Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting Plugged In

I love being a midwife. I love connecting with new mamas and mamas-to-be, beautiful with round bellies alive with the life inside. I often tell an obviously-pregnant mom I see out in public, "You look great!" or, "You're beautiful." I wonder as I go on my way, is she having a hospital birth? A homebirth? Has she been educated? Is she a seeker, intent on the best for her and her baby? What will her birth story be? Should I stop and tell her I'm a midwife, and see if she cares to know? Does she know she has options? If she does, does she know where to find her perfect caregiver? Sometimes a mom doesn't like the status quo modernized method of birthing and wants to be in charge, wanting a birth attendant that will listen and follow her desires, but doesn't know where to find that perfect birth attendant! My friend Edie Wells, midwife from Wisconsin, recently told this humorous story:

I went to the local public library today.

For some reason, we got to talking about midwifery, and the librarian was telling me about her hospital birth, and how the nurses were bossing her around and she was very unhappy with them. At the time, she was an x-ray technician.

Anyhow, they said she needed an IV and she said she didn't want it in the back of her hand, because it hurts there. She wanted it on the inside of her forearm. Of course, the nurse put it in the back of her hand. She said she kept pulling the catheter out just a little because it felt better, then the nurse would come in and shove it back in. So, she asked her husband to look on the tray and see if there was another IV catheter, which there was.

So...she inserted it in her forearm where she wanted it and when the nurse came back in, it was switched around!!! Can you believe it? Started her own IV!!! The nurse said she was going to put it back in her hand and she said, "Like HECK you are!" What a woman! There was more to the story of course - I enjoyed it thoroughly. She said "I'm a smart person, I read books."

The question was raised later, "If she's smart and reads books, how come she was birthing in the hospital?" Answer: she didn't know she had a choice. Even though this woman's children are grown, there are women even today, unsatisfied with highly-medicalized care, that don't know that midwives still exist, or that there are options available.

I want every woman to know she has a choice. Hence, the lists of links to follow. Find midwives of all practice styles; find a doula that can help you cope with labor; find a childbirth educator that can help prepare you to make Informed Decisions. Then, when you have found that one, tell someone else that they, too, have a choice, and make a difference in another life!



Childbirth Educators:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cluster Feedings and Fussy Evenings

This is a very informative article for a fussy-baby problem I have seen often. I came away with some great new tips to pass on to my mamas. Check out the article in it's entirety!

Cluster Feeding and Fussy Evenings
... My baby nurses and fusses all evening! What's wrong?

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

It is very common for babies to be fussy and nurse very often in the evenings, particularly in the early months.

My daughter had a fussy time every evening for a couple of months (yes, it does go away!). I spent weeks camped out on the end of the sofa with a constantly nursing and/or fussy baby every evening from about 6 to 10 PM.

With my son, we didn't have the luxury of being able to sit down. Alex was unhappy and crying unless he was upright and being walked around at this time of day (and sometimes this only helped him to be less unhappy). He would occasionally have a very fussy time during the day, too. Nursing rarely helped to calm his fussiness (unlike with my daughter), so I usually didn't have that tool to work with (though I always tried). His fussiness was such that I looked into other causes (such as food sensitivity), but we never determined any reason for it and he was all smiles the rest of the time. The fussiness gradually went away between 3 and 4 months, as is the norm, but the first few months were hard. Nowadays, the typical comment that I hear about him is "Is he always this happy?" So remember: this, too, will pass...

The Risks of Cesarean Section

"Cesarean section is the most common major surgical procedure performed in the United States." So goes the opening sentence by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services of a lengthy expose' outlining the statistics, truth, and information needed to make a true informed decision about cesarean sections. Unlike mainstream America - as evidenced by the participation in consumer- and physician-elected c-sections - I find that sentence to be rather disconcerting. When has something as natural as birth become something that needs a 32% intervention rate in major surgery? I will not attempt to summarize the entire study here, but I encourage you to read it, and continually ask yourself "Why?"

WHY - do we "need" so many c-sections?

WHY - have the c-section rates increased so dramatically?

WHY - do we see this as normal?

WHY - are we accepting this without question?

Make Informed Decisions! Care enough about your body, your baby, and your birth to make decisions for yourself, to question the status quo, and to realize that fallible man does not have all the answers!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Midwife means "with woman", but wait, there's more....

My dear friend Laurie Zoyiopoulos, a midwife in Michigan, wrote this today in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes the most beautiful things bubble up and have to be shared. Read this and know what it's like to be a midwife, one of the most beautiful, challenging, fulfilling professions on the earth...

Most folks would say that I "deliver" babies (though I like to say "catch") and this is true, but it is a fraction of what I do....what this calling requires of me. The contrast between the jobs within my calling are surprising to me and unknown by many, if not most, who see my license plate and think they know who I am.

I am a teacher of an age-old "profession" and this carries a lot of responsibility. It is almost a given that a midwife will train others to be midwives - this is how midwifery has survived all of these years. Though I don't feel that I am a great teacher, I know that there is much to glean from me and if someone is willing and observant enough, they will learn the skills as they sit at my side, as they lend me a hand, as they serve the women with me.

You'll see me at the copy place as I work for hours, making copies, putting together the information that I have been given, and that I have created, that gives the best informed consent I can provide. I want all those who hire me to know who I am and what the responsibilities are when one choses to give birth outside of a hospital. Making copies, organizing folders of information, ordering books and DVDs, staying informed, myself, in all the ways available. It can be exhausting in itself, but I know it is a necessary part of being a current midwife, one who teaches others how best to interview a midwife and plan a home birth.

I can find a fetuses heartbeat and can tell if he is breech, without a doppler or an ultrasound machine. I know of many ways to survive weeks of nausea and what is safe to take - whether herb or medication - and can explain how to time contractions and what to do if your baby is jaundiced. I know many tricks to get a baby to nurse and how to make an herbal bath.

I keep my supplies stocked and never run out of cord bands or pitocin. You will sometimes find me making sterile packs at midnight or 1 in the morning because they didn't get done earlier in the day and a baby might decide it's not going to wait until the midwife has time to make them the next day.

I am trained and certified to resuscitate a newly born baby - the ones that think that breathing is an option. I don't allow them this lazy notion and go to work and convince them that its not so bad here after all.

I know how to follow directions and to be more dependable than my mother ever thought I could be. The weather can have no affect on my travel - I go when I am called and it matters not how bad the roads are. My husband knows and understands this - a midwife needs one of those, too - an understanding husband.

Though there is nothing new under the sun I need to continue to learn and to discover just what evidenced-based care is -- and practice it.

There is no job "beneath" my title - I wipe away vomit and clean toilets and feed the family dog. I hope to never feel that I have "earned" anything better. A midwife should always know that she is there to serve, in any way that is needed, and it has nothing to do with what her needs are.

I am an ambassador for midwives when I enter a doctor's office or a hospital and I take this responsibility very seriously. I've learned that I will gain more trust and respect by saying fewer words and humbly admitting our need for assistance. I have worked hard, for many years, but respect has been attained and my clients get better care because of this. My mother used to be so discouraged at how easily I could cry, but I have changed and matured, I know she would be proud. A midwife has to be strong for her clients, they need to know she will not waiver. A doctor once told me, after treating me harshly without my returning his anger, but also not backing down, that when I enter a hospital I need to come with "thick skin" and he was right. A midwife needs to learn from those who may not even realize that they are teaching her. There is always something to glean and take with you for another time.

Most of the time I truly love what I do - though my back and arms and legs may ache and I have gone without food and sleep and have had to miss a family celebration. Its a precious calling and it truly can be the easiest thing in the world, but now you know that it comes with much more than just catching babies.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kitty Milk Bank?

My next challenge in kitty midwifery (should that be Midkittery?) is the fact that I have a runt on my hands. Yesterday he seemed fiesty enough, but as the day has gone on, every time I checked on him he has grown weaker and colder. Of course he is conserving his energy and resources. I help him try to nurse and he doesn't have the strength to continue. So, with great hesitancy, this midwife went to the store and bought kitty formula. I will admit that alternatives ran through my mind, right down to wondering, is it possible to milk a cat??

Now-named "Excalibur" ate a tiny bit out of a syringe earlier, while I thought about nipple confusion, messing up his sense of smell, and even held him fur-to-skin to try to warm his cold little body up and make him feel safe.

This post is on the light side, but today's events made me think again about the importance of doing things the natural way, how God's design and provision is just right. I have the same thoughts for the human babies I have the privilege of knowing. Worries about nipple confusion, lack of bonding, and less-than-premium nutrition are at the front of every conversation about infant feeding.

Right now Excalibur is tucked inside my shirt, having just eaten a little more (even trying to latch on to the syringe!), and warming up a bit sandwiched between me and a hot water bottle before returning to his litter mates. Where there is life, there is hope! In the meantime, does anyone know of a kitty milk bank?

Booby Trap: Docs Who Won’t Snip Tongue-Tie, Thousands of Breastfeeding Moms & Babies Suffer

Booby Trap: Docs Who Won’t Snip Tongue-Tie, Thousands of Breastfeeding Moms & Babies Suffer

”Every child deserves to have the pleasure of breastfeeding successfully, and every child deserves the pleasure of licking an ice-cream cone, both of which are aided by this procedure.”

Not Always Perfect

I had an unusual midwife moment yesterday. My cat, Skittles, was getting bigger and bigger "with kitten" - sometimes she looked like she was about to pop! I was watchful, wondering when and where she would birth, really hoping to be there when it happened, as even 1st-time kitty mamas can act a bit inexperienced and confused. Every time she looked at me and cried at me, I was quickly checking her belly for contractions...usually all the poor thing wanted was attention and food! It got a little comical, to say the least.

I came home yesterday to a skinny cat. You knew that was coming, right? I quickly went searching for her babies, thankful to discover that she had chosen my closet where I could easily get to them. Surprised to only find two kittens, I went searching further, and found four more bunched together.

Then my heart stopped. Tangled in the live, warm kitties was a poor little cold, wet one that had apparently suffocated. I cradled it in my hand while I got the other ones situated with mom. I took the dead kitten away to figure out how to take care of it, struggling to keep my emotions at bay.

Then the midwife in me kicked in, and I cried, sitting right there on the kitchen floor. I apologized to the poor baby for not being there and saving it. Said I was sorry that it suffered and that I wasn't there to help. I felt silly, yet heartbroken all at the same time. I am a guardian of life, and death happened on my own threshold.

As midwives, it is our very nature to comfort the hurting...cry with the weary...and guard that precious spark of life with every fiber of our being. Yet sometimes things happen that are far out of our control. We are not responsible for every one of life's tragedies. To think that puts us on a level with the supreme Creator, who is in control of every facet of life and death.

So I mourn a little, thank the kind friend who took the kitten away to bury it, take a deep breath, and turn my attention to the living. After all, there's a tiny one that needs a midwife's tender loving care, and that's surely what it will get.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Medication and the unborn child

Medication and the unborn child?

Does medication administered to a woman in labor affect the unborn child?

This UK-based article covers:

- Why drugs?
- Effects of drugs
- Effects on the baby's behavior
- Pethidine and Diamorphine
- Epidural Anesthesia
- Drug addiction in adults
- The conclusion (including US-based research, and findings of Michel Odent)
- So what can be done?

An excellent read!

"What are you going to do about it??"

I have a 1st time mom whose estimated due date (EDD) was June 24. They attend my church so the excitement is high as people wait on the coming baby. Now she is overdue. Mom is excitedly anxious to meet her baby, but she is very relaxed, as I have told her from the beginning that 1st time moms typically go 7-10 days overdue, so she was prepared!

But now the questions come - "Is it ok that she's going overdue? Can't you do an exam and just kinda help things along? Shouldn't she be walking and get that baby outta there?" The one heard most frequently - "What are you going to do about it??"

This points to a sad lack of knowledge about the realities of natural, normal pregnancy and birth. The fact of it is, baby is healthy and active. Mom eats very well and is not growing a "too big" baby. All is well! Yet in our culture, "everyone" schedules a c-section or an induction and can tell you months in advance when the baby is going to be born. From all the mothers that I come in contact with, almost 100% of them are told by their doctor exactly when the baby should be born, so the exposure to someone waiting on it to happen naturally is quite rare!

To answer the question, "What are you going to do about it??", I smile and say "Nothing!" All is well! God knew what he was doing and has a wonderful, marvelous design, and a plan for this birth. I am hoping that her birth will be a beautiful springboard for others to see that it's ok to's ok to let things progress at their own pace...that pregancy is not one big emergency waiting to happen....that you can trust the process, and the God of the process.

Spreading the word, one birth at a time!

Immunization Studies: Adverse Vaccine Reactions. Thinktwice!

Immunization Studies: Adverse Vaccine Reactions. Thinktwice!

This is a collection of links to studies about vaccinations.

Griffin Ranger: The Birth of Griffin Ranger

Griffin Ranger: The Birth of Griffin Ranger: "But I truly believe the best and safest place for a woman to birth is one were she feels most comfortable. For me, I wanted to have a birth team available. Not because I didn't think I could do this on my own, but because I wanted the support of knowledgeable women in case something came up that I wasn't fully prepared to handle. We went into this birth like we did every other one, calling our support in when we felt like we needed it. Little did we know that this birth was going to be fast and relatively easy!"

Ultrasound - More powerful, more dangerous, more unethical

When professor Stuart Campbell says he is worried about the way ultrasound is being used on unborn children we should listen. Hitherto he has been the great apologist and defender - oft quoted in the press as saying it has been used on millions of babies and there is no evidence of harm...

Read the full article by clicking on the title.

The First One

It's been a long time since I kept a blog. My writing skills therefore feel a bit rusty! A good friend has been encouraging me to begin a blog of my own to expand on my growing Facebook page, so I have now officially taken the plunge. I'm sure this blog will be a collection of everything that catches my heart and eye....from a picture of my growing garden, to news of expanding bellies and all things related.

I have a passion for natural birth, and even more specifically, for home birth. I want to help educate women and their partners about every step of their pregnancy, birth, and beyond. It's time we as a society began to question the status quo and find out what choices we truly have! I am all about informed decision making, and will try to supply articles and information to aid expectant families in doing just that.

Here's to happy, safe, healthy pregnancy and birth!