In a Nutshell..... Why do I do this?



Last Friday, I rode with the midwife I assist to do our home visit with one of our clients. We typically make a home visit before the birth so we can familiarize ourselves with the route - makes it so much easier than driving cold turkey in the dark- and we get the sense of the layout of the home in terms of the birth. This was a repeat client but she had moved since her last birth. It took a bit of doing to get there and it was a lovely rural type setting. The weather was warm and the sky was clear and blue. She greeted us with her toddler. We chatted and toured her cozy home. Then we did the prenatal appointment- belly check, fetal heart tone check, urine check, blood pressure check- etc. Her little one showed us some of his toys. I admired some of her homemade toys and she showed me how to do the blanket stitch in order to finish the edge of her handmade doll. We lingered a bit and I remembered her last birth. I'm very much looking forward to attending this birth. We hugged goodbye and waved as we slowly drove out of the driveway. I looked out the window as they stood there watching us leave. For me- the next time I see her she will be in the midst of labor, as I'm typically not called until labor is advanced. The midwife precedes me and calls me to assist when she needs me which is usually later in labor. The mama looked so beautiful with her round belly and her precious little one was standing there by her side. It was as it should be. I felt almost moved to tears and I thought " We have the best job in the world!"Every woman deserves this type of prenatal care. We get to know the family. We listen with respect and true interest. The midwife builds a relationship with the mama and the family. When labor begins we attend as invited caregivers. We will be the supporters of the process. The birth will be attended with care and attention. The family unit is respected and supported. The baby will be gently and lovingly welcomed into the arms of his/her mama and in his/her own home. I love home birth. Love it love it love it.Post partum care is equally wonderful. They don't have to go anywhere. We leave them settled in in their own bed. Personal attention. Family support. Breastfeeding support. In addition to the personal visits there is the continual availability for phone consultations. Midwifery does not leave mothers and babies in the lurch. I'm so proud to have a share in this model of care. I wish this type of care for all families.So, there it is..... I love this work. It never grows old. As is the case with this family we build a history with our clients. What a privilege. If only more women availed themselves of this dignifying and respectful model of care. As a nurse part of my role is education. I feel the need to make this model known as an option. I'm using this blog as one way to accomplish that goal.
Posted by Helen at 9:43 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Excerpt from the CIMS newsletter/ Midwifery model of care

Research Update: Cochrane Review reports on midwife-led versus other models of care for childbearing women

According to a newly published systematic review by The Cochrane Collaboration, midwife-led care provides benefits for pregnant women and their babies and is recommended. This review included midwives who provided prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care. Researchers compared midwife-led care with models of medical-led care and shared care, and included 11 trials, involving 12,276 women. The review found midwife-led care to be associated with several benefits for mothers and babies, with no identified adverse effects. Midwife-led care was associated with a reduced risk of losing a baby before 24 weeks, reduced use of regional analgesia during labor, fewer episiotomies, and fewer instrumental births. Midwife-led care also increased the woman's chance of being cared for during childbirth by a provider with whom she was familiar. Additional findings include increased chance of spontaneous vaginal birth and initiation of breastfeeding. Read the review on The Cochrane Collaboration Web site.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Take this poll regarding where you get your birth prep info

Poll at Independent Childbirth Blog
http://tinyurl.com/26u8ru

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New web sites

Just added some new web sites including one from a homebirth midwife... Keep scrolling down...Look to the right ..............

Homebirth Montage from midwife's practice (You Tube)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Birth class reflections

Tonight I taught birth class- just as I do most Wednesday evenings. Next week will be the last class in this series. Tonight each person created some birth art. It’s an activity borrowed from Birthing from Within and I must say it’s actually my favorite part of birth class. I am always so amazed and impressed with what comes out of this activity. Tonight I sat quietly listening to the CD that was playing- it was Loreena McKinnett, and just looked around. We are together here in the Birth Center, cozy and relaxed in this beautiful setting. Some are sitting on the soft couch, a couple in the rocking chairs, one on the floor and others sitting in the other chairs. I think about this space and how perfect it is for birth class. What a great memory for these couples to have spent class time here, rather than another less welcoming setting. The beautiful voice of Loreena is filling the air and the lamps are reflecting a warm glow off the golden walls of the living room of the birth center. The weather is not cool enough to have a fire in the fireplace, but it is welcoming anyway and there are cheerful flowers on the mantle. Birth art is on the walls, table and in many parts of the room and everyone is focused - working on their own personal art expression. I bring crayons, colored pencils, pastels and each person has chosen their medium. I sit quietly, taking it all in and just let myself be in awareness of the moment for a few minutes. Listening, and looking without reacting.
When I initially explained what we would be doing I received the usual reactions, but after some talking and laughing they began to create. Art is personal and usually outside of the comfort zone, but then so is birth. So, I’m looking at each person as they are busy creating. Then I begin thinking about the time we have shared together these past few weeks, in this room, in class. I always feel a bit sad when I think about a class series approaching it’s end. I’m wondering what their art will say and I also think about their upcoming births.
Time is up and they begin to share. This class is no exception when it comes to the beauty and depth of their art. Not so much in the techniques- no, technique is not what this is about. We already know that most of them are not artists, but they share what they were thinking and feeling as they were creating and it was touching and beautiful, impressive and meaningful. It is good to stretch ourselves and do something outside our normal box. It is good practice for birth and life.
So, we go on to discuss newborns, breastfeeding etc. We will all be together one more time before they birth. We’ll have our last class, I’ll give them their certificates and the blanket that I will make for each baby. We’ll say goodbye and talk about a reunion. It’s a privilege to share this part of the journey with them. I feel the responsibility and hope I’ve done my job in a way that empowers them so that they feel they’ve done it all on their own and that they are equipped and ready to embrace and own their birth experience. I love teaching birth class and I have affection for each person that allows me to share this very important and special time with them.
Tonight was just one of those moments in time that we experience. I took time to “stop and smell the roses” so to speak. I just took it all in and savored it. I love the many facets of working with families. It’s a good and satisfying work and I'm thankful to have a share in it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Protect Promote and Support Breastfeeding

Today I attended a breastfeeding seminar that featured Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC. She is a working lactation consultant,speaker and author. The seminar was excellent. I learned some new ways to support mothers and babies. The more I learn about pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding, the deeper my conviction becomes regarding the superiority of the midwifery model of care as well as reaffirming my belief in home birth as the gold standard. As information is presented I find that we are already providing the care that is evidence based producing the best outcomes.
I enjoyed the seminar very much. The Breastfeeding Coalition is doing a great job in bringing these events to Ventura County.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Take the Birth Survey

If you've given birth within the last 3 years you can take this survey from Citizens for Midwifery.



http://cfmidwifery.blogspot.com/2008/08/birth-survey-has-launched-nationwide.html)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Re: [independentchildbirth] Re: Another blog on the Birth Track
Birth Track, a New Way to Monitor Labor
A new device marketed for women in labor called Birth Track. http://www.barnev.com/www.barnev.com/index.html#.


Just wanted to add my 2 cents. Machines, gadgets, instruments, devices, drugs, procedures, surgery............... they have a place. Everything has a place. These are things the medical model offers. Patience, nurturing, trust, support, knowledge, understanding, flexibility, individualized assessments, dignity, experience, expertise in what is normal, recognition of individuality, holistic view, recognition of mother /baby dyad, personal relationship with laboring woman, awareness of limitations, willingess to recognize what is out of practice scope.............. these are some of the things the midwifery model of care offers.
I'm disturbed but certainly not surprised by this new gadget. I understand the intention and I think avoidance of Cesareans is a noble intent. I just differ in my opinion about how to achieve that. I don't think the medical model will ever get it and I wish there were more women who do.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Does it really matter?

Well,there was a topic on the Attachment Parenting group I belong to and because I'm lazy I'm copying and pasting my comment here. It was in response to the article on autism actually, where there was info about babies' experiences shaping them and the importance of touch. Well, I guess I could've saved myself some effort and summed it up in one word..... DUH!!! But really we do things to babies such as circumcise them for cosmetic reasons etc thinking it doesn't matter because after all....They won't remember. We let them "cry it out " because after all.....They won't remember. Bottles get propped while babies feed alone because..... They won't remember.
They sleep alone because not only will they not remember if they slept with mama or not but they "need" to sleep alone so they might as well get used to it. Let's not hold the baby too much because they might like it. The thinking appears to be that babies are sentimentally cute but let's not be inconvenienced by them and it really doesn't matter what is done to babies because after all....They won't remember! In fact if there is something to be done let's hurry and do it while the children are still babies because.....They won't remember. The prevailing mindset seems to be - make sure baby is fed, clothed and cuddled and that's good enough. It just doesn't matter what else is or isn't done because.....They won't remember.
I must disagree and say that it does matter and even though babies can't consciously recall their experiences they are affected by them and they do remember. Just watching them learn, seeing how they recognize music and voices they heard in the womb etc is simple obvious evidence. so, what do we want them to learn? Love, trust, security, kindess, compassion? How do we acheive that?
What does it say about a society that thinks it doesn't matter if things are done or not done because the person involved will have no memory of it? If we have an invalid relative or one with Alzheimer's or dementia should we operate without anesthesia? Should we withhold food if they're hungry because it's not the "Scheduled" time to eat? If they cry for attention or are lonely can we ignore them because whether or not we are responsive to their needs they are just not going to remember? Babies are conscious beings deserving of respect and consideration. They want to be held, carried, talked to, fed when hungry and they want to feel loved and safe. So, here's my little response to the article about the importance of touch.

I just want to say as an instructor of infant massage that touch is so very
important and massage can be so beneficial. It enhances attachment and
bonding and supports body systems- including the nervous system. It's a simple
and beautiful method of affecting baby on many levels in a very positive way.
Science so frequently spends a long time to admit the obvious.
AP is instinctive and we know that babies' experiences shape them. The
thinking that nothing really matters because the baby won't remember what
happened to them is faulty reasoning and gives permission to withhold or carry out
things we'd never do to someone who could speak up for themselves in ways other
than crying. Advocating for babies and modeling responsive and conscious
parenting is essential.
Yes, touch improves baby's development and breastfeeding and cosleeping and
carrying and responding all do the same. This is something that mamas know.
It's evidence based and mama and baby tested.

So, there it is. What do you think?

Avoid C-sec video You Tube

Friday, June 27, 2008

Post Partum

Post partum. What comes to your mind? Do you think about the first couple of weeks? The year after birth? Perhaps you don’t give it much thought at all. Maybe what you’re thinking is, “How /when will I get my pre-baby body back?” Celebrities show off their post- baby bodies that seem to bear no evidence of having recently given birth. This is not the typical post partum body and creates unrealistic expectations. What cost was there to have that body? What kind of financial investment was required? Of even more concern, what was the cost in terms of time and attention? We are talking about a new mother- where was her primary focus directed?

Now, I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t encourage health and fitness. It’s important. But what I am saying is our culture emphasizes and rewards attractive appearance; and not only emphasizes beauty, but minimizes mothering and the post partum period. When a celebrity makes a public appearance after a birth what is the first thing most people want to know- look for? What does her body look like? Whether it’s because women are hoping the celebrity mom will finally be normal or if even worse we’re looking to criticize her if she’s not back in her size 1 jeans. The pressure is there and that pressure spills over to ordinary women. Attractive physical appearance has a high value in our culture. Countless articles and books are written about it. TV shows devote time to show us how to achieve the ever elusive perfect body and women will inject substances in the face to preserve a youthful look and even have surgery to change their bodies. Where does a sleep deprived postpartum body fit into this thinking?

We don’t typically hear concerns about how that new mama is coping with mothering, hormonal shifts, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation etc. The adjustments from pregnancy to mothering are huge. Yet, the attention that was previously given to mama has been redirected to baby, other than of course the scrutinization as to how soon she’s back to her pre-pregnant size. There is so much more to the post partum period than how soon a mama gets her pre-baby body back.

There is the expectation that the new mother will hit the ground running. She’s not to “malinger” but should get right back into her schedule and care for the new baby. High production and output valued. How exactly is she to accomplish all of this? Many families don’t have their extended families in the same locale. That limits the options mama has for being nurtured and mentored. Post partum is such an important time. We want to remember the huge changes that took place when the baby left mama’s body and came out into her arms. The huge transition for baby was accompanied by the birth of a mother. Whether for the first time or a successive time, a mother has been born and there are changes that accompany this birth. She is adapting to the changes both physical and emotional taking place within while getting to know her new baby. Her other obligations are still there. How much can be put on hold varies with each mama’s circumstances.

Mama may have all kinds of conflicting advice as to how she should mother. “Pick up the baby” “Don’t pick up the baby” “Sleep with the baby” “Don’t sleep with the baby” Follow your baby’s cues” “ What? No schedule yet?” “Your breasts will make the right amount of milk for your baby” “Are you sure he/she’s getting enough?” And on and on and on..............
Mothers’ priorities need to be shifted and there is the learning curve that takes place with that. I could continue, but you get the picture. We must support and commend our mothers. We need to stop criticizing their bodies and their mothering skills. Can we direct some attention to them instead of focusing it all on the baby? Groups where mamas can meet each other connect and feel less isolated are wonderful. Families and professionals can mentor in gentle ways that supports confidence and growth. If we nurture mama, support her, commend her and mentor her she will be a strong, confident mother that is able to care for her precious child.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Finally!

Family Health & Parenting Home
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Breastfeeding Makes Top Ten List of Cancer Preventers
March 30, 2008

Breastfeeding Makes Top Ten List of Cancer Preventers

Breastfeeding has been named as one of the Ten Recommendations to Prevent Cancer by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) following analysis of a major new study.

The five-year study, released on October 31st found a strong correlation between breastfeeding and the prevention of both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal breast cancer.

According to the study, breastfeeding lowers a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer throughout her lifetime. Equally important, the evidence shows that infants who are breastfed are likely to have a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese throughout their lives. This also translates into a lower cancer risk.

Because the evidence is so strong that breastfeeding offers cancer protection to both mothers and their children, the AICR has made breastfeeding one of its “Ten Recommendations to Prevent Cancer.”

The study states, “at the beginning of life, human milk is best. The evidence that lactation protects the mother against breast cancer at all ages is convincing.” Furthermore, “The evidence on cancer … shows that sustained, exclusive breastfeeding is protective for the mother as well as the child.” This is the first major report to specifically recommend breastfeeding to prevent breast cancer in mothers, and to prevent overweight and obesity in children.

The study goes on to say that “Other benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and their children are well known. Breastfeeding protects against infections in infancy, protects the development of the immature immune system, protects against other childhood diseases, and is vital for the development of the bond between mother and child. It has many other benefits.” For a complete copy of the AICR report, visit: www.dietandcancerreport.org.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Resource for moms following traumatic birth

Grassroots Network Message 805024
A new resource for mothers following traumatic birth

Dear Friends,

You may already know about Solace for Mothers: Healing after traumatic childbirth http://mothers.solaceformothers.org/ , a resource for mothers started by Sharon Storton.

Now there is an online community associated with this very useful and thoughtful website. Please read the announcement below and feel free to forward to other lists and individuals!

Sincerely,
Susan Hodges “gatekeeper”




This message is to announce a new online discussion board called Solace For Mothers, An Online Community For Healing Birth Trauma. It is for women who have experienced trauma around the process of giving birth. For these women, giving birth has left them feeling deeply disappointed, traumatized, or even violated. We want these women to know that they are not alone, that birth trauma is very real, and that other women have had similar experiences and feelings. We have created an online community as a place for women to begin or continue their healing journey.


In the online community, there are different categories and forums, and the topics covered are issues that often come up for women dealing with birth trauma. It is our hope that women can virtually support each other on their healing journeys in this online community, and perhaps eventually connect with each other in the real world if they choose.


There is an introduction page (got to www.solaceformothers.org, scroll down and click on “online community”) and from this page you can register for the discussion board. Due to the very personal nature of this subject, we have made an effort to keep this community private, and women must register before being able to enter or view posts. If you do not fall into the category of a woman suffering from birth trauma, or if you would like to see a preview of the community before joining, you may visit this link to do so http://www.solaceformothers.org/preview.html This link is not the actual community and you will not be able to view members' posts from there, it will simply give you an overview of the topics covered.


We are sending this message out via email and posting it to online communities and to lists in order to reach these women. Please send this message to anyone who you feel may benefit from it.


Sincerely,

Jenne Alderks and Jennifer Zimmerman, creators and moderators of the discussion board

Supported by Sharon Storton and the Solace For Mothers team

Monday, May 26, 2008

New study shows epidural during birth may negatively affect breastfeeding
December 11, 2006

Epidurals given during labour and birth are associated with decreased rates of breastfeeding, both in the short and long term. A large study of Australian women, published today in the open access journal International Breastfeeding Journal - http://www.internationalbreastfeedingjournal.com - found that women who had epidurals during childbirth were more likely to have breastfeeding problems in the first week and to give up breastfeeding before six months, compared with women who had no analgesia.

Siranda Torvaldsen, from the University of Sydney, and colleagues from other institutions in Australia studied 1280 women who had given birth between March and October 1997 in the Australian Capital Territory. Of these women, 416 (33%) had an epidural during the birth of their baby, 172 (41%) of whom also had a caesarean section.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding 'may cut arthritis'
Women who breastfeed for more than a year reduce their chance of rheumatoid arthritis by half, research suggests.

Sweden's Malmo University Hospital compared 136 women with the condition to 544 without for the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases study.

They found women who had breastfed for 13 months or more were half as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as those who had never breastfed.

Those who breastfed for between one and 12 months had a 25% decreased risk.

The study also found that simply having children and not breastfeeding did not seem to protect the women against developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Around 400,000 people in the UK have the condition.


The surprising results from this research demonstrate how much more we need to know about rheumatoid arthritis and its causes
Rachel Haynes, Arthritis Care

The study notes that women have more than a two-fold higher incidence of rheumatoid arthritis than men.

It is known that breastfeeding is linked to raised levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which can reduce stress hormone levels, lower blood pressure and induce well-being.

However, breastfeeding also raises levels of another hormone - prolactin - which is known to stimulate the immune system, and may actually raise the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Different results

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of the Arthritis Research Campaign, said the study shows different results from previous studies.

"In the past we have shown that breastfeeding was a risk factor for developing rheumatoid arthritis in a small group of women soon after giving birth to their first child.

"This is slightly different in that it looks at longer-term risk. One explanation could be that women who breastfeed may lead healthier lifestyles than women who don't, but we don't know the mechanisms that would explain this fully, and not enough work has been done in this area."

Rachel Haynes, from the voluntary organisation Arthritis Care, said: "The surprising results from this research demonstrate how much more we need to know about rheumatoid arthritis and its causes."

But she added: "It is important that women feel able to make informed choices by balancing their lifestyle with the full range of evidence about the pros and cons of breastfeeding."

The Infant Feeding Survey, published in May last year, showed that most women are failing to follow government advice, with fewer than one in 100 women breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months.

While 76% of UK mothers started out breastfeeding - a rise of 7% since 2000 - most resort to formula milk within weeks.

Fewer than half of mothers are still breastfeeding by the time their child is six weeks old, and only a quarter do so at six months.

The study also looked at the role of the contraceptive pill, which has been previously suspected of cutting the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

It has been thought the pill could offer a protective effect because it contains hormones that are also raised in pregnancy.

But the research found that taking oral contraceptives did not offer the women less chance of developing the disease.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/health/7395810.stm

Published: 2008/05/12 23:03:34 GMT

© BBC MMVIII

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bringing Baby to Work

Check out the info on bringing your baby to work. It's on the Attachment Parenting web site (see link list)

Citizens for Midwifery- New Fact Sheet

Grassroots Network Message 805021
New CfM fact sheet!

Dear Friends,

CfM created a well-received poster for the Coalition for Improving Maternity Care (CIMS) conference in February titled “What Does Good Maternity Care Look Like?”, and we have made a hand-out version. The colorful flier (which also looks good in black and white) includes the Midwives Model of Care, CIMS’ Ten Steps of Mother Friendly Care, and Lamaze’s “Six Care Practices that Support Normal Birth”, side by side, with their urls, with the caption “Supporting evidence-based care, and promoting healthy mothers and babies!”

We have now posted this flier at: http://www.cfmidwifery.org/pdf/ThreeModelsofCare.pdf

Please feel free to print it out and use it for classes, conferences, whatever. It gives a powerful message of “you don’t have to take my word” for what constitutes good maternity care!

Sincerely,
Susan Hodges, “gatekeeper”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Important work

Last week I assisted at a birth. It had progressed slower than the mama had hoped for and she had to work really hard. She birthed at home as planned and everything was good. We thought about the respect and support that we gave to this family and wondered what would have happened if this couple would have planned to birth in the hospital. Of course, there is no way to really know - but it seems unlikely that in that setting, there would have been a calm acceptance of the slower progression that took place. Both baby and mama were doing great and there was no need for medical intervention.

As we were leaving we felt such satisfaction that this precious family was upstairs falling in love with their baby in the coziness of their own bed and in the comfort of their own home. They were all doing great. Mama had a wonderful meal and was going to get some much needed rest.

We talked a bit about the birth as were walking out to our cars. The midwife said, "We do important work." I agreed that it is indeed very important work and I really don't care who dislikes us for doing it - it's so important. How we treat pregnant, laboring and birthing women matters - it matters so much, and has far reaching effects.

I went home feeling very full and privileged to have a share in this very Important Work.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Moms choosing Cesareans

> http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1731904,00.html
Read this article about 1 mother who chose a Cesarean birth.
I wrote my thoughts in the comment section. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes

Well, I thought I'd tell about some play that my 7 year old twin granddaughters were engaged in several months ago. Their mom, my daughter-in-law, shared this with me.

The kids have an extensive dress up wardrobe. E was wearing a lovely costume/ dress that was given to them by their older cousin who wore it in a dance recital. It is quite fancy. Fancy enough to wear to a Ball, which was exactly where E said she was going.

She told her sister, M, "I'm going to the Ball". Then she said, while holding the lump under her dress- "I really want to go to the Ball, but I'm going to have a baby". She grunted and pushed her baby out. Now with babe in arms, she looked conflicted. "I really want to go to the Ball but I just borned out this baby!"

M tells her that all is fine as she, M, will watch the baby for her. E considers this and says, "Well, I do really want to go to the Ball, but I did just born this baby... I don't know..." M assures her it will be fine and E remains conflicted.

Finally M tells her "It's O.K.- I've taken a special class in baby sitting!" E still is unsure- she really wants to go to the Ball- but she did "just born this baby". M tells her, " It will be fine! Look! I've got this special bed just for the baby."
Well, that does it! E looks with disdain at the bed & cries, "A bed! NO! Babies belong with their mamas! I guess I just can't go to the Ball."

Initially, I thought it was just cute, but after I shared it with some moms and have thought about it, I realized that it was really more than just cute. E has already figured out birth and parenting. Mamas put their own needs on hold to care for the needs of their children. They may "really want to go to the Ball" but just can't because of their children's more pressing needs at the time.
She knows that babies should be with their mamas & not stuck in a bed off in another room.

How does she know this? I'm not sure. She feels it, she's had it modeled for her. My daughter-in-law is a most wonderful mama and so E and her siblings have first hand experience with attachment parenting. My daughter,who is also local, attachment parents her 3year old & her 15 year old daughters.

I'm so thankful that my grandchildren have had these healthy models to follow. But that doesn't always mean they will get it right away. Remember, her own sister wanted her to leave the baby with her! This same sister told E during another play moment, "You have to do what I say- I'm the HOSPITAL LADY!!"

Swimmimg against the cultural current. We'll keep doing it & hope that eventually, they all get it. For now, at least E knows that "Babies belong with their mamas!"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Why take birth class?

There was another recent study regarding childbirth education and the results were that many women were not taking birth classes. What are the reasons for this? Some feel the classes are a waste of time. Some feel that since they are planning to have an epidural that they do not need to take birth classes. For whatever reason, what used to be an integral part of the pregnancy experience- birth class- is now being viewed as unecessary.
It's true that women do not need a "class" to teach them how to birth. Women's bodies know how to give birth. Women have given birth for centuries without taking a class. The certificate given at the end of the class doesn't mean a woman is now "certified" to give birth. How ridiculous! So, what's the point?
Ahh... what is the point? Birth class typically lasts 3-8 weeks. In some cases they last 12 weeks. Why spend the money and all that time if her body already knows what to do? Well, let's think about what women in our culture are exposed to in terms of birth experience. We do not have trust in our bodies modeled for us. Women rarely witness any birth yet alone natural birth. Television and movies show birth as an emergency fraught with danger. The laboring woman barely makes it to the hospital where she is rescued by medical personnel. Many times the mother is at death's door and quite frequently so is the infant. Technology reigns supreme and thank goodness there are the experts or they would all have died.
Women tell each other horror stories regarding birth and even total strangers feel compelled to share their fear based stories and opinions. We grow up with this type of attitude towards birth and the fear begins to imprint in our minds. In addition, there is the prevailing attitude that if a woman is pregnant she automatically will see an expert surgeon- the obstetrician; and of course she will birth in a hospital where technology will be used on her. This is just common practice- the standard of care for pregnancy and birth. Not to mention the semantics used in obstetrics including saying the physician "delivered" the baby! Delivered the baby from what? It's mother's body? Certain death? Where is the acknowledgement in the power of women's bodies designed to birth babies? So, even the subtlety of common terminology contributes to a cultural view that disempowers birthing women.
Childbirth education serves to reinforce a woman's confidence in her body and in the birth process. Gaining an understanding of the changes that are and will take place allow her to dispel fear. Birth classes should encourage women and couples to retain personal responsibility for their entire birth experience. Endorsing personal research and examining risk/benefit ratios assist families to make informed decisions regarding birth and parenting. Birth classes should help families look at the basis for their decisions. Are they based on what everyone else is doing or because "that's how it is done"? We want to promote informed choice. In promoting that choice we avoid putting ourselves in the equation. The decisions are theirs to make. We must respect their right to make them.
Emotional issues can be addressed and discussions regarding postpartum and newborn care are part of the curriculum. Communication skills are practiced. In group classes couples have the opportunity to connect with others that are on the same journey. Sometimes lifetime friendships are forged. Private classes allow for personalized instruction with information tailored for the couple.
The need to be flexible and realistic should be taught. My thoughts on expectation of a pain free birth can be read in my comment on the study regarding women's disappointment in what was presented in their birth class and what they actually experienced, so I won't comment on that here so as to avoid repetition.
Birth class is not just for natural birthers. Women who plan on having an epidural will still have to endure some pain and they will want to know how to cope. All the other benefits also apply. So, do I think birth class is important? Well, I'm a childbirth educator so of course I think it's very valuable. They can benefit all pregnant women. Certainly,ones presented by independent instructors are of most value. I love teaching birth class. It's very rewarding and I hope the tide begins to turn again to a place where birth class regains it's position as an integral and beloved part of the pregnancy experience.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

var articleheadline = "Women 'are misled into thinking that childbirth can be pain-free'";
Women 'are misled into thinking that childbirth can be pain-free'

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Half of women who do not want pain relief will need it
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By Jeremy Laurance, Health EditorFriday, 14 March 2008
Childbirth hurts – rather like taking your bottom lip and pulling it over your head, in the unforgettable image conjured by the American comedian Bill Cosby – but too many women today are being wrongly led to believe that a pain-free and drug-free labour is possible, a dream that is shattered by reality.
A review of 32 studies of women's experiences of childbirth has revealed that hope too often triumphs over reality. The experiences of most women differ markedly from their expectations, which can lead to disappointment when labour does not go according to plan.
"Childbirth is one of the most painful events that a woman is likely to experience... A woman's lack of knowledge about the risks and benefits of the various methods of pain relief can heighten anxiety," say the researchers from Newcastle University's Department of Public Health.
Joanne Lally, who led the investigation, said antenatal education programmes needed to adopt a more honest approach. "Women should go into labour with hopes of what they want it to be but they should also be realistic about what it is likely to be," she said. "If they want a natural labour that is fantastic and they should be supported in that. But if the pain gets too much and the decisions are taken out of their control that is when it goes wrong and they can end up feeling disappointed. Women need to be fully equipped beforehand with the information to make decisions."
The review published in the online journal BMC Medicine found that, in one study, more than half the women who said they would not use pain relief ended up needing it. In a Swedish study, women were able to give the pain a positive meaning, as when one mother said: "I think it's a happy pain, though its hell."
Researchers concluded that positive attitudes to pain reflected satisfaction with the way they had coped with it, rather than the pain itself. In most studies the pain was worse than expected – in only one was it better than expected.
Mary Newburn, head of policy at the National Childbirth Trust, said: "Pain is tied up with fear and anxiety. If women are provided with good support they may be able to cope with the pain and have a good experience and emerge triumphant."

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Well, here I am doing something I never thought I'd be doing - entering the world of blogging. I am inspired to start because we just birthed our new blog at Sunrise. You can read that blog at Sunrisecentral.blogspot.com Feeling empowered by that birth, it seems to me that this is the right time to begin my own. I'm a complete novice, so bear with me while I learn how to do this. I will post info regarding my classes etc. - but also plan to share information and my feelings regarding birth, babies and parenting. For now- this will do. Consider this early labor and as I progress there will be an eventual birth of a full on blog. Stay tuned..............