Friday, July 31, 2009


Posted by Kim
Email received from Business of Being Born Facebook Group

Next week, we continue our celebrity webisode series with TV and film actress Melissa Joan Hart. We loved our interview with Melissa Joan because her two birth experiences mirror so many women that we hear from across the country.

Her first child was induced without any medical reason: “I was ready to just get my baby out and get my life going because I had been thinking about it for so long,” she said. What followed was a difficult labor that lasted 24 hours. It took several attempts before the epidural was administered correctly. Melissa’s doctor used a vacuum to assist. “There were three hours of pushing with my doctor saying, ‘One more push and you’re going for a C-section.’ I did whatever the doctors and nurses wanted me to do.” Melissa believes that her first son, Mason, just wasn’t ready to be born at the time she was induced. “I think he would have stayed in there another two weeks. I was mentally ready to have the baby, and because it was my first, I wanted to be done with it and have that experience,” she said.

When Melissa was pregnant with her second child, she wanted to do things differently. At a friend’s recommendation, Melissa enrolled in hypnobirthing classes where she learned relaxation and visualization techniques. “What I took away from hypnobirthing was the idea that you don’t have to be a good patient. You don’t have to do what the doctors and nurses tell you to do. They want to make it pain-free for you, and as easy as possible for them and for you. And they want to make you comfortable. But in hypnobirthing they teach you that birth is not a medical experience, and you have every right to bring the baby into the world however you want to, unless there’s an emergency.”

To hear how Melissa Joan’s second birth turned out, tune into next week! Melissa Joan’s story is being sponsored by our good friends at Milkalicious.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Watermelon Wonders

Written by Leigh Brown Perkins for Fit Pregnancy

More than just a summer picnic favorite, watermelon offers important pregnancy benefits and shows its stuff in several surprising recipes.

Once considered just a juicy treat with limited culinary range and nutritional value, watermelon actually is a versatile and very healthful fruit. On a salad plate, it's a succulent stand-in for tomatoes. It adds crunch and color to entrees. It makes a sweet background for smoothies and sorbets. And it freshens up a tangy barbecue sauce.

If you're pregnant, the benefits are even more delicious. Watermelon eases heartburn and reduces swelling; its high water content (92 percent) and fruit sugars alleviate morning sickness and dehydration; and the minerals it contains can help prevent third-trimester muscle cramps. Ounce for ounce, watermelon is richer than tomatoes in lycopene, an antioxidant that protects against cancer and cardiovascular disease, boosts the body's immunity to infections and naturally raises the skin's SPF, according to Steven Pratt, M.D., author of SuperFoods Rx (HarperCollins, 2003).

Even better news for pregnant women: A 2003 study in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that daily lycopene supplements reduced the incidence of preeclampsia by 50 percent. Test subjects were given 4 milligrams of lycopene; a single serving of watermelon can have triple that amount. What's more, scientists have discovered that watermelon is packed with vitamins A, C and B6, as well as potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are important for the development of your baby's vision, brain, nervous and immune systems, and more. For you, potassium regulates water balance in the blood and body tissues during pregnancy. And you get all these benefits for less than 50 calories per cup.

With its plentiful health perks and juicy, refreshing taste, watermelon is one of summer's most perfect nutritional packages. Try it in these sweet and savory recipes.

An Easy Way To Ease Nausea
Some pregnant women swear that watermelon is all they can keep down when morning sickness kicks in. Perhaps the only thing more refreshing than a big slice is a glass of fresh watermelon juice or a watermelon ice pop--and making either is so easy.

To make juice, purée 8 cups cubed seedless watermelon in a blender until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve (don't press the fruit through with a spoon, or the juice will be too fibrous). Discard the pulp. Serve the juice immediately or chill it, stirring well before serving. If desired, add 1 tablespoon citrus juice (such as lime, lemon or orange) to intensify the flavor. Makes 1 quart, or about 4 8-ounce cups.

To make ice pops, purée 4 cups frozen, seedless, cubed watermelon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a blender. Pour purée into popsicle molds or 10 small paper cups. To forgo the fibers, strain purée through a fine-mesh sieve before pouring into molds. Top each cup with aluminum foil, making a small slice in the top of each with a knife and inserting a wooden stick. Place in freezer until hardened, then unmold when ready to eat. For variety, mix the purée with lemonade, sweetened low-fat yogurt, fruit juice or other fruit purées before freezing.
Makes 10 2 1/2 -ounce servings.

Grilled Chicken With Watermelon Barbecue Sauce

PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 50 minutes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (5 ounces each) For sauce:
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup seedless watermelon, chopped

Purée watermelon in a blender. Place purée in a Dutch oven over medium heat and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in remaining ingredients (except for the cup of chopped watermelon) and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped watermelon and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Grill chicken for 5 minutes. Turn chicken and brush with barbecue sauce. Cook for 5 more minutes, then turn and brush with more sauce and cook an additional 5 minutes. Brush with remaining sauce. Serve with mashed sweet potatoes, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving (1 chicken breast and 1/2 cup sauce): 374 calories, 12% fat (5 g), 38% carbohydrate (36 g), 50% pro-tein (47 g), 2.5 g fiber, 3.7 mg iron, 74 mg calcium, 15 mcg folate, 19 mg vitamin C.

Summertime Slush

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

1 cup seedless watermelon, cubed
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 kiwi, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup white grape juice
1/2 cup cold green tea, sweetened
1/2 cup ice cubes

Purée watermelon in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving (10 ounces): 80 calories, 0 fat, 95% carbohydrate (19 g), 5% protein (1 g), 2 g fiber, 0.6 mg iron, 24 mg calcium, 17 mcg folate, 58 mg vitamin C.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Questions about Prenatal Ultrasound and the Alarming Increase in Autism

Written by Caroline Rodgers for Midwifery Today Issue 80

In May 2006, figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed what too many parents and educators already knew: The incidence of autism is high, making it an "urgent public health issue," according to Dr. Jose Cordero, director of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Only 12 years ago autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was so rare that it occurred in just one in 10,000 births.(1) Today ASD, which is characterized by a range of learning and social impairments, now occurs in one in 166 children (2)—with no sign of leveling off.

The steep increase in autism goes beyond the US: It is a global phenomenon, occurring in industrialized nations around the world. In the UK, teachers report one in 86 primary school children has special needs related to ASD.(3)

The cause of autism has been pinned on everything from "emotionally remote" mothers (since discredited) to vaccines, genetics, immunological disorders, environmental toxins and maternal infections. Today most researchers theorize that autism is caused by a complex interplay of genetics and environmental triggers. A far simpler possibility worthy of investigation is the pervasive use of prenatal ultrasound, which can cause potentially dangerous thermal effects.

Health practitioners involved in prenatal care have reason to be concerned about the use of ultrasound. Although proponents point out that ultrasound has been used in obstetrics for 50 years and early studies indicated it was safe for both mother and child, enough research has implicated it in neurodevelopmental disorders to warrant serious attention.

At a 1982 World Health Organization (WHO) meeting sponsored by the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) and other organizations, an international group of experts reported that "[t]here are several frequently quoted studies that claim to show that exposure to ultrasound in utero does not cause any significant abnormalities in the offspring. …However, these studies can be criticized on several grounds, including the lack of a control population and/or inadequate sample size, and exposure after the period of major organogenesis; this invalidates their conclusions…."(4)

Early studies showed that subtle effects of neurological damage linked to ultrasound were implicated by an increased incidence in left-handedness in boys (a marker for brain problems when not hereditary) and speech delays.(5) Then in August 2006, Pasko Rakic, chair of Yale School of Medicine's Department of Neurobiology, announced the results of a study in which pregnant mice underwent various durations of ultrasound.(6) The brains of the offspring showed damage consistent with that found in the brains of people with autism. The research, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, also implicated ultrasound in neurodevelopmental problems in children, such as dyslexia, epilepsy, mental retardation and schizophrenia, and showed that damage to brain cells increased with longer exposures.(7)

Dr. Rakic's study, which expanded on prior research with similar results in 2004 (8), is just one of many animal experiments and human studies conducted over the years indicating that prenatal ultrasound can be harmful to babies. While some questions remain unanswered, based on available information, health practitioners must seriously consider the possible consequences of both routine and diagnostic use of ultrasound, as well as electronic fetal heart monitors, which may be neither non-invasive nor safe. If pregnant women knew all the facts, would they choose to expose their unborn children to a technology that—despite its increasingly entrenched position in modern obstetrics—has little or no proven benefit?
Problems with Sound and Heat

One challenge that ultrasound operators face is keeping the transducer positioned over the part of the fetus the operator is trying to visualize. When fetuses move away from the stream of high-frequency sound waves, they may be feeling vibrations, heat or both. As the FDA warned in 2004, "ultrasound is a form of energy, and even at low levels, laboratory studies have shown it can produce physical effect in tissue, such as jarring vibrations and a rise in temperature."(9) This is consistent with research conducted in 2001 in which an ultrasound transducer aimed directly at a miniature hydrophone placed in a woman's uterus recorded sound "as loud as a subway train coming into the station."(10)

A rise in temperature of fetal tissue—especially since the expectant mother cannot even feel it—might not seem alarming, but temperature increases can cause significant damage to a developing fetus's central nervous system, according to research.(11) Across mammalian species, elevated maternal or fetal body temperatures have been shown to result in birth defects in offspring.(12) An extensive review of literature on maternal hyperthermia in a range of mammals found that "central nervous system (CNS) defects appear to be the most common consequence of hyperthermia in all species, and cell death or delay in proliferation of neuroblasts [embryonic cells that develop into nerve cells] is believed to be one major explanation for these effects."(13)

Why should neurodevelopmental defects in rats or other mammals be of concern to expecting women? Because, as Cornell University researchers proved in 2001, brain development proceeds in the same manner "across many mammalian species, including human infants."(14) The team found "95 neural developmental milestones" that helped them pinpoint the sequence of brain growth events in different species.(15) Therefore, if repeated experiments show that elevated heat caused by ultrasound damages fetal brains in rats and other mammals, one can logically assume that it can harm human brains, too.

In fact, the FDA and professional medical associations know that prenatal ultrasound can be dangerous to humans, which is why they have consistently warned against the non-medical or "keepsake" ultrasound portrait studios that have cropped up in malls throughout the country.(16)

The risks to the baby are potentially higher in commercial enterprises due to the higher acoustic output required for high-definition images, a potentially long session—as technicians hunt for suitable images—and the employment of ultrasound operators who may have no medical background or appropriate training. These variables, along with factors such as cavitation (a bubbling effect caused by ultrasound that can damage cells) and on-screen safety indicators that may be inaccurate by a factor ranging from 2–6 (17), make the impact of ultrasound uncertain even in expert hands. Quite simply, if ultrasound can injure babies, it can cause the same damage whether done for routine, diagnostic or "entertainment" purposes.
Elevated Maternal Temperatures Cause Birth Defects

Understanding what happens when the fetus's temperature increases, whether caused by an elevation in maternal core temperature or by the more local effect of ultrasound, is the key to appreciating prenatal ultrasound risks. An individual's body temperature varies throughout the day due to various factors such as circadian rhythms, hormone fluctuations and physical exertion. While people may have up to 1.5° F in each direction of what is considered a "normal" core temperature, the overall average among people is 98.6° F. An increase of only 1.4° F to 100° F can cause headaches, body aches and fatigue, enough to get the individual excused from work. A temperature of 107 F can cause brain damage or death.

A core temperature of about 98.6° F is important because that is the point at which many important enzyme reactions occur. Temperature affects the actual shape of the proteins that create enzymes, and improperly shaped proteins are unable to do their jobs correctly. As factors such as the amount of heat or duration of exposure increase, enzyme reactions become less efficient until they are permanently inactivated, unable to function correctly even if the temperature returns to normal.(18)

Because temperature is critical to proper enzyme reactions, the body has built-in methods to regulate its core temperature. For instance, when it is too low, shivering warms it up; when it is too high, sweating wicks off the heat. For obvious reasons, fetuses cannot cool off by sweating. However, they have another defense against temperature increases: Each cell contains something called heat shock (HS) proteins that temporarily stop the formation of enzymes when temperatures reach dangerously high levels.(19)

Complicating the issue is the fact that ultrasound heats bone at a different rate than muscle, soft tissue or amniotic fluid.(20) Further, as bones calcify, they absorb and retain more heat. During the third trimester, the baby's skull can heat up 50 times faster than its surrounding tissue (21), subjecting parts of the brain that are close to the skull to secondary heat that can continue after the ultrasound exam has concluded.

Elevated temperatures that might only temporarily affect the mother can have devastating effects on a developing embryo. A 1998 article in the medical journal Cell Stress & Chaperones reported that "the HS response is inducible in early embryonic life but it fails to protect embryos against damage at certain stages of development." The authors noted, "With activation of the HS response, normal protein synthesis is suspended…but survival is achieved at the expense of normal development."(22)
Autism, Genetics and Twin Studies

What does elevated body temperature have to do with autism? Geneticists are trying to crack the DNA mysteries behind ASD. Recently researchers linked two mutations of the same X chromosome gene to autism in two unrelated families, although they do not yet understand at what stage these genes were damaged.(23) Because sibling and twin studies show a higher prevalence of autism among children in families with one autistic child, geneticists expected to find inherited factors, but despite millions of dollars invested in the search, no clear explanation indicates that ASD is inherited. Perhaps scientists need look no further than at the thermal effects of ultrasound for many answers.

If prenatal ultrasound is responsible for some cases of autism, it stands to reason that if one twin were autistic, the other would have a high probability of being affected, since both would have been exposed to ultrasound at the same time. In both identical and fraternal twins, one twin could be more severely affected than the other if he or she happened to take the brunt of the heat or sound waves. In the case of fraternal twins, since autism strikes males between three to five times more often than females, the sex of the twins also could make a difference in outcome.

A 2002 study showed that simply being a twin substantially increased the likelihood of autism, making twinning a risk factor.(24) Could this increased twin risk factor have to do with the practice of giving mothers with multiple gestations more ultrasounds than those expecting single births? While not discounting the role genetics may play in autism, the possible impact of prenatal ultrasound deserves serious consideration.
Ultrasound Warnings Unheeded

The idea that a prenatal ultrasound can be hazardous is not new. The previously mentioned 1982 WHO report, in its summary "Effects of Ultrasound on Biological Systems," stated that "…animal studies suggest that neurological, behavioral, developmental, immunological, haematological changes and reduced fetal weight can result from exposure to ultrasound."(25)

Two years later, when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a conference assessing ultrasound risks, it reported that when birth defects occurred, the acoustic output was usually high enough to cause considerable heat.(26). Although the NIH has since stated that the report "is no longer viewed…as guidance for current medical practice," the facts remain unchanged.

Despite the findings of these two major scientific gatherings, in 1993 the FDA approved an eight-fold increase in the potential acoustical output of ultrasound equipment (27), greatly increasing the possibility of disastrous pregnancy outcomes caused by overheating. Can the fact that this increase in potential thermal effects happened during the same period of time the incidence of autism increased nearly 60-fold be merely coincidental?
Hot Tubs, Steam Rooms, Saunas and Maternal Fevers

If the culprit is heat, then what about other situations in which heat impacts pregnancy? A 2003 study titled, "A report of heat on embryos and fetuses" in the International Journal of Hyperthermia states, "hyperthermia during pregnancy can cause embryonic death, abortion, growth retardation and developmental defects."(28) It further states, "An elevation of maternal body temperature by 2 degrees Centigrade [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] for at least 24 hours during fever can cause a range of developmental defects."(29) The report noted that necessary data to draw conclusions on exposure times less than 24 hours were lacking (30), leaving open the possibility that elevated maternal temperatures for shorter periods may adversely affect fetuses.

A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that "women who used hot tubs or saunas during early pregnancy face up to triple the risk of bearing babies with spina bifida or brain defects."(31). Hot tubs and baths present greater dangers than other heat therapies such as saunas and steam rooms because the immersion in water foils the body's attempt to cool off via perspiration, in much the same way fetuses cannot escape elevated temperatures in the womb.

All of this taken together establishes the fact that heat, whether caused by elevated maternal temperature or by an ultrasound transducer that remained over one area too long, can set into motion damaging changes in a developing baby. Using common sense, why would anyone think that intruding upon the continuous, seamless development of the fetus, which has for millions of years completed its work without assistance, be without consequences?
Vaccine and Thimerosal Controversy

Despite long-standing evidence that ultrasound induces thermal effects and that thermal effects can harm fetal brain development, the cause of autism has remained so elusive to researchers that many autism societies use a puzzle piece as part of their logos. Particularly confounding is the fact that ASD plagues the children of high-income, well-educated families who have the best obstetrical care money can buy. Why would women who took their prenatal vitamins, observed healthy diets, refrained from smoking or drinking and attended all regularly scheduled prenatal visits bear children with profound neurologically based problems?

Some believe that childhood vaccines, at first available only to those who could afford them, cause autism. Many vaccines contained thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, which was thought to have a cumulative neurotoxic effect on children, especially as the number of childhood vaccines increased during the same period of years that the prevalence of autism increased. However, after an exhaustive review in 1999, the FDA found no evidence of harm in the use of thimerosal in childhood vaccines.(32)

Despite those findings, that same year the FDA, NIH, CDC, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) together urged vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal in childhood vaccines.(33) Pharmaceutical companies complied, and ultimately reduced the infant thimerosal exposure by 98%.(34)

Interestingly, not only did autism rates fail to decrease, they continued to increase. ASD increases are between 10 to 17 percent every year, according to the Autism Society of America (35), indicating that thimerosal is not to blame.

Thimerosal was not the only area of concern in the vaccine-autism controversy. Many people believed that a correlation existed between the triple vaccine MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) and ASD. However, a large, retrospective epidemiological study of more than 30,000 children in Japan between 1988 and 1996 found that the autism rate continued to climb after the vaccine was withdrawn.(36) Those results were no different than the outcome of a 1999 study published in The Lancet, that showed no corresponding jump in autism in the UK after the introduction of the MMR vaccine.(37)

A 2001 study published in JAMA examining California autism and MMR vaccination rates said the results did "not suggest an association between MMR immunization among young people and an increase in autism occurrence."(38) While concerns about vaccines and mercury exposure should not be dismissed, evidence to date does not implicate either one as a major factor in the explosion of ASD cases.
Global Autism Epidemic

Statistics on the increase of autism worldwide among industrialized nations show that it has emerged in just the last few decades across vastly different environments and cultures. What do countries and regions with climates, diets and exposure to known toxins as disparate as the US, Japan, Scandinavia, Australia, India and the UK have in common? No common factor in the water, air, local pesticides, diet or even building materials and clothing can explain the emergence and relentless increase in this serious, life-long neurodevelopmental disorder.

What all industrial countries do have in common is the quiet yet pervasive change in obstetrical care: All of them use routine prenatal ultrasound on pregnant women.

In countries with nationalized healthcare, where virtually all pregnant women are exposed to ultrasound, the autism rates are even higher than in the US, where due to disparities in income and health insurance, some 30 percent of pregnant women do not yet undergo ultrasound scanning.
The Changes in Ultrasound

In considering initial studies indicating that prenatal ultrasound is safe, one must factor in the ways in which the technology and its applications have continually changed and how that has altered the potential exposure of unborn children. Besides the huge increase in allowable acoustic output in the early 1990s, the following changes have made the field of prenatal ultrasound riskier than ever:

* The number of ultrasound scans conducted during each pregnancy has increased, with women often receiving two or more scans even in low-risk situations.(39) Women in "high-risk" situations may receive many more scans—which, ironically, may raise their risk.
* The range of time within an embryo or fetus's development when ultrasound is performed has extended to very early in the first trimester and continues into the third trimester, right up to delivery. Fetal heart monitors that are used prior to delivery—sometimes for hours—have not been shown to reduce neurological problems and may increase them.(40)
* The development of the vaginal probe, which positions the beam of sound much closer to the embryo or fetus, may put it at higher risk.
* The use of Doppler ultrasound, which is used to study blood flow or to monitor the baby's heartbeat, has increased. According to the 2006 Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, "routine Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy does not have health benefits for women or babies and may do some harm."(41)

Increasingly Common Birth Defects

Dr. Rakic's research team, cited earlier in this article for its recent study on mouse brains and ultrasound, pointed out that "the probe was held stationary for up to 35 minutes, meaning that essentially the entire fetal mouse brain would have been continually exposed to the ultrasound for 35 minutes…in sharp contrast to the duration and volume of the human fetal brain exposed by ultrasound which will typically not linger on a given tissue volume for greater than one minute."(42) This is an excellent point, which is worth pursuing.

One of the most popular non-medical uses of ultrasound, which can extend a medically indicated session, is to determine the sex of the baby.
# Could this have a connection to the increase in birth defects involving the genitals and urinary tract?
The March of Dimes says that these types of birth defects affect "as many as 1 in 10 babies," adding that "specific causes of most of these conditions is unknown."(43)

Following this line of thought, consider what other parts of the body are scrutinized by ultrasound technicians, such as the heart, where serious defects have soared nearly 250 percent between 1989 and 1996.(44) The list of unexplained birth defects is not a short one, and in light of what is emerging about prenatal ultrasound, scientists should take another look at all recent trends, as well as the baffling 30% increase in premature births since 1981, now affecting one in every eight children (45), with many showing subsequent neurological damage.(46)

Although many claim that ultrasound benefits outweigh the risks, that statement has no basis and much evidence is to the contrary. A large randomized trial of 15,151 pregnant women, conducted by the RADIUS Study Group, found that in low-risk cases, high-risk subgroups and even in cases of multiple gestations or major anomalies, the use of ultrasound did not result in improved outcome in the pregnancies.(47) The argument that ultrasound is either reassuring to the parents or provides an early opportunity for bonding pales in the face of the possible risks that are emerging as new data become available. Parents and health practitioners may not be able to easily turn away from this window on the womb and resume more traditional practices in obstetrics and midwifery. However, with the disturbing trend in autism and other equally troubling, unexplained birth-related trends, it does not make sense to blindly employ a technology that is not reliably safe for unborn babies.

Caroline Rodgers

Editor's Note: Read more about ultrasound on our Web site:

* Ultrasound: Weighing the Propaganda Against the Facts - by Beverley Lawrence Beech
* Ultrasound: More Harm than Good? - by Marsden Wagner
* Search more about ultrasound.


1. "National Autism Treatment Plan for Excellence in IDEA" Petition to the President of the United States. Accessed 23 Sep 2006.
2. "How Common Are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)?" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 23 Sep 2006.
3. "Autism in schools: Crisis or challenge?" The National Autistic Society. Accessed 23 Sep 2006.
4. "International Programme on Chemical Safety. Environmental Health Criteria 22. Ultrasound." 1982. United Nations Environment Programme, International Labour Organisation and International Radiation Protection Association. Accessed 22 May 2006.
5. Keiler, H., et al. 2001. Sinistrality—a side-effect of prenatal sonography: A comparative study of young men. Epidemiology 12(6): 618–23; Campbell, J.D., et al. 1993. Case-controlled study of prenatal ultrasonography exposure in children with delayed speech. Can Med Assoc J 149: 10, 1435–40.
6. "Ultrasound Can Affect Brain Development." Truth Out Issues. Accessed 25 Sep 2006.
7. Ibid.
8. Ang, E.S., Jr., et al. 2006. Prenatal exposure to ultrasound waves impacts neuronal migration in mice. PNAS 103(34): 12903–10. Accessed 11 Aug 2006.
9. Rados, Carol. 2004. FDA Cautions Against Ultrasound "Keepsake" Images. FDA Consumer Magazine. Accessed 11 Sep 2005.
10. Samuel, Eugenie. 2001. Fetuses can hear ultrasound examinations. New Scientist. Accessed 11 May 2006.
11. Miller, M.W., et al. 2002. Hyperthermic teratogenicity, thermal dose and diagnostic ultrasound during pregnancy: implications of new standards on tissue heating. Int J Hyperthermia 18(5): 361–84.
12. Ibid.
13. Graham, Jr., M., M.J. Edwards and M.J. Edwards. 1998. Teratogen Update: Gestational Effects of Maternal Hyperthermia Due to Febrile Illnesses and Resultant Patterns of Defects in Humans. Teratology 58: 209–21.
14. Clancy, B., R.B. Darlington and B.L. Finlay. 2001. Translating developmental time across mammalian species. Neuroscience 105(1): 7–17.
15. Ibid.
16. See note 9 above.
17. See note 13 above.
18. Wilson, D.E. 2004. "Body Function Dependent On Body Temperature." In Wilson's Temperature Syndrome—A Reversible Low Temperature Problem. eBook. Accessed 19 Sep 2006.
19. "How enzymes work." Biotopics. Accessed 19 Sep 2006.
20. "The ultrasound procedure: Physical effects and research." Birth. Accessed 23 Sept 2006.
21. Barnett, S.B. "Can diagnostic ultrasound heat tissue and cause biological effects?" In S.B. Barnett and G. Kossoff, eds. 1998. Safety of Diagnostic Ultrasound. Carnforth, UK: Parthenon Publishing.
22. Edwards, M.J. 1998. Apoptosis, the heat shock response, hyperthermia, birth defects, disease and cancer. Where are the common links? Cell Stress Chaperones 3(4): 213–20.
23. Klauck, S.M., et al. 2006. Mutations in the ribosomal protein gene RPL10 suggest a novel modulating disease mechanism for autism. Mol Psychiatry. advance online publication 29 August 2006. doi:10.1038/
24. Betancur, C., M. Leboyer and C. Gillberg. 2002. Increased Rate of Twins among Affected Sibling Pairs with Autism. Am J Hum Genet 70: 1381–83.
25. See note 4 above.
26. "Diagnostic Ultrasound Imaging in Pregnancy." National Institutes of Health Consensus Statement Online. 5(1): 1–16.
27. See note 16 above.
28. Edwards, M.J., R.D. Saunders and K. Shiota. 2003. Effects of heat on embryos and foetuses. Int J Hyperthermia. 19 (3): 295–324.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Milunsky, A., et al. 1992. Maternal heat exposure and neural tube defects. JAMA 268(7): 882–85.
32. "Thimerosal in Vaccines." U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed 21 Sep 2006.
33. Ibid.
34. "Thimerosal and Vaccines." Centers for Disease Control. Accessed 27 Sep 2006.
35. "Facts and Statistics." Autism Society of America. Accessed 21 Sep 2006.
36. Honda, H., Y. Shimizu and M. Rutter. 2005. No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 46(6): 572–79.
37. Taylor, B, et al. 1999. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet 353(9169): 2026–29.
38. Dales, L., S.J. Hammer and N.J. Smith. 2001. Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California. JAMA 285(22): 1183–85.
39. Stephens, M.B. 2000. American Family Physician Conference Highlights: Majority of Pregnant Women Want Prenatal Ultrasound. Am Fam Physician (62)12: 2665.
40. Wagner, M., and M.G. Wagner. 1994. Pursuing the Birth Machine, 1st ed. French's Forest, Australia: James Bennett Pty Ltd.
41. Bricker, L., and J.P. Neilson. 2006. "Routine Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy." The Cochrane Collaboration 3. Accessed 23 Sep 2006.
42. Smith, M. 2006. "Ultrasound Affects Development of Murine Brains." Medpage Today. Accessed 13 Aug 2006.
43. "Genital and Urinary Tract Defects." March of Dimes. Accessed 27 Aug 2006.
44. "Healthy from the Start." 1999. The Pew Charitable Trusts (Environmental Health Commission). Accessed 25 Sep 2006.
45. Behrman, R.E., and A.B. Stith, eds. 2006. Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Accessed 20 Sep 2006.
46. "New research offers clues to prevent brain damage in premature babies." 2006. Medical News Today. Accessed 25 Sep 2006.
47. Ewigman, B.G., et al. 1993. Effect of Prenatal Ultrasound Screening on Perinatal Outcome. N Engl J Med 329(12):821–27.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Snoozing May Help Women Shed Baby Weight

Posted by Kim
As Written for HealthDay Reporter, found on Yahoo! News

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- New moms who can't zip up their pre-pregnancy jeans might not be catching enough zzzs.

Getting a good night's sleep, in fact, may be just as important as diet and exercise for shedding baby weight.

One study of new mothers found that those who slept five or fewer hours a day six months after giving birth were three times as likely to hold onto those extra pounds as were women who got seven or more hours of sleep.

Short sleep duration "stood out as an independent risk factor" for weight retention, said Erica P. Gunderson, a research scientist and epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., who worked on the study.

For many women, postpartum weight retention is a serious issue because it can lead to long-term weight gain. Some studies show that up to 20 percent of women retain at least 11 pounds at six to 18 months after giving birth, Finnish researchers reported.

Lifestyle factors that lead to postpartum weight retention -- including a woman's diet, physical activity and sleep patterns -- have not been well studied, researchers report. But as every bleary-eyed new mother knows, slumber is frequently disrupted or cut short in the first year after a baby's birth.

"Sleep deprivation can cause changes in the levels of hormones involved in appetite regulation," explained Dr. Sirimon Reutrakul, a clinical associate in medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

"Keep in mind, though, that there are multiple factors involved in causing postpartum women to sleep less," she said. "These include just having a newborn, having other small children at home, possible postpartum depression, illness of the newborns, if any, work, etcetera," she said.

In Gunderson's study, the sleep and weight retention patterns of 940 Massachusetts women were analyzed. A year after giving birth, 124 of the women had retained 11 or more of the pounds they had put on during their pregnancy.

Short sleep duration was associated with a threefold higher risk of substantial weight retention, when compared with women who got seven hours of sleep. How long a woman breast-fed, however, was not a significant factor.

Dr. Truls Ostbye, a professor and vice chairman of research in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, is currently leading a study designed to promote weight loss in overweight women after childbirth. Preliminary data from that study show that "women who sleep less at six weeks lose less weight from six weeks to 12 months," Ostbye said.

But the relationship between sleep and weight loss isn't that simple. After adjusting for the fact that heavier women lose less weight and sleep less, "the effect of sleep on weight loss nearly goes away," he said.

"The relationship between obesity and sleep is there," he added, "but it is as likely that less sleep is a result of obesity as the other way around."

Advising women to get more sleep may not get to the root of their sleep-deprivation problem, Reutrakul said, "although stressing the importance of a good night's sleep is a good idea."

More information

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has more about sleep and pregnancy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vacationing with the kids

Posted by Kim:

Hello and sorry for the hiatus without notice over the last week. I was enjoying a fabulous vacation with my entire extended family on the St Lawrence River and boy did we have a great time. The weather in upstate NY is always a little iffy, one can never tell what it is going to be like, but we made the most of it. Considering the weather report we really only had one day of rain so it was pretty great.

Each year vacations get more fun with my boys because they are able to do more, I am able to worry a little less, and more importantly they often sleep in later than I do! I can't believe that day has actually come (yeah ok so my youngest is only 4 it really hasn't been that long). I am sure the day will come when I am actually going in and waking them up so they don't miss the fun.

Never the less, vacationing may not be without its parental concerns, but it is so fun when the boys can literally play all day with their cousin and never once ask to watch a movie or even wonder why we don't even have a tv. I loved watching Connor take a fish off the hook all by himself for the first time and Griffin throw caution to the wind and jump off the fishing dock and swim in The River. As I tried to tell him, "Sometimes you just have to take the chance!"

One things for sure, I could get use to a summer River lifestyle! When we return home to CO I will be happy to get back into a routine and glad to be back to our beautiful state, but I sure will miss NY and the wonderful friends and family we have here. At least my family and I are blessed enough to be able to make these long wonderful trips back to see our friends and family and explore beautiful places!

I may not be back home, but I am back to work so expect more posts and informational articles!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Postpartum - Wake Up Call

Posted by Carri:

Another great part about having a home birth is the care I have received from my midwife. Not only did she provide me great prenatal care, she really cared about me and how I was going to take care of myself after the birth. She strongly urged that I really take the two weeks all midwives advise to take it easy. She told me that if I didn't take that time, I would struggle for 6 - 9 months to get back on my feet with 4 kids. So my husband took off 3 days from work (no that was not enough, but whatever!), my best friend came up with her 3 kids (who entertained my kids) for 5 days, and then my mom came up here for the rest of the time. After the two week mark I was terrified about handling all of this on my own. I haven't had to do laundry, dishes, cooking, or all 4 kids on my own. So I figure that I will just focus on trying to keep everyone sane and alive each day, and anything else that gets done will be a plus. I know that I can handle anything, but it is always a downer to realize that your days of being taken care of and others helping you out are mostly over. I still have a few meals coming in, and my mom will come up and help here and there... but still - it will be a challenge and a transition and all I can do is face it and become the mother of 4 I knew God meant for me to be. I'll keep you updated. Or rather if you don't see many blogs from me for a while, take that as a sign that I'm still struggling to get my feet under me :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Women Should Endure Labour Pains Says Leading UK Midwife

Posted by Kim
As written by Catharine Paddock, PhD for Medical News Today

A leading UK authority on midwifery told a Sunday newspaper that more women should experience the natural pains of labour unaided by epidurals and other pain-relieving medication because not only do these procedures carry greater medical risk but they interfere with the mother's ability to bond with her baby and deny her the opportunity to experience childbirth as a rite of passage.

According to an article in the Observer newspaper yesterday, Dr Denis Walsh, a senior midwife, published author on natural childbirth, and an associate professor in midwifery at Nottingham University, said that:

"In the west it has never been safer to have a baby, yet it appears that women have never been more frightened of the processes."

"More women should be prepared to withstand pain," he said, explaining that labour pain has a purpose, it is a "useful thing", with a number of benefits, including:

"Preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby."

He said nowadays hospital staff are too quick to offer pain relief, and argues that the 'epidural epidemic' should give way to yoga, hypnosis and birthing pools. Walsh criticizes the rising trend of pain free labour in a paper in Evidence Based Midwifery, a journal published by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

He said the number of women giving birth in the UK who have an epidural has nearly doubled from 17 per cent in 1989-1990 to 33 per cent in 2007 -2008. This was in spite of increased medical risks associated with epidurals, including a greater chance that the baby's head will be in the wrong place, lower rates of breastfeeding, and longer first and second stages of labour, he added.

Walsh told the Sunday paper that normal childbirth was receding in the face of a rising "antipathy to childbirth pain" that has grown in the last 20 years. Doctors and medical staff are more risk averse, and the idea of patients' rights have combined to create a situation where nearly all hospitals now offer epidurals "on demand" even though this may not be the best thing for mother and baby, he said.

Walsh supports an approach that he calls "working with pain" that he wants the NHS to adopt and move away from the idea that pain relief should be routine. Pain is a natural part of labour and such an approach would see women being offered yoga, hypnosis, massage and birthing pools as ways to work with and alleviate the pain, he said.

Walsh is of the view that there has been a shift toward viewing the pain and stress of labour as a negative thing rather than a natural process, a "rite of passage" in a woman's transition to motherhood.

According to Walsh, there is evidence than 1 in 5 women who are given epidurals don't need them, while recent research shows that normal labour helps a woman's brain prepare effectively for bonding in a way that is better than caesarean or pain-free birth.

Mary Newburn of the parenting charity National Childbirth Trust, told the Observer that Walsh's comments were timely. She said now that 93 per cent of births happen in hospital as opposed to at home has helped to fuel the "epidural culture". She said there should be more antenatal education and birth centres run by midwives.

But Sally Russell who co-founded the Netmums website described Walsh's comments as "absolute rubbish" and unhelpful to women who needed pain relief. She said women who for whatever reason can't go through normal birth will feel "stigmatized" by his comments and "made to feel they have let themselves down because there's such pressure to have a normal birth".

A senior obstetrician and gynaecologist at Birmingham Women's Hospital, Dr Justin Clark, agreed. He told the Observer that it was "wrong to suggest that modern women are somehow less stoical than in the past", and that Walsh was exaggerating the risks of epidurals. He said they were almost always a necessary and good thing, for instance if the woman gets tired or there are complications.

However, the general secretary of the RCM, Cathy Warwick, said there would be fewer epidurals if the NHS did more to support mothers in labour who ask for pain relief because they are anxious at not getting the one to one support they need from a midwife.

In 2005 the RCM launched a UK-wide Campaign for Normal Birth which aims to inspire and support normal birth practice among midwives and is underpinned by the RCM philosophy that pregnancy and birth are normal physiological processes, and that there should be a positive reduction in unnecessary medicalisation.

-- Evidence Based Midwifery

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

You're invited to From Birth to Baby: A HypnoBirthing Celebration

Posted by Kim
As written by Carol Yeh-Garner

You're Invited! From Birth To Baby: A HypnoBirthing Celebration
Hosted by Carol Yeh-Garner, HBCE and Indigo Dragon Health and Wellness Center
Saturday, July 18th from 3-6 pm at 451 La Veta Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024

This is a FREE event with FREE seminars, demos, chair massage, acupressure,
photo sessions, food, giveaways & more!

3:30-4 Intro to HypnoBirthing with Carol Yeh-Garner, HBCE
4-5:30 Birth Stories--
Angie & Dr. Capetenakis (local OB)~1st time parents
Ashley Lanahan~1st time mom
Mika Chang~2nd time mom, VBAC-vaginal birth after c-section
5:30-6 Pregnancy Transformational Healing seminar with Viraja Ma

Other seminars:
4:30-5 Cloth Diapering & Sling Demo by Magical Child
5-5:30 Ask a Doula panel with Jo Kilburn, Donna Hayes & Kayti Ricker
5:30-6 Family yoga

Ongoing mini-sessions:
Acupressure with Indigo Dragon
Chair massage with Indigo Dragon
Healing touch with Suzanne Weeks (
Photo Sessions with Erika Hoff (for babies & pregnant moms)

Dr. Capetenakis will be available to answer questions about Babies by the Sea, the new birth center he & Dr. Biter will be opening long as he doesn't have a mom giving birth.

Stella & Dot
Designs by Janessa
Happi Tummi
Baby Log book
Pregnancy tea by Indigo Dragon
$25 off HB course

Stella & Dot jewelry (
Designs by Janessa jewelry (
Magical Child (

Dining Details will be providing the yummy organic appetizers throughout the
event & will be sharing information about their home delivery & homemade baby
food service.

Please RSVP to me at awelllivedlife at hotmail dot com.

I hope you can make it! Please share this invitation with any of your pregnant friends or clients.

Pregnancy - Intelligender Update

Posted by Carri:

As you will remember, I took the IntelliGender test in April, towards the end of my second trimester. I also did the DrainO crystal test and just had a lot of fun playing with all the old wives tales. That is another fun part about not finding out the gender with ultrasound. We also checked with the Chinese calendar and asked everyone we knew (including the Big O Tire man - who was right both times about the genders of my last two pregnancies!). All the tests, except the Chinese calendar, predicted we were having a girl. Deep down I thought I was having a girl, but was worried that was just what I was hoping for. So when a girl actually came out, I was both relieved and shocked. So the IntelliGender test was accurate! I read somewhere that several women were suing a company that sells a similar product to IntelliGender. They claim that the test was not accurate for them. Do we really have to sue? The test is $25, and is really meant for fun more than anything. With ultrasounds and amnio tests, I can't imagine why you would take this test very seriously. It certainly didn't convince me after taking it. I did it for fun! What do you think?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Embracing the Miracle

The bond between a parent and child is the the foundation for the rest of the child's life. The attachment created in the womb, during birth and the first precious hours after or the absence of this critical bond, determines much about the child's resiliency and what kind of adult they can grow up to be. How do your birth choices affect this critical and essential event? Is it possible for babies to be born gently and for the mother to give birth in joy, experiencing pleasure instead of pain? Barbara blends the latest science, heart, soul and humor to present a riveting and challenging case for everyone to examine.

Join us for this wonderful presentation, delicious food, and discussion.

Light refreshments and beverages are included in the price of admission.

**Babes in arms are welcome.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the new midwifery program at IHW:

About Barbara Harper

Barbara Harper is a registered nurse as well as a midwife, doula and childbirth educator. An internationally recognized expert on waterbirth and childbirth reform, she lectures and consults within hospitals, universities and community groups worldwide. The Oregonian newspaper, in 2005, referred to her as “the Billy Graham of waterbirth,” as she travels around the world spreading the good news that birth can be an ecstatic and gentle experience. She was recognized in 2003, by Lamaze International for her contributions in promoting normal birth on an international level. Barbara has published three editions of the best selling book, Gentle Birth Choices, now translated into seven languages, including Chinese in 2007. She has produced two remarkable videos, Gentle Birth Choices and Birth Into Being: The Russian Waterbirth Experience. She has two new books in the works – “The Complete Guide to Waterbirth”, which will be out early 2010, followed by, “Embracing the Miracle: How Pregnancy, Birth and the First Hour Influence Human Potential,” to be released in 2011. Barbara has dedicated her life to helping heal the way babies are welcomed into the world and to helping parents and providers understand the benefits of the use of warm water immersion during labor. She is the founder of Waterbirth International, a socially conscious organization whose mission is making waterbirth an available option for all women. Barbara is the mother of three, her two youngest sons born at home in water. She is a new resident of Lighthouse Point, Florida, after spending 27 years on the West Coast. But is rarely home, as her work has taken her to 44 countries and over 1000 cities! Her next international journey is back to China for a four city lecture tour.

Visit her website at

Friday, July 10, 2009

ACOG Issues New Guidelines On Fetal Monitoring To Resolve Inconsistencies In Interpretation

As seen on the Medical News Today website

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently published new guidelines on electronic fetal monitoring in an attempt to increase consistency in the way physicians interpret and act on the results, the New York Times reports. Electronic fetal monitoring, which was introduced in the 1970s, is used during labor for more than 85% of the four million infants born alive in the U.S. annually, the Times reports. According to the Times, use of fetal monitors became standard obstetrical practice before it was known if the benefits outweighed the risks. The new guidelines refine the meaning of various readings from fetal monitors and could help doctors make better decisions about whether to intervene during labor.

According to experts, the widespread adoption of fetal monitoring has produced both negative and positive consequences, including significant increases in caesarean deliveries and the use of forceps during vaginal deliveries. Monitoring has not been found to reduce the risk of either cerebral palsy or fetal death resulting from inadequate oxygen to the fetal brain, as it was intended to do. Furthermore, lawyers commonly use monitoring results to support malpractice cases that might have little merit, which in turn has driven rising malpractice insurance costs and prompted some obstetricians to stop delivering infants.

The new guidelines divide monitor readings into three categories to help doctors interpret readings more consistently. The old guidelines had two categories -- reassuring and non-reassuring -- and it was up to the obstetrician to determine whether a non-reassuring reading required intervention. Under the new guidelines, the first category applies when tracings of the fetal heart rate are normal and no specific action is required. The second category is for indeterminate tracings that require evaluation, continuous surveillance and re-evaluation. Obstetricians treating patients in this category should consider other clinical factors that could affect the fetus and whether the patient could be safely moved to category one, according to Catherine Spong of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which produced recommendations on which the guidelines are based. The final category is for abnormal tracings that require immediate evaluation and efforts to reverse the abnormal heart rate. The Times reports that more refinements to the guidelines are expected to be released in 2010 (Brody, New York Times, 7/7).

Reprinted with kind permission from You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pre-Pregnancy - Space

Posted by Kim
Written by Tink, friend of BINSI

"Inside my heart, there is a space. It twists and turns. It bleeds and aches. I am wanting. I am needing you here..." -Jewel, musician.

I am at ease with this aching space. Finally. I comprehend this elaborate process, more like a miracle, this journey of starting a family truly is. I look at my husband from across the lawn in his running shorts and shoes and see a child no taller than his knees toddling behind him. I hold my smallest cat, Tikki, and imagine a snugly, wiggly baby. I think about the holidays when the children are in their 20s...(and me in my 50s). Makes me want to have more than just 2 kids. J and I have said if it is in the cards, we'd have four. Yes, this miracle will happen soon.

Have you seen MTV's 16 and Pregnant? Whoa, talk about kids having kids. I find myself glued to the television. I feel disappointed in and simultaneously rooting for the teenage fathers that refuse to give up their social schedule. I talk to the televsion, encouraging their young minds eye to widen to the tiny human depending on them for everything. I find myself whole-heartedly sympathizing with the teenage mothers who do their best to finish school, balance their new family, and watch them struggle to communicate with their partners. Communicating with your partner is not always easy no matter your age. Throw in being 16 with an infant...the maturity just isn't available all the time. Would it help to tell your teenager, "Your physical body will be ready to make a baby way before than your emotional body will be. It is up to you to make choices about sex that direct to you down the path you and your partner are able to realistically handle." Or something like that?

I feel good these days and the space inside me that twists and turns and yearns for a baby still exists however its vinegar environment has been swept away. I am left with a soft space that sits patient; waiting and watching. An example when time heals. I can play superstitious sometimes. I needed to lose that. For example, "If you drink this cup of coffee, you won't get pregnant..." or "If you yell at that person in traffic for driving like a numnut, you won't get pregnant." No, Tink, that's just called pure insanity. Keep on truckin'....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Annual CAPPA Conference

Posted by Kim:
As seen on the CAPPA website

CAPPA conferences are a great place for you to expand your professional knowledge on childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting topics. Attend the CAPPA FREE childbirth conference and earn CEUs that you can use for recertification. CAPPA is proud to present the world's leading authorities on all the topics you use in your practice as a professional. We are committed to providing you with an excellent conference that meets all of your needs. Look for information soon on our speakers and topics, but make plans now to join us!

The 2010 annual CAPPA conference will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, July 22nd to July 25th. Our annual conference is free to all members of CAPPA, though additional sessions are offered at a low cost to extend your conference learning experience. More information regarding this conference will be listed on this page as it becomes available. We hope to see you there!


The Hilton Charlotte University Place

"The Hilton at Charlotte University Place is located at The Shoppes at University Place and offers a variety of diversions for a sunny afternoon. You can explore the walking trail that skirts the perimeter of a picturesque ten-acre lake, located at the center of the facility, or pass the time exploring a combination of unique, local specialty shops and well-known national retailers. After satisfying your shopper's cravings, rest under a patio umbrella and enjoy a glass of wine or an ice cream cone while you consider where to have lunch or dinner. The Shoppes offer a variety of restaurants from which to choose - Chinese, Mexican, Italian, sushi, seafood, snack foods, fast food - you name it. And after your meal, why not round out the evening and visit the movie theatre on site and take in the latest blockbuster?"

The room rate is $109.00 USD. Be sure to ask for the CAPPA room rate when reserving your room!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pilot Study Removes Standard Hospital Bed As Focal Point Of Labor

Posted by Kim:

WOW! What an awesome concept! Wait until you read the article below!!! I am so excited to read about the PLACE study recognizing the need to provide women with a safe, but un-clinical place to labor and birth their babies. As a matter of fact, this study reminds me of...... the BINSI Mission Statement! We have always said that we are a company founded and firmly grounded in a desire to help women feel powerful, healthy, beautiful and in control as they enter their amazing journey into motherhood. In addition to our mission, Carri wrote an article "Hospital Births: Losing the Fear Factor" that discusses this exact same subject from a personal perspective. In her article she says "No matter how prepared a woman is, hospital births come with a high I.F. (Intimidation Factor). From the beeping machines and rubber gloves to the polite but often officious staff; much of the hospital experience communicates one message to the mommy-to-be: You are not in charge here." However, together Carri and I have been working hard to dispel this assumption for years. We have been encouraging women to take control of their birth environment and make it their own. No, the laboring mom can not switch out the hospital bed, but she can bring her own clothes to labor in, comforting CDs, aromatherapy, focus points, flash lights (or battery operated window candles) etc. to personalize her environment. Please read our suggestions on What To Pack In Your Birth Bag on our website for more suggestions. So imagine if we could combine all of our own personal touches with the new and improved hospital room that removes the focus on the clinical (and may I add uncomfortable) hospital bed? I swear I was more sore from sleeping in my rock hard bed than I was from my birth! Now we are getting some where!!!

As written by Lucianna Ciccocioppo, University of Toronto

A University of Toronto pilot study that re-conceptualized the hospital labour room by removing the standard, clinical bed and adding relaxation-promoting equipment had a 28 percent drop in infusions of artificial oxytocin, a powerful drug used to advance slow labours.

The study, called PLACE (Pregnant and Labouring in an Ambient Clinical Environment) was published in the current edition of the journal Birth.

In addition, more than 65 percent of the labouring women in the ambient room, compared to 13 per cent in the standard labour room, reported they spent less than half their hospital labour in the standard labour bed.

Led by Dr. Ellen Hodnett, Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing professor and Heather M. Reisman Chair in Perinatal Nursing Research at the University of Toronto, PLACE included 62 women at two Toronto teaching hospitals.

Hodnett devised a set of simple, but radical modifications to the standard hospital labour room, with the intention of surrounding the women and their caregivers with specific types of auditory, visual and tactile stimuli.

"The removal of the standard hospital bed sent a message that this was not the only place a woman could labour," says Hodnett. A portable, double-sized mattress with several large, comfortable cushions was set up in the corner of the ambient room. Fluorescent lighting was dimmed, and DVDs of ocean beaches, waterfalls and other soothing vistas were projected onto a wall. A wide variety of music was also made available.

"The intent was to allow the women the ability to move about freely during their labour, to permit close contact with their support people, and to promote feelings of calm and confidence," says Hodnett.

Reaction to the ambient room was overwhelmingly positive, as respondents were pleased to have options for mobility and for helping to cope with their labour. They also indicated they received greater one-on-one attention and support from their nurses.

"This study raises questions about the assumptions underlying the design of the typical hospital labour room," says Hodnett. "The birth environment seems to affect the behaviour of everyone in it - the laboring women as well as those who provide care for her.

Hodnett hopes to further this study with a larger, randomized controlled trial.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Postpartum Sex

Posted by Kim

As written by Sarah Lipoff for the SF New Moms Examiner

We love our partners, there wouldn’t be a new baby in our lives if we didn’t, and there is only so long the inevitable can be put off. There has been plenty of time for recovery, the baby is starting to nap regularly, and life is starting to have a normal rhythm. It’s time to get busy – in the bedroom that is.

Sex, the forbidden topic. It isn’t something everyone wants to chat about after having a baby. The memories of the labor experience is still fresh in the mind and the idea of any other action in the nether region is a bit daunting. Will it be painful? Are things going to feel different? Am I ready?

Here’s the thing. When you are ready, you can still have a great sex life after having a baby, either vaginally or by c-section. The most important thing is to jump back in the pool when YOU are ready. If your partner was around for any part of the birth, they should have gotten a glimpse into what the experience was like for you. This should give them a little bit of an idea of how you need to heal, and have some understanding for your lack of enthusiasm. If you had any tearing or an episiotomy during birth, it needs to heal before partaking in any sexual activities. It may take longer than the suggested 6 week waiting period before you are all healed up.

At 6 weeks, your OBGYN will want to see you for an exam and make sure things are going well. This is also the time frame suggested to wait before having any sex after birth. If all goes well, your OBGYN will give the official thumbs up, and you are ready for action. The problem is, you might not be feeling it, or ready to feel anything.

I am going to be real honest. My husband was there for the whole birth and it was absolutely awesome to have him be such a large part of the birth of our daughter. He saw the pain, the blood, and the whole shebang. I was absolutely amazed that he was ready to get back in action just a few weeks after our baby was born. I explained there was no way anyone was going anywhere near that area of my body, not now, not for a while, maybe not ever!

My hormones were raging, which is normal. I was also still bleeding, which is normal. My breasts hurt and were swollen from breastfeeding, which is normal. And I was exhausted from lack of sleep, adjusting to breastfeeding every 2 hours, keeping a house clean, and just living in general. Having a newborn is a lot of work, and it can take its toll on other aspects of one’s life. Sex was definitely not high on my list. But, I knew it was for my husband.

After my 6-week check-up, I was given the thumbs up and told to take it slow, use lots of lubrication, and make sure to have some four-play. It seemed so awkward hearing suggestions from my OGBYN who just weeks ago brought my daughter in to the world. She could read the trepidation all over my face and basically told me to just do it. So, I did.

Here’s the deal. It is going to hurt. You aren’t going to probably be really into it, and there is a big chance you will have some bleeding afterwards. But, it is important to not forget that sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing. Take the time to bring it back into your life. It is important for you, your partner, and the continuation of your relationship. Just because you have a new baby doesn’t mean you can’t get busy every once in awhile.

Oh, one last thought to leave you with. Make sure to use birth control. Unless you are ready to go down that path again.

Here are a couple great websites to help with postpartum sex:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Birthing, Breastfeeding & Bonding Conference 2009

From the Birthing, Breastfeeding & Bonding Conference Website

You are invited to attend the Birthing, Breastfeeding and Bonding Conference 2009: Movement Towards Positive Change in Present Practices. Taking Place on Friday October 2nd and Saturday October 3rd, 2009 in Lethbridge, Alberta, this exciting conference will advocate for gentle birthing, wondrous breastfeeding and intimate bonding. It is the first of its kind to hit Southern Alberta covering a broad spectrum of topics within the two days.

A number of professionals will be traveling from various places, ranging from here in Alberta to South Africa, to speak to the conference attendees. Included in the speaker list is Barbara Harper (RN, Certified Doula, Certified Childbirth Educator, Author), Teresa Pitman (Author and Certified Doula) and Dr. Nils Bergman, all of whom are highly regarded experts in their field. The conference will be a place to empower each other to become catalysts for change in the field of pre and peri-natal care. Continuing education credits will be available for a number of sessions.

Alberta is in need of an awakening, a light at the end of the tunnel, and this conference may just be that. Although geared towards health care professionals the Birthing, Breastfeeding and Bonding conference is a great place for interested mothers and fathers as well.

Conference Speakers:

  • Barbara Harper, RN, CD, CCE
  • Dr. Nils Bergman
  • Teresa Pitman, CD
  • Jacki Glover, RN, MN, IBCLC
  • Arie Brentall-Compton, LE
  • Mary Siever, NCP, OHP
  • Loree Siermachesky, CD (DONA)
Registration click here
Conference Schedule click here
List of Sessions click here

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Formula, the Disaster

Posted by Kim:

While doing research for yesterday's commentary on UNICEF's "Formula for Disaster" I came across the article Formula, for Disaster by Jennifer Zajfe written for the NY Times and was shocked. In the article, Jennifer claims that hospitals can no longer be classified as Mother Friendly because "In their effort to encourage breast-feeding, what the American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed the healthier food source for newborns, 11 public hospitals in the city have decided to stop giving free formula samples to new mothers."

Why are free samples of formula not being given away? Right in her own article she notes "Fueling this movement are studies that have shown that new mothers who are given free samples of formula are less likely to stick with breast-feeding after they leave the hospital. As a reference point, the academy recommends that women breast-feed their infants exclusively for the first six months, citing that a half year of breast-feeding reduces the risk and duration of infectious illnesses as well as the risk of chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel diseases and juvenile-onset diabetes."

So why are these attempts to encourage mothers to breast-feed their babies for their own and their babyies' health considered discriminatory and not Mother Friendly? Based on her own birth experience, Jennifer had a difficult labor resulting in an emergency caesarean section which delayed her milk production. Despite the nurses supportively encouraging her to breast-feed her baby she ultimately decided to bottle-feed her daughter. She says that the formula samples were a godsend.

While I don't doubt that these samples were convenient for her and that it was in fact a very difficult time for her because her birth experience wasn't what she expected and she never had any intention to bottle-feed her baby, I just have to wonder why she is questioning the decision not to routinely give out formula samples to every single mother in every single situation. I remember receiving my first diaper bag as a gift from the hospital. That "beautiful" yellow and blue Similac bag that I can recognize from 3 blocks away. I knew I was going to breast-feed and everything worked out great for me, but if I was at all worried about how I was going to make it work, or concerned about whether or not I could do it, wouldn't the routine gift of the similac send the message that my hospital and OB is much more supportive of formula rather than breast-feeding? Even if that is not the case, that would certainly be the perception.

Referring back to her birth experience and the difficulty with breast-feeding after a caesarean birth she states "With Caesarean rates skyrocketing in New York City (some hospitals have a nearly 40 percent rate of Caesarean delivery), formula often becomes a necessary part of the equation. As in my case, women who experience a delay in milk production from these types of deliveries frequently end up relying on bottle-feeding to nourish their infants."

In my opinion, Jennifer should stop worrying about the issue of not receiving free formula samples, instead she should be concerned about why mother's are having a difficult time initiating breast-feeding and if it is due in part to the 40% caesarean birth rates, maybe that is the heart of the issue.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Formula For Disaster

Posted by Kim:

"Formula For Disaster" is a 5 part series in which UNICEF explores the effects that formula (also referred to as powdered milk) companies' marketing practices have had on the health and well being of children in third world countries, specifically the Philippines. It is amazing to me how large wealthy companies, like Nestle, are willing to take advantage of the most desperate of situations. Literally stealing money from the poorest of the poor, virtually bribing health care workers with incentives to promote their products, and spending billions on propaganda advertisement campaigns. Where is their sense of decency?

When I watched this video series I was appalled by the advertisements shown on TV and the promises the formula companies were making. Convincing mothers and fathers to feed their children powdered milk products because they are better than a mother's milk and will make children geniuses and exceptional. In addition, the blatant promotion of the formula/powdered milk products in the care centers and hospitals was amazing considering Executive Order 51 makes promoting these products illegal. Then I tried to put myself in the shoes of those doctors, midwives and parents.

The powdered milk companies are completely taking advantage of the situation. First, the parents in this video are well aware of the situation in which they live and I am sure all they want for their children is to have a better life. At one point in the video a group of mothers with little babies are watching a commercial for powdered milk and it shows a baby girl being fed the pwdered milk from birth until she is about 10 years old. As the little girl grows she begins to have an interest in playing the violin and by the time she is 10 she is playing in a large concert hall in front of thousands of people because she is so brilliant from drinking powdered milk. The looks on the faces of these mothers as they are watching this commercial tells it all, they all long to have children who achieve such success. Each mom was nearly in tears watching it. So if spending the majority of their hard earned money on formula is what it is going to take to help their children become geniuses they will make those sacrifices. Despite the fact that it costs nearly half their salary and the water sources in their neighborhoods is questionable and often tainted. Second, the doctors and midwives promoting the powdered milk are probably aware that a mother's milk is best for baby, but how bad can the formula be? After all the incentives to promoted the formula and powered milk products are so high, they may figure that the rewards they receive from promoting it allows them to care for more families, in turn actually promoting health care in their area.

So, in my opinion this all comes back to the large companies with little to no conscious, not caring about who they are taking advantage of or what the repercussions of their actions are. I had heard about the boycott of Nestle in the past and I had heard about this marketing scam in third world countries, but until seeing these videos I had never felt such heartache for these families and the pressure they are being put under.

I proudly breastfed both of my boys for a full 12 months, but I understand that there are certainly situations when breastfeeding is simply impossible, but in these situations, in our country, I hope that mother's are making their to breastfeed or to formula feed based on personal situation, research, and factual information.

Please watch these videos, I would love to hear your opinion.

Formula For Disaster Part 1/5

Formula For Disaster Part 2/5

Formula For Disaster Part 3/5

Formula For Disaster Part 4/5

Formula For Disaster Part 5/5


Executive Order 51 - Philippines