Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Products!

Massage Oil and Belly Butter
I'm so excited about my new butters! In fact, I've already shipped two orders to moms in Florida and Ohio and am making some for co-workers this week.

The next products I'm working on are for babes-natural Baby Oil and Baby Powder to get away from the regular petroleum and talc products out there.

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Price of a Doula

The other day one of my favorite writers, Avital Nethman of The Mamafesto retweeted the following that I tweeted out:Are you pregnant? Do you need a doula? Want one for FREE!? Help me finish my certification! DM me at twitter.com/kavanahdoula 

Another doula and I had an enlightening conversation about the important work that doulas do and how we should value our work by putting a price tag on it. I agreed with what she was saying, heard her voice and her decade's long experience and stubbornly held my ground.

Working as a free doula while I finish my certification, I argued, was a mitzvah, a commandment. It feels like doing the very core of the Jewish concept of tzedakah, righteous giving. She reminded me that the work of women is not only sacred, but important and in the end we agreed that we saw eye-to-eye, but in our own ways.

Jodi the Doula and her very popular blog post "No Free Births" passionately discussed why she feels that doulas should always charge, or barter, their services and she's recently followed up that post with this one, A Doula for Everybody

A few months ago, I wrote a  post called No Free Births!  It was aimed at birthworkers who hope to build a successful private practice by giving their work away. It sat quietly in its own little corner of the blogosphere, minding its own business, until a few days ago. Then… KA-BLAM!  Suddenly, it has had more attention than anything else I’ve ever written.
The responses have ranged from “Right on! Sing it!” to “This heartless woman shouldn’t be a doula!” The question that has come up most often has been, “But what about the mama who needs a doula and can’t afford one?”  Women who become doulas choose this path because, at the heart of who we are, we are compassionate, kind, and often generous people who really just want to help others. That’s exactly as it should be… if we aren’t in this work as an act of service, there really isn’t much point.
First, a word of caution: beware the person who is looking for “something for nothing”. Marketing research has shown repeatedly that the people who ask for discounts are more often able to afford whatever it is they are looking for… they are simply financially savvy enough to seek out “the best deal possible”.  Over the years, discernment has taught me the difference between someone desiring my service because we’re a good fit, and the person seeking me out because I’m the cheapest one they’ve spoken to. (The new cars and the boat in the driveway were a good tip-off…)  There is a significant difference between wanting to help others who would not otherwise have support, and giving away one’s work until the magical “someday when I start charging what I’m worth.” So, what do we, as compassionate people who also value ourselves and our work, do to provide labor support for others when fee is a genuine issue?
It helps to break down the numbers, to recognize exactly what it is we are investing into a free birth. Most doulas incur expenses for every birth we attend. In addition to training and certification, we have expenses for transportation, childcare, meals, internet for email access, cell phones for being on-call, and hospital parking, just to name a few. On average, I have a minimum of $165 in costs per birth, and that’s before I pay taxes on any income I may have. “I’ll do it for free”, when looked at this way, actually becomes “I’ll pay you to let me attend your birth.”  When we’re attending births in this way, it becomes an expensive hobby more than a profession. Most doulas simply do not have the means to work in this way long-term. So, what is a doula to do?
1) Volunteer for a Non-Profit organization.  Many such organizations already exist – a simple web search for “non-profit labor support” and the name of your state may turn up several results. The non-profits that exist in the area in which I live also act as a referral service for their doulas who volunteer, so that those who can afford doula care are more easily able to find the doulas who serve in their area. Non-profits have standards to determine who qualifies for care, and are able to not only provide labor support, but parenting guidance and health education to mamas in need. Through doulas volunteering for small and specific amounts of time, far more women are able to receive help than would be served by one doula alone. The same 40 hours you would contribute to one mama might instead help many! Not a non-profit in your area? Maybe it’s time to consider starting one. Non-profits generate income through grants and donations from outside sources, so that those running the show are able to receive income for the work that they do. Businesses are far more eager to donate time, money, and services to non-profit organizations, because they also benefit from the tax deduction.

Read the rest of the blog post here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Birth from the People Behind Food Matters

I love absolutely everything about this birth story.  I love it so much I'm going to stop blabbing and just cross post it.

From the Food Matters Blog:
By James Colquhoun, Filmmaker Food Matters &Hungry For Change

For those following us on online and onFacebook (nearly 300k, thank you!!!) you might have seen Laurentine's pregnant belly over the past few months. Well we recently had our baby and we wanted to share our unique story with you. I think you'll find it interesting commentary on birth and the beginnings of life as a human.

I call this an unusual story because it is not the typical hospital style birth that dominates our culture. 

Ever since Laurentine and I first met at college at 1999 (yes we're college sweethearts!) we would joke about starting a family and having lots of kids running around. We did however feel deep down inside that there was some important work calling us before we did so which is indeed what happened.

That work was to become the FOOD MATTERS film which helped heal my father from chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and anxiety plus free him from the pharmaceutical drug bandwagon. Then more recently HUNGRY FOR CHANGE which chronicled our experience with helping my father keep his weight off and covers many of the challenges that most people face when trying detoxes and fad diets. This has cemented our belief in the innate healing capacity of the human body and has influenced our opinions on health, life and birth in a deep and lasting way.

The Mind and The Body Need To Be Ready For Conception
Late last year we knew it was time for us to start a family so we prepared our bodies (both of us, you can't get away with this guys!) most importantly focusing on detoxification and rejuvenating our bodies plus balancing our hormones (testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen in particular). We first tried to conceive in Amsterdam when we were there on a 6 week trip writing the Hungry For Change book and visiting Laurentine's European family. Even though we had our bodies in order it didn't happen right away.

After we returned to the US and settled into our new home in Santa Monica Laurentine and I felt that much more 'nested' and conception happened immediately. There was obviously a part of us that needed to feel like we were home (or had a home base) before her body wished to conceive. I have no scientific data on this but can imagine that you might understand why this could be so.

"We had our inner biological terrain ready but we needed to have our mind's dialed in."

During the gestation period we were eating well and supporting the baby's development as best we knew how (there is a lot of info on this which we can save for another time). In preparation for the birth we consulted many of the experts from the films plus other leading experts and we developed some interesting rituals to help welcome this baby into the world. One of the more interesting ones we loved was making baby feel welcomed, expected and accepted.

You Are Welcomed, You Are Loved, You Are Accepted!
We would say this on a daily basis to baby as we knew this was important in making baby feel welcomed and loved, to develop a strong connection to our voices (which they can connect with from the 3rd  trimester onwards) and to aid in a speedy postpartum connection. This work is backed by Bruce Lipton (author of Biology Of Belief) and helps connect with the baby's subconscious mind in early life.

As for the actual birth and labour process Laurentine and I held the very strong belief that...

Birth Is A Natural Process And Not A Medical Emergency
We of course appreciate that there is no place like a hospital when the safety of mom and baby is compromised and you need emergency critical care however we believed that everything should be allowed to progress as naturally as possible for as long as possible before any intervention (if at all).

Read the rest of this amazing story here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Another Article About the Cost of Birth in the U.S

Image from CNN.com
This is the third article this month that talks about the high cost of giving birth in the United States. As I've said before, there are many reasons that women birth in hospitals; familiarity, a sense of safety and more. It should also be noted that, and I'm quoting Ina May Gaskin and a number of birth advocates, birth is not a medical procedure. Sure a c-section is medical, but the natural process of giving birth is quite natural and happens just fine when left alone.

I'm a woman with multiple fibroids in my uterus. Did I mention I'm want to start trying to get pregnant in the fall? I'm well aware that because of my fibroids some midwives and birthing centers will automatically make my pregnancy and me "high risk" which basically means that I might not find a midwife willing to let me give birth at home and the only freestanding birthing center in NYC may not accept me...which means that I may be a woman who births in a hospital.

It happens to even the most determined woman.

But you know what:? It's okay. When we, as women, are knowledgeable about our rights, knowledgeable about hospital norms and express those wants and desires through our partners, doulas, and doctors that listen it's still possible to have a natural birth in the hospital.

Of course, hospitals work on schedules and the odds are stacked against you: You may be hooked up to an IV and unable to move around; You may have to labor and give birth on your back (gravity doesn't work that way!); You may only be able to labor for a set amount of time before they try to induce which may lead to a c-section; They may automatically give you a dose of pitocin (that IV is handy, eh?) to help birth the placenta (the placenta usually will birth itself if the baby is sucking at the breast-oxytocin!); They may cut the cord before it's done pulsing; They may wash the baby; They may not put him directly on you...the list goes on and on. But if you know your rights and the hospital's practice (none of these things are necessary and you can decline all of them) you have just as easy a shot (and a cheaper bill) than if you aren't aware.

My point? Educate yourself. Your doctor isn't smarter or more in tune to your body, because it's your body.

"Newer equals improvement" and "More is better than less" have long been effective marketing themes in American culture. But the problem is that in the case of medical technology, the results don't consistently bear that out.

While other countries have set up elaborate systems to assess new medical interventions for their cost effectiveness compared to existing practices before approving them, until recently that has not been a priority in U.S. medical care. The result is that public infatuation with newer technologies merges smoothly with the medical industry's desire to profit from providing more services.
A prime example of this problem is the failure to take advantage of midwife-led birthing centers. These have been found in the U.S. and overseas to be a safe andcost effective alternative to universal reliance on large hospitals. Freestanding birthing centers (as opposed to hospitals which refer to their maternity ward as a "birthing center") are usually directed by midwives and are affiliated with hospitals that serve as a referral site for transfers. The cost savings stem from less reliance on expensive medications and technologies, a shorter stay (mothers typically return home within 24 hours) and lower personnel costs.
While the numbers of birthing centers have increased in the last decade, less than 1 in 300 U.S. births occur in a center. How come?.... The U.S. needs to seriously rethink how we approach maternity care. The first question that needs to be addressed is: Do more tests and reliance on the biggest, most expensive hospital settings actually improve the health of mothers and babies? When they do, great. But when they don't, we need to overcome the financial, institutional and cultural barriers to use reasonable options like birthing centers.Medical technology has done wonders for our lives, especially in select, high-risk cases. But rising maternity care costs reflects the downside of our societal obsession with newer, bigger and shinier technology.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kavanah Doula Room Sprays

 Last night I blended 100% pure essential oils with distilled water to create two, individualized scents for a friend and expectant Mama in Maryland. This Mama wanted Kavanah, the lavender-based scent and Pick Me Up which is citrus-based.
 I pulled out our old type writer to make the labels. I like the old-fashioned feel of a typed letter. I'll be honest-it took a lot of playing around to get the labels to line up perfectly, which I sort of liked. Like making these blends, recipes I borrowed and slightly adapted from an essential oil workshop I took this spring, working the machine is all about intention, kavanah. I knew I was sending them out to a friend, a woman who would be giving birth for the first time, so I wanted to make sure that I stayed focused on the task, enjoyed myself and didn't dwell on the frustrations of an old and clunky machine.
Because I make each scent to order, and essential oils tend to change over time, I only used my recipes as a guide. I mixed and sprayed and mixed again until I was happy with the scent. I then went to our garden and plucked some fresh lavender and sage and tied it all together with kitchen string. I finished it all up with a little note of thanks and it's going to ship out tomorrow!

I currently have three scents for the birthing process; Kavanah, Pick Me Up and Root Down, but I'm working on two more this weekend. Using the workshop notes as a guide and an essential oil encyclopedia I hope to debut the two new room sprays in August.

Kavanah: The essential oils in this blend can allow focus and relaxation during labor. Ingredients: Distilled water, Lavendar, Clary Sage*, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Orange**
Pick Me Up: The essential oils in this blend can be invigorating and uplifting, great for a boost during labor. Ingredients: Distilled Water, Orange, Grapefruit***, Frankincense
Root Down: The essential oils in this are very grounding, thiscan be a great post-labor blend. Ingredients: Distilled Water, Clary Sage, Grapefruit, Cedarwood, Frankincense

*Clary sage is thought to help induce labor. For this reason, Kavanah should be used during active labor.
For non-pregnant women, Clary sage is thought to relieve pre-menstrual symptoms.
**& *** Caution should be taken with Citrus-based essential oils. When used liberally, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun

Please note that my essential oil sprays and massage oils are very diluted (100drops max to 2 oz water) and shouldn't cause problems when used, but please talk to your provider.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How Being a Midwife Made Me a Better Doctor-{Cross Post}

I think that sometimes, it's like birth workers are on one side or another: medical hospital birth with an OB vs. unmedicated birthing center or home birth with a midwife. Unfortunately, the lines are quite clear and when you "pick a side" you don't often get to switch-especially if you're in labor.

Of course, a mother who is at a home birth can transfer to a hospital, but I've not heard of a mother laboring in the hospital transferring to a home birth. There are, of course, some hospitals that think well of laboring mothers and have a good understanding of the birthing process. In these hospitals women are able to eat food, move around and birth in a way that is comfortable and natural. More often than not, though, women who birth in hospitals are offered (and sometimes not) interventions like pitocin or an epidural that can sometimes slow the natural rhythms of birth.

I don't believe that these doctors are purposefully trying to interfere with the natural process of birth (which does take some time!), I think there are a lot of factors contributing to the rise of interventions and subsequent unscheduled c-sections and they're not to do with the mother, in my opinion.

Doctors and hospitals are over booked and L&D rooms are a hot commodity. When you've got a large city with a lot of women in labor, there simply isn't time to let a mother labor for 24, 36 or 48 hours. Another factor is that some doctors have never experienced an un-medicated natural birth. This is something that Ina May Gaskin talks about in her books and lectures a lot and was a snip-it in the documentary The Business of Being Born.

In my opinion medical schools and the training are the culprit. Imagine of all medical students did what Dr.Aviv Romm did? What if all OBs trained as midwives? Can you imagine how differently birth would look in our country?

I have many professional titles and roles: physician, midwife, herbalist, author, teacher. Of these, being a midwife most informs and enhances all of what I do and who I am.
Midwife literally means “with woman.” But it also means, “to bring forth.” Midwives listen, coach, cheerlead, care, reassure, support, and speak truth. At my best, I am a midwife in all contexts – not just to the women I serve, but to my partner, my children, my friends, my patients. At my best I bring forth their best – their strength, confidence, and belief that they can do it. And as a midwife I am able to be patient about whether this happens quietly or with loud screaming! At my best I am deeply present and listen closely to what the people in my life are telling me. And I listen to the unsaid, as well.
When I graduated from medical school at Yale I was given an award as the most promising primary care physician in my state for that year. This was not a result of what I learned during my medical education. Being a midwife for 20 plus years prior to medical training imbued in me the art of caring that should accompany doctoring but too often doesnt. As a physician I care for my patients with the compassion, deep presence, and heart of a midwife, whether they are giving birth or being treated for pneumonia, whether they are trying to nurse their newborn for the first time, or have suffered a stroke, leukemia, or are in their last days of their life. And because the demonstration of presence and compassion is more rare than common amongst physicians, it was noticed.
It is my understanding and internalization of the midwifery model of care, which places a partnership model and a patient-centered model first and which treats the body as wise and self-healing rather than as a machine that requires repair that makes me the physician I am. It is being a midwife that informs the care in the health care I provide to all of my patients. And it is this true caring that inspires me to do what it best for my patients, and to truly know who they are as people, not diseases.
I not only midwife my patients, but their families at their hospital bedsides and in clinic rooms. I care just as I would for an anxious expectant father or other children at a birth. I bring the whole family in.

Shipment Arrived!

Today I received 12- 4oz amber bottles from Amazon! I'm so excited to start making some massage oils!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Doula As Witness-Cross Post from The Childbirth Collective

by Jess Helle-Morrissey, MA, MSW, LGSW, LCCE, CLEC
Doulas serve a multi-faceted role in a birthing family’s life: supporter, encourager, normalizer, educator, guide. We rub backs, we squeeze hands, we stroke hair, we breathe, we hold space.  We press cool cloths to a birthing woman’s head as she brings her baby (or babies) forth from the warm, wet womb to the bright spinning world.
One role that is often overlooked, but is perhaps most sacred to my own doula heart, is that of witness. As doulas, we witness over and over again that unique and unparalleled moment in a woman’s life when she becomes a mother. Whether it’s a first birth, or a seventh, a mother is born each time she births a baby.
A baby's first breathWhen a woman has a transformative birth experience (and really, what birth isn’t transformative?), she deserves to be fully seen. And that role is often uniquely the doula’s. Partners are witnessing, but they are most often deservedly caught up in their own personal experience of the moment. Midwives, doctors, and nurses are present, but they have medical tasks to attend to. Doulas are able to attend wholeheartedly to that moment.
We witness the joy of birth. We witness mamas finding their true selves for the first time in their lives as they birth their babies. We see the look on a mama’s face when her baby is five minutes old as she tells us, “Everyone said I couldn’t do it, but I knew I could.” We witness the hilarity of birth – I’ll never forget one mama who turned to me after birthing her twins and exclaimed, “That was f*cking AWESOME!” We get to see the way a partner looks at the birthing woman in complete awe as she makes her way through contraction after contraction. We get to see him or her wipe a tear away as this new little person makes that first yawling cry.
We witness the disappointments, too. And when things don’t go as planned, we can remind her that she is strong because we have seen it with our own two eyes, and we have felt it in our own doula souls. And we remember in a way that she might not.
So as witnesses to those moments, we begin to help her reframe:  Last summer, one of my doula mamas had a surgical birth after a long and difficult labor. In a case like this, it is easy to go to a place of dwelling in what went wrong. I go to my postpartum visit. We talk about all that happened, and I validate the disappointment. I sit with the pain.  But I also tell her, because I need her to hear, “I have never seen anyone work so hard for so long. I have never seen anyone fight so hard for what she wanted. You. Are. Amazing.” And she begins to feel it is true because I have seen it and I know it to be true. She knows I was there. She knows I saw her fully. And as I write this, I remember her fierce birthing spirit as if her baby was born yesterday, and I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up a bit. Because I will never forget her strength, and the gift she gave me by allowing me in.
Above all, it is that sheer strength of birthing women – no matter how they give birth – that we doulas are witness to. The strength to carry on when it feels like all the reserves have been depleted. The strength to make a choice to go a different direction than we’d dreamed. The strength to joyfully claim a place in the history and lineage of birthing women.
And the repercussions of that witnessing can last a lifetime. I spent a good part of my own life feeling like I was not a very strong person. When I gave birth to my twin boys, I found strength I never even dared to imagine I had in me. Today, more than two years later, each time I see one of my two wonderful doulas, I still stand a little taller and feel that swell in my heart – “SHE has seen my strength! She knows the amazing things I am capable of!” A bit dramatic? Perhaps. But life-changingly, soul-stirringly profound for this mama? Most definitely.
So when you invite a doula into your life for some portion of the nine months of your pregnancy (and a couple months after), know that the benefits don’t end there. We not only witness, but we also remember. I tell my mamas, “If you ever need to be reminded of how incredible you are, call me and I will tell you as many times as you need to hear it to believe it.” So on behalf of all doulas,  thank you to birthing families everywhere who invite us to witness your incredible journey. Thank you for giving us the best job in the world.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What's in a Doula Fee?-Cross Post from Jodi the Doula

Happy Saturday, Everyone!

Guess what?!

I scheduled my first mama!!!

She's due in December, which feels like a long ways away, but it gives me time to do some re-reading of important doula books, I'll have taken one prenatal Yoga course and my essential oils book will have arrived from Amazon.com which means I'll be able to create more room sprays and massage oils for my mamas. And, and this is the most important, it means that I'll have that much-needed, hands on experience to help my doula practice grow.

When I first started to train to be a doula I worried about fees-would I be charging to much, would I be charging too little, should I charge while I'm still certifying.
My December birth's compensation? A metro card. And I'm okay with that.

The organization that I did my doula training and who I will certify with is called Ancient Song Doula Services (ASDS) and their focus is not only to train women to be birth and postpartum doulas, but to make doulas available to women who wouldn't be able to afford them. I'm a volunteer doula with ASDS, which means that some of the births that come through their practice will be done for free of for a minimal fee. I'm happy to do the work, especially as I continue the certification process, but also when I am certified because I truly believe that every woman, no matter her financial means, should have the support of a doula. It is because of that conviction that I want to do low-cost or free births even after I'm certified.

And, I want to be a full-time, full-spectrum doula. I want to become a certified prenatal Yoga instructor, a lactation consultant and a birth educator. In order to do all of these things, to pay for these certifications I, and a lot of doulas, have to pay for it ourselves. Doulas make their living supporting women through labor and birth. Many doulas, myself included, work full-time to cover the bills, but hope and dream of doing birth work exclusively. Which is why we have fees.

I thought hard about how I would charge my doula fees and came up with fees based on financial means. I created a chart that is broken down by income to determine how I charge my doula fees. It's interesting because it's based on trust. I trust that the mamas who come to me are honest about their financial status and they trust that I will fully and holistically support them before, during and after their births.

I was pleased to see Jodi the Doula's recent blog post about doula fees not because it "proved" anything, but because it helps me better explain and understand what a typical week looks like for a full time doula. The opening paragraph and a link to the post is below.

Every doula has heard it at least once…
“So, if my birth is really fast, you’ll refund part of what I paid you, right? Because then you didn’t really have to work that much.”
“How can you be ok with charging so much?”
Or, my personal favorite, “You know, what you’re doing is an act of service. It’s really special. It’s like doing The Lord’s Work. So, don’t you think it’s wrong to not do it for free?”
The money questions… it’s enough to make any doula want to crawl under a rock, or wish we could go live in a yurt, in a nudist colony, on a self-sustaining  farm, so that our living expenses could be lower.
How a doula sets her fee is an unclear concept to many people who are seeking or offering birth services.  On the surface, it may seem like a doula’s fee is a lot of money for what amounts to one big day of work. I offer this so that new parents and new doulas have greater clarity of what a doula’s fee really includes.
A Typical Work Week:  Booking one “due date” per week is more than just one day a week at work – it’s a full-time workload.  Consider this – for every client I take on, I offer up to three face-to-face prenatal meetings, unlimited phone support throughout pregnancy and the first week postpartum, and an in-home postpartum visit.  This means that an average work week for me will have four to six home visits (about two hours each), six to ten hours of phone time, and eight to twelve hours of travel time. Throw in a couple of hours for recordkeeping, appointment scheduling, text and email support, and the extra hours it takes to call everyone and reschedule when I have a mama in labor. That’s typically a 37 hour work week, before I’ve spent even one minute at a birth. When all is said and done, each client, on average, has had the benefit of 30 to 42 hours of her doula’s time, and most of those hours have been when she hasn’t been in labor.

Keep Reading here.
As always, if you or anyone that you know is expecting a baby, please reach out to me to discuss the services that I offer.
All the best,

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cross-Post: Doula-ing for Cesareans

One of the things that a new doula must do in order to be certified is to attend births, sometimes three and as much as five. This doula has attended a whooping 0 births. Are you willing to be my first mama?

I have, however, been a back up doula to a few of my doula friends, yet none of them have needed a back up, so I'm waiting. I was pretty sure that July would be my month, especially since my doula friend has two mamas with very close due dates. I was a bit disappointed to learn that one mama had elected for a scheduled c-section. Not because I oppose the c-section, but because I knew that a c-section would mean that there was no chance that the two mamas would overlap.

It got me thinking about how important a doula is, even to a mama who's having a c-section so I was delighted to find the following post. Read it here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Getting Insurance to Pay for Midwives

Renée Martin, among those featured in
Cheryl Senter for The New York Times
Earlier this week the NYT posted an article siting America as the costliest place to give birth. Several people, myself included, cross-posted the piece and the comments section has hundreds of replies. Many people blame the insurance companies for the price of birth, while others blame doctors and hospital's often unnecessary and costly interventions. What was missing was other birthing options; at home or in a birthing center with a Midwife.

NYC has only one free standing birthing center, Brooklyn Birthing Center. This is where I hope, Gd-willing/Inshallah/Bezrat Hashem, to give birth when my partner and I get pregnant. The fact of the matter is, birthing with a midwife is substantially cheaper not because you receive inferior service, but because most midwife births are women-centered. A midwife and doula team supports a mother and her partner fully and holistically, relying not on the use of pitocin and monitoring to get the baby out, but on the body's own ability to birth a child.

Here's a quote from the article:
In the United States, the use of midwives varies hugely by state and region; they can deliver babies at a birthing center, in hospitals or in homes. They generally need physician back-up in case a pregnancy has complications they cannot handle. There are few midwife births in the South and Texas, while the rate is above 15 percent in Oregon and New Mexico. In Britain and Denmark, more than two-thirds of all births are attended by a midwife.
Read the entire article on the NYT here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Warns Against Inductions

I think it's important that birth professionals; whether OBs, midwives, doulas or childbirth educators keep an open mind. This, I realize, is hard because it's very human to form ideas, thoughts, or convictions, but when it comes to birth it's really up to the mother to decide what she feels is best for her.

Keeping that in mind, I'm aware that sometimes a mother will have ideas about birth that may not necessarily align with my own thoughts about birth, but those thoughts, my opinions, must be pushed aside so that I'm able to fully-support a mother. I do, however, think that women should look into all of their birthing options and educate themselves on the many options available to them. If I can think of one criticism of the medical and healthcare system it would be that it doesn't empower patients, especially women who are pregnant. Instead a woman, under the care of an insensitive or authoritative physician, can sometimes feel small and inadequate. She is made to fear her body and the birthing process and doubt whether her body is "big enough" "strong enough" or "young enough" to do what it's supposed to do.

I love this quote by Ina May Gaskin:
Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.
 Read the ACOG's complete article: Five Things Mothers and Physicians Should Question

Don’t schedule elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor or Cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks 0 days gestational age.
Delivery prior to 39 weeks 0 days has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of learning disabilities and a potential increase in morbidity and mortality. There are clear medical indications for delivery prior to 39 weeks 0 days based on maternal and/or fetal conditions. A mature fetal lung test, in the absence of appropriate clinical criteria, is not an indication for delivery.
Don’t schedule elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor between 39 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 0 days unless the cervix is deemed favorable.
Ideally, labor should start on its own initiative whenever possible. Higher Cesarean delivery rates result from inductions of labor when the cervix is unfavorable. Health care practitioners should discuss the risks and benefits with their patients before considering inductions of labor without medical indications.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Advantages of Breastfeeding for Moms-Cross Post

Everyone hears about the advantages of breastfeeding for babies, but breastfeeding actually has some significant benefits for moms as well.
Who knew that doing the very best thing for your baby’s health and well-being was actually the best thing for mom as well?
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Moms
Here’s a brief list of some of the benefits of breastfeeding for nursing moms:

*Breast milk is always sterile, fresh, perfectly clean, just the right temperature…no need for cleaning or heating it up at a 2 am feeding!!!
*This is one case where the healthy choice is also the least cost option! How often is that the case? Formula can be a very expensive addition to your monthly expenses that you can just avoid!
* Breastfeeding releases more oxytocin into your system in order to stimulate postpartum contractions. This reduces blood loss and helps return your body to its pre-pregnancy condition faster.
* Nursing increases the rate of weight loss in most breastfeeding moms without needing to diet.
* Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risks to mom of certain cancers including those of the breast and ovaries. Studies have shown that the longer you breastfeed, the better protected that you are.
* Breastfeeding women report psychological benefits such as increased self-confidence and a stronger sense of bonding with their little sweet babies!
 Mothers who do not breastfeed are at a higher risk of:

Pre-menopausal breast cancer
Post-menopausal breast cancer
—Ovarian cancer
—Urinary tract infections

Monday, July 1, 2013

NYT Cross-Post: Birthing in America is Costly!

Josh Haner/The New York Times
As a doula, my job is to sort of come outside of myself, my wishes, my thoughts and my needs to focus solely on a mother as she labors. This means that I support a mother who wants to give birth in a hospital with an epidural as equally and fully as a mother who wants to give birth squatting in her living room. As a woman who's TTC I find this article by the New York Times shocking!

I've been considering a home birth when we, Gd willing, get pregnant. Birthing at home or at a Birthing Center with a midwife and doula insures woman-focused, mother-lead birthing with a caregiver you've had a continuous relationship with, but it's also, quite shockingly, cheaper!

In nearly every other developed country in the world, midwives, not OBs attend births. Why? Because birth isn't a medical "problem" and OBs are trained surgeons. Of course, and I know this because I have fibroids which may put me in the "high risk" area of moms, some births have medical complications where having an OB is necessary. But for women who are healthy, birthing is and should be a natural process. Our bodies were made and are perfectly capable of birthing babies.

It wasn't until the 1950s that birth came to hospitals, before then the majority of American births were done at home. It's also interesting to note that while our births have moved into the hospital and away from the home, we've lost more mothers and babies. In fact, the U.S has one of the worst mother and baby mortality rates.

What are your thoughts on this article? 

From the New York Times: American Way of Birth; Costliest in the World
 LACONIA, N.H. — Seven months pregnant, at a time when most expectant couples are stockpiling diapers and choosing car seats, Renée Martin was struggling with bigger purchases.At a prenatal class in March, she was told about epidural anesthesia and was given the option of using a birthing tub during labor. To each offer, she had one gnawing question: “How much is that going to cost?”Though Ms. Martin, 31, and her husband, Mark Willett, are both professionals with health insurance, her current policy does not cover maternity care. So the couple had to approach the nine months that led to the birth of their daughter in May like an extended shopping trip though the American health care bazaar, sorting through an array of maternity services that most often have no clear price and — with no insurer to haggle on their behalf — trying to negotiate discounts from hospitals and doctors.When she became pregnant, Ms. Martin called her local hospital inquiring about the price of maternity care; the finance office at first said it did not know, and then gave her a range of $4,000 to $45,000. “It was unreal,” Ms. Martin said. “I was like, How could you not know this? You’re a hospital.”Midway through her pregnancy, she fought for a deep discount on a $935 bill for an ultrasound, arguing that she had already paid a radiologist $256 to read the scan, which took only 20 minutes of a technician’s time using a machine that had been bought years ago. She ended up paying $655. “I feel like I’m in a used-car lot,” said Ms. Martin, a former art gallery manager who is starting graduate school in the fall.