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The Word “Midwife” Should Have Meaning

Over my years in the childbirth field, I’ve seen several times when midwives have been brought up on charges of some sort after a “bad outcome” at a birth. Often the charges are “practicing medicine without a license,” but sometimes more serious criminal charges are included. One of the midwives who attended my first two homebirths and provided prenatal care for my third homebirth was one of them. My heart ached when I learned that she had been brought before the medical board after a bad outcome that was not her fault. She arrived at the client’s house, assessed the mother and baby, determined immediately that there was a problem, and transferred the mother to the hospital. I’d be willing to bet that if that mother had been planning a hospital birth she would not have gone to the hospital as soon as she did with having her midwife tell her “something is wrong, you need to go in.” (Oh, and BTW, I know what happened NOT because the midwife broke confidentiality, but because one of the nurses at the hospital blogged about what happened!)

But there have been some cases that I’ve read about with horror, and wondered how in the heck they were allowed to happen. I’ve been amazed as I’ve seen the natural childbirth community “circle the wagons” in defense of what to me seemed undefensible. Most recently a midwife is being brought up on charges of murder.

“Big names” in the natural childbirth community are rallying support for this midwife. One blogger wrote:

The reality is that if Rowan Bailey is found guilty of murder in North Carolina, then a precedent will be set that a death in a midwife attended birth was found to be WILLFUL murder of a baby.

Don’t talk to me about “But she wasn’t legal” because we all know that midwives hedge their bets on legal. They all do some small thing that is maybe crossing a line or helping someone they shouldn’t “legally” because frankly, the legal system is full of discrimination against healthy women and we all know it.

Don’t talk to me about the ramifications of fetal personhood because it’s clouding the issue here. Dwell on your thoughts of the evils of the issue after we’ve fought this case.

If you don’t send money to Rowan’s defense, if you don’t travel to show a tour de force that midwifery attendance at a birth is not willful murder, if you don’t react in some way to this case that goes beyond sitting on a couch and speculating, then don’t be surprised when it’s you and you are alone and ostracized, no matter your intentions on legal, no matter your intentions or vocation or grace.

You know, I find an odd dicotomy in all of this.

If a nurse in the hospital treats patients coldly, leaving them feel emotionally devastated, we wonder why their fellow nurses didn’t report them or stop them. When an OB consistently channels women toward cesarean who are perfectly capable of birthing vaginally we again wonder “why doesn’t someone report her? Why is he allowed to still be in practice?”

But if a person who has little to no formal medical training holds herself out as a “midwife” and a baby dies while in her care…we are expected to circle the wagons. EVERYONE PROTECT HER! NOW! DON’T DARE SAY SOMETHING NEGATIVE!

I know there are many in the natural birth community who will look in disgust at my comments. But I’m going to stick out my neck and say it.

There should be standards for what a “midwife” is. A midwife SHOULD be able to handle complications that can come up during birth, while still respecting and allowing the normal process to unfold without intervention. The consumer should know that the “midwife” she is hiring has met a certain level of competence. What if a woman wants to do birth work, but feels that this standard is violating the sanctity of birth? Well fine. Then be a “birth attendant.” But the word “midwife” should have meaning.

Posted 6 months, 1 week ago at 1:52 pm.

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Happy Father’s Day, You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!

On Father’s Day 2000 my husband took me out to breakfast. Then he took me to the hospital—St. Luke’s Allentown—to give birth to our second baby. She was (and still is) a stubborn child, she waited until 3:30 a.m. the day after Father’s Day to be born.

My husband accompanied me in the labor and delivery of each of our 6 children, providing support that I truly think I could not have done without. Ironically, the man who was instrumental in making this possible, Dr. Robert Bradley, died less than 2 months after the birth of our first baby. Dr. Bradley revolutionized childbirth in America, yet many of today’s parents do not even know his name.

When my husband’s parents were expecting their first child they went to the same hospital that our first child was born at. My father-in-law tried several times to sneak into his wife’s room—somewhere that my husband was allowed to be openly. However the nurses kept shooing him out, leaving him to express his joy at the birth of his first son by giving a cigar to a random pedestrian.

Dr. Bradley, understanding the importance of having expectant fathers with the expectant mothers in labor, lobbied strongly to move the father from the waiting room to the delivery room. He even went so far as to arrange boycotts of hospitals that would not allow fathers in the delivery room. For my parents-in-law it came too late. St. Luke’s Allentown, then Allentown Osteopathic, allowed fathers into the delivery room the year after my husband was born—their third son and last child. My father-in-law never experienced the joy of seeing one of his children be born.

In 1965 Dr. Bradley wrote the book Husband Coached Childbirth. This book was the foundation upon which the American Academy of Husband Coached Childbirth was founded in 1970. This organization trains childbirth instructors to teach expectant parents the Bradley MethodÒ of Childbirth. My husband and I chose to take these classes in preparation of the birth of our first child. The multi-week series of classes give extensive time to preparing the father/partner to be an effective coach as the mother labors though the athletic event of childbirth.

The satirical role of a father in labor in many Hollywood productions is someone to boil water…what that water is to be used for is never quite made clear other than to perhaps keep the father occupied. My husband, however, had a very meaningful role in the birth of each of our children. He walked with me; massaged my back; let me hang my entire weight off of him when sitting/laying was too painful, but I was too tired to really stand; whispered words of encouragement; and helped me to relax. I have a picture of him the morning after our first daughter was born that I highly treasure—he is holding our daughter looking incredibly proud, but incredibly bleary eyed. I think he was more tired than I was!

I truly believe that the education we got in our Bradley MethodÒ classes helped me to avoid cesarean in my first two labors. Many women have told me stories of their labors with less “cause” for cesarean than I had, and they indeed had cesareans. For example, in my first labor I was “stuck” at 9 cm dilation for 7 hours, most women are moved to the operating room after 2 hours without dilation progress, sometimes after only 1 hour at such high dilation. However I was prepared for this from my childbirth classes. I told my care providers that if my baby was fine, I was okay with a slow labor and preferred to avoid augmentation. So my OB never even suggested that I needed Pitocin, let alone a cesarean. After all, my baby and I were both fine, my labor was just slow.

The statistics support my belief that my education helped to avert cesareans. Expectant couples who take comprehensive classes have a c-section rate that is 30-50% lower than the national average in any given year. Knowing this makes my heart grieve when I hear women say that they “don’t have time” for a comprehensive class, opting for short classes or no classes at all.

Our third child was born at home with two midwives present. This time around my husband got to fulfill the Hollywood directive and boil water—gallons of it, which we used. But if you want to find out what it was used for you are going to have to ask him about it. By the time our sixth child was born last September his role had morphed significantly from that of his father—Steve caught our third son as the midwife looked on from across the room. Perhaps this son will catch his children while a midwife paces in the waiting room like my father-in-law did so many years ago.

Posted 10 months, 1 week ago at 1:06 pm.

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Punishment vs. Discipline in Parenting

In class Sunday night we were covering one of the post-partum units, which touched on parenting styles. I tried a new exercise where I had the expectant parents each fill out a “Parenting Values/Actions” summary, then compare their answers to see how close they were to their partner. Of course I assured them that even though they would have answers now…they WOULD change as they actually become parents. “I was such a better parent before I had children” the saying goes. ;-) I’ll readily admit that I’m not a perfect parent, and sometimes I wonder if the reason God has blessed me with 6 children is because I haven’t quite learned enough from being a parent yet.

The survey included a question about spanking, and I very purposefully did not say more about the topic beyond “it’s a big topic to consider and discuss.” Getting into that discussion could have easily derailed the class, and led to us not covering other important things I wanted to cover in class.

As fate (God?) would have it, the very next morning Continue Reading…

Posted 1 year ago at 12:54 pm.

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Does the Bible Declare That Childbirth is Meant to Be Excruciating?

The idea that childbirth is excruciatingly painful is cultural norm in America.  It is the topic of jokes.  I was told in my first pregnancy by one of the OB’s providing my care that I would be “begging for drugs in the parking lot [of the hospital]“-which of course only made me more determined NOT to ask for drugs.  The idea that birth is meant to be painful even led to some religious groups opposing the use of pain medications in the 1800’s. I’ve even heard it mentioned during sermons as being Biblical.

So where does the Bible say that childbirth is meant to be excruciating…or does it REALLY say that? Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 12:02 am.

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No, I’m Not Going to Columbia for Six Months

Yoplait sparked controversy with a "mail in the lid" campaign. Yoplait had promised 10 cents a lid, but consumers would pay nearly four times that on the stamp to send one in. That’s money that could have just been given directly to breast cancer research. Second, Yoplait dairy products were made using artificial bovine growth hormones (called rBGH), which are thought to increase the risk of breast and colon cancers.

Yoplait sparked controversy with a "mail in the lid" campaign. Yoplait had promised 10 cents a lid, but consumers would pay nearly four times that on the stamp to send one in. That’s money that could have just been given directly to breast cancer research. Second, Yoplait dairy products were made using artificial bovine growth hormones (called rBGH), which are thought to increase the risk of breast and colon cancers.

If you are on Facebook perhaps you remember the bra color statuses?  And the purse locations?

Its back again.  And I’m annoyed.  Really. Not with the person who sent me the e-mail asking me to post “I’m going to Columbia for six months” in the name of breast cancer awareness…but with the whole pink-washing of our culture that has been going on since the pink ribbon debued in the early 1990’s and led to the New York Times dubbing breast cancer “this year’s hot charity” in 1996.

I will not participate. 

Why? Well first of all, unlike the bra color and purse location ideas…this one requires me to post a lie in my status.

But really, beyond that, is “awareness” really necessary? Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 2:43 pm.

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Are You Still Moving?

So how are you doing on your fitness resolution?  I hope you got some exercise in today!

My review today is of Denise Austin’s Fit & Firm Pregnancy.  Denise has written 10 books on fitness and was in the longest running exercise program on TV.  I first discovered her program on Lifetime in 2000 when I was pregnant with my second daughter, Katie.  I used her program to help in loosing 60 lbs after Katie’s birth. My kids love her Fit Kids DVD. So I had high expectations for this DVD.

Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 12:03 am.

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Are You a “FitMama?”

Today’s review is of Leisa Hart’s fitmama prenatal workoutLeisa is a Buns of Steel instructor, so I expected this workout to be very different from yesterday’s prenatal yoga, and I was not disappointed in that.

The package description lets you know that this workout includes 20 minutes of Salsa Dance, 20 minutes of Yoga Fat Burn, 6 minutes of Labor & Delivery Prep, and 8 minutes of Prenatal Stretch and Relax.  Bonus features that I discovered once I put the DVD in my player included an “Easing Labor” segment that displayed a lunge, forward lean, and squat that could be helpful in labor and a “Bonus Stretch” segment that focused on lower body stretches. I found the menu to be well laid out, including an option to choose exercise tracks rather than having to use the fast-forward feature as would be needed with the prenatal yoga DVD from yesterday. I have a 2003 version of the DVD, but it was re-released in 2008.

This DVD also includes an introductory segment explaining what will be required in the work out, and safety precautions.  Leisa reviews ACOG guidelines on exercise and stresses that it is important to be hydrated before, during, and after exercise.

The exercise starts off with the Salsa Dance segment, which is Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 4:05 pm.

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Did You Make a Pregnancy Fitness Resolution?

Perhaps one of the most common New Year’s resolution themes is related to being more fit…and I hope all my pregnant readers are striving to stay fit.  Exercise during pregnancy may reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes, may reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia,  and may even help in pushing efforts during labor.  If that isn’t enough, Fit Pregnancy has an article listing 33 benefits to exercise during pregnancy.  So if you have chosen to put physical activity on your New Year’s resolution list…this week I’m hoping to offer you some guidance on home exercise programs by reviewing some prental fitness DVD’s.

Today is a gentle start with Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea .  The description for this DVD includes an approximate run time of 70 minutes and says

Focussed on helping you feel comfortable, relaxed and fit during pregnancy, this workout will increase your energy and stamina, and build strength, flexibility and balance….The gentle stretches help reduce fatique, tension and tightness, while promoting relaxation and improved circulation.”

So, set to work on my own resolution to exercise more, I popped this DVD in, and let it go.  Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 1:04 am.

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Will Your New Year’s Celebration Harm Your Baby?

Keeping in mind that I drink a glass of wine MAYBE once every month (the Cranberry Wine from Sorrenti is a seasonal favorite in our house), and I’ve got some “sparkling cider” chilling in the garage to ring in the New Year with…so its not like I’m some kind of a lush…

It’s New Year’s Eve Day and so the internet is awash in what else…an article that intends to instill fear in breastfeeding mothers who just wanted to enjoy a toast to the New Year…

Mother Kills Son While Breastfeeding Him Drunk” reads the headline…which is of course eye catching.  But the story its self is full of holes. Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 6:20 pm.

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Old Wives’ Tales on Labor Induction

I recently discovered a new book about childbirth and pregnancy (which I’ll more fully review later…when I can actually fit it into my Financial Peace budget) called The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby.  The author of this book has an adorable blog…and this past May she blogged about Old Wives’ Tales on Labor Induction as she anticipated the birth of her 3rd child.  Now if you have followed my blog or Facebook page for long, you probably know that I’m not actually a big fan of even “natural” labor induction that is not done for medical reasons because of how induction raises the risk of complications like cesarean…but in the interest of answering questions for those of you who have decided that induction is the best option for you, I’ll review the methods Erin blogged about.

Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 3:03 am.

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