Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

advice, news & freebies

Why & How to Find a Midwife or Doula July 21, 2009

Filed under: Pregnancy — Rachel @ 2:17 pm
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When you’re pregnant (if not before) you’ve got to investigate all of your options.  Is your OB-GYN making you feel comfortable and capable?  Finding time to answer all of your questions?  Helping you prepare emotionally and intellectually for childbirth?  If you’re not happy with your current caregiver, it’s not too late to make big changes (provided you’re not already 36 weeks!). 

A midwife’s model of care is totally different than an OB-GYN.  While an OB is trained to be well-versed in medical ways to address problems during childbirth, a midwife is trained to appreciate the process of childbirth as a natural, powerful and sacred event.  And, she brings natural tools for addressing problems and pain of which an OB is often completely unaware.  An OB views birth as something to be controlled or “made-safe”.  A midwife views birth as something to gently assist (both physically and emotionally)  and respect – it’s already safe in most cases. 

Of course, these are just generalizations – there are many exceptions to the rule.  The first midwife I interviewed was discouraging and controlling!  But, the other two I hired were wise, respectful and reassuring.  I encourage you to consider the care of a midwife and/or that of a doula, who can make a tremendous difference in how you’ll feel about your birth experience.  Each birth is a unique, miraculous experience that only occurs once.  It’s yours to be enjoyed – yes, really!

Here are some great links for beginning your search:

http://www.midwife.org/
http://cfmidwifery.org/index.aspx
http://www.dona.org/mothers/index.php

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The Birth Survey March 10, 2009

Filed under: Pregnancy — Rachel @ 8:44 pm
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Pregnant with your first baby, you start to think about that all-important, rather intimidating day – the day you will give birth.  You want to be prepared, so you read books, take a class, talk to other moms.  But, how to choose the right doctor, midwife, hospital, doula, etc?  Word of mouth seems to be the best bet… but wouldn’t it be great if you could hear from hundreds or even thousands of moms about the practitioner you’re considering?

Giving women that kind of access to patient feedback and care-related statistics is the main goal of The Birth Survey.  The Birth Survey is an actual online survey put out by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.  Any woman in the USA can go online to fill out a detailed survey regarding her most recent birth.  You’ll be asked to give feedback about one or more specific health care provider(s) through straightforward ranking systems, along with opportunities for your comments.  It’s, “a mechanism to share, systematically track, and retrieve up-to-date information about the quality of care received” so that women can make informed, confident decisions about their caregivers and location of birth. 

Last week, I filled out the Birth Survey.  It felt so worthwhile to take a few minutes (about 20) to share my experiences, so that others can make an informed decision on this critical question.  Unfortunately, local results from The Birth Survey are only available to NY residents, as the survey was first released in NY in a testing phase during 2007.  After success in NY, they expanded the program nationally and have been collecting national results since.  They plan to release national results this year!  Let’s get involved and share the news to improve maternal care and transparency in our nation.  I hope that this database will help women who are considering homebirth or birth at a birth center to feel more confident about their “unusual” choice.  Seeing the statistics of different options side-by-side will really help those on the fence to see that midwives provide excellent, oftentimes superior care to healthy moms, and that those moms are usually quite delighted by their experience!

Click here to visit The Birth Survey now!

 

The Business of Being Born May 15, 2008

This weekend I watched Ricki Lake’s documentary, “The Business of Being Born”.  I was absolutely blown away by the clarity and gentleness by which the film discussed what is so often a messy topic: what should birth and maternity care look like?  

The film brought together the voices of OB/GYN’s, Labor & Delivery Nurses, Midwives, Pregnant women and Postpartum mothers to take a fair, unbiased look a the issues at hand.  What issues, you say?  Well, when you look at the stats on maternal mortality, infant mortality, and c-section rates, the United States trails most every “developed” country and even lags behind certain “undeveloped” countries.  And this despite the fact that Americans put soooooooo much more money into maternal and infant healthcare!  We pay more and get less.  What’s going on here? 

You have GOT to watch the film to find out, but here’s a taste of the action from the director, “When my friend Ricki Lake approached me about making this film, I admitted to her that I was afraid to even witness a woman giving birth, let alone film one. I had never pronounced the word “midwifery” and I thought Ricki insane, as she planned the birth of her second child, for passing up an epidural in a hospital delivery.

But as I did the research, I discovered that the business of being born is another infuriating way medical traditions and institutions – hospitals and insurance companies – actually discourage choice and even infringe on parents’ intimate rites, ultimately obstructing the powerful natural connection between mother and newborn child.”

I LOVED THIS VIDEO!  If you’re pregnant, you should watch it.  It’ll give you such a realistic preview of what healthy birth looks like, including all types of normal births from vaginal to breach to medically necessary c-section.  It was inspiring to the point of tears, and entirely real through and through.  Before you make your birth plan, watch “The Business of Being Born”!  

 

The Best Prep for a Non-Medicated Birth April 15, 2008

Many women desire to give birth without pain medication, or at least with as few heavy medications as possible.  How do you prepare yourself for that challenge?  What makes the difference between a woman who throws out her birth plan and gets that epidural and the one who manages her pain in the way she had hoped? 

For one, you have to realize that women feel contractions differently.  Some experience contractions as extremely painful, but others just feel tightness or almost nothing at all.  My friend Chihiro said she couldn’t even tell when she was contracting with her first baby, but with the second she experienced intense pain.  Prepare yourself by keeping an open mind to how easy or difficult the actual experience may be for you.  It’s completely unpredictable.

That said, countless women who experience intense pain during labor do manage to forgo medicating.  Now, I realize that a non-medicated birth isn’t for everyone, but if this is one of your goals here are some tips:

  1. Limit your exposure to medication opportunities.  Really.  If you don’t want to take drugs, try to avoid having them offered to you.  When you enter the labor room, personally tell the nurse that you prefer she NOT offer you medication.  Ask your birth partner to keep new nurses updated.  I heard of one woman who hung a “Don’t Offer Me Medication” sign on her labor room door.  Hey, it’s easier if you don’t have to say “no”.  If you really, consciously change your mind, I bet you’ll find the words to ask for that medication!
  2. Train your mind to think of birth positively.  Birth is an opportunity to bond with your mate, work hard for something worthwhile, experience the thrilling joy of success hard-won, and embrace that new baby for the first time.  Read LOTS of natural birth stories!  This is the most enjoyable and probably the most effective way to prepare for a natural, non-medicated birth.  Each time you expose yourself to stories of women who experienced birth like you desire, you set yourself up to approach birth with a positive, confident attitude. 
  3. Prepare to be flexible.   Your birth will probably NOT go exactly as planned.  Maybe your contractions will stop temporarily. Maybe your doula will not make it.  Maybe your labor will drag on for over 24 hours.  Maybe you’ll go from 2 to 10 centimeters in an hour – who knows!!!  It’s great to have a plan, but be prepared to throw it out the window.  Spend some time imagining very different possibilities and how you would like to react.  No matter what happens, you can have a fulfilling birth experience if you keep your perspective positive and take control of your choices.  In birth you are not the victim or the patient, you are the mom.
  4. Gain access to alternative pain management options.  If you’re saying “no” to drugs, say “yes” to something else! Read, talk to other moms about what worked for them, and arrange for the services of a midwife or doula.  There is a rich culture of birthing aids from warm water to massage to visualizations that can make a huge difference in your perception of pain during labor.  Your labor nurse is very unlikely to be of help in this area.  You’ve got to proactively plan ahead to arm yourself with safe, effective labor tools.  Again, reading positive natural birth stories is an excellent way to fill your mind with pain management ideas. 

Bottom line: managing pain is 90% mental.  The difference between achieving your goal to birth without drugs and making a decision to medicate that you may regret is usually how prepared you are mentally.  Know that you can do this.  Focus on the positives and let every contraction bring you closer to holding that baby in your arms.

One great classic full of positive birth stories is Ina May Gaskin’s “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”.  You can also find a rich resource of birth stories at Mothering.com

Many blessings!

 

Fun, Inspirational Read for “Labor Day” September 4, 2007

Filed under: Pregnancy — Rachel @ 3:17 pm
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Let’s face it, many of you are pretty nervous about “labor day” – you know the one when you have to push that baby OUT!!!  It’s coming, it’s inevitable, so why not try to get psyched up with a “can do” attitude?  People love to share horror stories about births, but that’s really counter-productive.  Instead, you should try to nurture a positive attitude about your ability to give birth successfully.  After all, studies have shown that any fear you bring to your labor will make it that much harder.  Hormones produced by fear actually cause your body to tense up, making it difficult to dilate naturally.  Focus on the fact that your body is designed to give birth – you can do this! 

I love how most pregnancy magazines have a birth story column that shares birth experiences with regular, happy outcomes.  Along the same lines, I think all pregnant women in need of a labor “boost” should read Peggy Vincent’s “Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife.”  This fun, lighthearted book is chock-full with Peggy’s experiences delivering babies in Berkeley, California, including 40 birth stores from a wide-range of diverse, interesting women.  It’s the perfect prelude to your own labor, sure to leave you with realistic expectations for your own birth and some inspiration too.  If they can do it, so can you!