeking a way to escape the horror of it all, and their doctors were feverishly looking for ways to save the day.

Doctors learned to wash their hands and take safety precautions, and new medications were presented in an effort to "help" women with the process of childbirth. This involved such things as "Twilight Sleep" in which laboring women were medicated during labor, able to feel everything but having no memory of the experience later because of the drugs. Women were tied to their hospital beds and gagged to keep them from wandering the labor ward, thrashing, or screaming out. In other cases women were simply put under with ether or chloroform into a drug-induced sleep during labor, while doctors forcefully extracted their babies using forceps. The mother didn't remember the birth, and would wake alone because her baby had been taken to the nursery while she was still asleep. One can understand why loving partners were not allowed on the labor and delivery ward during this time.

In the years since, there have been huge strides made to improve hospital births. Expectant fathers are now encouraged to be present and supportive while the mother is laboring, and hospital rooms have been made to appear more like a home setting. Other changes include major medical interventions to control and manage the process of birth, such as medications to start labor or make it go faster, and pain medications which numb a woman to the physical experience of childbirth without knocking her out completely or preventing her from remembering the experience. Interventions that can save lives in true emergencies have been developed, but are now being overused to the point that the potential risks outweigh the benefits. It seems that in an effort to improve childbirth it has been taken to the medical extreme in which every step is managed and medicated, and 1 out of 3 newborns in the US is removed surgically.

Those who recognize the extreme medicalization of birth are left wanting for something better. They are returning to "old" ways of birthing without unnecessary interventions, the way my grandmother came into the world. Bringing birth back to the home is a conscious effort to allow women the experience of normal childbirth, as nature is so beautifully designed.

In pursuing a return to old ways women are not simply accepting greater risk than they would face in a hospital setting. Indeed, many feel they are reducing their risks by avoiding the interventions common in the hospital.

So, how is home birth better than it was 100 years ago? Because of the technological and medical advances over the years, we now have access to life-saving interventions which are needed in true birth emergencies. Those interventions which pose greater risk when overused are still valuable and needed in some cases. No woman plans a home birth intending to transfer, but she understands that it is a possibility. For me personally, this was a comfort when I planned my home birth. I knew I would be in a comfortable setting where I could labor and birth my baby in peace, and felt confident in my ability to do so. I felt that all would go smoothly, but I also knew that if for some reason it didn't I had options that my great-grandmother never did.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Moms at Risk - Maternal Death Rates Increasing

Maternal death rates are on the rise, and it's getting some well-deserved attention. In our world of modern obstetrics with advanced technology, one would think that fewer mothers would be dying during or after childbirth, but the opposite is true.

That article caught my attention. It was a bit shocking to see the statistics and realize the real impact this is having on real mothers and their families.

According to the statistics from California, the increase in mothers dying is the result of the overuse of interventions such as c-sections and medical induction.

C-section rates are higher than ever. The US has an overall c-section rate of about 33%, with hospitals in some areas boasting rates close to 50%. That means that in the United States, 1 out of every 3 babies is born by c-section. The World Health Organization recommends a safe c-section rate for developed countries (like the United States) is 10-15%. They also state that when the c-section rate is more than 15% the risks outweigh the benefits and more mothers and babies are at risk for complications. Complications that are completely avoidable.

Amnesty International is concerned and advocating for changes in maternal health care:

"According to Amnesty, which gathered data from many sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of the pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable, the result of systemic failures, including barriers to accessing care; inadequate, neglectful or discriminatory care; and overuse of risky interventions like inducing labor and delivering via cesarean section. 'Women are not dying from complex, mysterious causes that we don't know how to treat,' says Strauss. 'Women are dying because it's a fragmented system, and they are not getting the comprehensive services that they need.'"

"In the U.S., we spend more than any country on health care, yet American women are at greater risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes than in 40 other countries."

ABC has reported about the statistics in California and brought some much-needed attention to this problem. One thing they recommend in this video: avoid unnecessary interventions during pregnancy and birth. This means avoiding induction, scheduled c-sections and other interventions unless they are medically necessary.

What do you think? What else can women do to protect themselves from the dangers of overaggressive obstetrics?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thyroid Problems Linked to Serious Pregnancy Complications

I ran across this article:

I had never considered the possibility before that a thyroid problem could cause complications in pregnancy. The article is pretty compelling, and after reading it I think it would be a good idea for all pregnant women to be tested for thyroid problems. I've never had any thyroid problems personally that I'm aware of, but I haven't been tested either.

The article states that thyroid problems have been linked to such complications as miscarriage, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature delivery and low birth weight babies.

These are common complications, and I'm always looking for ways to help women stay low risk by avoiding such complications.

I decided to post a discussion on the forums at My Best Birth, and I was pleasantly surprised by the responses from the many women there. What I discovered from their feedback is that thyroid problems, whether it's hyperthyroidism or hypothryoidism, often go undetected because many times there are no symptoms and a woman doesn't know she needs to be tested. If it goes untreated, thyroid problems can indeed lead to serious complications as listed above, as well as posterior and breech presentation!

I have more articles for you on the subject:
I think that routine thyroid tests should be done when you see the doctor for any checkup, not only during pregnancy. I strongly feel that all women, pregnant or not, should know about this and see their doctor about having a thyroid test.

Friday, April 9, 2010

WHO: "Elective Cesarean Sections Are Too Risky"

"Despite medical advances and increasing access to improved obstetric care across the globe, surgical childbirths are still more risky for both mother and baby, according to an ongoing international survey by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"A new report from the survey... found that in Asia—in both developed and developing nations—cesarean section births only reduced risks of major complications for mother and child if they were medically recommended. Elected surgical deliveries, on the other hand, put both at greater risk.

"'Cesarean section should be done only when there is a medical indication to improve the outcome for the mother or the baby,' the authors of the report concluded. Common reasons for a recommendation for cesarean delivery included a previous cesarean section, cephalopelvic disproportion (when the baby's head cannot fit through the mother's pelvic opening) and fetal distress."

Click here for the full article in Scientific American Observations

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Preeclampsia And Toximia Preventable With Good Nutrition

Many doctors will tell you they don't know what causes Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension, Preeclampsia or Toximia. While in some cases this is true, many times these potentially serious pregnancy complications can be prevented simply by getting proper nutrition during pregnancy.

Ina May Gaskin, in her book, "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth", explains it well:

"In telling you that toxemia can be prevented, I have given you the good news. The not-so-good news is that the techno-medical model of birth does not recognize any connection between toxemia and poor nutrition. The assumption about toxemia underlying this model of birth is that it doesn't matter what a pregnant woman eats or drinks, because her baby is somehow able to extract what it needs from her, regardless of how poorly she eats. One of the most important reasons for this missed connection between good nutrition and good health is that obstetricians receive virtually no training in nutrition during their medical and clinical education. Instead, they continue to be taught that the cause of toxemia is unknown and that it cannot be prevented.

"...Within the techno-medical model of care, the favorite ways of dealing with toxemia today include "treatment" by early delivery, whether by induction of labor or planned cesarean section, and the prescription of magnesium sulfate, Valium (diazepam), or calcium.

"Tom Brewer, author of "Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy," is a U.S. family practice physician who has devoted his life and career to understanding the cause of toxemia and to educating women and caregivers about how to prevent it. Between 1963 and 1976, he ran a prenatal-care project in Contra Costa County, California, for a population of over seven thousand mothers from the lowest income group in the San Francisco Bay Area. By all odds, most of the women in this population would have been considered likely candidates for developing toxemia and having low-birth-weight babies. In similar populations during the same period, the incidence of toxemia ranged between twenty and thirty-five percent. That is not what happened in the Contra Costa County project, where because of Brewer's intensive work, the women received extensive nutritive counseling during pregnancy. There, the incidence of toxemia was only 0.5 percent, with no cases of convulsive toxemia. The published results of this study convinced many midwives but few physicians or researchers, ostensibly because Brewer's work was not based upon randomized controlled trials. This research method (in which women are assigned by chance to groups receiving different treatments, whose outcomes are then compared by researchers unaware of the group to which each woman belongs) is often called the 'gold standard' of research because it is designed to eliminate bias. However, the problem with applying it to the thesis that good nutrition can prevent most cases of toxemia is that IT REQUIRES THE DELIBERATE MALNUTRITION OR STARVATION OF A GROUP OF WOMEN to be compared with a group of well-nourished women [emphasis mine]. Unfortunately, in the modern world of techno-medicine, cures and treatments involving drugs and surgery are often more researched and quickly accepted by most obstetricians than are preventative measures.

"Gardeners know that you must nourish the soil if you want healthy plants. You must water plants adequately, especially when seeds are germinating and sprouting, and they should be planted in a nutrient-rich soil. Why should nutrition matter less in the creation of young humans than it does in young plants? I'm sure that it doesn't. Farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians know that pregnant animals must be well-fed and given enough water and salt to give the best chance of survival to their young. It doesn't make sense that the human species could be the only one whose newborns have the power to extract from their mothers nutrients that their mothers aren't eating themselves.

"I know of no zookeeper who would feed pregnant animals in zoos junk food and expect optimally healthy young to be born. Common sense says that eating well is a good idea."

For more information, please see the following blog posts and site:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Menstrual Cups - Alternative to Tampons and Pads

This isn't related to pregnancy or childbirth, but it's a product that benefits women, and I think it's worth sharing:

The Diva Cup - Menstrual Solution

“With all the state-of-the-art conveniences Western society has developed, it baffles us why outdated feminine products are still being used. We believe that reusable menstrual cups are the next generation of feminine hygiene because they are the most environmentally responsible choice. They are also the most convenient and reliable option available and are not linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome.” Francine Chambers

"The DivaCup ends hassles with unreliable disposables in endless absorbencies, shapes and styles. It is perfect for all activities – giving women true freedom without the worry, guessing and unreliability that disposable feminine hygiene products pose."

I personally know women who have used the Diva Cup and love it. I'm considering getting one for myself.

As I've done some research, I've learned that there are many menstrual cups out there besides the Diva Cup. These include The Keeper, Mooncup, Lunette, Miacup, Instead, and more! If you're interested in learning more about menstrual cups, please check out this livejournal community for menstrual cup users. They have tons of how-to and product information, as well as product comparisons and where you can purchase one.

Friday, April 2, 2010

All Moms Deserve Medals

You don't get a medal for motherhood,

but maybe you should!

The sacrifices that we make starting in pregnancy,
through birth and then that first year are HUGE!

For some moms the sacrifices might start

* while they are trying to get pregnant.
* with morning sickness.
* with bedrest to help the baby stay in longer.
* with the birth.
* with struggling with breastfeeding.
* with sleepless nights.

Regardless of when the sacrifices start, one thing is for sure. All moms make sacrifices!

We don't make these sacrifices FOR a medal, but we certainly do DESERVE one.

A medal inspired by 2 real life moms. For only $4.95 each. This medal makes a cute fun gift for any mom.