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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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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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More on Coping Skills

Thanks for the comment on my last blog, Morgan. Reminds me that it might be helpful to post more specifics about the relaxation strategies I use! Here's the one I used the most during labor; it's also what I do if I'm in bed and worries or stressed about something, or if I'm having a hard time going back to sleep. Though I can't go through the whole "loose and limp" thing in situations like flying or driving, I do try to pay attention to and loosen up muscles that are tight due to tension, like raised shoulders or a clenched jaw.

This is the handout I give to all the moms/families I work with. Feel free to download it in word here, for personal use only, or link to it as you wish!

RELAXATION: BY YOURSELF
Lie on your side with a cushion under your head and another under the bent knee of your top let so that you are completely comfortable. Close your eyes, and allow all your body weight to drop comfortably onto the floor. Breathe deeply, relaxing each part of your body in turn with each exhalation. Keeping your awareness focused on your breath, find your center as you relax more and more deeply. Remain this way for 5-20 minutes. Before you come up, focus your awareness on your baby inside you, and spend a few minutes in peaceful relaxation together.

When you are finished, take your time to open your eyes, letting the light come in slowly instead of hurrying to look outwards. Keep the sense of inner peace and relaxation as you stretch out slowly and come up in your own time.

RELAXATION SCRIPT: WITH A PARTNER

Read quietly, slowly, and in a calm voice. Practice reading the script a few times to yourself. Eventually you won’t need it at all. Feel free to make it your own. Mom, let your reader know what works best for you! Practice at least 3 time/week.
Breathe with a steady, even rhythm. Not in the middle of your belly, but way down low. Listen to the quiet ease of your abdominal breathing. Use each outbreath to relax a little more deeply. Let the breath fill your entire body, surrounding and relaxing each muscle; wherever you feel tension, use the outbreath to send it away.

Concentrate on relaxing your belly extremely. Think of it just floating outward and away from you as you breathe in. Drop your head into the pillow. Don’t hold your head up with your neck muscles. Just let it drop into the pillow.

Smooth your eyelids, and concentrate on all those facial muscles being loose and slack. smooth your brow. Let your eyes rest. Let all the tension go from your face. Loosen your jaw and let it float open. Have a relaxed, open throat.

Drop your shoulders. Have no tension in them at all. Relax your back and let your belly relax completely, floating out and away from you. You can always relax your belly a little more. Each time you exhale, you let go a little more. Let your whole body sag and relax.

Locate any tension that is left in your shoulders and your arms and let go of it so it eases out through your hands. Let your hands be limp and let your fingers be loose and limp. Everything just sinks down into the pillows and mattress.

Let go of any strain or tension in your chest. Drop your whole body into that bed. Let go. Release everywhere. Relax your belly extremely. Concentrate on letting go and letting it float out and away from you. Keep your breathing very calm and quiet and steady and way down low in the bottom of your belly. Use each outbreath to relax a little more deeply. Let the breath fill your entire body, surrounding and relaxing each muscle; wherever you feel tension, use the outbreath to send it away.

Really let go. Don’t just hold yourself still. Keep loose and limp. Let your bottom relax completely.

Let your hips be slack and sink down into the bed. Let go of any tension in your thighs. Let it all go out through your legs and feet. Your legs are loose and easy now. Your feet are loose and limp.

That’s it. Go loose and limp. Breathe with a nice, quiet, steady rhythm. Listen to the sound of it, way down low in the bottom of your belly. You can always relax a little more and a bit more. Breathe and float.

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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    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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    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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    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Wisdom from Mothering

    Last weekend, I finished teaching two postpartum/baby classes. In this last class, we review birth, and we talk again about preparing for birth by learning about the options, and practicing relaxation techniques, and communicating preferences and then letting go during the birth - being flexible, taking it one contraction at a time: birthing in the moment. We also talk all about the postpartum period, what commonly happens physically and emotionally, preparing as a couple, and lots of discussion and demonstrations about baby care.

    One thing I always demo and have mom & dad practice is swaddling. I tell about how I didn't swaddle my daughter because she cried the couple of times I tried it, and as a first-time parent, I let it go. After reading more, and seeing how much swaddling helped my second-born, I realize just how much swaddling would have probably helped my daughter, who is highly sensitive and easily over-stimulated. I mention all this briefly in class, part to underline how though not all babies like the act of being swaddled, it might still be worth doing & seeing if they like it once it's done! And I mention it because it hints at the fact that parenting is about learning, and we don't always know what will help, and sometimes we do something we wish we hadn't, or fail to do something we wish we had. As parents, we're still humans, and as anyone can tell you, humans aren't perfect! So there is no perfect parent.

    Two articles in Mothering magazine's weekly e-newsletter (which I highly recommend) recognize the fact that we are works in progress as parents. Here's an excerpt from "Breaking Free of Mother-Guilt":
    Our society in general, and the Mothering community in particular, has a problem: How can we advocate for birthing and parenting practices that have proven benefits without making parents who have not achieved them feel denigrated? How, for example, do we discuss the overuse of cesarean delivery without making the one-fifth to one-quarter of us who've had one feel bad, or promote extended breastfeeding without seeming to blame women who haven't been able to do it?

    I suggest that the answer lies in achieving a certain perspective. This perspective starts from the premise that each of us does the best she can—given the particulars of our knowledge base, resources, support system, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves (and which we often cannot fully control). No one should ever allow herself to feel judged inadequate for doing the best she could, or the best she knew at the time of choosing. But we must also note that because our knowledge base is one of the keys in our decision-making process, it is absolutely appropriate that every effort be made to disseminate good information as widely as possible—never to blame people for past choices or idiosyncratic situations, but to get good facts out to whoever needs and can use them.

    Furthermore, and crucially, those who promote such information must recognize that while such choices as excellent prenatal nutrition, natural birthing, extended breastfeeding, avoiding circumcision, cosleeping, and so on are documentably ideal for most families most of the time, there sometimes really are exceptions, limits on information, and limits on what is possible.
    Ahh... circumstances, limited knowledge (for however much we know, there's still plenty we don't know!), and real life challenges... it can be hard to accept that even our very, very best may not feel good enough. Parenting regrets are hard, very, very hard. The other article I highly recommend, "Regrets", by Peggy O'Mara, suggests a lovely metaphor for how to handle regrets productively:
    A bad experience is like a dive for buried treasure. There is a wreck. Someone has to figure out what happened and remember what to do the next time. Everyone hopes to find the treasure hidden in the wreck, even though many doubt that it's there at all. Like a bad experience, once we mine our regrets for information about what we might have done differently, and what we might do if the same circumstances arise again, we've already discovered a lot of treasure. When the time is right, we can then let the experience go.
    Parenting is definitely the hardest job I've ever had to do - full of sacrifice and the occasional bout of performance anxiety. But on the other hand, I've never been so motivated to do a job well, by the sweet, grateful smile of a snuggled child, by a look of joy & wonder at something new, by a question that shows how deeply my child is participating in life. And, I've certainly never been so well-rewarded.



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

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    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    Reply Turned Post: What DO Childbirth Educators Teach??

    I've been thoroughly enjoying the posts over at Mom's Tinfoil Hat, and the whole idea of "reply turned post" seems to fit my response to this very interesting post from RedRN, "On Childbirth Education", which I highly recommend clicking over to read and respond to.

    This is my response:

    "Interesting post! It strikes me how "in the middle" nurses sometimes are, and impresses me all the more when I read about the patient advocating you and others like you do over & over.

    One of the things I tell clients (and write in my blog - see the sidebar on popular posts) over & over again is that the prep work done before the birth is extremely important. The mom needs to think about how she wants the birth to go (a set of educated preferences, not demands) and then do the work she can ahead of time to set herself up well: get support from partner and/or friend/family and/or doula; choose a careprovider who is a good match; choose a birth place that's a good match etc. & etc. And then keep reflecting and communicating.

    One thing I've noticed about teaching anything (I've taught high school, Sunday School, and birth classes) is that a teacher can say one thing, and there are as many interpretations of that thing as there are students. People tend to hear, in general I think, what makes sense to them, what fits in with their perceptions and experiences. So what you're seeing may or may not accurately reflect the information presented in a class.

    People do zone out - so few people contact me in enough time, with enough time, to do shorter classes over more weeks. Families usually choose two or four session classes of three or four hours each. Those are *full* classes, and it's hard to pay attention and process everything. Edited here to add that with breaks, and food, and a balance of activities, brainstorming, groupwork, movies and presentations I think families in my classes have a better shot at staying fully engaged!

    And I think you hit on something else important to keep in mind - there are some care providers who *say* one thing and then do another, or are misleadingly ambiguous, especially if asked vague questions with no follow-up. Add that to the fact that many women get care from a practice and may or may not see all the care providers to discuss each partners' routine management ahead of time... I really encourage and role-play with families ahead of time how to ask questions during their appointments, and how to follow-up to get the information they're looking for."

    A few more things I've thought of after I posted the reply:

    ** Some hospitals do allow doppler monitoring instead of electronic fetal monitoring. Other than a five minute test-strip when I first arrived, my son's heart rate was only tracked via doppler. I did discuss this ahead of time with my midwife, to be sure that doppler monitoring was possible.

    ** That some hospitals still don't allow moms to eat and/or drink during labor astounds me, given how many studies have shown that this is not evidence-based care. And like I tell clients: we're not advised to avoid eating or drinking before getting in the car, just in case there's an accident and we'll need anesthesia, are we? We're not given an IV just in case, either.

    ** I also continue to be amazed at how "railroaded" some families are during labor, like the scenario mentioned in the original blog post, with Dr. Ass. It's amazing to me that care providers act that way and it's amazing that women and their partners accept it. I understand that there will always be sub-par performers in any profession, and I understand that labor/birth is a very vulnerable time for women, and when providers pull out the "dead baby" card it would be very, very hard to be non-compliant.

    So, if you didn't - go read the original post and leave a reply!

    Or, to get more information about Birthing Your Baby classes, visit my Class Information page!

    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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    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Not Totally MIA

    Really nasty cold + Thanksgiving preparation + big (good) changes at home = not enough energy or time to post. Will get back to the nutrition information plus some other posts I've been thinking about after Thanksgiving! Hope you enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving with friends and family next week -

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Local Eating during Pregnancy: Part One

    I'm finishing up the excellent book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, who is one of my favorite authors. And I'm finishing up my year of garden work: picking my winter squash and orange pumpkins, the last peppers and eggplant, and putting cold frames over the less-hardy greens. Three days of rainy weather approaching has made the task more urgent - I don't want my peppers and winter squash to get moldy! During the rain, I think we'll be inside peeling apples from our local orchard for applesauce and husking/blanching/freezing corn from a farm just up the road.

    There are many advantages to buying & eating more foods locally and seasonally. Some help others most directly, but certainly affect us in the long-term: economic benefits for the local area and local farmers; less dependence on gasoline to bring the food to you; small farms often farm more sustainably and/or organically (even if they don't go through the process to be certified organic). There are other benefits that are just for the local eater her/himself: eating food that was grown for taste, not portability/storage (YUM!) as well as the additional nutrition offered by eating locally and seasonally.

    For many women, pregnancy is a time when they are more motivated to learn about nutrition, and to make food choices based on what they learn. It's also a time when there is a more obvious link to other mothers - mothers past, animal mothers, our mothers, future mothers. One of my favorite books to read during pregnancy was a memoir-ish book called Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood. The author, Sandra Steingraber, discusses her journey month-by-month through pregnancy, giving each chapter a moon name, from "Old Moon" to "Harvest Moon". She writes in the preface that "When I became pregnant at the age of thirty-eight, I realized, with amazement, that I myself had become a habitat. My womb was an inland ocean with a population of one" (ix).

    So, in honor of the coming harvest, and for all of you mamas growing your babies in the "inland ocean", here are a few recipes I'll be using to take advantage of this beautiful (and delicious!) season...

    KALE

    This recipe, Dino Kale Saute, is my favorite ways to use kale - everyone I've made it for as always loved it. Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K and has calcium and protein in it (!!).

    Dino Kale Saute

    12 ounces dinosaur kale or regular kale, cut or torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/4 cup soft sourdough or French loaf bread crumbs
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    1 teaspoon white wine Worcestershire sauce
    Lemon wedges (optional)

    1. Rinse kale leaves thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well; set aside.

    2. In a small skillet heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Cook bread crumbs in the hot oil for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned. Season with pepper; set aside.

    3. In a large, nonstick skillet heat the remaining 4 teaspoons oil. Add kale. Cook the kale, covered, for 1 minute. Uncover. Cook and stir for 1 minute more or until just wilted. Transfer kale to serving dish. Drizzle with Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle with the browned bread crumbs. Squeeze lemon wedges over all. Makes 4 servings.

    Nutrition Facts
    Servings Per Recipe 4 servings
    Calories 89, Total Fat (g) 5, Saturated Fat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 0, Sodium (mg) 53, Carbohydrate (g) 9, Fiber (g) 4, Protein (g) 3, Vitamin C (DV%) 94, Calcium (DV%) 8, Iron (DV%) 8, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet


    APPLES

    Apples are delicious this time of year and there are so many kinds to choose from. Apples have some Vitamin C and are a good source of fiber.

    Rustic Apple Sauce

    Ingredients
    4 cups cubed peeled Braeburn or Pink Lady apple
    4 cups cubed peeled Granny Smith apple
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Dash of salt
    2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or full-fat yogurt or sour cream)
    Preparation

    Combine first 8 ingredients in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook 25 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

    Remove from heat; mash to desired consistency with a fork or potato masher. Stir in crème fraîche. Serve warm or chilled.

    Nutritional Information
    Calories:140 (12% from fat)
    Fat:1.8g (sat 1g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.2g) Protein:0.3g Carbohydrate:32.5g Fiber:2.3g
    Cholesterol:3mg Iron:0.5mg Sodium:30mg Calcium:31mg

    One of my favorite recipes comes from the mother of my best friend growing up. It's not really a recipe, actually: chop up an apple and a small handful of walnuts; add a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!


    PEARS

    Pears are also in season in the fall. They have some Vitamin C and are a very good source of fiber.

    Pear Clafouti

    Cooking spray
    1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
    2 cups cubed peeled pear
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
    3 large eggs, lightly beaten
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Preparation

    Preheat oven to 375°.

    Coat a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray, and dust plate with 1 teaspoon flour. Arrange the pear cubes in the bottom of prepared dish, and set aside.

    Combine 3/4 cup flour, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Gradually add 1 cup milk, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Add 1 cup milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Pour batter over pear cubes. Bake mixture at 375° for 35 minutes or until set.

    Nutritional Information
    Calories:230 (15% from fat)
    Fat:3.9g (sat 1.3g,mono 1g,poly 0.5g) Protein:7.7g Carbohydrate:41.1g Fiber:1.8g
    Cholesterol:113mg Iron:1.3mg Sodium:171mg Calcium:121mg


    PEARS & APPLES

    I think pears and apples are both excellent addition to spinach or lettuce salads. A salad with spinach or mixed greens, apples or pears, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and some chopped cooked chicken or hard-boiled egg is an excellent lunch or dinner. Paul Newman's raspberry walnut salad dressing is a good one to try on this type of salad if you don't want to make your own balsamic vinaigrette. A sprinkle of (pastuerized!) blue cheese or goat cheese, or cheddar, can be nice too.

    Pears and apples are also good served with this dip:

    Cottage Cheese and Apple Snacks

    1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
    2 tablespoons peanut butter
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or apple pie spice
    1 to 2 teaspoons skim milk
    3 medium apples or pears, cored and sliced

    For dip, in blender container or food processor bowl place the cottage cheese, peanut butter, and cinnamon or apple pie spice. Cover and blend or process until smooth. If necessary, stir in enough milk to make dip of desired consistency.

    Serve the dip immediately or cover and chill it for up to 24 hours. Serve dip with the apple or pear slices. Makes 6 (2-tablespoon) servings.

    Nutrition Facts
    Calories 106, Total Fat (g) 4, Cholesterol (mg) 3, Sodium (mg) 178, Carbohydrate (g) 13, Protein (g) 7, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

    Next week, I'll include more seasonal recipes for spinach, winter squash, pumpkin and more.

    In the meantime, to learn more about eating locally, I recommend Kingsolver's book (of course) - as well as the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website, which offers tons of online resources to learn more about the benefits of eating locally/seasonally and how to incorporate more seasonal/local food into your diet. There is also information on how to find local foods, and the recipes from her book (which I can't wait to try!).

    For us Mainers, I also recommend the Get Real Get Maine website, which has searches for specific food items, listed by county; pick your own farms; farmers markets; CSAs (community sustained agriculture farms that sell "shares" of their produce) and more.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Good Breakfasts for Pregnant Women

    This post is the first of a new Wednesday series about nutrition during pregnancy. I figured it'd make sense to start with breakfast!

    When I was pregnant the first time, I had to be out the door by 6:40am so I could be at work (I was a high school teacher) between 7 and 7:15. I've never been a morning person. I've never enjoyed eating as soon as I get up - I'd much rather have breakfast after I've been up for an hour or so. Well, I found that when I was pregnant, sleep was very, very precious. In order to sleep a few minutes longer, I was sacrificing breakfast time. Turns out, that made me feel nauseous: morning sickness!! And, it turns out, the threat of morning sickness was very motivating to me - breakfast became the most important meal of the day because having it (or not) affected how I felt the rest of the day.

    With baby #2, I knew I was pregnant way before the positive pee stick - one of the first major signs was breakfast. Without it, I chased a toddler and a puppy (whose bright idea was that combination??) all day feeling queasy & exhausted. With it, at least I was just exhausted. I would've been exhausted anyway!

    I decided to check back on the weeks of food journaling I did with baby #1 (not so much with baby #2), to see just what I did have for breakfast. Here are some of the meals:
    Mozzeralla cheese stick + fruit/veg muffin (x5 school mornings)
    Yogurt, apple salad, 1 slice carrot bread, juice
    2-egg souffle + 2 pieces of bacon; OJ and milk
    Banana bread + milk
    Cream of wheat with dried apricots and pecans
    2 slices of whole wheat bread toasted with cheese; 1 apple; dill pickles and milk (what??? I was pregnant!)
    OJ; yogurt with granola and blueberries
    Cottage cheese with pineapple; OJ
    Cottage cheese eggs; whole wheat toast; milk; OJ
    These breakfasts were from my second trimester - first trimester breakfasts were different, mostly a can of ginger ale and those skinny pretzal sticks. By mid-morning I was usually feeling better and so could sneak in a snack before lunch. I did find that if I made a smoothie in the blender and slowly sipped it (again with the pretzals!) on my way to school, that also worked.

    Here are some smoothie ideas to play around with:
    Fresh or frozen fruits: banana, berries, peach slices, melon
    Low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt or soy milk
    Orange juice
    Ice, if you want
    Non-fat powdered milk (to increase protein)
    Combinations I like:
    yogurt + banana + small scoop of peanut butter
    yogurt + frozen strawberries + banana + 1T powdered milk
    soy milk + banana + frozen strawberries
    yogurt + banana + OJ
    yogurt + mix of frozen berries
    I know some people swear that putting a few handfuls of spinach or a big kale leaf doesn't change the taste of a breakfast smoothie while adding great nutrients... I haven't personally tried this, but if you have (or if you do), I'd love to hear what you thought.

    If you noticed a theme of a low-fat dairy source (skim milk, low-fat cheese stick, or low-fat yogurt) plus fruit/veggie bread or muffin for the second trimester breakfasts, that's because that's what I usually would grab on my way out the door. For my second pregnancy - when I was home, there was a lot of yogurt + fruit + homemade granola.

    I'll be posting more recipes each week - here are a few to get you started:

    Morning Glory Muffins - from Cooking Light

    1 1/4 C Flour
    1/2 C Packed Brown Sugar
    1 Tsp Baking Soda
    1 Tsp Cinnamon
    1/4 Tsp Salt
    1 C Carrot -- Shredded
    1 Small Cooking Apple (Rome) – Shredded
    1/3 C Raisins
    1/4 C Pecans – Chopped
    1/8 C Flaked Coconut
    4 Oz Crushed Pineapple In Juice – Drained
    1/3 C Vegetable Oil
    1/3 C Apple Butter
    1 Tsp Vanilla
    1 Egg
    1 Egg White

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Combine flour and next four ingredients (flour, brown sugar, soda, cinnamon, salt) in a large bowl.

    Shred or chop apples and carrots and pecans (in food processor is easiest). Add to flour ingredients with raisins, coconut, and pineapple.

    In separate bowl, combine oil, apple butter, vanilla and eggs. Stir well with a whisk. Add oil mixture to flour mixture; stirring just until moist.

    Spoon the batter into a 12 muffin cup pan coated with cooking spray.

    Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove muffins from pans immediately to cool on a wire rack.

    Pregnancy modification: all whole-wheat flour or half and half whole wheat & white; and/or a few tablespoons of wheat germ mixed in with the flour to add protein. Cooking Light lists the muffins as having 2.6 grams of protein each with just white flour.

    These muffins keep very well in the refrigerator. My kids also really like them.


    Sweet Potato Bread - from Cooking Light

    1/3 cup flaxseed
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
    3 tablespoons butter, softened
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1/4 cup honey
    1 large egg
    1 large egg white
    1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
    Cooking spray
    Preparation

    Preheat oven to 350°.

    Place flaxseed in a clean coffee grinder or blender; process until coarsely ground. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flaxseed, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Beat cream cheese and the next 5 ingredients (cream cheese through egg white); stir in sweet potato. Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

    Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

    Note: To freeze bread for up to 1 month, place in an airtight container, or wrap in heavy-duty plastic wrap or foil. Thaw at room temperature.

    Pregnancy modification: Again, I used half & half whole wheat & white flours. I also used sweet potatoes from a can - mashed what I needed and put the rest in the freezer for the next time I made this. With just white flour, Cooking Light lists the protein grams per slice as 3.6.

    This is really good with low-fat cream cheese spread on it.

    And last, my favorite yummy, yummy granola:

    Maple Pecan Granola - from Cooking Light

    2 cups regular oats
    1/2 cup pecan pieces
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    Cooking spray
    Preparation

    Preheat oven to 300°.

    Combine oats and next 5 ingredients (through salt); spread on a large jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely.

    Note: Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

    My note: it can also be frozen. I love it with fresh berries and/or banana and plain low-fat yogurt. Also good with pumpkin butter swirled in during the winter when fresh berries are harder to find (or afford!).

    Cooking Light lists the protein grams as 2.2/serving.

    If you're looking for more ideas about the specifics and benefits of healthy eating during pregnancy, click on the nutrition label below, or here. Enjoy!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Saturday, September 13, 2008

    Blog Format

    I'm going to try something new! In addition to various entries about pregnancy/birth/postpartum issues, I've chosen two topics to return to on a weekly basis:
    Since so many of my searches are nutrition-related, on Wednesdays I'll highlight nutrition during pregnancy & postpartum, including at least a recipe or two.

    On Fridays, I'll highlight and/or review a book, movie, website, online video.

    I'm also going continue doing a general "Resource Round-up" post every week or two.

    Any other suggestions?

    Oh - and since you are reading... want to leave a comment? Are you pregnant? Just had a baby? Fellow educator? Interested in the politics of birth? A care provider? My sister? (haha! you know who you are!) I was a total lurker until just recently; it turns out leaving comments is easy and fun!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Friday, June 13, 2008

    I'll Be Back

    Not posting this week or next, but will be back with book discussions the end of June. In the meantime, we're having my daughter's sixth birthday party and going on a road trip! Hope everyone's summer is off to a great start!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    A Little About My Birth Philosophy

    There is so much I could write here... and this topic is one I'm sure I will be writing more about... plus I think this is a "talk the talk vs. walk the walk" kind of topic: what people write and say (and do!) about birth often reveals a lot about how they feel "philophically"...

    I believe that birth is an essentially safe process - "birth is as safe as life gets" is a quote that is sometimes passed around childbirth educators, doulas, and caregivers, and one that I whole-heartedly believe. Birth is not perfectly safe, there are no absolute guarantees, but neither are there guarantees to other activities that we do regularly and without an overabundance of fear or anxiety.

    I believe that birth can be an empowering, transformative experience for women (and their partners) - not only is a baby born, but a mother is born... a family is born. Of course the most important outcome is a healthy baby and a healthy mother: a healthy family! There are many paths to this outcome, and women deserve to have choices, to be able to make the choices that will work the best for them and their babies.

    I believe in informed consent regarding all aspects of pregnancy, birth (and parenting). There are lots of choices to be made during the birth year: who will attend the birth? where will the birth space be? how will the woman handle the intensity of contractions? prenatal tests? breastfeeding? and on & on. Accurate, evidence-based information will help women make the choices that are right for themselves, and their babies. Sometimes this information is easy to find, and other times, in-between the horror stories shared by well-meaning friends and relatives and the info-tainment of birth shows on tv, it is hard to sort out what might seem to be true, or what the proverbial "everyone" does, and what is actually accurate and evidence-based.

    I believe that when women do the thinking and planning ahead of time, it can be much easier to "let go" and live in the moment for the birth. Not all women will make the same decisions, and that's okay! What's important is for women to fully understand the strengths and benefits offered by her various choices, as well as the challenges and risks that they sometimes pose. I suggest using the BRAIN acronym to evaluate various choices: benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition and nothing (what happens if we do nothing). I believe that listening to our intuition (our gut, our heart) is an important tool too!

    So, that's a start. I need to get outside in this gorgeous Maine spring weather and plant some violas with the kids!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Introduction: About Me

    I've been a "birth junkie" my whole life, I think. As the oldest of five children, I remember the excitement of my mother's pregnancies, where I was during her labors, and the announcements from my father of a new brother or sister. My first memory is of patting my newborn brother's back while he was in his bassinet when I was two years old. Being a big sister and helping to take care of our family's babies was a wonderful part of my growing up years, and one I remember back to mostly with fondness (the crying, and sticky fingers in my stuff, not so much!).

    My mom, who had her babies from 1974 to 1984, was a definite inspiration to me when I was pregnant - she had five unmedicated labors in a time when pitocin, episiotomies, stirrups, and shaving were routine and breastfeeding help was not readily available (she nursed each of us for a year, too). She has observed to me that with each labor, she had more choices and less restrictions - for my birth, they wanted to tie her arms and legs down so she wouldn't disturb the sterile field (!!) but by the time my brother was born, my dad got to help catch him.

    When I was thinking of my choices for birthing my babies, I figured if she (a petite, 5'2" woman) could give birth to five babies without medication, with all the routine procedures that she endured, I (at 5'9") could do it too, especially since I intended to safeguard my ability to make choices during my babies' births and have very supportive care. To read my children's birth stories, visit www.birthingyourbaby.com/stories.html.

    Anyway, I've always been interested in and surrounded by birth and babies, as a big sister, neighbor, babysitter, oldest cousin, etc. For a time, this was less a part of my life as I went to college and graduate school to prepare to teach high school English. I loved teaching high school kids - they always had lots of opinions and questions, and were, for the most part, so ready to grow and learn. Introducing them to books and new ideas, as well as how to express their own ideas through writing was really, really fun and rewarding for me.

    After my husband and I moved to Maine, where we planned to permanently settle, and got involved in careers (and paying down some debt from the grad school years!), I found my itch to start our family becoming more & more insistent. Right after 9/11, I got pregnant with our daughter, and her birth in June ended my high school teaching career so I could stay home and focus on parenting her.

    Madelyn's birth was amazing. I read (and read and read!), practiced relaxation techniques by myself and with my husband, took Bradley method birthing classes, talked to my doctor about her routines, and the hospital's routines, and tried really hard to be as prepared as possible. What I found was that all my preparation significantly increased my confidence in my body, and helped me to understand the process I was going through was normal, though challenging. I trusted the people who were around me, and was really able to surrender to the amazing experience of giving birth.

    As my daughter grew older, I started thinking about what I wanted to do in my community. I didn't want to go back to teaching high school, since it would require so much time and energy. When a teacher-friend became pregnant when my daughter was about a year old, I referred her to my Bradley teacher, only to discover that she was no longer teaching. My friend would have to choose between hospital classes or no classes. I got to thinking - with my education background, my love for all things pregnancy and birth-related, maybe teaching childbirth classes would be way for me to share my experiences.

    I had a great time teaching my friend, and decided to pursue teaching birth classes. I read and read some more, thought about what I wanted to teach & how, went to a weekend introduction to teaching Birthing From Within classes and started on working toward certification with ALACE, Association for Labor Assistands and Childbirth Educators. I also had another baby, my son Owen, in 2005. Just this year, I've started teaching prenatal classes to teen moms at the Maine Children's Home in Waterville, which has been really interesting and fun.

    Over the past five years, I've taught group classes, private classes, short (one or two sessions) classes and longer (six or seven session) classes. I've taught people in my community, and people from over an hour away... people who are married and people who are partners and people who are planning to raise a baby without a partner... some have been older and some have been teenagers... some were preparing for a first baby, and others wanted a "refresher" for a second child. Some have had their babies in hospitals with doctors or midwives, and others have had their babies at home - and now with The Birth House open in Bridgton, I have two clients planning to use a birth center setting. Many of the moms I taught went on to have unmedicated births, but some have chosen narcotics or epidurals - all were able to make informed choices about the best care for themselves and their babies. I've even taught several doctors who regularly attended births themselves!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching every single couple, and am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this exciting time of many growth and changes. I love being able to individualize my classes to specifically fit the needs of the participants, which is why I don't have large classes. I also appreciate not having restrictions placed on what I teach, or how, which is why I continue to teach independent of any particular caregiver or setting. I'll write more about my philosophy of birth and the kinds of things I teach in my next post.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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