Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope 2009 is filled with joy, the love of family, and the smiles of good friends! I also hope it is filled with humane, respectful care for women and families during the childbearing year. And, I hope that 2009 welcomes the legalization of CPMs in the states working towards this during the 2009 legislative session.

One of my resolutions this year is to increase the number of birth classes I teach. I also resolve to seek more varying opportunities to raise community awareness about healthy birth (more of a "birth network" approach). If you have a birth-related New Year's resolution, I'd love to hear about it!

Happy New Year!

Molly Remer
CfM Blogger
(P.S. I'm going to start signing my posts, as they're being automatically imported from this blog into several Facebook pages now and it can get confusing about who is writing them! :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

All I Want for Christmas... to the see the maternity care system in our country experience wide reform. I also want women everywhere to have the choice of a midwife-attended birth if they want it. And, I want women to have access to good quality information about their options and choices in birth. And, I want women, babies, and families to be treated with respect and tenderness in the birth environment, wherever and however the birth happens to be.

With regard to my first Christmas want, I wanted to share a link to the statement from Childbirth Connection about Health Care Reform Priorities for Maternity Care.

And, with regard to my second and third Christmas wants I would like to share links to some excellent blog posts at the Independent Childbirth blog. The first is Happy New Year ACOG and the other two are about How We Are Born Matters and The Home Birth Experience.

Finally, with regard to my final Christmas want, I want to share a link I received today to a segment on a local television station about homebirth and midwifery in Missouri. It was a two-part story. The news anchors do make a comment about needing collaborative practice with physicians and at the end about "if the situation was to become life-threatening..." but overall it is an extremely positive piece and a really moving one (I cried when the baby was born!). The first clip and transcript can be found here and the second here.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Grassroots Network: Jennifer Block's LA Times Op Ed on Health Care Reform!

Dear Friends,

Just in time for the Holidays, the LA Times has published an Op Ed piece by Jennifer Block with her take on health care reform (i.e., maternity care reform). Read her article Midwives Deliver. As always, very well written and to the point, you may find this useful for meetings, legislators, etc.!

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Note from Molly: If you haven't already read Block's book, Pushed, I hope you get it for Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Homebirthing Discussion on "The Artist's Craft"

Just got a link to this interesting segment about home birth and midwifery legislation on the NC television show The Artist's Craft. It features Jennifer Block (Pushed) and Russ Fawcett (North Carolina Friends of Midwives).

Check it out!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Birth films + free e-book

Yesterday, I learned about an interesting new film called Home Delivery: The Adventure of Giving Birth at Home. I am also looking forward to watching an Australia film called The Big Stretch.

Speaking of films, Pregnant in America is now available to buy on DVD and so is Orgasmic Birth!

I was also excited to find out that Sherri Menelli's book Journey Into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birthis available now as a free e-book. I downloaded my copy right away and I'm looking forward to reading it. I learned about this offer from the Hypnobabies blog.

Speaking of Hypnobabies, they've recently started selling their home-study program on Amazon. You can also find their Hypno-Doula Workbook there as well as a Hypnosis for an Easy Pregnancy CD set.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Literary Magazine Exhale + Developments in IL

My term as a Board member has now come to an end, though I will continue on as the CfM blogger. CfM's new Board member and newsletter editor, Arielle Greenberg, is a writer and poetry professor. A brief article by Arielle about her experiences traveling out of state to give birth with a legal CPM was published this week here. Arielle is also a columnist for the online literary magazine Exhale ("for intelligent people who have lost a baby, or have trouble making babies in the first place"). This magazine is an important new resource for families and I wanted to make sure to bring it to your attention!

Exciting news from Illinois this week in that the Illinois Nurses Association officially changed its position on the "Home Birth Safety Act" from Oppose to Neutral! The Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing already moved to Support several months ago.

From the Illinois Nurses Association: "the INA has changed its position from oppose to neutral because they feel the current proposal adequately protects the public, including sound education and certification requirements, and does allow women to choose to have a licensed certified midwife to provide prenatal and childbirth services in their homes."

You can read more about what is going on in IL on the new Illinois Families for Midwifery blog.

Also in IL, I've been reading up on a recent case in which a woman filed a civil suit against her obstetrican regarding his treatment of her during her labor and birth. Originally in the Chicago Tribune, you can read all of the disturbing details of the OB's treatment of this woman on the Unnecesarean blog.

Scottish Article

From comes an interesting article, "Pregnant women are urged to give birth at home." I was fascinated to read this article and am so very struck by the differences in attitude toward homebirth compared to in the U.S.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grassroots Network: ACTION ALERT for Birth Centers

Dear Friends,

I know we are all really busy, but below is a really important ACTION ALERT from the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) to help Birth Centers. Your 3 phone calls are a gift you can give to mothers and families that costs you nothing more than a few moments of your time.

Read AABC’s Alert below for very straightforward instructions. Phone calls are needed before December 22. Make your calls even if you have nothing to do with Birth Centers support this midwife/mother friendly option for all women.

Some background: Birth centers around the country are owned and staffed by all kinds of midwives, and are one place where CPMs and CNMs frequently work together. Birth Centers provide an excellent alternative to the hospital setting and should be available to everyone. Medicaid does not specifically cover birth centers, so even where the midwife professional services are covered, there is no mandate to cover the "facility fee" the costs of the birth center itself, and insurance coverage typically follows Medicaid rules. Some state medicaid programs have opted to cover this cost, but recent actions at the federal level threaten this coverage because birth centers are not specifically named in the relevant federal statute. Without medicaid and insurance coverage for birth center facility fees, most if not all birth centers will be unable to continue operation, depriving all of us of this option. The only solution is to get federal legislation to specifically include birth centers in medicaid. This is the effort that the American Association of Birth Centers is spearheading; the first step is to get Senators and Representatives to sponsor the bill AABC is developing. ALL of us are needed to help achieve this goal! For more detailed background information, see the link in AABC’s Legislative Alert message below.

When you call your Congress people, do tell them that you are a mom/midwife/doula/etc., and you can say that birth centers are a vital birthing option to which all women should have access. (If you work/own/birthed at a birthing center, great, tell them that, but you don't need to have had a birthing center experience to support this action.)

Read AABC’s ALERT below, and make your 3 brief calls today!

Arielle Greenberg Bywater and Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

American Association of Birth Centers
Legislative Alert

URGENT - Make Calls before December 22nd!

We are making progress with education of the House and Senate about the need to add the birth center facility to Medicaid covered services! But, many Representatives and Senators have not yet had a call from you or your clients. We must have sponsors from both parties! We are also targeting key people who will vote YES or NO whether our bill will get out of committee and to the floor -- once we have introduced the bill.

For background information click here

Please make calls to congressional health staffers this week before the holiday recess!

1. Click here to get the names and phone numbers of the Washington D.C. offices of your two Senators and your Representative.

2. Ask the name of the healthcare staffer and ask to speak to them.

3. Write down their name and phone number.

4. Tell them you own/direct/work at/are a consumer of/care about the services of a birth center.

5. Tell them that a bill will be introduced soon to add birth centers to Medicaid. [NOTE: the bill does not yet have a bill number.]

6. Ask for their support and sponsorship of our bill to add birth centers to Medicaid. That's all you need to say--we'll do the rest.

7. Then call or email AABC's lobbyist Karen Fennell (301-830-3910, or me (423-253-4455, to tell us what they said. We will follow up.

NOTE: We do not have a bill number because it is not yet introduced, but we want to introduce the bill in January and need sponsors now. We can send them the draft bill language if they are interested in sponsoring the bill.

This is urgent if we want to sustain birth centers in the United States. Please call today.

Please pass this on to your Friends of the Birth Center groups and ask them to call too.


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

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advocacy Tools from Other Organizations

A couple of links came to my attention this week with regard to legislative advocacy tools from other organizations.

From AWHONN (Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses), there is a new Legislative Handbook available. (Do be aware that AWHONN isn’t homebirth friendly.) "The new and improved Legislative Handbook is now available online at the AWHONN website. This resource provides you with helpful information to understand how the government works and advocacy tips for both the state and federal levels. This is now available to anyone, so feel free to share it with fellow AWHONN leaders, members, or colleagues."

Click here to access the new handbook.

Families USA: The Voice for Health Care Consumers also seems to have a wealth of tools available online for advocates.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fathers at Birth

Yesterday, I was very excited to learn about a new book called Fathers at Birth. I'm definitely looking forward to reading it, as I think it fills a very specific and valuable need. As a childbirth educator, I have a special interest in fathers at birth and I'm hoping to learn a lot more from this book and to pick up good ideas to pass along to others.

The author opens the book with a "taxicab delivery story" in which she briefly tells the classic story of a mother having a baby in the back of a taxi. She then goes on to say:

"So why am I telling this story? Everyone has heard a version of it, and no one wants to consider a taxi delivery as an option for birth. But what does it have to do with you, a father-to-be? Just like the driver, an expectant father is already equipped to attend his partner during childbirth (emphasis mine); the secret is switching modes. The driver has to shift out of his angst and habitual way of thinking so he can see and respond to the situation as it is. Not how he wants it to be. He has to show up and play it as it lays. In this story, the driver and the woman discover their capacity beyond the edge. While neither wants a taxi delivery, when push comes to shove, they immerse themselves, and they succeed."

Can't wait to read the whole thing!

Speaking of fathers at birth, I posted here before about the upcoming documentary The Other Side of the Glass that explores fathers' experiences of childbirth.

Couples planning homebirths may wish to look into the new film Homebirth Dads, that I reviewed for the fall issue of CfM News. The filmmaker was interviewed this week on the Hypnobabies radio show and you can click here to hear the interview

And finally, no post about fathers at birth would be complete without a reference to a classic book for fathers and other birth support people: The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin. This book was released in a new edition earlier this year.

CNM Statistics

The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) recently released their statistics for CNM attended births (CNMs attended 7.4% of all births in the U.S., 97% of those births were in hospital settings).

Motherlode blog

From Susan Hodges:

Yesterday the New York Times "Motherlode" blog included "Orgasms During Childbirth?" which has 395 comments as I write (i.e., in less than 24 hours). Very interesting to see the range of responses, the attitudes that are out there... Feel free to comment; it would be great to keep the positive and open-minded comments coming to balance the other remarks…

Thursday, December 11, 2008

20/20 Segment Postponed

From BOLD:

January 2nd date likely

"Well, we spoke too soon. 20/20's Orgasmic Birth segment just got bumped from this Friday night due to the Governor of Illinois' emerging political scandal. According to Debra Pascali-Bonaro, filmmaker of Orgasmic Birth, 20/20 is pretty certain the segment will air on January 2nd.

Who said being BOLD was easy? But one thing we know for sure - Orgasmic Birth will be worth the wait! Pleasure always is..."

You can still click here to visit the 20/20 website and share your comments on this topic!

Pre-Term Cesarean Birth Article

There was an op-ed piece by a health insurance executive in the Dec. 5th edition of the New Jersey Times called Pre-term Cesarean Birth. The article is a good look at the problems with elective cesarean before term.

A quote:

"Whatever the reason that women have elective C-sections before full term, it's bad for the baby. Recent research reveals that newborns delivered prior to 39 weeks are twice as likely to end up in the NICU than babies born at 39 to 42 weeks. "

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Health Care Forums

The Obama transition team is planning to hold health care discussions/meetings across the country. Read about this here. We encourage birth/midwifery advocates to be part of the meetings in their communities, or to consider hosting a forum themselves if there is not one in the area already.

It is important to continue to strive to bring maternity care issues to public awareness!

Orgasmic Birth on ABC 20-20 this Friday at 10 PM EST

Orgasmic Birth will be a featured segment on ABC-TV's "20/20" this Friday December 12, at 10 PM Eastern Time

Visit the ABC website to read more about Orgasmic Birth and share your comments on the film.

"Joyous, sensuous and revolutionary, Orgasmic Birth brings the ultimate challenge to our cultural myths by inviting viewers to see the emotional, spiritual, and physical heights attainable through birth. Witness the passion as birth is revealed as an integral part of woman's sexuality and a neglected human right. With commentary by Christiane Northrup, MD, and midwives Ina May Gaskin, Elizabeth Davis and other experts in the field . . . and stunning moments of women in the ecstatic release of childbirth."

For other posts I've made about this film, check here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Recent Articles of Interest

I can hardly keep up with all of the articles and media coverage related to birth, maternity care, and midwifery in recent weeks! I decided to put everything together into one post:

Birthing the Old-Fashioned Way (from the Mommy Files--lots of comments, many negative or ill-informed).

Midwives see renewed interest in natural births (from the Billings Gazette)

More Young Women Opting To Schedule C-Section Births (From the Hartford Courant. This article comes across in favor of scheduled c-sections and as the person who sent the link to me said, "[responding to this article] is an excellent opportunity for us to raise awareness about the bias towards medical birth and how difficult it is for women to have a normal, "unpushed," birth in our local hospitals. If ever there was a time to make some noise - this is it!")

Would You Give Birth At Home? (Syndicated article)

MOMS Returns to Salone
(MOMS = Midwives on a Mission of Service)

On Nov. 20, The Today Show aired a segment about doulas that was negative in many ways and left the doula community feeling disappointed. DONA International responded to the segment with a helpful media kit and encouraged doulas to send press releases to their own local media contacts to correct misinformation in the segment, as well as to raise awareness of doulas throughout the country.

A follow-up article called Expecting parents: What is a doula? is available on The Today Show site.

A week prior to this coverage, Nicole Kidman made very positive reference on the Oprah show to having a doula :) (there is a bit more about this here.)

Additionally the New Space Birth Center in NYC has an interesting new blog.

A few older items of interest:

Midwives speak on birthing (from the Yale Daily News about midwives speaking to college-age women)

ICAN Responds to the Coalition for Childbirth Autonomy's Statement on the Cesarean Rate

Birth by the Numbers (In Birth by the Numbers, Eugene R. Declercq, PhD, Professor of Maternal and Child Health, Boston University School of Public Health, presents the sobering statistics of birth in the United States today.
"Early in the film, he says 'one thousand' when he means 'one million' regarding number of cesareans, as you can see the 7-digit sum in the background when he talks about it. Other than this mistake, the content is excellent! Enjoy!")

Monday, December 1, 2008

Grassroots Network: Support CfM with Amazon purchases

Dear Friends,

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of a peaceful and fulfilling holiday season!

We wanted to remind you that if Amazon purchases are on your holiday lists, you can support Citizens for Midwifery and all of our ongoing advocacy work by accessing Amazon through the CfM website. Your purchases cost the same and happen the same way, with the bonus that Amazon donates a small percentage of all purchases made through the CfM website to CfM!

Just go to (or, alternatively, scroll to the bottom of CfM's home page and click on the Amazon button). Type in the search term for whatever you want to buy into the little box on the Amazon banner, and you will be automatically bounced over to Amazon's site with CfM recognized as the referring agent, then shop as normal for as many items as you want to order. It's that easy!

And please spread the word, especially if Amazon items are on your OWN holiday wish lists.

Thanks, and happy holidays!
Arielle Greenberg Bywater and Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Note from Molly: There is also a search box for Amazon on the lower right hand side of this blog! :)