Friday, January 28, 2011

CDC Mandatory Vaccine Schedule

This is one reason that it is not a logical argument to say to parents today, "Well, you had ALL YOUR vaccinations when you were born and you are fine... Why not give them ALL to your baby?"

Be informed. Know each individual vaccine and the disease it is correlated with. Know your individual child's risk factor both for getting the disease (and/or being harmed by it) and for facing adverse effects of over-vaccination. Know how natural, life-long immunity works. Understand the most powerful of infant immunizations - exclusive breastfeeding. Make decisions on a vax-by-vax basis. There is no reason to blindly say 'yes' to 36-38 injections before 66 months of age.

"The Vaccine Book" by Dr. Sears, "Take Charge of Your Child's Health" by Dr. Wootan, and several others are good 'even keeled' places to start if you've not previously looked into vaccines.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sight of Blood

I'm not fainting; I'm terrified.

After my emergency room miscarriage in December I'd been anxious to get my body healthier and back on a normal schedule. I started making some big changes to my diet in late December as part of my “get healthier” goal. I don't do new year's resolutions because to me they've always seemed like well-intentioned empty promises. The irony that I made this big change in my life right before the new year is definitely not lost on me, but it was important enough that I dedicated myself to it.

I didn't know how long it would take for my cycle to return, and I decided I'd just be patient and not worry about it. I also decided not to worry about getting pregnant or preventing pregnancy. I wanted to focus on taking better care of myself so I could be a better wife, a better mom, a better me. I wanted to have more energy, to be physically strong and well, and to be happy. I also wanted to make sure that my body would be better prepared for carrying a baby to term when the time was right.

As time passed I realized it had been over a month since the miscarriage and I wondered when my body would resume it's regular cycle. I talked with a friend who'd had a miscarriage about month before my latest one, and we talked about cycles and feelings and everything that comes with the territory. It was really nice to have someone in a similar situation to talk with and share these things.

That very afternoon it came. There was blood, and I felt a sense of relief come over me. I wasn't pregnant, and I was fine with that. I was getting my period, which meant my body was getting back to normal, and hopefully a healthier normal. What I didn't expect was the feelings that would come over me the next day.

The bleeding started out dark brown, like old blood, and gradually became brighter and heavier. As time went on, over the period of a day, my anxiety levels gradually rose. I almost didn't notice it at first. A post I wrote about my miscarriage happened to publish on my blog that day and I read it and relived some of the memories and feelings from it. Every time I went to use the bathroom I had to face the blood, and I found myself absorbed in it. I was checking for clots, examining the color, the thickness, the texture (yes, I touched it), and the smell. You read that right, I smelled it. I wanted to be sure of what my body was doing.

I was exhausted and having cramps, which isn't typical for me during menstruation. The cramping hurt worse on one side than the other, and I found myself panicking. I even called my midwife to ask if the one-sided pain was normal. She told me not to worry, and to put on a heating pad and rest. That was exactly what I wanted to do, and I did.

In the back of my mind I couldn't get the thought out of my head that maybe I'd unintentionally become pregnant again and was having yet another miscarriage, or worse an ectopic pregnancy. While possible, this was unlikely. I kept telling myself that this was just my body getting back into a healthy rhythm and it was a good thing, but I couldn't quite make myself believe it.

I thought I'd been doing so well until that point. I'd coped with my loss primarily through writing and sharing my story, and I'd managed to pull myself out of a deep depression and started making positive changes in my life. I'd been feeling better until this slapped me in the face.

It made me realize how vulnerable we are as women, and even as human beings. We can't just go through something difficult and traumatic and expect to move on without any repercussions. Things impact us on an emotional level and they don't just go away. It reminds me of a book I read years ago called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. It taught me that we have to face and deal with our feelings in order to properly process them and grow from them in positive ways. When we try to bury or hide our feelings they don't really go away. They can pop back up at any point and rear their ugly heads.

I don't think I was necessarily burying my feelings after my miscarriage, but I think that grieving happens in stages and waves. I think I was dealing with my loss as well as I could, and I've had to peel back the layers of emotions that are there. I'm pretty sure I'm not done grieving, but I think that's OK. I feel like this is part of my healing, as hard and debilitating as it can be at times, and that it's important to honor myself and my feelings and face them head on.

So this is me, right here and right now, facing them.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Can You Succeed or Fail at Breastfeeding?

I recently read a blog post in which the author wrote about her plans to bring formula with her to the hospital when she went to have her baby. She talked about her plans to breastfeed partially and supplement with formula. It was her second baby and she planned to bring a good quality breast pump along with the formula.

I was surprised, and I couldn't understand why someone would make such a decision. I've always thought of breastfeeding as an all or nothing kind of thing.

It's not that I think that a woman struggling with breastfeeding has to quit and rely completely on artificial milk to feed her baby. I've done research about breastfeeding, and I understand that when an alternative feeding method is introduced it can jeopardize the breastfeeding relationship. Introducing another food, particularly shortly after birth, can cause the woman's body to not produce as much milk as her baby needs. Even if she breastfeeds partially her milk supply may come in later than it would if she were to nurse her baby full time, and it may not be sufficient to meet the demands of her baby. 

I've also had experiences with my own babies reacting badly to formula when a well-meaning person tried to feed them. One of my babies had diarrhea and stomach pains for weeks after one small formula feeding. For me the best option was to breastfeed my babies exclusively. It was the easiest and least expensive choice, and it worked well.

I felt that by planning from the get-go to bring formula to the hospital this woman was seting herself up for failure with breastfeeding. I'll make an analogy, if you will.

When I was pregnant with my first baby I wanted a natural birth but I wasn't prepared for it. I told myself that I would try to have a natural labor without medication, but that if it got too hard I might get the epidural. Guess what happened? The circumstances of my labor included Pitocin, and it was the first time I'd ever experienced labor contractions. I didn't have the support I needed or the preparation, and it got too hard for me. I got the epidural. It wasn't what I wanted, but I felt I had no other option at the time.

When I was expecting my second child I was resigned to the idea that I needed medication in order to give birth. I decided to take control of the situation and I went ahead and scheduled an induction and simply planned on getting the epidural. Why try for a natural birth if I was incapable of it?

During my third pregnancy I met my wonderful doula and confided in her about my wishes for a natural birth experience. I realized that with the information, preparation, and support from my doula I felt capable of attaining my goal. I also realized that in order for me to be able to do it, I had to take the option of an epidural completely off the table. That also meant avoiding Pitocin at all costs. I couldn't even give myself a back-up plan that included medication. My birth plan specified that the hospital staff were NOT to offer me any form of medication. It was through these changes that I finally reached my goal, and it was an incredibly empowering and rewarding experience.

I approach breastfeeding in much the same way. I never gave myself the option of giving my baby formula or anything else for that matter. I knew that my body was capable of producing what my baby needed. I'd seen my own mother breastfeed my siblings, and it was the only way I intended to feed my child. Anything short of that would have felt like failure.

This is where that blog post really made me think. I posted a comment to the author expressing my opinion that she was setting herself up for failure, and offering advice on what she could do to better ensure a successful breastfeeding experience with her baby. Her response surprised me. She expressed her opinion that breastfeeding is not something a woman succeeds or fails at, and that a mother should do her best to take care of herself and her baby. In her eyes, formula was an option that gave her some lenience in allowing others to help care for her infant and take some of the pressure off of her. She made it clear that she intended to both breastfeed and supplement with formula on a regular basis, and that she had no intention of trying to breastfeed exclusively. She didn't want her body to have to supply every feeding for her baby, and didn't mind that the formula feedings would keep it from being able to. This is what she wanted and what she felt was best.

How could I argue with that? Honestly, it's her decision and she has the full right to make choices for her child's care and upbringing. I couldn't fault her for doing what she honestly felt was best for her and her baby.

Then I got thinking. Is breastfeeding something that a woman either succeeds or fails at, or can there be a middle road? I've known countless women who have used a combination of nursing and supplementing, and although it's not the choice I would make personally, it's within their right to feed their baby as they see fit.

I can make argument after argument about why formula is not good for babies, and why exclusive breastfeeding is truly what every baby needs, but I can't expect everyone to agree with my point of view. We each have our own journey to travel, and we must make the choices we feel are best.

It took me two failures at natural birth to finally reach my goal. Does that make me a failure at birth? Does it mean I made bad choices?

It only means it was the path I was on. I made the choices I felt were best at the time, and all the knowledge I gained later couldn't change anything about any of it. I had to come to accept my past in order to fully look forward to the future.

Perhaps the particular blogger I spoke of will find “success” with breastfeeding, but who is to measure her success and what does that actually mean? Does a woman have to breastfeed her baby exclusively to be considered successful at feeding her infant? I think that would be placing a heavy burden on women all over the world. I think as long as she and her family are happy and healthy that's what really matters.

What do you think? Do you really succeed or fail at breastfeeding?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Labor Doula, Childbirth Preparation, and Gentle Birth

I'm happy to announce that three more of my articles were published on the Pampers website:

Why I Love my Labor Doula - My personal tribute to my amazing doula!

A Birth Doula Supports Women in Labor and Birth - This discusses the many roles of birth doulas, including supporting women with epidurals and c-sections.

Preparing for Labor and Delivery - This covers a little of each of my 5 birth experiences, emphasizing the need for proper childbirth preparation.

Is Gentle Birth Possible? - My experience in discovering gentle birth.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm Not Angry

When I published the recap of my day miscarrying in the emergency room, there was a surprising response from some of my readers. I'm sure everyone who read the story probably felt in some way indignant at my mistreatment and neglect by the emergency room staff that day. Even I, while writing about it, felt some of those feelings myself. Some suggested that I report it to the hospital or even seek retribution or litigation for it. Surely, I should want justice for having to endure such treatment at such a sensitive and difficult time.

I really, truly appreciate every bit of support I've received from my readers and friends regarding my miscarriage. I really needed that support, and probably still do need it. The emotional reactions we all felt to what happened were natural human reactions. Something wasn't done right, and it needs to be fixed. It's an instinctive response.

So here's the deal: nothing can fix what happened. I'm not saying that to be depressive or negative in some way. It's the simple truth. What happened, happened, and I'm actually not upset toward anyone about it. I never felt angry toward the overwhelmed emotionless doctor or the snickering nurses. I didn't feel upset that they basically ignored me while I miscarried right there in the ER bed. It's strange. I guess I should feel some of those things, but I don't.

I understood the circumstances, and I actually empathized for those people who were supposed to be entrusted with my care. I knew they were overwhelmed with a full emergency room that day, even before I was given a bed. I knew from the moment I got in there that the doctor was in the ER for the first time ever, and I didn't expect to be emotionally supported by him when he was essentially on a crash training course. I went there for an ultrasound. I never expected to fully miscarry right there, and I'm sure the hospital staff didn't expect it either.

They offered me the care they knew how to. They suggested treatments which I declined even before I was officially diagnosed, and they probably didn't know what to do with me because I really didn't want or need any medical treatment for a naturally occurring event that just so happened to take place in their territory. They certainly were not OB specialists and didn't know what an obstetrician would do under the circumstances. They referred me to my obstetrician because of this. They made assumptions of what the OB would probably do, but those assumptions were wrong. How were they to know that?

A few weeks after the fact, I spoke with a friend of mine who is a labor and delivery nurse. She told me that they don't routinely do D&C's on women who are miscarrying, and that the emergency department probably wasn't even aware of how the labor and delivery department would handle it. They were acting out of the knowledge and training they'd had, and it was in no way perfect for the situation.

Seeking financial retribution would be pointless and wouldn't fill the emotional pain of having a miscarriage. That pain would be there regardless of where or how it took place, and trying to get revenge on those who happened to be there with me at the time wouldn't serve any purpose to me. Yes, part of me would like to sit down with the group of individuals who interacted with me that day and let them know just how it felt to be in my shoes. Maybe that would help them be more sympathetic to the next woman who comes in with a similar situation.

I also realize that the hospital staff were practicing defensive medicine the entire time I was under their care.
  • I came in for an ultrasound and they inserted an IV before anything else was done. They were preparing for the worst, which would have likely been ectopic pregnancy requiring immediate surgery or a miscarriage requiring surgical intervention. All they knew was that I was pregnant and bleeding. Telling me they might need to give me fluids, in my opinion, was a load of bunk. I really don't think that's what they were preparing for. They were assuming the worst, which I suppose is their job. I saw it, I knew what was happening as it happened. I guess that's why I'm not mad. I didn't feel fooled by anything.
  • Not letting me have anything to eat or drink. This was the worst part of my treatment, in my opinion. I was bleeding and hadn't had any nourishment for hours. What I really needed was something to keep me stable and healthy, but they wouldn't give it to me because once again they were assuming the worst. What if they had to send me to the OR? What if I had to be put under general anesthesia? They couldn't run the risk of my having anything in my stomach “just in case”. I knew I didn't need any of those things, and I needed to eat. But once again, defensive medicine called the shots.
  • Refusing to take out my IV. Now this was just stupid. The same rules apply. They were sending me to my OB for follow-up care. “What if her OB decides to draw more blood or do a D&C?” I guess logically it made sense that the OB's office could just take it out for me, especially since I was only walking next door, but that didn't happen. It was easy enough to remove it myself when I had to.
I guess what my story shows is how defensive medicine can fail. Sure, if my case had been the worst-case scenario the hospital's legal behinds would have been covered by their defensive medicine. But it wasn't. It was a natural miscarriage needing no intervention, in which case the so-called “care” provided was horribly sub-par.

My story resembles so strongly the active management of the labor and birth of an otherwise healthy mother and child in the hospital. Every day expectant women are subjected to unnecessary interventions “just in case” which increase their risks and deprive them of the nurturing loving support they need and deserve. Whether it be induction, epidural, continuous fetal monitoring, restriction to bed, no food or drink, or even cesarean section: all are done routinely for the sake of defensive medicine. Now, that makes me angry!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hand Expressing Breast Milk

"Until recently hand expression of milk has been an under-utilized skill in our institution. But there are many benefits of knowing how to express milk from the breast without the use of expensive or cumbersome pumps. In this video, Dr. Jane Morton demonstrates how easily hand expression can be taught to mothers."

An instructional video by the Stanford School of Medicine

While watching this video I was impressed by how much early hand expression can boost breast milk supply. Some women's bodies don't respond well to breast pumps, and this is an important skill to know and be able to teach to others. There is no special equipment required.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Favorite Recent Pregnancy/Birth Links

I post a lot of web links on my Mamas and Babies facebook fan page, but I often forget to pass the information on here. I think it's important to share as much information as possible, so I'm bringing you some of my recent favorite web links related to pregnancy and birth.

These are in no particular order:

Happy surfing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Confessions of a Baby Who Wasn't Held

Physical touch is extremely important, but it's never been easy for me. I've always been fiercely independent in nature, even as an infant. My mother tells me that I cried and squirmed whenever someone tried to hold me. As a result, I wasn't held. I think my parents found it easier not to try. Even as I grew up physical touch was never a priority in our home. We kissed our parents goodnight and goodbye and hugged occasionally, but we always kept to our own space most of the time. I wonder why I was that way. Even now I'm somewhat of an ice princess, and physical touch doesn't come naturally to me. I wonder if my parents had made a stronger effort to hold me, if they could have nurtured me to be different than I am now? I'm not angry with them for doing what they did. They did what they felt was best, and I am who I am.

As a mother I'm learning the importance of touch for babies and children. My oldest is a bit of an ice prince himself, and I think it has a lot to do with his birth experience and having picked up some of my own mannerisms. As a baby he desperately wanted to be held, and wouldn't sleep unless he was being cuddled. So he's not exactly like me, at least not according to what I've been told, because he didn't start out that way. As an older child he loves it when I hug him and sit with him, but he doesn't ask for it or approach me. He waits until I approach him, which isn't often because I'm always busy. It seems like I'm always holding one of the younger two, and the older kids don't get much “mommy time” as we call it in our house. I have to make a conscious effort to snuggle my children, but I'm learning that it's incredibly rewarding.

With five children, I've never had a baby that didn't want to be cuddled. Sometimes I loved it, and other times it was really hard. Do we sometimes misinterpret our babies' signals? Could it be that I really wanted to be held as a baby, but for some reason my parents didn't know how to give me the touch I so desperately needed? I was born only 17 months after my older brother, and I wonder how overwhelmed they felt? Indeed, as an adult I'm finding that I crave physical touch, but I don't know how to go about it. I'm too proud/embarrassed/uncomfortable to ask, and almost afraid to approach even those close to me. Was I unconsciously trained as an infant that it wasn't OK to want it?

Many studies have been done and found the benefits of skin to skin touch for newborns and babies. Breastfeeding itself is an expression of nurturing physical touch, producing oxytocin, the “love hormone” and creating a stronger bond between mother and child. The need for touch doesn't end as a child grows.

It's easy with kids. They respond so well to hugs and cuddles. I'm learning to love it. I can't believe I've been missing out on this most of my life, but it's still a struggle at times. I've always had a sort of invisible bubble around me, and it's uncomfortable when someone invades that bubble. Children constantly invade my bubble, and it's taken time and understanding to literally embrace them and feel OK about allowing them to cross it at will. The more children I've had and the more I've matured, the more comfortable I've become with this, and I'm still learning to appreciate it.

I'm married to a cuddler. My husband thrives on touch, and this has created quite the dynamic in our relationship. Although this makes things difficult at times, when he wants touch and I want nothing to do with it, in some ways I'm grateful for it. He teaches me the things I didn't learn as a child. He's helping me realize the importance of touch, and as a result it's blessing our children. I don't think I would have learned how to appreciate the clinging of my loving babies without his reminders and encouragement. I'm amazed and grateful I was naturally inclined to breastfeed and co-sleep my babies, because those things have helped me as well.

I think some people naturally want to be held and others don't, but I think it's important for us all.

Parents, cuddle your babies. Hold them as much as they need you to. It's OK to stop whatever you're doing and switch your attention to your child when he or she needs you. It's OK to put other things on hold while you snuggle a little one and share that tender moment, or many moments as it may be. They won't be little forever, not more than a few years, and eventually they will likely outgrow the spontaneous invasion of your bubble and you'll miss it.

I truly hope my babies will grow to be healthy touch-loving people, unafraid to embrace and express their love in such tender ways.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Favorite Pregnancy and Birth Books

I recently posted on the Mamas and Babies facebook page asking for pregnancy/birth book recommendations from the wonderful community there. I'd like to pass on the list that I compiled based on the responses I got:

I said: "I think my most favorite is Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read, because it's so simple and beautiful. It goes back to the basics of trusting your body and the natural function of birth, and how it's so possible for virtually every woman."

From Shiloh: "I love both the Ina May Gaskin books especially her newest one. Ina May's Guide to childbirth."

Kasie: "I have two. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (because she is awesome, and I love all the beautiful, empowering birth stories), and Childbirth Without Fear, because everything Dr. Grantly Dick Read said in it makes so much sense. I love that he held pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding in such high esteem. Wish we had more OB's like him around today."

From Jeannette: "I like "Spiritual Midwifery". I wrote a review of it on my Youtube page. Check it out."

Donna said: "gentle birth gentle mothering its just a great book"

From Rachel: "Birthing From Within, for the inside-of-the-mother-centered viewpoint and for the pain-management techniques and for the nonjudgmental presentation of options. Most of all, for all the stories and art, which gave me a lot of new ways of thinking about pregnancy and birth and myself and society."

Liev: "anything Ina May Gaskin :)"

Lauren said: "Ina May and Henci Goer books."

Mara: "I love Ina May as well but just ordered Birthing from Within and Mind over Labor to help prepare and get rid of fear for labor/birth number 3"

Gretchen: "Ina May's guide to childbirth" because it made me realize how much power over my own labor I have, it made me reconnect to my mammalian roots through a little spirituality and a ton of science!"

From Townley: "I concur with the "Birthing From Within" review. I felt it gave me tools to prepare for laboring, birthing and parenthood. I loved reading birthstories as well, but is was doing the art projects and journaling that helped to get it to a visceral level. I recommend it to all my doula clients."

Kelly said: "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth & Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth"

Becky said: "Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way...It is very in depth and its hard to explain but it is like a birth class in a book! Its my all time favorite, and my husbands too..he used it all during my early labor."

From Jenny: "Ina May's books and Penny Simkin's Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn it's what parents need to know about hospital procedures and hospital births and what questions to ask!"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Support for Sexual Abuse Survivors Giving Birth

"A staggering 65 percent of women experience some form of sexual abuve in their lifetime... Katie Wise opens a 3-part Mother's Advocate series about survivors of abuse giving birth. She courageously shares her personal story and insights for other women who've survived, and for the people who care for them."

I Will Survive: Thoughts on Survivors Giving Birth

This article hit close to home. I'm a sexual abuse survivor myself. The part about the c-section restraints really resonated with me. I wonder if that's part of the reason I've always had an unnatural fear of c-section?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Birthing Goddess

I wrote this article for the Pampers Pregnancy website and it was rejected by the copy editors because the subject matter didn't fit the topic they had in mind. I enjoyed writing this, so I've decided to publish it here with minimal changes.

Kasie catching her son unassisted. A birth goddess in action.

Birthing Goddess

I think pregnant and birthing women are often overshadowed, and it's important to redefine the center of birth. I feel the woman should be the focus of pregnancy and birth.

I've personally noticed lots of things that shift focus away from the expectant woman. I felt I spent more time in the waiting room than with the doctor. The nurse took my weight and blood pressure, moving from one thing to the next. My doctor spent a few minutes with me, mostly looking at my chart. One doctor spent five minutes with me on an average visit, while another spent ten to 15 minutes with me. The visits felt rushed and I wasn't comfortable asking all the questions on my mind. Sometimes I forgot my questions in the rush.

I didn't know any differently until I planned a home birth with a midwife and noticed a change in the quality of care. As the expectant mother I felt honored and respected. She spent an hour with me at each visit. She checked my weight, blood pressure, urinalysis, and everything else. She asked about my feelings throughout pregnancy and answered all my questions. It was easier to remember my questions when there was time to think and talk. I felt my emotional well-being was cared for as well as the physical.

I've also felt as the laboring that I wasn't the focus of birth. In the hospital there were monitors, and everyone watched the monitor screen rather than looking at me. I did the work of giving birth, but the staff had other patients to attend to. When the baby was born the focus in the room shifted to the newborn, with the weighing and checking and everything else.

My home birth was different because there were no distractions. It was just me, my husband, and two midwives. It was wonderfully intimate and supportive. As the birthing mother, I was the focus throughout labor and birth. After the birth my family was with me constantly, and the newborn check-ups were done with the baby next to me. The focus wasn't on me or him alone, but on us both. It was a striking contrast to my other experiences, and I felt that every woman should experience that sense of respect and honor.

I think it's possible to achieve this positive focus on the birthing woman, even in the hospital. It takes a conscious effort to turn one's attention to the person rather than the distractions all around. Watch her, attend to her every need, and shower her with love every step of the way. There's a quote by Ina May Gaskin I really like: "If a woman doesn't look like a goddess in birth, someone isn't treating her right." I don't know if I ever looked like a goddess, but I felt like one when I was the center of focus.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Coming Into My Own

It's been over two years since I started this blog, and I think I'm finally starting to learn what I'm actually doing with it.

When I started in October 2008 I wanted to provide a place where expectant parents could find information about pregnancy and birth. I wanted to avoid writing about myself, but to be a source of positive uplifting information, and I was hoping to provide it in an unbiased fashion. That's proven kind of hard to do, especially because I'm naturally biased by my own experiences and opinions. I've done my best, and I'm happy with what I've done so far. The most fulfilling thing for me is when someone thanks me and tells me that I've helped them in some way. That's really what I want to do: help others and touch as many lives as possible.

Along the way I've found other really great blogs that exemplify different aspects of what I would have wanted to do with this blog. I'll just name a few:

  • I like Birth Faith for the amazing in-depth information Busca provides on each subject she writes about. Her posts are based on her personal studies and she's able to back it all up. She also has a really interesting point of view and isn't afraid to look at things from a different angle.
  • Rachel from The Beginning of Motherhood is another blog I found that gives me a unique point of view, and I like that she's a labor and delivery nurse who supports women in natural birth as much as possible. She doesn't post as often as some other bloggers, but what she posts is always interesting. She also relies a lot on research, which is something I struggle with personally, so I find it really helpful to have a resource like that available. She recently quit her job as a nurse to focus on supporting women as a birth doula, and I'm excited to see where this leads her.
  • Sheridan from Enjoy Birth is a Hypnobabies instructor, doula, and mother of three. I always appreciate her point of view and birth stories she posts. She is down to earth and provides a lot of good informational resources.
  • Stand and Deliver is another amazing blog that I found myself drawn to. Rixa is well-educated and well-written and she always has something interesting to say. I appreciate the quirky mix of personal and educational posts, and I appreciate that she had an unassisted birth with her first baby, and that she follows her heart and does what she feels is best for each pregnancy. She also backs up everything she says by provided resources along with the information.
  • Mama Birth is a blog I've come to appreciate more recently. She is a talented writer, and she seems to capture the hearts of many women when she writes about her own personal feelings and experiences in a way that enfolds her readers. When she writes about her emotional struggles with raising several small children, other women can relate to her situation and they feel validated by it.
  • The Midwife Thinking always writes really great informational posts, kind of like what I wish I could write, simply informing people about real physiological birth. She tells us what real birth is like when it's not being interfered upon constantly by doctors or nurses. She debunks the common medical practices and explains things in simple terms that anyone can understand.
  • The Unnecesarean is a great source of information. Jill and her co-contributors always stay on top of the latest pregnancy and birth news, and they write about it. The posts are edgy, which I appreciate, and they always give me something to think about. They don't tell anyone what to think or do, but I think they push their readers to take matters into their own hands and make more informed choices.

There are many other really great blogs I haven't mentioned, and I don't have the time or space to describe them all here. Many times the information I post is based on what I read on other blogs, and I really don't know what I would do without these amazing resources.

As I've been writing this blog I've gone through a lot personally. I had my own amazing surprise breech home birth in 2009, which transformed me as a woman and a pregnancy and birth supporter. I went on to have two miscarriages in 2010, one of which was only a few weeks ago.

Through writing about my miscarriages I've realized some of my strengths. I feel that I've touched more lives through the personal posts I've written about my experiences. I feel more fulfilled by these types of post than I do by any others. I've come to use my blog as a personal journal of sorts and a tool for processing and healing, and others have responded in positive ways to that.

In the beginning I avoided writing anything too personal. I didn't think anyone cared to read about me and my emotional self, and I felt self conscious about putting myself out there and making myself vulnerable. However, I've found that when I do put myself out there I find an amazing support network of compassionate people, and that is very humbling and comforting. I'm also able to connect with other women who have gone through something similar. We can console each other and provide validation that can't be found elsewhere. My personal experiences have given me something to build on, and I want to take advantage of that.

In the process I've learned something about myself and my blog. I'm not going to be a Sheridan, Busca, Rachel, Rixa, Jill, Mama Birth, or Midwife Thinking. I can't be any of them, and I don't need to try to make my blog like their blogs. Each blogger provides their own perspective and utilizes their own strengths and talents.

So Mamas and Babies is becoming a lot more personal. You've probably noticed it's already started to be that way. Don't look to me for the factual data-supported information, because that's not what I'm good at. If that's what you're looking for, I'll happily point you to another blogger who fills that need exceptionally well. I'll still post information as I come across it, and provide links to great pregnancy and birth resources that we can benefit from.

I'm an emotional and spiritual creature and I make many of my decisions based on my feelings and personal inspiration, which is generally (but not always) based on factual information. I'll be raw and honest, and I'll tell you exactly what it's like... from my perspective.