Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Metaphor for Breastfeeding...

A friend on facebook posted this link.
It is a wonderful 'description' of breastfeeding. In it this mom breaks it up into phases to describe it. I will say that I think she describes the potential pain as lasting a bit too long, but I know that some mom's do have various issues that cause it to be a little rougher than others. I do encourae mom's to 'get help' so that they can correct whatever may be a bit off (I'm NOT saying you are dong something wrong, it can even be a physical issue of your baby's mouth, or whatever, but it helps to get that issue 'fixed') so that you can move on with confidence and comfort to the next phase. Even then... it's is so worth it.

Her description of the nursing relationship and then the time of weaning almost made me cry. Very nice writing.

I do think back to those days sometimes; it's been 2 years since my 'baby' weaned, at 2 1/2 yrs... and I miss them. It is sad when you know that a very big part of your life, is over forever... It was time to move on, but oh... this message reminded me of all those memories, from each of my 6 babies, and I miss it a little bit.

Enjoy -

A pregnant friend called last week. We talked about co-sleepers, and pants with expandable waistlines, and what types of excretions to expect during labor. As we said goodbye we made plans to speak again soon. “Next time,” she declared, “I want you to tell me what nursing is like.”

I hung up the phone with a mission. I was going to come up with the ultimate breastfeeding metaphor. This was a friend who had been with me throughout every step of my pregnancy, she listened to my freak-outs, brought me crackers when I felt nauseous and offered feedback on my endless lists of three-syllable baby names.

But then I moved, and now we live in two different cities, we don’t have the daily contact that we used to. We’ve lost touch. I wanted to give her something spectacular to make up for the distance; something that would paint a perfectly perfect vision of the bonding, and the sensations, and the mechanics of it all. Like the way Shakespeare summed up the journey of human existence simply by saying” All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Like that…but with boobs

Try as I might every attempt turned into a horrendously epic run-on sentence. I could not distill the experience into a concise statement. There was no metaphor that would capture the many phases I went through as a first time nursing mom. I decided I’d make a list- sort of like the “ages and phases” stuff that baby center offers the expecting parent.
It would be my Eriksonian attempt at capturing the mammary glands in all their glory.

The first three days - were like puberty. I was massively sweaty and my shirts were way too tight. My breasts felt suddenly powerful yet completely overwhelming. I cried all the time.

Days 4-6 – were like assembling a bookshelf from IKEA. I knew if I could just get the DANG positioning right it would all come together. I looked at diagram after diagram and it appeared so easy in the pictures. But each new attempt left me bruised, demoralized, and frustrated.

Days 7-18 -were like S&M. The pain was so bad I wanted to puke but I went back for more every two hours. Many people told me that my experiences did not sound normal; they speculated that perhaps there was something very wrong with what I was doing. They suggested I seek professional help.

Days 19-50 – were like learning the guitar chords to your very favorite song. It was hard, there were blisters, but they weren’t too bad; certainly nothing that would stop me. Each day it got easier. Eventually the blisters were gone, my hands moved with ease, I just knew what to do. I could finally experience it, like a song. I felt so proud, I felt like telling everyone, “Do you see this! Check me out. I’m going to do this everywhere. I’m going to do this right in your face! I’m a total rock star!”

Fifty-one days to two years – were like one amazing conversation. Like the kind of chat that leaves you knowing everything about someone. The kind that ends with you staring into someone’s eyes and feeling like the entire world is being held somewhere in-between your gaze.
Two years to two years, four months- were like the last two hundred pages of a very good book. I slowed down, I paid very close attention, I did not want it to end. I was not sure what would happen after I finished. I sensed that I would feel a little bit empty.

The other night was like saying goodbye to a very close friend who suddenly has to move.

After stressing over whether or not to finally wean my daughter, she announced while nursing, “Mommy, your boobies aren’t working any more.”

And just like that, the entire experience shifted



The distance.

edited for language

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Perineal Massage, Episiotomy, Perineal Support...
This link is to a story lied further down my rambling post and the purpose of this post. Please check it out.

When I had my first baby I was so unprepared in so many areas. I remember reading about episiotomy and thinking I did NOT want that.
So, there I was in labor, and in the overseas hospital I was at, they did a partial shave, which I thought odd, then all of the sudden I noticed the OB coming at me with a large pair of scissors! I remember screaming -in my head- STOP! No! Don't cut me! and more specifically, "Can you just give me a minute! I'm in the middle of a contraction!"

Being the 'good little patient', I said nothing, and the cut was made. Granted, I didn't particularly feel it at the time (he did what is called a pressure episiotomy - when the pressure of the baby's head is there during crowning, the tissues have a sense of numbing, and so you don't actually feel the episiotomy, and you don't need to have a local anesthetic, until they stitch you up). After the birth however I had very bad swelling, pain and tenderness. I learned that they had done a Mediolateral episiotomy, which in fact do cause more swelling and pain than a midline episiotomy. Mediolateral Episiotomy is common in Europe, where the cut is made at an angle into the labia, rather than straight down into the perineum. The theory is that if the mediolateral cut tears further, it will not end up in the anal sphincter, like a midline episiotomy can have a tendency to do.

With my second baby, I did not have an episiotomy, and would have been fine, if I'd been allowed to listen to my own body as I pushed. However, this Dr. -a tall man- tilted the bed, up and back, so that I was literally pushing up hill, and then I was being yelled at, with counting and pushing, and counting. I had a minor labial skidmark/tear, probably only because of the small size of that baby... but I had a lot of bruising and postpartum pain from the way the birth was 'managed'.

The most helpful things that I personally have had that helped to stretch the perineum, was the use of Warm compresses during pushing with two of my babies. The moist warmth helped soften and stretch the tissues and helped me to feel my body to be able to push slowly and ease the head out, and caused less stress and trauma to the tissues of the perineum. The other thing that was a helpful thing as well was having waterbirths. My level of postpartum discomfort/pain from birth was dramatically different and lessened after the use of warmth and moisture.

As a labor doula I have witnessed many births where the OB or even the nurses employed the use of 'perineal massage, or more often I've heard it called 'Ironing out' the Perineum. I have watched as this very vigorous, intense 'massage' is done during the pushing stage of labor. I have watched the tissues swell and subsequently tear during the birth of the baby's head or shoulders, and in one case, before the head was even crowned, just due to the ironing out of the tissues. Some Dr's have commented when I have had clients/patients ask about this procedure/process that the Dr. had for a period of time stopped performing this 'perineal massage' and reported that they had an increased incidence of perineal tearing, so they had gone back to the massage/ironing out of the perineal tissues during pushing. What I have have witnessed is that nearly EVERY single mother that has had this done, has torn and needed stitches after the birth.

**********************************************************************************The link tells detail about what this is like.

There are directions for perineal massage, it is to be done prenatally, and can potentially help the tissues stretch during birth.
Then at the birth the mother can massage and help ease the tissues as the baby is born. Some people swear by it. I tried it for one birth, where my caregiver performed the massage, NOPE, that was not for me! However during my waterbirth, I instinctively reached down and eased the tissues around my baby' head. No tearing or cutting and no need for stitches.

I have witnessed a few hosp births without a mother tearing, one even that the Dr. was pushing very hard to perform an episiotomy, "because the mother was going to tear horribly", and the mother refused the cut and birthed her baby, amazingly, over an intact perineum! I have only witnessed one or two episiotomies. I have seen many a mother however birth in an out of hospital environment, and when she is supported, births in an upright or hands and knees position, listens to her body, pushes when she feels the need, not because she is being yelled at to push to a count of ten... mother after mother birth their babies, over intact perineums! The average is 8 lbs or over. I've seen mothers birth 10 and even one 12 pound baby, without even a skid mark, let alone a tear! Yes, I've seen a few tears at OOH births as well, but the way the birth is watched, supported and guided is so different from the managed way of birth in hosp. it wasn't for lack of trying, and few OOH have been as severe as the one's that I believe are caused by the way of birth and perineal massage/ironing, that is used.

I love to have a warm pot of water filled with a bag of healing herbs that I can put cloths into and then use for perineal support. I think it helps the mother.

I have desired to start a dialog about this practice of the 'new episiotomy',for a long time. I'm glad that someone has written about this. Lets get more dialog going, and try to let birth be a more gentle process, no matter your location.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


At Alliance for the Imporvement of Maternity Services (AIMS) you can find this great resource to help you with


Prepared by Doris Haire, President

American Foundation for Maternal and Child Health

Below is a wonderful article on how to get what you want, with lists of things to be aware of and to ask for to get the birth you want.
(I have added bold or italics some of the things in the list that I think are really important).

A good childbirth experience should be happy and gratifying, as well as safe. You are much more likely to have a good experience if you establish early a good communication with your physician or midwife. Sometimes it is the expectant parents who must take the lead in establishing a rapport, but don't let that hold you back. It's your childbirth experience. It's up to you to let the doctor or midwife know what you want. If he or she is not in agreement with your wishes, it is far better to find that out while you still have time to shop around for a doctor or midwife who does agree with you.
Most of the common practice patterns employed in the obstetric care of an essentially healthy pregnant woman and her baby have not been shown to be in the best interests of the woman or her baby. Unless there is a medical indication for the procedure there is no scientific support for routinely:
a. confining the mother to bed during labor and birth,
b. placing an IV or saline lock,
c. shaving the mother's pelvic area or administering an enema,
d. chemically "ripening" her cervix or inducing labor,
e. artificially rupturing the amniotic sac,
f. administering analgesia or regional anesthesia (epidural, spinal, pudendal, etc),
g. prohibiting the mother from eating lightly and drinking fluids during labor,
h. placing the mother's legs in stirrups for delivery,
i. performing an episiotomy or proctoepisiotomy,
j. directing the mother to bear down longer than 5-6 seconds,
k. applying fundal pressure,
l. extracting the baby by forceps or vacuum extractor,
m. clamping the umbilical cord before pulsation stops,
n. putting the baby in a baby warmer, rather than putting the baby with the mother, inside a prewarmed blanket, and
o. prohibiting the baby from breast feeding in the delivery room.

Since all of the practices listed above pose a risk to the mother and/or her baby it is important that the mother discuss these risks with her doctor or midwife.
• Ask the office nurse about the fee for vaginal delivery, and also for cesarean section, in case one should become necessary. If you have health insurance, ask if it will fully cover the fee for vaginal delivery or cesarean section.
• To make sure that your doctor or midwife is sympathetic with your wishes ask, "How do you usually conduct labor and delivery?"
• If you are planning a home birth make sure that your provider has sufficient skill and backup to take care of an emergency.
• Ask other mothers who have had that doctor or midwife about their experiences. Find out if he or she honored the mothers' requests they made during their office visits. Did they find their requests denied once they got into labor/delivery? If so, which requests were denied and why?
• If you have any doubt that the doctor or midwife is the right one for you, you may wish to keep your options open to find someone more compatible. Think twice if the doctor or midwife insists that you must pay the full fee early in your prenatal care. This locks you in to an arrangement that you might later regret. After all, you might want to move before your due date. By paying at the end of each visit you preserve your flexibility. This also gives you the freedom to walk out of the office without paying for the visit if you are kept waiting for an hour or more in the office.
• If the doctor or midwife does seem right for you, ask about his or her "call schedule". Ask if it is possible, or likely, that another person will actually attend your delivery. If yes, ask about that person's philosophy regarding labor and delivery. Request a visit with the alternative doctor or midwife on one of your prenatal visits.
• Some doctors and midwives are very sensitive, and some are even annoyed when expectant parents ask questions about obstetric procedures and drugs. Therefore, TACT is very important. For example, to question a procedure you might say, "I realize that you are interested in my welfare, but I'm concerned about................................
TAKE ALONG A "SUPPORT PERSON" FOR YOUR PRENATAL VISITS. It is often very helpful to have a "support person" along on prenatal visits. If the physician or midwife seems defensive about your companion's presence, explain:
"I've brought along my (friend, mother, etc.) because I may not always remember everything you tell me."
If you want to question the safety of a procedure or drug, ask:
• "What is the scientific documentation for using this procedure (or drug)? Please let me read some literature which guarantees that there are no harmful effects to me or my baby from .......... "
If you are questioning the safety of a proposed drug, ask to see the FDA package insert for the drug.
OTHER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR PHYSICIAN OR MIDWIFE INCLUDE:• "What % of your patients ambulate during labor?"
• "I do not want to be fed intravenously during labor since it will interfere with my ambulation and may result in hypoglycemia in my newborn baby. Will I be allowed to drink liquids and eat lightly during labor in order to keep up my stamina?"
• "What % of your patients have no drugs at all during labor and birth?
• "What drugs do you commonly give women during labor?
• "What are the risks of those drugs to me and my baby?
• "Could I read the manufacturers' package inserts (information sheets) of those drugs?"
• "Has the FDA specifically approved of these drugs as safe for my unborn baby?" (Many drugs, including terbutaline, used in obstetric care have not been so approved.)
• "When you listen to the fetal heart rate during pregnancy and labor, do you use a fetoscope or ultrasound?"
• "Since the FDA has acknowleged that no one knows the delayed, long term affects of ultrasound on human development when it is used in obstetric care, I would like to be monitored by a fetoscope. Will you please check with the hospital labor/delivery unit to be sure they have a fetoscope, rather than an ultrasound doppler?"
• "What % of your patients have no episiotomy?"
• "What % of your patients have cesarean sections?"
If you do not want a sonogram, ask the following questions:
• "Why do you consider this procedure necessary? What are you looking for? Is the sonogram being carried out solely to establish fetal age or multiple fetuses?"
• "How would you alter the course of my treatment if the sonogram discloses the condition you are looking for?"
• "If I am sure of the dates of my last menstrual period, what advantage is there in performing the sonogram at this stage in my pregnancy?"
• "Will one sonogram give you the information you need, or do you expect to do additional sonograms later in my pregnancy?"
• Since the FDA has recently acknowledged that no one knows the delayed, long-term effects of diagnostic ultrasound on the subsequent development of the exposed offspring, shouldn't we wait until my baby is bigger?"
• Expressions of concern regarding the safety of ultrasound are often met with assurances such as "Sonograms are not x-rays", or "Sonograms are just bouncing sound waves".
If the doctor or midwife continues to insist on a sonogram then ask:
• "Can you give me information from the company which will guarantee that the ultrasound will have no adverse effects on my child's subsequent physical and neurologic development?"
(The doctor or midwife will be unable to provide you with such a guarantee because there have been no properly controlled, long-term studies to evaluate the effects of diagnostic ultrasound on subsequent human development - but the mental exercise will make him or her stop and think carefully before exposing your baby to ultrasound via a sonogram or electronic fetal monitoring.)

Make a list of your preferences. Begin the list by writing: "If there are no medical contraindications, I would like the following:
1 ........................
2 ............................
3 ........................ , etc."
Make three copies. Keep one for yourself to take with you to the hospital. Give two copies to your doctor or your midwife, one to remain in his/her files. Ask that the second copy of your requests and preferences be attached to the copy of your prenatal records which are sent to the hospital prior to your due date.

During the latter part of your pregnancy write to the hospital's Public Relations Office and ask for a copy of the consent form used for obstetric patients. On admission to the hospital, write in above your signature on the consent form, "Subject to my informed consent at the time." Keep in mind, if you don't give your informed consent, you have not consented.
If you are refused admission unless you sign the consent form "as is", go ahead and sign the form. Once you are in the obstetric unit give your nurse a copy of your previously written instructions which reads:
• "I hereby withdraw my consent to all non-emergency drugs or procedures unless you obtain my informed consent at the time. Neither I nor my baby shall be used as a teaching or research subject without my informed consent at the time..".
• "I realize that you feel I should have the .............. "or "would like to make me more comfortable, but I will wait until my doctor or midwife arrives so I can talk it over with him/her personally. I want to discuss the alternatives with him/her."
• "If you insist on monitoring me, give me some literature from the manufacturer which guarantees that the procedure will not jeopardize my baby."
To make the provider think about what he or she is offering you, ask:
• "Why do you suggest that? Has something gone wrong?"
Remember, directions have legal connotations; requests can be ignored.
• Example: Don't say, "I'd rather not be shaved." Say, "Do not shave me.""Do not put my legs in stirrups."
"Do not send my husband out of the room."
"Do not take my baby out of my room."
"Do not feed my baby water or formula in the nursery"
"Bring my baby to breast feed when he or she is hungry", etc.
If you are being made miserable by a nurse or doctor who insists that
"Hospital rules require that .............",
Tell the caregiver that you will sign a waiver to release the hospital from responsibility for your refusal.
If the caregiver continues to hassel you ask to see a copy of the hospital regulation or protocol that deals with the issue in question. It's doubtful that the regulation actually exists.

Your obstetric records are an important part of both your and your baby's health histories. Well before your due date, during one of your prenatal visits, tell the doctor or midwife that you want a copy of your and your baby's hospital medical records including nursing notes. Nursing notes are important because many notations in your records are made by staff members who are not nurses.
The following statements and questions are examples:
• "I would like a copy of my and my baby's prenatal and hospital medical records, including nursing notes, monitor strip, etc., to keep for my own records. May I have them?"
• "How much will it cost me to obtain a copy of these records?" (Copies should cost approximately 50c a page.) If the cost seems too high, ask what they charge when another authorized physician requests a copy of your records.
• "What do I do now to clear this request with the hospital?"
• "I don't want to wait until the last minute to find out that...."
If you are offered a summary or abstract of your records, rather than the complete records, keep in mind that a summary can OMIT information which you may later find desirable to have. If your doctor or midwife refuses your request for a copy of your and your baby's hospital/medical records you are justified in refusing the hospital's request for your authorization to allow your health insurance company to review your records for payment. To make sure the hospital complies, write in above your signature,
"My and my baby's records may be reviewed by my health insurance company only after my personal inspection of those records and I have received a copy of our records."

We hope that the above suggestions will help to eliminate any misunderstanding that might mar your birth experience. We wish you a happy, healthy birth and baby.
Prepared by Doris Haire, President
American Foundation for Maternal and Child Health

© 2000, Doris Haire

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Birth Trauma... not an easy topic, but it is real and it happens to too many women

Women deserve respect and compasion. Birthing Women, as strong as they may be personally, when it comes to the time of labor and birth are at a most vulnerable place. It's hard to stand up for yourself and FIGHT while in labor and the biggest thing is, you shouldn't HAVE to!!!

Below are several links to posts that have been discussing this. How do women feel about their births? Too often, women are feeling traumatized, victimized, assalted, or even so violated in person and spirit that they feel as though their experience was akin to rape.
A difficult story to read... one woman's story of her traumatic birth, how the restrictions placed upon her took away her dignity, her plans and her birth.
Women's exeriences are REAL, it is how they feel! Noone else should be able to tell a person that they aren't allowed, or aren't supposed to 'FEEL' how they feel.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pre-labour rupture of membranes: impatience and risk

Pre-labour rupture of membranes: impatience and risk

When my water broke with my first baby and I had not had the first contraction yet, I remember being so upset, since I knew the Dr's would want me to come into the Hospital right away! I had read a 'vast' library (all 7 that I could get my hands on) of books on pregnancy and childbirth. I knew that what I wanted was to stay at home and labor for as long as I could before going to the hospital. Now, with my waters broken, that was not going to be a possibility, under todays medical management of labor.

Lucky for me, my contractions started up 30 minutes after the rupture of membranes, and then I was off. I am among the small number of women(abt 10%), whose membranes rupture spontaneously, prior to labor actually beginning. Most women if left alone, will begin labor within about 24 hrs. In this article it states that jsut a few short years ago they would wait for 72 hours, then the timeline became shorter and shorter. Now days, you are advised by your OB Dr. that if your membranes should spontaneously rupture, you are to call them and rush right in to the hospital.

In many cases it will mean that your labor is artificially stimulated by a pitocin drip in the i.v. in your arm, you will also very likely have to have i.v. antibiotics, "just in case" you might get an infection, which is unlikely if you aren't putting anything up into the vagina, but at the hospital you will be submitted to numerous vaginal exams to 'check' for dilation. You may even be pressured to have an internal contraction and fetal monitor attached, which then add to the 'stuff' going up into your vagina while you have ruptured membranes and increases your risk of uterine infection.

Early, prelabor, rupture of membranes does not however increase the risk of your baby getting an infection, as the article states so nicely, but that is NOT what the medical team will tell you. In fact if you begin to get an infection, with an elevated temperature, (or if you get an epidural fever, where your body gets a slight fever trying to, I suppose, fight off the epidural line, medicine, etc being introduced into your body, but does not mean that you are in fact 'sick' or have an infection), your baby will be taken from you after the birth for observation in the nursery or NICU, and often subjectred to a battery of invasive testing, (ie: a spinal tap for meningitis), then given a course of antibiotics "just in case" your baby has an infection. This 'routine' separation of mother and baby and delay in the breastfeeding relationship, often is for a minimum of 24 hours.

Another thing that will most likely happen to you if you go directly to the hospital, is that because of your rupture of membranes, and the unrealistic (my theory is, there are a lot more prolapsed cords with induced labors. The baby - often 38 weeks or before it is 'due' - isn't really setteled down into the pelvis well, and as part of the inductin they artificially rupture your membranes, then since the baby is still floating, with the rupture of membranes, the cord gets washed down and out with the big gush of fluid that was just released) fear of a prolapsed umbilical cord, you will then be restricted to bed, often forced to use a bed pan, instead of being allowed up to go to the bathroom, and all of that being stuck in the bed, instead of being up to move around and have the effects of gravity, do not help your body kick itself into labor and encourage you to labor on your own.

Doesn't all of this sound like a lovely way to start labor? (dripping with sarcasm)
The sad part if, that inducing a labor to start just because of spontaneou rupture of membranes, is not justified, or backed up by research.

Read this blog post. It has all the links to the Cochrane Review's with the research and facts to back this up.

Please educate yourselves on the issues dealing with pregnancy and birth.