Sunday, May 17, 2009

We Should Be Better Than This

There is a great article written by, Lisa Girion in the L.A. Times about the maternity care in the U.S., my journalist daughter sent it to me.

If we really care first about the lives of mothers and their babies we need to do something about it. Yes, it would be really nice if Obama did something about this, he says we need to reform the health industry, and this would be a really good way to not only improve the lives of moms and babies, but also save money.

Once reserved for cases in which the life of the baby or mother was in danger, the cesarean is now routine. The most common operation in the U.S., it is performed in 31% of births, up from 4.5% in 1965.

With that surge has come an explosion in medical bills, an increase in complications -- and a reconsideration of the cesarean as a sometimes unnecessary risk.

It is a big reason childbirth often is held up in healthcare reform debates as an example of how the intensive and expensive U.S. brand of medicine has failed to deliver better results and may, in fact, be doing more harm than good.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

You Never Know

You never know about the people that come into your life and how they will affect you. Several years ago when my son Oliver was in first grade I got to know another teacher, my first impression of her, was well she was spoiled (she will even admit this as an only child). A few years later she was suggested to be my daughter's 2nd grade teacher, we needed a strong teacher to work with Alanna as she is very smart and we needed to make sure she was challenged. Well we couldn't had a better 2nd grade teacher for her. Volunteering every day, Ruth and I soon became friends. She was just dating her now husband and we talked a lot about love, marriage and children. She became engaged during the year and we had the privilege of going to her wedding the next year.

When they decided to start a family, she talked to me all the time about birth and when they moved, we found her a Bradley teacher where she lived. Ruth emailed me all the time with questions. Even though her birth didn't go as planned, she ended up needing a necessary c-section she was still dedicated to breastfeeding. Things didn't go very smoothly the first few weeks, but she stuck with it and I am just really proud of her. She doesn't have too much friend support where she lives, as they have all given up nursing or only bottle fed.

She recently sent me this:

I am really happy breastfeeding. You're right, I am surprised that I love it so much because I initially did it because I knew that it was best for Max. Once we got the hang of it, I was able to relax and enjoy it. I think that breastfeeding has benefited me just as much as it has benefited Max. Some of my best memories are of the quiet moments he and I shared nursing, just staring at each other. It's moments like those that are going to be the most difficult to part with when Max begins to wean. God! I don't even want to think about it right now.

You know, becoming a mother has really changed me. You once told me that motherhood was the hardest job I'd ever love and you were 100% right. It is a hard job, but the things that are hard about it don't even compare to the things that are awesome about it. I used to think that my life would be defined by my education and by my career as a teacher but once Max was born, I realized that he is my biggest and best accomplishment and that being his mother is the most important job I'll ever have and the proudest of myself I'll ever be.

I am just so proud of her and thank her for being an example to all the other mothers she is around. You just never know what you say might make a difference.

Mother's Day

I wish all you Mother's out there a wonderful day. I have always felt that one of the greatest gifts my husband gave me was the gift of becoming a mother, six times over.

I am an easy to please mother on this day, no need for expensive gifts, just let me know I am loved. So the kids woke me up this morning to breakfast in bed and some homemade cards, fresh cut roses from our backyard and some coupons for back rubs, car washing and one of my favorites a "Shut up" coupon from my son Oliver, who tends to argue every point. We later drove up to the local mountains and had a picnic. We also had an uninvited guest a 5 ft. diamondback rattle snake. My husband said it first was headed towards me and then went back under one of the picnic tables we had our stuff on. It stayed put and we kept an eye on it and still enjoyed our picnic.

I felt extra blessed as two of my son Eric's friends texted him to tell me Happy Mother's Day and then after Ian went to work he texted me that one of his friends texted him to tell me Happy Mother's Day.

So I hope you all enjoy your day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

International Birth Wisdom Week

International Birth Wisdom Week

We are holding a cyber event next week. We would love all birth bloggers to join!

All you have to do is blog about birth wisdom whether it’s refuting an obstetrical myth or sharing a birth story of a woman who experienced spontaneous birth outside ‘textbook’ birth (i.e. a posterior birth, cesarean prevention, VBAC, twins, international birth voices are of great need, etc.). In your post link back to the independent childbirth blog post on birth wisdom (it is not yet on the site).

When you complete your post send us a link to it to view it for inclusion in the IC blog post. In addition, if you visit those posts that are listed on the IC blog post and leave comments on a couple that inspire you to comment we’ll send you a ‘button’ for your blog that you may wish to include on your blog.

Many of us have readers who follow our blogs but may not be aware of other blogs that also have great information to share. Together we are an awesome resource is what the IC birth wisdom cyber event is about. The birth community is global yet we, what we know, are/is all available wherever a mother resides.

If you are interested in joining the event please email us at births @ comcast dot net. Please feel free to forward this email to other birth groups.

Thank you in advance for sharing what you know and inspiring mothers in your neighborhood and “ours.”


Friday, May 8, 2009

The Birth Story: The Day of Dignity

April 20, 2009

By Leslie
Confident and comfortable with our decision to give birth at home for the second time we knew that the events would unfold much differently and we’d be more prepared. For me, both times giving birth was an empowering experience. Being left alone to birth a new life into this world (in your environment), can put the mind at ease making it easier to relax and be aware.

During birth, I applied the Mongan Method HypnoBirthing techniques and some Bradley basics. The affirmations and breathing techiniques from the HypnoBirthing book helped more than anything. They helped keep me focused and in control.

Two days prior to labor beginning, menstrual like cramp pains would set during the morning but they would subside by the afternoon. The second day- they lasted later into the afternoon so my husband decided to come home from work early. He and I both had a feeling something was going to happen we just weren’t 100% sure. I was feeling guilty that he’d left work early because I started to feel fine as the day went on. I certainly wasn’t in labor- (Yet!)

I fell alseep that evening at about 8:30pm to be rudely awoken by my bag of waters tear at 1:38 AM. I contacted my midwife, Aleks, and she advised me to go back to bed and get rest especially since we knew what was ahead. It was considered to be a high leak and not a complete rupture. With Tristan my water broke- it wasn’t a gradual processs…which in my opinion is not fun!!!

I laid in bed thinking about the day ahead of me. Thinking about Clark and what he’d look like. Thinking about his journey - our journey. I actually felt a sudden spell of energy and excitement. I tried to go back to bed since I wasn’t feeling any contractions/surges yet but with the leak it was pretty darn uncomfortabIe. I finally left our bed and went into the living room where I did some tweeting and mainly tried to relax while listening to soundscapes on the t.v. tuner.

My mom came by at 5AM before she went to work and checked on how I was doing. Nothing had changed. She left telling me that I’d be giving birth later that afternoon. Later that afternoon came and went and the midwives had arrived earlier - approx. 11:30AM. I was starting to have very mild surges. Before the midwives arrived we’d done everything we needed to do to prepare for the birth I even managed to get split pea soup started for everyone.

After we ate lunch, about 1:30pm- Tyler, Tristan and I went for walk. I’d close my eyes and hold onto the stroller and breath in the fresh air. I remember thinking-I couldn’t believe it was April Fools Day and Clark fooled us afterall! We joked and laughed about it. The walk turned out to be helpful. After returning, about 10 minutes later the surges began to grab stronger. Tyler decided to take Tristan to the park so I could nap. I napped for a very short period of time and labored in our living room listening to Bluegrass music while chatting with my midwives.

At some point, my mother in law came for Tristan after the park and promised to bring him back so he could be part of the birth. I focused and remained relaxed and would keep running a few mantra’s through my head “With every breath I support the arrival of my baby”. I accepted what was happening- my uterus would tighten and let go.

I had chatted through most it if Aleks and Beth. When the surges were 3 minutes apart - I made the decision to get into the water birthing tub. We lit candles and set the atmosphere. It was about 5:30pm. I called my mom and asked her to arrive in a half hour.

She showed up with my dad- who stayed out in the living room the entire time LOL! ( good thing!!!!). My midwives did a wonderful job of keeping me calm and only came in when it was necessary. I labored with my mom and Tyler by my side. It was a very soothing and cozy being in the water. The water helped keep me calm. On top of that it was quiet. I wanted stillness. The surges had engaged and turned into pushing about and hour later. It became an intense atmosphere. When this happened I felt like the water helped keep the feelings of being uncomfortable at bay.

There were definitely some uncomfortable moments but it was worth every moment of them… moments where I wanted to tell my husband to quit rubbing my neck, when I finally took the cold cloth off my forehead and when I yelled at my husband to move his hand as he was catching Clark! I just remember following the lead of my body and being focused. Deep breaths. I’d been pushing for 21 minutes at this time. My hands then my entire body started to tingle (not orgasmic in any way…exhausation) and just as it started, like that Clark had entered the world! My husband received Clark and passed him on to me within seconds. 7:41 PM - 9lbs. 3 oz. and 21 inches long!

I definitely felt Clark soar out of me- with Tristan he must’ve had a cape during his soar because I didn’t feel as much it happened so fast. Okay, I felt the ring of fire for a spilt second! Clark forgot his cape and I felt that baby body come out- no ring of fire this time…just extreme pressure! Both experiences were incredible and memorable. I can’t believe I have a Fools Day baby and an Earth Day baby…kinda funny how that turned out!

Since Clark has arrived I’m enjoying the oxytocin benefits from breastfeeding- that combined with my placenta pills and few homeopathic remedies…I’m good!! I’m happy that Clark is finally here!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Leslie, Tyler and Tristan

By Leslie

I know this for sure, I'd rather take a Bradley classes over Lamaze because plain and simple you get more bang for your buck. Most of the time, Lamaze is an 8 hour course done on a Saturday of your choice. In Bradley you learn so much more and you don't have to give up one of your weekends to do it. Bradley teaches you how to make informed choices. There are many topics covered during Bradley courses. The health of your child for one and the natural methods you can opt for or opt out of. You'll learn that nutrition is important during your pregnancy and find out what food groups are great to boost up your protein intake as well as the vitamins you should be taking. Bradley is a more natural approach- giving birth without the "drugs". You'll come to know how these drugs can effect your baby. You'll also learn why it's important to have a birth plan and communicate ideas early on with your practitioner about what you want during your labor and what you don't want. Again, it's about making informed choices and voicing them.

Breastfeeding is discussed at length on why it's important and what the benefits are. Prenatal and postnatal care are important issues that you will learn about in a Bradley course. Each class a different topic is discussed and becomes open to class discussion- any questions you may have will more than likely be answered. In each class you may receive pamphlets of information on breastfeeding, epidurals, cutting the cord...etc. Bradley is a gentle method and meant to bring out gentle parents and happy, healthy baby's. I'm not sure that you can find this in an 8 hr. Lamaze class. I really wouldn't know- but I do know someone who teaches Lamaze and most of these topics ARE NOT discussed.

Natural birth and natural care often times seem to be overlooked. It's not just about how you give birth but it's also how you feel about it - the emotions prepares you to be fearless. Knowledge is power! The knowledge you can gain from Bradley classes is priceless. Your baby's life/well being in the womb and out of - is taken into consideration. Women need to know what their options are and take time to ask questions. Pregnancy and Birth are enormous tasks for a woman, therefore, we should be well educated on how we can minimize the pain and eliminate the un-natural. Bradley classes build confidence and teach you how to prepare for your baby with a natural and gentle focus.

I thoroughly enjoyed going to Bradley classes and loved having Dorene as a teacher. She's not only a teacher but a friend and a mentor. Her birth stories were inspiring and heartwarming. I'm pregnant with my second and my husband enjoyed the classes so much that he would like to attend the last few classes as a refresher. I highly recommend The Bradley Method when choosing a childbirth course

Birth Stories From My Students

I am going to start posting some of my students birth stories for you to read. I hope that they will empower you to take your birth and make it the birth YOU want it to be.

My Birth Story: Our First Son

Bianca, Mark, & John

My birth stories are varied and unique as are each of my children. I am a mother of three beautiful children and this is my story about our first birth.

Upon hearing about our first pregnancy, my husband and I were excited. Having just been married in October, I was in disbelief that I could be pregnant so soon in December. Nonetheless, we were quite pleased with ourselves and happily anticipated our first baby. I knew with my dislike for hospitals, and my need to “control” things I would not be an easy patient, let alone patient during child birth. I researched everything I could about birth. I was addicted to shows such as A Baby Story; Special Delivery; Bringing Baby Home, etc. I wanted to know all of the answers to all of my questions when it came to birth. I found a mid-wifery program based at UCLA, which I thought was a really good option for my husband and I. My husband, Mark, definitely wanted a hospital birth. I on the other hand wanted a birth center birth, but after hearing my husband’s concerns and not ever having a child before, decided a hospital birth with mid-wives seemed like a great compromise.

At about half way through my pregnancy I found Bradley Natural Childbirth, which spoke of being able to birth a child naturally. I was fascinated by this prospect and encouraged from all of the testimonials. When I voiced my desire to have a “natural child birth” I received very little support and some of my co-workers even laughed at me. Everyone I talked to said “it couldn’t be done,” or “just wait until the pain sets in, then you’ll be begging for an epidural” or my favorite from my mother who said, “Honey there are no gold medals in child birth, so take the drugs if you need them.” Yup, I heard it all and I thought I was doubting whether or not I could do a natural child birth. I convinced my husband to take a Bradley class and he went with hesitation. When we first went to the class, we were skeptical. I was skeptical as to if I would really have a natural childbirth and my husband was skeptical as to how to help me deal with the pain. Our Bradley class ended two weeks before my due date and I was quite comforted with all of the knowledge that I had learned. I was grateful to our instructor for her care, and concern and wealth of information about things that I hadn’t even thought of after the birth. I was just focused on the birth. I made a Birth Plan and gave it to my mid-wife who in turn was hesitant.

At 30 weeks pregnant I knew I had gestational diabetes (diet induced) and would have to go on a strict diet. Every time I went in for my appointment I was measured and was measuring larger than normal. Please keep in mind, I am above average height and so is my husband. So I wasn’t concerned about measuring large. Further, my mother had told me she measured large with me due to retaining too much liquid. So my ignorance in not having a child before paid off. I chalked it up to “genes” and I convinced myself everything was going to be fine and that I would have an average size baby around 8 lbs.

As I neared my due date, my mid-wife started to plant the seeds of doubt and wanted to talk about scheduling a C-section. My sister had a scheduled C-section and it was quite traumatic for her. I was definitely against having any kind of surgery and wanted to let my body do what it was supposed to do naturally. I did not allow for them to schedule a C-section and on the day after my due date I was scheduled to go in for a consultation about a C-section since the baby had not quite arrived. Now from doing Natural Family Planning, I knew the day we conceived our first son. According to the day of conception his due date was the 15th of August. But the mid-wife went by my last period and the ultrasound, which said the 10th of August. So on the 11th of August they wanted to do a C-section since I was “post-term” and he was already slated to be a big baby.

At 3:04 a.m. on August 11th, I woke up feeling crampy. For the past week I was feeling HUGE and found that I couldn’t move as well as I once did. I was a lot more sore than usual and irritable. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks and was excited many times to think, “is today the day?” to only have them go away and not come to any fruition. On this day however, I woke up not even thinking about today being the day. I was just sore, hadn’t slept well and felt like I needed to walk off my soreness. I walked around the house for about an hour and noticed I was having those Braxton Hicks again. This time however, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. This time I was going to be okay with them fading away as they had for the past few weeks to my dismay. But to my surprise, they continued even when I wasn’t exerting myself. After awhile the contractions became stronger and more regular. I hesitated to tell my husband because it was his third day at his new job and I didn’t want to get his hopes up like I had in the past. At 6:45 a.m. I told him he “may” need a substitute for today and that I would let him know if anything more happened. He asked, “How far apart our your contractions,” and I told him they were between 7-8 minutes apart and lasting for a good 30-45 seconds. He shot up out of bed and rushed into work to prepare for a substitute. Still disbelieving today could be the day, I told him not to leave work until I confirmed that something “real” was happening. I got up and went to Church and prayed. I prayed that I would have the strength to labor naturally. I prayed that I would be a good mother for this precious baby boy given to me. I prayed that all would go as I had planned for so long. When I returned back to the house, my mom was up (we were living with her at the time) and she was frantic. She saw that I was having contractions (at this point I needed to stop in between contractions to gain my composure) and was paranoid. It was a scene out of a television drama series where one person is running around the house, frantically trying to get everything together to go to the hospital. I assured her I had plenty of time that my contractions were only 4-5 minutes apart and we needed to call Mark to come home. Mark arrived home around 10 a.m., and we headed down to UCLA from there. We arrived at the Labor & Delivery department around noon and they checked me shortly thereafter. I kept telling Mark that the mid-wives were going to send me home because I wasn’t in labor. I did notice on the drive down to UCLA my labor seemed to slow down, probably due to the stress of the drive and the stress of going to a hospital. At about 1 p.m. I was told that I was dilated to 6 cm, 80% effaced,–2 station, and anterior position. I asked if I could go home and they laughed and said I would be having a baby by the end of the day if not sooner. That seemed impossible to me!

I called my sister-in-law who wanted to be at the birth and she flew down from Sacramento. She made it to the Labor and Delivery room by 3 pm and everyone there was having a late lunch (In-n-Out might I add). I would get up as much as possible and would move. Moving made my labor progress, kept my mind off of the pain, and gave me something to do then just sitting around. I took LOTS of hot showers, which helped my back pain that had started at 3:00 a.m. By 5:00 p.m. my contractions were about 1 minute apart and I was not joking anymore as I had been in the previous hours. I wasn’t dancing to our wedding song by this point and I was definitely my serious. I went for a walk around 5:30 p.m. and asked Mark if he could clear out the room of visitors. I needed some quiet time. At 5:45 p.m. I was bent over the bed during a contraction when I noticed that I was peeing on the ground. I was mortified. Not only could I not control my birth, I couldn’t control my own bladder! When I said this to my husband, he said, “No that isn’t pee, honey, you’re water just broke!” At that moment, I was so grossed out that I wanted to shower again to clean up. In the shower, my water burst and it sounded like a big bucket of water was poured out all over the shower stall. It was at that moment I felt “real” pain. No longer did I have the advantage of having my water sac buffer the pain of the contractions. Fortunately at this point I was near complete dilation and was in transition. I wanted to stay in the shower and birth the baby but due to hospital regulations and the safety of the mid-wives and nurses I had to return to my bed. Not caring that I was fully naked, I returned to the bed in transition to begin birthing. I knew that I didn’t want to birth on my back due to a back injury I had sustained in college. I asked my mid-wife if I could birth on my side. She agreed and we started on my right side. After a few pushes the baby still wasn’t coming down. His station was still –2 but I was fully effaced and fully dilated. They were concerned that he was too big and could be stuck. My mid-wife continued to have me push and she told me I would need to move around from side to side to get the baby through the pelvic area. Each time I moved it seemed like quite the ordeal. Imagine trying to move Shamu to one side and then another and that is how I felt (and I am sure how I looked). I was quite grateful to my husband, my sister-in-law, and the nurses for helping me position myself so that I could move side to side. After about an hour of pushing, I looked to my mid-wife and said, “I can’t do this. Please help me.” I was doubting everything and everyone. My mid-wife looked at me and said “You are doing a great job. Yes you can.” Having heard the lady next door scream for 3 hours during her birth, with an epidural I doubted if I could continue through with this natural childbirth. My husband was giving me lots of encouragement and so was my sister-in-law. I voiced that I didn’t think I could push like this for 3 hours and my mid-wife reminded me of the present and to make each contraction count.

I remember when we switched positions and I was on my back holding my husband’s hands in front of me. Imagine doing a stomach crunch with your arms stretched out in between your legs. That was how I was positioned. It was at that moment; I felt my son move into position and could feel him move down the birth canal. That feeling at that moment was the most intimate, intense, joyful, awesome feeling I have ever had. Feeling a life move within you and make its way outside of your of body is miraculous. I felt my son move down with each contraction and push. As he was starting to crown I was repositioned on my side once again. Now with every contraction I could feel him move forward, and then backward. He would start to crown with a contraction and then when the contraction was done he would go back up towards the birth canal. I was frustrated by this. It was a series of forward and backward motions until one really big contraction when he crowned and stayed. Now I faced the ring of fire burning my perineum. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn Eve!” As I kept feeling this ring of fire while my mid-wife massaged the perineum I kept telling myself, “where was this in our Bradley class” I don’t remember her going over this part?” Shortly afterwards and with one gentle push John’s head came out and I felt such relief. I thought he was completely out and wanted to move. I was quickly told I still had to get his shoulders out. So with the next contraction his shoulders came out and both my husband and I were in disbelief. I kept saying over and over again, “I can’t believe it! He is finally here!” I looked to my husband after I delivered my placenta and said, “It wasn’t that bad. I can do this again!” Everyone in the room was in shock and of course stated that we needed to wait at least 6 weeks to let my body heal. However my body really didn’t have a lot of healing to do. I had one small interior tear due to pushing when I didn’t have a contraction and the perineum was a little raw from being stretched 15+ inches. Yup, my son’s head was 15 inches in diameter and I had no tearing. He weighed 10 lbs. and 1 oz. He was born alert, awake, and fully cognizant of whom his mother and father were right from the beginning. He was able to latch on to fed within minutes afterwards and thus we began our relationship as a family, and as a mother and son.

From this experience, my husband and I are convinced that natural childbirth is the way to go! It saddens us that more people do not choose that route and are ignorant of their choices. It amazes me that people do more research and plan for more “things” then for the birth of their child. I knew that a one-day wonder course given at our local hospital wasn’t going to prepare me for the birth of our son. I wanted a course of study that I could take throughout the last trimester of my pregnancy so that I had time to reflect, ask, and analyze all of the information given to us over the course of those weeks. The relationship that I was able to foster with my Bradley instructor has been life-giving and on-going. I know that I can still call and ask for advice if needed and can count on her if I need help with finding support or resources for birthing naturally.