Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another benefit of cosleeping?

At 1:30 am last night, Willem woke up vomitting up his dinner. He was on his back at the time. Peter, my husband, woke up quickly and turned him over on to his stomach. Willem was barely awake, or even aware that he was throwing up so he tried to go back to sleep. We wouldn't allow it because he was rubbing his face in the puddle of vomit. We then cleaned him up as best we could without totally stripping the sheets and bathing him.

I'm just glad that we were cosleeping with him because he was so quiet throughout the whole thing that if he had been sleeping in the other room, we would not have known until the next morning. Not only would it have been an awful, disgusting mess, there's a chance that he may have aspirated vomit either when he was on his back throwing up, or when he rolled over and rubbed his face in it.

I have never heard of this benefit of cosleeping, that we'd be able to quickly attend to our child in a scary situation like that, but I've learned that cosleeping in this case may have prevented a potentially dangerous situation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Childhood Vaccines: Questions All Parents Should Ask

Conscious Woman. org sponsors online seminars, called "webinars" on a variety of topics that are relevant to parents and women, particularly in their roles as mothers. They provide easily accessible, affordable information and evidence based research on topics like natural birth, circumscion, breastfeeding, vaccines, midwifery and being an effective advocate. As a stay at home mom, I am able to participate without interfering with my child's schedule as I can use a portable phone and headset to listen to the presentation and view the slide shows on my computer with internet connection.

I first became acquainted with Conscious Woman when I discovered that they were offering a series on Postpartum Mood Disorders, which Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after childbirth is one. I took the two part series to learn about my condition, what I could do to heal and move forward, as well as to learn about the academic research on the topic so I could be an effective advocate for change.

The most recent series I participated in was Childhood Vaccines: Questions All Parents Should Ask I was very glad to participate because, like many other parents, I have been concerned over the rumors about vaccines causing autism, asthma, chronically ill children, even death and other neurological disorders.

From the Conscious Woman website, here is an outline of the material presented in the webinar:
Part I: Myths vs. Realities
This workshop will explore common misconceptions regarding vaccination efficacy, and how tests are conducted to determine vaccine safety. Questions that will be addressed include:

What are the present legal requirements for mandatory vaccinations?
How effective are vaccinations?
Are vaccinated children healthier than non-vaccinated children?
Are vaccines safe? Do the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks?
How is vaccine research conducted? How thoroughly are vaccines tested? How long are test children observed?
What is congenital rubella syndrome? Does the rubella vaccine prevent it?
Do vaccines cause meningitis?
Tedd will also discuss transplacental immunity and how it relates to current vaccination practices.

Part II: The Shots
Many parents still consent to routine vaccinations - believing that the “removal” of thimerisol (mercury) has taken away the major risks associated with the vaccines - without considering whether vaccines contain other toxic ingredients and what their potential side effects may be. This workshop will focus on the following questions:

What’s in a vaccine?
Are there benefits to infectious diseases of childhood?
What is herd immunity?
This workshop will explore the controversial research on SIDS and vaccinations, the relationship between polio vaccine and cancer, and whether or not polio has disappeared as a result of the vaccine. Epidemiology of childhood diseases, mortality and morbidity, and the Hygienic school of disease will also be addressed.

Part III: Risk and Conflict
This workshop will involve an exploration of Juvenile diabetes, Crohn’s disease, autism, post-encephalitic syndrome and a multitude of other chronic diseases and conditions that are associated with vaccinations. The focus will be on how conflicts of interest have played a significant role in the introduction and proliferation of unnecessary and harmful vaccinations into state immunization requirements and ultimately - into your child’s body.

This workshop will conclude with a discussion of the age old debate between expressive and suppressive healthcare.

The series is being offered again, in three parts starting June 8, with part two on June 22 and part three on July 6. Its a very good way to spend a Sunday morning: learning while in your jammies.

What did I learn from the series?

I learned that there is not enough research to dispute the claims that vaccines cause autism, or death; therefore making putting their safety into question. Until vaccines are proven (by quality, reliable research) to not cause injury to children, I will not feel comfortable following the recommended immunization timetable published by the Centers for Disease Control. It seems to me that pharamceutical companies, doctors and public health officials are not addressing parent's concern about safety and effectiveness, instead are running smear campaigns implying that parents whose children suffer vaccine injury are seeking to blame someone, and those who chose not to vaccinate are irresponsible and neglectful parents.

Educational Guide to Plastic Problems

Here's another topic that as a mother gets my attention. When I hear that plastics (that are used in most all children's toys, feeding utensils, and food packaging) contain dangerous chemicals that lead to adverse health effects, I start listening and finding out what I can because I want my children to be healthy, protected from dangers, especially those that are present (unknowingly) in my home.

I found this guide to be helpful in educating me about what is contained in plastics and what their effects are.

Smart Plastics Guide

I hope that guide is helpful to other parents!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ban the Bags (cont)

In the newest issue of Mothering magazine, an article added more information on the history of "Ban the Bags" a movement that would restrict hospitals, and infant formula makers from distributing free samples of formula to new mothers. The reason for this ban is because research has shown that women who are given free samples of formula are less likely to continue breastfeeding as long as recommended (2 years by the World Health Organization, and at least one year and longer by the American Academy of Pediatrics). Women use formula feed their babies spend on average $2,000 on formula in the first year, whereas breastfeeding is free. Obviously the formula companies have a financial incentive to get as many mothers as possible to breastfeed, and through hospital giving out free samples, "mothers will assume that the brand [of formula] is sanctioned by the health care provider and safe to use."

The sour note to the article was learning about the history of the Ban the Bags bill from the Massachusetts state legislature. It appears that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave into the temptation of letting special interests and money get in the way of promoting what is healthy for infants and mothers.

He then defended his actions by saying that not giving women formula when they left the hospital with their new babies interferes with a woman's "choice" to feed their baby in whatever way they view as appropriate. What an awful argument! A woman has the choice to go to the store and buy formula if she chooses to formula feed her baby. Nothing is stopping her! She's going to have to feed her baby, so if she's not using the milk produced by her breasts, then she needs to go to the store. Simple enough solution to protecting a woman's choice.

If Romney wants to argue that hospitals are not offering equal time to the various methods of infant feeding, then we can say that hospitals need to become objective when it comes to issues relating to infant feeding. If this were to happen, hospitals would not be allowed to advocate or assist mothers in establishing the breastfeeding relationship. Hospitals would either need to remain mum on the topic or provide information (but information, only!) on the benefits, disadvantages and risks of both breastfeeding and infant formula. In this way, mothers would be given knowledge and then the opportunity to make the choice for themselves.

Unfortunately (rather, fortunately), the public health arena realizes the risks to the overall health of our society that comes from not advocating breastfeeding. Research has shown that breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed infants, so much so that hospitals across the country are employing specially trained professionals known as Lactation Consultants who counsel women and often provide around the clock assistance to women who have questions and concerns with breastfeeding. Women, of course, have the freedom to choose to employ the LC's assistance or to go to formula. Not providing bags of formula doesn't interfere with choice: just with the finanical incentives of hospitals, formula manufactures and now we see, politician who are courting the big business constituency.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Silly Songs

The newest one is to the tune of "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes":

Getting Dressed
Shirt, pants, socks, shoes and coat
shoes and coat
shoes and coat.
Shirt, pants, socks, shoes and coat
Now we are ready to play.

This one is to the tune of Laurie Berkner's "I Really Love to Dance"

Willem Loves to Dance
Willem loves to dance
Willem loves to dance dance dance dance dance dance dance dance
Willem loves to dance.

Alternate versions of "I really love to dance" are to skip the remainder of the verse and just sing the chorus using different actions. In Laurie Berkner's version, a child's friends spin, paint, etc but the child only wants to dance which is what she does! But we like to sing it so we love to do all sorts of things!

Our favorites are:
I really love to sing
I really love to laugh play love hug kiss run jump climb sign read eat drink

So yeah, basically any one syllable action word that we do!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Mother's Birth Rape

Last week I wrote about recognizing birth rape and how it is an accurate way of describing some of the treatment that women experience when birthing babies in hospitals and with professional birth attendants.

This week, I was sickened when I read an account of one of the worst (or best, depending how you look at it) examples of birth rape. Warning: some graphic detail that left me feel utterly repulsed by this doctors actions.

The mom will remain anonymous for her privacy. During the homebirth of her child, she realized that she needed some extra support when she reached the pushing stage of labor. She decided to transfer to the hospital to find that support. Upon transferring, she encountered an agressive OB. Her story continues as follows:
This doctor yells for me to stop pushing and get on the bed. I tell her no, and she yells for the EMT guys who are still in the hallway to help get me on the bed. I give in rather than be manhandled. Another contraction hits and I push, and of course, baby’s crowning. She (doc) yells at me to stop, grabs that nasty betadine stuff and starts scrubbing me, then literally throws a cup of mineral oil over my crotch. My husband and kids walk in then, just as L’s head pops out. One more good push, and there’s her body. I start to say, “give her to me,” doc yells, “THICK MEC,” and cuts the cord before I can even finish saying it. They had her off, and I demand for her not to be suctioned. Believe it or not, they listened. However, at this point, doc grabs the cord and starts yanking, and says that the placenta is having a hard time detaching, and I need to push. I give a tiny test push, and know it’s not coming, so I tell her NO! STOP PULLING! STOP! STOP! STOP! I’m screaming by this point, because she’s pulling with all of her might. I grab my belly where I can still feel it attached and beg her to stop, telling her it’s attached, STOP STOP STOP! My husband is saying the same thing…then it comes out. She tries to pull it away, but I scream at her again. She then says “Your placenta looks odd. You may have had a collapsed fibroid come out with it.” At this point, I’m getting tunnel vision, and a ringing in my ears, and say that I’m gonna pass out. You guessed it, this bitch has pulled out my entire uterus.
Aside from gross medical negligence, this is the essence of birth rape--a woman who is not consenting, in fact yelling NO, STOP, exactly like a rape victim, when a doctor continues to perform an procedure or action that is inflicting more pain, above and beyond the pain experience during a nonmedicated birth.

The mother almost died from losing over 3 liters of blood, and was lucky that the doctors who performed emergency surgery were able to reinsert the mother's uterus. Hopefully, she will be able to have another child and she will heal physically.

Knowing my own experience of PTSD after chilbirth, I would be very surprised if this mother does not experience extreme PTSD symptoms and will face an emotional recovery very similar to that of a rape victim. I pray that she is able to emotionally cope with her experience and gets the support and love from people that she needs.

A sickening this about this story, is that this is an extreme example, but similar things--performing procedures without the consent, in fact inspite of their refusal-- are being done to women EVERYDAY by doctors and midwives, who then turn around and act like they saved the mother's life (paraphrased from mother's birth story).

The mother states that she intends to not let the OB get away with that treatment and intends to pursue legal action and file formal complaints against the OB.

Updates report that, "It turns out there were two things that occurred simultaneously when the doc put traction on the cord. 1) the uterus was inverted, which was not in itself life-threatening, 2) the placenta was yanked out, which caused significant bleeding. They took her to OR because the doctor who pulled the uterus out high-tailed it out of the room, and they took her to OR for general anesthesia. She was not, however, cut open (thank God). They just pushed her uterus back in there. She later received two units of blood to cover what was lost in the placenta removal. She's in some pain, but is moving around well, and there doesn't seem to be any major future implications re her uterus."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Advocate Healthy Birth with Healthy People 2020

Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease. Since 1979, Healthy People has set and monitored national health objectives to meet a broad range of health needs, encourage collaborations across sectors, guide individuals toward making informed health decisions, and measure the impact of our prevention activity. Currently, Healthy People 2010 is leading the way to achieve increased quality and years of healthy life and the elimination of health disparities.

The website is accepting public comments on various health issues important to the American people. They welcome "suggestions as part of a collaborative process."

Now is the time for birth advocates to post what they know about healthy birth. Suggestions for change include using hospital based obstetrics only for childbirthing emergencies, moving low-risk pregnant women and birth out of hospital under the supervision of midwives. Cite the research of Michel Odent, MD; Sarah J Buckley, MD; Marsden Wagner, MD, Ina May Gaskin, Henci Goer and the other big names in birth.

Now is the time to talk about the need of changing the current system which puts financial gain before the well being of women and babies.

Book on Natural Childbirth from the LDS perspective

Through my struggles with PTSD after childbirth, I never questioned my faith as a Latter-day Saint. I knew that my Father in Heaven would give me the strength and love to overcome my difficulties, and that with his help I would learn what I needed to give birth again, but in a better way the next time. Through my Savior's atonement, I did not need to continue to suffer with the anguish that was inside me, and because he "descended below all things" Jesus knew what I was experiencing.

However, I did begin to question other aspects of my faith. And that included the organization and leadership of the church's role and responsibility to teach about Heavenly Father's will when it comes to how our babies are born. It seemed to me that the leadership of the church counsels on so many closely related topics including parenting, disciplining children, strengthening marriage relationships, financial responsibility, the dangers of pornography to family units, substance abuse, depression,etc. So why not attack that Satan is launching to undermine the initial attachment of mothers and babies?

I still don't know the answer to that question. But I found something that gave me hope. An LDS mother, Susana Fierro-Baig, has written a book entitled "A Christ Centered Birth: Applying Priniples of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Childbearing." In it, she describes why the majority of LDS women turn to the medicalized model of birth when bearing their children, as well as why Satan desires this. She then applies scriptures, LDS doctrine and quotes from General Authorities, apostles and prophets to how husbands and wives can invite the Spirit of the Lord into their birth, just as they strive to have their marriages and families led by the Spirit, following the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In my experience, I found that giving birth in a hospital, and following the medicalized mmodel of birth is contradictory to the principles of the gospel. Of course, hospitals are sometimes appropriate settings for birth when the health of either the mother or baby is in jeopardy (a slight percentage of the time). But normal birth does not belong in hospitals--where women are not allowed to follow their instincts which are directed by the Spirit of God, their privacy and bodily integrity are infringed upon, and their husbands are pushed aside so strangers can take his place.

I'm greatful to have found this book and I look forward to reading it in its entirety. Currently, it is not available in print, only as an online download. But I hope at some point, the book is made more widely available to LDS, and other Christian women who can learn from the author's words.

Damages Granted in PTSD after Childbirth Case

I have wondered if there is a legal precedent of a case where a woman successfully sued a doctor or hospital for malpractice and medical negiligance that caused Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the patient. I would like to take my case to court in an effort to bring awareness to birth attendants, health care providers and the public that doctors are abusing laboring women in their care. Women's personal dignity and privacy is being impinged upon, as well as their patient's right to informed consent is being violated. Women are then suffering mental anguish, sometimes on top of a physically debilitating recovery. This is not an issue about alive and healthy mothers and babies, but its a human rights issue where women are being subjected to forms of torture and rape at the hands of their "care" providers.

In Meader vs. Stahler and Gheridian, $1.5 million was awarded to a family after a women suffered PTSD after an unneccessary C-section which she was coerced into by her doctors. Her lawyers argued that the doctors violated her right to informed consent and their negiligance in turn caused her months of agonizing physical and emotional recovery.

An article written about the case in Forensic Psychiatry and Medicine states:
Thus, it was not simply the physically disabling consequences of the surgery, but the loss of personal decision-making power concerning her body, her health, and the birth of her child, that caused Meador to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Similarly, her husband's experience of loss of consortium was exacerbated by the physicians' failure to consult him to interpret his wife's wishes during labor. Instead of having participated in a true informed-consent process, he was left to feel powerless and helpless. In this way, forensic psychiatric testimony established a persuasive causal link between the lack of informed consent and the physical and emotional damages suffered by the patient and her family.

So there's my precedent! If a lawyer were to take on my case, he/she would be able to use Meaders case as evidence that others in our society and judicial system have viewed PTSD afterchild birth as a preventable condition and poor outcome caused by doctors who are not doing their jobs correctly. It was just that which lead to me experiencing PTSD after birthing in an abusive, manipulative hospital environment.

The above cited article goes on to discuss the relationship between informed consent and managed care (remember that labor care in hospitals is called aggressive management). It states that malpractice litigation based on violations of informed consent will become more frequent as medical care becomes more managed. The article mentions that "physicians may also be held liable for failing to inform patients about the conflict of interest they experience between their duties to patients and the dictates of managed care."

It was that conflict of interest that I encountered, where the manipulative and coercive treatment I received to convince me to either leave the hospital or consent to procedures against my wishes was done with the intent to clear the labor and delivery room faster so other patients (and their money) could come in, and in turn the hospital wouldn't be "wasting" money on me holding up their room.

A publication is currently being drafted by the American Medical Association that asserts that"physicians must serve their patients' best interests regardless of financial incentives." And if they do not, physicians can be held liable for damages.