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You Need to Eat a Peck of Dirt Before You Die

So said my grandmother…so it MUST be true.¬† ūüėČ

Of course, not everyone agrees with that philosophy.¬† Yesterday I happened to catch about half of an episode of “The Doctors” that was themed “Is This Really Bad For Me?”¬† If you believe the esteemed Dr’s, not only is double dipping taboo (which I agree with just¬†on the “GROSS” grounds, but have less bacterial concern); its a serious health concern, right up there with the “5 second rule” and using finger nail polish while pregnant.

Wait…I’m a childbirth instructor AND a chemist, I worked with many of the chemicals that are in nail polish.¬† And I’ve never heard that you should be concerned about painting nails while pregnant.¬† In fact, I did it while I was waiting for labor to set in with Katie.¬†

Not that I think the chemicals in nailpolish are¬†completely safe.¬† No, I don’t.¬†¬†Reasonable precautions should be taken by anyone using a product with volatile organic compounds–use it in a well ventilated space.¬† But quantities do matter.¬† Even water can kill you if you drink enough of it–and there are traces of cyanide in apple seeds, and yet they don’t kill you if you eat them.¬† I have trouble really believing the amount of nailpolish one might get on¬†ones skin would result in enough chemicals absorbing into the body to have any toxic effects.

The Dr’s really tore into the “5 second rule”–that is,¬†eating food that has fallen on the floor–even if it only was on the floor for 5 seconds!¬† They pointed out¬†that studies show that foods that have fallen on the floor have a higher bacteria count than foods that haven’t.¬† Likewise, they shamed “double dipping” (which¬†again, I do think is gross–spoon some dip onto¬†your own private plate¬†for goodness sake!) due to increased bacteria counts.

So let me get this straight…the same doctors who want us to inject a live virus (certain vaccines)¬†into an infant to develop immunity, are freaking out over what might be on my kitchen floor?

I do wonder if as a culture we have become too “germ phobic?”¬†¬†I have trouble finding hand soap that *isn’t* antibacterial, and I make it a priority to find that because I’m concerned about antibiotic resistant bacteria.¬† Many products are now marketted as being antibacterial.¬† My kids’ elementary school requests that children keep hand sanitizers at their desks to “reduce sick days”¬†(none of my kids have ever missed more than 2 days of school in a single school year even before the hand sanitizer policy).¬†

Could it be that¬†being exposed to a certain level of bacteria acts like a vaccine,¬†building immunity toward¬†stronger illnesses?¬† I once had a co-worker who told me that he was glad that his kids caught colds while they were toddlers/preschoolers, because they didn’t get sick often when they hit school age and it was more important that they be¬†“well.”¬†

It seems that I’m not the only one that is thinking this way.¬†¬† Craig Weatherby over at Vital Choices asks if American children‚Äôs overly sterile surroundings and overprotective parents may pose dangers to their health?”¬† He proposes that “excessively clean environments and lack of outdoor play may be partly to blame for the rise in allergies and asthma in recent years.”¬† The folks at the New York Times actually suggest that children’s desire to put things–even very dirty things–into their mouths may have an evolutionary advantage.¬† Immunologist Dr. Mary Ruebush writes in her book “Why Dirt is Good“:

¬†To read the news headlines or to watch any TV commercials, you’d think that the only thing standing between you and death by some horrible new disease…is the germ-killing power of some miraculous cleaning product.¬† Actually, what keeps most people healthy most of the time is the amazing ability of your body to keep infection out to begin with….All that cleaning doesn’t protect you nearly as well as your own body can.

Hmmmm…imagine that.¬† Simply being exposed to a germ does not doom you to illness!¬† If someone is reasonably healthy, they can fight off most common illnesses.¬† Which I guess explains why my husband and I both recently got fairly bad colds from our then 5 month old Sophia (we don’t get enough sleep to maintain good immune systems), but none of our 4 older children caught a cold.

Of course we do take what I consider to be “reasonable precautions” around our house when it comes to germ transmission–we aren’t just wallowing in each other’s germiness.

But what are “reasonable precautions?”¬† Well…despite the dire warnings on The Doctors, the “5 second rule” is alive and well in my house…and its probably more like 30 seconds.¬† Tight budgets mean that I’m not above scraping meat off my kids’ plates into a leftover container to eat for lunch the next day.¬† And I didn’t miss a beat when Sean picked up an interesting black item off the sidewalk today and said “what is this Mommy?”¬† “A dried up earthworm.”¬† (Don’t worry, he didn’t stick it into his mouth…and just in case you wondered…if you are a guest in my home you will not be served recycled or dropped food.)

BUT…even 5 year old Sean¬†will remind anyone who sneezes near him to “cover your mouth” (with your arm if you don’t have a tissue–you are less likely to touch something with your germy arm prior to washing it than if you had sneezed into your hand), all my kids know to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while handwashing to get a thorough wash.¬† And we don’t eat food that has fallen onto dirt…and I certainly wouldn’t eat something that had fallen on a hospital floor–a scenario posed by one of “The Doctors.”¬† We use separate cutting boards for meats & veggies, and wash hands after handling raw meat.

On a related topic, there is a very good discussion of the whole “Swine Flu” situation over at, and another at Junk Food Science¬†that reveals that the toddler in Texas who died of swine flu had actually been air lifted into Texas from Mexico, and had under-lying health concerns.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 1:00 am.


Finding the Right Maternity Care Provider

This past weekend I listened as a woman explained that due to her medical condition (epilepsy), her OB had advised her at her first prenatal visit that she could terminate her pregnancy.  I understood that.  For liability reasons her Dr. HAD to make sure she knew that 90% of babies born to mothers with epilepsy are normal, and if that 1 in 10 risk of having problems is too high for her, she had that option.  Fair enough.

But then I listened in amazement as she went on to say that her Dr. reccommended “termination” again at her 2 month visit (apparently she went to her first visit lickety split!), and her 3 month visit, and her 4 month visit, and her 5 month visit…at which point she finally told the Dr. to quit advising this, that she intended to keep the baby even if the baby had deformities.¬† BTW…her baby was healthy & normal at birth.

I had to wonder what it takes to get a woman to switch care providers?¬† I mean really, the guy wants to kill your baby, and you are still trusting him to make life and death medical reccommendations for said baby?¬† Why, even if you were pro-choice (which this woman isn’t), would you continue on with such a glaring difference of opinions?

Unfortunately in America we seem to have bought into the idea that the most important things about choosing a care provider are if they are on our insurance plan, how close they are to our home, and if we like the waiting room decor.¬† Okay…I might be exaggerating a bit on the last point…but really…the things we take into account really aren’t often important.

I admit…I’ve been guilty of the same kind of decision making.¬† In choosing my first OB, I just stuck with the GYN I’d seen for about 4 years prior to pregnancy.¬† I had chosen the practiced based on reccommendations from friends that they were a “Christian” practice.¬† Let me tell you, as a committed Christian, I often dread having Christian clients who chose their care provider because they are Christian.¬† Why?¬† Because they tend to put the care provider on a higher pedestall than they would a non-Christian provider, and don’t question much of what their care provider says to make sure that it matches up with what they personally desire.

And trust me…there is a LOT of variation in practice philosophy amongst care providers (since, as my father used to say, Dr’s PRACTICE medicine–its not really a science so much as an “ideology” where entrenched beliefs often are contradicted by medical research), even Christian ones.¬† Just looking at the Christian birth care providers I’m familiar with, there are some that:

  • will cut episiotomies without consent,¬†
  • state outright that they do not trust vaginal birth and much prefer planned cesareans,¬†
  • will allow women a lot of lattitude in how a hospital birth is carried out–asking her every step of the way if she wants option A, B, or C and avoiding cesarean whenever possible,¬†
  • will attend homebirths with a woman who has had 2 prior cesareans.

Now at a certain point during my first pregnancy I started realizing that the practice I was using¬†was a philisophical mismatch with me, but I didn’t switch.¬† Why?¬† Because I felt too busy perhaps?¬† All I can say is PLEASE don’t follow my example!¬† It is only through the grace of God that my inaction did not result in my having a cesarean.¬† Care provider choice does matter.

I do know that many women don’t switch care providers do so out of a desire to “not offend” their care provider.¬† I had one client who was driving over an hour to see her care provider, knew she didn’t like the practice, and still didn’t switch for this reason.¬† But here is the thing…as much as a woman may “love” her care provider…her care provider doesn’t love her!¬†¬†It’s strictly business, and while care providers do have hearts, and their hearts may be saddened if their clients have tragic things happen, they just CAN’T allow themselves to be emotionally involved…to do¬†so¬†with all they see would be too draining.¬†

Nicole over at “It’s Your Birth Right!!”¬†has written a great pair of posts (Part 1 and Part 2) on “Choosing Wisely.”¬† She’s been an L&D nurse, and is now a CNM, and has some great insight.¬† One of her bottom line suggestions that I think is great is that a woman should interview at least THREE care providers before choosing one.¬† Wow.¬† Like I said…I didn’t interview my care provider in my first pregnancy.¬† And even with my second pregnancy I only interviewed one care provider–the one who had been the on-call Doc when my first was born.¬† Again…3rd pregnancy, I only interviewed one care provider, although this time I’ll use the excuse that I knew I wanted a homebirth, and to my knowledge, at that time I only had one care provider option for homebirth.¬† Used her again for my 4th birth.¬† It wasn’t until my 5th birth that I actually interviewed¬†4 different care providers (and kind of half-way interviewed a 5th over the phone), and chose one.

And guess what? 

She wasn’t covered by my insurance.¬† And yet she probably cost me less than either of the “in network” providers I interviewed would have cost considering that I would have had a $300 deductible and 20% co-pay for the in network providers.¬†

She was the furthest away from my house.¬† Of course after signing up with her I found out she would do home visits for a small fee, and so my appointments literally took only 30-60 minutes of my time, and ALL of that was face time with the midwife, unlike the 2-ish hours I often spent on appointments during my first pregnancy between driving (just 10 minutes from work!), waiting in the waiting room, having vitals taken by nurse, waiting in the exam room some more…then seeing the OB for 5-10 minutes.¬† Even when I did drive to her office for two visits, I still only devoted a bit¬†less than 2 hours to the visit, and saw my midwife for 30-ish minutes.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 2:32 pm.


Earth Day, what did you do?

On Monday I read a list over at Simple Mom of 40 things you can do to be a good steward of the Earth was listed.¬† I was amazed to see how many of the things I do “always,” “often” or “sometimes.”¬† I even walk to pick up Sean from pre-school when the weather is nice–a 20 minute walk each way.

One thing I have to admit though, I’m guilty of¬†being decidedly NOT¬†“Earth Friendly” on.¬† That thing?

I drive my older kids to school about 2-3 times per week rather than letting them ride the bus.

Which really, is SO not Earth friendly!¬† I mean really…I drive 1.2 miles each way, only to sit with my engine idling in the school drop off circle for about 5 minutes.¬† My minivan supposedly gets about 20 miles per gallon “city,” but my goodness, what does that high ratio of idling time do to the mileage?¬† It must send it through the roof!

So if out of 180 days in the school year I’m driving my kids to school half of those days, that’s 90 days. 2.4 miles per day for a total of 216 miles, or somewhere over 10 gallons of gas–possibly pushing as high as 15 with all of that idle time.¬† Not to mention the wear and tear on my van…and do I really have the time to be doing this when my kids could just walk to the bus stop?

And how much gas would be used for my kids to take the bus?¬† Well according to the folks over at Yahoo Answers, a school bus gets about 10 miles per gallon–so would use about 30 gallons of gas (keeping in mind that the bus does not go directly to school, but rather wraps through a couple of developments picking up other kids after picking up mine).¬† BUT…with that 30 gallons of gas, the bus can transport up to about 60 students, rather than the 3 that I¬†am transporting.¬† So my kids’ portion of that gas is only about 1.5 gallon!

And the sad thing is the number of parents who drop their kids off EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.  And pick them up after school.  Assuming they have the same distance to drive as I do (most of them probably have MORE), they are easily burning 40-60 gallons of gas per school year when the school bus would use less than 2 gallons per child. 

Why do they do it?¬† I haven’t got a clue.¬† When I was a kid, the only kids who got dropped off for school were the ones bringing a tuba or some such to school.¬† Everyone else took the bus or walked (which is a whole ‘nother issue–my district is “100% bussing”–even for kids who live right across the street from the school!).

Why do I drive my kids to school?¬† Well because the school started offering a breakfast back when I was due with Sophie.¬† And at that point, the conveniance of having them eat there, coupled with the price, made it attractive to me to have them eat breakfast at school.¬† Initially I just sent my kids on the bus and had them eat at school, but they eventually told me that if they went on the bus they weren’t getting the “hot breakfast” or milk–but rather a bagged breakfast with no drink.¬† Only if I drop my kids off at school earlier than the bus will get them there do they get the full breakfast.¬† So now they go a couple of days a week when they like the school’s breakfast menu better than my breakfast menu (and yes, I do have a menu posted!).¬† I guess I should at least check with one of my neighbors (who is among the “every day” crowd) and see if they want to send their son to carpool with us on the days I drive.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 1:18 pm.

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Eating in Labor

When I took an independent childbirth class during my first pregnancy, I remember very clearly one discussion we had about eating in labor.¬† My instructor Dotty explained that eating to comfort was good for the laboring mother–to eliminate the discomfort of being hungry at the very least, if not to provide energy for the hard work of labor.¬† She told of one of her clients who had hidden in the bathroom of her labor room to eat an ice cream cone, but was “busted” by her nurse when she came out with a chocolate mustache.¬† I laughed–as apparently did the nurse.

So when I was faced with a long labor–over 33 hours all told–I did not hold back from eating, but rather ate to comfort.¬† Which included a breakfast befitting a lumberjack–scrambled eggs, a ham slice, hash browns, toast, fruit cup, 8 oz milk, 8 oz OJ.

As a childbirth educator, I tell my students to “eat¬†to comfort,” and to remember that¬†vomitting is common in labor, so¬†try to eat things that are easy to digest and non-acidic.¬†¬†Then with a laugh I tell them about my breakfast being perfect examples of what NOT to eat.¬† Of course I also explain that it is a good example of why it is important to listen to your body cues–because I didn’t end up eating again until breakfast the next morning, so obviously I needed all that food!¬† Well, I did try to eat a french fry from my husband’s dinner, but as soon as I bit into it, I knew I didn’t need to eat, and listened to my body cues and didn’t even finish the fry.¬† And sure enough…nausea a few minutes later.

Now I know that what I tell my students flies in the face of standard advice given to women in labor.¬† In fact, like my childbirth instructor before me, I advise my clients that “it is easier to get forgiveness than permission.”¬† That is…don’t ask permission to eat–just do it (discretely!), and if there should come a reason why you need to let someone know about it…forgiveness will come.

So I’m glad to see that a recent study has come out indicating that eating in labor is not linked to poor outcomes.¬†

I hope that as these studies keep coming out, practices in labor will slowly change for the benefit of women’s comfort.¬† Even a friend of mine who had 3 cesareans commented on how her post-surgical food was handled differently with each birth from only being allowed liquids for 24 hrs, to being allowed solid food after she’d had “bodily functions,” to the situation that she reported as being the best–after the birth of her twins she was very soon allowed to have regular food.

Of course as long as we have the attitude that women in¬†labor need permission¬†to eat as expressed in the Consumer Reports blog–rather than advice one way or the other…well until¬†then we’ve still¬†got a long way to go.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 10:42 pm.


Manic Monday: School Registration, Sign Your Name…

You’d think that with 3 kids already registered in school, getting the 4th registered for kindergarten would be a breeze.

Not so.  Not only have I tripped on the jump rope, I am hopelessly tangled in it!

First of all, I COMPLETELY missed the regular registration time (not that making it would have helped any…).¬† How did I do this?¬† Well I got the registration packet in the mail in early March.¬† Actually, I got two, one for Sean, and one for Jean.¬† I’m still looking under the beds trying to find this child named Jean that I apparently don’t know that I have.

I looked at the registration packet with fuzzy vision and said “oh, kindergarten registration is always in mid-April.”¬† And I promptly filed it in the “to do in April file.”¬† And by that, I don’t mean a nice, neat manilla file folder somewhere.¬† No…I mean my *mental* file.¬† The actual paperwork got put on the hope chest at the foot of my bed, because I was reading the mail while carrying Sophie upstairs for a nap.

On April 3, Steve says to me “Tony was saying something about registering C. for kindergarten this past week…when do we need to register Sean?”¬† So I go get the paperwork–which was still exactly where I had put it–see, I’m organized, it just isn’t in a way that most people recognize ūüėȬ† And sure enough, we were supposed to register Sean on March 31.¬† Oops.

So I call up the registration office and ask to schedule an appointment…which was sometime the week of April 7.¬† I carefully reviewed the paperwork, and informed Steve that I needed two forms of¬†address verification–one of which MUST be¬†either our deed or our agreement of sale on our house.¬† He groans, and says “but I just put all of that paperwork out over the garage!”¬† That storage space isn’t really easy to get to.

The morning of my appointment he finally goes looking for the paperwork, and he can’t find the deed or the agreement of sale.¬† And trust me, the man keeps every scrap of paper.¬† He had the permits that were taped to the windows while the house was under construction–including the duct tape!¬† He had copies of every e-mail and fax between us and the kitchen folks… but no deed or Agreement of Sale.¬† He gives me a copy of the HUD paperwork from closing, and says “I think I used this when I registered Jason.”

So off I go to my appointment.¬† And let me tell you, the woman working in the registration office was not budging.¬† She insisted I needed one of those two documents.¬† I questioned that, because really, the Agreement of Sale doesn’t prove that I live in the house.¬† “Yes it does,” she replied, “it is a legal document and you’d have a heck of a time getting out of it!”¬† “No, it doesn’t prove we live there–we could have sold the house 2 weeks later, and no one would take the agreement of sale paperwork away from us.”*¬† As for the deed, I thought you only got a copy of your deed AFTER you paid off your mortgage?¬† No, she told me that I could go to the county courthouse (25 minute one-way drive PLUS parking hassels, and dragging¬†around at least Sophie, if not Sean too)¬†and get a copy.¬† Oh great…like I need to add another errand to my day.¬† Oh, and she finally resorted to telling me it wasn’t the school district’s fault, it was a state requirement!

Well that didn’t sit well with me…only because I know that the school district has implemented other policies in the past that were not popular with parents, and blamed it on “state requirements” that did not exist.¬† So I looked it up, and sure enough, the school district has taken the state requirement, and defined the school district requirement more tightly.¬† This is what the state says (emphasis mine):

3. Proof of residency.  
Acceptable documentation includes: a deed, a lease, current utility bill, current credit card bill, property tax bill, vehicle registration, driver’s license, DOT identification card.  A district may require that more than one form of residency confirmation be provided.  However, school districts and charter schools should be flexible in verifying residency, and should consider what information is reasonable in light of the family’s situation. 

Does the school district having more stringent requirements than the state really meet the “school districts… should be flexible in verifying residency” part of the requirement?¬† “Agreement of Sale” isn’t even listed on the state list of acceptable documentation, although the wording they use certainly does not rule out¬†schools accepting it (or the HUD form that I had tried to provide…or the “Health Insurance Card” that the school¬†district also accepts as one of the second acceptable second¬†documents–does your¬†insurance card have your address on it?¬† Mine never have!)¬† I should point out that as part of the registration, I had provided the items that are in bold, and could easily provide the items in italics.

But, none the less…I tried to cooperate.¬† I went home and told Steve that I had been unsuccessful in registering Sean because I really did need an agreement of sale or deed.¬† Rather than going to the court house, he called our house builder, and sure enough, they agreed to send us a copy of the agreement of sale.¬† We received it in the mail last week–a 8 pages of it.¬† We skimmed it, both of us noting our names and signatures on it, initials on each page.¬† We thought we were set.

So that brings us to today.¬† I dropped Sean off for preschool, then ran some errands, including running to the registation office with the agreement of sale.¬† So the woman in the registration office starts looking at the document, and her facial expression is looking more and more “difficult.”¬† I don’t know any way to put it.¬† And I’m wondering “what in the world is wrong with her?¬† WHAT NOW?”¬† She pulls out Sean’s folder, and flips through it, and finally, she turns to me and says “the address on this does not match the address you’ve given on the other paperwork.”

WHAT???  I look at it, and sure enough, the price is right, the house model is right, the lot number (E-16) is right, but its not our street address!  Its a block away from us, and incidentally, the folks at that address are friends of ours.  How in the heck did no one notice that at the closing?

So of course, she wouldn’t accept it.

BTW, I stopped by to let Larry & Mary know that I own their house.¬† Mary laughed, and told me that she’d be more than happy to send me her mortgage payment, I told her that was fine, because I was going to be calling a real estate agent–we’d pay off the mortgage out of the sales proceeds and pocket the rest.¬† ūüėȬ† Oh, and when I asked her if she had a copy of the deed that I could use to register Sean, she said “don’t you only get that after you pay off the mortgage?”


*Upon closer inspection of our Agreement of Sale, my husband realized why he didn’t have a copy of it in with the paperwork from “closing” on our house…it was signed a full year before we moved into the house–it the was the agreement that we signed to start the home construction!¬† What was that I was saying about an Agreement of Sale not proving residency?¬† LOL!

Updated on May 13:¬† So last week we got the copy of our deed from the county–for the bargain price of $1 per page PLUS certification fee PLUS postage both ways…

Since I was just so in love with the woman at the registration office, my husband offered to take the deed over to the office.¬† He got there, only to learn that she had taken a sick day, and no one else was allowed to take registration documentation.¬† He told them that I’d already been to the office twice, and this was now his first visit, and frankly we were way past our patience limit.¬† Nope…they couldn’t copy the deed.¬† He insisted that they call the district office and find out if an exception could be made, and reluctantly they called, and then made the copy.¬† I’m guessing I’ll find out in late August when I never get a teacher assignment for Sean that they filed the copy of the deed in the circular file.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 10:31 am.


Shopping Green

What is it, about a year now that grocery stores have been selling “cloth” bags for groceries?¬† I quickly jumped on board because I hate the plastic bags.¬† Environmental concerns aside (and there are plenty of those!), I hate how they cut into my hands as I carry them if they are heavily loaded, or how they spontaneously rip and spill their contents, and how they seem to multiply like bunnies around my house.

Recently I noticed that one of my preferred grocery stores has come out with some designer bags, and they had me drooling.¬† But I haven’t purchased any because, well, I already have enough bags for even my $300 grocery trips.¬†

But one of my on-line friends recently has had the opportunity to design a bag for her local grocery store…and if she wins the contest, her family gets $1000 in free groceries.¬† And I’ve got to say…if she does win, I’m going to ask her to buy some bags for me and ship them to me.¬† Because they are really cute.


Isn’t it cute?¬†¬†If you want to read about the symbolism that is used in it, please go read Jamin’s post about the contest.¬† Well if it is going to win, you need to vote for it!

Now, just in case cuteness alone isn’t enough to get you to vote for this bag, let me tell you a bit about “Jamin.”¬† Jamin is the mom of 3 children, and she homeschools.¬† She had lived in Las Vegas, which she hated because of the gambling, prostitution, and smoking EVERYWHERE.¬† So when her husband got a job in another state half way across the country, she was SO happy.

That is…until they tried to sell their house.¬† Her husband moved¬†for the job, and she stayed behind with the kids to sell the house.¬† But the real estate market in Las Vegas is terrible.¬† When I was last selling a house in 2004-2005¬†we had well over 100 showings, and I was going nuts trying to keep the house clean.¬† Well Jamin had enough showings on her house in a YEAR that she could count them on one hand–maybe two.¬† Yikes!¬† All that time, her hubby was in Texas, and she and the kids hardly got to see him.

They finally decided to rent out the house, and she moved with her husband.  And 3 months later, their renter lost his job and backed out of the one year lease agreement.  So now her family is paying to maintain 2 houses without any rental income.

So you can see that having $1000 in grocery money would be REALLY helpful for them.¬† So please…VOTE.¬† You can vote once a day until May.

Thank you!

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 11:16 pm.

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The Birth Survey

You may or may not have heard of “The Birth Survey” before. For those who haven’t…I’ll explain. This is a website designed to allow women to give input on their maternity care providers–from the nurses in your care provider’s office to the food service workers at the hospital! The point of this survey is to allow women to be able to read REAL reviews about various care providers to help them make an informed choice as they make one of the most important medical decisions of their life–where and with what care provider to give birth.

I whole heartedly endorse this effort, so encourage all women who have given birth in the last 3 years to take the time to fill out the survey. By filling it out you are helping other women! It is worth your time! So without further ado, here is a message from THe Birth Survey folks.

Most of you are now familiar with The Birth Survey¬† and know of it’s potential for bringing transparency to maternity care and choice to expectant couples.

Any woman who has given birth in the U.S., in the last three years, is encouraged to take The Birth Survey and share her experience. This means that at any given time, 12.9 million women in California alone need to be reached. This is a huge project with 4 primary objectives:

Objective 1

Annually obtain maternity care intervention rates on an institutional level for all fifty states.

Objective 2

Collect feedback about women’s birth experiences using an online, ongoing survey, The Birth Survey.

Objective 3

Present official hospital intervention rates, results of The Birth Survey, and information about the MFCI in an on-line format.

Objective 4

Increase public awareness of differences among maternity care providers and facilities and increase recognition of the MFCI as the gold standard for maternity care.


You can put a visible link to The Birth Survey on your website, become familiar with the goal of giving women a mechanism that can be used to share information about maternity care practices in their community while at the same time providing practitioners and institutions feedback for quality of care improvement efforts.

Click here to download…

Thanks for your help in spreading the word and giving birthing women a choice.

Jeannie Batacan
State Coordinator, Transparency in Maternity Care Project – The Birth Survey

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 2:43 pm.

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Patient vs. Disease

A “facebook friend” is attending the 2009 Reache Conference, and she’s been posting updates periodically.¬† I think this quote that she just posted is worth spreading around.¬† She reports that OB/GYN Dawn Russell, MD, in discussing medical education in the US said:

You begin to see the patient as the disease…You are trained to understand, to believe, that no matter how small the risk, it WILL happen to your patient.

How true it is, how true it is.¬† Instead of seeing a laboring woman as most likely to have an uncomplicated birth, the typical OB really believes that the birth WILL end in tragedy…and thus they are quick to intervene in an attempt to prevent that tragedy.¬† Which would be okay if the interventions were harmless, but they aren’t.

Dovetailing very nicely with this quote, is one that is found at Rural Doctoring (I paraphrased a bit to make it fit my blog):

I once told a [wo]man I didn’t care if [s]he ruined¬†[her birth with interventions]. “I mean, you’re a nice [woman], we get along, I appreciate your honesty,” I said, “but, let’s face it–if you¬†[need a cesarean]¬†ten minutes from now, I’m going to say ‘Aw, that’s too bad, [s]he was a nice [girl],’ and then I’m going to move on to the next disaster because that’s what I do. I’m a doctor, I got a hundred¬†[girls] like you. So I don’t care. But I bet you do, and I bet your kids do, so think about that. You need to get honest with yourself and quit making excuses…

Seriously…the original quote was in context of the Dr. talking about not caring about a patient DYING…so do you think it is a stretch for me to substitute having your birth end in surgery?¬† NO!¬† Most OB’s don’t see any particular value in vaginal birth…their only goal is to get the baby out as quickly as possible, because once that baby is out, it isn’t their liability anymore.¬† As a mom, OF COURSE you want a healthy baby.¬† But maybe, just maybe, you assign some value to not having to recover from major surgery while caring for a newborn.¬† If you do, then you need to take responsibility for choices that will minimize your risk of having a cesarean.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 1:32 pm.

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Top 10 Ways to Have An Unnecessary Cesarean

In “honor” of Cesarean Section Awareness month, this post has been making the rounds, with a new “way” being added by each blogger.¬† I first saw the list in “Faint Star Light” with 7 reasons.¬† Then “Nursing Birth” joined the party, and finally “Enjoy Birth” jumped on the band wagon.¬† And now…me.¬† ūüėȬ† (you should note that each author has put her own spin on the text–so go read them all!)

#10 Only take the hospital sponsored childbirth classes, or no classes at all.¬† After all, an independent viewpoint isn’t important–you’d accept a Ford dealer telling you that the Ford Windstar is the ONLY option for a family vehicle, and never consider a Honda Oddessy or Toyota Sienna, right?


#9 Choose a care provider without research ‚Äď Some OB‚Äôs are cesarean happy.¬† Some OB‚Äôs say they support vaginal birth or VBAC‚Äôs but their statistics don‚Äôt back it up.¬† Make sure to ask your¬†care provider about her cesarean rate–if it is over 20%, she ISN’T committed to avoiding cesarean–and that is being generous!¬† My¬†OB practice in my first pregnancy had a 16% cesarean rate (and they aren’t VBAC friendly, despite “talking the talk”), so I know it is possible for¬†even an OB to have such a¬†rate.¬†


#8¬† Agree to a labor induction without medical indication. ‚Äď This is a sure fire way to make a birth more of a challenge.¬† Ask LOTS of questions.¬† Or, the variation on this, the “back door induction“…allow yourself to be convinced that you are in labor and in need of “augmentation” when you aren’t really in labor.


#7 ¬†Go the hospital in the early phases of labor.¬†¬† Because hey, what helps you to relax and allow your body to “do its thing” more than entering a bright, noisy environment where people you’ve never met before want to touch your most private parts.¬† Remember…(assuming you conceived naturally)…the environment that was necessary to get the baby *in* is the best one to get the baby *out.*¬† Including some smooching if you are so moved.


#6 ¬†Don‚Äôt eat or drink during a long labor.¬†¬† Because you really don’t want to do what I did.¬† I mean really, eating a breakfast befitting a lumberjack while having contractions 3 minutes apart was just CRAZY.¬† I didn’t have a crystal ball that told me I wouldn’t eat again for nearly 24 hrs.


#5 ¬†Get an amniotomy too soon.¬† Because hey, after having 2 or more vaginal births, it’s fun to have an emergency cesarean for cord prolapse¬†(yes, despite what one of my cousins is being told to scare her into a primary cesarean with her second baby, it is QUITE common for babies to still be “high and floating” until a multipara is in active labor–even¬†my 5th baby, who was a petite 6 lbs 3 oz didn’t “engage” until well into labor).¬† Scaring all your family half to death is fun!¬† (Yes, I do know someone who had this happen–and frustratingly enough, the family was singing the praises of the Dr. who broke the water because he knew just what to do to save the baby!)


#4  Accept pitocin to induce or stimulate contractions.


#3 ¬†Request an epidural.¬† Despite having 5 babies with nary a pain medication on board (okay, I did take one dose of Tylenol with Sophie after my midwife confirmed that I wasn’t making progress), I don’t begrudge women epidurals.¬† I just think women ought to be aware that being restricted to bed increases your risk of having a posterior baby, which increases your chance of cesarean.¬† Having an epidural (or Pitocin) also means constant fetal monitoring, which has also been shown to increase the risk of cesarean–without improving fetal outcomes.¬† And finally, I’ve had clients who needed to change positions in order to birth–two in particular needed to use hands & knees.¬† If they hadn’t been able to get into that position, they would have either needed a cesarean, or had a very poor fetal outcome (9 lb 11 oz baby with shoulder dystocia–mom flipped to hands & knees and the baby slid right out with no tearing.¬† Had she been stuck on her back she would have needed a big episiotomy and possibly forceps).


#2 ¬†Accept hospital staff‚Äôs comments on lack of progress without challenge.¬† Don’t concern yourself¬†with¬†stats that shown that “failure to progress” cesearans are much more likely to be performed at 4 p.m. than 4 a.m.–its not that your care provider is just wanting to get home for dinner.¬†


#1 Just ask ‚Äď or Failure to Ask Questions! ‚Äď Sure, some moms ask for cesareans, though¬†despite media reports that make you think it is common, survey research indicates that it is¬†very rare.¬† It is more likely that moms are told they need a cesarean because of xyz (breech baby, twins, big baby) and they don‚Äôt ask questions, get second opinions, etc.¬†

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 12:51 am.


Don’t eat the frozen vegetables!

I have a friend who eagerly anticipated becoming a mother.¬† She planned for how she would care for her child…and one of the things that was important to her was giving her¬†child home grown vegetables.¬† She wanted her child to get all of the nutrients of fresh vegetables, and avoid the contaminants that might come with processing.¬† Unfortunately, she was not able to grow her own garden, but she had some friends with gardens who offered to share their frozen vegetables with her–actually, she didn’t wait for them to offer, she asked them if they’d grow more than they needed and save the veggies for her, even before she had a confirmed arrival date for her child.

When she was finally blessed with an adopted child, she very carefully listened to the instructions from the pediatrician regarding feeding the child.¬† The¬†Dr. instructed that she should only feed canned vegetables to the child.¬† Overwhelmed with all the instructions that were being given to her as a new parent, she did not question this bit of advice, but just took it in.¬† However, as her friends called to congratulate her on her new arrival and ask if they could bring some vegetables over she simply said “the Dr. says he doesn’t reccommend it.¬† He says that I should feed canned vegetables.”

This is pretty ludicrious, isn’t it?¬† I mean really, what in the heck is wrong with the frozen vegetables, wouldn’t the less processed homegrown vegetables be healthier?

I actually asked my friend what specifically her Dr. objected to, and she didn’t know.¬† I gently urged her to find out (because…ahem…you CAN disagree with your Dr. and make your own choices!).¬† Especially because her BABY was constipated…and we weren’t really talking about vegetables here, we were talking about…




Ummm…yeah…”ICK!” right? I suspect that was the objection the Dr. had. Hey, it makes more sense to feed your baby processed cow milk than human milk, right?

If your baby needs cow milk because there isn’t a way to get human milk for the baby, then I’m glad that we have the cow milk. And hey, I’m a self-professed [cow]milk-aholic, so it’s not like I’m in the camp that thinks that across the board, cow milk should not be a human food. But I happen to think that whenever possible, baby humans should drink human milk. Its what God designed for them after all!

Apparently it was not important to the Dr. that babies fed breastmilk are less likely to die¬†, with some speculation that an excess 9,000 babies die each year from formula feeding in America.¬† That’s not to mention the ear infections, gastro-intestinal illnesses (including constipation!), eczema, and allergies.¬† And of course, lets not forget, at about $.75 to¬†$1.80¬†per 6 oz bottle…we are looking at about $1300 to $3300 to buy the formula for a year.

So I encouraged the mom to find out what the Dr’s objections were, to see if she agreed. I don’t know know if she ever did find out–she hasn’t asked me for my milk, and her baby is over 2 months old now. So my extra milk is going to a baby in Philadelphia–I’ve given about 12 gallons so far to this baby (another 2 gallons went to a baby in Oregon in 2002, and my other excess milk was either fed to my toddlers…or saddly, before I was aware of milk sharing, poured down the drain)–thats about $250 worth of formula for anyone who wonders…or about $7000 of breastmilk from a milk bank (yeah, they really have a steep mark up!).

I’m going to hazard a guess here that the Dr.’s primary objection to the donation was the “ick” issue…but if pressed, the Dr. would probably say something about the potential donor possibly having a virus that the baby could catch (that was what was recently published in a magazine, which coincidentally, I found out about AFTER starting to write this post). Which makes no sense really–would the Dr. turn down a blood donation on the same grounds? Well I’ve got my 2 gallon pin for blood donation (being pregnant so often really slows me down!), and a large portion of blood donations go to premature babies…who presumably would be more susceptible to any virus than my friend’s full term baby. If I can be cleared for blood donation (my most recent donation was in January 2009), surely I can be cleared for milk donation!

The Dr. from the magazine suggested that only pastuerized milk from a milk bank was safe, but there are a couple of problems with that suggestion:

*just like blood, milk is a live substance. Pastuerization kills it, thus lowering its benefits. No one pastuerizes blood. Actually, the only reason we pastuerize milk is because the cows used to be dirty *externally* when they were milked. With laser cleaning now prior to milking, perhaps we ought to reconsider the whole pastuerization issue even for cow milk.
*milk from a milk bank, as I mentioned above, is prohibitively expensive, AND milk banks will generally only sell milk to parents who have a prescription for it–which is usually only given to preterm babies
*if a recepient mom really wants to have pastuerized milk, she can pastuerize it herself.

I’m a milk donor. And I’m not going to stop any time soon.¬† After all, doesn’t my recipient look happy?¬†

If you’d like more information about milk donation (as a donor or recipient), please visit¬†or the “Milkshare”¬†Yahoo Group.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 3:51 pm.


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