Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Makes A Good Birth Story?

I love reading birth stories. I love hearing how empowered women become after going through the act of giving birth. The victory they have achieved allows them to know they can do anything.

Some birth stories tell of endless hours of labors and triumph of delivery.
These are the stories where the mother has a very long prodromal or latent stage with contractions spaced out just far enough to keep her from sleeping well but not close enough together to be effective for dilation. She may speak of the people supporting her, bringing in food for her family, helping take care of other children, rubbing her back and wiping her brow.

Some birth stories are of fast and furious labors where the mom barely makes it to the birth center or hospital or the midwives barely make it to her home...or not. These stories often tell of a frantic husband who is relieved to turn the responsibility over to the care provider and take a moment to breathe for himself. She is often shocked and bewildered that it is all over.

And then there is everything in between. Fast labors, textbook labors, sorrowful labors, joyous labors.

What makes a good birth story? The ones that are told. Women need to tell their stories and they need to be heard. Women are resilient. They can handle the good, the bad and the ugly. They can effect change when their expectations are not met. They can make the world a better place for their daughters, daughter in laws and grand daughters to give birth.

Tell your story. Allow others to learn. Help us as caregivers to learn what was important to you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Easy Steps to Bonding

The wait is finally over; your new baby is going to arrive today. You have done everything in your power to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. You want to be the best mom for your precious gift.

A crucial part of this is bonding.

Bonding is the connection between the newborn and family or other humans. Babies who bond well are happier, healthier and better adjusted.

5 Easy Steps to Bonding

1. Skin to skin contact: Immediately after the birth, your newborn should be placed in your arms. This contact allows you to groom and clean your baby. You gently touch, explore, massage, and smell your newborn. This act allows you to release a chemical in your brain called oxytocin also known as the “love” hormone. You fall in love with your baby and your baby falls in love with you.

2. Eye contact: You baby will be alert and awake the first hour after birth. Your baby’s eyes will be searching for yours. Your baby knows you. He has heard your voice, your heartbeat and felt your rhythms. Now he is ready to see you. This contact allows new pathways to form in his brain that will impact him for a lifetime.

3. Talk to your baby: You baby knows your voice. Hearing it brings calmness to his world. Birth is a difficult event for your baby. Your voice brings back normalcy. Sing to your baby if that is what you have done during your pregnancy. The human voice is powerful. Let your baby hear YOUR voice first and above all others in the room.

4. Listen to your maternal voice: During your pregnancy you have bonded with your baby. Your nurturing brain has changed and grown. You know how to care for your new baby. Listen. Your brain will tell you what to do. No website, magazine article or book can replace your maternal instinct. Love your baby and trust yourself.

5. Spend time with your new baby: Don’t allow your baby to be separated from you. Often babies are taken away for baths, screenings and evaluation. Ask that these procedures be done in your room. Ask for rooming in, so that your baby is not taken to a nursery. This allows you to get to know your babies needs so that you can be responsive without relying on someone else to make that observation and then respond.

Under the Old Tin Roof: Make My Blog Pretty

Under the Old Tin Roof: Make My Blog Pretty

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Happened to the Contractions

It happens frequently, contractions are strong and regular. You are coping with them well but you know if you are going to make it to the hospital, you need to leave now. You get in the car, the excitement building and begin your journey to your new life. Your life with a new baby.

You arrive at the hospital, you are questioned, examined, asked to sign a stack of papers, put on monitors and finally settled nicely into your bed to labor. But oddly enough your contractions have spaced out and not as intense. What happened to the contractions. The contractions that you were so excited to be having. The contractions that were going to bring your baby.

This is an all to common scenario. How it is handled can be the difference between a natural birth and a c-section.

Let's address first what happened.  Oxytocin is the  hormone released by the brain to cause contractions. The more oxytocin, the more contractions which will eventually bring baby to delivery. Oxytocin has some natural inhibitors-stress, observation, cold, speech, and bright lights. Michel Odent has taught this concept for years and has written several books on the subject. So when one arrives at the hospital with all the excitement, questions, bright lights, people talking and having to think and making decisions, the oxytocin level can drop drastically. When the oxytocin drops, contractions slow or even stop. Usually in time, if the stressors are removed, the oxytocin returns and labor will intensify. This may take a few hours or days.

I recently attended a hospital birth and got to see this event first hand. It was very dramatic. Contractions had been strong and 3 minutes apart. Everything slowed to the point that the mom was working diligently just to keep contractions going. After 10 hours of latent labor with no change, the wonderful OB we were working with suggested everyone go home. Once back home, contractions picked back up and once back at the hospital, labor was advanced enough that all the distractions were ignored and this mom reached complete.

The next slow down happened during pushing. The mom had been laboring in the tub, the lights were low, there was no talking, the water was warm and she gently moved her baby down behind a bulging bag of waters. She had to be moved to the bed for delivery, all the staff comes in for the big event, the lights are turned on so the scene can be visualized. Legs are spread, perineum is exposed and all stand expectantly waiting for the big event. This mom pushed her babies head out as instructed and then contractions stalled again. Of course this created quite a panic. The OB even commented that the one contraction that was bringing the body just quit. Go with me just for a moment  What would happen if you were in the middle of lovemaking ( the other time in our life when we produce a lot of oxytocin) and six strangers walked in to your room and started observing you and cheering you on? 

All ended well, but it was a  great illustration reminding me of how important it is to be vigilant in our preparation of the environment we invite women to give birth in.

As a guardian of the natural process of birth, I want to always  honor and respect the God's design  and not interfere in such a way that will inhibit labor or birth.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Midwife Documentary


This trailer reveals  the most important issue women face today in regards to birth. 

Birth is a woman's right.

She should be able to decide:

  • where she gives birth
  • with whom she gives birth or alone
  • if she wants to allow her body to go into labor naturally
  • if she wants to have a VBAC at home, a birth center or a hospital
  •  if she wants to have her 7th baby at a birth center ( currently this is forbidden)
  • if she wants to have any testing done on her or her baby
This list could go on and I'm sure everyone has their pet cause. The bottom line is that women should be allowed to make these decisions for themselves and their families.

Friday, March 29, 2013



This story was published with very few details of what actually happened. It is unfortunate because in our society she has already been convicted of the crime of murder simply because she is a midwife attending births out of the hospital.

Let's look at what we know. She is a woman. She practices midwifery. She is unlicensed. She attended a labor where a baby died. She has been charge with the crime of murder.

What don't we know? How long has she practiced midwifery? Why is she not licensed (wait I know that one...the state of NC doesn't have a licensing procedure even though it has been asked for by members of the state for YEARS) Would this baby have died if the mom had been in the care of an OB? If this baby had died in the care of an OB, would they have been charged with murder? Did she do anything wrong in the management of this labor? Did she misrepresent herself to be something she is not? What are the parents opinions of the care they were given?

I don't know the answers to these questions and I am not here to defend this midwife or to judge her. I understand from someone who knew her that she was well respected in her community.

There are some things I do know. If NC had licensure, this woman would have been investigated by a board who had an understanding of what midwifery is, what is normal and what risk factors where involved. She would have met a standardized set of requirements in order to have become licensed and remained licensed. Instead she is being judged by individuals who have no understanding of birth, nature, medicine or informed choice.

What if every physician who lost a patient, was sued for murder? Ridiculous you say. Well of course it is. If every physician who lost a patient was convicted of murder, we would not be able to train physicians fast enough to keep up with demands of our health care system.  Is this because they are neglectful or unskilled? No, it is because unfortunately bad things happen to good people.

I can tell you this, midwives care for their clients, they put their client's needs ahead of their own on a regular basis. They become involved in their lives and share an incredibly intimate event with them. They are invited as guest into their home and often leave as a member of their family. They stay in touch with them sometime for years after their last delivery. They deliver their daughter's children. They often spend 15 to 20 times as much time with their clients than an OB. They miss family events, anniversary dinners and worshipping with their church family if the phone rings and it is a client in labor. Does this sound like someone who would murder a baby? Premeditated, planned, intentional neglect?? I can tell you that midwives grieve when a client calls to report a miscarriage. They are not static individuals who robotically go from client to client. They are dynamic, feeling, personally effected individuals who sacrifice their lives for their clients...and LOVE it and can't imagine doing
anything else.

Would licensing have prevented this stillbirth? Honestly, probably not. Licensure does not make good doctors, lawyers, midwives, plumber or hairstylist. There are skilled and knowledgeable people all over the world who are practice the  craft licensed or not. It is my opinion that licensing is a way for people to give their control over to the government to some how protect them. This is an impossible task. Good practitioners will be good whether big brother is watching or not. Bad practitioners will be bad whether big brother is watching or not. Having licensure give credibility to a profession although I would argue it is a false sense of credibility.

On a personal note, I grieve for this family and their lost. I hurt for the fact that they too will be persecuted because of their decision to work with a midwife. People are cruel and make unkind ignorant comments . 
I grieve for this midwife who has given so much of her life to serve others. I can't imagine how frightening  it must be for her to face the uncertainty of the future.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let Nature Take It's Course

 James T. Breeden, MD, President of ACOG wrote the article following : 

My comments are in italics

“Let nature take its course.”
I couldn't agree more. 

"Over the years, I’ve found this saying particularly applies to the process of giving birth. My personal experience as an ob-gyn and reams of scientific research demonstrate that Mother Nature knows best when a child is ready to be born. The start of natural labor is the main sign, but we’re not always patient enough to wait for it."

My personal experience also has been when we wait for labor to begin on it's own, birth is much more straightforward and effective. My clients also get tired of being pregnant and uncomfortable. As a midwife, I too sometime grow weary of waiting for God's perfect timing. 
I also find it difficult when we approach that 42 week mark, not because I don't think mom's are capable of delivering at that point, but because I know if we have a transport into the hospital, we are all going to be looked at like we have 3 heads. "nothing good happens after 40 weeks" is a popular quote at our local hospital. Although I find this statement untrue and very restrictive, I certainly understand why it is said. We as people like to be in control, allowing women to go into labor on their own shows lack of control. That can be very frightening if you are then going to be held responsible for the outcome.

 "Today, one in three babies in the US are born by cesarean—the delivery of a baby through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus."

This stat is staggering! But TRUE! Let's break that down...three babies are born in your neighborhood this spring...one is going to be by C-Section.  This rate should be 10% or less. In midwifery run birth centers, the rate is 6%

"The rate of labor induction is also at an all-time high. Unfortunately, many of these births occur before the pregnancy is considered “term” at 39 weeks. These upward trends have long been a source of concern in the medical community, especially considering the increased risks to a baby who may not be fully developed at delivery."

I don't know that rate of induction at our local hospital, but informally I know my clients are under a microscope by their friends and family to be induced. They are often pressured, even before their due date at 40 weeks with statements like "when are you going in for your induction?" or "how long is your midwife going to let you go?" As if that would be my call... Our birth culture is one of fear and control. Bad things are going to happen if we don't intervene. The TRUTH: Bad things happen when we DO intervene. 

" Among cesarean deliveries, an estimated 2.5% (more than 100,000 births each year) are scheduled on a designated date by the mother and her doctor. Some women cite reasons such as a lower risk of future incontinence, better sexual functioning after childbirth, and fear of pain as motivations to schedule cesareans. Inevitably, some cesareans (and labor inductions, too) are scheduled before a pregnancy is full term, increasing the risk of negative outcomes for the newborn, including respiratory problems and time spent in the neonatal intensive care unit. The fact remains that due dates are estimates, and you can never be sure that the infant will have reached optimal maturity at the time of a scheduled delivery."

All excellent points and let's add to that the cost. 
This quote is from a study published in the  Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health www.jmwh.org

The cesarean birth rate in this cohort was 6% versus the estimated rate of 25% for similarly low-risk women in a hospital setting. Had this same group of 15,574 low-risk women been cared for in a hospital, an additional 2934 cesarean births could be expected. The Medicare facility reimbursement for an uncomplicated cesarean birth in a hospital in 2011 was $4465.49 Given the increased payments for facility services for cesarean birth compared with vaginal birth in the hospital, the lower cesarean birth rate potentially saved an additional $4,487,524. In total, one could expect a potential savings in costs for facility services of more than $30 million for these 15,574 births.

" Women should keep in mind that cesarean delivery is no walk in the park. While it’s a safe option, cesarean delivery is a major surgery and comes with a number of risks, such as placental complications in future pregnancies, problems with anesthesia, infection, and longer recovery times. Certain urgent situations—such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, multiple fetuses, fetal growth restriction, and poorly controlled diabetes—may make it necessary to deliver the baby before the onset of natural labor."

Again, totally agree. There is a time and place for everything. Good midwifery care involves transferring care to an appropriate care provider if then mom and baby are no longer low risk. Good collaborative care is essential.

"However, newly issued guidelines from ACOG remind women and ob-gyns that in uncomplicated pregnancies, a vaginal birth that occurs after the natural onset of labor is ideal."

Say it again!!! 

"Additional new ACOG guidelines reaffirm that cesareans and labor inductions should only be performed when medically-necessary. Delaying delivery until labor starts naturally may not make ob-gyns too popular with a patient who’s uncomfortable and near the end of her pregnancy, but it’s a decision that will pay dividends by giving the baby the extra time it needs to face the world. 

So hoping more and more OBGYNs latch on to this concept and support women with low risk pregnancies. 
In the meantime, this is the philosophy midwives has held to for all of history.

 We trust women, 
We trust God in His perfect design. 
We trust the TRUTH is be told with all the research being done.