30 July 2008

True love waits!

I saw a funny post on another mom's blog: abstinence pants!

"Hey, you! Look at my BUTT! I'm a virgin!"

Well, how about a new use for these here pants? Moms, newly postpartum or otherwise & certainly not virginal, who just want to send a message to their beloved to back the flerk off...like, "Honey, I love you and all, but can't I just watch "Project Runway", meditate on what Dr. Sears calls being "touched out" & get some sleep? Come on, babe - true love waits!"


Born last night! Welcome to the world & congrats to your super cool parents & lovely big sister! I hear it's the redheads who really have more fun - way to go! You're in for lot's of fun, little one...

"Another risk of cesarean surgery"

From the excellent blog, Spinning Babies:

"A 26-yr old woman was 8-weeks pregnant and experiencing some light bleeding. Her previous birth was by cesarean section. When an ultrasound was done to see the cause of her bleeding the technician could find no baby in her womb. Instead, the baby was developing in the separating edges of her cesarean scar!"

Read more, including the outcome .

29 July 2008

Groaning Cake

From Ami McKay's The Birth House (read it!):

Groaning Cake
The tradition of the groaning cake, or kimbly at (or following) a birth is an ancient one. Wives' tales say that the scent of a groaning cake being baked in the birth house helps to ease the mother's pain. Some say if a mother breaks the eggs while she's aching, her labour won't last as long. Others say that if a family wants prosperity and fertility, the father must pass pieces of the cake to friends and family the first time the mother and baby are "churched" (or the first time they go to a public gathering) after a birth. Many cultures share similar traditions…a special dish, bread, or drink, spiced with cinnamon, all spice, and/or ginger. At one time there was even a "groaning ale" made to go with it…

I made groaning cake the day of my son's home birth and my neighbour brought me "health bread" the day after the birth. This recipe is a combination of the two. It has apple, molasses, orange juice and spices and can really help to see a woman through a long labour, or give her strength after the birth!

2 ½ Cups Flour
3 eggs
2 tsp. Baking powder
½ Cup oil
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ Cup orange juice
2 tsp. Cinnamon
¼ Cup molasses
½ tsp. Ground cloves
1 1/3 Cups sugar
1 ½ cups apple (grated, no skin)
1 tsp. Almond extract

Sift dry ingredients together. Add apple. Beat eggs. Add oil, orange juice, molasses and sugar. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Add almond extract. Bake at 350 F. for 35-40 minutes. Makes two 9 X 5 loaves or about 18 muffins.

Additions: raisins, dates, dried fruits, or nuts.

Takin' its time

Ever wonder what ovulation looks like? Check out story here.

"theories had suggested an "explosive" release for the egg, but the ovulation he witnessed took 15 minutes to complete"

28 July 2008

One degree of separation

I got a nice call today from a reader of The MotherHood. She is a new to the magazine and thought I might be able to help her find a pediatrician who will meet her where she is and will listen to her concerns respectfully. I shared with her my experiences of our family pediatrician, also a columnist for the magazine. I gave her other names as well.
We chatted a bit and she told me that her first three births were in a (now closed) NYC birthing center and that her last birth was at home...with the same midwife who attended me at my own last birth...small world!

26 July 2008

Labor, virtually

I was checking out a (natural) birth website & saw this Virtual Labor game. Why not take a few trial runs & be reminded of some comfort measure options?
It's fun & you could even play some nice music, dim the lights and drink some RRL tea to set the mood!

25 July 2008

Happy Day Out Of Time

My friend Jill, also a doula, came for a visit today (& brought me my favorite carrot muffin - thanks Jill!). She mentioned that tomorrow (now today) is the Day Out Of Time, and how wonderful it would be to attend or give birth on this day. What a perfect description of birth - timelessness, only this contraction, only now, a fresh start. And then there is that whole connection to how estimated due dates are calculated on a 28 day lunar month...
I thought it was such a cool concept that I decided to look it up & share:

as blogged on Verbal Viagra:
July 25th is the Gregorian Calendar’s date known as The Day Out of Time because it’s the 365th day of the Thirteen Moon Calendar. This harmonic timing standard measures the year in thirteen even months of 28 days each, a perpetual calendar of 52 perfect weeks, making a total of 364 days. The 365th day is technically not a day of the week or month at all, but truly ‘A Day Out of Time’. For this reason, this special day is observed as the day to cancel debts, to pardon and forgive, and to celebrate life through art and culture… So Happy Day out of Time, it’s a good day to make a fresh start! Make it a good one.

So to all the birthing women, to those who love and support them, to all the babies born, and to Jill, happy Day Out Of Time!

quote from The Birth House

If women lose the right to say where and how they birth their children,
then they will have lost something that's as dear to life as breathing.

The Birth House by Ami McKay

24 July 2008

Like Oxytocin For Chocolate

I was just speaking with a pregnant mom who was beating herself up for her chocolate cravings and hunger level in general. She's fit and quite slim, but her current care provider (wrongly) suggested to her that pregnant women should gain no more than 20 - 25 pounds...well, that's a topic for another day, but I assured her that she should not be restricting healthy food, as she's growing a human being, so it makes sense that she's hungry!...And some chocolate can actually be good for us. Not only that, but it can help get our brain in the blissful place it needs to be to conceive, give birth to and mother a baby. It's all about the oxytocin!
Plus, doesn't it make sense that experiencing joy is good for growing a baby?

14 July 2008

just for fun

I dare you not to smile or well up in tears...

perfect day

I have lots of ideas about how a perfect day could be spent. Yesterday was one of those days.

I was woken up by an early morning call that a labor was happening. Hooray - Sunday & kids were covered since my husband was home. It would take some juggling with his tennis game, but no big deal. I knew they had fun plans to spend the day at the pool and Maplewoodstock. And no one else due at the moment so no conflicts - just this birth to consume me for how ever long it lasts. All extra special because I leave for Ann Arbor tomorrow and really wanted to be at this birth.

Contractions had been happening on and off since around her July 4th due date and I felt pretty certain it would all work out and I would get to be there. Thanks, perhaps, to acupuncture, massage, homeopathics and some special castor oil eggs,things were moving. Although it was a somewhat unique VBAC where lots of people could name all sorts reasons it shouldn't work out, I felt calm that it would go well and fairly fast; not sure why. Having a client who is so upbeat and just willing is a joy and I think it helps the birth.

Funny thing: A childbirth class was taking a tour and thought we were part of the show. They actually followed us to the room, so I snapped their picture.

Throughout the birth, even though it was amazingly hard work for the momma, she manifested gratitude throughout. Thankful for her super husband and the spaces in between. The nurse & doctor commented that they were the most friendly & grateful people to come through in a long time.

The birth, as noted below, was fantastic. And I made it home in time to see my family and sleep in my own bed...perfect. I love it when it all works out, as it so often does.

13 July 2008


Welcome baby Lucy! You're just stunning & look so much like your big sister. Wow - what a day - so wonderful to see you born just the way your parents wanted. A victorious VBAC! It didn't come easy - so much preparation and planning came to fruition. How wonderful to be with your awesome momma & poppa again - words can't say how cool I think they are. They did what lots of people have a hard time doing; rather than just asking for advise & then finding it too hard to follow through, they did it all. Thanks again to Dr. P, who is truly a guardian of birth in the best sense. Tears of joy, tears of joy!

12 July 2008

A Matter Of Life Or Death

From White Ribbon Alliance:

Dear Global Leaders

Every minute of every day a woman dies in pregnancy. That's half a million women dying each year; over 80% of these deaths are avoidable. This is inexcusable and it has to stop now. You can help do this.

We write to you, our leaders, on behalf of all women – please do what you can to put this issue at the top of the political agenda.

These shameful statistics have remained unchanged for 20 years. At this year's G8 and the UN Secretary General's MDG Summit, we insist on a breakthrough. Please, do what you can to help make it happen.

On behalf of us all.
With urgent best wishes
your name here

(if you sign you'll be in the company of lots of famous folks, extraordinary activists & lots of normal folks like me)

11 July 2008

"Home delvery is a mother's birthright"

OK - lame headline that calls to mind pizza or Chinese food. But nonetheless, it's the headline of an editorial by "Pushed" author, Jennifer Block, in today's New Jersey Star Ledger (along with a huge drawing of a mother and baby). It originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times yesterday under a different (better) headline.

It's worth the read for the opening sentence alone!
"You'd think the healthcare establishment would have bigger fish to fry than Ricki Lake. (The 47 million uninsured, maybe?)"
Check it out. You can let the Star Ledger know what you think at Eletters@starledger.com

Oh Thank Heaven For 7-11!

Because 7-11 is not just home of the Slurpee, but is also the birthday of my dear friend and partner in crime, Carrie! HAPPY 35th Birthday Carrie! In honor of today, I enjoyed my free Slurpee from 7-11 & I raised it high in a birthday toast... ;-)
Carrie & her family spend every July in the great state of Michigan and I'm missin' her something fierce...so DoulaBoy3 (good buddies with Carrie's youngest) & I will head out next week to pay them a visit and attend Art Fair in Ann Arbor - yipee!
PS: I really like the Slurpee spoon-straw (not everyone agrees though)

10 July 2008


Good things come to those who wait...welcome to the world baby Mabel...your momma sure worked long & hard to have you but it was worth the wait - you're lovely! (even your footprints are excellent!)
Could I be any luckier? After attending your wondrous birth I went out into the sunshine, got coffee and headed to a favorite soon-to-be birthing momma (owner of the henna tattooed belly seen here) to give her some encouragement and care. All the while, knowing that my husband had successfully gotten the kids settled in bed last night and up and out to camp this morning, with a little help from (our) friends.
Life is good. I need a nap.

09 July 2008

cue Tom Petty

"...the waaaiting is the hardest part..."

I'm waiting to hear back from a client in labor today.
I try to manifest patience, really I do. But the life of a birth doula includes a lot of waiting by the phone. It's not like my pride is on the line, waiting for a boy to call me as a teenager - I know my clients will eventually call. But until they do, I'm on endless hold, only with better music playing and more adrenaline pumping.

Once I know someone is in a little bit of labor, but not ready for support, I'm on pins and needles waiting for THE call - the call to join them. Until it comes, I'm a bit of an OCD juggler, going over my plans for childcare and pickups and backup doulas (oh my!). Should I sleep or have more coffee? Is my stuff ready? Any more calls to make? Has my phone rung? Is the ringer even on? OM.

Sometimes I try to invoke Murphy's Law and start a recipe or project that's involved, so hopefully I'll get called at an inopportune moment, which is actually what I wanted to have happen in the first place.

But mostly I just wait, trying to practice what I preach and trust that it will happen the way it's supposed to.

08 July 2008

grrl power

What is it about some people that just make you feel like you can confess? I seem to be one of those people to whom others feel comfortable offering up the deep, dark stuff. But there are some people with whom I immediately feel that way too & just spill it. And I mean stuff I have barely admitted to myself. It happened today in Target. No - I didn't just grab a stranger and start unburdening myself. I ran into a friend, a particularly cool friend from book club (who is an acupuncturist - you know who you are!) and within seconds I was (we were) chatting away about all sorts of things - lady things/mom things - just things. Do men do this? I don't think so, which is just one more reason I'm happy to be a woman.

02 July 2008

Maybe Mary had it better than we thought!

Something to think about: when preparing for birth, we need to find ways to have the environment suit us and not the other way around...if we do so, there will likely be less distress and less need for interventions. I'm just sayin'...

Excerpted from "Safer Birth in a Barn?" Beth Barbeau
Midwifery Today Issue 83

"The protocols in the world of animal husbandry to protect an offspring at the time of birth - no strangers, dimmed lights, freedom of movement, familiar environment, unlimited nourishment, respectful quiet, no disruptions - are done without hesitation because to do otherwise invites "unexplained distress" or sudden demise of the offspring. These thoughtful conditions are the norm, along with careful observation to determine when to use the technological expertise in true emergencies. When we have veterinarians in our childbirth education classes, they always start to smile and nod when I tell this story. These are givens - instinctive givens, even, for animals of all descriptions!

Yet what are the "givens" for the human who births not in a barn, but in a "modern and advanced" hospital? In many cases, 100% the opposite! Usually a minimum of a dozen strangers pass through the world of the laboring mother in her first 12 hours in the hospital - security officer, patient transporter, triage secretary, admission clerk, triage nurse, resident and/or doctor on call, admitting nurse, first shift nurse, break nurse, additional nurse at delivery, doctor or midwife plus possibly students, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, etc. Bright lights in the triage and labor rooms are challenging to dim. Mothers are tethered to monitors or IV poles and are moved through a bright hall with unfamiliar sounds to a new room in a building devoted to illness/trauma that most have visited once briefly if at all. They receive poor quality "clear liquids only." They are exposed to voices of others in the hall or chatting by the attendants during contractions and endless disruptions throughout! But then, do we ever find that we have an offspring experience "unexplained distress?" Of course, and at frightening rates! Yet, oddly, many of these disruptions are promoted as minor inconveniences or necessary to "protect" the baby.

Curiously, while veterinarians commonly have to defend interventions in light of the additional cost and the risks associated with interfering with nature, providers caring for human mothers within the medical system more commonly are forced to defend why they did NOT intervene! Consider the high rates of inductions, epidurals, artificial rupture of membranes, immediate cord cutting, cesareans and the vigorous defense necessary to fight for anything different, especially if time is involved (time to go into labor, to progress, to push, to allow the cord to stop pulsation or to get "done" bonding). I've recently seen outstanding CNMs and obstetricians sacrifice their own political reputations and suffer departmental reprimands for births with great outcomes where they protected the mothers' yearning for privacy, allowed extended pushing time with great vital signs or, during a healthy normal birth, followed their intuition and honored the mother's begging to check heart tones frequently by hand during pushing instead of what the mother considered the massive intrusion of wearing the monitor belt. Interventions are considered to be the ultimate protection from litigation in human care, yet they contribute mightily to the high rates of distress in mothers and babies!

In animal husbandry, the first line of defense for protecting the unborn is to protect and nurture the nutritional needs and comfort of the birthing female. In the case of institutionalized birth for humans, however, in spite of evidence to the contrary, the norm is to act as if the nutritional needs and the comfort of the birthing mothers are of concern to, at most, the marketing and public relations department! It's an affront to common sense that as a society we are currently more accepting of the needs of foaling mares, whelping poodles and high-producing cows than of our birthing humans. From the high rates of fetal distress, meconium staining and breastfeeding problems, the consequences are clearly devastating to our infants, just as any decent horseman would predict."