Thursday, August 26, 2010

Women's Equality Day

It was on August 26, 1920, that women finally obtained the right to vote with passage in the U.S. Congress of the 19th Amendment!

According to the website of the National Women's History Project:

"The observance of Women's Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women's continuing efforts toward full equality. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women's Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities."

You've probably guessed what I'm going to say, but I would love to see all women have equal access to to quality birth care--that would include the Midwives Model of Care (equally applicable in hospital settings as well), the Six Healthy Birth Practices (Lamaze) as the standard of care, and simple respect of women's voices about their wishes in birth. As it is now, women are limited in this equal access by geographic region, insurance coverage, financial need, legal restrictions, VBAC bans, and lack of available midwives to name a few. Some people take a, "where there's a will there's a way approach--I'd do anything it took to pay for my midwife and have my baby at home," but I believe it is much more complicated and multifaceted than that.

As I think about Women's Equality Day, I also think about this quote from Raven Lang in her 1972 classic, Birth Book:

“Birth has not only reached the absurdity of having to be relearned, it also has the absurdity of becoming a criminal offense if we are to go ahead with our ideals and do things the way we desire. And so, because of the system, midwifery as practiced in this book is against the law. It has become political. We didn’t make it that way. For us it is a beautiful, personal, spiritual, sexual experience. And for us to have that, we become criminals.”

I shared this quote on the CfM Facebook page and several people commented that not much has changed today...

CfM Blogger

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Magic of Mothering

In Raven Lang's classic Birth Book, there is a section in it about "imprinting" (I think it has been established that human "imprinting" after birth doesn't technically exist, but when this book was written in 1972 it was one of the ideas). Anyway, there was a section about research done with baby goats done to look at the ability of a mother to protect her offspring from environmental stress. They separated twin goats and put some in rooms alone and the others in rooms with their mothers. The only difference in the room was the presence of the mother. An artificial stress environment was created involving turning off the lights every two minutes and shocking the baby goats on the legs ( :( ). After the babies were conditioned like this, they were tested again two years later. This time all the babies (now adult goats) were in rooms alone and were again "treated" to the lights off and shock routine. The goats who had been with their mothers during the early experience showed no evidence of abnormal behavior in the stressful environment. The ones who had not been with their mothers did show "definite neurotic behavior." Somehow, the presence of the mother alone served to protect the baby goats from the traumatic influences and keep them from being "psychologically" disturbed in adulthood.

Except for feeling sorry for the baby goats, I thought this information was very cool. How magic are mothers that just by being there we can help our babies--even if there is still something stressful going on, our simple presence helps our babies not be stressed by it and continue to feel safe. Magic!

This was included in the book because of the idea that birth may be a stressful environment for a baby and if the continuity of motherbaby is maintained after birth (immediate skin-to-skin contact and opportunity for breastfeeding), the baby does not become stressed or "neurotic." But...if the continuity for mother and baby is broken by separation (baby whisked away for weighing or whatever), both mother and baby are stressed by this and it may have an impact on their future relationship and behavior. The book also talks about how the sound of the baby's first cry has a sort of "imprinting" effect on the mother in that her uterus immediately begins to contract and involute after hearing her baby's first cry, whereas mothers who are immediately separated from their babies and do not make contact with them have a higher likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage (I have no idea if this has been debunked or not since the book was written in 1972, but it was an interesting idea to read about).



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Monday, August 9, 2010

Perennial Favorites

Recently, on the CfM Facebook page I posed the question: do you have a favorite birth book that you can re-read over and over, each time being engaged anew and/or learning something fresh from familiar words?

I asked the question because I am currently re-reading Birthing from Within for the sixth time. When I read this book, I find I always learn something new, gain fresh insight, or have ideas reinforced/validated. I read it for the first time during my first pregnancy and have read it during two subsequent pregnancies (and now again, during my fifth pregnancy) as well as two other times seeking insights and application for the birth classes I teach.

I asked this question and then went out of town for the day. When I returned, it absolutely made my day to see many responses to my question with lots of great books listed. Three other commenters shared that Birthing from Within is their favorite too and then there were over 30 other posts with other people's perennial favorites! Here is the list--I hope it will remind you to revisit some old treasures in your personal library.
  • Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (this, and/or Spiritual Midwifery received NINETEEN recommendations!)
  • Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley MD (x's 2)
  • Journey into Motherhood, edited by Sheri Menelli. The commenter said, "LOVED it. read it over and over. Full of inspiring, uplifting, wonderful birth stories."
  • Heart and Hands, by Elizabeth Davis (x's 2)
  • "Anything written by Sheila Kitzinger. She is my fave birthy authoress!" [note from Molly: she is definitely one of my top favorites as well!]
  • Hypnobirthing, by Marie Mongan (x's 3)
  • Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy
  • The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin (x's 4)
  • Your Best Birth, by Ricki Lake
  • Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper (x's 2). Comment from FB fan: "It's the book I give to non-birth nuts to help them understand why I do what I do."
  • Open Season, by Nancy Wainer. Comment from fan: "get's at the heart of things on every level-body, mind and politics" [note from Molly: I LOVE this book too. Very fire-y!]
  • Orgasmic Birth, by Debra Pascali-Bonaro
  • Osceola Guide to Natural Childbirth
  • Birthing in the Spirit, by Cathy Daub
  • Under the Apple Tree, by Helen Wessel
  • Rediscovering Birth, by Sheila Kitzinger. Comment from fan: "that was the book that really opened my eyes when pregnant with my second child. It's a beautiful book." [I agree!]
  • The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer
  • Baby Catcher (x's 2)
  • Birth Book, by Raven Lang. Comment from fan: "Just ordered another copy and I am 60!! I had it with my first born 34 years ago! Gave it away~thought it was out of print and discovered how to get a copy. It influenced me more than any other!" [Note: Birth Book is available in a limited edition from CfM!] Another fan then shared this nice story: "OOOOOH, I do love that one. I married into the most amazing family. My father-in-law's sisters gave me that one and this heirloom copy of Spiritual Midwifery (held together with tape and hairbands) when I married their nephew, to make sure I walked a clear road to birth! (OK...even typing this story has me tearing up! Never fails!)"
  • The Vital Touch, by Sharon Heller was recommended as, "Not so much a 'birth book' per se, but more of a 'importance of touch and listening to our infants and children' kind of a book.
I hope this list inspires you to contemplate your own bookshelf!

CfM Blogger
P.S. I kept accidentally typing "perineal favorites" as my title ;-D

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cesarean Awareness

Some time ago, I connected online with a new Lamaze childbirth educator named Kelli Haywood. Recently, she notified me about her cesarean awareness radio piece that aired on Mountain News and World Report. The piece is 30 minutes long and contains a lot of information about cesareans, necessary cesareans, informed consent, and so forth. As well as the childbirth educator speaking and sharing her personal story of her first birth by cesarean, she interviewed an obstetrician, CNM, and a CPM for the piece. And, a local mother shares her story of necessary cesarean.

As Kelli noted, "While the piece is particular to Kentucky and the mountain region, however, it also applies on the broader nationwide scope." I agree! It was definitely worth the listen and I enjoyed all of the perspectives shared. I was interested by some statements made by the OB that epidurals are perfectly safe and in some studies "lower the cesarean rate" (!?)--he then notes that this is, "probably because the patients are more compliant." (emphasis mine). Ah ha! This epidural information was followed up with additional information and resources from the CBE and CNM questioning the widespread use of epidural anesthesia.

The story is called Cesarean Birth and the Women of the KY Mountains and Nationwide.

There is also a companion article with additional resources available on Kelli's blog, Birth True.

CfM Blogger