Ahhhh…..a positive article on homebirth!

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Picture property of Mothering.com

This is a lovely write-up on homebirth at Mothering.com. I especially like the “Questions to ask” sectionand encourage every woman to ask these questions (and others) of ANY midwife they interview. Ask yourself, “What is most important to me regarding this pregnancy & birth?” And then find a midwife who will honor those priorities. Also, it is appropriate to ask for referrals, both professional and personal! Read the Q’s HERE.  

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Gunnarr’s Blanket

(Gunnarr has the traditional Scottish spelling and is pronounced “gun-er”.)

I began an afghan for Gunnarr before he was born. Of course we didn’t know if “he” was a boy or girl so I chose a lovely green color – organic cotton – a lovely yarn and a challenging pattern for my knitting skills. Certainly doable though. I’d been knitting for a couple of years and knew all of the stitches.

Well.

It just wouldn’t come together. I tried and tried, frogged and frogged… and only NOW, with his 9 month birthday looming, is it nearly complete. It was quite a journey, but of course, so was his pregnancy and birth. I’ll blog about the pregnancy another time, but for now will talk a bit about his birth.

I had the MOST lovely home labor I could have dreamed of. Predictable labor pattern, totally what I wanted with my husband at hand, in the water, candles.. music… got the 10 cm and felt like pushing after about 6 hrs. I couldn’t believe how fast it was going! 🙂

And I pushed. And Pushed. And PUUUUSSSHHHEEDDD. Nothing. Changed positions, used homeopathics, contractions hard and strong… the little fellow wouldn’t budge.

Now, of course we hasn’t a little fellow at all. 🙂 He weighed 10 pounds and 8 ounces and was 23 inches long! But I’ve seen 10+lb’ers be born slick as a whistle, easy and in a state of bliss… it just wasn’t happening for me.

6 hours later, Gunnarr plugging along just fine, he was born surgically in our local hospital. He was fine, I was devastated. Even though I made the decision to transport, even though he was ok and so was I (physically) it really REALLY hurt.  A few months later I attended a butter birth… big baby whose mother I now call my friend… and she had MY birth. And it hurt again.

Then today, as I am finishing up Gunnarr’s afghan…. it suddenly started just falling into place… the last few stitches, the edging… all of it. And it hit me: “This doesn’t look exactly like I envisioned it but it still is a nice little blanket!”

Sometimes crap happens. Sorry for using that word, if it offends anyone. But it does. And it’s messy, and it stinks, and well… who wants it? Not me! But it happens. So we clean up the mess and move on. And once in awhile, something beautiful turns up in spite of it. 🙂

Salt in pregnancy

I’ve been recently compiling a few more resources on salt intake during pregnancy. There simply is no science to support the idea that REAL, WHOLE salt should be reduced or eliminated during pregnancy NOR that doing so will decrease swelling.

Here is a great handout on SALT in pregnancy (not to techy). It is from the UK with some US sources.

MidwiferyServices.org has a lovely section on salt to this tune:

What’s Up With Salt?

Sodium is an extremely important component in your diet and yet many women still get misguided advice to not eat salt while pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stopped recommending salt-restriction to pregnant women in 1974, when it was finally acknowledged that this was not only not beneficial, but was potentially harmful!

Sodium works together with protein (albumin) to maintain a normal circulating blood volume. A pregnant woman needs additional sodium to help support her expanding blood volume. Additional sodium goes to the baby and to the expanding breast and uterine tissues also.

Commonly, friends and family will offer advice to cut back on salt if you are experiencing swelling. This is not a healthy solution to this problem (if it really is a problem) and can in fact cause problems. The correct response to swelling is to increase protein and fluid intake. You may even need additional salt if it has been hot or you have experienced increased perspiration. The general rule of thumb is: Salt your food to taste.

And this is my all-time favorite article on the salt-myth because it includes some discussion (often lacking) about the importance of the TYPE of salt you use. Thank you Maryn!!!

Momentum

I’m tired tonight. I’ve driven roughly 600 miles this week, and that’s not counting driving for family matters. That adds about another hundred miles or so. Now, I’m not complaining. I’m really not. I am blessed beyond words, and HUMBLED by the number of colossally awesome families I meet in a given day. For instance:

The last minute meeting with a gal I’ve only talked to in passing that turned into a real “Ah-hah!” afternoon while we both nurse our babies and spoke of ways to improve MOTHERING support in our community.

The family I served this week (albeit BARELY!) who will leave for Mexico as full time missionary’s as soon as this baby’s birth certificate arrives. The mama wants to learn about herbs and homeopathics, and essential oils – she wants to mother her family to the fullest in a possibly hostile and surely third-world environment.

The family who is trying their level best to deal with well-intentioned but sometimes annoying family members who question their choice to homebirth. To see the GRACE with which they do this, and the STRENGTH behind their choice is astounding. I’m SO proud of them for standing their ground REGARDLESS of the choice they make (hospital birth vs homebirth really isn’t the issue here).

The young family that chased me down on the highway because they recognized my vehicle and wanted to see me again (I served them at their birth a few months back). We chatted about organic farming and their recent chicken killing activity over a latte’ at Starbucks. Well, I was the only one with a coffee… and I HAD quit until THIS week hit me! The conversation ranged from that to rare hogs to missing hens and non-GMO corn. Oh, and I got to cuddle THE sweetest baby boy who is getting SO BIG!

Really, I could go on and on. The text conversations with my sister-midwives, my daughter’s dreams of life after high school, my oldest calling home (sniff, sniff), my wonderful sons and husband who cook and even clean in my absence with nary a complaint. They even let me sleep the afternoon away until I can reclaim my home-post. 🙂

The real meaning behind my original statement is that when one is walking out their life-calling it can begin to move really really FAST. Once things get going the momentum is breathtaking! I know Staples has an EASY button, may I have a SLOW one? Because I certainly wouldn’t want to stop, skip or fast forward this journey. I simply would like time to enjoy it a bit more. 🙂

Lest I forget…

I am writing this post in order to accomplish 2 things. 1) to release the beast (ie: whine a little bit) and 2) to remind myself to have compassion on women in my care who are in their last few days of pregnancy.

Because they suck.

  • My feet are swollen, despite drinking gallons of water, taking my supplements and going for walks.
  • My legs feel heavy, thick and … well.. more like tree trunks than appendages.
  • My fingers are also swollen and my left hand aches from pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel.
  • My husband and I are at that stage when only one position will work. And it’s getting old. Fast. “But I need to ripen my cervix!” so we press on. Takes the fun right out of it.
  • Baby is moving less which makes me swing between “Oh no.. I haven’t felt the baby move in X# of hours.” to “Thank the Lord he’s quieted down some. My ribs were killing me.”
  • My emotions have placed my mental stability somewhere in the realm of Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
  • I’m forgetful and moody,  with energy levels ranging from a Speed Boat to those crustaceans that grow on her hull.
  • I’m Hot. All. The. Flipping. Time. My poor husband’s sinuses may never be the same from having a fan on full blast and the thermostat at 60 degrees in our bedroom all summer long.
  • My hips and back hurt all the time too. Chiropractor Dan gives me WONDERFUL relief, but I’m at the stage of needing to go 3 or 4 times a week to keep my poor pelvis somewhat aligned (a childhood injury left me with a tilted, crooked pelvis resulting in posterior babies).
  • My main breakdowns occur over well-meaning family and friends (who love me and I them!) texting, emailing and calling to “See if I’ve had that baby yet!” I want to scream at them: “Yep! Had it a couple days ago but we’re storing it in the closet ’til we decide to tell anyone it came out.” To quote a recently famous red-neck comedian: “Here’s yer sign.”
  • The children have stopped asking if today might be the day, and have begun to walk out of the room slowly and without making eye contact. Sorry kids. Your REAL Mama will come back some day soon.
  • I’ve always been able to shave my legs while pregnant. WELL….. hhmm….. yeah. It’s a real contortionist act at this point for some reason (I’m really tall with long legs and this hasn’t ever been an issue before).
  • And I have threatened my husband bodily harm if he ever puts me in this condition again. LOL as if he tied me down! LOL To which he replies, “Oh no. This is enough. No worries.” to which I reply, “What do you mean? You don’t WANT to have any more babies with me?” and run from the room crying.
  • Contractions start and stop… toying with me… “Is this it?” “No… it’s not.”
  • Bodily secretions have become more attention holding than that cool cable TV show I’ve recently become attached to.
  • And I deplore television.
  • The “Before Baby Comes” list has grown from simple things like “Wash, dry put away baby clothes.” to “Get new tile laid in the master bathroom.” and “Repaint the living room ASAP.”
  • Yeah. It ain’t pretty, folks.

So when sister midwives tell me I need to take into consideration a woman’s emotional state when I maintain my position of “inductions do not belong at home and are risky elsewhere”, I say, “You bet your booty I’m taking that into consideration!!! Does the above description sound like a woman able to make an informed decision that carries multiple risks to herself and her baby?!?!”

Seriously though, I’m glad I have a midwife who is of the same mind as I am on this, because BOY am I tempted to “help things along”, etc. etc. just to release myself from the prison this pregnancy has become.

So what will I do instead?

Probably draw a cool bath, turn on my ipod (loud so i can’t hear anyone knocking on the bathroom door), and pour myself a glass of red wine. I’ll put in a few cups of Epsom salts to help the swelling, do some aromatherapy while I’m in there (my oil of choice at the moment is called “Potential”) and hope the children and husband have eaten by the time I emerge to say good-nights. [Note to self: This man deserves a trophy or something for being so darned level headed and KIND during this last phase of pregnancy. I am considering a gift for the dad’s on the 24 hours pp visit along with the muffins I generally bring along for Mom.]

Then I’ll fall asleep wrapped up in hubby’s strong arms, smelling him in, remembering the days when I could reach all the way around him, and hoping TOMORROW is the day I get to do that again.

And I will dream again that I am holding this baby at last and have blissfully forgotten the struggle of these last days.

Boy oh boy…. CASTOR OIL

Of all my posts on this blog, the one that has stirred the most controversy is the one on Castor Oil for Induction. The article I posted wasn’t even a blog post, but a short synopsis of the research I did to support MY POSITION on the effectiveness of castor oil as an induction method.

Just today I received a rather snarky response to the article claiming that I “didn’t effectively research” and was “one-sided” putting women who might read it and “not do their own research” at risk. Oh, and that I cited an article/study that was irrelevant to the use of CO as it relates to induction. I cited many articles, many more than one, and AGAIN: I was writing this article as an assignment. I had to SUPPORT my position. And I did just that.

Geesh. I’ll approve the comment, of course, all in fairness, but I think the author went a BIT too far in her umm…. criticism? of my post.

Listen, it’s a free world out there. I post my thoughts and positions relating to birth on this blog ‘cuz it’s mine. 🙂 You are free to comment, critique, whatever. Just be fair. And remember that is IS my blog, and as such I can post MY thoughts and positions on it.

SO I will say again: I do not believe castor oil is safe for use on a scarred uterus (ie: VBAC), and may cause some really funky labor patterns in any woman’s uterus. Bottom line: I believe that induction disrupts that wonderful chemical symphony that the body (and the baby) creates to begin labor WHEN IT IS TIME. So whether it’s castor oil, prostaglandins, Cytotec, WHATEVER, fundamentally I believe it changes the energy that surrounds a birth when compared to one that begins spontaneously.  And ***I*** believe it changes it for the worst, not the better.

And again, I’m a US citizen and am entitled to post just that: my beliefs. And for the record, they are based on MOUNTAINS of research, not a “whim” and certainly not without a great deal of care and thought as to the possible implications my beliefs might have on others who read them.

I will be quite transparent: I do not believe induction is safe, healthy, natural or any of the other commonly used adjectives that commonly surround it. I believe induction is sometimes warranted, but within very limited parameters and with VERY careful consideration given to the implications of that decision. I do believe a woman has the right to choose it, but also believe she should be fully informed.

And since “anyone can google castor oil induction” and find out how to do it with little information provided on the risks, I thought a balanced response to that information was in order. 🙂

So… hit delete, or whatever you want to do – that’s cool (free country after all) but don’t accuse me of being cavalier with information that just might save someone’s life and the life of their baby. Because I certainly am not.

Share the truth lately?

I just read this awesome article on IndieBirth.com . In it Maryn explores the possibility that women are mostly making that decision based on emotion. That or they simply haven’t heard that homebirth has come to the 21st century. In spades. 🙂

Many women are making the decision to deliver in the hospital because of fear. And that’s not ok. And it’s not ok because fear does not usually serve us well. Respect the process? Yes. Fear it? Not exactly. I wish there was a way to overcome this… BELIEF SYSTEM… that says we should FEAR BIRTH. Some of it has to do with education, yes. But with the internet and television (Thank you Ricki Lake!) most women in the US have at least “heard about” someone having a homebirth, and that it went well for them.

The problem seems to me that our community connectedness is gone… thanks to the TV and internet (Sorry Ricki). We have to really work at being connected to other moms who are pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant.

Given one, real hand account of a homebirth from a women that I am friends with – whom I trust – and that outweighs MUCH of what I hear, read, or see from other sources. Kindof like a referral to a great hair stylist? 🙂 You can see the ads, clip the coupons and be disatisfied until you BFF tells you about this “fab stylist” at such-and-such street.

So, as a storykeeper, I encourage ALL mothers who’ve had a homebirth to SHARE THEIR STORIES. When someone walks up to you and admires your baby, tell them, “Yes, he was born at home. It was wonderful.” or something like that. Tell the truth! There is nothing illegal about homebirth, and other than a few snubbed noses you’re not likely to encounter anything threatening at making your announcement.

It’s especially meaningful to share these stories at your MOPS meetings, Sunday school, homeschool coops, etc. etc. with women WHO KNOW YOU. Because I’m betting you’re a cool gal and that they trust you. Share the trust one can have in birth and help dispell the FEAR!!!

Publications

I’m sure the rest of you “cool” moms, you “crunchy, granola eater” moms already know about these, but just in case you don’t, and just in case you don’t already subscribe, here’s a shameless plug for the following 2 natural mothering magazines. Fabulous. SIMPLY fabulous. (Goodness, that’s alot of commas in one sentence!)

And…

Ok, so I cry alot lately…

Get over it. 🙂 This post about mothering made me cry. And cry and cry. We mothers give the best of ourselves to our children, and then still wonder if it’s good enough, all the while fighting the urge to be like “some moms” who put their own desires first and their children’s needs last. Fighting guilt that it would even enter our minds to do such a thing.

I was at a 2 day birth as doula and got back home yesterday. By the time it was all said and done I’d been gone from home for 36 hours. My husband is awesome and came home early to cook supper for them, and see them off to school the next day. I am blessed. Yet the entire time I was gone I was missing HOME. Missing cooking and thinking of laundry, and thinking to myself, “This is for the birds. I’m going to get my RN license and go to work in an OB department, have regular hours and MAKE SOME MONEY.”

I got home before the kids did from school and quickly perused the local college’s nursing department website. I was serious. Then the kids got home, happy to see me, and wanted to know all about the birth.

The baby was born gray. Like-a-gravel-road gray. I got him up and out of the water, did some basic life-support, suctioned him to get him ticked off enough to cry. He did. He pinked up later, with some blow-by oxygen and stimulation. It was an Amish family, with Amish midwives and they weren’t really sure what do do outside of pray and talk to the baby to “Come home baby, stay with us baby.” It is part of their belief system to trust birth. 🙂 No stones. They LIVE what they believe, everyday, whether I or you agree with the chances they take or not. That’s something I admire. They also admired me for knowing what to do for the baby. But I’m no hero. I haven’t even taken my official NRP course yet. I just did what I’d read needed done. (That’s on my list now, you can believe.)

So the baby pinks up, I listen for several more hours to him and watch respirations. They do not wish to transport him. He is good today, though I’ll check in several more times over the next few days. They trust me, so I might be able to pursuade them to take him in if he worsens. Right now he is fine.

And as I related this story to my family, I ended with, “But he’s ok and I’m sorry I was gone for so long. I missed you all so much. I’m not sure I’m going to keep doing this.” Boy, did THAT get an unsuspected reaction!

“But mom!!!! What if you weren’t there! What would have happened to that baby?”

“But mom! You don’t have to worry about us, that’s important work. We’re big enough.”

“Honey, it sounds like you were meant to be there. Sounds like you were doing exactly what you are meant to do.”

So I cried, loved on my family and ate Hamburger Helper that my son cooked while I napped, all tucked in my husbands arms. And felt a little better, though relieved that I don’t have another birth until after this baby comes.

And I think of “baby”. By the time that poor first time mom was done I also thought, “Geesh. I’m gonna go to the hospital, have an epidural and secretly sip cappicinno while I’m in labor like all the other moms.” And I thought again of “baby”. I can’t do it.

I did not choose to homebirth because it’s “in fashion” as some to eloquently assert. I do not choose to homebirth even for my comfort. Because we all know an epidural is usually as “comfortable” as one could get while in labor. I thought of why I chose to birth this baby and home and it’s because of “baby”. Epidurals can and do make baby’s heart rate drop dangerously low, doing who-knows-what to his future cognitive abilities. And then cause a “necessary” cesarean almost half of the time at my local hospital. Bright lights, strangers hands, rough towels and rubbings, suctioning even when it’s not needed, shots and stinging ointment put in baby’s eyes, feet stuck and bled within hours of birth, being jerked swleeping from the womb he knows and loves with no preparation… what does this do to BABY and his introduction to this world? Hurt him physically, I’m sure. But emotionally? Spiritually? What does this first environment TEACH him about our world?

I’m a midwifery student and fairly scientifically minded individual. I realize there are times when ALL of the above are NEEDED FOR THE BABY. But the majority of the time they aren’t. And unless indicated I don’t want to expose my baby to that sort of homecoming.

So I pluck a few feathers from my chest, line my nest with a bit more sacrifice and look forward to welcoming “baby” in late October when the winds are crispy and the leaves are falling. No epidural, no one to clean up the mess for us, no one to cook for us (except family), no one to heave the responsibility of this birth onto but ME. 🙂 For baby. All for baby.

“…in all cases think for yourself.”

Doris Lessing – “Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”

This pretty much sums up the motive behind the last post on this blog. I see and hear and read of SO many choices we make in regard to childbirth and breastfeeding that are facilitated by fear, misinformation and CHOSEN IGNORANCE. I had a mom tell me once, very pragmatically, that “it’s easier to just do what the doctor says. do you realize how much work it is to fight every protocol?” Yeah. I do. But what is at stake if we don’t?

Alot. and I’m not suggesting we fight protocol for the sake of fighting protocol (though some might say that is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself). I’m suggesting rather, that we exercise our rights to informed consent. That we demand it, that we honor it, that we respect the right and exercise it.

If a woman chooses to go along with a protocol regarding her birth options, chooses it knowing the possibilities and chooses it knowing the risks then I say, “THROW A PARTY! WOOHOO!” This is informed consent!!!

But to say, “I don’t know and I don’t want to know” is irresponsible and dangerous. And it happens with sickening frequency.

I had a reader post something along the lines of my insensitivity to women’s psychological positions and backgrounds when I shout this whole “get informed” thing so loudly. That if/when something goes badly because of a choice she made I might just say, “Get over it. You did it.” I have to chuckle, because the truth is, I might feel just that. In my head anyway. I’d never say that to a woman. I’d never even THINK it really, but in reality there has to be responsibility taken when a choice is made. And if a woman chooses an epidural (for instance) and the babies heart rate drops and an emergency cesarean is needed, let’s not go blame the anesthesiologist or sue the hospital or OB for malpractice if the baby is then subsequently harmed in the birth process. Let’s be real.

So whatever you choose regarding you reproductive rights, INFORM yourself… DEMAND to be informed, then be BRAVE and make the decision your heart and head calls you to make. No one else ahs to live with the decision. YOU DO. And then… be REALLY BRAVE and tell another woman what you learned. 🙂