Hypnobirth was “really Zen” for Jessica Alba, rewarding for others

Cross-posted last week at BlogHer

I’ll admit my finger is not exactly on the pulse of Hollywood happenings. As I stated earlier this week, I have far too many things going on and enough anxiety in my life to add celebrity watching to the list. However, when there is a natural or home birth in Hollywood, the news usually crosses my path one way or another. Natural childbirth, and home birth in particular, are some of the things that are near and dear to my heart and I tend to get pretty excited when they make their way into the limelight and mainstream news. And so I was pleasantly surprised to find out yesterday, thanks to my friend Melissa, that Jessica Alba’s new daughter Honor Marie Warren was born via a natural hypnobirth. Hypnobirthing – the Mongan Method – “is a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques.”

Jessica Alba with new daughter HonorJessica told OK! magazine:

“I didn’t scream,” Jessica tells OK! in an exclusive interview and photoshoot. “It was really Zen.” And Cash could only marvel at his wife’s quiet strength when she gave birth. “She didn’t make a sound,” he says. “It was amazing.”

“The labor was more like meditation,” she says. “I did yoga breathing. I was focused.”

While Jessica was pregnant, she told FitPregnancy about her birth plan:

I want to spend as much of my labor as possible at home, and I’m taking a HypnoBirthing class. It’s a relaxation technique that allows you to avoid going into panic mode and tightening up. If you are calm and relaxed, your body will just do what it has to do.

Hypnobirthing classes are taught in format of five 2 1/2-hour classes or four 3-hour classes. I took the classes myself in preparation for childbirth when I was pregnant with my first child. Some women who practice Hypnobirthing report relatively pain-free labors and births, describing the sensations as those of discomfort and pressure, but not painful. While I wouldn’t say either of my two births were exactly pain-free (though I didn’t experience pain with my second birth until I was in transition), I was notably calm for both of my labors and feel that Hypnobirthing was very helpful to me in learning to go within myself and tune out the world. I also feel it helped make my children’s entrances into the world as peaceful and serene as possible.

There are plenty of women blogging about their experiences with Hynobirthing.

TurleyBenson writes:

Hypnobirthing is part-pain management, part-breathing method, part-life philosophy that holds as one of its core messages that giving birth doesn’t have to be excruciatingly painful or traumatic. The “hypno” part refers more to learning to self-hypnotize, or really just relax to a point of letting go of the fear and tension that usually accompanies birth, thus decreasing the pain.

She also jokes around and says that due to her partner’s suggestible nature, he should be the one having the baby.

I’ve learned in our classes that the correct word to describe this ability of Mike’s is suggestible. Mike is highly, highly suggestible.

Last night’s class was a sort of wake up call for me. Firstly, our instructor led us in a relaxation exercise, and quite literally, by the time she was 10 seconds into it, Mike was almost snoring. Not only is this just AMAZING, but it distracted me to the point that I had a tougher time getting into it. I just sat there thinking, I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS GUY !

Candace at Love Makes a Family (who is due any day now) wrote about her first Hypnobirthing class:

I definitely have a lot of anxiety and fear even thinking about labor and this class is all about conquering that. And I love the entire theory around the hypnobirthing and how she was talking about everyone just being programmed into thinking labor is painful. I mean, have you ever heard someone not mention pain and labor in the same sentence?

Tiffany at Nature Moms Blog has had two hypnobirths. She feels that Hypnobirthing is “like deep meditation and focus” and that “it teaches you to withdraw into yourself during labor and take control of your pain and your birth experience.”

Mama Hope at Hippie Dippie Bebe (who has also had a hypnobirth) wrote about Finding Your Personal Childbirth Approach:

As far as the subject of “pain” and the process of birth, most natural methods, including Hypnobirthing and the Bradley Method are based on the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, who noticed that cultures that do not teach women to fear birth tend to have amazingly smooth, stress free births — in the same way that animals giving birth simply go to a quiet, private place, relax, get into a zone, and “just do it.”

Cindy Unger, a Hypnobirthing educator who blogs at Chicago Hypnobirthing, expresses her frustration when health care providers require Hypnobirthing moms to push instead of “breathe their baby down” as is instructed in the classes.

Babies are born beautifully and calmly if mom just lets her body do all the work. Trust the process. Follow this advice: “Purina’s Handbook of Cat Care advises owners to pet the laboring cat reassuringly and leave her on her own. She may stay in the box; on the other hand, don’t be surprised if she doesn’t. The best thing to do at this point is to do nothing. Keep quiet and do not attempt to help her – it’s her problem. Mother nature usually takes over at this point and it is amazing to see how she goes about doing what comes naturally.”

Carol, a Certified HypnoBirthing practitioner who blogs at A Well Lived Life, posted a Hypnobirthing testimonial that was sent to her.

There is absolutely nothing that has been a more rewarding/organic experience as the morning my firstborn entered this world. Without the skills that are instructed in HypnoBirthing, I would not have been so sure of my commitment to going totally natural, nor would I have had the discipline to stick with the initial pains of nursing. My surrender to a more healthful, less risky approach was a form of empowerment that has made me a stronger person, and to this day I use the same skills to get through physical pain, as well as to find calm during those days I wish I could just bury my head in the sand.

While Hypnobirthing may not be the right for every woman, it has helped many women and is certainly an option worth exploring. To learn more about Hypnobirthing, visit the official site.

Home birth is a choice that the AMA wants to outlaw

 

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Whether or not you’ve had a home birth or would choose one for yourself in the future, I think most women would agree that they should have the right to choose where they give birth. Just as every woman is unique, every baby is unique and every birth experience is unique. What works best for one woman will not work best for the next. Some women feel the most comfortable giving birth in a hospital with an OB. Some feel comfortable birthing with a family practitioner or midwife in a birthing center. Others feel comfortable birthing with a midwife at home. All of these are options are safe choices, so why is the American Medical Association (AMA) trying to outlaw home birth?

Are they scared that Ricki Lake is raising awareness that women have options with her movie The Business of Being Born? They specifically cite Ricki’s and other celebrities’ home births in the media. “There has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries, with recent Today Show headings such as ‘Ricki Lake takes on baby birthing industry: Actress and former talk show host shares her at-home delivery in new film.'” Ricki responds to the AMA here, and, over on the Huffington Post, Ricki, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block have posted Docs to Women: Pay No Attention to Ricki Lake’s Home Birth. Are they scared that women might question the establishment and demand better care for themselves and their babies? Are they scared that they might (gasp) lose money? Are they scared that women might take back birth?

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years regarding home birth and, of course, came to the conclusion that it was a good choice for me and my family. I’ve also written extensively about my research regarding home birth and my own home birth story as well. I would never say that it is the right choice for every woman, but it do believe it’s a woman’s right to know what her options are, do her research and decide what is best for her and her baby. I do not believe it is the AMA’s right or the ACOG’s (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) right to tell a woman where she has to give birth. As Steff Hedenkamp from The Big Push for Midwives states, “a law dictating where a woman must give birth would be a clear violation of fundamental rights to privacy and other freedoms currently protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

So what now? What can we as women, or men who support women’s right to choose, do? You can sign the Keep Home Birth Legal petition and I also encourage you to spread the word about this. Feel free to grab the button (which links back to this post) and put it in your sidebar or blog about this on your own blog. Get the word out there that the AMA is trying to take away our rights. Home birth is a choice. Let’s keep it that way.

I’ve been trying to get the code for the ‘Home birth is a choice’ button to work, but to no avail. If you’d like to add the button to your sidebar please email me – amygeekgrl AT gmail DOT com – and I’ll send it to you directly.

And if you feel like a debate today, check out the lively discussion on this topic going on over at BlogHer.

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Loss of insurance – another price to pay after a c-section?

An article in the New York Times this weekend reported that some women are being forced to pay higher health insurance premiums or are being denied insurance coverage all together if they’ve had a Caesarean section in their past. Peggy Robertson of Centennial, Colo., was turned down for individual health coverage by Golden Rule Insurance Company because she had given birth by c-section. No matter that she was in perfect health. “Having the operation once increases the odds that it will be performed again, and if she became pregnant and needed another Caesarean, Golden Rule did not want to pay for it.”

Photo courtesy grendellion
Photo courtesy grendellion

This could be a serious problem and affect countless women given the c-section rate in this country. It is believed that the current c-section rate in the United States is at a record high of more than 30% (that is nearly 1 in 3 babies is born via cesarean section) despite the World Health Organization’s recommendation that says “the best outcomes for mothers and babies appear to occur with cesarean section rates of 5% to 10%. Rates above 15% seem to do more harm than good (Althabe and Belizan 2006).”

Tina Cassidy from The Birth Book Blog believes the situation with the insurance company all comes down to money.

As always, it is money dictating the rules of health care. Of course, money (malpractice fears) is one of the reasons why the c-section rate in the US at 1 out of every 3 births. Honestly, it is surprising that it took insurance companies this long to wake up to the fact that they are paying either way — for the c-sections that don’t get done when they should, those that get done poorly (regardless of whether they were necessary) or when a woman is denied access to a vaginal birth after cesarean, which is happening more and more…

Perhaps it does all come down to money, but if that really were the case, then why wouldn’t my insurance company reimburse me a measly $2000 (relatively speaking) to cover my prenatal care, home birth, and postnatal care that I had with a midwife for my son’s birth in 2006? They refused to pay me one single penny, yet had I given birth in a hospital, they would’ve covered the entire thing (tens of thousands of dollars since I would’ve had a c-section due to my son being a surprise breech) less my one-time $10 copay. Logically, I figured that they’d rather pay for the lesser of the two, but logic apparently has no place when dealing with insurance companies. Maybe Tina is right on with her assessment. After all, why would they want to reimburse me and pay $2000 when they can get away with paying nothing at all?

Sharon Holley at The Traveling Midwife feels this is a great example for why we need national health coverage and also pondered what this could mean for the future of midwives and had other questions as well.

If insurance companies are going to start denying coverage for previous cesarean sections then what is to stop them from denying coverage for any type of previous surgery? Will this help bring midwives more respect as we have better c-section rates and still maintain excellent outcomes nationwide? Currently midwives are always battling with insurance companies to reimburse for care. Even Medicare and Medicaid does not pay 100% for services when compared to same services that are provided by physicians. Will this push women to question the need for a cesarean at the time of delivery?

Heather at A Mama’s Blog who has had both a c-section and a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and has written about in the past about her c-section experience and what a c-section is really like believes the insurance situation should be alarming for all women in their child-bearing years.

Even if you have no intention what-so-ever of having a c-section, in the rare case that you did need a medically necessary one, you can be denied insurance coverage now, because the procedure has been over performed.

Doctors and hospitals must start allowing VBACs, and return to delivering breech babies, in order to lower the ever rising c-section rate. If nothing else, c-sections should be reserved for true emergency situations. Something has to change – now more than ever, our very health depends on it.

Louise at Colorado Health Insurance Insider writes about her experience in the insurance business and says:

I’ve written before about how caesareans should only be covered by health insurance if they are medically necessary – “elective” c-sections should always be patient-pay, regardless of what health insurance carrier the patient has. It mystifies me as to why someone would willingly choose a c-section instead of a vaginal birth, considering the increased risks, much longer recovery time, and permanent scar. But at the same time, a lot of doctors are also guilty of over-using medical intervention for convenience in obstetric care. Part of the problem is the ridiculous malpractice system we have in this country.

Louise goes on to add:

For women who are trying to secure individual health insurance policies, a prior c-section can be a headache. They should be able to find at least one company willing to offer coverage, but it may not be their first choice, and it may come with a higher price tag. Just one more reason why a c-section should be a last resort, and should never be performed without a medical reason.

Jennifer Block at Pushed Birth feels a policy like this is adding insult to injury.

The losers in all this, of course, are women and their families: going through unnecessary primary cesareans, then being discouraged or flat out denied normal, physiological birth for their next pregnancy, on top of that being denied health insurance because the repeat cesarean their providers are insisting upon would cost the insurer more money, and having babies at higher risk of being born too early, not to mention the risks of repeated major abdominal surgery for mom. And we call this maternity “care”?

Carolyn McConnell of Rock the Cradle – The Politics of Motherhood agrees and points out the results of a 2005 survey where one quarter of the women polled “reported feeling pressured by a medical professional to have a C-section.”

And then they pay for it, in a high rate of infection of the incision, extended recovery and pain in comparison to vaginal birth, risks of injury to the baby, greater difficulty initiating breastfeeding, and greater risks of breathing problems in the baby—and finally in a loss of insurance coverage.

So, what now? On one hand I think it’s good that insurance companies are finally realizing the cost they having to bear as a result of a c-section rate that is inexcusably high and perhaps this will encourage more women to become better informed about c-sections before they go to the hospital. Maybe this will also put some pressure on the OBs that are performing unnecessary c-sections. On the other hand, I don’t feel it’s fair to women to raise their premiums or deny them coverage based on something that many of them may have been pressured into in the first place. And in the case that it was a medically-necessary c-section, then what? Another thing that is disturbing to me in all of this is that many hospitals have banned VBACs, so even if a woman wants to have a vaginal birth after a c-section, her options are often very limited.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know something needs to change in this country and the c-section rate must be lowered. Women, and their babies, deserve better care than this.

What do you think?

Additional resources:

Cross-posted at BlogHer

There’s more to birth than doctors

Cross-posted at BlogHer

It seems odd to me now that there ever was a time in my life when I didn’t have much knowledge about birth or birth care providers, but when I became pregnant with my first child that’s exactly where I was at. I knew that I wanted to try for a natural birth, but I didn’t know much more beyond that. And so I found myself an obstetrician since that was what “everybody” I knew did. I didn’t have any local mommy friends at the time to offer up their recommendations, so I made my decision on an OB based on the experience a coworker and his wife had. He told me that their OB had let him catch the baby, and since that was something my husband Jody and I had talked about wanting to do and seemed pretty open-minded to me, I figured we would give her a try.

While I don’t recall interviewing this obstetrician per se, she seemed nice enough – though in retrospect her bedside manner was seriously lacking – and she seemed OK with our plans to have a Hypnobirth. In fact, with a few minor exceptions, she agreed to all of our desires on our birth plan and we figured she’d be a good fit for us. After all, she was saying all the right things, so we had no reason to doubt her. Little did I know that when it came time for me to give birth, all bets would be off.

When my time to give birth arrived, my OB’s true colors came shining through and, when reflecting on the experience several months afterward, I felt violated, disrespected, upset, duped and resentful. Yes, I had given birth to a healthy baby which is ultimately what every woman hopes for, but I believe the process and birth experience matters too and mine was seriously lacking. I was left wondering, could there have been another way? A better way?

Back up a few months to the Hypnobirthing childbirth preparation classes my husband and I attended, where I learned of a couple expectant mothers who had plans to have a midwife at their birth rather than an OB. At the time I didn’t know much about midwives – who they were, what they did – and was happy enough with my OB, so I didn’t bother finding out more information. For example, I had no idea that there was a difference between the type of care a midwife provides and that of an OB. I didn’t know what kind of training or schooling a midwife might have. I didn’t know that there were different types of midwives. I didn’t know if midwives attended births in hospitals and/or birthing centers or just at home. I really didn’t have a clue and I have a feeling that I was certainly not alone in that regard.

Here in the United States, giving birth in a hospital with a doctor is the norm. Yet in the majority of cases a midwife-attended birth in a birthing center or at home is just as safe. However, many women have never heard of midwives or what they have heard is often full of misconceptions.

It wasn’t until I had given birth to my daughter, officially joined the “mommy club,” and made some mommy friends of my own that I began to hear more and more about midwives and learn about the role that they play in helping women prenatally, during birth and postnatal.

A midwife attends a woman in labor - from The Business of Being BornI was fortunate in that one of my best friends ended up deciding on a midwife-attended home birth for her second child. She had such a wonderful experience that when I was pregnant with my second child, I decided to leave my new OB (even though she was a far cry better than my previous one) and have a midwife-attended home birth as well.

Thankfully, the word is slowly getting out and more people are learning about the value and importance of midwives thanks to Ricki Lake’s documentary “The Business of Being Born,” which I highly recommend all women and their partners see. It’s available on Netflix.

Here’s a bit more about midwives to help clear up any misconceptions.

What is the role of a midwife?
According to Midwives Alliance of North America, “Midwives are trained to provide comprehensive prenatal care and education, guide labor and birth, address complications, and care for newborns.” You can read about the different variations of midwives at MANA.

Why choose a midwife?
“Throughout most of the world, and most of history, women have labored and birthed with midwives. It is only in the last few decades that it has become common in the U.S. to birth in a hospital setting with a doctor. Being pregnant and giving birth are normal life processes for which a woman’s body is well-designed. Midwifery care has been proven to be a safe and nurturing alternative to physician-attended hospital birth.” – MANA

How does the care of a midwife differ from that of a doctor?
Midwives practice using the Midwifery Model of Care which is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes. This is a fundamentally different approach to pregnancy and childbirth and is in stark contrast to the standard Medical Model of Care.

The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • minimizing technological interventions and;
  • identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

The application of this model has been proven to reduce to incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

The women I know who have experienced both the medical model of care and the midwifery model of care prefer the midwifery model. Personally, when I saw my midwife for my prenatal care I felt like a real person, rather than just a number (which is how I felt at one OB’s practice, that I left I might add). I loved that my prenatal appointments with my midwife lasted an hour at a time and never felt rushed. I loved that I formed a bond with my midwife and that she knew me (and my daughter who accompanied me to all of my prenatal appointments) before I gave birth.

MamaAudrey at Deconstructing Motherhood remarks about her decision to go with a midwife and birthing center instead of a doctor and hospital:

I felt like I was in control of my pregnancy at the birth center and that my voice was important. At my doctor, I felt like just another number with a voice that needed to be silenced when heard. Thus began my prenatal care with nurses and midwives.

Mary at My First Pregnancy Ever agrees that there is a big difference between the two models of care.

And I think I can now rant about why I love my MW better than my doctor already. I went to my doctor on the 7th and saw the MW on the 9th. Both were very nice to me but you can so see the difference in their scope of practice.

She goes on to compare and contrast the two visits.

Ultimately the decision on who to have attend her birth is up to the mother, but it is my hope that women might learn from my mistakes and do their research ahead of time. Interview more than one doctor and/or midwife until you find one that is right for you. Knowledge is power.

Related links:
Midwives Alliance of North America
The Big Push for Midwives
Citizens for Midwifery
Midwifery Today
Motherbaby International Film Festival
The Business of Being Born

Blogs by Midwives:
Close to the Root by Kneelingwoman
Navelgazing Midwife
The Journey of an Apprentice Midwife
Homebirth: Midwifery Mutiny in South Australia
Midwife: Sage Femme, Hebamme, Comadrona, Partera
Meconium Happens

* Photo credit: Business of Being Born

Getting our green groove on!

Amy’s picHello. 🙂 I’m Amy, also known around the internets as amygeekgrl. Welcome to my groovy green blog party, part of the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom! I’m so glad you stopped by. 🙂 Come in, have a seat and let me offer you something to eat.

Brownies with heart -2/7/08

Oat-nut scone with strawberry jam

Can I tempt you with some homemade granola or perhaps an oat-nut scone topped with strawberry jam or maybe you’re in the mood for a Grilled Panini with Provolone and Basil or a brownie baked with love? I have a fair bit to choose from here, as I enjoy cooking and baking a great deal. 🙂 I just wish I had more time to do more of both.

Me and the kids on New Year’s Eve - 12/31/07Now that you’ve got something to munch on, let me tell you a little bit about myself. First and foremost, I’m a mom. I stay at home with my two amazing children – Ava (3 3/4 years old) and Julian (15 months). My husband Jody and I try to raise them with the philosophy of attachment parenting in mind, though we really just follow our instincts and do what feels right for our family.

I have a lot of passions that I like to write about on my blog. Some of them include home birth (my son was a footling breech and born at home), breastfeeding (I’ve shared my experiences of nursing while pregnant and tandem nursing), and informed healthcare decisions (why we delay/selectively vaccinate). I also write a lot about the environment (picking up trash in our neighborhood, composting, and recycling) and do a weekly Green Tip of the Week column with suggestions to make life a bit more eco-friendly. Some would call me a hippie or granola or crunchy, hence my blog title. 😉

One of my favorite quotes is “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” by Gandhi. I try to live by that philosophy both on my blog and in my life.

I also write about maternal health as a contributing editor on BlogHer, write reviews for Green Mom Finds and will soon be joining the team of Blissfully Domestic as the Eco-Diva.

I like to do giveaways here at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. In the past I’ve given away t-shirts, natural cleaners, reusable bags, books, toys, and even a digital camera. I currently have a giveaway going on right now for a bottle of Shaklee Basic H2 natural cleaner. It’s good stuff! The deadline to enter is March 13. Hope you’ll check it out and enter to win!

In addition to my blog, I also have two online stores – Attached At The Hip, featuring AP advocacy wear and more and home to the I make milk. What’s your superpower? shirt, and Cute As A Bug, featuring cute and original designs for babies, kids and adults. I enjoy photography (and love taking part in Best Shot Monday), reading, and hiking.

green balloonsYa know, this is my kind of party, very environmentally friendly – no paper or plastic waste and little carbon emissions! 🙂 I hope you enjoyed your visit and will come back again.
Please feel free to sign up for my RSS feed or follow me on Twitter (amygeekgrl)! And, of course, be sure to leave me a comment so I can try to come check out your party too. 🙂

Now it’s time for the kids and I to get our party groove on, but feel free to visit the rest of the other party people linked up at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Julian’s got his cape and is ready to party! Ava’s got her cake and is ready to party!

Edited to add: I’ve donated a prize – an I make milk. What’s your superpower? short-sleeved t-shirt – to the Ultimate Blog Party. It is prize #141 on the prize list.

There are so many great prizes to choose from in this year’s Ultimate Blog Party, but my top fvie choices are: Bead Dangle Photo Tile Necklace by Elemental Memories, Marketing for Entrepreneurs by Lis Garrett, Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless skin care line by Geggie, Go BPA Free Sippy Sampler Kit by The Soft Landing and Rocking Horse by A Rocking Horse To Love. If my top five picks are already taken, then I’d also love any of the following (in order of preference) #11, 12, 15, 2, 3, 14, 32, 34, 37, 70, 72, 79, 87, and 5 or anything related to a toddler or preschooler. 🙂

A letter to my body

BlogHer has unveiled a new topic area: Body Image and is encouraging everyone to write a Letter to Our Body.

Hello dear body o’ mine,

It’s been a while since we talked so I thought I’d take this opportunity to chat with you for a bit.

My bicep in 2005First of all, thank you for sticking with me all of these years. You’ve done some amazing things over the past 32 years and put up with some crap from me and yet, despite that I don’t often acknowledge your greatness, you keep on keepin’ on.

You proved yourself awfully resilient from an early age when you endured three eye muscle surgeries (for strabismus) before you/I were even 2 years old. You rose to the challenge when, at age 6, I stepped on a piece of wood while in a lake, and was on crutches for a few weeks while you healed yourself. You stayed remarkably healthy and strong throughout my middle school years when a bag of Funyons and a candy bar was often considered a “cooler” lunch than a sandwich and apple. And you kept on truckin’ throughout high school when I got us up before school for 7 a.m. band/flag corps practice, then went to school, then had drill team practice after school, then did homework and often worked until 10 p.m. at K-mart. You are a machine for getting by on so little sleep and still functioning well enough to get good grades throughout high school.

Then there were the college years, where I was often an emotional wreck, ate crappy cafeteria food, pulled all-nighters cramming for exams, not to mention the experimentation with drinking and smoking (cigs, cloves and other). I know there wasn’t a huge amount of either of the two, regardless thank you for responding so well the majority of the time, and keeping me on the straight and narrow even though I have a serious family history of addiction. You don’t know how thankful I am for not falling victim to it.

After college I began to wise up a bit and understand that you deserved better. I started drinking water instead of soda and even went the vegetarian route a few times. However, I admit exercise was not then and is still not one of my biggest priorities. You deserve better from me in that regard.

When I got pregnant for the first time, I believed in you to help me through a natural childbirth. And while I did the best I could with the cards dealt me (HELLP syndrome), I ended up having to be hooked up to machines and on drugs (magnesium sulfate) that I never knew existed. Even though I was seriously sleep deprived and bed-ridden and drugged, you stayed strong for both me and my baby girl. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.

After Ava’s birth, you recovered from anemia and, as Ava grew older, I started to pay closer attention to the foods we ingested, both for her health and for yours. Instead of frozen dinners, I opted for more whole, organic foods. I think this helped you, my body, a great deal when I got pregnant with my second child.

Knowing that I wanted a home birth this time around, I was willing to do just about any and everything to keep you in the best shape possible so that I could to achieve that, which meant eating more protein throughout my pregnancy, going for acupuncture, and drinking some nasty concoctions of Chinese herbs. All of it paid off when I went into labor on my own without any symptoms of HELLP.

You proved yourself to be a birthing warrior when you gave birth vaginally to a 9 1/2 lb. surprise footling breech baby boy in our bedroom at home. No drugs, no machines, just pure hormones, endorphins, love and determination. You were amazing. Again, thank you for doing exactly what you needed to do to have a healthy baby.

These past nearly four years of motherhood have caused some wear and tear on you, this I know. Sleep deprivation can be hard on a body, as can breastfeeding hunched over with poor posture. I will do my best to honor your cues as to when you need sleep and to be mindful of my posture. I know I need to take care of you to be able to take care of my family.

I hope to have a long run with you, dear body, and I pledge to continue to nourish you with good foods, save the occasional sweet treat. I gotta be honest, I think you do love your chocolate. 😉 I pledge to exercise more. I can’t promise anything fancy, but I can do more frequent walks and at least that is something. I also will try to take some time to honor you on a regular basis and appreciate you for the wonderful life you give me.

You are an incredible thing, my body. You are strong, resilient, healthy and amazing, and I thank and love you.

Sincerely,

Amy
(Crunchy Domestic Goddess)

Midwives, home birth proven safe – contrary to ACOG’s false assertion

Today I’m writing over at BlogHer about the recent statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reiterating their stance opposing home birth and Certified Professional Midwives. The ACOG suggests that women are choosing to birth at home because it’s “fashionable” and “trendy” and accuse moms of placing the birth experience over the health of their baby. They say home birth is unsafe and fail to acknowledge rigorous scientific studies (and current practices in other countries) proving the contrary, that midwifery and home birth are safe practices. In other words, instead of being an advocate for women’s health (as they claim they are), they do a nice job of perpetuating FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.

The truth is the ACOG is getting nervous because women are talking, thinking and questioning the status quo.

I hope you will head on over to BlogHer to read my thoughts and detailed research on this subject.

The Big Push for Midwives Campaign 2008

Cross-posted over at BlogHers Act.

Obama, Clinton, McCain, Romney, Paul and Huckabee aren’t the only ones hitting the campaign trail this winter. Thanks to a nonpartisan coalition of consumer advocates, The Big Push for Midwives – a campaign of a different variety, but equally as important – is pushing for the regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Midwife with mother and babyAccording to The Chicago Tribune, “Certified professional midwives, who are lay practitioners specializing in home births, are banned in 26 states… They fall under a different legal classification than certified nurse-midwives, advanced practice nurses who are licensed in all 50 states and work mainly in hospitals.”

Why is this important?

We live in an age where surgical birth via cesarean section (which is full of risks to both the mother and the baby) is becoming more and more common, while physiological birth (where labor starts spontaneously, progresses spontaneously without drugs, and birth happens spontaneously) is almost unheard of in many hospitals. Yet many women want the option of a physiological birth with a trained care provider (midwife) in a birthing center or in their own home. However, because of current laws, that option is not always available.

I believe that all women deserve the right to choose a maternity care provider that is best for their needs which is why The Big Push for Midwives is so important.

The Big Push for Midwives is a nationally coordinated campaign to advocate for regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and to push back against the attempts of the American Medical Association Scope of Practice Partnership to deny American families access to legal midwifery care.

Our goals are to fully integrate the Midwives Model of Care into the health care systems of our states, to highlight the importance of family healthcare choices and to defend the ability of CPMs to provide legal and safe prenatal, birth and postpartum care to families in every state. Childbirth activists from the campaign’s participating states are pooling their collective resources and experience to coordinate and optimize advocacy efforts during 2008.

Amie Newman at RH Reality Check links midwifery and home birth with the rest of reproductive freedom, and believes that women should have the right to childbirth choices just as they do the right to abortion choices.

Hmmm. Sounds like reproductive justice to me. Substitute “abortion access” for “Midwives Model of Care,” “abortion providers” for “CPMs,” and “abortion care” for “prenatal, birth and postpartum care” and you can see how the underlying issues are essentially the same whether you’re talking about abortion rights or childbirth choices.

That is, whether we’re talking about provider choices for childbirth or access to abortion, it is not too much to ask that wherever women live in this nation, the options for reproductive health care are not effectively criminalized in some states and legal in others.

Jennifer Block at Pushed Birth notes that:

… the research data, as well as other countries that are caring for women and babies better than we are, show that midwives should be supporting normal labor and deliveries (the majority), while MDs should be caring for the complications, emergencies, and women with risk factors. This “division of labor” also happens to be far more cost-effective than our current system, which bleeds more cash for less care than any other in the world. The bottom line from a public health perspective: home-birth midwives should be legitimate care providers, not criminals.

Erika of Inspired Mama Musings headed out on her birthday of Jan. 24 with her two kids in tow to a peaceful protest at the capitol building in Idaho to support her local midwives, a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.

I am very fortunate and blessed to have had births attended by midwives and my hope is that the women and families of Idaho will always have that option.

Idaho is just one of 20 states that are introducing legislation or have legislation in the planning stages. Pennsylvania is another.

Annette of Natural Childhood also attended a rally supporting midwives at the capitol in Harrisburg, Penn., and included several pictures from the rally on her blog.

Our Bodies, Ourselves is also a supporter of The Big Push.

“This is the perfect time to insist that women in all communities have access to the option of midwifery care,” said Executive Director Judy Norsigian. “This would lower the number of unnecessary cesareans and enable many more women to enjoy the benefits of active support during labor and birth.”

Also worth noting is the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth” is due out in March and includes information about the benefits of midwifery. And there’s a great article on the Our Bodies, Ourselves web site that compares and contrasts the type of care typically provided by midwives vs. that provided by obstetricians.

The Midwives Model of Care, based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes, is a fundamentally different approach to pregnancy and childbirth and is in stark contrast to the standard Medical Model of Care. “The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.”

If you’re interested in advocating on behalf of licensing CPMs in your state, please check the list of state organizations and their various discussion lists and websites, where you can find out more information about how to get involved. If your state isn’t on this list and you’d like to get involved, you may email Katie Prown and she can point you to additional resources. You may also make a donation to The Big Push for Midwives Campaign.

Photo credit: Thanks to Homestyle Midwifery Care for this beautiful image.

Update on BOBB Netflix release and other birth movies

In case you aren’t on the Business of Being Born mailing list, but are waiting for the DVD release to Netflix, I wanted to let you know you are going to have to wait a little longer. The Netflix release has been pushed back to Feb. 26. The good news is that the reason it was pushed back is because BOBB is now planning a theatrical run in Chicago, Seattle, and Tulsa. So, yay for more exposure! The bad news, of course, is it that means more waiting, unless you happen to be in Chicago, Seattle or Tulsa. Then by all means get yourself to the theater! 🙂 And then email me and let me know what you thought!

Other birth movies on the horizon:

Le Premier Cri (The First Cry) – which follows 10 pregnant women all around the world, as they live, work and give birth. – This looks amazing and brought tears to my eyes the first time I watched the trailer. If you’d like to know more, here is a translated interview with the director.

Home Delivery – This film documents the lives of three women in New York, who for very different reasons have decided to go up against social trends and take the birth of their children into their own hands… and homes. – This film looks very different than the birth movies I’ve seen/heard about in the past, but seems very interesting as well.

Insurance update – the home birth saga continues

A while back I posted that I was trying to get our insurance company to acknowledge a claim for Julian’s home birth. I made phone call after phone call asking them if they had all of the information they needed to process the claim and each time, they would come back with one more thing that was still needed. I’d send them that “one thing” and then there’d be something else. It was always something.

I received an “explanation of benefits” in the mail from them a few months ago that said the claim had been closed because they hadn’t received everything they’d requested from me (BS!), and that they’d consider reopening it if the information was sent in. I threw up my hands in frustration and pretty much resigned myself to the thought that we would never get anything from them.

Then my midwife told me that she had contracted with a billing company and they could take over my case for me. So I sent them the information they required about two months ago and hadn’t heard a word from them until a couple weeks ago. Jody got a call saying that they needed the “explanation of benefits” that the insurance company sent to me and that they were “very optimistic” that we’d get some money from them.

I dug up that form and Jody faxed it in so now we wait and see. It would be awesome if they end up paying for part (or all!) of my midwife’s fees. Considering we paid $2200 for prenatal care, the birth and postnatal care, it would be a serious bargain for the insurance company. If I had had a hospital birth, which would have involved a c-section since Julian ended up being breech, it would have been tens of thousands of dollars and that’s just for the birth and not including the prenatal/postnatal care.

I’m not holding my breath, but I sure would love to see some of that money back in our pocket. 🙂