Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Diddos for Kiddos Consignment Sale Spring 2010

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

The spring sale is at the St. Paul Center (136 State Street) in Augusta. The sale dates are Saturday, April 17th, from 8am to 6pm and Sunday, April 18th, from 8am to 4pm. The Sunday sale is half-price on all items.

There is also a consignor sale on Friday, April 16th. 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 birthday presents and spring/summer clothes at the Spring 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
Mamas & Muffins New Moms Group

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Date Night

At Your Cervix is one of my favorite birth blogs. It's written by a registered nurse who currently works on a L&D unit at a large teaching hospital. She's also in-training to become a midwife. Very interesting stuff, from a perspective that I won't have from personal experience.

She was recently invited to guest blog on another blog, and wrote "How to Take Charge of Your Labor and Delivery". Two things that she wrote in this post really stand out for me:
"Dads: what can you do to help Mom? Go to childbirth classes together. Consider it a date night before the baby arrives."
What a lovely idea! If a couple decides to do four classes with me, that's four date nights. Maybe they'll go out to eat afterwards, depending on time and finances. Or maybe they'll go for a nice long walk and talk. All of a sudden, what may have seemed a bit like a chore-commitment is a springboard for a really nice day together!

Also:

Why do people date? To get to know each other! And getting to know each other's ideas and preferences and fears around labor and birth is such an important part of the process.

Do dates cost money, at least some of the time? Yes. And so do birth classes. But for the cost of a night on the town, with a nice dinner and movie, a couple could attend birth classes that teach them life-long skills... classes that help them during an exciting and sometimes challenging time of life as individuals and as a couple... they get to explore, with each other, their ideas and dreams around meeting the life they created.

Dates sometimes take some planning, and some setting-aside-of-time during hectic daily life. So do birth classes. But is a date worth it? Yes. And so are birth classes!

Why?

Well, that's the other thing about At Your Cervix's guest post. She wrote, "Planning ahead and knowing what you might expect are important to your labor and delivery experience" followed by questions about the routine management of labor in most hospitals: fetal monitoring for how long? getting out of bed? IVs? Etc.

Of course it's important for moms & partners to know what the routine is at the birth place they chose. It's not good to think your date is to an elegant restaurant and then the car stops at McDonalds! But before women can choose where they want to give birth, they need to know their options! In order to know what we want, we need information.

Which takes me back to childbirth classes... independent childbirth classes to be specific.

If you're in the Central Maine area, and are having a baby - let's set up some date nights! They may be the most life-changing, important dates you ever go on.

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

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Spring 2010 Diddos for Kiddos

I don't have the flyer yet, but the spring dates for Diddos for Kiddos are Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18th. I'll have all the details in the next month and will be sure to post the flyer as soon as I have it!

For anyone wondering what this is all about, Diddos for Kiddos is a consignment sale held twice a year (fall and spring). People who consign clothes get two tickets to attend the consignor pre-sale on Friday. The Saturday sale is open to everyone, and the Sunday sale is half-price on all items.

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, and to get summer/birthday clothes and toys at the spring 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.

Stay tuned for more information!

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

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Free Photography Sessions

I received an inquiry from a young woman who is a photography student at USM. She is interested in doing a photographic study on birth and is looking for a woman (or more than one) to photograph before, during, and after giving birth.

She writes:
"In return for the photography I will supply the mother with all of the photographs on a CD and at least ten 8x10 prints of favorite images. I would like to do at least one pregnancy session, one infant (or infant and mother) session, and a session during the actual delivery and birth. I am interested in starting as soon as possible with someone due as soon as this month, but I do believe (if I can find the right people) that this could be a long term project so I am open to any woman at any point in their pregnancy."
If you, or someone you know, may be interested, get in touch with her via email.

One reason I'm passing this information along is that I really wish I had more photos of myself during my pregnancies and of me and the new baby shortly after birth. And having someone along to photography frees up dad/partner to support the mama instead of snapping pictures!

Here's a bit more information about the project:
"At the moment this is just a class project that will only be shared with related people. But I am hoping that this could turn into a larger, more long-term project that may have a wider audience. At that point I would consult with the mothers and get their permission before showing any work in a public or online setting. My aim is to photograph the birth in a unobtrusive but realistic manner. Meaning that I would like to capture everything that comes with the birthing process but will not knock over your significant other to get a shot. I am very laid back and open to many options and am looking to work with woman and families who feel the same."
Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Mamas & Muffins: Babywearing

We had fun today playing with slings and other ways to "wear" babies. In case you wanted to come but couldn't: here's the handout with resources that I gave out, complete with pictures of Owen in the sling during his first year, from two days old to 13 months old. I have my ring sling (Maya Wrap) always available for demos, and I'll continue to have my sister's Kangeroo Kozy Pouch and Moby Wrap on loan for a few more months (she has a new baby due this summer!), so stop by another time if you want to check them out.

And, because chocolate and pumpkin are so yummy together, and these are my favorite pumpkin muffins ever, here's the link to the muffins I made for the group.

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

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Mamas & Muffins Group Coming Up: Monday, 1/18

We're meeting in Winthrop (15 min from Augusta; around ~30 min from Waterville and Lewiston/Auburn) this Monday, January 18th. Free, fun, with food!

This group's topic is baby-wearing, with demos of a Maya Wrap (ring sling), a Moby Wrap, and a fleece snap sling. Come visit & try them out.

Pregnant moms welcome too!

For time, directions and more information, go to http://www.birthingyourbaby.com/postpartum.html.

We'll be meeting regularly, first and third Mondays of the month. Hope to see you there!

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!*

CLASSES THROUGH MONMOUTH/WINTHROP ADULT EDUCATION
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.

MAMAS AND MUFFINS: NEW MOMS GROUP!
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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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.

    Technology
    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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    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

    Rebirth Nurse is hosting a the second Rebirth Carnival about "what not to say to a pregnant or laboring woman". There have already been some excellent posts on this topic on other blogs I follow, and I'll be sure to put a link to the carnival once it's published so you can read them too, if you haven't happened by yet.

    Since I was venting this story to my mom just last week - more than four years after it happened (again and again), clearly it made an impression on me. I found it infuriating at the time, and it still rankles now.

    A little backstory: this only happened when I was pregnant the second time, after my 20-week ultrasound. My first child was a little girl, who was 2 while I was pregnant - she has the appearance of being a very girl-y girl since she wore lots of dresses and hairbows etc. At the ultrasound, I learned that my second child was a boy, so I could finally answer the first question my friends, acquaintances and strangers usually asked: "Do you know what you're having?"

    "Yes! A little boy!" I would say.

    I cannot tell you how many people then went on & on about how wonderful it was that I would have one child of each gender. And some went even further, "Oh, Daddy must be so happy to have a son!" And way too many people ended with a comment along the mind-boggling lines of this: "So now you can be done! One child of each - that's enough!"

    Um, what? Assuming much are we?

    Knowing that these people meant well, I said very little about how rude I found these comments. First, because of Assumption #1:
    Everyone wants children of both genders.
    Is this true in many cases? Surely. But it is it true always? Surely not. For a variety of very personal reasons, from medical to family history, some people may have a preference for one gender or the other.

    Some people may in fact be offended that someone would assume that they somehow are experiencing more joy because a child is a boy and not a girl. I would have been overjoyed to have another girl. On some level, I was in fact hoping to have another girl, since I knew we were probably only having two children, and another girl meant my daughter would have a sister. And while I love my two brothers very much, there is no doubt I have much stronger relationships with my sisters. And I experienced a bit of trepidation around having a boy because of personal history. This is not to suggest that I wasn't overjoyed to have a son: I was very, very happy. And I love him very, very much. Because he's my child. Not because he's my son.

    By the way, the people who simply commented: "Oh, one of each!" and made no value judgement were fine, in my book. It's the ones who went on & on about how great it was I was pregnant with a boy who I found irritating.

    Assumption #2 may be even bigger, and more offensive to some people, the final comment that some people tacked on:
    "Two children are enough."
    Well, it turns out that two children are enough. For my family. But some people want three children, or four, or more. I come from a family of five children and have heard many, many comments about it directed to my mother, including:

  • What a lovely Catholic family! [We're not Catholic.]
  • Are all those YOURS???
  • Aren't you busy!!!
  • You do know what causes this, right? [wink wink]

    and I'm sure many, many comments she could add. She didn't appreciate them, I know that much!

    It's true that, in America in general, as well as in the area where I live, many families do have two children - that's definitely the norm. But I have a bunch of friends who have three children, and know plenty of families with more. I would never presume to suggest to someone that I knew how many children they were planning/hoping to have in their family!

  • So this isn't an exhaustive list, you'll have to go check out Rebirth Nurse's carnival for more no-no's! If you've heard some good ones, feel free to add them in the comments. It's unbelievable what some people find to be topics of appropriate conversation when they're talking to a pregnant woman!

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

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    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    New Birth Stories

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    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Summer Vacation

    Summer has started for our family, after a whirlwind of spring recitals and performances. Homeschool and nursery school are over, and the children and I are traveling for most of June, so I expect I won't be blogging much for another month or so. I'll be back in a bit... I've got a bunch of ideas swirling around, so I know I won't be able to keep quiet for long!

    I also want to mention that the postpartum support group, New Moms Support Circle is taking a break for the summer. Look for fall meeting dates to be published sometime in August.

    I am continuing to teach and schedule classes for this summer and fall, so email me if you'd like to set up a time to meet or join a class. I will be able to check me email and voicemail while I'm away, and I'll get back in touch with you.

    Until then, here's a gorgeous poem I received in a Mothering email.

    Ripening

    As the baby, from seed to worldly entrance ripens
    So does the mother's consciousness mature through revelations
    of life's beginnings-
    During this, their growing season.

    Out of man and woman's union springs the fruit-
    A child swelling 'neath a woman's belly,
    And the Madonna-ripening fruit of womanhood.

    Joining forces, father and mother weed out their fears,
    To clear the ground and prepare the way for the day of harvesting.

    On that day, they reap as they sow, the fruits of their labor.


    -- Author Unknown

    There's so much to love in this poem, I had to share it with you!

    Hope your summer is off to a wonderful start!

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

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    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    April is Cesarean Awareness Month

    I'm slow on this one, but while it's still April, I want to acknowledge Cesarean Awareness Month. You can read anywhere that the cesarean birth rate in the United States is climbing each year - both because the rate of primary cesarean births is rising, and because the rate of VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean) is falling. As of 2007, an average of one out of three babies are born surgically. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in 2007, 31.8% of women birthed by cesarean in the United States.

    There is support for women who are recovering from a cesarean birth, including ICAN chapters in many states. If you live in Maine where there is currently no chapter listed, you can still request support. There are also online communities that support women recovering from traumatic birth (cesarean or vaginal), like Solace for Mothers.

    In my opinion, one of the most troubling effects of cesarean birth is that it can severely limit women's options for future births. In Maine, there are only a handful of hospitals that "permit" VBACs. In central Maine, the only hospitals I know that do VBACs are CMMC in Lewiston and Maine General in Waterville. Nationally, VBACs are only permitted in about half of hospitals, and frequently only under certain specific conditions or with select care providers who are willing to attend them. Is this information that is offered to women as part of informed consent, especially in the many non-emergent situations like "failure to progress" or "you have a big baby"?

    You can read about the lack of choice in Time Magazine, "The Trouble with Repeat Cesareans" and Pamela Paul's follow-up article in the Huffington Post, "Childbirth Without Choice".

    You can read about why the rate of VBAC is so low at The Well-Rounded Mama.

    Also, you can click on the Cesarean label below this post to read more blog entries on Cesarean birth.

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

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    Saturday, April 25, 2009

    Birth: Assuming Control

    The word assume has several meanings - three that I want to highlight here:
    Assume can mean to take for granted or without proof; suppose. Clearly, this is the definition the well-known quip "assume makes an ass out of u and me" comes from.

    Assume can also mean to take upon oneself; undertake, as in assuming responsibility for a task.

    And, assume can mean to appropriate; seize; usurp - when a dictator assumes power, for example.
    What does this have to do with birth? I was enjoying Anna Quindlen's back-page opinion article a few weeks ago in Newsweek, Dollars and Sense, when that phrase popped out at me and has been stuck in my head ever since. She was discussing how few of us understand the complexities of our financial world,
    "the great unspoken issue behind the tanking of the market, the mess in subprime mortgages and the bailout bill is that Americans don't understand the basics of the economy. Faced with financial instruments increasingly arcane and complex and financial institutions increasingly faceless and vast, most outsourced knowledge and responsibility to those they assumed were ethical and responsible. The banker, the broker, the rating agencies: they would look out for us."
    As I read this article, I was struck by how this whole article could also apply to birth. And towards the end of the article, she wrote
    "Americans have given up understanding much of what passes for daily life . . . But there's also a precedent for assuming control, even of complex issues. Look at the way many Americans deal with health care today compared with a generation ago. Once doctors, like financial managers, were seen as keepers of a mysterious flame and patients as people who should simply do what they were told. Today many more patients think of themselves as partners and work hard to educate themselves about their health and their ailments before having surgery or taking medications."
    Is this true, do you think: have American women "assumed control" of birth?

    Unfortunately, I see and hear and read many, many more stories about women assuming (first definition) that they have control and many, many more stories about doctors and medwives assuming control (last definition). If I could make only one wish for my clients, it would be for them to assume control (second definition): not to assume that they can control birth, but that they would assume responsibility for making the choices that are right for themselves and their babies, with caring, responsive doctors and midwives to help them.

    I want to share a blog with you that I think is absolutely amazing, called Nursing Birth. It's written by a labor & delivery nurse, and she's started a series called "Don't Let This Happen to You" because, as she says, "Throughout my time as a labor and delivery nurse at a large urban hospital in the Northeast, I have mentally tallied up a list of patients and circumstances that make me go “WHAT!?! Are you SERIOUS!? Oh come ON!”

    Women need to read these stories and take them seriously. Just like any other aspect of life, don't just assume you're in control: assume control. What does that mean? Learn about birth and think about your options. Interview care providers and visit hospitals and birth centers. Find a good fit. If you find yourself in a situation that is not a good fit, make changes! Find support. Take classes (email me if you're in Maine!). Reflect, discuss, learn, practice what you've learned. Rehearse. Discuss some more. Assume control!

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

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    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    The Birth Survey in Maine!

    Did you know that The Birth Survey now has information about Maine??! The survey results are searchable by doctor/midwife and hospital/birth center/homebirth. The best way to find information for our state is to type in your zip code, and select the distance in miles you are able to travel.

    Currently, there are only a few reviews for some of our local hospitals and some of our local doctors and midwives. Of course the information is still very well worth looking at! But how awesome would it be if it were even more complete?!! If you've had a baby in the past three years, and would like to help expecting families make an informed decision about the care they choose, consider sharing your experience! The survey only takes about thirty minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.

    I would particularly encourage anyone who has birthed at our state's only independent, free-standing birth center (The Birth House), or with a homebirth midwife to share their experience, because there aren't any reviews yet, and I know there have been some fantastic experiences!

    I would also particularly encourage anyone who has had care that they were not happy with to complete a survey. I think the tendency can sometimes be to "not make trouble" or take some of the blame for a negative experience on ourselves, and therefore decide not to share the experience... but I think it's crucial for as many women as possible to complete surveys, whether it's to recommend a care provider or location, or to express dissatisfaction with a care provider or location.

    "Our goal is to give women a mechanism that can be used to share information about maternity care practices in their community while at the same time providing practitioners and institutions feedback for quality of care improvement efforts."

    "We are dedicated to improving maternity care for all women. We will do this by 1) creating a higher level of transparency in maternity care so that women will be better able to make informed decisions about where and with whom to birth and 2) providing practitioners and hospitals with information that will aid in evaluating and improving quality of care."

    Objective 1
    Annually obtain maternity care intervention rates on an institutional level for all fifty states.

    Objective 2
    Collect feedback about women’s birth experiences using an online, ongoing survey, The Birth Survey.

    Objective 3
    Present official hospital intervention rates, results of The Birth Survey, and information about the MFCI in an on-line format.

    Objective 4
    Increase public awareness of differences among maternity care providers and facilities and increase recognition of the MFCI as the gold standard for maternity care.


    I am so excited by this project, and the difference it could make for birthing mothers and their new babies! I urge you to participate by either spreading the news, or completing a survey!!

    I'll leave you with this inspiring thought from Christiane Northrup:
    "Imagine what might happen if the majority of women emerged from their labor beds with a renewed sense of the strength and power of their bodies and their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth. When enough women realize that birth is a time of great opportunity to get in touch with their true power, and then they are willing to assume responsibility for this, we will reclaim the power of birth and help move technology where it belongs--in the service of birthing women, not as their master."
    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Links!

    Thought I'd share:

    If you live in central Maine, there's a great guide to low-cost or free (mostly free) places to be active, courtesy of Healthy Communities. There are trails, parks & playgrounds, schools, and local resources listed for Augusta, Chelsea, Farmingdale, Fayette, Gardiner, West Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Manchester, Mount Vernon, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, Richmond, Wayne, Windsor, and Winthrop. Places to be Active

    The April Peaceful Birth Project newsletter asks
    "How are women making these fundamental choices? In a technology worshiping environment where can women find the information and support they need to make knowledge-based choices?

    How can that first cesarean be prevented?"
    And then goes on to provide some great resources to help families start answering those questions.

    Nicole at Bellies and Babies wrote a post this past week called "Vagina Anyone?" that made me laugh and squirm at the same time ("ta-ta"?!!), and goes back to the post I wrote recently re: the impact of language.

    The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog reviewed Your Best Birth, which I immediately put on my Amazon wishlist.

    Kathy at Woman to Woman Childbirth Education wrote "Nothing by Mouth?" - a clear look at the history of "it's not safe to eat or drink during labor" rule and then links and explanations re: whether this standard routine is evidence-based (short answer: it's not!). Here's more on this topic by Rixa, at Stand and Deliver, "Eating and Drinking during Labor".

    And finally, the juiciest for last, Navelgazing Midwife on "Freebirthing", the recent show on Discovery Channel.

    Enjoy!

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

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    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Scheduling Spring & Summer Birth Classes!

    I'm currently scheduling group and private classes for this spring and summer - moms with due dates from May to September! 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 on for some of the benefits of attending 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.

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

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    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Breastmilk Pumping in the Workplace - Maine

    According to Represenative Melissa Innes, the Labor Committee voted unanimously to pass the nursing bill out of committee, and send it to the House floor for the big vote.

    This is the text of the bill:
    "An employer, including the state of Maine and its subdivisions, shall provide adequate unpaid break time or permit an employee to use paid break time or meal time each day to allow an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to three years following child birth. The employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide a clean room or other location, other than a bathroom, in close proximity to the work area, where an employee may express milk in privacy. No employer shall discriminate in any way against an employee who chooses to express breast milk in the work place."
    Definitely a great step forward. And as an extended-nursing mother, I love that the timeframe is three years!

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

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    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Free Postpartum Support Group - Central Maine

    We're meeting again this Thursday, March 26th, from 10-11am, at the Winthrop United Methodist Church! We'll meet on April on the 9th and 23rd.

    For more information, visit http://www.birthingyourbaby.com/postpartum.html

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

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    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    Diddos for Kiddos Consignment Sale - May 2009

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

    The spring sale is at the St. Paul Center (136 State Street) in Augusta. The sale dates are Saturday, May 2nd, from 8am to 6pm and Sunday, May 3rd, from 8am to 4pm. The Sunday sale is half-price on all items.

    There is also a consignor sale on Friday, May 1st. 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 spring/summer clothes and birthday presents (May & June birthdays) at the Spring sale, and 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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    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Preserving Memories

    I've admitted before that I wish I'd been more faithful in keeping a pregnancy journal with thoughts and especially photographs from my two pregnancies. Once I started a family blog, and made a commitment to keeping it up-to-date for our long-distance family members, I've done a lot better. And someday (when we have more money!), I have a system I want to implement with binders and photo pages and the photos I've stored in Snapfish. It turns out that, although I bought and was given a bunch of scrapbook supplies, I'm not really a scrapbooker. And that's okay, right? Right.

    Anyway, I've come across some really cool ideas lately that appeal to me even though I'm not a scrapbooker, and I want to be sure to pass them on to you. These are the kind of easy projects I wish I had done:

    Scrapbooking Your Belly Shots and Scrapbooking Baby's First 12 Months, both from Adventures in Diapering.

    If you want video inspiration, here is a video from Mothering Media, showing how one mom turned her pregnant belly into a work of art.

    If you are a scrapbooker, here is the site for our local scrapbooking guru, Cheryl Freye. I especially want to highlight the FREE Baby & Toddler Webinarscoming up over the next two weeks - what a fantastic opportunity to learn more about preserving your memories.

    And finally, a professional archivist's take on digital storage, in case you, like me, are holding on to cd's full of photos. Because as Cheryl wrote in her email, "You'll never reminisce over your zip drive .......albums make the memory."

    If you have want to share any of your ideas on how to preserve memories, leave a comment!

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

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    Saturday, February 28, 2009

    New to the Sidebar: Popular Posts

    I've been blogging here for a little less than a year: my first post was on April 30th, 2008. I am amazed at the amount of traffic this blog has produced, though I realize it is small peanuts in bigtime blogging world.

    Back in March 2008, I had 380 unique visitors, averaging 14 visitors a day. 86 people visited my Class Information page. I'd been thinking about writing a blog, but hadn't really thought seriously about it. Then my sister Michelle went to the Midwifery Today conference in 2008. She went to one a session on marketing and came back to tell me how much of impact blogging can have on web traffic, and I decided to do it. And my web traffic increased enormously: for February 2009, I've had 1620 unique visitors, averaging 95 visitors a day. 138 people have visited my Class Information page this month.

    And, of course, lots of people have accessed information from previous blog entries as well. My most popular blog posts seem to divide into two groups: those about prenatal nutrition and those about birth choices.

    I've decided to link to these popular posts on the side bar, and here they are in this post, too:

    Good Breakfasts

    Choosing Prenatal Vitamins

    Omega 3 Fatty Acids

    Eating Protein in Pregnancy

    Meals to Freeze



    Offered Midwife-led Care

    Choosing a Care Provider & Place

    What are My Choices?

    Where is Birth Going?

    My most popular searches are things like "breakfast for pregnant women" and "graphic clips of vaginal childbirth" and "how to choose a prenatal vitamin".

    There's always a search or two on colostrum and tandem nursing, and I'm so glad that maybe my post Tandem Nursing and Colostrum will be useful to a pregnant mom who continues breastfeeding. I just read a Mothering Q&A on colostrum & tandem nursing which might be helpful too.

    And ones about specific foods: is Cesear salad okay? eggs benedict? a butter roll?

    And a weird and/or disturbing one like: "birth babies - po*n" (!!)

    Finally, there's a bunch about Maine, where to find birth classes, midwives, doulas, breastfeeding support. I'm thrilled that someone might connect with a midwife or doula or breastfeeding group that will help them on their birth & parenting journey by visiting my site.

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

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    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Private Practice: "Acceptance"

    I don't watch much television - for the most part, I'd much rather read. Especially because it seems like so much on tv is crime drama, and watching shows that feature violence against women & children just doesn't feel like entertainment for me - more like fodder for anxiety & nightmares. So! There are a few things I watch, like American Idol... The Office... 24... And Private Practice: I like the characters, the drama, and school or medical dramas have always been my favorites (I still miss Boston Public and Everwood). Does anyone else watch it?

    I'm wondering because the show two weeks ago, "Acceptance", just about made me do my crazy-shriek and wake up the kids when I watched it. We had it on tape, and I thought: now this, THIS *#$&($#, would be perfect to show in my classes when I talk about informed consent looks like - or doesn't look like. And I planned to blog about it. But then we taped over it. And I didn't want to blog it without a transcript because I started thinking, well, maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought.

    Then I taught an early pregnancy class through our local continuing education department (if you're local, look for this class in the Monmouth/Winthrop continuing ed course offerings) and both of the families who attended had seen this show, and brought up the vacuum extractor. And that got me thinking again about how this show might seem to someone who was watching it as strictly entertainment, without the critical-thinking part of their brain on high alert. I know I don't watch most tv ready to jump up & down with the crazy-shriek of "how could they do that??" primed.

    Then I thought of looking on the ABC page to see if they have free past episodes, and they do! So I could type out a transcript of this tiny scene, just to make sure it was as bad as I thought: it's four minutes into the episode, which can be viewed here.

    The characters are:
    Dell (the office manager/midwife-in-training),
    Addison (neonatal surgeon/OB)
    Laboring mom
    Worried dad

    The scene is in the Private Practice birthing room.
    Dell & Addison are in scrubs.
    Mom & Dad are in scrubs with hair coverings.
    Mom is covered in blue drapes so she & Dad can’t see anything.
    Mom is flat on her back, hooked up to fetal monitor.

    4:00

    Mom: “AAHHHGGGG!!”
    Dad: “Why is it taking so long?”

    Dell (hushed voice to Addison): “She’s still at +2”

    Dad: “What does that mean?”

    Addison: “It means that labor is not progressing and the baby has variable decels. We’re going to need to perform an assisted delivery to help guide the baby out. It’s VEEEERRRY safe. Dell would you prep the vacuum extractor please.”

    Mom: “The vacuum WHAT?”

    Dad: “It’s going to be fine honey.”

    Dell (whispered aside to Addison: “I’ve never done one of these!”

    Addison (aside to Dell): “It’s okay. I’ll guide you through it. ‘Kay. Place the cuff directly on the vertex. Good.”

    Addison (to parents): “Now Maggie, when I tell you, I need you to push as hard as you can and while you push we will take the baby out. Okay?”

    Mom gives a nod with scared look on her face.

    Addison: “Okay.”

    Addison: “Ready… and push!”

    Mom: “AARRRRGGH!!!!”

    Addison: “That’s great, Maggie. The baby’s crowning.”

    Mom: “Take it out take it out take it out.”

    Mom: “AAGH.”

    Crying.

    Dell: “It’s a girl. A baby girl.”

    Addison: “Congratulations!”

    Dell (aside to Addison): “Discoloration on her head?”

    Addison (aside to Dell): “Hematoma. Happens sometimes with vacuum delivery.”

    Dell (aside to Addison): “Her apgar is low.”

    Addison (aside to Dell): “Dell. Don’t worry. It’s fine. You did great.”
    Anybody else see huge red flags?

    In case you want to read a summary of the whole show, here's a link to a Yahoo summary. Here are the most relevant parts of the summary, for my purposes:
    Dell and Addison are continuing the delivery. The father wants to know what's taking so long, and Addison tells him the labor's not progressing (still at "plus-2") and that the baby has "variable D cells," [sic - decels, or declerations in fetal heart rate] so they are going to have to help guide the baby out through assisted delivery. She instructs Dell to get the vacuum extractor, a term that freaks the mom out -- as it would any sane woman. Dell has never used one of these, but Addison has him do it anyway. It basically looks like Dell is holding onto a hose and pulling it out of the woman, which I guess is what's happening, but the other end of the hose is attached to the baby's head. The baby's out before we know it, and Dell's freaking out about the shape of the baby's head. Um, seriously? Has he never seen a newborn baby, because I am no expert, but I have seen several of them with crazy head shapes. That's because heads are too big to fit through a hole that size [!!!!] so they get misshapen. Addison tells him it's normal to have a head like that with a vacuum delivery, but he's still worried. She tells him not to. He worries some more.

    . . .

    Dell comes in to Violet's office and sits next to her on the couch . . . He tells her he thinks he might be a pretty good midwife, and she says she thinks he is. It's a really sweet moment, and I'm glad Dell got it, even if his story seemed sort of insignificant otherwise.
    I'll post more tonight or tomorrow. We're off to the children's museum to watch a presentation on "scales and tales" and then to a friend's house for some sledding.

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

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    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Postpartum Links: Listening and Healing

    More postpartum posts to follow, once I'm post-whirlwind-trip-to-Boston and have caught up around here! Until then:

    The Power of Listening

    I love this quote in the recent Midwivery Today E-newsletter on communication, from Dr. Rachel Remen:
    "The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."
    Obviously this relates to all times of our lives, but I think it is especially pertinant during labor and birth. Just listening to a mom talking about how much labor hurts is validating: she may not be asking someone to "fix" it - she just needs someone to hear her. There's a terrific segment on this excellent video, which I highly recommend (and keep in my lending library!): Gentle Birth Choices. And "We Ain't Broke, Don't Fix Us" is a great blog entry on this topic.

    Listening during the postpartum period can also be incredibly valuable. I recently read about a study re: the power of listening for postpartum moms, on a RaisingMaine blog . For more information, read "Peer Phone Calls Prevent Postpartum Depression in at-Risk Mothers". The article explains that,
    "Phone calls from volunteer mothers who overcame postpartum depression prevent depressive symptoms in at-risk mothers, a Canadian study shows.

    "Mothers who received this support were at half the risk of depressive symptoms 12 weeks after delivery," says study leader Cindy-Lee Dennis, PhD, Canada research chair in perinatal community health at the University of Toronto.

    It's the first big study to show that postpartum depression can be prevented without intensive home care, Dennis says.

    The study included 701 women at risk of postpartum depression. Half got standard postnatal care and half got peer support. With standard care, 25% of the mothers had significant depressive symptoms 12 weeks after delivery. About half as many women who got peer support -- 14% -- had such symptoms."
    Another place to listen and be listened to, and that offers peer support, is the New Mothers Support Circle I'm hosting here in Winthrop, on 2nd and 4th Thursdays - this month we're getting together on February 12th and February 27th.

    Perineal Healing

    Another Midwifery Today E-newsletter that fits with entry focuses on Postpartum Perineal Healing, with some great tips from Elizabeth Davis:
    "Physicians commonly have women return for a checkup at six weeks postpartum to assess the healing of the perineum and to make recommendations for contraception, as appropriate. But most women are told little or nothing about how to care for the perineum in the interim, or how to watch for warning signals of infection like swelling or inflammation. Pain is an important signal of problems too, but it may go unnoticed if a woman is taking painkillers during the first few days, the most critical time for healing.

    I suggest that women use ice packs for 24 hours to reduce swelling, and then switch to sitz baths several times daily using hot water with selected herbs. Nothing speeds healing faster than heat, and soaking is far superior to topical application as it more deeply stimulates circulation. Fresh ginger is a good addition to the solution; it helps relieve the itching that often occurs as stitches dissolve and the skin heals.

    Here is how I recommend women take a sitz bath: Grate a 3- to 4-inch piece of ginger root into a large pot of water; simmer twenty minutes; strain and divide into two portions. Save one for later in the day, and dilute the first with water in a sitz bath. After soaking for twenty minutes, thoroughly dry the perineum and expose to air or sunlight for another 10 minutes before putting on a fresh pad (or use a hair dryer to speed the process). If the perineum feels at all sticky, use aloe vera gel to dry and soothe the tissues. Avoid vitamin E or other oil-based ointments until the skin is healed over, as these tend to keep edges from closing."
    The Mother-Hero

    For dessert, read this thought-provoking article from Birthing From Within's Pam England, "Mother-Hero on the Hudson".

    We are strong! Listen, and be listened to.

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

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    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    Postpartum Life: True or False?

    In honor of the new postpartum support group I'm facilitating, the New Mother's Support Circle, I'm going to be doing a series of posts on postpartum life.

    Here's how the media portrays postpartum life: glowing new mom (who is also clean, thin, wearing clean clothes, relaxed, and looking not-exhausted) holding peacefully sleeping (and also clean! wearing white!!) newborn.



    I'm not saying that it's not a gorgeous picture - it is. And there may be some moments like that during the babymoon. But this picture, also beautiful, is a whole lot more realistic:



    What's the harm in fantasizing about exhibit A? I love this quote from Jennifer Louden's Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book, and think it sums up a lot about why the postpartum period can be a hard one for many women:
    "It is the lack of permission to feel conflicted, inadequate, sad, angry, bored, or irritable as well as grateful, rapturous, tingling with life, and intoxicated with love that makes the postpartum period unnecessarily difficult and lonely".
    So for what it's worth: here's permission - and encouragement! - to come share what's wonderful as well as what's really hard with other new moms this Thursday!

    And if you can't join us in person, leave a comment! What's been one of the most beautiful moments during your babymoon period? What's been one of the most challenging?

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Vaccine Links

    I have several interesting links to share regarding vaccines.

    This first one is a link to a study, "Pediatric Vaccines Influence Primate Behavior", regarding the use of thimerosol and vaccines. The study's conclusion:
    "This animal model, which examines for the first time, behavioral, functional, and neuromorphometric consequences of the childhood vaccine regimen, mimics certain neurological abnormalities of autism. The findings raise important safety issues while providing a potential model for examining aspects of causation and disease pathogenesis in acquired disorders of behavior and development."
    Keep in mind that thimerosol has been phased out of many vaccines (excepting the flu vaccine, to my knowledge). But I still found this interesting, especially from a standpoint that this information remains widely unacknowledged by the medical community.

    After I had already written this post and set it to publish, I received a link to this article, "Sharp Rise in Autism is Real", which debunks the myth that real autism rates have not changed, but have only seemed to have increased due to earlier and better reporting.
    "Many experts contend that other factors account for the increase, such as greater awareness among parents and pediatricians, and therefore a greater likelihood of a diagnosis.

    But that accounts for only a fraction of the more than 600 percent jump, said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, whose work was published this month in the journal Epidemiology. . .

    Hertz-Picciotto and her colleague, Lora Delwiche, found that less than 10 percent of the estimated increase could be attributed to the inclusion -- after 1993 -- of milder forms of autism, and about 4 percent of the increase was attributed to a trend toward earlier diagnosis. . .

    Many scientists think people have a genetic predisposition to autism that is triggered by some environmental factor. Hertz-Picciotto believes it's probably multiple genetic susceptibilities and more than one environmental trigger. . .

    Stanley Swartz, an autism researcher and professor of special education at Cal State San Bernardino, said it will be hard to get a consensus on causes for the increase.

    'The problem is we're operating almost completely on theories," he said. "What we have to consider is that this is not a single syndrome with a single cause. ... There's more going on than just one thing because you do see such a wide variety of cases of autism.'"
    Again, I'm curious what, if anything, will come of this study and how well the findings will be publicized by mainstream media.

    I read What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations to help my family decide about vaccinations. There are other good books out there, I'm sure. The Sears' recently added The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child to their well-respected library, but I haven't read it yet. Dr. Bob Sears has also written an interesting article published in the Jan/Feb 2008 Mothering magazine, "Is Aluminum the New Thimerasol?".

    Do you have any recommendations for books or websites on this issue? Michelle - didn't you have a book sent to you for free? Can you include info on it in the comments?

    Finally, there is a link on the Dr. Sears site that lists Vaccine-Friendly Doctors, those doctors "who are friendly toward parents who want help with the vaccine decision or who want to delay or decline vaccines. The doctors listed here will have read, or be familiar with, my book and contacted me to have their practice listed here as a place such patients can come and feel welcome."

    Unfortunately, there are no Maine doctors mentioned. Anyone have good experiences with doctors re: delaying or declining vaccinations or selectively vaccinating? Leave a comment if you can recommend someone!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Cesarean Births: Preventable?

    I'm home, and everyone's healthy: a state of affairs that hasn't happened much over the past two months! I am caught up on email and reading blogs and online newsletters (whew!). It was a lot of interesting reading, which, over the next week or so, I'll be providing links to so you can read too if you've missed it, say, because someone's been sick or you've been traveling!

    I have read a lot about cesarean birth in the past several weeks. Many readers have probably heard stories about emergency cesareans - when something happened with mother or baby which made a very fast procedure necessary. I'm thinking about cord prolapse (when the baby's umbilical cord slips past the baby's head is being compressed during contractions) or placental abruption (when the placenta detaches prematurely), for example. In an emergency situation, the time from indication to decision to incision and birth is very quick - a matter of ten or fifteen minutes.

    These emergency situations represent a very small number of the cesarean births. Much more commonly, cesarean births are urgent or they are the end result of a series of mother or careprovider choices, many of which are not openly acknowledged by care providers as increasing the risk of cesareans. Check out this very useful discussion defining types of cesarean births - moving beyond "unplanned = emergency vs planned = non-emergency" at Enjoy Birth.

    In fact, there is wide belief that many of the cesarean births happening in the United States right now are actually preventable. The World Health Oranization recommends a cesarean birth rate of 5-10%; at rates higher than 15%, the harm to mothers' and babies' health statistically outweighs perceived health benefits for the group as a whole. The United States is well past the "harm outweighing the benefits" range, with most hospitals performing a (very unusual) low of 15% cesarean birth to the average ~30% and some doing Cesareans for 50% of women's births.

    The Lamaze newsletter "Building Confidence" for Week 30 mothers has an excellent assessment of preventable cesareans,
    "Talk with almost any woman who has had a cesarean and she’ll say her surgery was necessary. Indeed, by the time many cesareans take place, the surgery has become necessary—either because the baby is signaling distress or labor is not progressing. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see that these problems often occurred as side effects of the way labor was managed. Some cesareans can be prevented with care that supports—rather than interferes with—the normal processes of labor and birth. By talking about “preventable cesareans,” instead of “unnecessary cesareans,” we can point to specific choices and care practices that might change the course of labor."
    Lamaze offers excellent information about The Six Care Practices that Support Normal Birth.

    Choosing a care provider and birth place can be a process, approached in a similar way to other big decisions, like buying a car. A person might go through a process like this to buy a car: deciding what qualities in a car are important - size, fuel efficiency, price, longevity, style; finding out which cars match their priorities; trying to find a reputable place that sells this kind of car; getting the car checked out and then buying it. This process, in my opinion, is much more likely to result in a car that matches a person's needs compared with a process which simply involves driving to the closest car dealership and asking the first salesperson to show you a car and buying it after a brief look-see.

    Reading and asking questions about birth, discussing options and the typical routine care offered by a care provider/birth place is of critical importance, in my opinion.

    If you're looking to minimize the likelihood of a Cesarean for your first birth experience, think about how to minimize the likelihood of having one of those preventable Cesarean.

    Read about the six care practices in the link above. Read independent blogs and books and magazines.

    Choose your care and birth place carefully. Understand that not all the care provided by hospitals and doctors/midwives is equal in preventing preventable Cesareans. For example, many hospitals automatically hook women up to electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) devices for all, or the majority, of their labor and birth experience. But in that same Week 30 newsletter, Lamaze excerpts this study,
    "Continuous electronic fetal monitoring is used in more than 90 percent of labors in the United States. However, decades of research show that this ubiquitous machine does not live up to its promise of safeguarding babies in labor. In fact, researchers who evaluated all of the published studies comparing continuous fetal monitoring with intermittent auscultation (a method where a provider listens to the baby’s heartbeat regularly throughout labor) found that, when the mothers are healthy and labor is uncomplicated, there were no differences in important outcomes for babies regardless of the method used. However, their research confirmed that intermittent auscultation has a major advantage—it results in far fewer cesarean surgeries.

    Source: Alfirevic, Z., Devane, D., & Gyte, G. M. (2006). Continuous cardiotocography (CTG) as a form of electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) for fetal assessment during labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3, CD006066."
    Take independent birth classes instead of the ones offered by the local hospital! Independent Childbirth offers insightful commentary on the cesarean epidemic in the United States, and the role of independent birth classes. If you're in Central Maine, consider calling me at 512-2627 to find out about the independent classes I teach. If you're in Southern Maine, consider calling Birth Roots at 772-4784. If you're outside of Maine, visit the Independent Childbirth Educators directory, or google search independent educators near you. You may not hear about us from the local hospital or doctor's office, but ask a midwife (especially a homebirth midwife); ask at your local health food store; ask at a La Leche League meeting: we're out there!

    ** Edited to add a link to this great birth story that serves as a real life "illustration" of the topics in this entry: Floppy's Birth.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Friday, December 19, 2008

    New Mothers Support Circle: Postpartum Support Group

    I'm so happy to announce that I'll begin facilitating a postpartum support group, NEW MOTHERS SUPPORT CIRCLE, in January!

    About six months ago, I was talking to a client after her baby was born, and she asked if I knew of any postpartum support groups in our area. I asked around and looked online, but I couldn't find any. There are lots of playgroups, and helpful breastfeeding support groups (see this post), but I couldn't find any meetings that were specifically for NEW moms.

    I started thinking about this lack of support for new moms, and decided to start a group myself!

    We'll be meeting in Winthrop, on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays, from 10-11am.

    The group is only for new moms and their babies, from birth to six months. At six months, babies and moms "graduate" and can form playgroups (if they haven't already!) with other moms they have met.

    For more information, visit www.birthingyourbaby.com/postpartum.html!

    If you have any suggestions, let me know!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Friday, October 17, 2008

    All Women Should Be Offered Midwife-led Care

    This is a truly groundbreaking study: Midwife-led versus other models of care for childbearing women!

    Background
    Midwives are primary providers of care for childbearing women around the world. However, there is a lack of synthesised information to establish whether there are differences in morbidity and mortality, effectiveness and psychosocial outcomes between midwife-led and other models of care.

    Objectives
    To compare midwife-led models of care with other models of care for childbearing women and their infants.

    Main results
    We included 11trials (12,276 women). Women who had midwife-led models of care were less likely to experience antenatal hospitalisation, risk ratio (RR) 0.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.81 to 0.99), the use of regional analgesia (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.91), episiotomy (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.77 to 0.88), and instrumental delivery (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.78 to 0.96) and were more likely to experience no intrapartum analgesia/anaesthesia (RR 1.16, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.29), spontaneous vaginal birth (RR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.06), to feel in control during labour and childbirth (RR 1.74, 95% CI 1.32 to 2.30), attendance at birth by a known midwife (RR 7.84, 95% CI 4.15 to 14.81) and initiate breastfeeding (RR 1.35, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.76). In addition, women who were randomised to receive midwife-led care were less likely to experience fetal loss before 24 weeks' gestation (RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.97), and their babies were more likely to have a shorter length of hospital stay (mean difference -2.00, 95% CI -2.15 to -1.85). There were no statistically significant differences between groups for overall fetal loss/neonatal death (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.70 to 1.00), or fetal loss/neonatal death of at least 24 weeks (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.53).

    Authors' conclusions
    All women should be offered midwife-led models of care and women should be encouraged to ask for this option.

    Plain language summary
    Midwife-led care confers benefits for pregnant women and their babies and is recommended.

    In many parts of the world, midwives are the primary providers of care for childbearing women. Elsewhere it may be medical doctors or family physicians who have the main responsibility for care, or the responsibility may be shared. The underpinning philosophy of midwife-led care is normality and being cared for by a known and trusted midwife during labour. There is an emphasis on the natural ability of women to experience birth with minimum intervention. Some models of midwife-led care provide a service through a team of midwives sharing a caseload, often called 'team' midwifery. Another model is 'caseload midwifery', where the aim is to offer greater continuity of caregiver throughout the episode of care. Caseload midwifery aims to ensure that the woman receives all her care from one midwife or her/his practice partner. By contrast, medical-led models of care are where an obstetrician or family physician is primarily responsible for care. In shared-care models, responsibility is shared between different healthcare professionals.

    The review of midwife-led care covered midwives providing care antenatally, during labour and postnatally. This was compared with models of medical-led care and shared care, and identified 11 trials, involving 12,276 women. Midwife-led care was associated with several benefits for mothers and babies, and had no identified adverse effects. The main benefits were a reduced risk of losing a baby before 24 weeks. Also during labour, there was a reduced use of regional analgesia, with fewer episiotomies or instrumental births. Midwife-led care also increased the woman's chance of being cared for in labour by a midwife she had got to know. It also increased the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth and initiation of breastfeeding. In addition, midwife-led care led to more women feeling they were in control during labour. There was no difference in risk of a mother losing her baby after 24 weeks. The review concluded that all women should be offered midwife-led models of care.

    Hatem M, Sandall J, Devane D, Soltani H, Gates S. Midwife-led versus other models of care for childbearing women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD004667. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004667.pub2.

    Finding a Midwife in Maine

    There are many midwives currently working with families here in central Maine, both CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives) who attend births in hospitals, and CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives0 who attend births at home. There is also one independent, free-standing birth center in Maine, staffed by midwives: The Birth House, in Bridgton.

    Waterville Women's Care
    Rights at Maine General, Waterville Campus
    Waterville
    877-7477

    Central Maine Medical Center OB/GYN
    Rights at CMMC
    Lewiston
    795-5770

    Women's Health Associates
    Rights at St. Mary's Hospital
    Lewiston
    777-4300

    The Women's Center
    Rights at Miles Memorial Hospital
    Damariscotta
    563-4700

    Mid Coast Medical Group
    Rights at Mid Coast Hospital
    [This group appears to include several offices at different locations with different phone numbers.]
    Brunswick
    729-4996

    Cathy Heffernan, CNM
    Winthrop Family Practice
    Rights at Maine General, Augusta Campus
    Winthrop
    377-2111

    Heather Stamler, CPM
    Vassalboro
    873-5225

    Midcoast Midwifery
    Christine Yentes, CPM
    Monroe
    525-7740

    Morning Star Midwifery
    Donna Broderick, CPM
    322-6464
    Ellie Daniels, CPM
    338-0708
    Belfast

    Mother Bloom Midwifery
    Anna Fernandez, Traditional Homebirth Midwife
    Blue Hill
    326-4373

    The Pregnancy Support Center
    Jan Willson
    Lewiston
    777-3776

    Northern Sun Family Health Care
    Sarah Ackerly, ND, CPM Topsham
    798-3993

    Birch Moon Midwifery
    Holly Arrends, CPM
    Bath
    522-6043

    Casco Bay Midwifery
    Schyla St. Laurent, CPM
    Falmouth
    797-7463

    Open Circle Midwifery Services
    Robin Doolittle, CPM
    Deirdre Sulka/Meister, CPM
    Greater Portland
    838-2157

    Sacopee Valley Birth Services
    Brenda Surabian, CPM and
    Lindsay Johnston, CPM
    Parsonsfield
    329-2111

    To search for more midwives in Maine, go to the Midwives of Maine website or the Find a Midwife section of the American College of Nurse-Midwives website.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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