Monday, July 28, 2008

Screaming Birth

You know how birth is portrayed on TV:

Commonly, TV birth happens mere minutes after the water breaks, precipitating a mad rush (in a taxi) to the hospital, frantic calls to the doctor, and apoplexy by the father-to-be.

The rest of the episode is spent with the pregnant character in pain, sweating, man-bashing ("You did this to me!"), and culminating with the screaming actual pushing a kid out of their crotch scene. This is finished with a damp but otherwise perfectly clean (four-month old) baby being held by a beatifically smiling but exhausted mother and an ecstatic father or father-figure.

To read more, go here:

It chronicles famous TV births and coins them "Screaming Births" a dramatic device that is a favorite of directors and screen writers.

The best part of the article states:

Since all directors and script writers do their research on obstetrics and midwifery by transporting themselves to the 19th century, the delivery will always be performed with the woman lying flat on her back. This is perhaps a sub-device which we should label Sadistic Obstetrician because this is the hardest position in which to give birth, although the easiest for the doctor.

To see clips of births portrayes on TV, you can go The True Face of Birth and email Rixa for the DVD she compiled for the Trust Birth Conference. At one point, she was selling the DVD for $5 each to cover the cost of burning and shipping. She may still be offering them.

Birth "Think-Tank"

The Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation is currently partnering with doulas and childbirth researchers and birth activists in forming a birth "Think Tank". The purpose of the Think Tank is to gather information, perspectives and solutions to the state of childbirth in the US, which now focuses on the "medical" model of childbirth. We hope to change the direction of birthing in the US and bring it closer to its natural state. Understanding HOW childbirth evolved to where we are now .... and the educating women regarding natural childbirth. If you would like to join us please contact us at

I found this today on Tatia Oden French Foundation website. Through the course of my graduate students, I had begun to wonder if the birth activist community needed a think tank to further the work of improving maternity services through research, advocacy and policy.

For those unfamiliar with what a think tank actually does, here is the definition from wikipedia: "A think tank (also called a policy institute) is an organization, institute, corporation, or group that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economy, science or technology issues, industrial or business policies, or military advice."

I am most familiar with think tanks relating to issues regarding early care and education (since that is what my graduate degree is in) but as I've been transitioning from preschool issues to birth issues, I've realized the birth community can benefit from the coordinate efforts of a think tank created for the purposes of correcting what is wrong with the way birth is treated today.

This blog post is a call to other researchers and activists to consider what your role can be in assisting in the organization and efforts a birth think tank. As I find out more information, I will post.

Cytotec Adverse Events Site

Today I received this letter from Maddy Oden, founder of the Tatia Oden French Foundation.
Dear Friends:
A childbirth activist (Christal Lutz) and myself have just gone live with a new website. Cytotec Adverse Events( We have put down the stories of some of the moms and families who have been given cytotec to induce their labor and subsequently endured tragic side effects. Some wanted their names used, others did not.

The site also was designed for the purpose of creating a place where health care providers, nurses, doctors, midwives, doulas, could write their experiences of cytotec inductions without using their names. This will give us a bank of information, first hand, that can help us in dealing with the FDA, ACOG and most importantly, the educational efforts with the public.

Please take a minute to check it out. All your comments, thoughts, suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you for all that you do.
Maddy Oden

Please pass this on to mothers and birth professionals in order to collect the stories and facts about the effects of misusing drugs that are not approved for the FDA for the induction of labor.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Start At Home

Today as I was watching HGTV, I had an idea based off the current slogan "Life's Biggest Moments Start at Home" and some of the taglines in the commercials that describes home as a place for new beginnings and celebrations.

If there ever were to be slogans and taglines for homebirthing families, those would be it. There are alot of birth shows on TV, all of which are centered around highly medicalized births. There are a growing number of families in the United States who are considering, planning and having at home birth (sometimes called DIY births). I see that HGTV has a unique opportunity to show how homes can be the best place to start life and a place where that new beginning can be celebrated.

I can envision a show where a homebirthing expert (typically a midwife) consults with families planning a homebirth to make the necessary preparations for their homes: including birth tubs, birth kits and bedding for expectant families, new moms and newborn babies.

I would love to see a show like this portraying birth as a "normal" event that families can celebrate within their homes, as opposed to the unnaturalness of hospital birthing. The homebirthing community and supporters are looking for the media to portray birth in the way it ideally can be for the majority of families. HGTV could place a special role in this.

I wrote the above to HGTV today and I'm now looking to garner support for a TV show that would portray homebirth accurately as a safe option for birthing babies. I've created a petition that will hopefully indicate the level of interest in the homebirth community for a TV show of this nature:

To sign the petition and show your commitment to positive portrayals of homebirth in the media, go to:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Unlocking Birth Plans

When I was pregnant, I thought of a writing a birth plan for a hospital birth was like a cafeteria, you had choices--you could take and leave what you wanted. That's when I developed my birth plan based on the real life example of others. I wrote all the things I wanted with provisos about all the things I didn't want. It was three pages, complete with a very nice letter to the nurses, midwives and doctors I would be working with.

Then after I discovered what hospital birth is really like, I heard birth plans being maligned. I learned that birth plans aren't typically read but are often scoffed at before they are thrown in the trash. But information still promulgates that birth plans are useful tools in having individual desires, wishes, cultural and religious values being respected; while others state that birth plans are useless.

I've been trying to figure my through this chasm of opinion. I wasn't quite prepared to throw away the birth plan idea all together, but understood how they often do not have the effectiveness that families desire. One solution I've heard touted is a birth plan should take up no more space than a 5 x 7 index card with easy to read font (no 7 pt business). I didn't understand how that was possible, based on the number of birth plans I'd read and the one that I too composed in preparation for birthing in a hospital.

Recently, in the book "Pregnancy, Childbirth and Your Growing Latter-day Saint Family" written by a registered nurse and certified childbirth educator, I read an example of what a index card birth plan would look like and I began to see how this would be plausible. I will attempt to reproduce what I found:

Room: Labor, deliver, and recover in same room at local hospital
Other people present: husband, doula (a woman who provides professional labor support), and maybe mother
Food and drink: light foods, juice, water as desired
Fetal Heart Rate: intermittent, with initial 20 minutes electronic monitoring, then hand monitored every 15 to 5 minutes as needed.
Pain Relief: relaxation, breathing, comfort measures, shower, hug and kisses from husband!
Labor Stimulation If Needed: walking, changing positions, nipple stimulation
Labor and Birth Positions: mother's choice
Pushing Techniques: short (limit to six seconds), spontaneous bearing down
Perineum: try to prevent tearing with support, gentle pushing, no episiotomy
Cord Cutting: father cuts cord after pulsating stops
Immediate Baby Care: baby held by parents for first hour and given opportunity to breastfeed
Feeding and Contact with Baby:feeding on demand with 24 hour rooming-in

I had to see it to believe it, but that fit on a 3 x 5 index card (admittedly with probably 8-9 pt font). It concisely described a family's desire to have "as natural a hospital childbirth as possible." Having seen the example, I can see how it can be adapted to an individual's wishes. In the space remaining on the line regarding immediate baby care, I would make a note refusing the Vitamin K shot, vaccines and erythomycin). I would make use of those blank lines and add no artificial nipples of formula supplementation; supported squat, upright pushing positions; warm compress and counterpressure on perineum, etc.

But there you have it, a short, concise, fit in the palm of your hand birth plan. They do exist.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Baby Dance

Lately, I've been yearning for a baby. I can feel it deep in my uterus. My body is wanting to birth another baby. I am happy for all the friends and moms I hear are pregnant and I congratulate them. At the same time, I wish I could be pregnant again too. I have been slightly frustrated by remaining infertile as I've been breastfeeding. Shorter lutuel phases are making conception unlikely. My husband's and my efforts are turned to prayer that soon we will be able to conceive again. Last night a wrote a poem that manifests my desire:

Dance with me, spritely child.
Dwelling in my fertile womb,
At my breast so full with milky white moonlight
And wrapped in my arms.
Together we dance
First your father and I, warm breath and tangled limbs
Gentle words and loving carresses
Next you and me
The fluid dance of red-gloden light.
The motions build as we coordinate our moves.
Shifting, swaying, turning, twisting.
Daddy steps in again with strong hands
and the strength to hold us all.
Gently, with excitment, exuberance and toil
We call out to each other- "Let us Meet!"
To dance with each other outside the womb.
At that pinnacle, we dance some more.
Welcomed feet first, head first
-however you choose to dance into this world.
Our rhythms matched and adapting to each other
While the hum of angelic energy brightens the air.
And then, you are at my breast.
Curled against our warm bodies
And cradled in our arms.
To sway and shift throughout our days
And through our nights.
Just as we did the night you were born.

Back to Blogging

Its been over a month since I've posted last. I missed the uprorr about AMA's and ACOG's efforts to ban homebirth but I did hear a little mention of it in the times I was able to pull myself away from my work. My brief opinion on that: they will not be successful in lobbying Congress because legislation like that is so blatantly a violation of individual freedom as well as obvious attempts to monopolize their business and shut down their competition. However, the birth community cannot stand by and hope that their efforts will fail. Birth activists have the responsibility to let their collective voice be heard and to state the research in support of homebirth and midwifery.

And now to update on my goings-on. In early June, I was busy packing and getting ready for our summer of learning. I then spent three weeks in Hawaii taking the last two classes for my M.Ed. program. The topics covered were policy making, advocacy and collaboration within the field of early childhood education. Since I started the program and my experiences of becoming a mother, my focus has shifted to earlier in child development to the perinatal and infancy period. The information covered in my classes were helpful to me as a birth advocate because I could apply the lessons to needed policy changes and my efforts to work with the birth community to improve the way birth is treated and respected in our country.

While in Hawaii, I was in class 8 hours a day. Willem stayed with my best friend since fourth grade and they went to the beach often and bussed around Honolulu with each other. After class, I would go join them wherever they were so I was lucky to go to the beach at least 3 or 4 times a week.

When we first got there, Willem was afraid of the waves and the ocean. I can understand that fear. Being short like he is and rushing water that has the power to knock him over, he clung to me like the little koala I frequently call. That fear lasted all of 2 days. The next time he went to the beach, the waves were a little calmer and he discovered how good the water felt. It was soon after that he discovered that he could run into the ocean, kick the waves and splash. Within a couple of days, he started walking out as far as he could go, up to his chin. He also noticed the older children playing around them as they floated on inflatable rafts, body boarded and swam with boogie boards. He wanted to be like them. One day he noticed a three year old with the inflatable arm rings and tried to swim like her. It was then I decided to invest the $0.89 for the floaties. That's when he took off. He was an independent kid with those. He would only get out of the water when it started getting dark, or he was hungry or tired. He took a few naps on the beach. Needless to say my little beach baby got tanner and blonder through his play.

As for me, I still have plenty of work to do to finish my degree. To complete my classes, I need to write two research papers. I also need to finish writing up my thesis. I'm on track for graduation. I plan to defend my thesis in time for my birthday and then return to Hawaii in December to walk with my class and be hooded.

The Birth Survey is also getting close to its national launch, so I will be working on preparations for that. Between my graduate program, the Birth Survey, Solace and Willem, I will be a busy mama this summer. I will make efforts to keep up to date with the birth world and post my thoughts here as I have time.