Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Detergent for Cloth Diapers

When it comes to detergents for cloth diapers, I'm pretty clueless. I've gotten some scant information and gone with it, instead of really digging deep to find good information. The other day, my friend passed this resource along to me:

Detergent Chart for Use in Cloth Diapering

There is also a guide for different types of diapers. Since I use pocket-diapers, I found this chart especially helpful:

Detergents for pocket diapers

Some Cause for Concern

Over the weekend I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing for this pregnancy. He was very unnerved to find that he couldn't say, guided by the Spirit, that this baby would be born healthy and whole. He struggled to find the words that the Spirit was telling him and the only information that we got was that we would be faced with some difficulties this pregnancy but that everything will work out in the end.

We don't know what that means. It could mean something as mundane as me struggling with low energy and taking care of two children, or some normal first trimester bleeding. It would mean events as serious as a miscarriage, a premature birth or complications during labor and birth which necessitate transfer to the hospital for either baby or me. We believe that all things work together for the good of those who experience them (Romans 8:28, D&C 90: 24, D&C 98:3)--that there is purpose in whatever difficulty or challenges we are faced with.

If its an awful, scary outcome for this pregnancy, we trust in the Lord that those experiences will work together for our good. We beleive that through the temple covenants we have made that our children will be ours forever and through the eternities and that any children or family members we lose in this life, we will be reunited with after this life. That is our faith, so we do not shun the prospect of miscarriage or stillborn baby, although we would be deeply disappointed and mourn for our loss. We hope that the worst of our fears won't be realized but we will be accepting of them if they do come to pass.

I have found comfort in the words of the hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints:"
Come Come Ye Saints no toil nor labor fear
but with joy wend your way
Though hard to you this journey may appear
Grace shall be as your day
'Tis better far for us to strive
our useless cares from us to drive
Do this and joy, your hearts will swell.
All is well,
All is well.

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so, all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
if we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins, fresh courage take
Our God will never us forsake.
And soon we'll have this tale to tell,
All is well,
All is well!

And should we die before this journey's through,
Happy is day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
with the just we shall dwell.
But if our lives are spared again
to see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell,
All is well,
All is well!

I hope that my readers do not find my attitude cavilier and insensitive. It requires a great deal of facing my biggest fears to be able to post that its okay with me if I should "die before this journey's through." I hope that level of loss is not necessary for my family. I feel needed on this earth to be a mother to my children, to bear future children and to faithfully endure to the end of my long life on this earth. I obtain comfort from recalling my patriarchal blessing and other blessings which I have received that indicates my life will be long and full of love as I watch my children grow and mature.

Answers for Susana

Susana left some questions on my blog and I thought I would answer them here.

First she asked whether we were planning to learn the gender of this baby.

Yes, we are. A few months ago, I went to my husband with my findings that ultrasounds are unproven to have no effect on the developing fetus. It appears that more conservative parents and doctors decide that as few as possible are best in pregnancy so serial ultrasounds (those performed frequently without good cause) are to be avoided. With Willem's pregnancy, I had two ultrasounds performed: a transvaginal to check gestational age and viability at 9 weeks and the anatomy check (aka find out your baby's gender) at 20 weeks. I have since learned that ultrasounds in a normal low-risk pregnancy are not necessary, but then again if I had thought carefully about it then I would have told you the same thing. But I'm older, wiser and more experienced now.

When I told my husband about this, he agreed that ultrasounds are not necessary but he also stated that they aren't so dangerous that they need to be avoided all together. I was prepared, if he agreed, to refuse all ultrasounds for this pregnancy but he felt strongly about the 20 week anatomy check. I think he wants it more for the reasons that he finding biology fascinating (he is a biologist afterall) and he loved the experience of seeing Willem in utero--so he would like that opportunity again. Also, he's a cautious, worried kind of guy when it comes to pregnancy and birth. He fears for the unlikely what ifs. So he wants to make sure that all parts are there and accounted for at least once during the pregnancy. Knowing to him is comfort, even though finding out about potential problems would not change our decisions to birth and rear a baby.

And there's the issue of gender. I could go without knowing the gender of this baby, but I admit that there is a part of me that really likes the convenience of knowing and being able to prepare all the stuff that goes along with a baby of a certain gender. It is also helpful to know because it curbs the spending of overzealous relatives (as we learned when we were pregnant with Willem). So a part of me wanted to know because I don't look forward to the shopping with a newborn and a toddler, I'd rather have it done before the baby arrives. Peter, my husband, also wanted to know for those reasons too. Together, we made the decision that both of us could support. One ultrasound, at 20 weeks, and we'll find out the gender.

The other question that Susana asked was why I felt it was so important to pin down the gestational age/due date for this pregnancy.

First, my reasons for wanting to know have little to do with the due date. I hate the term due date because it implies there is a deadline for a baby's birth and I disagree that a baby has to come before a certain time. I strongly trust in the need for a baby to come when he/she is ready and to wait patiently for labor to begin on its own. But my concern for this pregnancy is that possibly I conceived a month before I thought (which might explain the clearly positive line that appeared immediately on the home pregnancy test), and being off in my dates by a month was too big of a window for me. For my comfort, I needed to know at least the month the baby was conceived.

Birth after a normal gestation can occur anywhere between 37 weeks to 43 weeks, with some women birthing after that. The longest human pregnancy I've heard of is 52 weeks! Being off by a month (conceiving in August instead of September) could make this baby due as soon as the beginning of April. And if I went into labor in the beginning of April with a baby conceived in September, that baby would be 33 weeks in gestational age-- a premature baby. So based on that, I would like to know that when I do go into labor that its an appropriate and healthy time for that baby to be born, and especially not too early where medical support would be necessary.

However, I have since obtained enough evidence that this baby was conceived in September so I am no longer concerned about being off of a month or more. If I had conceived in August that means I had a period that tricked me into thinking that I wasn't pregnant when I was. I felt that my suspicion would be validated if in September I had period like bleeding, but since I haven't and an official period has been missed, I'm no longer concerned about conceiving earlier than my body was indicating. And I didn't need an ultrasound to prove it, thereby being able to avoid the viability ultrasound.

At this point, I am able to trust that this baby is viable and this pregnancy will continue normally until I get some indication that it won't. But having an ultrasound telling me that my 6 weeker or 9 weeker is showing all normal development is not necessary for me. An ultrasound can only clue me in on whether I will miscarry soon or not. If I was going to miscarry, the knowledge obtained by an ultrasound wouldn't provide me much comfort. It would basically draw out the process while I waited for the spontaneous abortion to occur since I would refuse any offers for an assisted miscarriage. I feel that an early ultrasound would not give me any more pertinent information that my body isn't already capable of giving me. I also am looking forward to keeping all hands, devices and instruments out of my vagina over the course of this pregnancy. I feel the transvaginal ultrasound is not only necessary, but invasive. I am aiming to protect my bodily integrity this pregnancy by refusing such examinations.

So yes, Susana, those are my responses to your question. I respect your desire to understand and I know that you are not being disrespectful in asking.

I thought I might escape

I found out 10 days ago that I'm pregnant and the last 10 days have been great. The only pregnancy "symptoms" I've experienced are needing to eat more frequent, smaller meals, and going to bed earlier each night. I have been able to eat whatever I want and be as active as I want. I thought I might be able to escape the morning sickness that is so common in pregnancy, and which I experienced when pregnant with Willem. With him, I had to eat first thing in the morning (literally before I picked my head up off the pillow) and I typically threw up once a day and spent the rest of the day nauseous.

But I haven't had any of that and I really did think I was escaping. I wondered if it might be because I'm supplementing with B-complex vitamins, or that I've cut back on dairy, or because I'm eating healthier than when I got pregnant with Willem, or if my body has just gotten "better" at being pregnant. Regardless of the reason, I was filled with gratitude to be escaping that discomfort.

Then this morning I was caught by surprise. Halfway through eating breakfast I had to run upstairs and throw up what I has just eaten. I hadn't felt any indication that was coming on.

So this may be the beginning of a few weeks of relative discomfort and hardship as I get my thesis printed off and mailed, and chase a toddler and a 10 month old (my newest source of income) around and defend my thesis. Regardless, I'm still a happy and excited woman to be carrying this child.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Graceful Womanhood

I've never been one of those women to fear aging. In fact, I spent most of my youth trying to grow up and gain independence. I hoped as a young woman that I would age gracefully and beautifully; like the energetic older women with hair streaked with gray and silver, laugh-lines and smile line showing a happy, well-lived life. I hoped that my hair would have silver or white streaks or individual hairs running through my still darker hairs. How I envision it is visually beautiful.

Well today, I discoverd my first gray hair. It was closer to silver actually and it was right where I also wanted my first streak of silver to appear. Right along my part at the crown of my head, that stretches into my ponytail when my hair is pulled back.

I'm probably a bit young for silver hair, but it was about the age I am now that I discovered my husband's first white hairs. I happen to think that white, silvery hair is very pretty on women, and distinguised on men (except OBs, but that's a whole 'nother topic, so its a good thing I didn't marry an OB).

As for the silver hair I found on my head, I welcome it as a symbol of maturity, experience, wisdom and strength. Those are all virtues I wish to pass on to my children, especially my daughters. And if my gender prediction for this pregnancy is correct, I will have that opportunity starting now to be an example of graceful, wise womanhood.

Who knows maybe that gray hair was caused by the little woman growing in my womb now....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The end is in sight!

Today, my advisor informed me that I'm just about ready to submit my thesis to my committee....


All I've got to do is make a last round of corrections, but it sounds like she doesn't even want to see them before I send it off.

I expect I've got another 4-5 hours to complete those changes and then its DONE.

I guess I would be working on that, instead of posting about my excitment...

Back to the thesis.

(As I go happily skipping away humming "Ding-dong the beast is done, the beast is done, the beast is done....ding, dong the awful beast is done!!")

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This is a conversation I have with Willem probably 5 times a day:
W: Zoe?
M: You want to play with Zoe? I'm sorry you can't right now, she's at school.
W: E-mama? (Emma)
M: She's at school too. I'm sorry.
W: Daddy?
M: He's at school too. He'll be back tonight.
W: School?
M: Yup Zoe, Emma and Daddy are at school.
W: Ba-ba? (Grandpa) School?
M: Laughing. Nope, sorry, Grandpa's in Texas.
W: School?
M: Nope, Grandpa doesn't go to school anymore. We left him in Texas.
W: Nana?
M: She's in California. We'll see Nana in November.

I'm just looking forward to when he starts trying to say "Texas" and "California." That will sound really cute in his little toddler voice.

Gender Prediction

Based on my last cycle and the date of conception in relation to ovulation and the evidence of early implanation and relatively high levels of the pregnancy hormone, I predict that our wee one is:

A Girl

Our nickname for her throughout this pregnancy will be Kernel. With derivations including Kernel Mustard because it was through our faith that she will be coming to us.

In about 16 weeks, I will get the 20 week ultrasound which may confirm if my suspicion is correct. Of course I will update my blog when I know more.

I Birth My Babies...

...Thank you very much.

Its been reported that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists after issuing a statement deploring homebirth,gave its members a bumper sticker which stated "Home Deliveries are for Pizza."


Except I reject their premise that babies are "delivered." In my experience, babies are birthed by mothers, not be obstetricians. And mothers do not need to be "delivered" by their saviors the OB. Also "delivering" babies connotes to me that mothers are delivering a load, or depositing excrement. And babies are far too precious to be termed as a "delivery" like unto one that is deposited and flushed down the toilet. Although it wouldn't be the first time I've thought that OBs would like birth to be equated to a bowel movement (see my blog: POOP on the ACOG)

If we want to follow that logic that normal, psychological process are not supposed to take place at home, then process such as defecation, sexual intercourse and even sleep would have to be carefully observed and assisted by medical professionals. In that birth is a normal psychological event like sleep and pooping, its domain in within the home where a person is able to allow their body to work in a normal, undisturbed, unobserved manner. Home birth is safe, safer than hospital births because the occurance of risky interventions is much less likely in a home environment.

My babies are birthed, by me, through the power of my body which was given life by a Divine Creator. The one person I feel I need to be delivered by is my personal savior Jesus Christ. And whoever is in attendance at a birth, be it husband, midwife, obstetrician or doula, are only there as observers. They do not have the active role of birthing the baby. I take hold of that power and claim it for myself: I Birth My Babies, thank you very much.

Documentary on Birth Trauma

Coming 2009 is "The Other Side of the Glass" a documentary on birth trauma from the eyes of the baby and the father. Featured in the film are Karen Strange, Sarah Buckley, David Chamberlain and Michel Odent. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Its really real

I have been preparing and planning for an unassisted birth since I realized how traumatized I was by my first child's birth. It was that trauma that also brought me to the awareness that medical attendants at a birth are not neccessary all of the time. When it came to unassisted birth, I think of it as something I'm going to do, but when not pregnant it like saying someday I'll hike Mt. Everest.

But now I'm pregnant. I found out yesterday. Which illicits from me a hushed "yay" because I'm happy, its what I wanted but now the prospect of an unassisted birth is real. Its really being planned. But, between not knowing I was pregnant and knowing now, honestly nothing is different. Other than the fact that before it was all hypothetical and now its real.

For so long now, I've thought about what will be different with this birth and how to prevent being coerced and bullied by others during labor and birth. But all that time, no concrete plans could be made. There were plans made for what to do once we learned about being pregnant, but none of those things could occur until that positive proof was there.

Of the things we have agreed on, this is what we now our course will be for this pregnancy:

1. A reduced prenatal schedule. Even though we plan the birth to be without a midwife in attendance, we plan to see a midwife for infrequent pregnancy visits. The average prenatal schedule in the United States is 14, if I recall correctly (from "Expecting Trouble" by Thomas Strong, MD). The fewest number of visits for European countries (with lower maternal and infant mortality rates) is 5 with many countries only scheduling 9 for pregnant women. I plan to follow a schedule more similar to Luxembourg than the United States. Now that I'm pregnant, I need to figure out when and how often they are occuring.

2. Routine 20 week ultrasound. My husband and I have agreed to the routine 20 week ultrasound which is the anatomy check for fetuses but is better known by parents as the time to find out the baby's gender. We went around on that issue but have determined that at or around the 20 week mark, we will have the anatomy ultrasound and find out the gender of the baby. If its a girl, she'll be named Carolyn Belle. If its a boy, he will be Joey (Joseph) David.

3. Private Childbirth Education Classes. My husband is supportive of the idea of having this next baby at home without a midwife present but he is still nervous at his ability to handle that situation. Because of that he has requested that he and I take childbirth education classes that address the specific preparations for an unassisted birth, especially detecting and handling abonormal situations and complications. The typical childbirth education class does not contain information detailed and accurate enough. Instead childbirth education classes are often orienations to hospital policy and how to cooperate with medical professionals. We have found a childbirth educator who will be preparing and teaching us those classes, starting after my husband finishes his qualifying exams as a PhD candidate and after my thesis is submitted.

4. Not disclosing an exact "Due Date." Because EDDs (Estimated Due Dates) are often treated more like deadlines for the birth of babies and in the age of a 40% induction rate taking place often just days after the 40 week deadline, we are only telling people that this child will likely be born between Mother's Day and Father's Day of 2009. We do that to prevent some of the well-meaning but annoying comments about going "overdue" or from having to disclose definite plans to people who are not likely to understand the rationale of our actions.

5. Praying and relying on the power of the priesthood and personal revelation. My husband's and my faith is such that we beleive that God will guide our decisions for what is best for this pregnancy. While I beleive that unassisted birth is the ideal birth for me, I also know that everyday situations that arise in pregnancy and birth may not be ideal. Based on the best of knowledge and understanding that we can gain from seeking out accurate information and education and the guidance of the Lord's Spirit, we believe that if it not right in our circumstance for an unassisted birth, then we will make alternate plans for more emergent situations and seeking out medical assistance.

6. Having a water pool available. Warm water pools in labor and birth are called the "natural epidural" for its ability to soothe and relax some of the intensity of labor. We plan to have one available. Nothing fancy here, just a $35 inflatable 22" in high kiddie pool with cartoon fish on the side. There's a clever device that can attach a garden hose to an indoor faucet that will bring warm water from the kitchen to the living room. And there's always heating large pots of water on the stove.

7. Practicing Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies. With Willem's birth, I prepared using Hypnobirthing. I found it to be very useful to coping with contractions and some hours of back labor. Since then I've learned about Hypnobabies and their greater selection of scripts for pregnancy and birth. I'll invest in some of those for this coming birth.

8. Being selective in who we tell about our plans. We hope that it will not become common knowledge for people to know we are planning an unassisted birth. They are also the people who are a) not likely to read this blog and b) are very indoctrinated with modern birthing practices to think that anything out of hospital is unsafe.

Beyond those plans, there are somethings we don't know or haven't decided yet.

One is what are we going to do with Willem while I'm laboring. I want him at home with me for nursing and cuddling and being present for the birth of his sibling, but my husband will need another support person who can help attend a toddler and a laboring woman. A doula comes to mind as a qualified person to do that, but I have continued fears about being negatively influenced by having another person present while I'm trying to birth. Since unassisted birthing is so far out of the norm in our society, I fear it would be difficult to find a doula supportive and encouraging of me and our plans.

I also don't know what I'm going to do about the early ultrasound. It is typically for a transvaginal ultrasound to be performed between 9 and 10 weeks gestation. This is when any differences in due dates from the last menstrual period might be detected. I had anticipated to refuse that ultrasound but there is some concern in my mind that my dates may be off. Conceivably, I could be a month further along than I think I am because possibly there was bleeding that I mistook to be a period. I will continue thinking on that one...

I need to figure out the prenatal visit schedule and figure out when I want to notify the midwife. Its a good thing there is time for that...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blessings of Safe Passage

Today we leave Peter's childhood home to return to our home in Seattle. I'll return a few pounds lighter after picking up food poisoning from the Seattle airport 4 days ago. That's really not a pleasant way to spend a trip. However, in all of that, I have enjoyed watching Willem get to know his grandparents who he calls "Na-ma" (Grandma) and "Ba-Ba" (Grandpa). He was fascinated by all the model cars, airplanes and army vehicle models that his dad and uncle had put together as children, but he was also very frustrated that he wasn't able to play with many of them. By the end of the trip, he's become very adept at clearly saying "I want that"--his first sentence.

We hope that our flight home brings us safe passage, safer at least than the trip here, which in addition to the food poisoning also included a flight that left without us (leaving before the scheduled departure time).

While here, we also learned of another safe passage that we are expecting, between Mother's Day and Father's Day of this year. A vivid line on a pregnancy test verifies that I am expecting my second child to come into this world. I look forward to 32 weeks from now having a Blessingway and have henna on my pregnant belly saying "Blessing of a Safe Passage."

I also find it rather appropriate to make this announcement on my blog's 100th post.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where is this all coming from?

Many of my recent posts were prompted by a thought process that Rixa started me on when she posted a blog about doulas making a difference in the birth outcomes of women. She expressed her reservations that doulas may unintentionally support the status quo in our maternity care system.

This is my response to her post, and what started me on thinking about what an "organized effort" to promote change in the maternity care system would look like.

On August 20, at 9:58 pm I wrote:
In the last few months, I've been having a crisis of faith in doulas which has kept me away from going through the certification process.

From a first time mom who then came into the birth community, I learned that doulas tend to represent themselves as advocates and spokespeople for laboring women. But then the same doulas turn around and change the definition of advocate into something that doesn't mean what is being heard when a pregnant couple hears "advocate."

I also know that I am one of those mothers who found a doula as a no confidence vote in the hosptial. And while I avoided the cesarean, my plan backfired when I experienced PTSD after being forced repeatedly to find my voice in order to speak up for myself like Jen said. I did that and it was like trying to stave off a freight train that was trying to barrel down on me. And Jen is right, it is the responsibility of DOULAS (not mothers!) to correct the misconception that they aren't there to be advocates or spokespeople.

In addition to all of that, I do believe that doulas are contributing to the status quo of what is happening to women during birth. I see them spending more time trying to make women "more educated" when all that ends up happening is that those women go into the situation that is stacked against them. Doulas should be mounting organized efforts against hospitals and maternity care providers that change the face of birth in hospitals so in time it will become what we know is the true face of birth is supposed to be.

I see the efforts to make those changes being kept separate from the work of doula-ing. I've heard doulas say "when I'm older, I'll take on the system but now I'm going to focus on the individual family." While I understand where they are coming from, I strongly think that most doulas have the responsibility to do both: care for their individual familes and take on the system. As they do that work, women will join them.

This is also a time to say that when I do see doula efforts to take on the system, it is very disjointed and in little pockets. While that is the way grassroots changes come about, its important to connect those pockets and getting them to work together. It is that organized effort that is needed now.

To see the posts I've written aspects of what an organized effort would look like go to:
Birth "Think-Tank"
Legal Rights to Informed Consent in Birth
Framing Birth As Public Health, Reproductive Rights Social Issue
Speaking of Frames

Stay tune as my vision and ideas coalesce themselves, and how the organizations that I volunteer for (The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services and Solace for Mothers) fit into that vision.

Speaking of Frames

A couple of my recent posts have been on "frames"--concepts and ideas that are associated in the consciousness about issues.

If birth, as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding, issues can be framed as social issues and concerns relating to the legal rights of patients and reproducing women as well as public health concers (which I believe it can be with the proper practice and research to back it up), then what type of coalition building can occur?

One important aspect of framing issues is selecting the messenger. The messenger can assist or hinder the effective communication regarding an issue and can either reinforce the unwanted, past frames or can support the development of new, more accurate frames in the public consciousness.

Which brings me to my theory that is childbirth issues are social issues, including legal issues that also makes birthing a civil rights issue.

And who is a better mesenger for civil rights battles than the ACLU?

The American Civil Liberties Union's job is to "conserve America's original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - and defend the rights of every man, woman, and child in this country." Many people may view the oranization as extremely liberal and opposed to tradition American values.

The ACLU has issued this article which addresses some of the misconceptions of their organization. I also beleive it can be seen from this article how the ACLU could work with birth activists to fix many of the legal issues inherent in the modern maternity system.
Three Things You Should Know About the ACLU

We're for traditional American values. In many ways, the ACLU is the nation's most conservative organization. Our job is to conserve America's original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - and defend the rights of every man, woman, and child in this country.

We're not anti-anything.
The only things we fight are attempts to take away or limit your civil liberties, like your right to practice any religion you want (or none at all). Or to speak out - for or against - anything at all. Or to be treated with equality and fairness, no matter who you are.

We're there for you.
Rich or poor, straight or gay, black or white or brown, urban or rural, pious or atheist, American-born or foreign-born, able-bodied or living with a disability. Every person in this country should have the same basic rights. Since our founding, we've been working hard to make sure no one takes them away.

In my vision of a concerted effort to change the modern maternity system, the ACLU would partner with a birth think-tank and the grassroots birth activists to petition change, make midwifery care more accessible and affordable to American women and descrease the high infant and maternal mortality rates around the time of birth and make unhindered, normal birth the norm.


I found this article quote on Hathor the Cow Goddess's page:

First I want to say, Yay BYU for funding, sponsoring and conducting research on the importance of breastfeeding. You don't have a medical school, and the women in the church associated with you frequently wean their children early, but you are taking the issue on. Good on my alma mater!

Next, the issue of breastfeeding can also be framed as a social issue relating to public health. The book Baby Matters presents a ponderance of research showing that not breastfeeding or weaning early contributes to many of the childhood illnesses that can sometime be perpetuated into adulthood, including mental health issues.

Three out of four new moms try breast-feeding over the bottle, but most of them have quit by the time the baby reaches six months, a new study shows.

Breast or bottle? (Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times)
A report from Brigham Young University shows only 36 percent of babies are breast-fed through six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding through the first year.

The data are based on a weighted sample of more than 60,000 children, collected from national immunization surveys compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the data are focused on childhood immunization rates, questions also were asked about breast-feeding, giving the researchers a representative sample of nursing patterns in the United States.

The researchers found that children who were most likely to be breast-fed for more than six months typically had mothers with higher levels of education and income. Married women and those who lived in Western states were also more likely to breast-feed. Hispanic women and women born in other countries were also more likely to breast-feed.

Returning to work, being a smoker or living in the Northeast decreased the likelihood of long-term breast-feeding. Notably, low-income women who participated in the subsidized Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food, milk and formula to mothers and young children, were also more likely to stop breast-feeding sooner.

“Breast-feeding promotion programs encourage women to start but don’t provide the support to continue,” said Renata Forste, co-author of the report, published in the August issue of the Journal of Human Lactation.

Framing Birth As Public Health, Reproductive Rights Social Issue

In a previous post, I shared the legal connection between informed consent and birthing choices. Sara Ainsworth in the Seattle PI article, framed women's birthing choices as legal issues relating to reproductive rights, patient's rights, as well as the public health concerns stemming from the risks of Cesarean births.

Framing is a process of developing communications that change the way that people think about social issues. People tend to have existing intellectualized constructs that provides their interpretations of events and issues. Sometime those dominant frames are called "pictures in our heads," "mental shortcuts." (Source: Frameworks Institute)

Effective framing, combined with field building can bring out social change where coalitions of social policy advocates work together to effectively communicate about their issue.

I learned about framing policy issues in my graduate coursework from this summer. For that purpose, my cohort members and I worked on framing early childhood education as a social issue. However, my involvement in the birth community has led me to change my focus to framing birth issues as social issues that need policy changes that benefit infants, mothers and families, instead of the current system where its the obstetricians and insurance companies who benefit.

The dialouge about social frames has gotten started and the Northwest Women's Law Center has joined it. Who else will?

Will a think-tank (a policy, research and advocacy organization) ever be formed for birth issues? What type of effort is needed to accomplish the desired changes?

As one can tell, I'm not content to sit at my computer and bemoan all that is wrong with childbirth in the United States, as Rixa says.

Legal Rights to Informed Consent in Birth

This article from the Seattle PI "High rate of C-section births is health concern for women" was a breath of truth and reality of what women are facing with birth.

This is the first time, in a news media outlet, that I've seen hospital practices framed as coersive and trying to manipulate women's birthing choices. And the first time I've seen the abuses of the fields of obstretrics frames as a health issue, as well as a legal issue regarding reproductive rights and patient's rights.

One particularly persuasive quote from the article, says:
Such reasoning inappropriately views a pregnant woman's decision about her and her baby's needs as suspect, and it ignores her legal rights as a patient. All pregnant women, whether they view birth as a natural event only rarely needing medical intervention, or whether they willingly accept medical assistance with the birth process, have the legal right to informed consent and to direct the experience of bringing their children into the world.

The issue needs increased awareness. It goes beyond the talking point of VBACs and coerced Cesearans although those are grave concerns that need to be addressed. Please post comments to the PI article.

Transition in My World

Rixa posted about transition over on her blog, and it got me thinking of how I experienced tranistion when birthing Willem.

Rixa described transition like this, "hmmm, I sure would like this to stop but I know it won't. But I see why people would say things like that."

Another commentor on her blog said, "My transition was only about 20 minutes, and I really had to ride through it so I didn't get swept under. The moment I got swept under, I started to panic and the pain increased ten fold. I also remember saying, 'I'm not ready, I'm not ready, I'm not ready' over and over - as it was all happening so quickly and intensely."

I experienced a little bit of both, as I recall.

When I reached transition, I was in the warm water tub. I had been using Hypnobirthing during my labor and I had been handling contractions very well. The sensation and cramp-like contractions started to get stronger than I had been accostomed to. From what I remember, I felt like everything in my pelvis was stinging and cramping. I started saying to my doula "I don't know what to do right now. I can't breathe the hypnobirthing way." I also started waving my hands alot, similar to the hand-waving stims of austic children. That how my panic mainfested itself.

For some reason my doula left the room for a little bit (or maybe she merged in with the background to be very inobtrusive). The midwife and nurses were out of the bathroom. For the first time while at the hospital, I was alone.

It was then that I was able to regroup and get on top of my labor. And that's when I had the distinct thought, "Now I know why women ask for epidurals, but its not so bad. I don't need one, its almost over anyway."

I find it striking to realize that the time I found the most success in coping with transition contractions was when I felt unobserved, unhindered by watchful eyes. This would not be surprising to Michel Odent or Sarah Buckley, but it provides me a measure of relief in recognizing that being alone in labor was helpful to me.

One of my husband's fears of unobserved birthing is that I won't be able to be independent and labor effectively on my own. Making this realization helps me know that, based on my prior experience, being alone and idependent of "assitants" will be helpful to me.

Daddies are Free from Poopy Diaper Changes

Of all the things that are blog-worthy from the book "Baby Matters: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby," I'm choosing this topic first.

Linda Palmer writes on page 124:
"We also know that when mothers stay close to baby and are exposed to baby's saliva via kisses and stools during diaper changes, this helps mother provide appropriate immune factors to baby through her milk. The "enteromammary pathway" is the name given to the process by which mother supplies specific immune factors in her milk according to what she has been exposed to....High levels of sanitation between the nursing mother and her infant can prevent this valuable transaction from occuring."

That, to me, is an interesting fact. I didn't realize that there was a biological purpose to diaper changes and handling poop. Of course, when I shared that finding with my husband his first response was, "You mean I don't have to change diapers anymore?"

Aside from the egalitarian virtue of sharing responsibility with the mother of one's child, why not?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Still AWOL

Its been pretty silent over here in Descent-world. I don't know how Rixa does it... she's able to work on her dissertation, move, start home improvement projects, go to France for six weeks, love and care for her toddler and stay updated on her blog.

Me, on the other hand. My blog was very much neglected as I spent the last month intently working on my thesis. Today I'm posting to say that I just finished my Discussion section!!!!


Now its time to hear my advisor's thoughts and suggestions for changes that will take place, because of course there will be those. I just am hoping that they won't be too major. Little tweaks I can handle and still graduate on time. Big revisions and bye-bye graduation ceremony and 2 week vacation to Hawaii....

After my family and I got back from California in August, we spent a week at a conference in Oregon (on acoustic communication, for my husband's research). There we celebrated our 4 year anniversary. We ate dinner at an awesome bakery in Corvallis Oregon called New Morning Bakery. Then after dinner, we were strolling around the streets downtown and we found The Pottery Place where the three of us painted a platter commemorating the occasion. Since we forgot to pick up when we left town, we are waiting for it to be mailed to us. Maybe I'll post pictures when we get it.

When we finally got back home (oh how excited we were to sleep in our bed!), I turned to thesis writing. Our schedule basically consisted of waking up and then I would get to work while Peter and Willem went around to whereever they could find to play. I got between 3 and 4 hours a day to work. I pounded out the results section, updated my literature review, formatted according to the APA and UH style guides and then wrote the discussion of my results. Maybe later I'll post a summary of the findings.

I really cannot wait to go back to normal life. When school starts for Peter again, it'll just be me and Chunka doing our thing. I hope to introduce Signing Time to the kid and get back to working with the Birth Survey and Solace for Mothers.

In January, I'll also be applying to the University of Washington's PhD program in health services with an emphasis in maternal and child health . I'm considering registering for some of the webinars offered through Conscious Woman on the topic.

Other planned adventures are a trip to Texas so Willem can see his grandparents and see where his daddy grew up, a trip to Washington DC for a conference where Peter will present some of his research and we will also visit Peter's aunt and grandparents, a trip to the Cal-Stanfurd Big Game (because no one puts the FU in Stanfurd like Cal does) and a trip to Hawaii for GRADUATION!!!!!

It will be the first time I'll have a vacation in Hawaii. Every other time I've gone has been for "work" either performing with my dance company or taking classes for school. On this trip, we'll be there two weeks and hope to fly to the neighbor islands of Kauai and Hawai'i, we'll hike Diamond Head, Peter will scuba dive, Willem will play in the ocean again. We haven't figured out everything we want to do, but it will definitely be a good trip. My mom and best friend will fly out for the graduation ceremony and we'll party at the Waikiki Aquarium afterwards.

All in all, there are good times behind us and good times before us. I am blessed.