30 September 2008

snapshots of hope

We had a fun time at the family "Barack The Vote" rally for Obama over the weekend.
The note attached to the "Voting Booth" sign says, "WATCH YOUR STEP"...indeed!

Me, soaking up the humidity and good vibe, with face paint from an earlier party...one side says HOPE & the other says OBAMA...gives new meaning to "turning the other cheek"!
kids registering other kids to vote.
On the ballot:
Will you agree to be a voter when you turn 18?

Digging for treasure - Obama buttons
Bakin' for Obama
middle school band, "Grounded" rocked the house...this was "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
The kids' parade at the end of the day
Messages of hope

sign of the times

I guess even babies (and not just the politicians who act like them) have a problem with non-partisan politics...now there are party-line baby announcements, complete with mobiles of little donkeys or elephants.
The ad says they are "green" and printed on recycled paper - I wonder if that's just the democrat ones? (joking!)

29 September 2008

follow me?

OK - look to the right - I installed "Followers", ie. those who read this blog with some regularity. If you want to follow just click on "Follow This Blog".

Wow - that's feeling like pressure...don't leave me hangin', yo?

28 September 2008

Barack The Vote!

If you're local, here's an event announcement for TODAY, Sunday, September 28, 3-6p, Maplewood!
Please join us for a fabulous gathering in support of Barack Obama - Sunday, 3pm - 6pm Bring the whole family - great music, speakers, food. DeHart Park on Burnett in Maplewood. Nationally-acclaimed band "Rebecca Frezza and Big Truck," plus the kids' band "Grounded"(11-16 year-olds who know how to rock). Bring your dancing shoes!

We need supporters to join us in order to learn about ways to be active in the remaining weeks/month of the campaign to help make the difference - and to get Obama elected. Please don't assume that everyone else will make it happen. We need YOU.

This event will take place rain or shine - indoors if raining - outdoors if clear! We hope to see you there!

Check here for more.

Hope to see you there!

27 September 2008

Paul Newman, RIP

“The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” - Paul Newman

continuous monitoring

Did you watch the presidential debate last night? (hope so!) I did and I happened to watch it on CNN. Now CNN had an "audience reaction meter" at the bottom of the screen and do you know what? I found it mesmerizing - it was hard to take my eyes off it. Were people buying what was being said? Liking my candidate? The ups and downs - it was very distracting...I found it hard to concentrate on what they were saying, hard to just genuinely feel my own reaction and focus on the men themselves. Why didn't I just change the channel? Because I became interested in my reaction to the audience reaction and decided to ride it out, play around with the experience. See for yourself (fast forward a bit to get to the meter)

If you have read my posts before, I'm sure it's no surprise that of course this made me think about birth... and those freaking continuous fetal monitors. They can be so seductive and hypnotizing. I have seen laboring women question whether they were having good enough contractions (in spite of how hard they were working) because the monitor was not picking up well. I have seen partners, hell - I have seen myself look at the monitor instead of the woman. I've probably said ad nauseam that continuous fetal monitoring does not improve outcomes for moms & babies and that I encourage my students and clients to choose care providers who get that and are not so attached to continuous monitoring. I have also said many times, but it bears repeating I think, that while wireless monitors are great compared to wired continuous ones, the better choice for healthy women having a normal, low intervention labor is intermittent monitoring.

But what if you're stuck with a situation where continuos monitoring is what the care provider wants or some intervention like pitocin is part of the labor or it's a VBAC...or, for that matter, it's what your client wants? Well, if the family wants to control their enviromnment and make the monitor less of a presence, the carts that the monitors sit on roll and can be turned away from view (at least somewhat). The volume can be turned down or a tshirt can be tossed over it (& the clock! But be sure to mention why to the nurse and other care providers)...You do not have to let technology suck you in, unless you want it to.

26 September 2008

interesting VBAC question

Recently someone asked me if she was a good candidate for VBAC. Her first birth, by cesarean with low transverse incision, was at thirty weeks (due to a rare infection).
Now obviously I asked her what her care provider said, since what she is asking is a medical question. He is encouraging her to VBAC but she is still concerned. I have also suggested that perhaps she should explore whether she is with the right care provider, given her concerns in spite of her provider's reassurance.

In any case, back to VBAC for someone who has had a premature birth by cesarean...
Her question was an interesting one that I had not considered before: is a low trasverse incision on a thirty week uterus the same as on a 40 week uterus, ie. is it still "low" once the uterus grows beyond the size it was when the prior cesarean was done and does this situation mean more of a risk of uterine rupture?

This woman is well-read and had done her research but had not found anything yet. I threw the question out to both an OB & a midwife with whom I work frequently. Both were in agreement that it didn't seem like an additional risk. And fortunately the OB was able to find a study on point that finds this scenario imposes a very, very minimal increased risk for uterine rupture.

help save birth center funding

OK - super bad timing, what with the economic bailout and all, but nonetheless...

TheBigPushForMidwives.org is asking people to help respond to a birth center Medicaid payment crisis...read on & help out by calling your Congress folks please.

American Association of Birth Centers
Legislative Alert

Payment Crisis Looming ~ Action Needed Immediately

We must get our message about the payment crisis out to Congress immediately and we need everyone to help!

Over the past few years, CMS (the federal agency that runs Medicaid/Medicare) has begun disallowing federal matching funds for state Medicaid payments for freestanding birth centers services. Birth centers have been recognized by CMS (and earlier, by HCFA) as a Medicaid provider type in State Medicaid Plans since 1987. Recently, however, CMS has disallowed such payment by several state Medicaid Agencies, including Alaska, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington State, claiming that it lacks clear statutory authority and direction to do so. CMS has directed its regional offices to stop federal payments to any state for birth center services.

This is not a Medicaid crisis but a payment crisis for birth centers. Historically all payers follow the lead of Medicaid. If Medicaid stops paying the birth center facility fee so will other insurers. We remind you of what happened to the chiropractors in the 1990s. They spent millions to reinstate their coverage.

Make Your Voice Heard - Act Now! 1. Find out who your Congressional Representatives and Senators are. Use these links
Find your Senators - http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Find your Representatives - http://www.house.gov/ - use the tool in the upper left hand corner

The American College of Nurse-Midwives also has a tool on their website - http://capwiz.com/acnm/dbq/officials/?lvl=C

2. Make contact - by phone is best (email boxes are clogged with email about the federal bailout of the banks).

Ask to speak to the legislative aide who works on health care issues.

Tell him/her you are a birth center ________ (midwife, owner, consumer, staff person) that provides care to women on Medicaid.

Use the linked flyer ("Pregnant Women's Access to Care Threatened") as a reference. http://www.birthcenters.org/files/file.php?id=13&file=file&file_type=file_type

Talking Points

1) CMS has stopped paying the facility fee/charges for birth centers in four states and will disallow it in all state plans that come up for review.

2) The federal government has been paying these fees to the states since 1987.

3) The only way to solve this problem is to seek legislation amending Medicaid.

4) Birth centers are part of the vital safety net, especially in rural and urban areas where obstetrical services are closing due to high costs--and many serve a high percentage of women on Medicaid.

5) Birth centers provide innovative approaches to maternity care that reduce disparities for low income and minority women, lower cesarean rates, and reduce health care costs, while increasing access to women on Medicaid.

6) Discuss how your birth center meets some of these needs in your area.

7) Follow the list on the flyer and discuss as many of those points as you want to cover.

8) For a bill, we need sponsors and co-sponsors. Ask if your Senator or Representative is willing to sponsor or co-sponsor the needed legislation to direct CMS to pay facility fees.
a. If they say YES, thank them and direct them to Karen Fennell,
our lobbyist at 301-830-3910 or karenfennell50@yahoo.com
b. If they say NO, ask them why not and give them Karen's contact

9) Ask for their email so you can send a copy of the flyer "Pregnant Women's Access to Care Threatened". Let them know you will stay in touch with them about this issue, and that you will let them know once our bill has been introduced.

10) If they ask questions you cannot answer, tell them you will have Karen Fennell, our lobbyist contact them.

1) Notify AABC's lobbyist - Karen Fennell - who you have contacted and where they stand on sponsorship. Also relay any questions from your visit so that Karen can follow-up. Cc: Jill Alliman, AABC's Legislative Chair, on your correspondence.
Karen Fennell's contact information:
Phone: 301-830-3910 ~ Email: kfennell50@yahoo.com

Jill Alliman's contact information:
Phone: 423-442-6624 ~ Email: jkalliman@yahoo.com

2) Send a thank you note, with the flyer "Pregnant Women's Access to Care Threatened". Let them know you will stay in touch with them about this issue, and that you will let them know once the bill has been introduced.

Do not delay. Take action today. It will be hard to be heard with the economic crisis in Congress this week. If enough of us call, they will hear us.

If you have questions about how to make these calls, please let me know.

Please forward this email to your lists.


Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN

Legislative Chair
American Association of Birth Centers

25 September 2008

have a say in the VP debate questions

I just got this email from MomsRising.org - it absolutely relates to birth & motherhood - check it out & have your say:

Dear MomsRising.org Member,

Yesterday, MomsRising.org members tried to deliver our letter--signed by over 21,000 people--to Governor Sarah Palin's office in Washington, D.C. The letter simply asked, "Where do you stand?" on key issues of importance to moms and families.

But, we were turned away at the door.

When pressed, Palin's staff told the group to drop the letter in the mail, refusing to acknowledge the crowd of moms (and adorable baby) who were in the office to hand deliver it.

Snail mail can take a while, and we want to make sure that this election covers more than moose burgers and body surfing. All candidates--male, female, Democrat, Republican, and other--should speak to these issues. Some are, and others aren't (1). So, we're bringing our questions to the next level: getting our questions front and center in the Vice Presidential Debate on October 2nd.

Email PBS Senior Correspondent Gwen Ifill, who will be moderating the debate, to tell her you want these important questions asked:

The MomsRising.org team has written five questions we'd like to see posed to both Palin and Biden in that debate (see the questions below (2)). Let's get these questions to the debate moderator so the American public gets a chance to hear both candidates, side-by-side, answering the same questions.

When you click the link above, you'll send a message to Gwen Ifill and cc both of the presidential campaigns to let them know that over 21,000 voters want to hear them talk about these issues (which impact millions of Americans) at the debate.

Tell your friends to email Gwen Ifill, too! She needs to know how deeply important these issues are for millions of Americans--and that we demand they be addressed now!

Thank you!

--Kristin, Joan, Mary, Katie, Laura, Roz, Ashley, and the entire MomsRising.org Team

1. MomsRising members are tracking all of the candidates' speeches, tallying any mention of issues that impact moms. See their tallies at www.momsrising.org/candidatesbingo. If you plan to watch the presidential debate tomorrow, September 26th, you can tally the issues, too! Get your scorecard at www.momsrising.org/bingocard -- and keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved as the campaigns continue!

2. Our questions:

* Right now, the birth of a child is the number one cause of a "poverty spell" in America, and 1/4 of families with young children are living in poverty. Do you support a policy to provide paid family and medical leave to parents following birth or adoption of a new child?

* Nearly 1/2 of all full-time, private sector workers in the U.S. have no paid sick days. Do you support a policy to provide paid sick days for workers to use when they or their children get sick?

* In most American families, both parents work outside the home. Please tell us what your administration would do to help parents secure excellent, affordable childcare?

* Studies show that moms are paid 73 cents and single moms are paid about 60 cents to the dollar for doing the exact same job as men. Do you support the Fair Pay Restoration Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?

* A child is born every 41 seconds without healthcare. What kind of Health Care Policy could Americans expect in your administration?


Love it! For the rest you'll have to get the book or even better, the companion, Porn For New Moms!

building a better amniotic sac

No - it won't make NASDAQ go up, but it's important, so I thought I'd bring you a little public service announcement by way of Empowering Birth Blog:

A strong sac reduces the chance of premature rupture of membranes.

Eat lots of:

Fruits and vegetables containing beta carotene (orange or deep yellow)

Sweet Potatoes
Winter Squash

Dark Leafy Greens

Mustard Greens

24 September 2008

Slacker Uprising

For your free download of the entire movie, courtesy of Michael Moore, go here.

Urgent: ACLU needs your comment today

Protect Access to Health Care

On August 21, 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released proposed regulations that could seriously undermine access to basic reproductive health services, including birth control and abortion.

The rule leaves open the possibility that -- based on religious beliefs -- institutions and individuals can deny women access to birth control. It also permits individuals to refuse to provide information and counseling about basic heath care services. And it expands existing laws by permitting a wider range of health care professionals to refuse to provide even referrals for abortions.

The public comment period on these insidious regulations is open until September 25.

(takes 10 seconds, tops)

23 September 2008

just trust me

I heard a funny bit on public radio this morning, taken from BoingBoing but originally from The Nation - a satirical version of one of those scam emails that greet you each day, asking you to wire funds, calling you "Beloved in Christ".
Here's a little of it (I find it's best to read it with the thick accent of your choice), for the rest, go here:

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

... This transactin is 100% safe...

...This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. . After I receive (all your money) I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

There are some people, and I get this - I do, who just want someone to take the reins and do whatever needs to be done to avert disaster. But by acting out of fear, we give away all power, power that can't be gotten back. This is not unlike when we abdicate all power and responsibility to our care providers in pregnancy and birth. It can be comforting to know they are responsible and we don't have to think too much, but then we are really stuck with the way they want to do it. And their choices, because they are human and have their own pocketbooks to think about, may not always have only our best interests in mind.

People who are saying "no blank check" regarding the economic bailout are asking for external oversight and reform. Perhaps we also need to think this way when it comes to birth. Perhaps putting care providers between a rock and a hard place, between what's best for birthing women and babies versus the economic interests of insurance companies and litigants, is not serving us well. What are we expecting when we ask care providers to police themselves and "do what's right"? Right for whom? Maybe we need outside oversight.

And just maybe we need to stop giving out blank checks.


from The Birth House by Ami McKay,
My house became the birth house. That's what the women came to call it, knocking on the door, ripe with child, water breaking on the porch. First-time mothers full of questions, young girls in trouble and seasoned women with a brood already at home. (I called those babies "toesies" because they were more than their mamas could count on her fingers.) They all came to the house, wailing and keening their babies into the world. I wiped their feverish necks with cool, moist cloths, spooned porridge and hot tea into their tired bodies, talked them back from outside of themselves.*

Such poetry in this book.
*emphasis mine

22 September 2008

death in birth

Time Magazine has an article, Death in Birth, (prominently mentioning White Ribbon Alliance, a global advocacy organization that works with governments to lower maternal mortality rates) on maternal mortality - worth reading.

But also read what Judith Lothian has to say in response on the Lamaze blog (the emphasis is mine):
Death in Birth
September 21st, 2008 by Judith Lothian

This week’s Time magazine reports on the frighteningly high maternal mortality rates in some parts of the world. Death in Birth describes a range of factors that contribute to women’s deaths during childbirth, including lack of access to midwives, poor health care delivery in general, and, very important, but least emphasized in this article, hygeine and nutrition. Access to clean water and adequate food would go a long way to changing things…as it did in the developed world a century plus ago. The World Health Organization is committed to providing additional training for local traditional midwives. But insuring safe water and adequate food are just as important if women are going to stop dying in childbirth in these countries.

This story seems so far away to most women in the US. But it shouldn’t. Women are dying in the US too. In fact, maternal mortality in the US is on the rise for the first time in decades. But for us the reasons are quite different. In the US intervention intensive maternity care increases risk for mother and babies. The rising cesarean rate increases risk for mothers, at the time of the surgery, and during future pregnancies and births. And routine interventions, like induction of labor, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and restrictions on movment and eating and drinking in labor, contribute to complications and the need for more interventions.

Reading Death in Birth is sure to frighten women. But, in the US, what we should be most frightened of is standard maternity care that interferes with the normal, natural process (so beautifully designed) of labor and birth, not our ability as women to give birth safely. We know how to make birth safe for mothers and babies. Don’t interfere unless there is a true medical indication.

21 September 2008

art & life. you can't have mine.

I'm reading The Birth House, by Ami McKay and was stopped cold by this quote,
She holds the boys close to her every chance she gets. They wiggle and roll their eyes as she kisses the top of their messy heads. She sighs and lets them go, watching them run off to play. "Things aren't as certain as they used to be." She's not talking about their age or the fact that they're always outgrowing their shoes. It's the war, she means to say, but won't. It's the war that she's afraid of, that's got her wondering how long she can keep her boys at home, that has us listening to gossip and reading headlines and moving in circles, as if we might cast a spell of sameness to keep the rest of the world away.

are you registered to vote?

Go here to register, find your polling place or request to vote absentee.

cynical term for vaginal birh?

I was reading Huffington Post and saw this (albeit interesting and very exciting) article from the Washington Post entitled,
Scarless Surgery Uses Body's Own Openings

This immediately made me think of what some science-fiction-y birth drone in the future might call vaginal birth unless we do something to stem the tide of runaway cesarean rates.

20 September 2008

PBS Poll: is Sarah Palin qualified?

So far, more people say yes than no - what do you think?
Takes 2 seconds: PBS's Now poll

PBS had this to say...

white privilege

Two looks at race in America...different but related...again, I submit that birth & politics are intertwined. Well worth checking out.

from Empowering Birth Blog, & another post
And what if the transporting midwife is a woman of color and thus more likely to receive harassment in a hostile climate? Let's be real, it is easier for us white women to work within the system, even when faced with a sticky situation.


This Is Your Nation On White Privilege

dar la TeTa es dar la vida

"to give the breast is to give life "
Thanks to Birth is Good, where I found this & lots of other great stuff!

19 September 2008

so nice

I just came home from the nicest postpartum visit. The dad said something like,
"You were right there when we needed you, and don't take this the wrong way because I mean it as a compliment, but I forgot you were there as the baby was being born...I think dad's are afraid they will be replaced by a doula but it wasn't like that at all. I'm so happy you were there - it made all the difference for us".
wow - what a wonderful compliment...but mostly for him because I was able to totally step back because he was doing such a wonderful job for her. I'm so happy for this family - they had the birth they really wanted and also really needed to heal from last time.

flashmob: groove your bump!

Worldwide, 1400 women die everyday in pregnancy and childbirth due to lack of basic healthcare.
To make a difference, go to oxfams' grooveyourbump

arrrg, me hearties

Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day...yep - there's a day for it & today is that day. Have fun with it!
Thanks to Mommyblawg for the heads up!

18 September 2008

this is how the groovy folks roll

I got this email from a holistic healer:
From my perspective as a wellness/mind body spirit expert, I would like to suggest a group visualization.
How about every Friday morning at 8:30 am - NJ time -for just 5 minutes let us be joined together in heartfelt and sincere aspiration until the election.
Let us all share the passion we had as teenagers.
We can use that intensity - and idealism - to empower this concentration.
Visualize a gold light going in a clock wise direction around Obama & Biden and see them - in your mind's eye - being sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States of America in Washington, DC in January 2009.
Can't hurt, might help - join in if you like...

The Other Side of the Glass

Through Facebook & another blog, I learned of an upcoming birth film/documentary, The Other Side of the Glass, that will focus on how we treat babies at birth, as well as the fathers'/co-parents'/partners' experience in typical births. The film will be out in early 2009, but there is this powerful, heavy trailer for now...well worth watching. It might freak you out, but I would challenge you to watch and see how you might incorporate the information into classes you teach, births you attend as a doula or midwife or in planning for your own birth experience.

I am a bit troubled by the emphasis on it being a birth film for *fathers* specifically. Though it does not diminish for me the importance of the topic, I do wish there was some recognition that not all babies are born to a mother + father pair. This is just the trailer - maybe the actual film will be more expansive.

This is vital information. As they say, peace on earth begins with birth. I really believe that. Here's to peace.

HELP: key breastfeeding resource in jeopardy

From another blog:
breastfeeding institution, Dr. Jack Newman's clinic & website, is losing its funding and will close very soon unless they can secure funding through outside donations.
I have personally been helped through thrush by Dr. Newman & I refer people to his site nearly every day. I actually received emails and a call back from this man's office - for FREE! His expertise, via his website, has been available 24/7 to anyone and has likely helped countless women keep breastfeeding through challenges. From a public health perspective, this helps us all.
Please consider joining me in making a donation to save this - his work matters.

17 September 2008

my name's Cue Manhunt Palin, what's yours?

Whatever your politics, you have to admit this is amusing: the Sarah Palin baby name generator. See what you would have been called if born into that family.

And if your politics are something like mine, then see what the causes-me-to-weep-because-she-is-so-amazing Anne Lamott has to say about this. Here's a tidbit:

Figure out one thing you can do every single day to be a part of the solution, concentrating on swing states. Money, walking precincts, registering voters, whatever. This is the only way miracles ever happen -- left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe. The great novelist E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night with the headlights on: You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way. It is the truest of all things; the only way to write a book, raise a child, save the world.

16 September 2008

birth and wall street

I was listening to local public radio this morning (The Takeaway) and Robert Reich (former Secretary of Labor under Clinton & now Obama's adviser on economics) was on talking about the economy and the volatile situation on Wall Street. He said one major component at play is fear and mistrust because we lack transparency in Corporate America and on Wall Street. In his blog yesterday, Reich says,
We tell poor nations they have to make their financial markets transparent before capital will flow to them. Now it's our turn. Lacking adequate regulation or oversight, our financial markets have become a snare and a delusion.
Basically, problems occur when people in an industry are doing things without understanding, without using an evidence-based approach and without informed consent merely because it is expedient.

...hmmm - sound familiar? Where else is there crisis and need for transparency? I'm just sayin'...

15 September 2008

spin it, DJ

If 40 is the new 30 and 3 (kids) is the new 2, I think spin class is the new dance club - at least for me. I was there this morning (5:45am - woo hoo) and realized that this must be the attraction for me. Like going dancing, it's nearly dark and pulsing music that's so good your heart want to burst and you just have to sing along under your breath and MOVE! And the added benefit is that since you probably are not wearing any makeup and are not trying to catch anyone's eye, you can feel fine about mopping off the sweat - there is even a towel provided! And the shoes are cool.

14 September 2008

Support for Home Births

In a letter to the editor of US News & World Report, the world's best known doula organization, DONA International, comments on ACOG & AMA's attacks on homebirth. (above image from Ricki Lake's The Business of Being Born) Yeah!

Support for Home Births
August 01, 2008 04:49 PM ET | Permanent Link

You covered Ricki Lake's controversial documentary about homebirths which instigated a growing battle between the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Medical Association (AMA), midwives, and patients ["Ricki Lake Fires Back in Debate on Home Birth," "On Women," usnews.com].

The conflict is about the perceived safety of home births and the use of Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) or "lay" midwives. Last month, the AMA issued a resolution asking for legislation against home births and against "lay" midwives. DONA International, the oldest and largest association of doulas in the world, represents the thousands of women who cherish their ability to choose where they give birth and with whom. We also question the evidence supporting the ACOG and the AMA's statements that "the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital." The largest, most respected study of home births found that among 5,000 low-risk pregnancies, babies were delivered just as safely at home with a CPM as in a hospital. Because most doulas work with midwives and physicians in a hospital setting, DONA International has no financial interest in the outcome of such legislation called for by the AMA. Our interest is in the scientific evidence and in maintaining the conviction that pregnant women, just as all other patients, are intelligent enough to give informed consent.

Debbie Young
DONA International
Jasper, Ind.

13 September 2008

one of those small miracles

Ike evacuee gives birth in New Braunfels

An evacuee from Hurricane Ike gave birth in the bathroom of a shelter Friday with the aide of an expert in geriatric psychiatry who delivered his first baby in two decades.

"It's kind of like riding a bike," Dr. Mark Burns told the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung in a report for Saturday's newspaper.

Ku Paw delivered a baby girl on the floor of the girls restroom at Church Hill Middle School in New Braunfels with the aid of Burns, intensive care nurse Peggy Bielke and a few volunteers.

Paw, an evacuee from Calhoun County along the Texas coast, was staying with about 270 others. She was evaluated at a hospital earlier Friday but returned to the shelter with the expectation she wouldn't go into labor until Monday.

Burns had been asked by New Braunfels City Councilwoman Kathleen Krueger to stop by the school and see a few patients. Burns said he was leaving when he was alerted that Paw was in labor.

"There are few things more exciting than delivering a new life into the world," Burns said. "It's one of the great privileges of being a physician."

The mother and the infant, her fourth child, were taken to CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital-New Braunfels. A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press on Friday night that she could not release any information about them.

welcome, baby Marisa Nadine

7lb 3oz & 19 inches, born very early this morning after only a couple hours of labor. Your momma worked so very hard, even before today, and surprised everyone with a lovely, natural birth. I hope she feels proud of herself and your dad, who was right there with her, breathing. Have fun meeting your big brother and whole family today. Enjoy!

The birth god(desse)s were kind this week!

12 September 2008

Ike: what about the birthing women?

Whenever I hear about an impending disaster, I always think about the women who are very pregnant, in labor or newly postpartum...and of course, the babies.
Ugh - the news on Hurricane Ike looks terrible.

To remind myself that small miracles happen, I'm remembering back to the story that got me through my own second labor: the woman in Mozambique who labored and birthed in a tree while flood waters raged. For my whole labor, I kept thinking, I can do this - if that woman could give birth in a tree during a flood, I can labor in this tub.

I'm hoping for a big miracle for the Gulf Coast of Texas...but if a big miracle doesn't happen (and it looks like it won't) then I pray for many small ones. I will hold good thoughts for everyone in Ike's path, with special prayers for the birthing women and babies.

um, great

Just what a mom wants to hear...I happened to see my horoscope for today (that's Taurus, in case you're interested):
Try not to let customers or children get under your skin today -- that's just what they want! If you brush off the worst of their antics, you should be able to deal with them appropriately.

11 September 2008

Ensler on Palin

Eve Ensler, creator of famed The Vagina Monologues & founder of V Day, a global movement to prevent violence against women, has spent her career speaking out about issues relating to women and power. Today she offered up something else about women & power - a piece on Sarah Palin entitled, Drill, Drill, Drill.

I know some are getting fatigued over the Palin drama...I risk offending you, alienating you, because I think there is a lot to consider. I do not post this out of knee-jerk liberalism - I truly feel we are at a crucial juncture - the fight of our lives.
As Eve Ensler says in her piece, "I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands."

Here is some of of what Eve had to say:
I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.
I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack.

Eve Ensler is well known, but she is not the only powerful woman speaking her mind - about 100,000 in one week's time have done the same. Women who are young and old, from all over are lending their voices to a chorus of concern - not out of hate for Sarah Palin but out of love for our country and our children and grandchildren. To read these earnest, eloquent remarks, visit Women Against Sarah Palin. (and for fact checking, there is this).
Perhaps, like me, you will be moved to add your voice. Together we are powerful. Like the women who started the site, I will sign off with a simple, "Viva!"

how doulas helped 9/11 families, then & now

On this day, I wish peace to all the families impacted, whether directly or indirectly, by that day seven yeas ago and still impacted today as our country is at war.
I thought it appropriate to look, if you're interested, at the nine month long (yup - three trimesters) volunteer program that offered free support and service to pregnant women widowed by the attacks. The participating providers studied the physiological and psychological effects of stress. The study was published in The Journal of Perinatal Education Vol. 12, No. 4, 2003

Childbirth Education and Doula Care During Times of Stress, Trauma, and Grieving
Debra Pascali-Bonaro, BEd, CD(DONA)

The organizer (and my friend, mentor & colleague), Debra Pascali-Bonaro, starts by saying,
"Immediately after the events of September 11, 2001, I
was privileged to play a unique role: coordinating a
volunteer program to provide support and service to
pregnant women in the greater New York/New Jersey
area, where I live, who had been widowed by the terrorist
attack. The result was an unprecedented collaborative
effort supported by numerous related agencies and indi-
vidual providers.
Despite the group’s impressively amassed knowledge
and resources, we identified many gaps in our under-
standing of how to address the needs of the widows of
9/11 and, in addition, how to generalize such under-
standing for the needs of other pregnant women in our
area who were experiencing stress, trauma, and grief for
any reason."

Also important to note is Operation Special Delivery, providing volunteer doulas for pregnant women whose husbands or partners have been severely injured or who have lost their lives due to the current war, or who will be deployed at the time they are due to give birth.

A birth attended by a doula where the husband was deployed is above. I originally saw the video here (& just saw her lovely post about today). This baby was born in my hometown, Nashville. I LOVE that this mom thanks her midwives for attending her birth, not delivering her baby!

10 September 2008

new childbirth class dates for Fall

plus updates & additions to my website! More photos coming too, so check back.

sleep positions & SIDS

I'm sure everyone knows "Back To Sleep" is the mantra for babies. I admit, one of my kids was very unhappy on his back & so he didn't sleep in the prescribed position sometimes...and certainly once they could roll & pick their own positions for sleep, they often ended up on their tummies. Oh, and they generally didn't sleep in a crib all that much until they were older (& maybe not even then) because they were sleeping with us.

The side-sleeping part is newer, so those of us with preschoolers may not be aware of it - not sure if I was, to be honest. But the
big take-away for me was the connection to previously-used crib mattresses. So I'm posting it here in case you hadn't heard of that either.

From the new issue of Midwifery Today e-news:
...One thing not mentioned in this campaign was the SIDS risk caused by fungus and chemicals found in babies' mattresses. From 1988–1989 Barry Richardson, a British chemist, tested the mattresses of 200 babies that had died of SIDS and found all of them infected with S. brevicaulis fungus and spores and phosphorus, arsenic or antimony; and when brought to body temperature, each generated toxic gas from these chemicals. Ninety-five percent of the mattresses had been used previously by another infant, as well. This information, while published in Midwifery Today (Issue 61, Spring 2002, http://www.midwiferytoday.com/products/mt85.htm), was never made widely available in the US.

In 2005, the AAP advised parents not to place babies on their stomachs or on their sides to sleep. It seems that several studies had shown in increased risk of SIDS in relation to side- or back-sleeping*, particularly when the baby has symptoms of infection. And the wheel goes round.

Despite these well-publicized recommendations, according to an article in The New York Times (18 Oct 2005), increasing numbers of parents are letting their babies sleep on their stomachs. The article quoted an unscientific internet poll which showed that virtually equal numbers of parents put their babies to sleep on their stomachs (42%) as on their backs (43%). This is quite an increase from the 2002 statistic given by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of 11.3% of parents whose babies slept on their stomachs, but not anywhere near the 70% of babies that slept on their stomachs in the mid-1990s. So why are parents taking this risk with their babies' lives?

Parents who admit to putting their babies to sleep on the stomachs are clear on why they do so: the babies sleep better and are more likely to sleep through the night sooner. Even the Academy admits this.

Another reason that parents may be averse to always placing babies on their backs to sleep is positional plagiocephaly, or malformation of the head. According to the AAP, this issue still needs more study to determine whether a correlation exists. It is something that parents should be aware of if their baby is back-sleeping.

Interestingly, even medical professionals don't feel obligated to follow these guidelines in many cases. According to the AAP position paper, hospital personnel often place preterm babies on their sides or stomachs during hospitalization, modeling such management to parents and perhaps accustoming the babies to this position.

An interesting study from California showed that infants who were not used to sleeping on their stomachs were at greater risk when sleeping that way than those who were used to sleeping on their stomachs.

Cheryl K. Smith
Excerpted from "Go to Sleep, Little Baby," The Birthkit, Issue 50
*must mean "stomach"

09 September 2008

equal opportunity lameness

In one of my favorite blogs, Unfinished Dad, he laments the fact that first kids get more attention in some ways - like the number of baby pictures we take of them. It's true, but...well, I posted this comment:
There was an episode of that TV show "Roseanne", where the parents try to pass off pictures of the older kids when the youngest has a school project requiring a bunch of his baby photos...the parents get busted.

I've been equally fair (or equally lame) to my 3 kids - none have* a finished baby book...all will have a therapy fund!

Maybe I need this. (though it sort of seems like any nice-ish box would do!)

(the above picture is my youngest at 6mo, now 4yo, sporting a new-just-for-him Halloween costume. No hand-me-down from the dress-up bin costume for this guy - at least not that year...the fact that he's wearing an elephant costume is not a political statement! ;-)

*none have? or is it has?

08 September 2008

UPDATE: Dr. Phil

Here's more on the story...apparently the show has tried to recruit the producer & director of the birth documentary, The Business of Being Born for this show condemning homebirth.
One of the associate producers, Judith Sanchez, is working on the project. She solicited Ricky Lake and Abby Epstein to appear on the show and they have declined. If you would like to write to her and give her your opinion, you can email her at judith.sanchez@cbs.com or call her at (323)956-8289.

Note the comment that has a different view of what the show might be like since Dr. Sears will possibly be a guest.

and now for something completely inflammatory

A new low, even for Dr. Phil,who is seeking guests regarding the following:


Did you have a child at your home?

Did you want to have a soothing experience where you were in control and could bond with your child?

Did it not go the way you planned?

Do you regret having a home birth?

Do you regret using a midwife instead of going to a hospital?

Did you have your second child the traditional way in a hospital?

If you or someone you know regrets having a home birth please tell us your story below.

Be sure to be specific and include details!

My favorite parts: "Did you have your second child the traditional way in a hospital?" & "Do you regret using a midwife instead of going to a hospital?" Um, Phil? I believe you meant to say "customary in North America" rather than "traditional"...birth's move to hospital is fairy recent. And you might want to pull your myopic viewfinder back just a wee bit to look around the world, where homebirth is still completely average in many countries that have better birth outcomes than the US. Also, midwives do work in hospitals too - get at least some basic facts right!

What an ass. For a kinder, more measured response, see here. I don't know if this is still a planned topic - it doesn't seem to be on the website inviting feedback anymore that I can find - but still, I think it's worth knowing that this issue is being turned into fodder for blowhards. I could see having a show on traumatic birth in general (in fact, they are, though in a gross way, judging by the question prompts) and how overuse of medical interventions has been linked to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression. Or how about a show on wonderful homebirths? Cheap shot, Phil. Thanks for the reminder of why I don't generally watch daytime TV.

If you would like to let Dr. Phil know how you feel about his angle on this topic, or perhaps your wonderful birth expereince at home or with a midwife wherever, you can email him here.

07 September 2008

welcome, Ava Elizabeth!

What a fast & furious entrance into the world...your momma worked so hard. Enjoy!

you wanna cut me WHERE?!

Yesterday I had a prenatal visit with a client who will soon be having her second baby. One of her biggest concerns, really huge for her, is avoiding a repeat episiotomy. We talked a lot about trying to soften the scar tissue, talking about her concerns with her (different!) care provider, using warm compresses, maybe trying to breath the baby out, and how we will remind her care provider about her wishes as she is pushing.

When I came home, I happened to come across this:
one woman's episiotomy story... A Vagina's Lament
For more from blogger Rebecca Woolf, check out Girls Gone Child, or her book, Rockabye: From Wild to Child

06 September 2008

does rock duo Heart support McCain/Palin?

Nope. Nope.

Heart's Nancy Wilson said,
The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The 'barracuda' represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there.

One by ONEsie

The organization MomsRising (as seen in the documentary, The Motherhood Manifesto) is working to bring important motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country's awareness and create both cultural and legislative change. They have been quite involved in paid family leave in NJ. A current campaign, called The Power of ONEsie, is aimed at our leaders and those seeking office during this election, most recently at both conventions.
Imagine a beautifully presented long chain of decorated baby onesies stretching all around your state capital as a visual representation of the real people who need the policies being debated inside the imposing buildings...One by ONEsie, working together, we can show the nation that we are a creative and powerful force for good family policy, as well as help our politicians to pay attention to issues which have long been ignored.
I like the idea and sure hope that transparency & choices in birthing, the cesarean crisis, support for midwives and breastfeeding advocacy made it onto some of these ONEsies.

MomsRising is also seeking signatures on a
letter to Sarah Palin...
She's a mom, but where does she stand? In Gov. Palin’s Vice Presidential nomination speech we didn't hear much about the issues that mothers deal with each and every day like healthcare, fair pay, early learning, paid sick days, and flexible work.

I know I'm being immature but I'm not quite ready to communicate with this candidate. I get that it's the smart thing to do, I'm just not there yet.

05 September 2008

Your Body Rocks!

Tonight and through the weekend, you can see
BIRTH, the play in NJ.
Friday & Saturday September 5, 6 at 7pm and Sunday September 7th at 2pm at the Middletown Cultural Arts Center, 36 Church Street, Middletown, NJ, 07748.
BIRTH is a global arts-based movement inspiring communities to create childbirth choices that work for mothers. BOLD NEW JERSEY is one of several locations throughout the world organizing BOLD movements.
Check it out!

04 September 2008


So I watched the snide, sarcastic speeches last night. I saw glee on the faces of the crowd.
And it dawned on me for the first time that my soon-to-be 11 year old will be 18 in time to vote two elections from now.
That also means he would be old enough, should there be someone in the White House who wishes to continue this war and needs to resort to the draft in order to staff it with more warm, young bodies.
I have three sons.
I am terrified.

03 September 2008

My Beautiful Cervix

Well - not mine - my own personal cervix is a little camera shy. But I think it's fantastic that someone did this - a month in the life of a cervix. Very Our Bodies, Ourselves. And she refers to a book I love, Weschler's Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which I think should be mandatory reading for all young women.

We need to know our lady parts! For an informative-in-a-fun-way post on said lady parts, check this out.

(the cervix pictures are in color, but it's nothing more colorful than the average woman sees every month anyway - check it out - it's cool!)

Btw, I learned of the cervix project here.

02 September 2008


Withholding (age-appropriate) information regarding reproduction and contraception clearly doesn't work much of the time. But it makes sense, I guess, in a culture in which birthing women are often given information selectively or with such strong spin so that they will just do as they are told, even if that means lining up for a host of unnecessary interventions. Actually, this seems to be working out as intended much of the time regarding birth - so many (but not all!!) women have completely abdicated decision making under great pressure from our culture and system. But we need only look at the family situation of the RNC's best & brightest (said with unkind scorn, I admit it), Sarah Palin, to see that a back up plan to abstinence is needed. (Check out this great post for more on this topic)

Why can't we trust people to know all the facts and options and then make informed decisions based on their family creed or the advice of their trusted care provider? It seems curious to me that some would rather trust a teen to make good decisions as a teen parent, altering the course of their entire life, than to trust them with knowledge of contraception in case abstinence isn't the ultimate choice they make.

Seems like many parents, churches and care providers don't feel secure in their positions as leaders and are withholding information, clutching at control, out of fear.

And it's not working.

Me? I like the wisdom of 38 Special: Hold On Loosely

back in the saddle again

"Just do it"...sometimes that's good advice & really the only way.
After a couple of months hiatus (for a groin muscle pull that lead to inertia), I dragged myself back to the gym today. Back to spin class. I don't mind saying, I was a little nervous. I have been telling myself that I should start smaller - treadmill etc. to work back up to spin. But you know what? I wasn't doing it. And really, what's the worst that can happen - that I go a little slower or have a sore bottom? Well, that's a given, no matter when I start back.
So I did it & I feel great. And I love my cool spin shoes & silly padded-butt shorts.
Sometimes the things we are fearing and dreading are not the real problem - it's the fear and dread themselves.
I plan to be more committed to regular, real exercise...but if I fall off the wagon (or saddle) again, I know I can really just choose to hop back on a bit down the road.

01 September 2008

breastfeeding & emergencies

The USBC (United States Breastfeeding Committee) issued a press release yesterday, which reads in part,

Washington, DC—As the Southeast prepares for Hurricane Gustav and other potential storms
during hurricane season, the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), a coalition of more than 40 organizations, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and health professional organizations, has issued a call to support breastfeeding mothers in their decision to give their infant the healthiest start in life possible.

USBC Chair Joan Younger Meek, MD, MS, RD, FAAP, FABM, IBCLC, affirms that
breastfeeding is the most important way to protect infants from a host of significant health concerns and is therefore especially critical in emergency situations where safe and sanitary water is not available, transportation is limited, and disease abounds.

According to Meek, this can include measures as simple as providing a safe and private area for women to breastfeed and receive counseling in large shelter environments, and helping women access the support of lactation consultants and other breastfeeding experts in the community. Women who chose not to breastfeed can be helped with "relactation" to bring in milk production, if desired. Both the International Lactation Consultant Association (www.ilca.org) and La Leche League International (www.llli.org) provide knowledgeable support personnel. Physicians from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics can also offer needed assistance to induce or continue lactation.
Just one more reason to support breastfeeding. I'm thinking good thoughts for this storm to lose power and spare NOLA and other areas still on the long road back from Katrina. Blessings to everyone impacted.