Friday, May 28, 2010

Preconception Educators

“People can feel especially fragile about giving birth because they hate to think they ‘did it wrong.’ We may defend one way of doing it because it is too threatening to think that there might have been a better alternative to the way we gave birth…go gently, and avoid the impulse to polarize or convert. Encourage each person to speak of her own experience in ‘I’ statements…” --Sacred Circles

I shared this quote in another blog post some time ago. It reminds me that perhaps the best avenue for birth advocacy is to back up and start talking to young women in high school or college, and not in trying to “preach” to other adult women who in all likelihood have very complicated reasons for making the choices they are making (and not being “enlightened” as to the “empowering way!” is usually not one of those reasons). If birth advocates are actually going to make meaningful changes (instead of enemies, or at least making women feel “unheard,” unacknowledged, dismissed, or misunderstood) they/we probably need to reach women before they are in that “fragile” or defensive state with regard to their own experiences.

Then, I received a notice about the federal Preconception Peer Educators Program (A Healthy Baby Begins with You), which trains college students as peer educators. A training is being held in Chicago in September to coincide with Infant Mortality Awareness Month and the program is seeking: 500 students/advisors from 20 states and the breakdown is as follows:
  • 20 states
  • 5 universities per state
  • 4 students and 1 advisor per university
They are also encouraging each school to send at least one male student, which I think is good.

The emphasis of the training and program seems to be on reducing infant mortality, which of course is an important goal, but also one that is inextricably linked to optimal care of the mother (i.e. the kind of care offered by the Midwives Model of Care). So, I would hope to see more content within the program about maternity care, midwifery care, and birth rights in general, but I think it sounds like a very interesting, important, and useful program!

CfM Blogger

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Brought to Earth by Birth

Book Review: Brought to Earth by Birth
By Harriette Hartigan
Motherbaby Press, 2008
ISBN 978-1-890-44642-0
93 pages, softcover, $25.95

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, CCCE

Written by well-known birth photographer Harriette Hartigan, Brought to Earth by Birth is a lyrical ode to the power of birth and babies. The book feels like an extended “poem” expressed in both word and image. The emphasis of the book is the black and white photos of pregnant women, families, and newborns that grace the pages. There are several photos of women in labor and a couple of breastfeeding images. Surrounding the photos are carefully chosen quotes and gentle words.

Brought to Earth by Birth is separated into six “chapters” and contains several birth photos, but no crowning photos or any other photos that some may consider “graphic.” The book is short—under 100 pages—and some photos were familiar to me (cover images in birth publications). The concluding emphasis is on the newborn, the one who is, after all, “brought to earth by birth.”

The book would make a nice gift for a midwife, doula, or childbirth educator and is a nice “waiting room” book to browse through. It would also make an inspirational mother blessing gift. As the author states, “The experience of birth is vast. It is a diverse tapestry woven by cultural customs, shaped in personal choices, affected by biological factors, marked by political circumstances. Yet the nature of birth itself prevails in elegant design of simple complexity.” Brought to Earth by Birth is a lovely glimpse of some strands of that elegant tapestry.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Film Review: Natural Born Babies

Film Review: Natural Born Babies
South Coast Midwifery, 2009
DVD, 24 minutes, $24.95

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, CCCE

This lovely short film produced by a midwifery service in California, is a great “ad” for the benefits of homebirth and of midwifery care. Natural Born Babies has a very clean, fresh, and contemporary feel and features a multicultural collection of homebirth families talking about their experiences in front of a white screen. Something that is particularly striking is that some of the people speaking with love and enthusiasm about their midwives and their birth experiences include a cardiologist, an anesthesiologist, and an ER physician!

The first part of the film is titled Interventions and features both men and women speaking about birth, referencing how pregnancy and birth are treated like medical conditions and including a lot of discussion about the prevalence of cesareans. The point is made that, “no epidural can replace human touch.” The second part is titled The Birth Specialists and points out that OB/GYNS are pathology specialists, whereas midwives are trained in normalcy—“we take low-risk women, and keep them low-risk.” Midwives are specialists in normal pregnancy and birth. Because of the film’s emphasis is wholly on out-of-hospital birth and hospitals are critiqued very soundly, hospital-bound couples viewing the film may find that it causes their defenses to rise.

Several of the parents are holding their babies as they speak and a CNM speaks briefly as well (citing both ACNM and MANA). The CNM manages Orange County’s only accredited birth center. I enjoyed the presence of a bio-physicist dad originally from Holland saying, “everyone I know was born at home” and noting that “you give birth the same way you live.” Several of the couples speaking do refer to the father as “delivering” the baby, which is a long-term pet peeve of mine.

Special features include a 10 minute version of the film, an outtakes section, and a look inside the South Coast Birth Center. At the end of the film we see that one of the couples is the director/producer of the film.

Natural Born Babies is a fast-paced film and though it is filmed in a “talking heads” format, it cuts quickly from person to person, thus keeping the viewer engaged. If you are looking for an informative video that is homebirth and midwifery friendly, but that does not include any birth footage, this would be a good addition to your library.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the film for review purposes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

There are a lot of events to honor in May! International Day of the Midwife was May 5th and Mother's Day is rapidly approaching on May 9th. May is also International Doula Month and Pregnancy Awareness Month. And, Birth Activist is having a Mother's Day blog carnival.

So, I found it fitting this week to share a book review about a nurturing little book for mothers:

Book Review: 25 Ways to Joy & Inner Peace for Mothers
By Danette Watson & Stephanie Corkhill Hyles
Watson & Corkhill Hyles, 2006
ISBN 0646-46588-0
84 page hardcover book & 60 minute CD set, $24.95

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

Consisting of a book and CD, 25 Ways to Joy & Inner Peace for Mothers contains 25 short breathing meditations with accompanying whimsical, colorful drawings. The meditations are on topics such as “surround yourself with mother energy,” “embrace change,” “feel reverence,” and “trust the rhythm of your baby.”

The final third of the book contains breathing tips, tips for using the meditations in life, and then “10 Healing Practices for Mothers” that are a very nice addition. This segment is followed by “Questions for Inner Exploration” that include journaling questions and prompts based on each of the meditations.

It is not clear at first glance, but 25 Ways is designed for mothers of newborns and infants, not mothers of older children (though, of course, most of the meditations could be adapted to apply to older children). The addition of “new” to the title would have been a useful clarifier.

Inspiring, empowering, and renewing, 25 Ways to Joy & Inner Peace for Mothers is a lovely and nurturing little manual that would make a nice blessingway gift for a pregnant or a congratulations gift for a special new mother.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
Review originally published in the CAPPA Quarterly, April 2010.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

International Day of the Midwife (& the changing nature of communication...)

May 5th is International Day of the Midwife! A 24-hour virtual event in honor of the day is being held here and there is a lot of interesting content scheduled, including a free workshop about using social networking.

Social networking brings me neatly to my next topic, which is the changing nature of internet communication. I've noticed that a lot of the things I would have posted to this blog in the past, I am now posting to CfM's Facebook page (or, alternatively, I'm noticing that plenty of other people have already posted the article link, video, what have you and so I see that I don't need to do it).

While I still plan to post to this blog, I think I am going to transition away from my Friday posting schedule and only post when I have original content to share, longer articles, action alerts specific to CfM, Grassroots Network messages, or reviews, and keep more of the casual, information-sharing content on the Facebook page instead.

I also have my other blog (personal + birth education business) where I post my own articles/ideas about birth-related subjects, which limits my availability to generate original content for this blog versus just reporting on other peoples' content.

I've noticed that the various email lists I belong to are much more quiet lately and also much less likely to share article links, etc. I think it is for the same reason--these things are shared most commonly on Facebook now, which removes the need to share via other means. I wonder how communication will continue to change/evolve over the next handful of years?! Who knows what the next big thing will be?

CfM Blogger