Friday, May 29, 2009

Birth-Day Giveaway!

I've set this post to publish at 2:45 a.m. on May 29th to commemorate that three years ago exactly I had just given birth to my second baby boy on the floor of my living room! He was received by the caring hands of my midwife, who was present for exactly 5 minutes of the birth. I didn't actually feel like I needed a midwife in labor or during birth, but I was profoundly grateful for her presence postpartum and also for her time and care during prenatal visits. She always spent at least an hour with me during prenatal visits and I had so much fun spending that time with someone who was interested in me, my pregnancy, and my baby. She treated me with such love and respect and much like a colleague, instead of a "patient." Then, postpartum, she helped me stand and carry my new baby to the bed. She perked me back up with smelling salts when I started to faint (I have a little "issue" with seeing blood). She lovingly sponge-bathed my arms and legs (this birth was triumphant and transformative, though also particularly bloody!). When I started to "slip" emotionally in the early days postpartum (baby blues), she offered me words of encouragement, kindness, and inspiration as well as her presence. She also thoughtfully helped me make an important decision about whether to visit my family physician regarding my physical recovery following the birth. These things were such gifts and were irreplaceable!

In honor of my son's third birthday and the anniversary of my swift and special homebirth with him, I'd like to offer a book giveaway (the first on this blog!). When I was pregnant, I was already very informed about pregnancy and birth (I became a certified childbirth educator in 2005) and I felt a need to seek out books that "went beyond" the average pregnancy and birth books. One such book is Rediscovering Birth by Sheila Kitzinger. To enter to win a hardback copy of this book just leave a comment on this post by midnight on June 9th letting me know something special that you valued about your midwife (or other birth caregiver). You can gain an additional entry to win by posting a link to this giveaway on your own blog (and posting to let me know about it).

Happy Birthday Zander!

(his complete birth story is posted here)

CfM Blogger

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Effectiveness of Childbirth Education

A recent study has been picked up by the media as proving that childbirth education "doesn't work" and this has been popping up in my Google Alerts all week. The BJOG study compared two groups of women--one group had 8 hours of childbirth classes that also included information about natural childbirth. The other group had classes that did not include natural childbirth information. The epidural rates for the two groups were the same and the couples' satisfaction levels with their births was also the same. Several birth bloggers have addressed the study in depth. The Science and Sensibility blog in a post titled Do Breathing Exercises Work? and The Family Way Publications in Natural Childbirth Class Not Useful?

What stood out to me in the article was the emphasis on breathing techniques. There is a lot more to childbirth education than "the breathing" and if that is all the “natural birth” classes had to offer, no wonder the results were what they were! As was noted in one of the blog cited above, it is also significant that the women were randomly assigned to either group, indicating that they did not have a strong interest in natural birth (if they did, why risk being assigned to the non-natural birth classes!), so that perhaps the personal investment element was missing. A woman has to want to experience natural childbirth in order to do so!

Another birth educator commenting on The Family Way's blog post, made an excellent observation that I think really got to the true heart of the issue. She said, " Until childbirth educators emphasize this key component of CONGRUENCY in their classes women will continue to seek 'care' from professionals and institutions incompatible with their professed desire for natural birth. (emphasis mine) All this study proved to my mind it that both types of classes offered were ineffectual in promoting the with-women model of care in labor and birth... Both types of classes failed to address the real crux of the matter…are you receiving care from a provider/institution compatible with the kind of birth you want?" I explain to people in my classes that in the hospital women’s coping mechanisms are often stripped away from them-–sometimes by force, sometimes by misinformation, sometimes by excuses. I tell them over and over again to “ask questions before their chile is roasted” (Pam England). People tell me they can fight for what they want or that their husbands are good at “standing up for me” and I remind them that birth is not a time in a woman’s life when she should have to fight for anything! The time to get good care is NOW, not while "fighting" during labor and not during the "next birth" either (see more thoughts about "the next birth" here).

I recently finished reading the very firey and passionate 1990's manifesto on VBAC, Open Season. The author bluntly addresses the issue of transparency in maternity care and also the effectiveness of childbirth education in this quote: "If childbirth classes really 'worked,' more women would be having babies without interference. More women would be recognizing the complete naturalness of birth and would remain at home, delivering their infants with feelings of confidence and trust. More and more, midwives would be demanded. The names of those hospitals and doctors who treated women and babies with anything less than absolute respect would be public knowledge, and childbirth classes would be the first place these names would be discussed. 'You're seeing What's-His-Face? He's a pig! In my opinion, of course,' I tell people who come to my classes. I then proceed to give them the names of people who have used Pig-face. They can always ask Dr. P. for the names of people who have used him and been satisfied with their births, for balance."

Speaking of Open Season, another quote in it addressed the idea of being in the "same camp" or having "opponents." I found the perspective really useful for thinking about maternity care issues: “The moment you start thinking about other people as opponents it becomes impossible to find a solution. ‘There are no opponents in a disagreement; there are simply two [sides] facing a common problem. In other words, they are not in opposite camps, there are in the same camp. The real opponent is the problem.’” The Woman-to-Woman CBE blog mused on something similar recently in this post: Same Team...Same Team?

CfM Blogger

Friday, May 22, 2009

Handcrafted Birth

About a month ago, I taught several classes at an annual craft camp in southern Missouri (not birth classes, this is part of my "other life"--so I taught handmade books, doll making, those kinds of things!). However, I relate the experience to birth in the sense that people put a lot of time, energy, passion, and commitment into creating beautiful craft projects and works of art. And, we value the "one of kind" and the "unique." Giving birth is the ultimate creative act! Why is it treated as a medical event? As a one-size-fits all, follow-the-curve-or-else-have-surgery, experience? Each birth IS an extremely unique and "handcrafted" event in the life of a woman and of a family, but many women spend more time picking out the car seat than they do planning for their births.

Of course, these thoughts also reminded me of this section from an article in Midwifery Today:

While shopping [one] day, I noticed hand-dipped chocolates, homegrown vegetables, hand-spun wool, homemade preserves, cottage-industry soaps—all at premium prices, since they were made with care, individually, by hand, at home. I reflected, too, on how "old-fashioned" doctors, famous for house calls and compassion, are remembered fondly as part of the "good old days" and praised for their one-on-one caring. I mused how our society honors unique, special, one-of-a-kind items and services.

Yet when it comes to maternity care, it seems the bigger and busier, the better: high-tech procedures, standardized treatment, massive patient loads, in-and-out, assembly-line-style facilities. We are urged to leave the clean peace and quiet of home and go, instead, to a large, centralized center and entrust ourselves to a system of detached and often distracted institutional workers whom we've never met and may never see again. I find it hard to believe that anyone would consider hospital care preferable, if they really thought about it.

High-tech or hands-on? The choice is not new. In many cases, of course, mechanical and technological advances have been just that: improvements. Other advances, as we all know too well, have resulted in lasting harm.

Judy Edmunds, excerpted from "A Grand Triumph," Midwifery Today Issue 37

(quoted in enews 8:20)

CfM Blogger

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Grassroots Network: Sign NARM Petition TODAY!

Dear Friends,

This message is a reminder about the NARM petition to the ACNM regarding educational routes to the CPM credential (see GNM 904020). NARM will close the petition on Wednesday in order to present it to the ACNM leadership at the end of the week. So, if you haven't signed yet, read the note below and follow the link to add your name, and comment if you wish!

Susan Hodges "gatekeeper"

From NARM:

Dear Friend of Midwives,

Only ONE more day to add your name to the NARM petition in support of all routes to midwifery education. NARM's hope is that this amazing response will send a clear message to the ACNM that the time has come to end internal strife and work together to move midwifery forward. By Wednesday, NARM will close the petition and prepare to present it to the ACNM Executive Committee at the end of the week at the annual ACNM convention in Seattle. If you haven't signed it yet, NOW is the time. If you have already signed it, please ask any additional family, friends, and colleagues to sign on. Let's hit 5000 names! Sign the petition here.

NARM has taken a stand in support of all routes of midwifery education, including a formal, structured apprenticeship. We would like to be able to inform you of our progress with influencing the ACNM to change its Position Statement against apprenticeship education. We also know that as we work to make more CPMs available to more women, we will continue to face opposition to our training, our standards of individualized and woman-centered practice, and our very existence as a viable profession in the US. Your voice is what gives us the power and authority to demand a seat at the table over health care reform, access to quality maternity care for all women, and implementation of programs on the state and federal level that will enable more women to have the choice to hire CPMs for their care.

If you would like to be notified of the results of this petition, please take a moment to register your contact information into a protected database controlled by NARM that will allow us to directly contact you with this information and other opportunities to take similar action at the state and federal level for midwifery. You will be able to select areas of interest to you and also remove yourself at any time from our subscription list. NARM pledges to never share your name with any commercial entity and to only use your contact info for the purpose of direct notification of urgent issues and updates regarding promotion of the CPM credential. Again, thank you for your continued support and for helping us to preserve apprentice based midwifery education in the US.

Join NARM's protected advocacy list here.

Midwives and Students! One more way to get connected is through the new NARM Forum. This forum is for open discussions about all things related to CPMs and the women they serve. Please join us!

Thank you!

The NARM Board

[Please feel free to forward this]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Grassroots Network: Childbirth Connection’s response to LA Times article

Dear Friends,

Childbirth Connection has issued a statement in response to the May 17 LA Times article on maternity care. (If the link below to the article does not work, go to the LA Times and search for "Healthcare: Road to Reform" to find this article.) Childbirth Connection's well-written statement, that includes the pertinent facts about maternity care importance along with CC’s "8 Steps to Reform Maternity Care," is another useful document when contacting state or federal elected officials regarding the significance of maternity care in health care reform. Below is the note I received and the Statement.

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Dear Ms. Hodges,

Yesterday's "Healthcare: Road to Reform" story in the Los Angeles Times focused on rising rates of maternity care interventions such as c-section and labor induction and their negative impact on cost and quality. The article, "Childbirth: Can the U.S. improve?," also discusses our Evidence-Based Maternity Care report and our national symposium of maternity care leaders that took place in April.

Today, we issued a statement on how the maternity care industry can be overhauled. Please let me know if you've any questions. Thank you!

Kat Song
Childbirth Connection


May 18, 2009

Maternity Care, A Major Segment of Health Industry, Must Be Overhauled

For Health Care Reform to Succeed, Says Childbirth Connection

New York NY As competing interests work out the particulars of health care reform, a leading national advocate for families and the women who give birth to over 4.3 million babies each year reminds the nation that rapid gains in the quality, value and cost of maternity care are achievable.

"It’s crystal clear: Let’s start providing maternity care that is proven to be the best," said Maureen Corry, Executive Director of Childbirth Connection, a not-for-profit advocating evidence-based maternity care ( "Then, women and babies will get higher quality care with better results, and the savings from following best practices can be put toward providing health care to all."

Maternity care is a major segment of health care:
  • 85% of women give birth. Childbirth is the number one reason for being hospitalized: 23% of those discharged from the hospital are childbearing women or newborns.
  • Maternal and newborn charges are the runaway leader in hospital charges: $86 billion in 2006, $39 billion of which was shouldered by Medicaid. Childbirth accounts for six of the fifteen most common hospital procedures. Cesarean section is the most common operating room procedure.
  • The cost of childbirth is borne by employers and private insurers who pay for 49% of all births, and taxpayers and Medicaid programs who pay for 43% of births.
  • Costly childbirth procedures that entail risk are overused and wasteful, while proven ones that are generally safer and cheaper are underutilized:
  • Per capita health expenditures in the U.S. far exceed those of all other nations, but our performance lags distantly behind other developed nations on quality indicators including low birthweight, c-section and maternal death rates.
  • While the vast majority of childbearing women and their babies are healthy and at low risk, the current style of maternity care is procedure-intensive, costly and entails unnecessary risk. For example, induction and routine repeat c-section often contribute to preterm birth and expose women and babies to harm while offering little or no benefit. These and other common interventions: are associated with risk of harm to woman and baby; are experienced by a large and growing number of childbearing women; and result in wasted health care spending.
  • While the economic stimulus bill has over a billion dollars slated for research on the comparative effectiveness of different medical treatments, a wealth of systematic reviews (well over 2,000 summarizing high quality research evidence on specific maternity care topics) is already available to guide maternity care practice. But this valuable knowledge is grossly underutilized in the U.S.
  • A recent Milbank Memorial Fund report, Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve, shows that much of the care women receive is not consistent with the best evidence. It also outlines practices that have better results and are less technology- and procedure-intensive (e.g., continuous human support during labor). A Los Angeles Times op-ed (12-24-08) about this report concludes: "The Obama administration could save the country billions by overhauling the American way of birth."
“Consumers, legislators and health care stakeholders agree that access needs to be broadened, quality and value improved, and costs reduced. All of these goals are achievable for maternity care today by simply putting into practice what we already know,” said Corry.

What women want is often not what they get:

A national Harris Interactive survey of over 1,500 mothers shows that: About half of those with a previous c-section were interested in the option of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), but 57% were denied this option due to caregiver or hospital unwillingness; 17% who were induced say they felt pressured to do so by their caregiver, as did 25% of women who had cesareans; and, 73% of women had an episiotomy (a cut, rarely needed, to enlarge the opening of the vagina) reported that they had no choice in the matter.

“It’s time to replace provider and institutional centered care with patient-centered, evidence-based care that meets the individual needs, values, and preferences of women, babies and families. Better informed, shared decision making between patients and providers is essential to quality improvement,” said Corry.

Childbirth Connection’s 8 Steps to Reform Maternity Care:

  • Ensure access to quality, affordable health care to all women. Stop insurers from excluding pregnancy as a pre-existing condition and using past birth experiences (e.g., c-section) to justify ineligibility or higher charges.
  • Use maternity care practices proven to be best for women and babies.
  • Move to a primary maternity care model by, for example, employing more midwives and family physicians and expanding access to freestanding birth centers. Most childbearing women and babies are healthy and at low risk. Primary maternity care supports innate capacities for birthing, breastfeeding and attachment, avoids overuse, and gives priority to prevention and wellness.
  • Measure and publicly report the performance of maternity care providers and facilities, and use results to improve care.
  • Reform payment policy to stop rewarding procedure-heavy maternity care that is unnecessary for most women and babies, through such mechanisms as bundled risk-adjusted payment for an entire episode of pregnancy.
  • Medicaid, who pays for more than 43% of U.S. births, should initiate demonstration projects to test key strategies for maternity care quality improvement.
  • Engage and educate consumers to help them make informed maternity care decisions including use of decision-aids based on comparative effectiveness research.
  • Improve maternity health professions education and maternity care guidelines to enhance primary maternity care skills and knowledge to support innate capacities of mothers and newborns.
About Childbirth Connection

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection is a not-for-profit organization working to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. As a voice for the needs and interests of over 4.3 million women who give birth annually, Childbirth Connection uses best research evidence and the results of its periodic national Listening to Mothers surveys to inform policy, practice, education and research.

Grassroots Network: ACTION ALERT: Big Push to hold Capitol Hill Issue Briefing

Dear Friends,

The Big Push for Midwives has organized an Issue Briefing on Capitol Hill for this Thursday, May 21. Please read the information below to find out action you can take.

Just to clarify, this Big Push event is independent of the M.A.M.A. campaign (see messages 905023 and 905024). Wonderful to have more than one organized effort all working toward recognition of the CPM!

Hopefully this will be a very successful event in bringing the attention of our Congress people to the value of CPMs and out-of-hospital birth as a part of national health care reform!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

From The Big Push for Midwives:

Speak Your Truth to Congress This Week!!

Help the PushNation rise up to tell Congress about how access to out-of-hospital maternity care and Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), who are specially trained to provide it, are a top priority in national health care reform! Help alert Congress to the Capitol Hill Issue Briefing on Thursday, May 21, focused on how out-of-hospital maternity care reduces costs and improves outcomes.

Thank You for Spreading the PushWord on the DC Briefing!

Invite your elected officials and their staff to sponsor and attend the briefing at the (amazing and historic) Sewall-Belmont House at 144 Constitution Avenue, NE, between 8 and 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 21. Coffee and refreshments will be served. Handouts and other materials will be available, and the media has been invited.

Briefing speakers include the authors of the 2005 BMJ study, as well as an economist and public health specialist with expertise in the clinical and economic benefits associated with out-of-hospital deliveries under the care of CPMs.

PushFolk, this is our first chance to really hit it out of the park and show Congress and the media how much grassroots support there is out here in the states for including out-of-hospital maternity care and the services of CPMs in health care reform.

We need your help today! Please visit our PushAlert page right now to find out everything you need to know about reaching out to your elected officials about this important event!

By the by, our contacts in DC have been very impressed by the size of our Facebook following! Please forward this PushAlert on, and tell your Facebook friends and Twitter followers how they can join The Big Push too! And then, let's GROW this baby!

Steff Hedenkamp | Communications Coordinator | SIGN UP for PushAlerts at | 816.506.4630 | Steff Tweets @shedenka

Envisioning a safer, less-costly model of maternity care in the United States.

Grassroots Network: Action Alert: Birth Center Bill introduced!

Note from Molly: many of the links in the press release following the GRN are not working links due to the format in which they were sent. You can find working links on the AABC website and in previous GRN messages here and here.

Dear Friends,

Great news! The bill providing for Medicaid reimbursement for birth centers has now been introduced! This is the bill we've mentioned in several previous grassroots network messages. Birth centers are owned and operated by both Certified Professional Midwives and by Certified Nurse Midwives, provide high quality cost-effective care, and serve many Medicaid clients. A recent court ruling will eliminate reimbursement even in the states that have been reimbursing through Medicaid, which will result in many birth centers closing. So this bill ties right in with the Obama Administration's aims for health care reform: to increase access to care that is high quality and cost-effective, that saves us money, that is prevention-oriented and evidence-based.

Below is a Legislative Alert from the American Association of Birth Centers. AABC can use everyone's help lining up additional co-sponsors for the bill in the House, and identifying sponsors in the Senate, where the bill has not yet been introduced.

For background , see this link.

For more information see the topics listed here.

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

American Association of Birth Centers
Legislative Alert

Major Milestone Achieved

H.R. 2358 - The Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act - Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) have introduced the Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act to ensure Medicaid birth center facility fee payments to states.

Today, President Obama announced that health care leaders have pledged to save the nation $2 trillion in the next 10 years. Birth centers are part of the solution to our soaring maternity care costs, and they also provide a safety net for Medicaid women. This is not the time to be discontinuing payment to facilities that provide safe, cost-effective care for healthy women with Medicaid

All or our work is paying off, however, we still have much to do to pass this legislation.


1) Call your U.S. Representatives and Senators
Ask your Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 2358 The Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act. Ask your Senators to sponsor a Senate Bill
Click here for information on How to Contact Your Legislators in 6 Easy Steps.

2) Continue to spread the word/collect signatures for the Consumer Letter
[NOTE: this letter was the subject of Grassroots Network Message 905022: Sign AABC letter to Support Birth Centers]
We are over half way to our goal of 10,000 signatures by May 31st. Let's keep the momentum going. Spread the word via email, facebook, put the letter in your waiting rooms, on your websites. Make our voices heard!
Download the letter to put in your waiting room or anywhere else people gather.
Sign on the letter on the web.
Put a link to the letter on your website:

3) Continue to collect signatures for the Physician Letter from our friends in the medical community. Legislators want to know that we have support from physicians.

We need EVERYONE to take action and ensure that our bill is passed as soon as possible!

Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN
Chair, Legislative Committee
American Association of Birth Centers

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Project Homebirth

Speaking of birth films, the Organic Birth website has launched a new project titled Project Homebirth: "We want to make a film about homebirth that features YOUR voice! Send us a small video or audio clip with you talking about your homebirth, why you chose homebirth or how it has impacted your family.

We want to hear from parents, grandparents, siblings, caregivers... anyone who finds homebirth a viable choice for having a baby."

Sounds like a great project! I look forward to following it as it develops.


CfM Blogger

Birth Matters Video Contest

This winter Birth Matters Virgina hosted a national video contest. They were "looking for videos that would educate and inform women and their partners about options for childbirth." All the videos have been submitted and now it is time for the votes! The videos are all available on YouTube and are linked to from this list. Winners will be announced in early June.

CfM Blogger

Midwifery & Birth in the News

A quick post to share some articles that caught my eye this week:

First, I got a kick out of the title of this one: U.S. soldiers search for midwife in Afghan war zone
At first I thought, there was a "bad" midwife on the loose and the army was after her, but no! It turns out that the military recognizes that midwifery care is vital: "'Midwives with good training are critical if you want to reduce the maternal and neonatal mortality rates. This is one way to help win the war.'" And, "'Right now, we can't help the Afghan government come in here and build a big Afghan clinic,' Loh said. 'But we have some options and we are still looking for midwives to help.'"

Another sort of birth crisis in in London has led to extensive recruitment of experienced midwives: The midwife mothers back on call to beat birth crisis

In a very disturbing trend "Last year, for the first time, more babies in Miami-Dade County were born by cesarean section than were born vaginally, according to state records, and Broward's not far behind, with a rate of 43.7 percent -- both far above the national average." Read more about it in: Births on cue: C-sections soar in S. Florida

Finally, I enjoyed reading a nice little homebirth story from the Orange County Register: Born at home, naturally. I loved the final line (with regard to her 3.5 year old seeing the new baby): "...knowing that if Sage ever decides to have a child some day, she will understand what is possible. She'll know she is stronger than she ever imagined."

CfM Blogger

Monday, May 11, 2009

International Birth Wisdom Sampler

From Australia, comes a gorgeous and unique book called Birthwork. I have never read another book like this. It is really incredible. It is also difficult to describe! Subtitled "a compassionate guide to being with birth" it is written for all birthworkers--anyone who works directly with birthing women (midwives, doulas, nurses, childbirth educators, physicians...). It is incredibly comprehensive and covers a wide range of a topics that I have never seen addressed in a book before (for example, one of the subsections is titled "Touching Vaginas"). It delves into a lot of the emotional and psychological elements of being in a caregiving field and also covers physical components as well. Truly a phenomenal read!

The author of Birthwork is also a filmmaker whose recent project is the film The Big Stretch. The neat thing about this film is that it is all about women sharing their own experiences and feelings--unlike many birth movies there are no "experts" present in the film (other than the true experts--women themselves!), the focus is on the families preparing for birth or reflecting on their past birth experiences. The film's emphasis is on "Women in different stages of pregnancy and preparing for a natural birth reflect on how they and 'stretched' in everyway - emotionally, physically and spiritually" and I enjoyed this "stretch" theme that ran throughout. (I was taken aback by footage at the close of the film of a totally naked man riding a bicycle and feel I should warn other viewers to be prepared for that!)

From Scotland, I enjoyed reading the new book The Father's Home Birth Handbook by Leah Hazard. This was a succinct and easy to read little guide for fathers and adds to the growing library of birth resources specifically geared towards fathers-to-be. A quote I particularly liked was in answer to the question: But isn't it possible to have a normal, natural birth in the hospital? The response was clear and honest:
Rather than rushing into the labour suite at the first sign of a contraction, she labours comfortably at home, using relaxation techniques and the support of her partner to help her through the early stages. When she feels that birth is imminent, she makes her way to the hospital, where her waters break on their own, her contractions remain strong and consistent, and she continues to cope well with the pain. This woman uses gravity-efficient positions to deliver her baby without the help of surgical instruments and, after breastfeeding her new arrival, she waits for the placenta to slip away on its own. Tucked up in a bed of clean sheets with a tremendous sense of wellbeing and accomplishment, she has just enjoyed a normal, physiological birth in the hospital.

Do you know any women who could tell you such a story? they must exist, but unfortunately, they are a significant minority...'a woman wanting a 'natural' or 'normal' birth will find such a thing almost impossible to achieve in modern hospitals'...The image of a woman sailing through normal labour in a hospital, untouched by needle, knife, or drug, has become little more than a fantasy...
Finally, from New Zealand, is The Pink Kit. This resource has been available for a number of years, but I only bought a copy this year. It is rapidly becoming one of my favorite resources! I continue to find new and useful information within the Kit and I really recommend it. It covers very basic, "common knowlege" information and brings it all together in a useful way. There is a heavy emphasis on knowing your body and how it moves and works and on pelvic bodywork. The Pink Kit consists of a DVD, a book, and three more pdf companion books. An example from the book: "Modern culture often teaches us to be 'tight'...trim, taut, and terrific! But there is a difference between being fit and well-exercised and having a 'tight' body. We understand the need to stay 'fit' at this time, but we would also like to encourage you to soften yourself, in preparation for mothering and nurturing your baby. Soften your viewpoint, soften your body, surrender to this awe-inspiring event. We can assure you that in this way, you will be preparing yourself not only for labour, but for the days and years afterward..." Read more about the Birth Wisdom this resource has to offer here.

And continue following the International Birth Wisdom Week journey from it's launchpad at Independent Childbirth!

CfM Blogger

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

In Uganda there is a special word that means "mother of a newborn"--nakawere. According to the book Mothering the New Mother, "this word and the special treatment that goes with it apply to a woman following every birth, not only the first one. The massages, the foods, the care, 'they have to take care of you in a special way for about a month.'"

There is a special word in Korea as well. Referring to the "mother of a newborn child," san mo describes "a woman every time she has had a baby. Extended family and neighbors who act as family care for older children and for the new mother. 'This lasts about twenty-one days...they take special care of you.'"

These concepts--and the lack of a similar one in American culture--reminds me of a quote from Sheila Kitzinger that I use when talking about postpartum: "In any society, the way a woman gives birth and the kind of care given to her and the baby points as sharply as an arrowhead to the key values of the culture." Another quote I use is an Asian proverb paraphrased in the book Fathers at Birth: "The way a woman cares for herself postpartum determines how long she will live."

Dana Raphael, the author of Breastfeeding: The Tender Gift, who is best known for coining the word "doula" as it is presently used, also coined another valuable term: matrescense. "Nothing changes life as dramatically as having a child. And there was no word to describe that. So we invented the word--matrescence--becoming a mother."

Happy Mother's Day to mothers around the world!

CfM Blogger

(Note: I live in Missouri where a wind storm in the southern part of the state on Friday has left a number of households without power [and some with significant damage]. I haven't had power since Friday morning and will probably be without until Monday. So, that is why I missed my usual Friday blog posting and also missed contributing to the International Birth Wisdom Week cyber-expo planned by Independent Childbirth. I hope to still post on the subject later this week, but for now wanted to share some Mother's Day thoughts that also have an "international birth wisdom" connection!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

International Birth Wisdom Week

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, beginning on May 9th, birth bloggers around the world will be acknowledging International Birth Wisdom Week. Read more about this cyber-event in the message below. And, of course, check back here for my Birth Wisdom post on the 9th!


We are holding a cyber event next week. We would love all birth bloggers to join!

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 is not yet on the site [but will be on May 9th]).

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 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.”


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grassroots Network: May 7th MOM Campaign Webinar Postponed

Dear Friends,

This message comes from the campaign steering committee.

The Webinar on Midwives and Health Care Reform previously announced for Thursday, May 7th at 8 p.m. EST has been postponed. (GNM 905023 included a “save the date” announcement.) Sorry for any inconvenience this postponement may have caused, but it couldn’t be helped. Keep your eyes open for a new webinar date and time.

Midwives & Mothers in Action (M.A.M.A) Campaign, previously Midwives Organizing for Mothers or M.O.M., is a new national campaign to secure federal recognition of Certified Professional Midwives. The M.A.M.A. Campaign Steering Committee includes the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC), Citizens for Midwifery (CfM) and the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC). Mary Lawlor, of NACPM, and Susan Hodges, of CfM, are the co-leaders of the M.A.M.A Campaign.

We are seeking to work in cooperation with allies in the midwifery advocacy community. We hope you will help as well.

In the coming days and weeks, the M.A.M.A Campaign will be providing the midwifery and advocacy community with further information about the campaign and avenues to help raise awareness and secure a place for Certified Professional Midwives in the developing federal health care system.

Here are two things you can do now to help:

1. Encourage moms and other midwifery supporters to make posts on blogs, forums and social networking sites on Mother’s Day praising the wonderful care they received from their midwives.

2. Attend any local health care reform events and raise awareness of the importance of maternity care to the national health care system. Most officials do not realize that maternity care represents almost ¼ of hospital discharges- which makes it a critical part of the health care reform conversation. Midwives increase access to maternity care for mothers and babies. Praise the care CPMs provide and state the important role they play in providing high quality evidence based cost effective maternity care.

CfM’s President, Susan Hodges, and Vice President, Nasima Pfaffl, are the designated members of the M.A.M.A Campaign Steering Committee representing Citizens for Midwifery. The two of us just returned from a successful planning meeting in Washington DC. We (members of the Steering Committee) also met with various legislators and congressional committee members. Congress has laid out an ambitious timeline for achieving health care reform this year, and we are ready to be part of it!

Susan Hodges, “gatekeeper”

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

International Day of the Midwife

Today is International Day of the Midwife! There is an interesting roster of online events and activities available here. Florida Friends of Midwives is selling some cute commemorative t-shirts highlighting the theme: The World Needs Midwives Now More Than Ever.

CfM Blogger

Monday, May 4, 2009

Grassroots Network: M.O.M. Campaign: midwives and health care reform

Dear Friends,

Congress has laid out an ambitious timeline for achieving health care reform this year. Midwives and consumers are mobilizing quickly to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity and to defend against any threats to accessing midwifery care.

Midwives Organizing for Mothers (M.O.M.) is a new national campaign to raise awareness and secure a place for Certified Professional Midwives in our health care system. Spearheaded by the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), the M.O.M. Campaign Steering Committee includes the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC), Citizens for Midwifery (CfM) and the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC).

CfM's President, Susan Hodges, and Vice President, Nasima Pfaffl, are designated members of the M.O.M Campaign Steering Committee representing Citizens for Midwifery. They will be heading to Washington DC, along with the other Steering Committee members from NACPM, NARM, MEAC and MANA, to meet on May 4-5 to fine-tune our campaign strategies and meet with various legislators and congressional committee members.

Join the leaders of this initiative for a conference call Webinar on Thursday, May 7th at 8 p.m. EST to find out more about the M.O.M Campaign and how you can participate! Details to follow early next week; this will be an information call rather than a discussion. And, be ready for Action Alerts!

Susan Hodges "gatekeeper"

Grassroots Network: Sign AABC letter to Support Birth Centers

Dear Friends,

You can help support birth centers one of maternity care choices that should be widely available to all women simply by signing an on-line letter.

The American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) is asking for your help.

Rep. Susan Davis (D., CA) will soon introduce a bill to include birth centers as eligible providers for Medicaid payment. To clarify, when a Medicaid-covered birth takes place in a hospital, the doctor gets paid, and the hospital is paid too -- a facility fee. A judge recently ruled that Medicaid may not pay the 43 birth centers in Texas, because birth centers are not specifically listed in the federal statute for Medicaid. This ruling would apply nationally. But hospitals can still get paid if women who are Medicaid recipients give birth in hospitals. When birth centers are not reimbursed for a facility fee, they cannot survive economically, and Medicaid-eligible women are denied this excellent (and cost-saving) choice.

If you think this is wrong and bad public policy, please sign the AABC letter. The letter supports enactment of legislation, i.e. Rep. Davis' bill, that would correct this inequity.

Please pass this on to everyone you know and all birth-related or women's health elists that you belong to so others can sign too. PLEASE both sign and pass it on. AABC's goal is 1,000 signatures in the next week.

To sign the letter go here.

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Friday, May 1, 2009


May is a month for celebrations! On May 5th, International Midwives Day (also called International Day of the Midwife) is recognized around the world. The theme this year is: the world needs midwives now more than ever. Absolutely! On this midwifery blog there is a post about a 24 hour virtual event honoring this day. On an email list I belong to, the suggestion was made that it would be the perfect time to drop a quick thank you note to your midwife in the mail. Or, perhaps you had a very helpful doula or childbirth educator who would appreciate some words of appreciationas well :) You can read other ideas for recognizing International Midwives Day on the MANA site or in my post from last year.

May 9th kicks off the first International Birth Wisdom Week (the women at Independent Childbirth are planning an exciting cyber birth expo! Make sure to check their blog for updates). This is an exciting event and I will be posting more about it, so stay tuned!

May is International Doula Month too! DONA International offers these ideas of how to celebrate:

  • Write an article for a local publication or send a press release to your local media.
  • Host a free doula info night at a library or community center to let parents know about your services, which might also be a great reason for your local press to do a story on doulas.
  • Have a movie night for parents and/or doulas. Show the latest movies, such as "Orgasmic Birth," "The Business of Being Born" or "Pregnant in America," or revisit some of the classics.
  • Create a birthing circle where women can share their birth stories to support each other and/or heal from their birth trauma.
  • Organize a networking day for local doulas to meet, network and support each other with new ideas and co-opetition.
  • Host an at-home spa party for local doulas.
  • Put together info packages that hospitals and birth centers can hand out to expectant parents and/or laboring mothers with suggestions for position changes and comfort measures.
Find more ideas for recognizing Doula Month in your own community in this post.

And, of course, Mother's Day is recognized on May 10th! Enjoy all the celebrations!

CfM Blogger

New Research Blog

I am really excited about a new blog called Science and Sensibility hosted by Lamaze and written by Amy Romano. It is "a research blog about healthy pregnancy, birth and beyond."

I've previously mentioned two great posts by Amy:

Rotating Theories of the Increasing C-section Rate: Vitamin D Edition

Why the largest study of planned home births won’t sway ACOG

Two more good ones:

Do We Need a Cochrane Review to Tell Us that Women Should Move in Labor?

NICUs: If We Build It, They Will Come?

I love her style and look forward to following this new blog!

CfM Blogger