Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hospital policy of withholding food during childbirth coming under scrutiny

It's about time!!! This has always been such a weird issue to me. It seems very odd that you withhold food and drink from someone that is accomplishing one of the most physically exhausting events of their lives. Women need to be nourished and hydrated for their own health and their babies health.

Written by Andrea Levy, The Plain Dealer
Hospitals are now rethinking policies that withhold food from mothers in labor.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The last thing on April Baer's mind while awaiting the birth of her first child was where her next meal was coming from.
A good thing, since she wouldn't have gotten anything to eat even if she had asked.
Like most women who deliver in a hospital, Baer -- who gave birth to baby Stella in early June -- didn't get a morsel of food to munch during her six-hour labor.

To read the rest of this article please view it at: http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2010/08/hospital_policy_of_withholding.html, Andrea Levy, The Plain Dealer

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Walk to Beautiful

I just found this and am very excited to watch it. I am ordering it on Netflix today. I will write another post once I have seen it. Until then - you should watch it too!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Friday!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

50 Best Breastfeeding Resources on the Web

Originally posted by Posted by Christie Haskell September 15, 2010 at 4:09 PM
on the Stir cafemom blog

Whether you're wanting to breastfeed and looking to learn or have already started and need help, the resources you turn to can either help you succeed or sabotage and undermine your chances. It's important to choose reliable resources that have no hidden agenda other than to help you be successful and happy in your breastfeeding relationship and journey.

After scouring the web, I [Christie Haskell] found a lot of great information. Here are the 50 best breastfeeding resources online:

To see the resources read the complete article on the Stir, a cafemom blog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

11 Healthy Pregnancy Tips

11 Healthy Pregnancy Tips
Pregnancy is a critical time. A mother’s chemical exposures can adversely affect her baby in many ways. Here are some simple but important steps you can take to reduce the risks during pregnancy - and beyond.
1. Go organic and eat fresh foods
Use EWG's Shoppers Guide to Pesticides to determine which fruits and veggies you should always buy organic and those with the least pesticide residue that are ok to buy conventionally grown. Choose milk and meat produced without added growth hormones. Limit canned food, since can linings usually contain the synthetic estrogen called bisphenol A (BPA).

To read the next 6 tips please see the entire article at http://www.ewg.org/Health-Tips/10HealthyPregnancyTips
This article was copied from the website www.ewg.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Hazy Transition into Motherhood

Original post from: www.BringBirthHome.com

“What? Did you say something? I’m sorry, I have no idea what you just said.”
My friend and I giggle as she fans her face with her hand. “Is it hot in here?”
I tell her I don’t feel that warm and remind her that her newborn is sleeping in the next room.
Is her baby okay? Is he waking up right now and wondering where she is? If he cries she will dash away as if to save his life. Her eyes glaze over as she strains to hear him utter a noise.

This post was copied from the website www.bringingbirthhome.com. Please read the entire article and her entire site http://bringbirthhome.com/motherhood/the-hazy-transition-to-motherhood/

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Essential Ingredient - a Doula!

Both Kim and I are certified Doulas with DONA and are very proud of it! You deserve the best care and support during your labor and birth. Make sure you look into a doula - you deserve one.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Friday!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I will try to post a favorite picture of mine every Friday to show the beauty and love of birth.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home Births Under Fire

Babies born at home make up a tiny fraction of U.S. births, but their numbers are growing—and mothers are fighting back against a recent study that calls the practice three times deadlier than hospital labor.
New York mother Tamyka Booth gave birth at home with a midwife. She pushed out baby Martina in a bathtub, then Booth and husband Shane Smith of Vice magazine “crawled into bed with her to bond and nurse and have—what we all needed—a nice, long family nap,” she said.

Please read the entire article at http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-10-02/home-births-under-fire-amid-outcry-over-wax-paper/

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables Consumed For Three Months Before Pregnancy Reduce Chances Of Baby Being Born Undernourished

New research published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reveals the key risk factors associated with babies being born undernourished or small for gestational age (SGA). Findings reinforce the importance of eating a balanced diet before and during pregnancy, with consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables being associated with better outcomes for the baby.

The SCOPE (Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints) study comprises a large database of pregnant women from four different countries (New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, UK). It aims to develop screening tests for pre-eclampsia, SGA infants and spontaneous preterm births. In this particular study, researchers looked at the outcomes associated with the two main groups of SGA infants: those who had mothers with normal blood pressure and those whose mothers had high blood pressure in late pregnancy.

To read the entire article please go to: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/203684.php

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Friday!

I hope this picture makes you smile. This is one of my doula babies, and I think it is such a beautiful and sweet picture. Those lips are so lovely!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

iBirth App

I love this product and recommend it to all of my doula clients and friends. This app was designed by friends that are local doulas and Bradley childbirth educators. Very informative and helpful and easy to navigate and use in the moment. They also have a new app called Simple Contraction Timer. It can be used for much more than contractions! Cooking, time out, countdown for getting out the door...... Check it out!

iBirth app walks mamas through pregnancy

There's an app for that, too

By Aimee Heckel Camera Staff Writer

Posted: 05/25/2010 04:59:27 PM MDT

Amanda Hanson, left, and Judith Nowlin developed the iBirth application to help today's expecting moms with information about their pregnancy. ( MARK LEFFINGWELL )

It's 2 a.m. Judith Nowlin and Amanda Hanson sneak into Hanson's kitchen, careful not to stir any of their six sleeping children.

It's work time.

Nowlin, who's still breastfeeding, is wearing the new-mama favorite perfume of baby barf. Hanson discovers a glob of jelly on her elbow.

She unfolds smeared pages of notes, still damp from when her son squirted her with the hose earlier in the day, when she went outside to check on the latest trampoline injury.

The middle of the night seems to be the only time the two Boulder women can meet, in between the overtime they're putting in as stay-at-home mothers of three each. Hanson is also a childbirth educator. Nowlin, a fellow educator and doula.

Needless to say, the two women understand motherhood, personally and professionally.

And despite the six adorable odds against them, Hanson and Nowlin decided to put their knowledge into an iPhone application to share with other mothers. While writing it last year, they had to meet when they could, which was sometimes in the middle of the night after their kids went to bed.

There is officially now an app for everything.

Nowlin and Hanson released their product, iBirth, in December. The app features prenatal nutrition information, tips, lists and labor videos -- the kind of stuff they teach in their childbirth classes, except in the back pocket of your BellaBand-ed jeans.

For $4.99, mamas can download the app (ibirthapp.com) to their iPhone, iPod or any of those "i-fill-in-the-blank" products, or simply view it online.

They call it a "childbirth class in a nutshell."

Only 30 percent of pregnant women in America take childbirth classes, according to Hanson, most complaining that they're too busy.

She thinks the lack of education on the subject contributes to the country's pregnancy and delivery problems, such as the fact that 32 percent of births today are by C-section, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, the World Health Organization says only a 15 percent C-section rate is necessary.

Plus, the United States ranks higher than most developed countries in infant and maternal mortality rates.

"We're spending more and getting the worst outcomes," Hanson says. "We are not preparing women when they're pregnant. We have failed."

Especially in terms of educating women about proper nutrition, she says.

"Women are told to 'eat healthily,'" Hanson says. "But chewing on a bag of raw carrots a day can cause problems, or too much vitamin C can cause nausea. There are certain ways to eat healthy, and that's what we break down specifically."

She hopes iBirth can help educate more mothers-to-be who might not be able or wanting to go to childbirth classes, or who might be getting incorrect information online, or who aren't sure how to sift through the mountains of pregnancy books.

iBirth is the first prenatal application of its kind, and since launching boasts 700 downloads.

Hanson says iBirth should not take the place of classes -- she teaches more than 30 hours of material per class -- but it's better than nothing.

She says she conducted a poll and found that many pregnant women said they don't have time to read an entire book, don't know where to begin researching or don't want to lug a book everywhere they go.

"So we decided, 'Let's shake this up. Let's meet women where they are now,'" Hanson says.

Leslie Gaiser, of Lafayette, downloaded iBirth when she was six months' pregnant with her second son. Nowlin was the doula who helped deliver her first child, and Gaiser says she needed a refresher to help prepare for labor again.

"It was very useful," Gaiser says. "It's hard to focus on your pregnancy with your second one, so my husband and I both went over the positioning and relaxation techniques on the app."

She says she most appreciated the 23 narrated videos, which demonstrate different labor positions, step by step.

Gaiser says her baby was posterior, and the app showed her exercises to help move the baby into proper position.

"It worked," she says. "It was a two-hour birth. It worked out perfectly."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lamaze Labor Videos

If you're looking for an informative video about childbirth, check out this Lamaze site showing different positions and comforts. You might also enjoy seeing our skirts displayed many times - and you can see the difference between our products and a gown. A very different look and feel to say the least!

Monday, November 15, 2010

We're Back!

Well it's been a while since we last posted anything, and we're sorry! Life with kids, a business and all the other stuff in between got in the way. We had to cut back on some things and the blog seemed the easiest place to do it. But we're back! I'm hoping to post more birth stories this time around and meet more of the needs of our readers. Want to hear about something? Just let me know!

Many blessings!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Full Body Baby Massage Series

When: Starting Saturday April 17th.
Where: Becoming Mother's Boulder, CO
from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

This is a 4 week series, ending on May 8th, which is the day before Mother's Day! So. get yourself a gift or give someone a gift and learn Baby Massage. Pre-registration of $150 is required to hold your place in class.

Registration can be sent to:
Baby Bodywork at 2690 Valmont Rd. #3
Boulder Co. 80304.

Call if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing you there!
Kind Regards,Valerie DeMasi-Hoff

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roselle Park councilwoman nurses baby at meetings so other mothers can too

Found on the NJ.com website
By Eliot Caroom/For the Star-Ledger
Published March 14, 2010, 6:12AM

ROSELLE PARK -- The strongest public statement at this month’s Roselle Park council meeting was never entered into the minutes.
Near the end of the meeting, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Larissa Chen-Hoerning brought her 6-week-old son, Enzo, onto the dais with her and began to breastfeed him while the council debated an ordinance regulating overnight truck parking on borough streets.
Chen-Hoerning said that she doesn’t think the act of nursing her baby, discreetly shielded from view by the desk in front of her, should be stigmatized as dirty or shameful.
“I want to help women say ‘Someone else is out there breastfeeding, and maybe it’s OK to do,’” Chen-Hoerning said last week.
Mothers in the United States often face complaints when they nurse in public places like restaurants or stores, according to La Leche League International spokeswoman Loretta McCallister. Over the past few years, a woman was kicked off an airplane for breastfeeding her child, and after Facebook removed photos of a mother and her baby, a petition sprang up on the social network titled “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!”
But McCallister said despite all of the grassroots support, she has never heard of an elected official like Chen-Hoerning breastfeeding her baby while conducting official business at a public meeting.
The Roselle Park councilwoman is not new to advocating for nursing mothers.
Last summer, at the behest of a then-pregnant Chen-Hoerning, Mayor Joseph DeIorio proclaimed August “Breastfeeding Awareness Month” in the borough.
On several occasions since his birth in January, Enzo has dropped into Roselle Park council meetings for a snack. No one on either side of the dais has batted an eye.
“I was telling someone about it the other day, and they said, ‘Do you nurse on camera?’ and I was like, ‘Well, yeah,’” Chen-Hoerning said.
After the meeting, resident Eugene Meola said the baby was so quiet he hadn’t even noticed him during the meeting. Other residents, Chen-Hoerning said, have expressed their support for her. Former councilman Jacob Magiera, who attends many borough meetings, said last week the councilwoman is modest and perfectly within her rights.
“If other council members don’t object to it, she’s entitled to do what she wants to do,” said Magiera. “If that’s her forte, God bless her.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Survey: Doctors Need More Knowledge About Exercise And Pregnancy

Found on the Medical News Today website

Main Category: Sports Medicine / Fitness
Also Included In: Pregnancy / Obstetrics; Women's Health / Gynecology
Article Date: 11 Feb 2010 - 3:00 PST

Research conducted by the President of the American College of Sports Medicine and colleagues shows many doctors aren't sure what to tell their pregnant patients about exercise.

ACSM President James Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM, and colleagues Patricia Bauer, Ph.D., and Cliff Broman, Ph.D., surveyed 93 M.D.s, D.O.s (doctors of osteopathy) and Certified Nurse Midwives about their knowledge of exercise recommendations for pregnant women. Although nearly all respondents - 99 percent - believed exercise was good for their expecting patients, 60 percent of M.D.s and 86 percent of D.O.s weren't familiar with pregnancy exercise guidelines. The results of the survey were published in the Journal of Women's Health.

SourceThe American College of Sports Medicine

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cesarean Section - Tips & Tools: C-Section

Found on the Childbrith Connection website

How should I move forward after deciding to plan a vaginal birth or a cesarean section?

WHEN PLANNING A VAGINAL BIRTH, what are some basic tips I can use during pregnancy to increase my likelihood of having a vaginal birth?

What are some tips I can use in special situations during pregnancy to increase my likelihood of having a vaginal birth?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hundreds protest homebirth restrictions

Found on The Sydney Morning Herald website
Originally published February 18, 2010


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is stripping away a woman's right to have her baby at home, protesters around the country have been told.

Hundreds of people have come together across Australia at 13 simultaneous rallies to protest against the government's planned overhaul of maternity care.

NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon told a crowd of about 100 in Sydney that access to a homebirth was a woman's right.

"We are in an extraordinary situation when a woman can choose to have a caesarean but she can't choose to have her children at home," Ms Rhiannon said outside the office of the federal Minister for the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek.

Ms Rhiannon said the government had succumbed to pressure from Australian Medical Association, which is opposed to home birthing.

The proposed new laws, introduced to parliament last year, will require all midwives to be insured and part of a new national register.

But a two-year exemption will apply for up to 200 independent midwives, who are unable to gain insurance because it is no longer provided for home birthing.

They will also have to work in collaboration with a doctor - who will be able to override their decisions - to access Medicare insurance and pharmaceutical benefits for homebirths.

The overhaul has outraged homebirth groups, which say the practice will be forced underground, a concern that was also highlighted in a recent Senate inquiry.

Christine Wrightson, who had two planned home births, one of which ended up being in hospital due to complications, told the crowd in Sydney that it was not for the government to decide how women give birth.

"I had one child in hospital and one was born at home - for both births we chose to be under the care of a privately practising midwife," Ms Wrightson said.

"This was because it was extremely important to me to minimise the chance of medical intervention as I strived to have a natural birth.

"At the time I never imagined that this could be something the government could take away from me - not in Australia and not in 2010."

Less than one per cent of births registered each year in Australia are homebirths.

By contrast, The Netherlands has the highest home birth rate in the western world at around 30 per cent.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Women need chance to avoid 2nd C-section

Associated Press
updated 2:30 p.m. MT, Wed., March. 10, 2010

Panel: Many hospital policies deny patients choice

WASHINGTON - Too many pregnant women who want to avoid a repeat cesarean delivery are being denied the chance, concludes a government panel that urged doctors to rethink litigation-spurred policies that have swung the pendulum back toward the days of "once a C-section, always a C-section."

Fifteen years ago, nearly 3 in 10 women who had a first C-section were able to deliver their next baby vaginally, a trend called VBAC for "vaginal birth after cesarean."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Birth is Better Than It Was 100 Years Ago

After I had a wonderful home birth experience I was talking with my mom about it. She told me that my grandmother had been really worried that I was planning a home birth, and she was very relieved that all had gone well. I was stunned by this, and felt sad that my grandma had been stressed out about my decision.

I thought about the situation. My grandmother was born at home at a time when there was no access to emergency care or hospitals. Sometimes a doctor could make it to the home in time to help "deliver" the baby, but the majority of the time a laboring mother was supported by whichever woman was closest to her and could be there to help. Many times this was her own mother, sister, neighbor, or even daughter. In true emergency situations there was nowhere to go for help, and even the local doctor had huge limitations in what he could do. Birth was a wonderful but potentially dangerous situation, but when there were hard outcomes it was accepted as a part of life.

By the time my grandmother was having babies, birth had been moved from home to the hospital. Birth had become even more dangerous due to doctors unwittingly spreading deadly infections because they simply didn't know to wash their hands when going from treating very sick patients and performing surgeries to catching healthy newborn babies. Fear about the pain and dangers of childbirth became even more rampant as doctors and hospitals struggled to find ways of handling childbirth in a new setting. Women were seeking a way to escape the horror of it all, and their doctors were feverishly looking for ways to save the day.

Doctors learned to wash their hands and take safety precautions, and new medications were presented in an effort to "help" women with the process of childbirth. This involved such things as "Twilight Sleep" in which laboring women were medicated during labor, able to feel everything but having no memory of the experience later because of the drugs. Women were tied to their hospital beds and gagged to keep them from wandering the labor ward, thrashing, or screaming out. In other cases women were simply put under with ether or chloroform into a drug-induced sleep during labor, while doctors forcefully extracted their babies using forceps. The mother didn't remember the birth, and would wake alone because her baby had been taken to the nursery while she was still asleep. One can understand why loving partners were not allowed on the labor and delivery ward during this time.

In the years since, there have been huge strides made to improve hospital births. Expectant fathers are now encouraged to be present and supportive while the mother is laboring, and hospital rooms have been made to appear more like a home setting. Other changes include major medical interventions to control and manage the process of birth, such as medications to start labor or make it go faster, and pain medications which numb a woman to the physical experience of childbirth without knocking her out completely or preventing her from remembering the experience. Interventions that can save lives in true emergencies have been developed, but are now being overused to the point that the potential risks outweigh the benefits. It seems that in an effort to improve childbirth it has been taken to the medical extreme in which every step is managed and medicated, and 1 out of 3 newborns in the US is removed surgically.

Those who recognize the extreme medicalization of birth are left wanting for something better. They are returning to "old" ways of birthing without unnecessary interventions, the way my grandmother came into the world. Bringing birth back to the home is a conscious effort to allow women the experience of normal childbirth, as nature is so beautifully designed.
In pursuing a return to old ways women are not simply accepting greater risk than they would face in a hospital setting. Indeed, many feel they are reducing their risks by avoiding the interventions common in the hospital.

So, how is home birth better than it was 100 years ago? Because of the technological and medical advances over the years, we now have access to life-saving interventions which are needed in true birth emergencies. Those interventions which pose greater risk when overused are still valuable and needed in some cases. No woman plans a home birth intending to transfer, but she understands that it is a possibility. For me personally, this was a comfort when I planned my home birth. I knew I would be in a comfortable setting where I could labor and birth my baby in peace, and felt confident in my ability to do so. I felt that all would go smoothly, but I also knew that if for some reason it didn't I had options that my great-grandmother never did.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Baby Bodywork Class - Boulder

It 's a Full Body Baby Massage Class that runs 4 weeks. Each week we will be learning 2 new parts of the body and at the end we will have a full body routine. The class is over the course of 4 weeks so you and your baby can learn the sequences and integrate massage into your daily routine.

Included is a booklet with everything we cover in class and a bottle of organic grapeseed oil. It begins on April 17th at Becoming Mothers from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

Pre-registration of $150 is required to hold your place in the class.

Payment may be sent to
Baby Bodywork
2690 Valmont Rd. #3
Boulder,Co. 80304.

Valerie Hoff also teaches private in home classes in this doesn't fit your schedule.

Pre-Pregnancy - Gluten Intolerance Causes Infertility

Found on the Gluten Free Society website

By Gluten Free Society on January 31, 2010

This study demonstrates how gluten sensitivity can contribute to infertility and other obstetrical and gynecological problems. Celiac patients who were not compliant with a gluten free diet presented with “delayed menarche, secondary amenorrhea, a higher percentage of spontaneous abortions, anemia and hypoalbuminemia.” Gluten free diet compliance led to normal pregnancies. The author of the study goes on to say that gluten sensitivity should be screened for in women presenting with reproductive disorders.


J Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Aug;38(7):567-74.Gluten Free Society’s Stance:

In 1997 it was estimated that more than 6 million people had fertility problems. According to the CDC, the number is on the rise with more than 7 million people affected in 2009.
Ask any farmer, and they will tell you that the animals diet is extremely important for reproduction success. Ask most doctors about the impact that nutrition has on fertility and you will be told that nutrition doesn’t make much difference. Why is that?
Simple – Nutrition is not taught in medical school.
Fertility doctors focus on non-natural means to induce pregnancy – from the use of hormones to implantation of petri dish fertilized eggs. We know that children born of couples with fertility problems have a higher incidence of allergies, asthma, developmental problems. This issue poses serious ethical concerns about non-natural treatment options. Is it right to artificially induce pregnancy when the body won’t conceive by natural means? How will this in turn impact the health of the new baby?
We know that the two most common causes of infertility are pelvic inflammatory disorders (PID) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Both have been linked to gluten sensitivity. Additionally, gluten intolerance can contribute to low sperm count and low motility in men. Screening for celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (AKA – gluten syndrome) should be the top priority in infertile couples. Focusing on nutritional deficiencies should also be a priority as 100’s of studies have been published on the impact of vitamin and mineral deficiency on fetal development and health outcomes of newborns.

The causes of infertility should be better investigated on a case by case basis before inducing pregnancy. If the soon to be parents are not healthy enough to conceive, how can they in turn nourish a new life? Want to know more about the nutritional influences on fertility? Check out this awesome diagram!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fierce Mamas: Saving My Baby

Written by Sarah Kaganovsky
Found on the Fierce Mamas Blog
Originally Published October 15, 2009

Kim wrote:

This was such a beautiful story of a mother's perseverance and unwillingness to let her baby "cry it out" I had to share it. Thank you to the Fierce Mamas blog

Saving My Baby:

I gave birth on a February afternoon by repeat caesarean. A pink, squalling bundle was handed to me, and I gazed lovingly into eyes that seemed to recognize me. I whispered sweet words of belonging to this girl child of mine, and comforted her outraged cries. She was the daughter I so desperately wanted.

A week after her birth, a friend dropped off a ring sling. I snuggled my 7 lb bundle into it and went about my way with a mostly content baby. Within two weeks, I was wearing her constantly. Towards afternoon, she’d begin to sob and scream inconsolably. She would arch and thrash, refuse to nurse, refuse a soother, the swing, my arms. The only thing that would quiet her screams was the sling.

Screamy baby began to lose weight. I carried her – day in, day out – in the sling. Repeated trips to the doctor revealed nothing. She was unable to nurse, screaming hysterically within moments of latch on.I was told rudely “ Do breast compressions. Breast is best.” Breast compressions made her choke and gag... and scream. I began feeding her formula. We went back to the doctor.
Reflux. Milk Intolerance. Delayed gastric emptying. Her weight gain was poor, and the screaming increased in volume. Nights were long, filled with arching, thrashing baby. There was many a night that I slept with her in the sling, sitting up on the couch, unwilling to move her from her comfort zone. People told me I was spoiling her. I told them “ We’re coping. This is all that works.” I was told to let her cry it out, but I had no desire to abandon my child to a dark room to cry out her angst. My responsibility to her did not end when the sun went down. I whispered in her ear that I couldn’t stop her crying, but I could hold her while she cried.

I paced the floors with her, snuggled tummy to tummy in the sling. At six months, I begged the doctor to hospitilize her – I knew something was dreadfully wrong. The paediatrician agreed. She was poked, prodded, xrayed, and force fed. The screaming continued.

A day before discharge, my pediatrician’s partner waltzed into our room with his holier than thou attitude. He told me I wasn’t putting in the effort to feed her, to put her in another room to sleep and let her cry it out. I banned him from treating my child.

I worked part time, baby in sling. I got a mei tai, two more ring slings. I carried her everywhere. In the shower. To the doctor, to the park, on playdates. People nastily asked me how she would learn to walk if I never put her down. I ignored them. Carrying her stopped the screaming.

Just before her first birthday, she developed a high fever and cough. I took her to the ER, still wrapped in my sling. We waited 7 hours. Xrays revealed her heart was enlarged. We were admitted. I carried her nonstop for the next few days – through a terrifying whirlwind of echocardiograms and finally a diagnosis. During one particularly memorable screaming fit, a nurse turned to me in tears, and handed me my sling. My daughter quieted, safe in her sling.

She was in heart failure. A rare and very serious heart defect had been causing massive heart attacks. Fatality rates were 90% in the first year. The screaming was her suffering from crushing chest pain. In the hallway, the cardiologist turned to me and quietly told me that it was my parenting – the constant carrying – that had allowed her to survive against all odds.

My daughter never cried alone, left in a room. Had I ever practiced CIO, I would have woken to a lifeless baby. I held her through months of gut wrenching doubt, moments when I cried too. But today, I watch my daughter play and run, and laugh. I carried her through a mom’s worst nightmare... and we both survived.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The “Rule of 10” Versus Women’s Primal Wisdom

Found on the Midwifery Today website
Written by Lydi Owen

© 2008 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.

[Editor's note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 86, Summer 2008.]

There is a rule of labor that forbids a woman to push with contractions until her cervix is completely dilated to 10 cm. Women are warned that to push before this doorway is completely open and out of the way will result in a swollen and/or torn cervix.

What will supposedly happen if the cervix swells?Doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas and childbirth educators all warn that a swollen cervix will impede labor and increase the chances of tearing the cervix, thus causing hemorrhage. They have been taught that a swollen cervix is easily broken or pulverized. If this is indeed the truth, then why do most women during labor have an irresistible urge to begin bearing down before dilation is complete?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stress Hormone In Womb Predicts Poorer Cognitive Development, But Loving Care Can "Undo" It

Found on the Medical News Today website
Published February 26, 2010

A mother's nurture may provide powerful protection against risks her baby faces in the womb, according to a new article published online today in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The research shows that fetuses exposed to high levels of stress hormone - shown to be a harbinger for babies' poor cognitive development - can escape this fate if their mothers provide them sensitive care during infancy and toddler-hood.

The new study represents the first, direct human evidence that fetuses exposed to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol may have trouble paying attention or solving problems later on. But what may be more intriguing is the study's second finding - that this negative link disappears almost entirely if the mother forges a secure connection with her baby.

"Our results shape the argument that fetal exposure to cortisol - which may in part be controlled by the mother's stress level - and early caregiving experience combine to influence a child's neurodevelopment," said study author Thomas O'Connor, Ph.D., professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and director of the Wynne Center for Family Research. "If future studies confirm these findings, we'll need to not only engineer ways to reduce stress in pregnancy, but we'll need to also promote sensitive caregiving by moms and dads."

A Mother's Love

For the study, researchers recruited 125 women at an amniocentesis clinic in an urban maternity hospital, taking a sample of their amniotic fluid so that stress hormones in it could be measured. The mothers were at 17 weeks gestation on average; only mothers with normal, healthy pregnancies and subsequent deliveries were followed.

When their children reached 17 months of age, researchers administered a Bayley infant developmental scale test, which relies on puzzles, pretend play, and baby "memory" challenges to gauge youngsters' cognitive development. They also observed the baby and mother using the Ainsworth "Strange Situation" test, which judges childrearing quality, categorizing mom-baby pairs as either showing secure or insecure attachment to each other (to watch a YouTube video of a sample of this sort of test in action, click here).

With cortisol levels, relationship quality results, and cognition scores in hand, researchers analyzed how the first two measures might influence the third. Indeed, for children showing "insecure attachment" to their mothers, a high prenatal cortisol level was linked with shorter attention spans and weaker language and problem-solving skills. But interestingly, for kids who enjoyed secure relationships with their moms, any negative link between high prenatal cortisol exposure and kids' cognitive development was eliminated.

"This is such refreshing news for mothers," O'Connor said. "Pregnancy is an emotional experience for many women, and there is already so much for mothers to be careful of and concerned about. It's a relief to learn that, by being good parents, they might 'buffer' their babies against potential setbacks."

Study Spawns Future Questions

O'Connor goes on to note a couple important nuances of the study. The first is that the amniotic (in-utero) cortisol studied could result from two sources, and it's hard to pinpoint which. It might, for instance, be passed along the placenta from an anxious mother to her unborn baby - or it could be created and excreted directly by a stressed fetus itself.

"While many large-scale studies have observed that prenatal stress may influence child development, our particular study sheds some light on the 'how'," O'Connor said. "Still, much more research is needed to better pinpoint the exact mechanisms behind a mother 'transferring' her stress to her unborn baby."

This study plays into the much larger theory of "fetal programming," which suggests that events in the womb may prime the developing child for long-term health and developmental outcomes. Past studies, for instance, have found a pregnant mother's diet can sway a child's long-term risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Along with diet, prenatal stress has emerged as another large-looming factor in such programming.

"Our results support this emerging theory," said London-based study co-author, Vivette Glover, Ph.D. "In neurology, the idea emerging is that unborn children sense their mothers' stress hormone levels, programming them for greater watchfulness. We're trying to determine whether or not that sensitivity comes with greater anxiety during childhood, and if so, what we can do about it."

The team's next study will revisit these same children when they turn 6; at that point, researchers hope to give the group a battery of more definitive tests to see how the interplay between in-utero cortisol levels and sensitive parenting pans out in the long-term. Those tests would include imaging studies of the children's brains, looking to see if the higher cortisol levels may be linked to anatomical changes.

O'Connor partnered for the study with Pampa Sarker, M.D., an honorary research fellow, Vivette A. Glover, professor of Perinatal Psychobiology and Karin Bergman, Ph.D., all at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial College in London. The study was supported by grants from the March of Dimes and the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Becky Jones
University of Rochester Medical Center

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CDC Study Says Home Births on the Rise in U.S.

Found on the abc News/Health website
Published March 3, 2010

After having her first child in a hospital, Lorra Jacobs decided it was an experience she did not care to repeat.

She had two more children, and she chose to have both of them at home.

"When I had my first child in the hospital, I was young and I didn't know of any alternatives. It wasn't a real positive experience," said Jacobs, who now works as the office manager at Mat-Su Midwifery in Wasilla, Alaska. "It was a stark, very impersonal feeling, treating me like I was sick and not pregnant."

Jacobs explained she believed she had more control over many aspects of the birth when it took place at home, including whether she got to be with the baby after delivery and having the siblings there at the birth.

"Doing a home birth, I felt like I had a say," said Jacobs. "This is not the hospital's baby. This is my baby."

New numbers released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that a very small but slightly growing number of women are making the same choice that Jacobs did. While less than 1 percent of all births in the United States take place outside the hospital, the number of those births taking place at home has increased by 3.5 percent between 2003-04 and 2005-06, according to the new report. The stats say there were 46,371 home births in 2003-04, and 49,438 home births in 2005-06.

"They're still not that common, but we did see some increase," said Marian MacDorman, a statistician at the CDC's Nation Center for Health Statistics and one of the study's authors.
The new numbers came after a period in which births outside the hospital, which can include births at a birthing center or in a doctor's office, as well as home births, had been decreasing since 1990.

Some of the breakdowns behind the new numbers suggest that the most recent trend might be a negative reaction to a hospital birth experience, since the majority of mothers choosing a home birth have had children before.

"The fact that it's primarily women who had kids before and had birth in hospitals before, certainly suggests it's a reaction to their prior birth," said Eugene Declercq, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, and a author of the study. "It certainly suggests it's an experience they don't want to repeat."

Finance Not A Likely Driving Force

Home births may cost only a quarter or a third of what a hospital birth costs -- $7,737 for a vaginal delivery, $10,958 for a C-section, according to a 2004 March of Dimes study -- but finances do not appear to be a prime reason for choosing home births.

The CDC's numbers appear to suggest that finances are not a driving force, since mothers who are older and better educated seem to choose home birth most often.

"I suspect that economic issues are not the main issues," Eileen Ehudin Beard, a nurse and senior practice adviser for the American College of Nurse-Midwives. "I suspect consumers are becoming more informed … and seeing home births are a safe alternative for healthy women with a qualified provider."

She said a likely cause of any increase is a desire to avoid the interventions hospitals perform, ranging from cesarean sections and epidurals to controlling when the mother is with the newborn.

"I think a lot of consumers are really scared by the high cesarean rate, and they're becoming aware that Caesarian is a major surgical procedure," said Beard.

She stressed that home birth is only a safe option for healthy mothers who are not expected to have complications.

A Dearth of Evidence About Safety of Home Births

Home birth remains a contentious issue.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has long opposed home births, citing a lack of data regarding their safety.

"Studies comparing the safety and outcome of U.S. births in the hospital with those occurring in other settings are limited and have not been scientifically rigorous," according to the organization's 2007 statement.

It goes on to say that, "Until the results of such studies are convincing, ACOG strongly opposes home births. Although ACOG acknowledges a woman's right to make informed decisions regarding her delivery, ACOG does not support programs or individuals that advocate for or who provide home births."

While the risk of neonatal death is low overall, it may be higher at home births and that is a problem, said Dr. William Barth, Jr., chair of ACOG's committee on obstetrics practice and chief of the division of maternal-fetal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital

"It's one of those situations where overall the risk is low, but it is increased two to three-fold," he said. "Even though it's a rare outcome, it is a catastrophic outcome. It's preventable in that it is less likely in the hospital."

Explaining his stance, Barth cites a study presented by researchers from Maine Medical Center at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine meeting in Chicago in early February. The study, a meta analysis of research from around the country comparing home births to hospital births, appeared to show a twofold increase in the rare event of neonatal death at a home births.

Declercq said one problem with relying on this study is the results may have been skewed because the researchers relied on the location the birth was planned for rather than where it actually took place.

While the gold standard of clinical research is the double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial, it is impossible to blind a mother to whether she is giving birth at home or in a hospital, and most mothers are unwilling to be randomized to a home birth or hospital birth.
Studies of home versus hospital birth are typically the less reliable cohort study, where women who chose one option or the other but have otherwise similar characteristics are compared.

Barth said that an attempt to run a randomized controlled trial of home versus hospital births had to be canceled because only 11 mothers signed up.

Home birth advocates have cited several studies supporting the safety of home births among low-risk women. However, those studies have taken place in the Netherlands and Canada.
Barth said its unrealistic to apply the findings to the United States.

"Those are highly regulated, highly integrated systems. Their system is prearranged -- it's very different from the systems available in the United States," he said.

Agreeing with that notion, Declercq argued that it is the lack of such a setup that keeps safer
home births from being a bigger option in the United States.

"In the United States, people who want to have a home birth have to fight the system," he said, explaining that there is a lack of support for a midwife who decides a patient is too high-risk for a home birth and should be transferred to a hospital.

"I think if you actually move to a system like that, it would be fine in the United States, because the evidence from other countries suggests that it is as well," said Declercq.

Looking at the numbers, he said, adopting such a system probably wouldn't lead to widespread home births in the United States. It would not climb to 30 percent like the Netherlands, but would be closer to the rise to 3 percent seen in the United Kingdom.

But for now, he said, it is likely to remain a highly charged issue, with some advocates of home birth irrationally opposing the choice of a hospital while opponents cite risks of home birth while ignoring complications that can happen at a hospital.

"The mothers who are having these home births are not crazy, unaware people," said Declercq. "They plan carefully, they think about this all the time. They think they're better off not having the interventions that they feel will happen unnecessarily at hospitals."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Study: Acupuncture Helps Fight Depression during Pregnancy

Found on the Voice of America website
Published March 3, 2010

Researchers at Stanford University in California say acupuncture can be an effective weapon against depression in pregnant women.

Depression can pose serious health risks to mother and baby, according to Rachel Manber, a Stanford University psychiatry professor. "Depression is associated with suffering, can be associated with suicide or wishing to not live." She adds that depression has been linked to babies who are more difficult to console.

Need for safe alternative treatment

Psychological counseling is commonly used to treat depression in pregnancy. But many women avoid taking antidepressants while they're pregnant because of safety concerns. That makes finding an alternative treatment important.

Acupuncture has been used to treat other medical conditions during pregnancy, like pain and nausea. It's also used to treat depression in other patients. Manber and her colleagues wanted to find out if the technique could be used to ease depression during pregnancy as well.

They recruited pregnant women who suffered from major depressive disorders for a study. "We then randomized them to receive eight weeks of treatment with one of three treatments. One of the treatments was the acupuncture that we have tested for depression." The two other groups, who received massage therapy and acupuncture treatments not known to ease depression, were used as controls.

Modern success for an ancient practice

After eight weeks, the women were tested to see if their symptoms of depression remained. "What we found is that women who received the acupuncture for depression had a greater reduction in symptom severity and a greater proportion of women have responded to treatment than the control groups," Manber says.

Researchers found acupuncture to be about as effective as the current treatment approaches, counseling and drugs. "We that found 63 percent of the women who received the acupuncture for depression ended up responding to treatment, which is really at the high end of response rates for treatment for depression in outpatients."

Manber says the results must be independently replicated, and scientists need to better understand the mechanisms of how acupuncture therapy works.

This study is published in the March issue of "Obstetrics and Gynecology."

Monday, March 8, 2010

'World News' Wants Your Stories About Difficult or Tragic Pregnancies

Found on the abc World News with Diane Sawyer website
Published March 4, 2010

The statistic is both sad and shocking -- women die after childbirth at a greater rate in the U.S. than in 33 other countries, and the danger for mothers appears to be worsening. A new study in California found that the number of women who die after childbirth in the state has tripled in the past decade, from 5.6 deaths per 100,000 to nearly 17 deaths per 100,000.

Why are a growing number of American moms dying shortly after giving birth? Experts say that the rise in maternal mortality could be tied to obesity, the increasing popularity of C-sections and other factors. More importantly, they say, most of these tragic deaths are preventable when doctors and hospitals take precautions.

We want to hear your thoughts and experiences related to this story.

Are you a doctor or nurse who has dealt with this issue before and have a story to share? Have you or your family been touched by tragic childbirth complications? Did you have a close call with your own pregnancy? If so go to the World News website and fill out their form with your experiences. The "World News" producer may contact you for a future story.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No Bottles, Please! I’m a Breastfed Baby!

Hat helps remind hospital staff that you wish to breastfeed your newborn.

I am a huge proponent of creating a birth plan and making your requests known. But let's face it, many of the things the hospital staff does is not because they want to disrespect your wishes, it is simply procedural for them (ok sometimes it feels different). I sometimes wonder how may birth plans actually are read, no matter how simple to try to make it.

A friend of mine posted this on facebook and I thought it was a great idea, because sometimes the staff could just use an extra reminder. No Bottles Please!

These cute hats are only $10 and can be purchased on this website (click here)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prenatal Meditation at Solar Yoga

Creation Songs

Vibrational (sound) healing is the next wave in alternative health care. It is a non invasive, touch free, drug free, inexpensive and simple method of stimulating the body and mind from the inside out.

Vibrational healing is simple and effective. It should be considered first when addressing any issue from a common cold to a closed head injury or cancer. From a stressed out work environment to severe emotional trauma or addiction . It is an excellent adjunct to any other healing therapy.


To bring vibrational and sound healing into the light of alternative health care awareness.


To provide powerful and effective sound and vibrational healing through crystal singing bowls.

Every Saturday 1:00pm - 2:00pm
645 Tenacity Drive, Unit E, Longmont CO 80504
Walk in $15 - not included in yoga packages

Ideal for any trimester of pregnancy.
See http://www.creation-songs.com for more information.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Midwifery Kits for Afghanistan

Found on the Midwifery Supplies Canada website

Buy a kit for a midwife in Afghanistan!

The Afghanistan Midwifery Project aims to train midwives to serve the women in their communities. Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality in the world. By providing local midwives with skills and equipment, this project aims to provide women with a source of income and independence, while at the same time creating positive change for the health of women in their region.

All kits bought on their page will be sent to Afghanistan, and not mailed to you.

Thank you for your contribution to this great cause!

There are three equipment donation options:

Complete kit:
Blood pressure unit in case
Stethoscope in vinyl zipper bag (has different attachments for adult/child/infant)
200 Gauze
DeLee Mucus trap (for gentle manual suctioning of meconium)
25 pairs latex free/powder free vinyl gloves
1 suture set
Disposable pen light (batteries included)
Vaginal Speculum
Universal scissors
Percussion Hammer
Tape Measure
CPR face shield
Disposable infant resuscitator
Mayo-Hegar Needle Holder 6"
Halsted Mosquito Forceps 5"
Spencer stitch scissors
2 towels
2 receiving blankets
2 ziplock freezer bags
In a bag

Equipment only option:
Blood pressure unit in case
Stethoscope in vinyl zipper bag (has different attachments for adult/child/infant)
Disposable pen light (batteries included)
Vaginal Speculum
Universal scissors
Percussion Hammer
Tape Measure
CPR face shield
Disposable infant resuscitator
Mayo-Hegar Needle Holder 6"
Halsted Mosquito Forceps 5"
Spencer stitch scissors

Consumables option:
200 Gauze
DeLee Mucus trap (for gentle manual suctioning of meconium)
25 pairs latex free/powder free vinyl gloves
1 suture set
2 towels
2 receiving blankets
2 ziplock freezer bags

$ 35.00 - $ 120.00

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pre-Pregnancy - Acceptance

Written by Tink, friend of BINSI

Grab a cup of coffee, maybe an apple, or better yet some chocolate, and have a seat. It's gonna be a while...

I left you promising myself to remain positive. I did not fail however it has not been easy. The pregnant women, cute infants dressed up in little snowsuits with animal ears on their heads, or a fierce toddler with a mohawk, come out of the woodwork. Awesome.

Every month, for the past 14 months, I have been grieving. I either got shoved back or pushed forward in my grief process. There was no question I got jerked around in the middle. There were some moments when I felt like nothing was my fault and I was just a victim of infertility in this whole thing. Most of the time I could maintain emotional ownership and would scream at myself to get up off the floor and live on. The dichotomy of pure joy for someone else and pure hatred of your own body's inability to conceive is a very unstable place.

The 5 steps of grieving are simply:

1. Denial and isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

It was around August when I truly began to deny that fertility issues would be my problem. Test after test, nothing was ever physioloically or biologically wrong. Then, for a very long time, I was just angry. (I should apologize to my kickboxing class for killing them during my anger phase.) I frequently shifted from anger to depression; an easily triggered jump. In November, I began taking Clomid, I began to feel hopeful. I began to bargain saying I would carry 3 babies if it meant having 3 healthy babies. It would be a LOT of work but I have nothing to compare it to, right?

I believe I finally arrived at Acceptance on Friday, February 19, 2010. Something happened last week that brought me to a place of genuine peace. In one day I ended up talking with three different women/friends on three separate occasions about their baby-making experience. One friend has done IVF 3 or 4 times with no success. Another friend had a couple serious ovarian cysts and knows that now is the time if it's gonna happen. The 3rd friend I talked with said she did IVF to get her twins. Her fallopian tubes were destroyed and even an IUI wasn't an option. We all agreed that it is devastating to endure and rhetorically questioned where do we go from there? All of these women possess a strength for which I have been searching. I drew energy from their experiences and found my own reason to be patient. Because that's just the way it has to be. I don't know how else to explain it. If you knew me as a child/teenager, patience was NOT a virtue of mine. My impatience cost me a lot of precious energy and my parents a lot of money. Sorry, Dad.

A couple weeks ago, we bought a Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor. I was hoping I wouldn't have to use it because I'd get pregnant. (But I knew because I thought that, I wouldn't.) Cycle 15 rolled in Monday last week and I was so done. I didn't even want to use the monitor. Back to Step 4. My health insurance at my job picks up on April 1st so I thought that's it. I'll wait until April then go back to the doctor and go from there. Then the next day I was training a client (who had babies on Clomid) and she said I couldn't give up now. She said "You tell me to not give up when we workout so you can't either!" I laughed and couldn't argue with her so I called my doctor that afternoon to see what she recommended. Doc called me back with news she recommended a 4th round of Clomid at 150mg for 5 days and to call the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. Back to Step 1. *Sigh* Maybe I do. And if I do, I vow to be prepared as much as I can. Step 5. I won't be sad anymore. I can't be sad anymore for the time I'm here on earth without a baby. I decided to start taking more advantage of the time alone with my husband and our friends. A baby will come and then our lives will never be the same.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The “Rule of 10” Versus Women’s Primal Wisdom

Found on the Midwifery Today website

by Lydi Owen© 2008 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.

[Editor's note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 86, Summer 2008.]

There is a rule of labor that forbids a woman to push with contractions until her cervix is completely dilated to 10 cm. Women are warned that to push before this doorway is completely open and out of the way will result in a swollen and/or torn cervix.

What will supposedly happen if the cervix swells?

Doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas and childbirth educators all warn that a swollen cervix will impede labor and increase the chances of tearing the cervix, thus causing hemorrhage. They have been taught that a swollen cervix is easily broken or pulverized. If this is indeed the truth, then why do most women during labor have an irresistible urge to begin bearing down before dilation is complete?

Could it be that the instinctual wisdom of our bodies has become our enemy? Is Spirit trying to destroy us instead of guiding us? Why would we feel the need to begin bearing down at 5–6 cm (or sooner) if it would shatter the gateway to the baby’s outer world?

These were questions that I pondered as a midwife, as I watched woman after woman give birth in the 1970s. Each of us struggled through the phase of labor when we wanted to push, but we knew that we had to refrain from doing so because that was what we had been taught in childbirth education classes. We had learned this from previous births in the hospital.

By what authority should we doubt the information given to us by the learned men and women of science?

Collectively, women decided that remaining passive during labor was better than risking injury or death of themselves and/or their unborn babies by obeying “outdated” promptings of their bodies, whose wisdom hadn’t kept up with science.

Could professionals be mistaken about when women can begin bearing down during labor, because they forgot one simple part of the equation—that of observing non-medicated women in labor in their natural habitats?

Remember this: People at one time believed that the world was flat. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss was ridiculed until his death in 1865 for suggesting that germs were responsible for the widespread child bed fever that killed an epidemic number of women simply because doctors didn’t wash their hands.(1)

How did this “Rule of Ten” come about?

In 1951 doctors Greenhill and DeLee wrote “During the first stage of labor no abdominal pushing is allowed because the cervix will tear.”(2)

We can safely assume that the women being studied by Greenhill and DeLee were under the influence of drugs, because in the mid-20th century the orgy of drug interference during labor and birth was at its height of glory. Almost no women were informed enough to withstand the onslaught of drugs given to them during birth in the hospital. Unfortunately, the situation has not changed in the sixty years since.

Therefore, these doctors were scientifically incorrect in concluding that the “Rule of Ten” was valid, without simultaneously observing a control group of drug-free laboring women in the upright position (as opposed to being drugged and lying down in beds).

The only place that they would have been able to make these observations by comparison would have been at homebirths. In the 1950s, homebirths were almost non-existent.

In the early part of the 1970s many American women, tired of being dominated by wrong medical thinking, left the system and went home to birth their children. I was one of these women. That birth led to my becoming a midwife.

The first time I witnessed the cervix miraculously responding to being pushed on at 6 cm dilation was when a woman was giving birth to her third baby. Susan had a quick and easy labor. When she reached 6 cm, she could not hold back from pushing. Her body gave her clear signals that it was time for her to aid the uterus in the expulsion of her unborn child, himself pushing to be born. She began to grunt and bear down involuntarily, making primitive animal sounds that emanated from deep inside her throat.

I, supposedly the learned one, watched her break the cardinal rule in obstetrics. Aloud, I recited, “You must not push. You’re not fully dilated. You can tear or injure your cervix. Pant like a puppy!”

She obeyed with difficulty.

After thirty minutes of this ridiculous scenario, I checked her dilation again, hoping that she would now be dilated to 10 cm so that I could release her from her agony by giving her “permission” to push. Horror upon horrors greeted my fingers as I discovered that she was still only 6 cm, but now her cervix was swollen from not pushing.

She had several more contractions while I was on the telephone (I was new at midwifery), frantically calling midwives in another state because there weren’t any in Las Vegas, for advice on what to do about this “problem.” The midwife I spoke to wasn’t any more experienced than I was and apologized for not knowing what to tell me.

While I was on the phone, Susan, tired of panting like the puppy she wasn’t, finally just went ahead and began pushing without my “permission.” I threw down the telephone, rushed over and quickly slipped on a sterile glove. As she pushed, I felt her very puffy cervix, now 7 cm, slip over the baby’s head. Out popped his little head, all in one contraction.

Her cervix didn’t tear, the swelling subsided immediately, and mother and baby were both fine. Mom was no doubt relieved that she had survived her well-meaning, but ignorant, midwife.

I went home thinking about that one, convinced that we were just lucky that everything turned out okay in spite of the fact that this woman ignored science in favor of primal wisdom.

The next time I encountered a “defiant” woman was soon after, when another woman went into labor. Carol was expecting her second baby. During active labor, at 4 cm—when her cervix was soft and stretchy—Carol squatted by her bedroom door and hung onto the doorknob with both hands. She then began to bear down with each very strong contraction.

“Oh, great, here we go again,” I thought as I advised her to desist from pushing.

Carol was less “obedient” than Susan had been and didn’t give ear to my dire warning. She just grunted and pushed like an empowered woman, completely unafraid, and within 30 minutes dilated to 10 cm.

Her baby was fine, her cervix was fine, and this time I was fine. I now understood the power of fearless women and the primal (of first importance) wisdom of our bodies.

As I attended more and more births, I learned that women could safely push during labor sooner than what the textbooks claimed. However, the question wasn’t whether a woman pushed, but how and when.

In my quest to “help” the next woman in labor with my newly discovered information, I wrongly decided to “assist” her to dilate faster by massaging and stretching her cervix when she was 4 cm dilated. What I didn’t yet understand was that the cervix has to be thin, soft and stretchy for this to work and the woman has to be getting the signal to bear down of her own accord, not my good intentions to help her get labor over with faster.

I ended up sending her into the hospital for “failure to progress,” when I caused the failure to progress. I was embarrassed that I had prevented her from having a good homebirth just because I was ignorant. I came to realize that I had much to learn about the different stages of labor from observation of women in their natural habitats. What we have been taught about labor and birth in medical textbooks comes from observation of medicated women in “laboratories” (hospitals), like mice in cages. Observations of women lying in beds, laboring under the influence of analgesics and anesthetics provide no real clue to the workings of the human body during labor and birth.

For decades women had been drugged during labor and put to sleep during the actual birth of the baby, so I can certainly understand how the “Rule of Ten” must have come about. If a woman was not dilated completely before the hands of the strong male doctor forcefully pushed, pulled and tugged the sedated infant out of a limp body, then certainly the doctor could easily have torn her cervix with his brute strength if it wasn’t completely out of the way (dilated to 10 cm). Gladys McGarey, MD, writes in the Women’s Wellness section of Venture Inward’s November/December 2007 issue, “Let’s respect nature’s wisdom…. Our job is to recognize and support the Divine order of things.”(3)

Dr. McGarey writes about the conditions of women in Afghanistan in 2005 as they gave birth to their babies. The attendants didn’t understand the anatomy and physiology of labor and birth and therefore used severe external pressure to deliver the babies. She also writes that this caused problems such as ruptured uteri and bladders, leading to many maternal deaths.
In the US, in the early part of the 20th century, the “Rule of Ten” no doubt came about for that same reason. Six to nine of every 1000 women died in childbirth in the early part of the 20th century.(4) If the cervix is not out of the way when severe fundal pressure is used, it will act as a counter-force to external fundal pressure and will inevitably result in either a torn cervix or uterus.

I have attended the labors and births of many, many Hispanic women. I have observed many friends and family members of the laboring women who do not have any medical or anatomical knowledge of the human body attempt to speed up labor in these same very unwise ways. I was attending a laboring woman who was pregnant with her first child. She was handling the contractions like a pro, but the labor was slow, which is normal for a first time mother.
Veronica preferred to walk during the contractions. Her cervix stayed at 4 cm for several hours (a normal occurrence), but now her cervix was beginning to soften from the repeated contractions. However, Veronica’s mother was getting impatient. As I had done in the past, she figured she would help her daughter get this labor over with more quickly. From the grandmother’s point of view, she was going to help get that big baby out of that small vaginal opening.

I had gone into the kitchen to get a drink of water when I heard Veronica let out an anguished moan from the bedroom. Alarmed, I rushed into the bedroom to find out what was wrong. Veronica sounded like she was in serious pain. I discovered that her mother was standing behind her with both her arms wrapped around her daughter’s abdomen, pressing down as hard as she could on the top of Veronica’s belly during a contraction.

Her mother believed that she was helping her daughter, but to me the way she was pushing on her stomach looked barbaric. The grandmother did not understand that there was another doorway (the cervix) inside her daughter’s body that had to open before the baby could be born through the exterior doorway—the vaginal opening. In her simple, uneducated mind, she thought she was helping. She did not know that she might tear the cervix by what she was doing because she didn’t even know that there was such a thing as the cervix in the way. I knew better than to insult this grandmother by telling her to stop doing that, so I just made eye contact with Veronica and motioned with my eyes that she come into the other bedroom. Veronica kindly removed her mother’s hands from her belly and followed me, telling her mother in Spanish that I was going to examine her.

Her mother was furious that she was unable to help her daughter the way she had been taught in the small farm town in Mexico where she was born. She clearly considered me an ignorant intruder. However, what she had been doing was dangerous. I wondered how many women and babies had actually died from uterine ruptures in Mexico during labor and birth because of attendants who unwittingly pushed on a mother’s uterus to “help” her, the same way they do in Afghanistan and did in the US in the past.

Midwifery in itself isn’t dangerous. Midwifery without proper education can be dangerous in the face of aggressive caregivers. Certainly we all need an understanding of anatomy and physiology to be effective midwives.

However, rather than accepting the “Rule of Ten” just because it is written in a medical textbook, we must question whether this rule is valid and examine how it came about, especially as we observe multitudes of women wanting to push before they are completely dilated. For over a century, women in the US have been conditioned to think that doctors are the experts. As a result, we have buried our primal instincts somewhere deep inside our subconscious minds. Just telling a laboring woman that she can trust her body won’t wipe away centuries of conditioning that it isn’t okay to do so without scientific proof. Unless a woman has been raised on an island far from civilization, she will likely have read or heard something that influences how she will give birth. Everything she has learned has the risk of interfering with or empowering her to listen to and respond to her primal instincts during birth.

I believe that the scientific evidence for eliminating the “Rule of Ten” comes from page 171 of Helen Varney’s Nurse Midwifery, where she describes what happens in the phase of maximum slope.(5)

First let me say that a non medicated woman will never push so hard against her undilated cervix that it tears, because it will hurt. Pain is a natural deterrent to pushing too hard. However, when done in the correct manner, pushing to help rotate a baby and dilate oneself will actually eliminate a great deal of pain and cut hours off one’s labor and birth.
Women feel greatly empowered when they can merge with their contractions, unafraid, because the pain diminishes as they do so and labor time is significantly reduced.

Stages of LaborAll textbooks define normal labor and birth as occurring in three stages: First stage is considered to be from the start of active labor until complete dilation; second stage is the birth of the baby or the pushing stage; third stage is the birth of the placenta.
The first stage of labor is further subdivided into the latent phase and the active phase. The active phase is then further subdivided into three more phases: the acceleration phase, the phase of maximum descent and the deceleration phase, also known as transition.
Yet, the same breathing technique is advocated for all the subdivisions of active phase and the

“Rule of Ten” is adhered to no matter what.

How much sense does that make? It’s like asking a woman sweeping the floor to breathe the same way that a woman running a marathon would do, or like asking a man digging a ditch with a shovel to breathe and blow instead of grunting as he throws a load of dirt over his shoulder.
I have frequently stated that most of the birthing women I have observed wish to begin pushing, bearing down or grunting at 5–6 cm. This is because they have entered the phase of maximum slope.

According to Varney, three sequential phases of active labor were defined and described by Dr. E.A. Friedman in 1978 in Labor: Clinical Evaluation and Management.(6) She states: “The phase of maximum slope is the time when cervical dilatation is occurring most rapidly from 3–4 cm to about 8 cm.”(7)

This dilation averages 3 cm per hour in nulliparas. In multiparas, it averages 5.7 cm per hour. The average maximum rate of descent in first-time mothers is 1.6 cm per hour and in multips it is 5.4 cm per hour.

This means that for both primips and multips, doctors observed that women dilated rapidly from 4–8 cm in approximately one hour or so. The descent of the baby’s head in first-time mothers was naturally slower than for women who had already given birth to other children vaginally. Can you imagine the descent and dilation that occurs in women who give birth at home, who are walking during labor and who are not medicated? Can you understand now why the rule needs to change?

The phase of maximum slope is defined as dilation occurring most rapidly from 4–8 cm dilation, but my experience shows that it occurs most rapidly between 5 and 8 cm.
I believe that a Divine reason is behind the fact that the cervix stays at 4 cm for the majority of labor.

Each contraction starts in the top part of the uterus and spreads downward; it is stronger and persists longer in the upper region. On reaching the lower uterine segment the contraction weakens considerably, permitting the cervix to dilate. There is neuromuscular harmony between the upper and lower segment throughout labor. The muscular fibers of the upper segment contract strongly and retract (become progressively shorter), while the fibers of the lower segment contract only slightly and dilate. As the upper segment contracts and retracts, the lower uterine segment has to “thin out” to accommodate the descending baby. This continues until the cervix if fully dilated and the baby can leave the uterus.

The upper segment increases in thickness up to four times, diminishing the uterine cavity considerably where the baby is lying.(8) As this is happening, the lower segment becomes more and more yielding to the pressure of the baby’s head against it. This is why at 5 cm, the cervix is usually so stretchy and thin that it can no longer hold back the flexing, rotating and descending baby.

Because of Divine design, as the uterine cavity itself diminishes in size due to the increased thickness of the upper segment and the increased thinness of the lower segment, the baby is protected from strangling on the cord because his position relative to the cord and placenta does not change as he drops farther and farther into the pelvis. Many babies get wrapped in their cords before birth. If this decrease in size of the uterine cavity didn’t take place, the baby could easily strangle in the umbilical cord during labor and birth.

When the baby has reached its maximum descent before complete dilation (8 cm), the mother enters the deceleration phase. This phase is the end of the active phase. Dilation now temporarily slows. At this point, many mothers wish to lie down and rest, or get onto hands and knees to complete dilation. Many mothers I have observed have to rest for only a few minutes before the cervix relaxes and the mother feels like pushing again. The cervix can no longer withstand the pressure of both the baby and the mother’s pushing efforts and relinquishes its hold on the baby.

In summary, after decades of believing the “Rule of Ten” to be gospel truth, many women have difficulty letting go of false beliefs. We will take a while before we again trust our primal wisdom. However, when we do, I truly believe that the cesarean rate will drop dramatically.
One of the main reasons for cesareans is because of slow labor; yet labor is often slow because of the rules we have made.

Lydi Owen is the mother of six, grandmother of six (another on the way) and great-grandmother of four. She has practiced midwifery for 36 years and helped over 2600 babies into the world. She has written three books, produced a DVD and is founder of the nonprofit Association for the Prevention of Maternal Attachment Disorders. Her Web site is www.powerbirth.com.

1. www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol7no2/cover.htm. Accessed 13 Feb 2008.
2. Greenhill, J.P., and J. DeLee. 1951. The Principles and Practice of Obstetrics, 10th ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders.
3. McGarey, G. 2007. Venture Inward. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc., November/December.
4. “Achievements in Public Health, 1900–1999: Healthier Mothers and Babies,” MMWR, 1 Oct 1999.
5. Varney, H. 1980. Nurse Midwifery. Boston: Blackwell Scientific Publications.
6. Friedman, E.A. 1955. Primipara Labor Curve. Obstet Gynecol 6: 569. Cited in Varney, p. 170.
7. Varney, p. 171.
8. Buhimschi, C.S., et al. Myometrial thickness during human labor and immediately post partum. Am J Obstet Gynecol 188: 553–59; Myles, M. 1981. Textbook for Midwives, 9th ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone.