Friday, February 29, 2008

I saw it...and reserved TWO copies

Tonight I saw the Business of Being Born at the Seattle Film Festival. I had heard lots about it before finally seeing so I'd like to address some of the complaints I'd heard.

One: At one point in the movie, Michel Odent emphasizes the importance of low profile, fly on the wall type midwives. The next birth sequence shows a mother birthing her baby and the midwife reaching for the baby and bringing into the mother arms, grabbing a towel, placing it on the baby, performing a quick once over and saying "Don't mind me, just go about what your doing" (paraphrase).

The complaint I heard was that the midwife wasn't the shining example of the low profile silent midwife that Michel Odent had described. But when I watched the movie, I think I see why the film was editted in such a way. I think her statement was an effort to encourage the new mother to be absorbed in her new baby, and to allow those moments of introduction and bonding to be uninterrupted or rushed. However, I will say she wasn't completly hands off and could have been more low profile. Overall, though, I don't beleive she was a poor example of the point the movie and Odent was trying to make.

Two: I had heard the complain that the movie did not explain the director's (Abby Epstein's) preterm labor and baby's premature birth very well. Maybe since I had heard this complaint prior to seeing the movie, I was very viligant in tracking as many facts as possible. I believe it was all there--she was 4-5 weeks before her due date, Ricki Lake (not Epstien's doctor or midwife interestingly enough) noticed that her adodomen seemed unusually small for the gestational age, they transferred to the hospital because of preterm labor and because the baby is breech, and a C-section took place for that reason. I thought that sequence of events was explained pretty clearly.

Of course, I could only wish that breech delivery was a more socially acceptable method of birth than it currently is in the US, so her baby could have been born vaginally in the hospital as her baby, Matteo, still would have needed some special care due to his low birth weight (a little over 3 lbs).

Apart from addressing those complaints, I was pleased with the presentation, the history of birthing practice in the US, and the factual information given about the unnecessary interventions in use routinely today and their risks. Homebirth and midwifery practice were firmly explained as the ideal birth setting for the majority of births. I think this documentary and clips from it will be tremendous assets to the birth activists, so I am excited to receive my copies of the DVD.

I have two highlights of the show I would like to share. One was the plush pelvis and baby demonstration showing how the baby rotates into position and spirals out while navigating the pelvis during birth, at the same time showing how the pelvis expends to accomodate the baby. This was used as an illustration on helpful birthing positions and how the lithotomy position is the worst possible.

The other is being able to attend with a friend who is beginning to change her views on birthing practices. About three quarters of the way through the film, she rummaged through her purse, pulled out paper and pen and started writing a list of questions which she then grilled me about after the movie. That was a very gratifying experience for me because I saw the power of this film: it is getting women to question the maternity care system and to consider the alternatives to medicalized birth.

Take a Ride on the Bus

And another recent silly song:

(To the tune of D**k in a Box from Saturday Night Live)

Step 1: Gotta run to the bus.
Step 2: Jump on the bus.
Step 3: Take a ride on the bus.
And that is where we get where we want to go.

or an alternate version:

Step 1: Wait for the bus.
Step 2: Get on the bus.
Step 3: Take a ride on the bus.
And that is where we get where we want to go.

Mama Milk is good for Little babies

Here's my newest Silly Song to the tune of "Octopus" by Charlotte Diamond.

Mama milk, mama milk squirting in your mouth.
Mama milk, mama milk,
Squirt, Squirt Squirt!

Mama milk, mama milk, flowing down your throat.
Mama milk, mama milk,
Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!

Mama milk, mama milk digesting in your tummy.
Mama milk, mama milk,
Yum, Yum, Yum!

Mama milk, mama milk is full of lots of vitamins.
Mama milk, mama milk,
A, C, D and K!

Mama milk, mama milk make babies grow strong.
Mama milk, mama milk,
With iron and protein!

Mama milk, mama milk is good for little babies.
Mama milk, mama milk.
Breast is best!

Mama milk, mama milk that's all for little babies.
Mama milk, mama milk
For at least six months.

Mama milk, mama milk is good for years to come.
Mama milk, mama milk
At least 2 years!*

Mama milk, mama milk is the perfect food.
Mama milk, mama milk.
The Perfect food!

*WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeedinf for two years and beyond.

Who nurtures a mother?

Who holds a mother and comforts her when down?
Who is there to cup her head in their hand,
so the love from their spirit seeps into hers?

Who holds her up, gives her the strength to stand,
to face another day, to hold anothers hand?

Who is there to listen to the outpouring of her emotions,
to listen with their heart,
and respond with intent to mend?

Who gives her the strength when she doesn't have enough of her own?

Can she run to her own mother, a grilfriend?
The kindly woman next door?
Her children?
Is her only hope God, a spirit who speaks through feelings?
Or can there be reasurrance through touch and an ear tickling with warm breath from a soft voice?

Rough skin against smooth
Arms enfolding, encircling with love?
Heaving breaths and wracking sobs,
Grief contained by the love of another?

Tears dry on wet cheeks
Sobs turning into even breathing
Strands of hair brushed gently away.

Who nurtures a mother?
A husband.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'll take these vacines

In my descent to motherhood, I've been encountered with topics that I had never considered, let alone questioned before. One of which is immunizations for my child. I'm finding more and more evidence that is making my distrusting of the recommended immunization schedule. My husband and I decided at birth to delay the first vacines and then have since decided to use a delayed schedule and selecting which immunizations our child would not receive.

However, I found a list of vacines and a schedule that makes more sense to me, and one that I'm on board for. It is Dr. Bob Sears's "The 12 Childhood Vaccines." His list includes extended breastfeeding (2 years), eating organic and unrefined foods, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, omega-3 supplements, and probiotics as well as adequate intake of Vitamins A, C and D.

Another I would like to see added to this list is limitting the usage of antibiotics for childhood diseases. Frequent antibiotic usage can perpetuate recurrences of childhood illness like ear infections, sinus infections, and UTIs. I found that I had to stop the cycle of illness by not taking antibiotics when I had the above illnesses. Simply waiting for them to resolve themselves, while maintaining proper health and diet and using appropriate comfort measures meant fewer illnesses in the long run and none of the complications of prolonged antibiotic usage (i.e. resistant bacteria, yeast infections, etc).

I am constantly learning more about the topic of immunizations and will share any more insights I learn.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

How do you play?

You are invited to describe how you play with your children and partner. The survey is being conducted to understand the variety of ways that families play together and how it contributes to family happiness.

Click on link to participate:
Parent Child Play and Couple Play in Married Families

Thank you for your participation!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Homebirth Debate has reached Newsweek

The news magazine Newsweek has published a new article discussing the choices available to birthing women.

The authors describe the various types of care providers: OBs, Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives.

The articles brings up some important points.

1) Cesarean Sections can be life saving when used appropriately, but the current rate of 1 in 3 pregnancies ending in C-section is being questioned.

2)The hospital transfer rate for planned out of hospital births is less than 10%.

3)The most common reasons for hospital transfer are not emergency complication like most people think, but because of maternal exhaustion and the mother choosing to go to the hospital for pain relief.

4) Women have choices when it comes to birthing. Making those choices more accessible is important.
In some states, the homebirth option is prohibited to women because they don't have access to home birth midwives or those midwives act underground, straining tensions between families and hospitals. The article states that women and babies are put at unnecessary risk when their choices are not honored.

The article also leaves out an important point. It states that women should be diligent in doing their research and make choices that they are comfortable with. But its ignores that accurate information is hard to come by. Hospitals are rarely upfront with their intervention rates making it difficult for women to make an informed choice. There is very little transperency in the maternity care system. Its also difficult to find statistics (for the non research, journal oriented mama) that clearly depict the actual rates and risks. Women can be told to do their research, but in the flood of information regarding pregnancy and birth options, there needs to be a concerted effort to make the important information available and accessible. The blog site Birth Activist illustrates this point well.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cookies for Prisoners

In the New Testament, Jesus was known for spending most of time among the sinners and the poor. He particularly focussed his ministry on the people who needed him most and gave them love and compassion and offered them a way to change themselves. I feel if Jesus were alive today, he would be in similar places in our society: the slums, prisions, the projects, pretty anywhere that was considered "the wrong side of the tracks."

Even if you are not religious and do not recognize Jesus as divine, you still may see the wisdom in being compassionate to those most in need of mercy, especially society's mercy.

A group who need that compassion most, as well as an invitation to participate fully in society, are those whom society have removed from its populace: those in prison. Why do something nice for prisoners? To invite them back into our communities with a renewed conviction of benefitting our communities rather than finding ways to hurt them. After there prison sentence is over, their punishment ends and its up to each member of the community to welcome them back and encourage them to do good.

The Kairos Prison Ministry is working on this concept. They are enlisting volunteers to bake cookies that are given to prisoners.

Its a simple act of kindness that can speak volumes to prisoners and they may feel that returning to their community can mean a new life for them, whether as Christians or as functioning citizens.

If you are interested in baking cookies for this purpose, the guidelines can be found here.

Save Money and Trees by...Changing Your Margins

I like the idea of putting my voice out there for positive change, and not just in the birth community, but also in ways to make our world a better place. When it comes to saving paper, or trees, or gasoline, I'm all for it. That's why I'm sharing this petition.

Tamara Krinsky has started the Change Your Margins petition. Her theory is that enough people can ask Microsoft to change the width of the margins as a way to save paper usage. Yes, people could do this independently, which I typically do, or Microsoft could be told that enough people are doing and would like the corporation to take the action of changing the widths of the margins for their users convenience and to make a green statement.

So please take a moment to add your name to the petition.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stem Cell Research

The area of study cell research has been highly controversial due to where stem cells are harvested: aborted fetuses, human embryos, umbilical cord blood, etc. Scientists are very excited about the potential uses of stem cells to develop many other types of tissue, making it possible to grow organs and other body parts. Its an exciting proposition and breakthough in biomedical research.


And its a big but. There are moral issues of fertilizing human eggs for the purpose of using those potential human beings by harvesting cells for research that prevents that life from beginning.

What if stem cells can be found elsewhere?

Like in breastmilk?

A researcher out of Australia was astonished to find that human breastmilk contains stem cells. Further research will determine if these stem cells can be used to grow other tissues. At this point all that is known is, "these cells have all the physical characteristics of stem cells. What we will do next is to see if they behave like stem cells,” says the researcher.

See full article here

Friday, February 15, 2008

How it works

I had been wanting to find a good animation showing what the inner workings of birthing looks like and tonight I was pleased to find these videos on youtube.

Both are really good at showing the spiraling motion that babies make as they propell themselves out of the womb after they crown. I especially like the second one that shows the peliv outlet view. My critique of both videos is that they show the lithotomy position (flat on back) which is the worst position to birth in, apart from hanging upside down. The reasons that its the worst position is that it reduces the pelvic outlet up to 30% making it harder for baby to navigate the passage, which can lead to improper presentation or cases of shoulder dystocia, contributing to a longer pushing stage, as well as increased fetal distress, decreased fetal heart tones and an increased likelihood of surgical removal via forceps, vacuum or emergency C-section. It also puts greater pressure on the perineum, making tearing more likely. Source: Giving Birth Naturally

Another problem that I have with the videos is that they don't show how the bones of the pelvis move to accomodate the baby.

But other than that, I'm glad to have found these videos!

Advocacy Guides

I'm encountered information recently on effectively advocating for change. This could be in the field of maternity care, or for any cause that one may feel strongly about. I will share links below:

•The Seattle School of Midwifery shares some helpful tips on writing letters to the editor.
• The site 2020 Vision has a rather comprehensive guide to activist activities.
• Find your state representatives, senators, governor and president’s contact information.
• Find how to contact your state legislatures. This link also aids one in finding legislative bills currently waiting to be decided upon.
• Citizens for Midwifery also have a section on advocacy

I’m sure there is more and I will add to this if I find it. But I hope this can be handy guide to start with.

Hospital Practices Interfere with Breastfeeding

This kind of piggy backs on my earlier post about hospitals giving free formula samples to new mothers leaving the hospital postpartum.

Birth NETWORK has posted an article orginally published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It mentions the appropriate interventions that hospitals should employ to encourage breastfeeding for newborns born in hospitals. It also mentions obstetrical interventions during birth that interfere with breastfeeding. Those include the use of labor analgesics (pain medications like demoral, morphine, etc) epidural anesthesia, and cesarean birth.

The article also addresses the benefits of breastfeeding and why it should be encouraged, both for babies and mothers. It advocates extending breastfeeding through the first year as the benefits possibly include lower obesity rates in childhood and adolescence, and lower rates of childhood illness and infection.

These findings ought to make obsetricians and hospital staff to question the use of routine pain relief given to women in labor and prevent hospitals from lining their pocketbooks from formula companies intent to sell their product to women who ought to focussing their efforts on establishing a healthy and normal breastfeeding relationship. Trust me, women who need to formula feed their babies, know where to find it. It doesn't need to be sent home with them.

Jenne's Silly Songs

Those who frequently call me on my cell phone get to hear what I mean by Jenne's silly songs. I do not write my own melodies typically but I will use well known melodies from a variety of sources: popular children's music, traditional children's music, religious hymns, popular music, etc.

Some examples:

Come follow Me, your mama says.
Its time to sleep in your bed.
Come lay down with your blanket.
Close your eyes and fall to sleep.
(to the tune of Come Follow Me, Hymn 116, LDS Hymnal)

(Or to the tune of Once There was a Snowman from the LDS Children's Songbook)
Once there was a Willem, Willem, Willem.
Once there was a Willem, small small small.
With proper nutrition, 'trition, 'trition.
With proper nutrition, he grew tall.

2nd verse
One there was a Willem, Willem, Willem.
Once there was a Willem, small small small.
With the mama milk, milk milk milk milk milk milk
With the mama milk milk, he grew tall.

And my current cell phone message:
You have called a Jenne a Jenne a Jenne
You have called a Jenne, on her phone.
Please leave her a message, message, message.
Please leave her a message, after the tone.

A previous cell phone message:
Hello, hello! Hello, hello!
You've called to me this day.
Hello, hello! Hello, hello!
I'm glad you've called my way.
To share with me a conversation.
Calling you back is my idea of fun.
Hello, hello! Hello, hello!
Please leave a message now.
(to the tune of Hello, Hello, LDS Children's Songbook)

And to the tune of Laurie Berkner's Song in My Tummy:
I've got a baby in my tummy and it wants to come out.
I've got a baby in my tummy.
I've got a baby in my tummy and it wants to come out.
I've got a baby in my tummy.
I've got a baby in my tummy and it wants to come out.
And when it does, I'm going to sing and shout! La la la!
I've got a baby in my tummy!

I've got some love in my heart and it wants to come out.
I've got some love in my heart.
I've got some love in my heart and it wants to come.
I've got some love in my heart.
I've got some love in my heart and it wants to come out.
And when it does, I'm going to sing and shout! La la la!
I've got some love in my heart!

To the Venga Boys "We Like to Party"
We like the boobies!
We like, we like the boobies!
we like the boobies.
We like, we like the boobies!
(what babies say about the preferred food source)

If any one really wants to hear my renditions of these tunes, let me know and I'll post some video for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

NPR Discusses Breastfeeding

Yesterday, the NPR news reported on hospitals giving formual to new mothers as they leave the hospital. They stated that women who received freee formula samples were less likely to breastfeed than those mothers who did not receive the samples. They discussed the conflict of interest for OBs and hospitals who get money from formula companies to give out these samples and what has been empirically proven to be better for babies and mothers. In my area, 4 local hospitals have stopped giving formula samples to mothers leaving the hospital postpartum. I believe that the hospital where I gave birth is one of those because they were very encouraging of establishing a breastfeeding relationship and I did not receive any samples.

It seems an appropriate place to mention the "Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding". Although, giving out free formula samples in not expressly mentioned, I believe that doing so is against the spirit of the initiative.


A couple of days ago, Willem and I were riding the bus back from Downtown Seattle. We sat down next to a man who probably was schizophrenic. The theme is his ramblings was quasi-religious anti-consumerism and his own experience with the divine. I was particularly enjoying hearing how he strung words and phrases together. I could never be that creative in my writing.

At one point, the man clapped his hands as he imitated slapping someone. Willem was very interested in his animated talking so he started clapping his hands and smiling at the man, who then turned his attention to Willem.

He started asking Willem about what type of person he would become, and how he would choose to live his life. He asked Willem, "Do you remember what it was like with God before you got here?"

And amazingly, Willem nodded his head and distinctly said "Uh-huh."

I looked at the woman sitting next to me and our eyes widened at the exchange.

The Business of Being Born

The Business of Being Born, a documentary about birth in the US, is currently showing across the country. It is produced by Ricky Lake, who was disappointed to see how birth was treated in the hospital system. She resolved to have a completely different birth for her next child and planned a home birth with a midwife. The documentary shows the birth of her water baby as well as the stories of other families and the process of welcoming their children into the world. It also questions how birth is treated in the US, and that normal birthing is practically disappearing.

I am very excited to see this film. I have been waiting for it for MONTHS to come to a theater near me. And I was crushed when I missed a screening put on by the Seattle Midwifery School.

But finally, I have ample opportunity to see it! The Seattle Film Festival is doing 8 screenings of it between February 29 to March 6.

On a more personal note: My respect for Ricky Lake as a person has grown tremendously knowing that she's taken on this project. Our birth stories are pretty similar--non complicated vaginal hospital deliveries that left us feeling empty, that something was missing, or being treated wrongly in the birth process. We have both started on a path of advocating natural birth options for women who are low-risk. I intend that my next birth will be much like her second birth, out of hospital with minimal interventions, and to truly experience what normal birth is like.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stop the Misuse of Cytotec to Induce Labor

Some would say this is old news, but the topic still hasn't gotten the attention from the US populace as it should so I'm writing about the dangers of Cytotec induction.

Cyotec is a drug developed for repair of stomach ulcers developed by the pharmaceutical company Searle. The company placed a warning on the label stating it is contraindicated for use in pregnant women as it can cause uterine contractions, leading to preterm labor. The obstetrical community put two and two together and thought, “Hey, we could use this to induce labor! Let’s try it.” So they did. No studies or trials to see the effects. They just started doing; often without the consent of their patients.

The active ingredient of Cytotec is the hormone misoprostol which when inserted into the vagina in capsule form softens the cervix and hastens dilation. Strong contractions are also brought on. Because the drug is being used against label it is hard to determine proper dosing. OBs are using the high tech method of cutting capsules into smaller pieces. Also, once inserted the capsule can not be removed so deleterious effects cannot be stopped or reversed once too high a dosage is given.

The FDA got wind of it and issued warnings to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology who in turn told OBs that Cytotec should not be used to induce labor, especially not in women who have previous had a C-section; instead recommending that every women who has had a prior C-section have another. But that’s another post all together. (For risks of C-sections see What They Don’t Tell You About C-sections) However, use of Cytotec for inductions is still commonplace in many hospitals across the county.

Off-label (or more appropriately against label) use of Cytotec in pregnant women can lead maternal or fetal death, uterine hyper-stimulation, rupture or perforation requiring uterine surgical repair, hysterectomy or salpingo-oophorectomy, amniotic fluid embolism, severe vaginal bleeding, retained placenta, shock, fetal bradycardia and pelvic pain. The risks of this happening spike dramatically if the woman has already had a prior C-section.

An example of a death caused by Cytotec induction is Tatia Oden French who was induced at the age of 33 with her first child. The Cytotec caused hyper-stimulation of her uterus that could not be reverses, leading to her uterus rupturing and ultimately her death as well as the death of her child during emergency surgery.

Her family started the Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation to prevent this misuse of the drug from killing or harming other mothers and infants.

The foundation also started an online petition to the FDA to cut down on doctors known to be use the drug despite its warnings and contraindications.

Please sign the Petition

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

TRUST Birth Conference

A few months ago, I became acquainted with the Trust Birth Initiative. That initial interaction and Amy from Crunchy Domestic Goddess prompted me to start this blog (see my early entries). The current push of the Trust Birth Initiative is the Trust Birth Conference taking place in Southern California March 7-9. I would love to attend but family business and responsibilities is keeping me from being able to. But that's okay!

Because Carla Hartley, the founder of the Trust Birth Initiave, is making downloads available after the conference for those who were unable to attend.

I will be able to hear the presentations by Michel Odent, MD, Rixa Freese's presentation on portrayals of birth in media, Henci Goer, Sarah Buckley, Laura Shanley and Carla Hartley herself. Topics will include discussions on unassited birth, the technocatic version of birth, the research and the evidence of cesarean, midwifery managed births, homebirths, prenatal care, circumsision, the power of belief, intuition and touch during prenancy, birth and infancy. Can you tell? I am very excited that this option is available to me.

This is also a great option for those who do attend the Conference but couldn't see all the presentations that were of interest to you. Conferences are like have to prioritze and plan which presentations are most important to you, while missing others presentations of interest happening simultaneously during each session.

Advancing Normal Birth in Journal of Perinatal Education

The Journal of Perinatal Education of Winter 2007 contains a 99 page supplement to the isssue that presents evidence and research for the Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative. I've included the 10 steps contained in that Initiative below. Thearticle in the Journal of Perinatal Education discusses each of the steps and why they are apart of the Initiative being sponsored by Lamaze International and the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.


Step 1: Offers All Birthing Mothers Unrestricted Access to Birth Companions,
Labor Support, Professional Midwifery Care

Step 2: Provides Accurate, Descriptive, Statistical Information About Birth
Care Practices

Step 3: Provides Culturally Competent Care

Step 4: Provides the Birthing Woman With Freedom of Movement to Walk, Move,
Assume Positions of Her Choice

Step 5: Has Clearly Defined Policies, Procedures for Collaboration, Consultation,
Links to Community Resources

Step 6: Does Not Routinely Employ Practices, Procedures Unsupported by
Scientific Evidence

Step 7: Educates Staff in Nondrug Methods of Pain Relief and Does Not Promote
Use of Analgesic, Anesthetic Drugs

Step 8: Encourages All Mothers, Families to Touch, Hold, Breastfeed, Care for
Their Babies

Step 9: Discourages Nonreligious Circumcision of the Newborn

Step 10: Strives to Achieve the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps of the Baby-Friendly
Hospital Initiative to Promote Successful Breastfeeding

Appendix: Birth Can Safely Take Place at Home and in Birthing Centers

The article is very comprehensive on many, if not all, aspects of birth and maternity care in hospital settings. I'm pleased to see the appendix discussing out of hospital choices. The evidence stands for itself, and states it much better than my humble efforts at a blog can, that midwifery care is as safe (if not safer) than care provided by OBs and family doctors. Care provided by midwives is also shown to have fewer interventions which means exposing women and babies to less risk. The care is often more appropriate for the normal process that birth is; with less morbidity (as defined in a previous post), with more satisfaction, less postpartum depression and mood disorders (i.e. PTSD), greater success rates with breastfeeding, etc.

I recommend this article to pregnant women, or those planning to have a child. Its provides a very good description of what appropriate maternity care is, and provides clues to women to RUN AWAY if they see their care providers not taking the steps described by the Initiative.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

POOP on the ACOG!

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology just released a new statement regarding home birth. It basically full of contradictions, lies, half-truths and propaganda regarding a topic they are opposed to on the sole reason is that home birth provides competition to a service that currently serves 98-99% of American women. That's pretty dang close to a monopoly, and of course, they want to protect it and their paychecks.

In order to not restate completely, I will refer my readers to a blog from the House of Harris that eloquently and comprehensively covers the contractions within ACOG's statement.

Rixa from the True Face of Birth also shows how ACOG is changing its own party line, without making offical statements that they are changing it. Like changing its verbage about freestanding birth centers. They used to be opposed, but without coming out and saying that they now consider ABCs (alternative birth centers) safe alternatives, they are lumping it into a statement reinforcing previous claims that they do not support home birth. They're so transparent (sarcasm intended).

And to conclude I will share an analogy. (Please remember that analogies are not perfect but can be used to figuratively illustrate a point).

The ACOG states that "while childbirth is a normal physiologic process that most women experience without problems, essential because complications can arise with little or no warning."

Let's compare this logic to the act of eliminating, emptying the bowel, or what I like to call pooping.

Pooping is a normal physiologic process where solid waste is eliminated from the body that is commonly occuring, most of the time without complications. Except for those unfortunate who experience hemmoriods. Sometimes, pooping is really hard and prolonged which is a complication known as constipation. Maybe we should start calling it "failure to progress" or "defecation dystocia." Death can also occur when a unsafe rise in blood pressure caused by defecation can cause an anueryism or blood clot to burst. Fecal incontinence or a fecal fistula are also complications that can arise from defecation.

With that list of complications that arise from a "normal physiologic process" why isn't our every bowel movement carefully monitorred in case these complications arise?

From now on, I would like a medical attendant to carefully monitor me during every bowel movement as to not put my "health and life at unnecessary risk."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bring Breech Birth Back

Giving birth vaginally to a breech baby almost never happens anymore. Especially not in hospitals. Its one of default reasons for a "necessary C-section." And since C-sections are the obstetrics bread and butter, the more the better. As result, its become archaic for OBs to know how to assist in the vaginal birth of a breech baby.

Some midwifes make it their business to know how to assist in breech births. Ina May Gaskin writes in her book about learning how to do it. However, many midwives will not attempt to assist in the process because of increased liability to their practice.

It is true that there is a small degree of increased risk in giving birth vaginally to a breech baby, but it can be done and it can be done safely with proper skill and training. Is it really necessary to cut a woman open if her baby is going out coming into the world a little differently than most? Have we really become a society where no one can be unique anymore?

As my friends will tell you, I am proud that I am unique and different. I strive to be an individual and do things differently as a matter of course. I am a person to dance to a beat of a different drummer. So is it any surprise, that I was a breech baby? Why wouldn't I start my descent into the world being a little different?

And how many OBs inform their patients with breech babies of techniques to turn a baby into proper position? The website provides techniques to move a baby into optimal positioning to birth. Meditation, talking to the baby and even patiently waiting a few days is often enough to turn a baby. There is also a chiropractic technique that uses spinal adjustments to get a baby to move. Most invasively (short of surgery) is a procedure called an external cephalic version where an OB or midwife uses external force to manually move the baby into proper position. This technique does not have a great success rate (65%) and can be painful for the mother, but it is an option to be considered.

And last but not least, there's the possibility of allowing a baby to choose her own way into the world. Amy of Crunchy Domestic Goddess fame shares the story of the surprise footling breech birth of her son. Sarah J. Buckley, author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, also shares the story of the breech birth of one of her children.

So it can be done! And I'm suggesting it should be done more often. I firmly advocate that women be given the information regarding breech birth without being pressured into a C-section that is also fraught with risks (see my blog What they don't tell you about C-sections). We might find more babies dancing feet first into this world!

Next Time

I have been carefulling reading and reflecting on Willem's birth story recently and have found some things that I want to change for next time. Those things are the times when things went off course, or I made a decision that I regret now.

First thing:

I'm not going ANYWHERE!

The furthest I may go from my home with be a nice walk on the nature trail or to the shopping center behind my complex. No getting in the car, going to an appointment, going to the hosptial, just to be sent home and go back again.


Forget the numbers!

I won't worry about dilation, or timing contractions to "prove" to anyone that my labor is for real. As I learned with a newborn, the clock will not be my guide. I will go with the flow of the labor process, trusting my body to do what it knows how to do. I will not impede the progress by stressing out about the numbers like I did last time.


I'm not paying someone to be paranoid for me!

Last time (and I'm still shocked by this fact), I paid an organization to treat me like dirt. I paid them to inflict a trauma on me that led to PTSD and for them to interfere with a process that my body was made to do without "assistance." Their paranoia, time clock, and need to clear the room did not assist me in any way. Also, since I do trust my body to complete the process of birth, I am not going to pay someone to come into my home to worry about "what might go wrong." My husband and I can do enough of that for ourselves. And we can also educate ourselves to learn what to do if that "what if" happens.

This next time, we are relying on our own knowledge and ability to educate ourselves and to have trust in creation. And "if" that something happens, we'll know what to do and where to go to get the assistance needed.

I will also:


With Willem's birth, I was so excited to start the marathon that would bring him into my arms that I forgot to rest and conserve strength and energy. I know for next time to take things slowly, as they come, and to sleep when I can. The whole time I was actively doing: focusing, willing my body and baby to hurry up. I know now that is counterproductive and can lead to exhaustion and frustration. Each of the above items will also aid in this goal.

Above all, I will:


I am disappointed in myself that I normally approach every life process with faith, prayer, seeking the Spirit of God and when in labor with Willem, I didn't. With Willem's birth, I think I took for granted that the Lord would be my help and I didn't turn to him during the time I was working to bring his spirit child into the world. Next time, I will seek the comfort, guidance and inspiration of the Spirit by seeking a priesthood blessing from my husband who has given me countless blessings in the time we have been married. The birth of a child is a sacred event that I will welcome the great Creator to attend this time and through trust in His process, I be confident in the ability I have been given to become a mother.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Complaint Process

After a traumatic hospital experience in January of 2007, I have been trying to heal myself and advocate for prevention of traumatic experiences for other women birthing in American hospitals.

First I asked the midwives at the hospital who I would send a complaint to. I was told the nurse manager. I took my complaint to her who said it would go to an internal review board with the midwifery practice at the hospital and their supervisory obstetrician. I wrote a letter to them detailing the outcomes of the care they provided me. It was 5 months from the initial phone call to the nurse manager to the response sent from the review board.

The response I got back ignored my case of PTSD and that it was caused by their treatment. Instead, I was told that I had "received a clinically appropriate standard of care."

I wrote back pointing out this discrepancy in handling my complaint. I was told that my case was being forwarded to the Grievance Committee conducted by the Risk Management department of the hospital. I was also given the contact information for the Joint Commission and the State Department of Health. Both have official complaint processes for patients and family members who believe that their care was not conducted well for whatever reason.

Currently, a year after the initial trauma, I have complaints lodged with the Joint Commission, my state department of health and the risk management department of the hospital. I'm waiting to hear what they will say. And who knows if my complaint with have an effect.

For others interest in making a writen complaint about care they have received go to:
Joint Commission Complaint Form

The Joint Commission is a non-profit accredidation and quality assurance organization for over 15,000 hospitals and medical care centers in the US. They have some clout in getting hospitals to change their policies.

I will update when further progress has been made.

Home Birth Safer Than Hospital Birth?

This new study hesitates to say that home birth is actually safer than hospital birth (for low risk pregnancies, which most pregnancies are). But the findings can be interpretted that giving birth at home is safer than giving birth in a hospital.

It depends how one wants to define "safety." Is safety the outcome that mom and baby come out alive? Or is safety the outcome that mom and baby are alive and unharmed?

Is a mother unharmed when she leaves the hospital with sutures from an episiotomy, or a healing C-section incision? Is she unharmed when she experiences spinal headaches for weeks, months or even years after giving birth? Is a baby unharmed when he has injured neck muscles from being pulled out by forceps, or when he has a scab from the internal fetal monitor gouged into his scalp or an accidental nick from a surgeon's scalpel?

For moms birthing babies at home, these injuries aren't even possible because there has been no epidural or internal monitorring or abdominal surgery. She's 32% less likely to have an episiotomy showing that midwives are not as cut happy as the hospital birth attendants.

As for mortality rates, the study showed that the rates were very similar between home births and hospital births (1.7% or 14 in 5,418 babies). It important to note that the percentage of fetal or neonatal deaths was comparable to deaths of babies in the hospital, showing that location of birth doesn't make a difference in those cases.

An interesting note was the researchers explanation of the mortality rate in the study. They said, "Although the crude mortality for low risk babies weighing over 2500 g intended at home was 2.4 per 1000 and intended in hospital was 1.9 per 1000, when standard methods were employed to adjust for differences in risk profiles of the two groups (indirect standardisation and logistic regression), both methods showed slightly lower risk for intended home births."

To explain the technical mumbo jumbo, they were comparing results of other studies investigating infant mortality rates in home births and hospital births. They had to use some statistical analysis to fairly compare the studies and in their comparisons, they found slightly lower risk for intended home births. Suggesting that home birth is actually safer for babies too, than hospital birth.

I'm awake!

We are a bed sharing family which means that Willem also naps during the day on our bed. In recent weeks, he's learned how to slide off the edge of the bed without hurting himself.

Today, I was downstairs while he was napping. He had been asleep for about 2 hours so I knew he'd be waking up soon. Above my head, I heard a thump. But no crying, no baby coos could be heard over the monitor. Then I heard footsteps. I walked to the stairs and looked up. And there was a very excied baby standing at the top of the stairs!

That's a pretty cool trick if you ask me.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I Came out With a Baby

I went into a concentration camp and came out

with a baby

I was herded in with the scores of others
We were blinded by our fear
The fear of "what if"
We trusted
The trust of "dr knows best."
The doctors here weilded power, might.
They had the power for pain, withholding relief.
Intensifying pain with the turn of a dial.
Inserting tubes, needles, instruments, hands.
Cutting, pulling, ripping, tearing.
Restraints and isolation
Mad scientist doctors testing new drugs and procedures
Without consent without informing
Just doing
Not knowing the risk.
Let's see what this does...
Evil cackles echo in hermetically sealed vaults
Vaults filled with super germs, flesh eating bacteria
Lurking to be introduced into the secret fleshy places.

Brainwashing, lectures.
This is what is coming to meet you.
We will do this.
You have no say.
We can do this.
We will do this.
You can't stop us.
Time to go in.
Time is up.

Resistance is futile.

My time was up.
It was my turn.
All the others before me had passed through.
So I went.
The threats were enough.
The looming dominance and control.
Emotional manipulation was enough.
There was no need for tests.
The fight to protect my body from
the hands
the instruments
the tubes
and needles.

I came out scarred.
No physical traces.
Only fear, trauma and distrust.

And a baby.