Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Have a Choice - Video

I've seen this circulating through various birth-related blogs. I first saw it on Gloria Lemay's blog. Since it clearly fits in with my last few blog entries, I thought I'd post it here too in case you haven't already seen it.

You Have a Choice (A Short Birth Documentary) from Goodrich Creative on Vimeo.

It turns out, apparently, that my (unintentional) theme for September was centered on asking questions & making choices. I have some posts brewing on postpartum life and parenting, so look for them in October!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall Classes & New Mamas Group

I'm currently scheduling group and private classes for this fall and early next year - moms with due dates from October thru January! Classes are held in Winthrop, which is about half an hour from Waterville and the Lewiston/Auburn area, and fifteen minutes from Augusta.

For more information, feel free to email me or visit Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine.

Read below for some of the benefits of attending Birthing Your Baby classes!*

Preconception & Early Pregnancy Class
An introduction to pregnancy, with activities and discussion on nutrition, exercise, and self-care for a healthy, comfortable pregnancy as well as tips on choosing a care provider and putting together a supportive birth team. Enrollment is limited to women and their partners who are trying to conceive, or who are less than twenty weeks pregnant.

Thursday, September 24th, 6-9pm
Winthrop Middle School Library
Fee: $20/couple

To register, contact the Winthrop Adult Learning Center from 8-2:30 Monday thru Thursday at 377-2265 or Friday 8-10am.
Coping Strategies for Labor and Birth
Introduces a wide variety of coping strategies for labor and birth, including breathing, relaxation, massage, visualization, position change, and water therapy. Some practice time and a short video will help you start thinking about which strategies might work best for you. This class will also be helpful for the birth partner, providing lots of concrete ideas of how to be supportive during labor and birth. Enrollment is limited to women who are in their second or third trimester. Participants are encouraged to bring a support person.

Monday, November 9th, 6-9pm
Winthrop Middle School Library
Fee: $20/couple

To register, contact the Winthrop Adult Learning Center from 8-2:30 Monday thru Thursday at 377-2265 or Friday 8-10am.

I invite all mamas and their "little muffins" ;-) to drop in anytime from 9 to 10am, have a muffin and some tea, and enjoy chatting with other new moms. From 10am to 11, there will be time for women to share their experiences, ask questions & get support. Free and open to all new mamas and their pre-crawling babies.

Groups will be held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month, from 9-11am at the Winthrop United Methodist Church (58 Main Street in Winthrop), upstairs in the nursery. Use the side Wonder Awhile Nursery School entrance. Signs will be posted. Although the WUMC graciously hosts the group, the group itself is not connected with the church and is secular.

September 21st, 2009
October 5th & 19th, 2009
November 2nd & 16th, 2009
December 7th & 21st, 2009

*Wondering about the benefits of Birthing Your Baby classes?
Birthing Your Baby classes are centered in a deep belief in a woman’s ability to give birth… that birth can be an empowering, transforming experience in a woman’s life…that birth is an essentially safe process for baby and mother. The philosophy that drives these classes also inspires confidence and joy in the birth process and in your new lives as parents.

Birthing Your Baby classes are independent. I am not required to teach from a rigid curriculum that only “approves” of certain kinds of birth. This is your birth…your baby!! I will provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and then you can make your best decisions for a healthy and satisfying birth experience, whether it’s an all-natural home birth or a hospital birth with a planned epidural. We will also discuss and practice helpful communication skills so you can maintain an open dialogue with your careproviders.

I believe small classes work best, so there will never be more than five couples in a class. Small classes allow for more student interaction, for more discussion, and for the class content to be personalized to address each student’s particular needs. Private classes are also available.

I offer a variety of classes – group classes that last four to six weeks, as well as private classes. We discuss everything from how you’re all feeling that particular week and addressing any questions that have come up, to self-care during pregnancy, prenatal testing, nutrition, and exercise, to the emotional and physical aspects of labor, comfort measures, birth positions, and communicating with your caregivers, to the transitions of post-partum life, new baby care, breastfeeding and a lot more – the time seems to fly by… you’ll be talking, writing, laughing, drawing, moving around (a lot!), viewing videos, discovering sensations, and practicing, practicing, practicing!

Birthing Your Baby classes are consumer-oriented. In other words, I am not “prepping” you for the policies and routines for any particular birth place or caregiver. As Dr. Sears writes in The Birth Book, “some hospital-based educators, constrained by their own hospital’s birthing policies, prepare parents to more to be compliant patients than to be informed consumers” (53). Instead, Birthing Your Baby classes will teach you (and give you lots of time to practice) a variety of coping skills, relaxation techniques, and positions for labor and birth. Labor is impossible to predict, so the more tricks you can pull out of your bag, the better prepared you will be!

In addition to the individualized class attention, I provide (free) unlimited telephone and email consultation. Any time (pregnancy, birth, post-partum) you have questions or concerns, I welcome your call or email. I can research a topic… offer emotional support and affirmation… or simply listen.

I have a well-stocked pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting “lending library” that includes books, magazines, and videos that I encourage you to borrow from at any time. I have read all of these selections and can help you find ones which address the topics that interest you.

Birthing Your Baby classes encourage you to be open to the possibilities of birth. I will help you create a birth “plan”, but we will also talk about what the “next best thing” is if everything doesn’t go according to plan. Studies have shown that women who feel like they coped well and were active in making decisions about their care had the most satisfying birth experiences. Regardless of your plans for birth, whether this is your first birth or your third, Birthing Your Baby can provide the information and hands-on practice time to enhance your birth experience.
If you have questions about any of these classes or events, please email me or give me a call at 512-2627!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Circumcision Information

I'm always on the lookout for information on circumcision that I would be comfortable passing on to parents. I think these .pdf documents offer useful information in a neutral, nonthreatening tone. If you work with pregnant women or are pregnant yourself and trying to come to a decision about circumcising, these documents might be helpful.

Infant Circumcision: Some Considerations
10 Reasons Not to Circumcise Your Baby Boy
Myths & Facts About Circumcision
Flawed African Circumcision Trials & US Circumcision Debate

Any other good resources out there on circumcision that you'd like to share? Leave a note!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Ask Questions: Part II

I just watched a YouTube video on Nicole's blog Bellies & Babies. The post was about midwifery support videos on YouTube. But one of the videos in support of Australian midwives stood out to me as highlighting, again, the importance of asking questions. If you watch it, you may see why:

I'm going to assume that all these babies and mamas in this video were healthy after the birth. But what an enormous difference in their (mamas and babies) experiences. Sometimes medications or procedures are truly necessary... but sometimes they are a consequence of choices and decisions made earlier or they are agreed to when a mother/family has not been given all the information, has been coerced or bullied or rushed.

So, again: Ask questions. Own your power.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Rixa at Stand and Deliver wrote a short but powerful post yesterday about "Iron in my Soul" that I encourage you to go read. I think the "iron in my soul" feeling is the same feeling that my sister & I talk about when we say something/someone brought out the "Mama Bear" in us. You know how you don't want to get between a mama bear & her cubs... we've all heard about the lengths a mama bear will go to if she believes her cubs are threatened.

If you're wondering about a woman's rights are during the childbirth year, I encourage you to download a free copy of The Rights of the Childbearing Woman. Being informed is so important, and I hand out this document to every woman I work with. In some ways, it goes back to what Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, authors of A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, said: “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”

But. We parents are powerful - we have iron in our souls. We have a Mama Bear ready to be unleashed. A parent's intuition and the strength to act on the small voice that whispers (or shouts!) "something is wrong, something is wrong" is the most important, in my opinion.

Being informed and confident in one's intuition is an extremely powerful combination!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why Ask Questions?

I've read several blog posts lately that highlight the importance of asking questions in very dramatic (and uncomfortable: reader beware) ways.

Birth Trauma
Navalgazing Midwife wrote "Just because it's the standard of care* doesn't mean it's ethical" which lists and lists and lists some of the abusive things done and said to birthing women. She writes, "How can people NOT believe women would consider their experiences traumatic and abusive"??

Ask questions well ahead of time about the standard of care used by your doctor/midwife and birth place. Their answers and attitudes will help help you assess the likelihood that you may be on the receiving end of treatment like that listed by Navalgazing Midwife.

Lest you say, this could not happen to me, not here... let me offer you two examples in this local area:
"You have to have an IV or your baby could DIE!"

The details in this situation are that the woman (who took my birth classes) was asking about IVs because needles made her very nervous, and she was hoping to avoid one. She was also planning an unmedicated childbirth. This hostile (and untrue) response prompted her to change care providers. She ultimately had an unmedicated birth without an IV - a gorgeous, healthy baby girl - in a different birth place, with a different care provider.

"The anesthesiologist is leaving. If you want an epidural, you need to have it now."

Said to a friend of mine (who didn't take my classes) whose water had broken before contractions began. She went to the hospital, where she was admitted, and was waiting for contractions. Because she felt pressured, and didn't want to cause a scene, she had the epidural before she ever felt one contraction.
There is not any 100% guarantee against birth trauma. There are certain things you can do to avoid it though. Here are a few:

  • Ask questions.
  • Think carefully about where you are planning to birth and with whom.**
  • Educate yourself.
  • Have continuous support with you at the birth (partner, friend, relative, doula).

    I think there are certain uncontrollable/less-controllable factors that come into play as well. Mostly I believe we "make our own luck", but I do think there is a certain amount of luck involved too. I'll use my birth stories as an example.

    When I was pregnant with my first child, I did everything I could think of to educate myself, and to work towards having a relatively smooth, trauma-free, unmedicated birth. Which, thankfully, happened. But looking back on it, I realized that I had left one big variable open - care provider. I had established a wonderful relationship with my OB. She was in a practice with three other OBs. It didn't really dawn on me that I only had a 25% chance of birthing with her. I had not met two of the other OBs in the practice because, as a teacher, I could only schedule appointments after school, and these two OBs didn't have appointments after 3pm. The other OB I met I was not happy with - he measured this, checked that, said "any questions" without looking at me or sitting down, and strode briskly out of the room.

    It turned out that the doctor who attended my daughter's birth was neither of the OBs who I had met - though I am very happy and thankful to say that she was fantastic. Very supportive and friendly. She ended up helping me off the bed where my pushing wasn't very productive and onto a birth stool on the floor. She and the nurses sat cross-legged on the floor surrounding me, with the blue drapes all around me. I was like a birthing island in an ocean of blue. I gave birth as the sun rose, surrounded by these wonderful supportive women, one of whom remarked, "This is lovely! It's like a slumber party!!" I'll never forget that. At the time, it didn't feel much like a slumber party, but looking back I understand why she said that - it was the energy in the room. And that's where the luck came in - what do you want to bet that the birth energy would have been very, very different if the OB whom I had met and not liked attended the birth?

    I realized how lucky I was after the birth. For my son's birth three years later, I wanted to be sure I didn't leave care provider so much to chance. I chose to birth with two midwives, so I would know for sure that the person who attended my birth matched my preferences for standard of care and philosophy.

    I believe that in this country at least, there will always be some new technology (machine that goes "ping" for you Monty Python fans) awaiting some women when they give birth in a hospital. Think forceps, earlier in the 20th century, or continuous electronic fetal monitoring. There is nothing inherently wrong with technology, certainly there are times when a Cesarean birth, or using a vacuum extractor or a dose of Pitocin, is what has become necessary for a healthy baby and mother. But! Technology used most of the time, for most births, low and high risk? Maybe not something all women want during their birth...

    Which is why it's so important to ask questions. Things like this lurk on our birth horizon.

    While you're at Nursing Birth's blog, take the time to check out her "Don't Let This Happen to You! The Injustice in Maternity Care" series. Scroll all the way down to start at the beginning. I think this series could highly motivate someone to ask questions, lots of questions!

    *What is "standard of care"? Standard of care is the typical, common (standard) care that is usually provided by a doctor/midwife/hospital. Various pressures (legal and financial and bureaucratic and staffing) as well as training, philosophy, routines at the birth place, peer pressure and current trends all impact the standard of care offered by a particular doctor/midwife. It is very much part of the time and place in which a woman births. For example, some hospitals have a Cesarean birth rate of 50% while some homebirth midwives have a Cesarean birth rate of less than 5% - with similar outcomes for mom and baby. Clearly the standard of care offered would be very different.

    **There are some that say "you bought the ticket, you go for the ride". Which is usually true. For example, if a woman gives birth at a hospital with a high Cesarean rate, she should not be surprised if she has a Cesarean. It would be like going to McDonalds and expecting a luxurious, five-course, chef-prepared dinner. Not going to happen.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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    Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Diddos for Kiddos Consignment Sale - October 2009

    For all of you Diddos for Kiddos fans - here is the fall sale information:

    The fall sale is at the St. Paul Center (136 State Street) in Augusta. The sale dates are Saturday, October 3rd, from 8am to 6pm and Sunday, October 4th, from 8am to 4pm. The Sunday sale is half-price on all items.

    There is also a consignor sale on Friday, October 2nd. For more information on consigning, or about the sale, click on this link to the pdf brochure.

    On a personal note, I've been consigning at this sale for years. Not to make money, because most of my kids' stuff is handed down to my sister & her children. I consign just to get to the presale! And it is so worth it. I never come home with the same ratio clothes/toys - sometimes one kid gets way more than the other. But it works out perfectly for me to get some of their fall/winter clothes and Christmas presents at the Fall sale.

    I also make it a "girls night out" and go with a friend - each consignor gets an extra ticket to the sale - so we go to the sale and then out to dinner.

    Maybe I'll see you there...

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Ask Questions!

    Not sure what to ask?

    That could be a sign of a problem. Why? Most women have preferences when it comes to their birth experience - or they would if they knew some of their options ahead of time. The most important information needs to be obtained long before baby's birth day: when mom is choosing where to have her baby, and with whom.

    To find out more about your choices, do some reading, talk to an independent childbirth educator (one not affiliated with a hospital), talk to local women about their birth experiences, listening for a birth story that is like the one you want, watch some birth films (not necessarily birth tv).

    Then ask questions - respectfully, clearly, firmly. Specific questions that are not simply answered with a yes or a no. Ask follow-up why & how questions - how many ...? how come...? why not...? If questions seem to make your care provider angry or defensive, take these signs seriously. If your appointments don't last long enough for your care provider to answer your questions, or he/she doesn't take the time to answer thoroughly, take this seriously too.

    Asking questions is not rude, nor does it imply that you do not trust your care provider. A respectful care provider who takes you and your birth seriously will encourage you to ask questions and will be happy to answer them. Getting answers helps you evaluate your options, to be sure that the standard care provided by your doctor/midwife/birthplace is the type of care you prefer to receive. Asking questions and getting answers is one sign of a responsible parent, a responsibility that most of us take seriously from the first positive pregnancy test.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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