Archive for the ‘OB/Gyn’ Category

A Guide to Finding Your Doula

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Building a labor support team is part of conscious preparation during pregnancy for your labor,  birth and life with the very newborn. Hiring a labor doula continues to gain in popularity for the expecting family. Your doula comes alongside you in pregnancy through labor and delivery with some additional early postpartum follow-up.  For additional after birth support, a postpartum doula is a great addition.

Step 1: Finding a Doula

  • Inquire with friends, family, local support/informational groups (for example – ICAN, LLLI, Birth Network, Birth Circle, Cloth Diaper store), childbirth educators, care providers, prenatal massage therapists, prenatal exercise instructors, lactation experts and chiropractors for referrals.
  • Use your favorite search engine and type in your city or area name with the keyword doula
  • Search training and certifying organizations such as CAPPA, DONA, ICEA ToLabor , Birth Works and Birth Arts International
  • Search general doula sites such as All Doulas, Doulas.com, About.com, Doula Match or Doula.com

Step 2: First Contact

Once you have located local area doulas, the next step is  to make contact. You will likely find that most doulas are women though occasionally you will find a male doula in your area.  After visiting any websites; phone or email only the doulas that most interest you and fit your particular needs.  Generally there is not much need to contact more than three perspective doulas.

During your initial phone conversation or in your email be sure to include:

  • Full name
  • Contact information
  • Estimated Due Date
  • General location where you live
  • Care Provider
  • Birth Location
  • Top needs and desires for birth
  • If referred, by whom
  • Any financial considerations

Step 3:  Setting up the Interview

I encourage after the phone or email contact and response, set-up in-person interviews with the doulas you found most compatible with you.

  • Unless the doula you are meeting has her own office, interviews are usually held in a public place such as a coffee house, restaurant, library, park, or shopping center. If you meet at a place where beverages or food will be ordered you can offer to pick up the tab for everyone if you desire, but it is never expected.
  • Your partner, husband or other support who will be attending the birth needs to be at in-person interview if at all possible.
  • Expect the interview to be approximately an hour and to be free of charge.

Step 4: The Interview

The interview is to gain more detailed information from the doula, as well as, share more  about yourself and what you want.  It is customary for the doula to either email ahead of time her client packet or bring it with her to the interview. It may include her professional profile, client agreement, services, and support details, as well as, additional offerings.

Suggested Interview Questions:

  • Why are you a doula?
  • What is your philosophy of childbirth?
  • Where did you get your training?
  • Are you certified? Why or why not?
  • How long have you been a doula?
  • What is your scope of practice?
  • What types of births have you participated in?
  • What types of birth locations have you been to?
  • How many births per month on average do you attend?
  • How many clients would max you out in a month?
  • Have you ever missed a birth? Please explain why.
  • Do you specialize in working with a specific type of clientele or birth plan?
  • What has been the most challenging birth you have attended? Why?
  • How do you work with my husband/partner/other support?
  • Have you worked with my provider before? If yes, please describe the experience.
  • How many prenatal visits would there be?
  • In general, what is covered in the prenatal visits?
  • Will you help me make a birth plan?
  • Please explain how your fee is structured.
  • Do you accept barter?
  • Do you have a back-up and do I meet her ahead of time?
  • When do you go on-call?
  • Do you labor at home with me?
  • What do you do if I am induced or need to schedule a cesarean?
  • When will you see me postpartum and what does it include?
  • What are your expectations of me as a client?
  • How long do I have to decide before you would contract with someone else around my EDD?

Of course that is a fairly long list of overview questions. Brainstorm some of your own. The interview is not meant to be a free prenatal visit, it is simply to find out if you and the doula are a fit personality wise and in how she practices.  Most doulas do not expect to be hired on the spot. You  need time to think and process after each interview. If a doula is pressuring you to hire on the spot because she fills so quickly, that could be a red flag and cause for you to take a pause.

Step 5: Hiring the Doula

Within 1-2 weeks,  contact the doula you would like to hire and proceed and those you did not choose to let them know you have hired someone else so they will not be holding your EDD space open any longer.

Details to be clear about when initially hiring your doula:

  • Sign and return the agreement/contract she gave you at the interview (if applicable).
  • Return any intake paperwork by mail or email.
  • Payment  – First portion of fee is usually paid upon hiring a doula.
  • Ask her usual business hours and contact preference for non-emergencies or labor related needs.
  • Let her know your contact preferences and all phone numbers to reach you and your spouse/partner or other support.
  • Set the date and time for the first prenatal appointment. Give her directions if your home is not easy to find.
  • Get clarity on what routine contact she would like from you (updates after care provider appointments, etc.)

Happy doula-ing!

Picking Your Care Provider – Interview Questions

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Being an active participant in your pregnancy and birth journey begins with choosing your provider. You can begin the search for the right provider fit prior to becoming pregnant, in early pregnancy or anytime before your baby is born. So much of how your pregnancy and birth unfold are directly related to your care provider so this is really a key element. Every provider is not the right fit for every mother and vice verse. If you already have an established provider relationship, these questions can be used as a re-interview tool.

When asking these questions, take care to really listen to the answers. If a provider will not meet with you prior to you becoming a patient, that can be a red flag.

______________________________________________________________________

Begin by expressing your overall idea of what your best pregnancy, labor and birth looks like to provider.

  • What are your core beliefs, training, experience surrounding pregnancy and birth?
  • Why did you choose this line of work?
  • What sets you apart from other maternity providers?
  • How can you help me attain my vision for pregnancy, labor and birth?
  • If I have a question, will you answer over the phone, by email or other avenue outside of prenatal appointments?
  • How much time will you spend with me during each appointment?
  • What routine tests are utilized during pregnancy? What if I decline these tests?
  • What is the average birth experience of first time mothers in your practice?
  • How do you approach the due date? What do you consider full term and when would I be considered overdue?
  • What are your patient intervention rates? (IV, AROM, continuous monitoring, episiotomy, etc.) Cesarean rate? VBAC rate? Induction rate? What induction methods are used? When are forceps/vacuum used? These numbers are tracked.
  • What positions are you comfortable catching in? Birth stool? Hand/Knees? Squatting? Standing? Water? How often do patients deliver in positions other than reclined or McRoberts positions?
  • How do you feel about me having a birth plan?
  • What if I hire a doula? Do you have an interest in who I work with or restrictions? If yes, why?
  • Do you have an opinion on the type of childbirth or breastfeeding class I take? If so, what and why?
  • Are you part of on call rotation or do you attend your own  overall? Will the back-up or on-call CP honor the requests we have agreed on?
  • Are there any protocols that are non-negotiable? If you cannot refuse – you are not consenting.
  • What if I choose to decline a recommended procedure or intervention in labor or post birth, how will that be viewed?
  • When will I see you during labor?
  • What postpartum care or support do you offer?
  • Will I be able to get questions answered or be seen before the 6 week postpartum visit?

Points to ponder afterward:

  • Did you feel immediately comfortable and respected at the interview? If already with a CP, do you feel comfortable, respected and heard at each appointment?
  • Were there red flags or white flags?
  • Was or is care provider willing to answer questions in detail without being annoyed?
  • Is choosing your care provider based on your insurance or lack of insurance?
  • What are you willing to do in order to have the birth you really desire? Birth location?
  • How much responsibility are you willing to take for the health care decisions for you and your baby?

What’s in the job?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

 

 

 

 

I wonder if most of us really know what the scopes of practice are for the providers we may choose  for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and for the baby.  Keep reading to see if you really know what the jobs encompass.

As you go through the list I would like you to think about the language used, descriptors, and purpose of each type of provider. When we are approaching health care decisions especially who will care for us from pregnancy through birth, postpartum and for our babies, we need to make sure we are choosing the appropriate care for our individual needs and situation.

If anything strikes you or you would like me to add any provider types, please leave me a comment!

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OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY (OB/GYN)

Obstetrics and gynecology is a discipline dedicated to the broad, integrated medical and surgical care of women’s health throughout their lifespan. The combined discipline of obstetrics and gynecology requires extensive study and understanding of reproductive physiology, including the physiologic, social, cultural, environmental and genetic factors that influence disease in women. This study and understanding of the reproductive physiology of women gives obstetricians and gynecologists a unique perspective in addressing gender-specific health care issues.

Preventive counseling and health education are essential and integral parts of the practice of obstetricians and gynecologists as they advance the individual and community-based health of women of all ages.

Obstetricians and gynecologists may choose a scope of practice ranging from primary ambulatory health care to concentration in a focused area of specialization.   – from ACOG

Certified Nurse-Midwife

Midwifery as practiced by Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Midwives (CMs) encompasses primary care for women across the lifespan from adolescence beyond menopause, with a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecologic and reproductive health. Midwives perform comprehensive physical exams, prescribe medications including contraceptive methods, order laboratory and other diagnostic tests, and provide health and wellness education and counseling. The scope of practice for CNMs and CMs also includes treatment of male partners for sexually transmitted infections, and care of the normal newborn during the first 28 days of life. -from ACNM

Certified Professional Midwife

Based on the MANA Core Competencies, the guiding principles of the practice of CPMs are to work with women to promote a healthy pregnancy, and provide education to help her make informed decisions about her own care. In partnership with their clients they carefully monitor the progress of the pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum period and recommend appropriate management if complications arise, collaborating with other health care providers when necessary. The key elements of this education, monitoring, and decision making process are based onEvidenced-Based Practice and Informed Consent. – from MANA

Direct Entry Midwife (including Licensed Midwife)

  • Not required to be nurses.
  • Multiple routes of education (apprenticeship, workshops, formal classes or programs, etc., usually a combination).
  • May or may not have a college degree.
  • May or may not be certified by a state or national organization.
  • Legal status varies according to state.
  • Licensed or regulated in 21 states.
  • In most states licensed midwives are not required to have any practice agreement with a doctor.
  • Educational background requirements and licensing requirements vary by state.
  • By and large maintain autonomous practices outside of institutions.
  • Train and practice most often in home or out-of-hospital birth center settings.

To learn more detail about all types of midwives go to Citizens For Midwifery

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who are prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. Today, NPs complete graduate-level education preparation that leads to a master’s degree. NPs take health histories and provide complete physical examinations; diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems; interpret laboratory results and X-rays; prescribe and manage medications and other therapies; provide health teaching and supportive counseling with an emphasis on prevention of illness and health maintenance; and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.

NPs are authorized to practice across the nation and have prescriptive privileges, of varying degrees, in 49 states. Nurse practitioners perform services as authorized by a state’s nurse practice act.  These nurse practice acts vary state-to-state, with some states having independent practice for NPs (not requiring any physician involvement), some with collaborative agreement required with a physician. -from ACNP

Family Practitioner

AAFP defines a family physician as, “a physician who is educated and trained in family medicine–a broadly encompassing medical specialty.”

Family physicians possess unique attitudes, skills, and knowledge which qualify them to provide continuing and comprehensive medical care, health maintenance and preventive services to each member of the family regardless of sex, age, or type of problem, be it biological, behavioral, or social. These specialists, because of their background and interactions with the family, are best qualified to serve as each patient’s advocate in all health-related matters, including the appropriate use of consultants, health services, and community resources. – from AAFP

Labor Doula

The labor doula assists the woman and her family before, during, and after birth by providing emotional, physical, and informational support. It is not within the labor doula’s scope of practice to offer medical advice or perform any medical or clinical procedure.

During pregnancy, the labor doula’s role is to assist families in preparing a birth plan, to provide information about birth options and resources, and to provide emotional support.

During labor and birth, the labor doula facilitates communication between the family and the caregivers. She supports the mother and her partner with the use of physical, emotional, and informational support.

During the postpartum period, the doula assists the mother in talking through her birth experience, answering questions about newborn care and breastfeeding within our scope of practice, and referring the family to appropriate resources as needed. – from CAPPA

Postpartum Doula

The postpartum doula provides informational and educational information to the family. Medical advice is not given; referrals to appropriate studies and published books are within the postpartum doula’s scope. The postpartum doula will determine ahead of time what duties she feels comfortable with performing for the postpartum family and she will share this information with the family prior to accepting a position with them.

CAPPA members do not perform clinical or medical care on mother or baby such as taking blood pressure or temperature, vaginal exams or postpartum clinical care. CAPPA standards and certification apply to emotional, physical and informational support only. CAPPA members who are also health care professionals may provide these services within the scope and standard of their professions but only after making it clear that they are not functioning as a labor doula, postpartum doula, or childbirth educator at the time of the care. For needs beyond the scope of the postpartum doula’s expertise, referrals are made to the appropriate resources.

CAPPA strongly recommends that members do not drive mother or baby unless there is a life-threatening emergency and an ambulance could not get to the family quick enough. – from CAPPA

Lactation Educator

Lactation educators fill an important function in educating and supporting families interested in learning about breastfeeding. This education may take place in the public, hospital, clinical or private setting. Lactation educators provide informational, emotional and practical support of breastfeeding. They may provide this service exclusively as breastfeeding educators, or may use their training to augment their support in other professions, in the cases of doulas, childbirth educators, nurses, dieticians, and postnatal or parenting educators. In addition to providing breastfeeding information, lactation educators offer encouragement, companionship, an experienced point of view, and foster confidence and a commitment to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding education is not restricted to new families, but applies to the general public and medical staff as well. Due to the limited breastfeeding information given in standard medical and nursing training, and the rampant misinformation about breastfeeding that is so prevalent in our society, the breastfeeding educator serves as a resource for accurate, evidence-based information to the public and health care providers, as well as to childbearing families.

CAPPA does not issue Certified Lactation Consultant status, nor does the lactation educator program qualify a member to dispense medical advice, diagnose or prescribe medication. However, lactation educators provide a wealth of information about how and why to breastfeed; establishing a breastfeeding-friendly environment; basic breastfeeding anatomy and physiology; the normal process of lactation; deviations from normal; physical, emotional and sociological barriers to breastfeeding; overcoming challenges; and resources available (including medical referrals) for the breastfeeding family. They can also be a source of vital support, guidance and encouragement throughout the duration of breastfeeding. -from CAPPA

IBCLC (Lactation Consultant)

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) have demonstrated specialized knowledge and clinical expertise in breastfeeding and human lactation and are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE).

This Scope of Practice encompasses the activities for which IBCLCs are educated and in which they are authorized to engage. The aim of this Scope of Practice is to protect the public by ensuring that all IBCLCs provide safe, competent and evidence-based care. As this is an international credential, this Scope of Practice is applicable in any country or setting where IBCLCs practice.

IBCLCs have the duty to uphold the standards of the IBCLC profession by:
• working within the framework defined by the IBLCE Code of Ethics, the Clinical Competencies for IBCLC Practice, and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Standards of Practice for IBCLCs
• integrating knowledge and evidence when providing care for breastfeeding families from the disciplines defined in the IBLCE Exam Blueprint
• working within the legal framework of the respective geopolitical regions or settings
• maintaining knowledge and skills through regular continuing education

IBCLCs have the duty to protect, promote and support breastfeeding by:
• educating women, families, health professionals and the community about breastfeeding and human lactation
• facilitating the development of policies which protect, promote and support breastfeeding
• acting as an advocate for breastfeeding as the child-feeding norm
• providing holistic, evidence-based breastfeeding support and care, from preconception to weaning, for women and their families
• using principles of adult education when teaching clients, health care providers and others in the community
• complying with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolution -from IBCLE

Pediatrician

A pediatrician is a child’s physician who provides:

  • preventive health maintenance for healthy children.
  • medical care for children who are acutely or chronically ill.

Pediatricians manage the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their patients, in every stage of development — in good health or in illness.

Generally, pediatricians focus on babies, children, adolescents, and young adults from birth to age 21 years to:

  • reduce infant and child mortality
  • control infectious disease
  • foster healthy lifestyles
  • ease the difficulties of children and adolescents with chronic conditions

Click here for more information about the Physicians and Staff at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

Pediatricians diagnose and treat:

  • infections
  • injuries
  • genetic defects
  • malignancies
  • organic diseases and dysfunctions

But, pediatricians are concerned with more than physical well-being. They also are involved with the prevention, early detection, and management of other problems that affect children and adolescents, including:

  • behavioral difficulties
  • developmental disorders
  • functional problems
  • social stresses
  • depression or anxiety disorders

Pediatrics is a collaborative specialty — pediatricians work with other medical specialists and healthcare professionals to provide for the health and emotional needs of children. – from UMM (I could find no concise scope of practice definition on the AAP website but here is their Scope of Practice Issues in the Delivery of Pediatric Health Care)

Doctors of Chiropractic

Defining Chiropractic Scope

Since human function is neurologically integrated, Doctors of Chiropractic evaluate and facilitate biomechanical and neuro-biological function and integrity through the use of appropriate conservative, diagnostic and chiropractic care procedures.

Therefore, direct access chiropractic care is integral to everyone’s health care regimen.

Defining Chiropractic Practice

A. DIAGNOSTIC

Doctors of Chiropractic, as primary contact health care providers, employ the education, knowledge, diagnostic skill, and clinical judgment necessary to determine appropriate chiropractic care and management.

Doctors of Chiropractic have access to diagnostic procedures and /or referral resources as required.

B. CASE MANAGEMENT

Doctors of Chiropractic establish a doctor/patient relationship and utilize adjustive and other clinical procedures unique to the chiropractic discipline. Doctors of Chiropractic may also use other conservative patient care procedures, and, when appropriate, collaborate with and/or refer to other health care providers.

C. HEALTH PROMOTION

Doctors of Chiropractic advise and educate patients and communities in structural and spinal hygiene and healthful living practices.

-from ACC

 

Birth Plan Sample

Monday, February 28th, 2011

A birth plan is designed to facilitate communication between you and your provider, especially necessary if you are  birthing outside the home environment.  Secondly, it is to offer information on the individualized care you as the mother would like during labor, birth and immediately postpartum for you and your baby.

It should be brief (no more than one page) and only have the bullet point information that is specific to individualized care and desires not usually within your care provider’s standing orders or usual protocols of the birth location.

It is important to take a written birth plan to a prenatal visit at least a month prior to your given estimated due date in order to have a clear understanding of expectation and agreement. If it becomes apparent that you and your provider are not on the same page, this gives can give time to seek out another provider that fits you and you fit with. Remember it is not a legal document that your location of delivery or care provider must adhere to.

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Birth Needs and Desires for: _______________________. 

Care Provider:_________________.

Estimated Due Date: _________________.

 

Labor

I am planning on a no to low-intervention natural birth.  I plan on being mobile, lightly snacking, drinking orally, and having ___________ present.   I understand that intermittent monitoring of me and my baby will be necessary.  I want to be fully consented for any procedure that may come up and fully participate in the medical care for myself and my baby.  I understand that there is pain management available to me, I will ask for it if I so desire.

  • I plan on wearing my own clothing. I will ask for a gown if I change my mind.
  • I would like a saline lock in lieu of a running IV.
  • Limited vaginal exams after initial assessment.
  • In the event an induction and/or augmentation is medically necessitated-
    • Ripening – Foley Catheter instead of Cytotec (misoprostol), Cervadil or Prepadil
    • Pitocin – A very gentle and slowly administered dosage increase.
    • AROM – will only consent to if an internal fetal monitor is a must.
  • Spontaneous pushing and delivery in any position I am most comfortable with.
  • No cord traction or aggressive placental detachment, including deep uterine massage.
  • Delayed cord clamping for at least 10 minutes or until my placenta spontaneously detaches (baby can receive oxygen or other assistance while still attached to me).

Postpartum and Baby Care

  • Request that my baby is on my belly or chest for assessments and warmth (even oxygen can be given on me)
  • Delayed bathing
  • Delaying vaccinations including eye ointment and vitamin k.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers, sugar water, or formula. I will hand express if necessary.
  • No separation from me unless absolutely medically necessary not just protocol.

Cesarean: In the event a cesarean becomes necessary and is not a true emergency requiring general anesthesia.  I would like to keep the spirit of my plan A to plan C so the delivery can be as family centered and intimate as possible.

  • Only essential conversation related to the surgery and delivery
  • Lower sterile drape or have a mirror present so I may see my baby emerge
  • Only one arm strapped down so I may touch my baby
  • Pictures
  • Aromatherapy as I desire for comfort, abate nausea and to mask surgical odors
  • Baby to stay with me continuously in OR and recovery
  • If baby must leave OR for treatment, my partner/spouse goes with baby and I would like my ____________ to stay with me so I am never alone.
  • Breastfeed in OR and/or recovery
  • Delayed immunizations
  • Delayed washing and dressing of baby
  • No separation from me except what is absolutely medically necessary

This “plan” may be copied, pasted and edited  for use by others.

Creating a relationship 10 minutes at a time

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

It has occurred to me through my time with doula clients and students,  that many care providers serving hospital birthing mothers do not ask any questions of their pregnant patients during the 7-10 minute prenatal visits that lead to a substantive working relationship.

I have also learned that too often the pregnant “patient” does not know to tell her provider anything about what is going on in her life or pregnancy since she is not queried first.

Thinking there must be a way to better bridge this very real separation to solid patient-provider relationship building, I am drawing from my work as a midwife assistant in the making of this tip list.

Pregnant mothers your provider needs to know so much more about you and your pregnancy than blood pressure, weight, fundal height and fetal heart tones. I encourage you to freely offer the below information at every appointment to grow personalized care, advisement and support.

1) Appetite/Diet/Supplements – tell your provider if your appetite has increased or decreased between visits. Do you have food aversions? Are you taking any supplements or want to take supplements?

2) Sleep habits – tell your provider how you are or are not sleeping.  For example, are you having trouble falling asleep, falling back to sleep or staying asleep.

3) Nausea – Do you continue to have nausea? When? How often? Does it correlate with anything in particular?

4) Hemorrhoids – if you have them or not. What you are doing for them.

5) Varicose veins –  Are there veins sticking out or causing issue anywhere in your body?

6) Bowel habits – Are you experiencing normal or abnormal bowel habits?

7) Exercise – What have you been doing? Do changes need to be made?

8) Stress – Is there anything in your life that is really stressing you? Stress can impact pregnancy health. Important to discuss.

9) Related Providers – Are you going to any pregnancy related providers (such as chiropractor, acupuncturist, yoga, etc.)?

10) General  – Are you feeling well or not. Do you need more information or referrals?

There is so much more to you than a pregnant uterus. You are a holistic person who needs to be treated as such. I would venture that something much more individualized can come out of your care with simple sharing!

Here’s to whole care!

Posptartum and the Great Abyss

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The postpartum period is a critical time for the health, attachment and emotional adjustment for both mother and baby.

It has become the expected norm that women are left with very little medical or care provider support/assistance in handling the many norms, transitions and stumbling blocks that present in the first 6 weeks postpartum with her and her baby.

The general exception to this rule are women who birth at home with a midwife or in a free standing birth center where the rest of the perinatal period has several (approximately 6 visits) scheduled for follow-up care for both mother and baby. In this case, a family practitioner or pediatrician is unnecessary unless a need outside the norm arises.

Sadly with the majority of American women birthing within the hospital environment, she will leave the hospital with a stack of papers, a resource list, perhaps after viewing a newborn video and be left to her own devices until that 6 week appointment with her  care provider (yes, some hospitals offer a visiting nurse once or maybe twice after birth, but is not the norm).

This is so stunning to me. Absolutely hair raising the lack of care women get. It is akin to entering the open sea with a poorly written map and expected to find the “New World” successfully and without setback.

As a doula and educator, I field emails, texts and calls from my clients and students asking questions, needing breastfeeding feedback and help navigating life.  WHERE ARE THE hospital care providers in this time?  Even without being able to offer home visits (except there could be a staff nurse, PA or NP to fill that roll), why are OB’s and hospital CNM’s not having their patients come in to the office at regular intervals post birth? For example, days 3, 7, 14, 21, 30 and then at 6 weeks? This sort of practice could address both emotional, physical needs and very well catch many other things BEFORE they become issues.

The longer I am in the birth professional, I am simply appalled by what passes as good care. No wonder so many women have recovery needs, postpartum mood disorders missed and breastfeeding problems. After months of constant contact and appointments (albeit not usually comprehensive), a woman is dropped into the abyss of postpartum without a safety net.

One practical solution is for a mother to secure a labor doula who would work with her prenatally through the early postpartum period and then hire a postpartum doula to continue care and assist in the rest of the perinatal period.

Another is for the mother to have a trusted, knowledgeable and skilled family member or friend come and stay with in her home from the birth through at least 6 weeks post birth. This person would help the mother learn to mother and not be “nannying” the baby similar to that of a postpartum doula.

Lastly, for truly comprehensive care, there is always the option to switch to a provider that offers it or one never knows what would happen if it is simply requested as part of the maternity care package of her hospital-based provider.

I hope you found this food for thought invigorating! I look forward to your comments.

Technology and the Prenatal “Diet”

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

In westernized countries, television and the internet have almost completely replaced the generational teaching and learning found in the “circles” of the past. Women would gather over sewing, quilting, canning, and life events including pregnancy and childbirth. They offered support, told their stories, spoke of family life, shared their everyday knowledge, wisdom and expertise while the children played at their feet.

At first glance it seems that through these technologies women are able to gain vast amounts of incredible knowledge regarding childbirth.  There are very popular websites, message boards and forums to meet and greet other women who are expecting the very same month.  Any topic is available to explore. Excellent places for a sense of community and belonging. The information is so prevalent that some women even eschew childbirth classes because they feel well enough prepared from all the exposure. Fantastic to be sure, at first glance.

Upon a deeper look  with a critical eye at the most popular shows and on-line communities, it becomes pretty obvious that overwhelmingly the messages and scenes actually have little to do with real encouragement and instilling confidence in a woman’s design and inherent ability to birth.

Let’s start with the satellite/cable television shows on the learning and health channels. Stop for a moment and think of what occurred during the last episode you viewed.  Did you see a spontaneous labor from entry to hospital to birth without augmentation, epidural, or any other intervention except for intermittent monitoring and perhaps a saline lock (IV port) placed? Was it an induction with an epidural? Was it a cesarean or a vaginal delivery? Did she have adequate support? Was her background given in any detail? Who made the decisions? What about informed consent? Was the laboring woman paid attention too or were the machines heeded more? What sort of comfort measures did she employ? Was she ever out of bed? Who delivered the baby?  What response to her baby did the mother have? Who saw her baby first? With that clear memory in mind, how did you feel after viewing it? What thoughts came to your mind? Now consider that essentially all of the births shown take place in a hospital. In fact any birth that does not, is often touted as extreme or some other like descriptive.

Let’s move on for a moment.

Now let’s take a look at the most popular pregnancy websites, message boards and forums where women connect with one another.  The “conversations” and threads are filled with all things related to the impending birth. Chatter about baby showers, maternity leave, body changes, vaccinations, previous experiences, breastfeeding, nursery preparations and so much more. Really anything under the prenatal sun. Inspecting further though, there seems to be an inordinate amount of discussion regarding the need for scheduled inductions and cesareans and very little conversation or even support for natural or spontaneous labor and birth.

With intervention appearing to be the ruling majority within the technological communities and filling the television, how is a pregnant woman feeding her eyes, heart, and mind on this type of diet supposed to feel confident, uplifted and excited about her upcoming birth? I am uncertain that she can with the seeds of inadequacy, fear, brokenness, helplessness, and lack of options being sewn into her being at such an alarming ratio.  Sometimes yes interventions are needed, however, in practice it isn’t a need for many women and babies.

These shows and internet locales are like junk food. Like all junk food they are not to be an integral part of a healthy prenatal “diet” that will be encouraging, expand useful knowledge, grow confidence, spark self-advocacy, promote self-awareness, ignite excitement, and offer joy to the expecting mother.

How can an expecting mother improve her “diet” regardless of the type of birth she is planning? What are the better places to “shop”?

  • Turning off the TV
  • Check out and attend local groups and support meetings. Educational sessions and workshops are often free of charge. For example: Doula Groups, ICAN, Midwifery Groups, Birth Network, Birth Circles, and similar.
  • Try some different message boards, forums and sites. See Blog Roll and Resources listed on this site.
  • Seek out positive free videos to watch on You Tube.  http://prepforbirth.com/2009/07/30/birth-videos/
  • Talk to women who have birthed in the hospital, birth center and at home. Get a variety of positive stories.
  • Try some different reading on for size. http://prepforbirth.com/books-videos-and-more/
  • Rent or borrow movies from Netflix, a doula or childbirth educator, such as, Business of Being Born, Pregnant in America, or Orgasmic Birth to name a few.
  • Take the challenge to learn about and be open to the variety of birthing techniques, locations, options and provider types that women are utilizing.

Bottom line, the most prevalent “food group” in a diet is going to positively or negatively affect the parts and the whole of the journey to having a babe in arms.  No matter what the mother and baby live with the outcomes from the birth. Enriching the prenatal “diet” is not a guarantee of outcome or path to the birth. It does however give much more possibility and opportunity for both mother and baby to have a better birth and start together.

Preparing For Birth – Labor Length and Progress

Monday, October 19th, 2009

There are always questions on what is the normal length for labor and what is not.  Women in labor are not static.  Though there may be averages, falling outside of those may not be reason to manage labor by augmentation or cesarean.   Patience and individualized care tend to be the biggest keys to better labor outcomes.   Of course, maternal emotions, fetal positioning, maternal movement in labor or lack thereof, use of epidural or other pain management, provider or staff attitudes, over use of vaginal exams, continuous monitoring without risk association, and other can influence the normal course of labor.  There is no one-size fits all time-line to put on a mom and baby.

Generally as long as a progressing labor doesn’t all of a sudden stall out, become unorganized, or stop without a reason (see above), dystocia may not be present at all.

Below is a compilation list of information relating to progression of labor and dystocia.

Dytocia Defined First time Mothers AAFP

diagnostics – reassessing the labor curve.pages

Varney’s Midwifery Book

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/260036-overview

Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery – AAFP

Labor Progress Handbook excerpt.

http://www.guideline.gov/algorithm/5587/NGC-5587_6.html

Helpful hints for keeping labor progressing:

  • If at all possible (lacking medical necessity),  do not arrive at the hospital or birth center prior to well established labor (contractions as close as 3 minutes apart and a minute or more long).
  • Eschew labor induction for any reason other than medical.   http://prepforbirth.com/?s=labor+induction
  • Decline pain management if at all possible.
  • Labor in the water.
  • Continue to eat and drink in labor.
  • Hire a labor doula.
  • Attend evidence-based childbirth classes – not good patient classes.
  • Attend meetings in your community who promote natural, healthy birth practices: ICAN, Birth Network, local doula organization, etc.
  • Read variety of books – http://prepforbirth.com/products-page/books-videos-and-more/
  • Surround yourself with those who believe in you.
  • Be confident that you can birth!

Remember, a mother and baby are a unique pairing.  Some labors are short and some are long. Progress is defined by much more than cervical dilation. There is a huge spectrum of normal. No mother and baby will fit into a box.

Lastly, prior to labor also make sure you understand what your provider’s expectations are and how dystocia is defined.  That alone can determine whether or not you will have a successful vaginal birth.

Shocking quotes regarding maternal choice to VBAC birth

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Joy Szabo has been in the news lately for desiring a second VBAC for her fourth baby (vaginal birth, emergency cesarean, and vaginal birth).  She has been denied locally in her area of Page, AZ to have a vaginal birth. Due to this situation, the International Cesarean Awareness Network has been assisting her in fighting the VBAC ban along with seeking out additional options.

After reading the latest article regarding Ms. Szabo, I am completely dumbfounded by the remarks made by other readers of her story.  I am stunned by how it seems the general populous regards a woman’s autonomy and medical rights.  I am also including positive comments as counterpoint. Where do you fall?  What do you believe? Many of these comments point me in the direction of what is so wrong with the system.  That of physician and hospital trumping patient.

You decide is the comment pro or con?

“…..it seems like many people do not grasp malpractice and insurance companies. This is not about the hospital, but about medical professionals and hospitals not wanting litigation. Can you blame them? After spending tens of thousands of dollars on an education before making a dime, I would do what I needed to to avoid a lawsuit, too! … we go to doctors because they DO know what is best for our health! Like another poster said, in health care, the customer is NOT always right.”

“My son was born by c-section, then my daughter vaginally, with no adverse affects. While I agree it’s the doctor’s decision to take the risk or not, it seems over-the-top conservative. Does the doctor’s insurance premium go up if this procedure is performed? Then charge more and give the patient the option.”

“C-sections are done in the US more routinely than in any other developed country but our infant mortality rate is not lower but higher. Doctors do not want to deliver on weekends, at night, if the mother is one week over her electronically determined due date. Yes complications can happen, more so if you are made to stay in a bed hooked up to monitors, a monitor screwed in to the baby’s head, your water broke prematurely, inducement before the baby or mother are physically ready to give birth. All of this leads to more injuries and deaths than needed. Doctors look upon birth as an illness, not the process that it is – an inexact human birth. I am not suggesting giving birth in a field alone, but a c-section has a greater risk than the V-Bac especially if she has had one already. C-sections for true emergencies yes, otherwise no.”

“Did anyone else notice that when they list the risks of a C-section, they failed to mention that the mother is 4-7 times more likely to DIE than with a vaginal birth.?!?!?! They also fail to mention all the potential complications to her health, the roughly 30% rate of problems following the surgery (some severe enough to require rehospitalization) and the challenges associated with caring for children while recovering from major abdominal surgery.  Good for this mom and I hope more mothers will take courage from her”

“This story is exaggeration. If the woman wants a vbac, she just has to show up at that hospital in labor and refuse a section. They can’t force her to have a c-section no matter what they would prefer she do. You can’t force a woman to have a c-section under any circumstances, so as long as the docs and nurses say she and the baby are tolerating labor, she has no reason to fear being forced into an operation.”

“I worked in the hospital for 5 years and then in a birth center for the last 4 years. I had to get out of the hospital because I started feeling guilty about my complicity in that system in which so much goes on behind closed doors of which the patient is never informed. I’ve had docs tell me in the lunch room that they are doing a c-section because they have an important golf game, fishing trip, or hot date. Then they go into the room, lie to the woman and say, ” oh your baby is too big, your progress is too slow, it’s never going to happen.” the woman believes them and thanks them so much for saving their babies lives. Over and over and over again. In Miami we have over 50% c-section rate, and it’s way more convenient for the docs. If VBACS are not allowed at more and more hospitals, the rest of the country will soon be like it is here…..”

“I find this decision by the hospital(s) to not do a VBAC as a little crazy. My older brother was born (in 1955) by C-section; both me (in 1958) and my younger brother (in 1962) were born vaginally. NO COMPLICATIONS. It could be done 50 years ago, but not now??”

“The risk of MAJOR complication from a second cesarean is TEN TIMES that of the risk of uterine rupture in a VBAC mother. Someone please explain to me how an “elective” repeat cesarean is safer than a VBAC? Especially since more than 75% of uterine ruptures occur PRIOR to the onset of labor. How is a scheduled cesarean at 39 weeks (which is the ACOG recommendation) going to save the mother who ruptures at the dinner table at 34 weeks? Using their logic, we should all go live at the hospital the moment we become pregnant after a previous cesarean, just in case our uterus blows up and we need an OB and an anesthesiologist “immediately available”.”

So what do you think?  It worries me that is seems the mother’s rights do not count for much. That in some of the comments the idea of  forcing a cesarean is no big deal if it makes the doctor’s position safer.

I think that most people are woefully under educated on childbirth and what safety really means.  A conservative physician errs on the side of evidence not defensive practice.  Do your own research. Be your own advocate.

Preparing For Birth – The Passage from She Births

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

The below writing in my opinion is one of the most eloquent and beautiful takes on labor and birth I have read.   I am using it by permission of the author, Marcie Macari from her book She Births.   I encourage you to go to her site and see her offerings.  Inspiring and fantastic. Thank you Marcie for allowing me to bless others.

I have and will continue to use this piece as a visualization with clients and class participants.  Enjoy!

“The Passage” from She Births by Marcie Macari

The earth shook. The women gathered.

The chanting of The Women Of a Thousand Generations began,  their hands intertwined.

I breathe low, moaning deep through my body to touch the depth of sound they generate.

And for a moment I am with them.

“We’re here-with you, you are one of us-you can do it!”

One of them

I breathe.

The coals glow-mocking my strength

Embers flick their tongues tormenting my courage.

I step onto the coals-

The Women Of a Thousand Generations push closer to the embers- their faces glowing from the coals.

I keep my eyes on them, focusing on THEIR ability to push through the pain, to keep walking in spite of their fear- remembering that they made it to the other side.

I find MY courage and step again.

I feel the embers, and wince.

The Women start beating a drum.

I find their rhythm in my abdomen, and slowly move forward:

One step- look at the face.

Second step- focus on the eyes.

Third step…

I see the African dancers, rehearsing their steps as I walk my last few.

I see the circle being set-the fire at the center,  the food and festivities.

This will be the stage for my welcoming into this elite group- this Women Of a Thousand Generations.

My heart swells.

I am close to the end now, and my body starts to shake-

Spirit stronger than flesh.

I want to give up-to step on the cool grass

And off these coals.

I look for the faces, and my eyes meet theirs.

One of them smiles.

She who is With Woman, reaches out her hand

Her face is the clearest, eyes at my level.

“Listen to your body and do what it tells you” She says-no trace of concern.

The chanting changes: “Listen to your bo-dy”

In rhythm, hands are again joined, like an infinite chain.

I realize just how many have gone this way before me.

The one who smiled places her hand on the shoulder

of the One who is With Woman- with me, and I breathe,

stretching out my hand to grasp the outstretched.

I am about to cross over-

Silence comes over the Universe.

I near the end-

my body aches,

my mind is empty of everything but that last step.

Last step.

Hands grasped.

Cool grass. On my toes, cooling my feet-

my arms reach out to claim my prize-

“Reach down and take your baby.”

I hold him to me tightly, and proudly take my place in the chain.

I am now a Woman Of a Thousand Generations.

The celebration begins.

Excerpt from She Births: A Modern Woman’s Guidebook For an Ancient Rite of Passage, by Marcie Macari.

“There is more to Birth than the physical process of having a baby. Birth is a Spiritual Rite of Passage for women, offering an opportunity for profound transformation. She Births challenges each woman to consider how their Birth Choices profoundly affect not only their lives individually, but the world as a whole.”