Attachment parenting works for us & announcements from API

API buttonAs many of you know, I’m a big advocate of attachment parenting. I’ve seen the benefits of raising my children according to AP principles such as breastfeeding (feeding with love), baby wearing, responsive nighttime parenting, gentle discipline, etc. My husband Jody and I didn’t start out the road to parenting set on AP, it just kind of happened. For us it just feels natural, like we are trusting our instincts.

We’ve seen the way that Ava has blossomed into an almost 4-year-old who is secure, loving, friendly, healthy, imaginative and independent, and we attribute this largely to the way that we raised her. Julian is only 16 months old, but he too is a very happy, healthy, well-adjusted little person. I believe that by meeting our children’s needs when they are little, they have come to learn that they can depend on us and trust us for the long haul. It’s certainly not all been easy nor a bed of roses, but anyone who thinks parenting is convenient is surely mistaken. It is my hope that by building a solid foundation with them when they are young, we are creating a lasting, trust-based relationship that will endure throughout their adolescent years and into adulthood.

I feel fortunate that I have found a support network of like-minded parents here locally through Attachment Parenting International.

Attachment Parenting International (API), a non-profit organization that promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents, has several exciting changes they would like to announce, including:

  • A newly redesigned web site and new logo at Attachment Parenting.org (Check out the photos on the home page – at least one might look familiar to you. It’s Jody and Ava on the right and I also took the first picture in that grouping. A few more of my pictures are scattered around the site. My little claim to fame. hehe.);
  • Attachment parenting worldwide support forums;
  • Parent Education Program – a comprehensive series of classes for every stage and age of child development from infancy through adulthood;
  • A new book based on API’s Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting by API co-founders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson which is expected to be available this summer;
  • A series of podcasts, webinars, chats, and forums with API Advisory Board members and other supporters of AP. Future events are scheduled with Dr. Bob Sears, Dr. James McKenna, and Kathleen Kendall Tacket. Check out the events page for more information.

These are just a few of many exciting things going on at API. I hope you’ll stop by the website and check it out for yourself. Perhaps you’ll find something that resonates with you. 🙂

International Women’s Day – March 8

International Women’s DayToday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Never heard of it before? Me either until just yesterday, but I’m so glad that I did.

Celebrated on March 8 every year, “International Women’s Day (IWD) is the global day connecting all women around the world and inspiring them to achieve their full potential. IWD celebrates the collective power of women past, present and future.”

For me, today means reflecting on how far we as women in the United States have come in the past. We have the right to vote, to own property, to get a higher education, to work. Yet it is obvious to me on a daily basis that while we have a lot of rights, there is more work to be done. I need only think of the current battle going on over a woman’s right to have the birth she desires and know that we have a long way to go.

And while our rights as women here in the United States seem pretty good overall, women elsewhere around the world are not as fortunate. Mom Grind notes at a UN Conference in 2001 it was stated that “in the world as a whole, women comprise 51 percent of the population, do 66 percent of the work, receive 10 percent of the income and own less than one percent of the property.”

And Women’s Lens reminds us that in many places, there are still “women who are enslaved; women who are tortured; women who are suppressed; women who are aborted before they can become women because of their sex; women who are discriminated against; women who are overlooked because they are not men; women who are illiterate; women who are circumcised against their will; women who are vilified because they speak out against injustice; women who are threatened with death because they refuse to bow to the men who rule them.”

So yes, women have come a long way in parts of the world and we should celebrate that, but we also cannot lose sight of the fact that we have a lot of work ahead of us.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

You can learn more about IWD on:

Increasing your blog traffic – A how to guide from ‘Crunchy’ herself

I was inspired to write about how to increase your blog traffic after reading a friend’s recent post about navigating social media sites. Since I’m not that schooled in social media sites yet, but I do have experience with growing my traffic through other avenues over the years, I wanted to pass on what has worked for me.

bloggingWithout further ado, here are the Crunchy Domestic Goddess’s tips for attracting more readers to your site. (Edited to add that from the time I initially posted this, I’ve since thought of three more things and added tips 6-8.)

  1. Comment, comment, comment – Seriously. To attract new readers you must first share the love by leaving comments on other blog. It’s fine to lurk sometimes, especially when you just don’t have the time to leave a comment (we’ve all been there), but the thing about commenting is that it lets the other blogger know you’ve been to their blog and that you want to contribute to what they are blogging about. It helpful if the blogs you leave comments on are similar in nature to your own or that you at least share something in common, as like tends to attracts like. They will soon notice that they have a new reader (who leaves them comments – bonus points for you!) and will mosey on over to your blog to see what you are all about, and in many cases, return the comment love. I believe this, by far, is the most important thing to do to attract people to your blog. I try to return comment love when someone comments on my posts, or shoot them an email response, but it doesn’t always happen. Regardless of if it happens every time, it is a goal of mine and I do sincerely appreciate your comments. 🙂
  2. Twitter – A new discovery and obsession of mine. From Wikipedia: Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific. One of the thing I like about Twitter (other than the ability to mass spam your address book of course) is that you can see who your “followers” have in their lists and then start following them, and your list continues to grow and grow, exposing you to new blogs and potentially exposing them to yours. It’s instant feedback and interaction and just plain fun!
  3. Blog carnivals – A blog carnival is when several people all post about a similar topic on the same day and often link back to other participants in the carnival or the host of the carnival posts the links to all participants. These are a lot of fun and a great way to meet bloggers with similar interests as you. A few of my favorites are Best Shot Monday, Wordless Wednesday, the Motherwear Carnival of Breastfeeding and now Haiku Friday. Some others I’ve seen are Works for me Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, and Make It From Scratch. I’m on the lookout for a good environmental/green carnival too. Anyone have any suggestions?
  4. Giveaways – Consider participating in the Bloggy Giveaways that Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer hosts every few months. It’s a great way to attract a lot of people to your blog in a short amount of time. Chances are some of them will like what they see on your blog and return.
    I also like to periodically hold my own giveaways generally by way of reviewing a product and then offering it or something similar up in a giveaway. Sometimes I ask that people link back to my blog which helps increase my traffic and boosts my Technorati Authority and Google Page Rank. Other times I make it optional. Check your Google page rank or learn more about claiming your blog and finding your authority on Technorati.
  5. Social networking/media sites – Social networking sites are another good way to get your blog “out there” and, again, meet more bloggers. 🙂 Some that I like are BlogHer, Maya’s Mom, and Cre8Buzz, and there are many others out there to choose from.
    Then there are sites like Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, StumbleUpon, sk*rt, Slashdot and others. The premise here is someone submits a post that they like, then others on those sites can vote for it, increasing it’s popularity. If your post gets enough votes, it could end up on the front page of the site, sending your traffic through the roof and, ironically, often crashing your blog (known as the “Digg or Slashdot effect”)! I haven’t ventured into these sites much yet myself, though I did have hubby Jody help me put the sk*rt button at the bottom of my posts. I have, however, seen my traffic grow as a result of a cool blogger posting one of my blog posts on Stumble Upon. She stumbled Julian’s birth story and my traffic took a big jump for a few days.
  6. Signature – Add a link to your blog in your signature on any message boards you may post on. This gets links to your blog “out there” and will invariably attract people curious to see what you are all about. While I don’t do this on all of the message boards I post on, I do do it on a few. Note: if you don’t want certain people knowing about your blog, then it’s best not to post it wherever you interact with them online.
  7. Post regularly – I think people are more likely to return to a blog if they know it’s going to have new content at least a few times a week. (I’m amending this to clarify that quality matters over quantity. Thank you, Dawn and Jenni for mentioning that. Though I still believe it’s important to post regularly.) On the flip side, I do think you can overdo it. The temptation to post everything all at once can be great, especially when you have a lot of things you want to blog about, but I think it’s best to space out posts to roughly one per day. Personally in the past I’ve been turned off by blogs that update several times a day (which is what I’m doing today – LOL). It just gets too hard to keep up with them then.
  8. Link to others – If another blogger wrote about something that inspired your post, link back to them. Everybody appreciates a little linky love.

Whew! So there you have it. If you really want to grow your blog I believe you must put forth some effort other than just writing amazing posts. It takes time and energy, but you will soon reap the benefits of your labor, and meet some great people along the way!

Happy blogging! 🙂

Oh, and if you’d like to share things that have worked for you, I encourage you to add them in the comments. Thanks. 🙂

*Cartoon from Base10

Helping African girls stay in school – one pad at a time?

Cross-posted at BlogHer

In 2007 FemCare, the Procter & Gamble (P&G) unit that makes Always pads and Tampax tampons, started a program called “Protecting Futures” to donate Always disposable sanitary pads to girls in southern Africa in hopes of keeping African girls in school. In Africa, where adequate menstrual supplies are generally nonexistent, it is not uncommon for girls to use newspapers, rags or camel skin to try contain their period. Rather than risk the embarrassment of bleeding through their clothes, many girls stay home from school during their cycle each month, which can lead to them falling behind in their studies and possibly dropping out of school altogether. Always, as well as Tampax currently have commercials encouraging people to buy their products to help these African girls stay in school. Two of the commercials can be viewed here.

In addition to donating disposable sanitary pads, P&G will donate fresh water; build bathrooms near the schools so the girls have access to privacy and incinerators to deal with the waste that will be generated from the disposable pads, packaging, etc.; start a health, hygiene and puberty education program; and provide the girls with healthcare.

What’s in it for P&G a New York Times article asks.

A great deal, marketing experts say. For one, girls who use free pads today can turn into paying customers when they grow out of the school programs. They could persuade their mothers and aunts to use the products.

“When you need to change a culture, it’s good strategy to start with the younger generation,” said Jill Avery, an assistant professor of marketing at the Simmons School of Management.

And the program sits well with the Kenyan government, which has cut tariffs on Procter’s sanitary pads. Lisa Jones Christensen, an assistant professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, who is familiar with Procter’s philanthropy programs, says that Procter receives special treatment when its containers hit Kenya’s docks.

“No one is saying, ‘Just unload the pads, leave the boxes of Tide,’ ” she said. “This program is giving P&G a license to operate in Africa for all its products.”

There is a payback in the developed world, too. “The idea of keeping an African girl in school resonates strongly with our consumers,” Ms. Vaeth said.

They aren’t the only skeptics. A. at A Changing Life wonders what the girls will do once they no longer have access to the pads.

I started to wonder if Tampax or Always are really suited to a life of poverty or near-poverty in rural sub-Saharan Africa. The costs of continuing provision will be high and who will cover those costs when the girls leave school? How will they manage when the facilities provided at the school are no longer available to them? I can’t help feeling that there is little altruism in Procter & Gamble’s efforts, and that they are hoping to turn the girls into paying customers.

Vanessa at Green As A Thistle feels P&G “are missing the bigger picture.”

I mean, it’s great that they want to help girls out with this difficult time of the month and make sure they stay in school, but is the best way to do that with bleached wads of cotton and disposable plastic? It made me fret, I must say.

Maia at Touchingly Naive believes it is wrong to push Western products on these women and “to make women in developing countries believe (as we already believe) that they need Western pads and tampons instead of more sustainable and/or traditional solutions.”

What do you think? Does Procter & Gamble have any business getting involved here, whether it is in the name of education or not? Could they be causing more harm than good?

Goods for GirlsDeanna Duke of Crunchy Chicken took issue with the environmental impact of all of the disposable pads (and possible pollutants emitted from the incinerators) and, after mulling it over on her blog, decided to take action. She started Goods 4 Girls, a web site to organize the collection and distribution of new reusable menstrual pads to African girls.

Goods 4 Girls was started to seek out donors to sew or purchase new, reusable menstrual pads for donations to areas of Africa where these products are needed most. Providing reusable supplies not only provides a more environmentally friendly alternative for these young women (in areas of adequate water supply for washing), it reduces their dependence on outside aid organizations to continue providing for their monthly needs. Working in concert with aid and relief organizations, we identify areas of need and have the ability to distribute the donations where they are most needed.

Some might wonder why Goods 4 Girls is focusing on reusable menstrual pads rather than menstrual cups like the DivaCup or Keeper. Deanna says it is “because of potential hygiene issues, using a reusable menstrual product that gets inserted into the body requires additional education and “processing” such as cleaning the cup with boiled water. Additionally, we are culturally sensitive to potential taboos with young girls using an insertable product.” That and other questions are answered in the FAQ.

Goods 4 Girls has received positive responses from several organizations, but one of the primary ones they will be working with is located in Uganda. The relief organization had this to say about the current situation in their country:

The girls’ problems in South Africa are not different from those in Uganda, except that it is worse here. We recently watched a TV program which highlighted this problem in the villages to the extent that some children missed their end of year exams because of their inability to contain their menstrual outflows or had never even used a pad at all!

Your offer has come at the right time and we pledge our full support and cooperation in this endeavor. Our target areas are firstly and foremost the schools both in towns and villages, with the latter taking priority.

If you are interested in learning more about Goods 4 Girls and how you can help, I encourage you to read more here. To add a banner to your site and help spread the word, please see the contact page.

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.

Morning Sickness – beneficial to mother and baby?

Cross-posted today at BlogHer: BlogHers Act. As always, I welcome comments over there. Makes me feel loved special like someone is actually reading. 😉

Morning sicknessWhen I became pregnant with my first child after a 13-month long roller-coaster ride of trying to conceive (including two rounds of IUI – intrauterine insemination), I admit that at first I welcomed morning sickness with open arms. However it didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and it became a sort of love-hate relationship. I loved the dry heaves I experienced every morning for the first trimester of my pregnancy for the reassurance they provided me that a life really was growing within me. But I also loathed the waves of nausea that lasted most of the day, especially when I needed to carry on with my 9 to 5 job, business as usual.

I think for most women, morning sickness is a mixed bag – a blessing and a curse if you will. It would be nice to know that those barfy feelings are somehow contributing to towards a healthy pregnancy, wouldn’t it?

I recently came upon a study (from 2000) that shows morning sickness does, in fact, serve an actual beneficial function for both mama and baby, which may be some consolation to the women currently in the throes of it. According to the study performed by Cornell University evolutionary biologists Samuel M. Flaxman and Paul W. Sherman, morning sickness, or what they report as NVP (nausea and vomiting in pregnancy), “is Mother Nature’s way of protecting both mother and fetus from food-born illness and also shielding the fetus from chemicals that can deform fetal organ at the most critical time in development.”

The analysis of hundreds of studies covering tens of thousands of pregnancies suggests that morning sickness and the aversion to potentially harmful foods is the body’s way of preserving wellness of the mother at a time when her immune system is naturally suppressed (to prevent rejection of the child that is developing in her uterus) and has reduced defenses against food-borne pathogens.

By creating food aversion, NVP also protects against toxins from microorganisms and other teratogenic (fetal organ-deforming) chemicals, Sherman says. “At that same time, in the first trimester of pregnancy, the cells of the tiny embryo are differentiating and starting to form structures. Those developing structures and organ systems — such as arms and legs, eyes and the central nervous system — at this critical stage of a new life could be adversely affected by the teratogenic phytochemicals in some food plants,” Sherman says. These chemicals are secondary compounds that plants make to defend themselves against disease and insects.

I’d like to think that if I were pregnant these findings would make me slightly more appreciative of my daily dry heaves. Of course that’s easy for me to say now since my cereal stays down every morning.

Steph at Adventures in Babywearing, on the other hand, who recently announced that she’s expecting baby number four, is dealing with morning sickness and would rather be in bed than keeping up with housework. Hey, I feel that way most days too and I’m not even pregnant. 😉

I am first of all, really excited about being preggy for the first time as a blogger. Kinda cool. Except that so far I do not even feel like sitting here at the computer. I’d rather be under the covers in my bed. And that’s pretty much where I’ve been. I am taking each chance that I actually feel well to catch up on housework that’s been neglected while I do nothing and try to get my mind off this stomach that is torturing my every waking moment. Poor hubby came out of the shower with an elephant hoody towel yesterday. So laundry is at the top of the list.

And Marie at Makes and Takes wants to know who named it morning sickness anyway?

I am sorry, but most pregnant people I know can say that “morning sickness” is not only in the morning. Who ever came up with that term should be tortured. … I am better now [with morning sickness] than at the beginning, but I think I have finally come to terms that it is never going away. And until my belly started to pop out, I was under the impression that I had a serious illness. Thankfully, there is a baby inside and eventually the “morning sickness” will have to end, at least come June.

Marie would probably appreciate this, also from the article.

Acknowledging what most women already know, Sherman points out that the term morning sickness, “is a complete misnomer…NVP doesn’t occur just in the morning but at any time during the waking hours, and it’s not a sickness in the pathological sense.” He adds that, “we should change the name to wellness insurance.”

Julie at Pinkmorning asks “Are you kidding me?” after discovering that the medicine she was prescribed to help with her morning sickness has side effects including nausea and vomiting! Now that’s just wrong.

so my doctor prescribed me some medicine to help ease my nausea since i haven’t been able to keep much down and at my thirteen week appointment my morning sickness had not yet started to subside. i was reading the information on this medicine and the side effects include: dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, blurred vision, and vomiting…are you kidding me?? so to help with my nausea, i was prescribed a medicine that has nausea and vomiting as side effects?? i found this laughable, but decided to give it a whirl anyway because i am so tired of feeling sick. my doctor said i should know within a few days if it was working or not. so a few days after taking it, i was sicker than i was before…throwing up multiple times at work and at home…i stopped taking it but have not started feeling better at all.

Poor Julie. That sounds so miserable. Hopefully she will start feeling better on her own very soon or perhaps find a natural remedy to make it a little more bearable.

There’s much more to the study than I’ve reported here, and it’s definitely worth a read if you are pregnant and dealing with NVP or know someone who is. It’s really quite fascinating the way a woman’s body can take care of her and her unborn child.

The biologists say that ultimately pregnant women should “listen to their bodies” when deciding what they should or should not eat. That’s sound advice on so many levels. I couldn’t agree more.

Photo credit: Jupiter Images

Birth doulas make a difference

“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” — John H. Kennell, MD

If I could do my daughter’s birth all over again – a birth that, because of a pregnancy complication I developed (HELLP syndrome), included numerous interventions – I would have hired a doula. I’d done my birth homework and for some reason I didn’t think I needed one nor could afford one, but as I have since learned, having the right doula at your birth can be worth her weight in gold. I think if I had had a doula present at Ava’s birth, I would have come away from the experience feeling like I had been better informed (we were left in the dark about so many things) and more of an active participant in my labor instead of a passive recipient. But as the saying goes, live and learn. I have learned and now I will share what I’ve learned with you.

Doula (pronounced doo-la) is a Greek word meaning “woman’s servant.” Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth, though they do not handle the medical aspects of it; those are reserved for a midwife or doctor. The role of a birth doula is to provide support for the woman and her partner during labor and birth. This support may include physical support such as suggesting different positions for laboring, giving massages or instructing the woman’s partner how to massage her, breathing with her, getting food and drinks for the woman and her partner, etc.; emotional support in the form of reassurance and comfort; as well as informational support such as explaining different medical options, risks and benefits, and possibly suggesting natural techniques to achieve the same results. It is often said that a doula mothers the mother.

The ‘Enjoy Birth’ blog has a post called “Get a birth doula” that explains the type of support a doula can offer including:

Resource for Comfort Measures: Having a doula is like having your very own talking birthing guide. Doulas know what can help during birth and how to do it. Your doula can either perform these comfort measures herself, or help your family or friends to support you with comfort measures. Your birth partners will feel more confident knowing that they are doing the right thing.
Constant Encourager: A doula not only encourages the mother to keep going, but she encourages the labor support to keep going as well. The process of labor can sometimes be long. A doula can keep you and your partner focused during the most intense part of labor.
Helps Explain Options: A doula is also a source of information about ways to handle your birth. Medical attendants don’t always have time to get into all the options available, and rarely give all the risks and benefits for the options they do give. A doula can help you understand what options are available, and what the pros and cons are. This can help you make better informed decisions.

There are many benefits to having a doula attend your birth.

Proven Benefits of Doula Care

Decreased medical intervention in labor*:

  • Reduces need for cesarean by 50%
  • Reduces length of labor by 25%
  • Reduces use of artificial oxytocin (pitocin) by 40%
  • Reduces pain medication use by 30%
  • Reduces the need for forceps by 40%
  • Reduces epidural requests by 60%

Six weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were**:

  • Less anxious and depressed
  • Had more confidence with baby
  • More satisfied w/ partner (71% vs 30%)
  • More likely to be breastfeeding (52% vs. 29%)

*These statistics appear in A Doula Makes the Difference by Nugent in Mothering Magazine, March-April 1998.
**Statistics from What is a Doula?

Photo courtesy Tammra McCauley
Photo courtesy Tammra McCauley

I’ve heard countless stories from women I know – both in person and on the Internet – singing the praises of their birth doulas. Every one of them feels their birth experience was more positive as a direct result of the support offered by their doula.

Alma from Chicago Moms Blog reflects on her birth and the help she received from her doula – “her hero” – in her post Not Without My Doula.

“It (labor) was really hard, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my doula, Tricia Fitzgerald. … her dedication and support was worth far more [than] the typical going rate for a doula.

She also squelches the myth that a doula tries to take the place of a woman’s husband or partner.

Doulas don’t monitor or deliver babies; they’re dedicated to mothering the mother, helping her achieve the birth experience she wants. And contrary to what some people think, your doula will not displace your husband. Rather, she just may keep you from cursing out your well-meaning partner who just can’t seem say the right thing or rub you the right way.”

I think it takes a very special kind of woman to be a doula and Leigh, a fairly new doula and mother of two young daughters, is definitely one of those special women. Leigh writes beautifully about each of the births she attends on her blog Mere Mortal Mama and I soak up every one of them. She seems to possess an ancient wisdom that allows her to be extremely in-tune with her clients. She is committed to helping them achieve the birth they desire. Here’s an excerpt from her most recent birth, that of a teen mother:

And then that moment comes; the moment when you notice the slight shift in energy of the room and know it is time to be fully present for your client. I glue myself next to the bedrail and remain over her for the duration of labor. I breathe in deeply with her and exhale slowly, offering the most hushed of encouraging words. We establish a pattern together quickly: we breathe, she cringes and tightens her brow a bit, I press a firm thumb on her forehead and smooth her brows, she relaxes and breathes out. I stroke her hair as the surges release; she lets out a cleansing breath. Our fingers entangle as she rests between the surges.

I whisper breathy words and phrases into her ear and have no idea where they are coming from. Upon speaking some of them, her head nods in barely perceptible understanding – her eyelids fluttering closed – and so I stick with those.

And it is those moments where ego and heart humbly meet, swollen like a balloon about to burst. Two women, in rhythm to the song of labor, swaying into words and sinking into breath; connected through the pulse of birth.

I believe that – “two women … connected through the pulse of labor” – sums up simply and perfectly what the experience of having a doula is meant to be. I think that all women and their partners should consider giving themselves the gift of a doula.

To learn more about doulas, including how to find one in your area and questions to ask when interviewing a doula, see the additional resources below.

Additional resources:
DONA (Doulas of North America) International – Learn more about doulas as well as find doulas in your area
CAPPA: Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association
How to hire a doula – Questions to ask
How Dads/Partners and Doulas can work together to support the birthing mother
Information about Postpartum Doulas who’s role is to help a woman through her postpartum period and to nurture the family

Cross-posted at BlogHer: BlogHers Act

add to sk*rt

Crunchy Domestic Goddess Year in Review – 2007

Kelli at There is no place like home and Steph at Adventures in Babywearing both inspired me to do my own year in review post. They both posted the first sentence of their first blog post of each month, but I’m changing the “rules” for my blog and doing things a little differently. Instead of taking the first sentence from the first post of each month, I’m selecting the first sentence (or few sentences) from one of my favorite posts from each month and including a link to that post as well in case something piques your interest. (Yes, it took a lot more time to do it this way, but it seems I’m all about making things more difficult challenging for myself.) By doing it this way I hoped to select posts that best represented my blogging throughout the past year. 🙂

The CDG Year in Review

JANUARY
I’m not a big fan of Dr. Phil, but was happy to learn he was having the Sears doctors (Dr. William Sears and sons, Dr. James Sears and Dr. Robert Sears) on a show on Friday called “Young Moms Ask the Experts.”From The Sears doctors chime in on CIO and other parenting topics

FEBRUARY
One of Ava’s books about nursing (Breastmilk Makes My Tummy Yummy) contains a picture of a mom nursing a toddler and a baby and states: “Two can breastfeed without fuss, there is room for both of us.” On Wednesday night, we – me, Julian and Ava – experienced that for the first time. — From Room for two

MARCH
It’s the little things that make me appreciate just how much I love my kids.
Like the new lip-smacking sounds that Julian makes.
Like the way Ava kissed my arm a few times while falling asleep tonight. — From The little things

APRIL
In the spirit of putting more of myself “out there,” here it is, as promised – my completely honest post. — From The truth will set you free

MAY
As I set out driving Friday night to hear Ina May Gaskin – called “the mother of authentic midwifery” by Midwifery Today – speak, I was filled with nervous excitement. When I was about 10 minutes out from the church in Lafayette where the event was taking place, a friend of mine called me to say she was saving some seats for me and other friends of ours and she was able to get pretty close to the front. I felt like a teenager going to a rock concert. — From An Evening with Ina May

JUNE
On Sunday morning, Jody, Ava, Julian and I braved the record-breaking 100 degree heat to attend the National Mile High Breastfeeding Celebration in Denver hoping to help break a record of a different kind. — From National Mile High Breastfeeding Celebration


JULY
Some days you have to throw out your plans and just go with the flow. Today was one of those days. — From Go with the flow

AUGUST
As parents, we do the best we can to ensure our children have the very best start in the world. We may breastfeed them, make their baby food from scratch, buy organic and whole foods, childproof our homes, teach them not to talk to strangers, and a myriad of other things. We trust that when we buy age-appropriate toys for our children, that they will be safe and not pose a choking hazard nor contain toxic elements… – From Tots, toys and toxic paint don’t mix

SEPTEMBER
I tend not to write much about celebrities on my blog. As a general rule, I find there’s just too much other stuff going on in the world (especially my family’s world) for me to discuss who’s doing/saying what out in Hollywood. But when I heard that Brad Pitt (and then Kevin Kline) recently made comments about co-sleeping… – From What I believe: Brad Pitt, Kevin Kline on co-sleeping

OCTOBER
Halloween is right around the corner, but in light of my recent discoveries about damaging effects of artificial colors and flavors (and petroleum and coal tar) in candy, I haven’t been feeling very excited about a holiday that promotes candy consumption. — From Amy’s Halloween Candy Alternatives

NOVEMBER
It’s been just over a year since my baby boy made his amazing entrance into the world, and yet, I never posted his birth story on my blog. So here it is one year later – in it’s full, unedited (LONG) glory (altered only to change the midwives’ names to first initial) – for your reading pleasure. — From One year later – Julian’s (footling breech) home birth story

DECEMBER
In light of articles like this one, stating that as recently as Nov. 20, hazardous toys (containing high lead levels and other dangers) were still being found on the shelves in stores like Target, it’s validating (but really no surprise to me) to read that Simple Retro Toys May Be Better For Children Than Fancy Electronic Toys. — From Simple toys better for children

If you wrote a year in review post (of any kind) on your blog, please add a link to your post in the comments. 🙂

Happy New Year!

The (mostly) Green Girly Gift Guide and Giveaways

PLEASE NOTE: As of now, 12/19/07, this giveaway is now closed for entries. Thanks!

Green Girly Gift Guide

A few weeks ago I posted my holiday toy gift guide for kids, but now is the time to start thinking about yourself and all of the women (friends, aunts, grandmothers, mothers, sisters) on your list, because let’s face it, we women deserve some great gifts too! 🙂

In keeping with the crunchy spirit of reducing, reusing and recycling, I’m happy to say that most of the items in my girly gift guide are green (good for the environment). These gift ideas aren’t just for Christmas and Chanukah, they also make great birthday presents.

What could make a mostly green girly gift guide even better? How about the fact that this guide is chock full of great giveaways and coupon codes to help you with your holiday shopping or to score some cool stuff for yourself! 🙂 See the end of the guide for instructions on how you can have a chance to win one of the giveaways.

Lookin’ Good and Green

Choose happiness t-shirtTees for Change – Including positive messages like: “Choose Happiness,” “Live Mindfully,” and “Today Matters,” Tees for Change shirts ($28-$38) are out to make the world a better place. I don’t know about you, but I often need to remind myself that happiness is a choice. Rather than getting caught up in the moment or events of the day, I can decide to roll with the punches, laugh it off and choose happiness. That’s why the Choose Happiness shirt is my favorite. I love that these tees have such a great message for the person wearing them, as well as everyone he/she comes into contact with. Oh, and I’m also keen on the fact that they are the brainchild of a local mom who also had a home birth. A Boulder, Colorado-based company, Tees for Change is very eco-conscious. All of their tees are made from 100% organic cotton or 70% bamboo/30% organic cotton mix, are dyed with low impact dyes and screen-printed with water-based inks, and they plant a tree for every shirt sold. It’s a win-win and now you can win too with this giveaway!
– Coupon Code: For 15% off, use coupon code “goddess” at checkout.
– Win It! : I’m giving away (1) Tees for Change short-sleeved t-shirt of your choice

For the jewelry-lovers

  • BeadforLife unique necklaces and bracelets – “BeadforLife eradicates extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens. Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads, and people who care open their hearts, homes and communities to buy and sell the beads. The beads thus become income, food, medicine, school fees — and hope. All profits from BeadforLife are invested in community development projects that generate income and help people work their way out of poverty.” Necklaces range in price from $10 to $30. Bracelets range in price from $5 to $15. They also sell loose beads (for use in making your own jewelry or other crafts) and gift certificates. I bought a few BeadforLife necklaces at a BeadforLife party I attended (and blogged about) a couple of years ago. I love that the pieces are beautiful, unique, made from recycled paper and are helping such a worthy cause. If you are in the Boulder, Colorado area, you can stop in the Bead for Life store to see all of their unique styles and colors.
  • Sea glass necklaceSea glass jewelry from Oceano (an Etsy store) – I remember my mom first introducing me to sea glass (broken pieces of glass that have been made smooth by the ocean) when I was a child. I always thought it was beautiful. I love that someone else appreciates the beauty of sea glass and thought of the wonderful idea of making it into jewelry. What a creative way to recycle/reuse discarded glass!


For the aspiring photographers

  • Photo cuff braceletsHere’s a unique gift idea that any aspiring photographer and/or mom would love to have – a Photo Cuff Bracelet from Mama Needs It. The Photo Cuffs are made of die cut vinyl (vegan friendly) and are a cool way for you to show off your favorite photos of your children, grandchildren, pets, whatever! I have the Chelsea Photo Cuff Bracelet and love it! Of course I have mine filled with pictures of Ava and Julian, but you can fill yours with whatever you like. I also like that you can swap out new photos whenever you choose.
    – Coupon Code:
    Receive 10% off any purchases from Mama Needs It by entering the discount code “CDGknowsgifts” at checkout.
    – Win It! : I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Mama Needs It
  • The holiday season generally means we moms will all be taking more pictures than usual. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to get those holiday photos printed and into an album, you might be interested in HP’s Photo Books. They are available in two sizes: 5″ x 7″ or 8.5″ x 11″ and a variety of colors. HP photo book“The HP Photo Book includes all the things you need: a professional looking hardcover photo book, easy to use layout and design software, and HP Advanced Photo Paper (12 sheets). Simply add your photos and creative touch, and you’re ready to go.” I like that they are also customizable and allow you to add more pages or mementos such as cards or invitations any time you like.
    – Coupon Code: To receive a 20% off coupon code (expires 12/31/07) for the Photo Books, visit Snap Shot Chronicles.
    – Win It! : I’m giving away 2 sets of Photo Books – (1) 8.5×11 size and one (1) 5×7 size in each set

For the Foodies on your list

  • What’s Cooking Weekly menu planning service will help you answer the age-old question of “What’s for dinner?” Each week there are five healthy meal recipes, as well as shopping lists, “Call the Kids” section with suggestions to get your children involved in the meal preparation, nutritional information and tips for eating foods in season. It is a mom-owned and operated business.
    I had the opportunity to give the service a try and was very impressed. The meals I made were all delicious and a big hit with my family. This is a great time-saver for anyone who has a million and one things to do every day and doesn’t necessarily have time to figure out what’s for dinner. The shopping lists are organized by grocery department and the recipes are easy to follow. I especially like the “Call the Kids” section to help get children more involved in their meal preparation. I find that my daughter enjoys her food more when she helps make it herself and she loves telling daddy, “I helped!”
    A What’s Cooking Weekly Subscription makes a great gift (and generates no waste – how cool is that?!). A 6-month subscription is only $35 – less than $6 per month!
    – Win It! : I’m giving away a 6-month subscription to What’s Cooking Weekly
  • BYOBagsBYO Bags – reusable mesh produce bags from What’s Cooking. These reusable mesh bags are a great way to cut down on the number of plastic bags used. They can easily be stuffed into your purse and pulled out in the produce aisle when you need them. $10 for 3 bags.
    – Coupon Code:
    To receive 10% off any purchases from What’s Cooking, enter the coupon code “Eat_Well” at checkout.

For the woman who has everything

  • Consider a gift subscription to Green Dimes – For only $15 $12 (reduced for the holiday season), GreenDimes pledges to “cut your junk mail up to 90%” and plant 10 trees.
    My mom bought me a subscription a while back and I really have noticed a reduction in our junk mail. Plus I love the fact that they plant trees for you.
  • What if there was a way to have a tree planted for every book you read? Now there is with Eco-Libris. “Every book you read was once a tree. Now you can plant a tree for every book you read” with Eco-Libris. Give an Eco-Libris gift certificate to the people you care about, with which they will be able to plant trees for the books they read. For every tree planted, Eco-Libris will send them an Eco-Libris sticker to display on their book’s sleeve. (Thanks to GreenStyleMom for bringing this cool site to my attention!)

Other sources for groovy green ideas

  • Green Feet – Green Feet is a groovy online store that is sure to have something for the women (men and children, too) on your list. bambu dishesThey carry the full Bambu line, which includes bamboo dishes, cutting boards, serving trays, baskets and more. Wonder what’s so great about bamboo? It’s durable, beautiful and sustainable. It’s a grass, not a wood, grows incredibly fast and never needs replanting. Green Feet carries all sorts of other cool things like jewelry made from a bike chain or a record, recycled sari purses, hemp bath pillows, aromatherapy diffusers, a kitchen compost crock, Coco Zum Chocolate Soap, water bottles, reusable bags and much, much more.
    – Coupon Code: 10% off your order. Use the code “Crunchy” during checkout. Not valid with other offers, sale items or memberships.
  • happy bagsReusable Bags – Reusable bags have come a long way, baby. Check out their Gift Ideas for Her and you might be surprised by the variety of hip reusable bags available. There are also some great reusable bottles, a reusable gift bag set, and a reusable bamboo utensil set.
    – Coupon Code:
    10% off your entire order. At checkout, enter the following code in the Gift Certificates/Discount Coupons section: “49c7fg” (note that it is case sensitive) – Good through Dec. 21. One use per customer.



For those who love the written word (magazine subscriptions for thinking mothers):

  • Mothering : Natural Family Living – Buy a one-year subscription at the reduced price of $19.95 (regularly $22.95) and you can order additional one-year subscriptions for friends and family for only $17 each.
    – Coupon Code: Use code X7DE in the promotional code box.
    Mothering also has a digital subscription option to help save the trees!
  • Brain, Child : The magazine for thinking mothers- A one-year subscription is just $17.95 for a full year of reading pleasure. (That’s 25% off the newsstand price)
    – Coupon Code: Use code MWX07 at the checkout.

Final thoughts

Don’t forget about Etsy: “Your place to buy and sell all things homemade” – Check out their gift guide page where you can search according to whom you are shopping for – women, men, babies, children (by age), etc. 🙂

Lastly, here are some other great places to look for unique gift ideas:

* flea markets
* closeout stores (I just saw bamboo cutting boards at Ross for more than 50% off retail)
* thrift stores (You never know what you’ll find!)

GROOVY GIVEAWAYS!

Win It!
There are four great giveaways mentioned above. You get to choose which ONE giveaway you want to enter. That’s right – you may only enter to win ONE of the four prizes. Please note that I’m doing these giveaways differently than I have in the past.

To try your hand at winning one, please send an email to cdggiveaway@gmail.com and make the subject line the name of ONE of the following giveaways:
– Tees for Change shirt
– What’s Cooking Weekly subscription
– Mama Needs It gift certificate
– HP Photo Books
(Only one email per person please)
To receive an additional five entries either post the Green Girly Gift Guide button on your blog and email me the link or tell five friends about this guide and cc me (cdggiveaway@gmail.com) on the email. The winners will be randomly selected using Random.org and posted on my blog, as well as notified via email. The deadline to enter is Wednesday, Dec. 19. Winners will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 20. Note: Prizes will be mailed after Christmas.

Good luck and happy green shopping! 🙂

Green tip of the week #4 – rechargeable batteries

rechargeable batteriesWith the holidays coming up and the myriad gifts that may require batteries – digital cameras, children’s toys, portable CD players or radios, and other electronics – how about spending a little extra money to buy rechargeable batteries?

From Wikipedia:
Rechargeable batteries can offer an economic benefit when used instead of one-time-use disposable batteries. Most rechargeable battery technology has been adapted into the standard “AA,” “AAA,” “C,” “sub-C,” “D,” and “9-volt” configurations that consumers are familiar with. While the rechargeable versions of these types of cells have a higher up-front cost than disposable batteries, rechargeable batteries can be discharged and recharged many times. Some manufacturers of NiMH type rechargeable batteries claim a lifespan up to 3000 charge cycles for their batteries.

Rechargeable batteries are also great for baby swings (that gobble up juice like nobody’s business) and household items like TV remote controls, alarm clocks and flashlights.

While rechargeable batteries aren’t the most exciting gift, they make a great stocking stuffer, will save you money over time and, perhaps most importantly, will help save planet Earth.

NOTE: Disposable one-time-use batteries should not be thrown into the trash. “Batteries are a unique product comprised of heavy metals and other elements that make things ‘portable.’ Some of these toxic heavy metals include nickel cadmium, alkaline, mercury, nickel metal hydride and lead acid, which can threaten our environment if not properly discarded.” For information about proper disposal of one-time-use batteries, visit Earth911.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂