Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Great Blog Interview

The blog may be a little slow over the next few weeks as I get organized for a big spring cleaning and get started out in the garden. But I just have to share a great interview post over at Progressive Pioneer: MamaViews: Donna of Banned From Baby Showers. Here's a teaser:
"My focus as a natural childbirth educator is to reach the mainstream and help them understand that this is not about being “crunchy” or alternative. It's simply about doing what we, as women, are made to do. Our bodies are amazing, and to numb the experience of childbirth is a shame. We avoid drugs throughout the pregnancy and load up in labor. It doesn't make sense. 'Mainstream.' 'Alternative.' 'Crunchy.' How about just 'Woman.'"
Good stuff, eh?

Have you come across any particularly interesting interviews or blog posts lately? Share in the comments!

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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Week of Links: News

I've read some great posts lately, and I want to share several of them with you. First, the news items:

From the Motherwear blog, Study: Common antidepressants can delay milk coming in. According to the study, women who were taking an SSRI drug like Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil had a median onset of lactation difference of about 17 hours - 69.1 vs. 85.8. This is especially important given that milk is termed "officially" delayed if it takes more than 72 hours to come in.

Of course all this is not to say that mothers taking an SSRI drug should not breastfeed! Just that they should be aware that it may take a bit longer for their milk to come in, and that this longer length of time is normal for women taking an SSRI drug. Ideally, they would also be aware of the problematic sequence of events mentioned in the post, and take steps to prevent longer-term challenges:
"delayed milk "coming in" can have some serious consequences, especially if it isn't managed well. The drill goes something like this: delayed onset of mature milk leads to higher than normal weight loss in the baby, which leads to supplementation, which can lead to compromising of the milk supply and/or nipple preferencing if the supplementation isn't done carefully. It can also increase the risk of jaundice.
Talking to a local lactation consultant, a La Leche League leader, and/or doing some reading ahead of time are all suggestions I would make to moms who want to prepare for this potential challenge.

And, from a link from Woman to Woman Childbirth Education blog, a blog post from the San Diego Birth Network on Cervical Scar Tissue – A Big Issue That No One Is Talking About. This is an incredibly valuable post for professionals who work with women during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as for women themselves who may have scar tissue on their cervix, from cryo surgery or other surgeries.
The midwife proceeds to explain to my sister that she is going to try and massage the cervix and break the scar up. With some discomfort for my sister, she went from a finger tip dilated to 3 cms in a matter of minutes. An hour later she was 4 cms and an hour after that my nephew was born. Once the scar tissue had completely released, she flew to 10 cms.

As you can imagine, I asked that Midwife a ton of questions. I wanted to know all I could about this scar tissue stuff. Besides “massaging”, what can you do before hand? She shared her knowledge with me. Told me that HPV is so very common and more and more women are having these standard procedures done, but are never informed that it most likely will leave scar tissue. Although less common, this includes women who have ever had a D & C after a miscarriage or abortion.

Once I was armed with the knowledge, my successful VBAC rate shot up as did my vaginal birth rate in general. I would ask the question and if the answer was yes, I would tell them what I knew."
There is more useful information on the blog post, so I highly recommend clicking on the link and reading the whole post!

More links tomorrow!

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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Give Aways!

The Motherwear Blog just had an incredible give-away week. It's not too late to add your comment and be entered into the contests. Wonderful books and cds, gift certificates and more!

Also, if you're looking for nursing clothes, I highly suggest you check out their clearance sale. I can't tell you how many wonderful items I've gotten from these sales for incredible prices. Some, I still wear now - a long black skirt, and pj shorts, for example.

And, from Progressive Pioneer, a blog I recently discovered: Giveaway: The Sitting Tree. Beautiful, beautiful!

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

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

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Make Your Own Baby Sling

For those of you interested in making your own baby slings, I have two links to free patterns!

Here's a tutorial offering step-by-step directions and pictures on how to make a ring sling, like the Maya Wrap.

And here's how to make a pouch, kind of like a Kangeroo Kozy Pouch. I found this link through Progressive Pioneer's post on making a pouch for her new baby.

Happy Sewing!

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More on Eating, Drinking and Labor

This is just a quick post to highlight an article in today's New York Times Health section (by the way, I love getting this free, weekly, via email). The article is called, "In Labor, a Snack or a Sip?", and in it, an obstetrician is quoted giving the same example situation I give in my classes:
'“My own view of this has always been that you could say one shouldn’t eat or drink anything before getting into a car on the same basis, because you could be in an automobile accident and you might require general anesthesia,” said Dr. Marcie Richardson, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston, who was not connected to the new study.'
I wonder if more people need emergency general anesthetic after a car accident or during a Cesarean birth?

I imagine this article in the Times was prompted by the recent Cochrane review of the seven-decades-long ban on eating and drinking in labor enforced by many (but not all) hospitals. The review, Restricting Oral Fluid Intake and Food Intake During Labour is available online.

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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wow! Links.

I love reading birth blogs. And I love the fact that I can share my favorite entries written by informed, compassionate birth professionals with you. Here are some great ones that I've read lately...

Navelgazing Midwife has had some fantastic photo posts lately. "Labor: A Visual Guide" explains some of the signposts Barbara uses to assess where a woman is in her birth journey.

So many of the mamas I work with ask about eating and drinking during labor. Kathy, a fellow independent childbirth educator, offers a terrific evidence-based post on this topic, "No Justification for NPO".

She also wrote a hard-to-read but oh-so-important post on circumcision. When a family I'm working with wants to talk about their plans to circumcise their son, I always ask, "Who is going to go with him for this procedure?". The responses are often telling: no one wants to go. When that happens, I hope that gives the family room to think through putting their infant through a procedure they don't even want to watch! There are some graphic pictures in this post, but I think it's an important one, "Circumcision Guidelines". I didn't watch the linked videos and so cannot comment on those.

Finally, Gloria Lemay has had some great blog posts lately too. Even though the H1N1/swine flu has gotten much less hype lately, I think her tips on staying flu-free are excellent ones throughout a winter pregnancy. You can read them at "Gloria Lemay's Regimen for a Flu-free Pregnancy". And her post, "The Slow Birth" movement may make some women who wish for short labors reconsider...

Have you read any excellent blog posts lately that you'd like to share? Or written a really good one? Leave a link in the comments!

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

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Why Choose a Midwife?" Video

I saw this video on Gloria Lemay's blog. I think it's a terrific overview of the many reasons why women choose hospital or homebirth midwives. It was put together by volunteers from Our Bodies Ourselves and the Massachusetts Friends of Midwives.



Of course it's critical to remember that there are some OBs and family docs who practice evidence-based, woman-centered care and that there are some midwives who practice as "med"wives. That's why it's so important to get to know your care provider!

But for people who are just beginning to investigate the possibilities of midwifery care, or those who are curious, this video is a great introduction.

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

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Status Quo: Not Good Enough

As usual, I enjoyed Peggy O'Mara's article in the most recent Mothering magazine, "The New Health Journalism: Challenging the Status Quo". What stood out to me most was this part, "Barbara Loe Fisher asked me if I have suffered for challenging the status quo. My job as a mother is to challenge the status quo . . . It is not my job to follow the current fashions, but to forge my own way, to develop my own personal ethic of parenting."

The status quo (defined by dictionary.com as "the existing state or condition") is not good enough. Just yesterday I got an email link to an msnbc news article, "C-section rates around globe at 'epidemic' levels", which makes a perfect Exhibit A.
"In the U.S., where C-sections are at an all-time high of 31 percent, the surgery is often performed on older expectant mothers, during multiple births or simply because patients request it or doctors fear malpractice lawsuits. A government panel warned against elective C-sections in 2006.

“The relative safety of the operation leads people to think it’s as safe as vaginal birth,” said Dr. A. Metin Gulmezoglu, who co-authored the Asia report. “That’s unlikely to be the case.”

Women undergoing C-sections that are not medically necessary are more likely to die or be admitted into intensive care units, require blood transfusions or encounter complications that lead to hysterectomies, the WHO study found."
This example fits Peggy O'Mara's warning perfectly. She explains that,
"As new parents, we believe that society will take care of us, has our best interests at heart, and will protect us. I want new parents to believe this, but health-care policy in the US is focused on eradicating rather than preventing disease. It is fear-based, interventionist, and compromised by economic considerations. At this time in history, assuming that society will protect you can be a dangerous belief."
Personally, I do not want new parents to believe this. I want it to be true; but until it IS true, I wish opened eyes and hearts for all of us, so we can make the best choices possible for our families' health.

Do you believe it is a mother's (or parent's) job to challenge the status quo? How have you challenged the status quo? What sources do you use to make your best informed choices for your families' health?

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Friday, September 18, 2009

Circumcision Information

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

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

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

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 3 Comments

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

Labels: , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Classes, Moms Group & More!

And... I'm back! We've had a wonderful summer in many ways, with terrific company, fun times at the ocean and out on the boat, and a few precious lazy days. Must work in more lazy days for next year! And respectfully request more sun - that was sorely lacking this year, but we surely did take advantage of what we got, going to the ocean and lake beaches, whenever there was a sunny and hot (or even warm-ish!) day. Like today in fact, and yesterday! Now I'm getting ready to enjoy fall, and another school year with the children, who are attending 3-day a week nursery school and homeschooling. Fun times!

MAMAS AND MUFFINS: NEW MOMS GROUP!
I've changed times and format for the moms group... and it has a new name: Mamas and Muffins. It's still free, of course, and open to all new mamas and their pre-crawling babies. 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.

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.

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

BIRTHING YOUR BABY CLASSES
I am scheduling group and private classes for this fall. If you're expecting your baby in October, November, December, or January, give me a call at 512-2627 or email me!

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.

UPCOMING!
I am very excited to be working on a Pregnancy Wellness Fair - if you support women during the childbearing year (pregnancy, birth, postpartum) and are looking for ways to share your expertise, please contact me! I am especially interested in connecting more women with "outside the doctor's office" services with benefits that may not be well-known, like chiropractic care, massage therapy, accupuncture, doulas, and more. If you're pregnant, or trying to conceive, check back for more details!

I am also planning a film screening or two for the fall & winter months!


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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 4 Comments

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 8 Comments

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's another way to celebrate: go on a cyber-journey... beginning at "Celebrate Women's Real Birth Wisdom"!

Wishing you all peace and strength and joy, mothers and mothers-to-be.

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

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

Friday, May 8, 2009

Exciting Birth Cyber Event!

Spreading the word:

Join Independent Childbirth in a birth community cyber event next week!

All you have to do is blog about birth wisdom whether it's refuting an obstetrical myth or sharing a birth story of a woman who experienced spontaneous birth outside 'textbook' birth (i.e. a posterior birth, cesarean prevention, VBAC, twins, international birth voices are of great need, etc.). In your post link back to the independent childbirth blog post on birth wisdom (it will be on the site tomorrow).

When you complete your post send us a link to it to view it for inclusion in the IC blog post. In addition, if you visit those posts that are listed on the IC blog post and leave comments on a couple that inspire you to comment we'll send you a 'button' for your blog that you may wish to include on your blog.

Many of us have readers who follow our blogs but may not be aware of other blogs that also have great information to share. Together we are an awesome resource is what the IC birth wisdom cyber event is about. The birth community is global yet we, what we know, are/is all available wherever a mother resides.

If you are interested in joining the event please email us offlist at births @ comcast dot net. Please feel free to forward this email to other birth groups.

Thank you in advance for sharing what you know and inspiring mothers in your neighborhood and "ours."

Dale
www.independentchildbirth.wordpress.com
www.independentchildbirth.com

I'll have my International Birth Week post up tomorrow! Happy reading!!

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

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

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

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

Thursday, April 23, 2009

HeartString

It can be such a challenge to purchase products and toys for infants - most of us want items that are safe, useful, and, if possible, aesthetically pleasing.

I received an email a few months ago about a new baby product called the HeartString Baby's Companion. I requested one so I could show my clients and share it with you because I hadn't seen anything like it before. I handed it to a six-month old at one of my New Moms Circle support groups, and she loved it - turning it over and over in her hands and then gumming it for quite a while.

I think new babies would enjoy looking at it too. I remember back to nursing my infants, and as much as I usually loved their kneading little fists, sometimes their pinchy little nails hurt as they patted and prodded me. It would have been nice to have something like this necklace as a distraction!

More information from the HeartStrings website:
HeartString Baby’s Companion evolved from a simple concept: Babies like to tug and chew on anything they can touch. In a world full of hazards (keys, metal jewelry, glasses, watches etc.), we designed HeartString to be a touchable, tuggable product for your baby and a wearable accessory for you. With many colours from which to choose, our safe and non-toxic product can be used as a breastfeeding and parenting aid that includes Dad, siblings and grandparents!

HeartString Baby's CompanionTM is a versatile accessory used by breastfeeding moms and concerned infant caregivers. Initially conceived to be a purposeful distraction while bottle feeding, breastfeeding or holding a baby, the HeartString Companions has also been designed to support bonding, ease caregiver transfers and include a male figure. With the infant in mind, the HeartString Companions is safe, non-toxic and unbreakable, acting as a tactile and visual aid to soothe baby and to encourage cognitive development.
Also important to know that the HeartString:
  • Does NOT contain lead, PVC, phalates, BPA, latex of any known harmful materials.
  • Materials and products are sourced and made in North America.
  • Personally, I think this would be a fun add-on baby shower gift, maybe even as the package decoration. I'm excited to add it to my collection of "show and tell" products (sling, cloth diapers, breast pump) for the postpartum class.

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

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

    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

    Labels: , , , , , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

    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

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Normal Childbirth?

    I've read lots of articles and blog posts and email conversations surrounding the many perceptions and definitions of "normal" childbirth and "natural" childbirth. One thing I've learned is that these definitions are extremely fluid and subjective. One person may define natural childbirth as any birth that is vaginal, others believe that a natural childbirth is one without any medical procedures or medications. What is defined as a procedure can even by tricky - while most of us would agree that artificially rupturing membranes is a procedure, what about a vaginal exam?

    Personally, I would define my first child's birth as natural, even though my membranes were ruptured (with my consent) when I got to 10cm and they were bulging, and I had some electronic fetal monitoring. Because I had nothing attached to me (IV, catheter, epidural) and no medication, that fits my personal definition of a natural birth.

    What's the big deal about this anyway? Well, as a former high school English teacher, I am a person who appreciates unambiguous language - I like it when people intentionally use the right word for something. In fact, this drives my husband crazy sometimes because he'll come home and use the word flu to describe just about anything going around his office. This word sets off a chain of (annoying, if you ask him) question: a stomach flu? the real flu? how long did it last? was there a fever? etc. Any cold with a fever or vomiting episode fits his definition of flu, but mine is much more narrow. What I want to know is what he might have been exposed to, and what symptoms I should be on the lookout for in the children, and his definition doesn't help me figure that out!

    Back to childbirth - does it matter if someone discussing a natural birth means that she didn't have a cesarean, and is basically using the word natural because she doesn't want to say the word vaginal in regular conversation?

    The word normal is even more slippery, because its definition is shaped so much by what is normal in any given culture or sub-culture. Normal could mean a very medicalized birth, with IV, epidural, catheter and prone pushing or it could be a homebirth with a midwife attending as a "guardian" who supports the mother and checks on the baby, but who does not do anything medical in nature beyond checking baby's heart tones and examining the placenta and the mother afterward for tears.

    I started thinking about these definitions because of a question I read in the Midwifery Today newsletter:
    "If the general public continues to be indoctrinated into medicalized birth, how can we expect women to stand up and fight against the marginalization of freestanding birth centers and midwifery in this country?"

    — Colleen Bak
    Indoctrination is a serious word. This question (or call to arms!) is all about definition, to me. If the definition of natural birth encompasses physiological birth and birth that is medicalized with procedures and medications that may or may not be evidence-based, it becomes very, very hard for people to understand and appreciate the benefits of physiological birth to mother and baby, as well as making that type of birth seem even more unusual than it is. A big part of why I offer independent childbirth classes (and write this blog) is because these are my ways of making a difference: they're my small way to fight against the indoctrination that pervades birth as portrayed on mainstream television and in movies, on TLC's Baby Story, and in some books and classes about birth.

    [And yes, I threw another birth category into that paragraph: physiological. What is physiological birth? Dictionary.com defines physiological as "characteristic of or appropriate to an organism's healthy or normal functioning". I like Dr. Kotaska's explanation, from Jennifer Block's book Pushed, “An unmedicated birth in an environment where a woman feels comfortable, where she’s adequately supported, where she has a degree of privacy that allows her brain and her uterus to do the dance that we understand very poorly called labor, is physiological birth.”]

    Before I eat lunch I want to wrap this up with a few more links. Lamaze International offers its defining qualities of normal birth with these six care practices. By normal, they mean normal physiologically, not culturally.

    And I want to point you to the free online sample of the excellent journal, Birth, where they've posted the articles from current issue (March 2009). The article that directly applies to this post is the editorial, "What is Normal Childbirth and Do We Need More Statements About It?", where you can read more about the words normal, natural, and physiological as they relate to birth. I'll leave you with a quote from the editorial,
    "Clearly, 'normal’ has a different meaning in different countries. The dominant cultural definition and experience of childbirth in North America and elsewhere are widely recognized to be medical and technological in both philosophy and practice (3,5), and as evidenced from the medical inclusion criteria for ‘normal birth’ listed in the British and Canadian statements (1,4). As long as birthing systems continue to evolve in this direction, definition of ‘normal’ will evolve to keep up. Provider and consumer groups will have to continue to make their voices heard in support of natural childbirth and, hopefully, a more normal ‘normal childbirth.’"
    And that's my addition to what I hope will swell to a growing chorus of women who support a more normal "normal childbirth".

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

    Labels: , , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    Help from Good Guide

    I know I'm not the only one who is sometimes overwhelmed by the number of choices available at grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies. Not to mention online options! For example, I would stand in front of the rows of bread, reading labels - which ones were 100% whole grain? which had no HFCS? how much protein per slice? About six months ago, I decided it would just be easier to bake my own bread, which I've been doing since. So that solved that decision - but what about body wash for the kids? dishwashing soap? etc & etc!!!

    Well, the Mothering e-newsletter included a link to Good Guide this week and wow, let me tell you - I'm impressed. It rates products on a variety of scales, including the product's effectiveness, its ingredients, and how the company produces it. It also has links to buying products online.

    If you find yourself picking up product after product to read labels, this website might simplify the process for you.

    If you do go and look, could you please leave a comment about the products you looked up & what you learned? The only thing about this new site is it seems like it could be a little addictive! Maybe we could save each other some time if we compiled some information here...

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

    Labels: , , , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

    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

    Labels: , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Essentials?

    I've really been enjoying a series of posts at Eco Child's Play, a website the supports and promotes "Green Parenting for Non-toxic, Healthy Homes".

    The latest post in this series is Baby Essentials That Aren't: Baby Food, by Heather Dunham. Other "essentials" discussed in previous posts include the crib, the bucket carseat, the stroller, diapers, tub, and brain boosters.

    I thought these articles were fascinating and well-written, and they included lots of resources to learn more. This series is a great antidote to all the commercialism that swirls around pregnancy and postpartum parenting.

    It's a crazy week here this week and I've been up many, many times the past two nights with a dog who is having digestive issues and needs to go outside every hour or two. Good times. So, this is going to be a week of link posts! Hope you enjoy!

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

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    From Lamaze: "Making Tough Decisions Without All the Facts"

    I received this press release* from Lamaze International in my email inbox today and I am including it here because it highlights the importance of informed consent. Expectant families should not assume that the information needed to give true informed consent will necessarily be offered, should medications or medical procedures be recommended during labor and birth.

    Making Tough Decisions Without All the Facts: How Inadequate Informed Consent Puts Childbearing Families at Risk

    WASHINGTON (March 10, 2009)—Imagine you are a woman in labor and your doctor tells you that electronic fetal monitoring is necessary to record your baby’s heartbeat. Without any further information about the monitoring or its risks, you are given a consent form to sign. Believing the doctor is doing what is best for you and your baby, you sign. By neglecting to tell you that electronic fetal monitoring can result in labor complications and increases the need for cesarean surgery, your doctor has not held up his or her end of the informed consent process.

    This shocking scenario plays out nationwide thousands of times a day across a range of procedures. The purpose of informed consent is to ensure that before a health professional or researcher does something to a patient’s body, the patient must understand what is being done and give his or her voluntary consent. But in all aspects of medical care, informed consent can fall short of the mark. In the instance of childbirth, women and their partners may be asked to make decisions without being well-informed of the risks and potential outcomes that can affect moms and babies.

    “The fact that health care providers, whom society has been taught to trust, are neglecting to fully inform parents about risks associated with various procedures and interventions during childbirth is inexcusable,” says Judith Lothian, RN, PhD, LCCE, FACCE, co-author of The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth With Confidence.

    A recent article published in The Journal of Perinatal Education reveals how sub-par information provided by health care providers undermines the purpose of informed consent. This results in parents having incomplete information when making decisions with potentially grave implications, such as whether or not to use medication or submit to obstetrical procedures during childbirth. The Milbank Report, Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve, found inadequate informed consent processes to be a major barrier to women benefiting from evidence-based maternity care.

    Lamaze International, an organization committed to ensuring childbearing families have access to information on the benefits of healthy birth practices, offers resources to help parents talk to their health care providers. Free tools include the Lamaze...Building Confidence Week by Week weekly e-mail series and the award-winning Lamaze: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond magazine to help parents speak to their health care providers about a range of pregnancy and birth related issues.

    ###
    *Does anyone know if it's okay to a copy press release like this, into a blog? What's the copyright protocol?

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

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

    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

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

    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

    Labels: , , , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 1 Comments

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Safer Bottle Feeding

    I've already written about safety & children's products in several times, with lots of links in my Pregnancy Awareness Month: Week Three - Nutrition & Green Living and Toxins in Children's Toys and Products posts.

    The third Z Report on BPA was available last September, and full of very useful information re: BPA (bisphenol A) in children's feeding products, especially bottles & sippy cups. I hadn't noticed their wallet-sized card before - it lists BPA-free bottles, sippys, pacifiers, and tableware. What a fantastic resource!

    So I'm revisiting this because I just read an email with a link to this website, EWG's Guide to Infant Formula and Baby Bottles: Guide to Baby-Safe Bottles & Formula, which discusses how to make bottle-feeding as safe as possible. There's a one-page poster pdf and an executive summary that explains the findings regarding BPA in formula packaging. Explore the site for additional information, BPA in Formula -- How Harmful? as well as ways to Take Action!

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

    Labels: , , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 0 Comments

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    It's a Boy!

    I have two children - a girl and a boy. My daughter was born first, and I was so excited to have a little girl: dresses, braids, someone who might notice new earrings. It's not that I didn't want to have a little boy, too... it's just that I was hoping, in my heart of hearts, to have a little girl first.

    There was another reason, too: circumcision. I read & thought and thought & read about pregnancy and birth... and then I discussed, discussed, discussed choices I had for birth with my partner, my care provider, my family & friends. I didn't know what I thought about circumcision, beyond the gut feeling that I didn't want to do anything that would hurt my newly born child. My husband didn't know what to think either, other than he had been circumcised, so it seemed to him that it would be an okay choice to make for our son. But! Since Madelyn is a girl, we didn't have to hash it out, and I could focus on learning about birth and breastfeeding. Thus, in addition to my joy of having my little girl, I was also relieved.

    Well, when I got pregnant again, it was with my son Owen. I already had learned a lot about birth and postpartum, and was ready to tackle investigating circumcision and the process of explaining my uneasiness to my husband. I had always said - hey, I don't have a penis, this is a decision I'll defer to him on. But when it came down to the fact that he favored circumcision, I realized I couldn't just go with the flow on this one after all (hardly surprising - me not going with the flow!).

    So I asked him - please look at some of the research I've done, and then make an educated, informed decision, like we've tried to do all along regarding medical care and parenting choices. Reluctantly, he agreed. I did some research, shared it with him, and did the best I could to give him the space to make his decision.

    I wish that I could have shared this excellent website, It's a Boy, with him then - it's factual, non-confrontational, not full of upsetting pictures or biased propaganda one way or the other, and answers the most common questions about circumcision.

    Another good resource is this video, The Prepuce, on the Doctors Opposing Circumcision website. It is a clinical take on this issue instead of an emotional one.

    I've listened to a lot of clients confront this issue - some couples have been in agreement, others not; some have decided to keep their sons intact and others have decided to circumcise. In fact, one of the dads in a class I taught about a year ago, blogged about the decision process: Circumcision Decision to Circumcision - The Decision to Circumcision - The Final Post - be sure to read the comments, too! So, I try to answer questions and point families to unbiased, understandable information, and then I let it go.

    I'm so happy to have this new website to add to my list of resources!

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

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by Christina Kennedy at 2 Comments