Friday, June 29, 2007

sometimes i'm an a**hole

so my favorite aunts are leaving for a year. they are moving to california for work. i'm happy for them because it's a great adventure and they'll have a wonderful time BUT i'm going to miss them. and i'm sad because my daughter LOVES her aunties so so so much. and my son is only 4 months old. he'll be nearly 18 months when they get back and that is breaking my heart.

so i'm feeling down about it and what do i do? i call my best friend to complain.

what's wrong with that you might ask? well here's the thing. i called my best friend of almost 25 years to essentially say "poor me, i'm going to miss my aunts for a year". and she dutifully comforted me and told me it was okay to be sad.

well she should know about sad. my best friend lost her mother to cancer less than 2 months ago. so i'm complaining about a year away from my aunts and she's dealing with the rest of her life without her mother. i'm a jackass.

i don't even want to get into how i made it even worse by complaining about my kids missing their aunts. i just want to say that i'm a self absorbed jackass. it didn't even occur to me until much later in the day and i haven't been able to apologize to her yet but maybe she'll read this and know that i'm sorry.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

safe sipping continued

i'm actually having heart palpitations as i go through my cupboard and find that most of my daughter's cups are #7. NOT SAFE FOR CHILDREN.

this is going to be one more expense that makes my husband crazy. i can just see his eyes rolling now.

here's a link to someone who tested non plastic cups.

and here's a mainstream news story about this just in case you thought i was making this stuff up!

sometimes i wish i didn't know these things. :(

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

what ISN'T going to kill us?

my sister was kind enough to forward me this information about the plastic used in baby bottles and sippy cups.  luckily for me, my kids never had bottles and their sippy cups seem to be okay (sort of).

anyways, i thought i would share this tidbit with you so everyone can become as paranoid as i am. 

Dr. Fred vom Saal has been researching BPA for decades. He is a Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri. He was recently on the radio show,
Ontario Today, on CBC. This is a summary of what he had to say about the dangers of plastics and our food:

Hard, clear plastics, that are glass-like, are generally not safe.
They are Polycarbonate plastic, and contain BPA. BPA is a very potent sex hormone, and was considered for birth control drugs in the 1950s. Most plastics with a #7 in the recycling symbol have BPA as well as Nalgene bottles. It poses a real problem for adults, but especially for children. However, this type of plastic is often used in sippy cups, baby bottles, etc. Here are some simple rules to remember:

If it is clear, hard plastic, do not use it! When exposed to heat, the chemical BPA is broken down and is released into liquid in bottle.
Avoid #7 plastic Nalgene containers are not safe, contrary to popular belief. They contain BPA.

Brita containers themselves are not safe. Brita containers are clear, hard plastic, and have BPA-so it leaches out the chemical  into the water again! The older the container is, the more BPA will leach into water. However, carbon filters (like Brita filters) remove BPA and other plastic chemicals (i.e. PVC) and are in fact the only way to get out these toxins. These chemicals are in water supply, and no municipal water treatment removes them.

Tupperware: many different types. If material is not hard and glasslike, not clear, it does not contain BPA, and is good for freezing food. However, don't put any hot foods into them. There is no such thing as a safe, heatable, microwaveable plastic.  The hotter molecules are the more leaching that will occur.  Don't use hard, clear plastic storage containers, especially under heat, and warmth.

Baby bottles: there are types of bottles on the market that do not contain BPA. However, many have BPA. Smaller, glass baby bottles are best. Baby bottles that you can't see through will not contain BPA.  Don't heat them, and they will not leach the sex hormone BPA into baby foods.


Plastic #2 (polyethylene), #4, and #5 (polypropylene) are not clear and are safer to use.  However, note cautions below.

Glass containers do not leach out anything.

Metal-lined containers (some sports water bottles are like this) do not leach out.

It is voluntary whether a number is put on plastic Water bottles (#6-polystyrene) - not as bad as #7 and #3 (which should be avoided at all costs, especially for men and boys).  However, #6 has toxicity associated with it. Don't use it.
Pop bottles, and some water bottles use plastic #1 (a polyethylene base, or PET, is safer). However, don't reuse it, it becomes  dangerous after approximately 15 uses, as it emits the chemical antimony. These containers are best for single use only. The longer water is in plastic #1, the greater the risk of chemicals leaching out of it. It is meant to be recycled after single use.

delaying solids...

i know the temptation to give your 4 month old some rice cereal or pureed carrots. believe me, i understand how cute it is and how much fun it is to see witness their first attempts at eating "food". but please stop yourself! hold on... a baby doesn't NEED solids and actually is BETTER OFF without them for the first 6 months of life. the benefits of delaying solids until 6 months far outweigh the "cuteness factor" of feeding a 4 month old something his or her body isn't ready for.

and while we're at it, did you know that the la leche league does NOT recommend that cereal be your babies first food? instead of a highly processed food, they recommend starting with fesh fruit and veggies like avocado or banana. and again, they reccomend this starting at 6 months of age and not before.


Reasons for delaying solids

Although some of the reasons listed here assume that your baby is breastfed or fed breastmilk only, experts recommend that solids be delayed for formula fed babies also. Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness. Although babies continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they nurse, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains
50+ known immune factors, and probably many more that are still unknown.

One study has shown that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 4+ months had 40% fewer ear infections than breastfed babies whose diets were supplemented with other foods. The probability of respiratory illness occurring at any time during childhood is significantly reduced if the child is fed exclusively breast milk for at least 15 weeks and no solid foods are introduced during this time. (
Wilson, 1998)

Many other studies have also linked the degree of exclusivity of breastfeeding to enhanced health benefits (see
Immune factors in human milk and Risks of Artificial Feeding).

Delaying solids gives baby's digestive system time to mature.
If solids are started before a baby's system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy. Gastric acid and pepsin are secreted at birth and increase toward adult values over the following 3 to 4 months. The pancreatic enzyme amylase does not reach adequate levels for digestion of starches until around 6 months, and carbohydrate enzymes such as maltase, isomaltase, and sucrase do not reach adult levels until around 7 months. Young infants also have low levels of lipase and bile salts, so fat digestion does not reach adult levels until 6-9 months.

Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies.
It is well documented that prolonged exclusive breastfeeding results in a lower incidence of food allergies (see
Allergy References and Risks of Artificial Feeding). From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an "open gut." This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby's bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby's first 4-6 months, while the gut is still "open," antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby's digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also. See How Breast Milk Protects Newborns and The Case for the Virgin Gut for more on this subject.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from iron-deficiency anemia.
The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby's iron absorption. Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores. In one study (Pisacane, 1995), the researchers concluded that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months (and were not give iron supplements or iron-fortified cereals) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at one year than breastfed babies who received solid foods earlier than seven months. The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia. See
Is Iron-Supplementation Necessary? for more information.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.
The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood. (for example, see
Wilson 1998, von Kries 1999, Kalies 2005)

Delaying solids helps mom to maintain her milk supply.
Studies have shown that for a young baby solids replace milk in a baby's diet - they do not add to baby's total intake. The more solids that baby eats, the less milk he takes from mom, and less milk taken from mom means less milk roduction. Babies who eat lots of solids or who start solids early tend to wean prematurely. Delaying solids helps to space babies. Breastfeeding is most effective in
preventing pregnancy when your baby is exclusively breastfed and all of his nutritional and sucking needs are satisfied at the breast.

Delaying solids makes starting solids easier.
Babies who start solids later can feed themselves and are not as likely to have allergic reactions to foods.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

pride in toronto

today was the annual gay pride parade in toronto. i love celebrating pride and i love it more that i can celebrate it with my kids. it's not the easiest task to get a 3 month old and a 2.5 year old ready for a day with 30 degree heat and 1 million spectators. usually there is a large group of us going down together but this year it was just me and my sister. so we braved it alone.

funny enough, not long after we arrived downtown a reporter from the Globe and Mail stopped me to ask me a few questions about attending pride with children. it was a quick interview and i'll be curious to see if anything i said makes it to print. i'll have to remember to check the Globe tomorrow.

sadly my daughter slept through almost the entire parade and missed out on all the fun. of course now i have to deal with the litany of questions about where the parade went! she woke up just in time to get back on the subway and head uptown. maybe next year she'll get to play in the children's area at the Church St. school.

happy pride toronto!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

why i chose unmedicated births

i had unmedicated births with both my kids. in fact i insisted on homebirths to lessen the chances of any medical interventions. i can't take all the credit for the decision. my mother gave birth to her kids (me and my sister) without medications so i always assumed that that was how it was done. it never really occured to me to do it any other way.

another factor was my husband. being from south america, he has a much more natural opinion of childbirth and also didn't think that medications or drugs should be a part of the process.

to be honest, before i became pregnant i knew very little about birthing. but once i knew that i was going to go through it, i began to research. i read books and medical journals, i surfed the net, i talked to everyone i could find.

and my personal opinion was formed using both scientific and anecdotal evidence. my conclusion?

an unmedicated birth reduces risks for both the mother and baby. in turn, epidurals increase the risk for

i have too many friends who had complications with epidurals (one friend's epi went "up" instead of "down" and so she started to suffocate; another friend still has pain in her spine 2 years later). I believe that women absolutely have the right to birth is the way that they are most comfortable. what i take issue with is the manner in which pain relief options are presented. far too many health professionals gloss over the risks or worse, deny that there are any at all. this is not "good medicine". good medicine includes communicating with the patient about the benefits and
risks of their chosen pain relief.

my births were wonderful. in large part because i was not afraid. i felt confident that my body was going to do what it needed to in order to birth my children. i also had the comfort of being in my own home, with only my midwives and my husband in attendance. i felt cared for, loved and unhurried.

those factors allowed me to have an unmedicated birth. it was the memories of my own births that led me to become a doula myself. i hope other women will feel empowered and informed about their birthing options and make use of their inner strength to make their own wonderful memories.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

how fast can you type?

it's happened. both kids are asleep. the panic sets in. where do i start? how much can i get done? my hair needs washing but that's not as important as cleaning out the smelly food in the fridge. but the fish tank has some algae issues. wait i need to send some emails for my dad. crap i think a baby has woken up.... all i got done was posting this blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

routine prenatal ultrasounds? no thanks.

a pregnant friend of mine just told me that she is lucky enough to have a doctor that will give her an ultrasound at every appointment. i didn't tell her that i didn't think that made her "lucky".

perhaps i should have expressed my concerns...

all too often, i hear about women whose experience of pregnancy was one of a medicalized condition rather than a life journey. when a woman finds out that she's pregnant, suddenly she is placed on a roller coaster ride of ultrasounds, glucose tests, blood tests, amniocentisis... it can almost feel as though pregnancy is dangerous to us.pregnancy is a LIFE experience not a MEDICAL experience.

although the mainstream medical community will swear they are perfectly safe, others have raised questions about the long term effects of repeated ultrasounds. the truth is that not enough studies have been done to ensure that we aren't doing damage. even mainstream media such as CNN and BBC have picked up on the issue.the other side of the story is that ultrasounds can only tell us so much. old equipment and unskilled technicians play a huge part is the effectiveness of using ultrasounds for diagnostic purposes.

and for the most part, repeated ultrasounds are just for keeping mom happy.

recently, 3D and 4D ultrasounds have become available across the u.s and even a few in canada. these are even more worriesome as they are being carried out in mall shops; unmonitored and unregulated. even the conservative FDA is concerned.

here is a well researched article with excellent references that looks at the risks of this new "fad".

overall i think it's wise to be err on the side of caution and get only the ultrasounds that are medically neccessary because until someone can prove to me definitively that they are safe, i'm not convinced.

extended breastfeeding?

this is an old post from a blog i wrote for a while in 2005... i ended up breastfeeding my daughter until she was 18 months and she self weaned. i hope to make it to 2 with my son.

on the eve of some good friends having a beautiful baby boy, i was thinking about the term "extended breastfeeding" and how innacurate the term actually is. extended breastfeeding, in north american terms, mean breastfeeding past one year of age. however the World Health Organization recommends babies be breastfed up to two years of age.

As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively
1 for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.2 Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.
therefore, should the term "extended breastfeeding" not be applied until a baby is older than 2?

nothing is more sad than the lack of education and support in north america regarding just how vital breastfeeding is for babies. women who can't breastfeed shouldn't be made to feel bad, there shouldn't be guilt in bottlefeeding but there should be way women doing it. that might seem like a contradictory statement but in my opinion if everyone made a honest effort to breastfeed their children, then the few who couldn't would not feel bad about it and no one would question their situation. as it is now, i constantly hear about women whose breastfeeding attempts were sabotaged by nurses, jealous husbands, mothers and other relatives. and in the end the baby is the one getting the raw deal.

my daughter will be one on february 1st and i DO NOT consider myself to be extended breastfeeding. i consider myself to be taking care of my child's natural needs. our nursing sessions are something sacred in this family and i'm lucky to have a husband that comes from a country where breastfeeding until 2 or 3 is the norm...just for a refresher, here's a great article on the benefits of breastfeeding.

links on the benefits of "extended breastfeeding"

Monday, June 18, 2007

the birth of kalden

the midwives said i was due on march 3rd while i insisted my due date was the 1st. i guess they won this one. ;)
on the 2nd, i woke and and went to my parents house not realizing that my water had broken and was slowly leaking. by around 11am i figured out what was going on and so i called the midwives. they were at the hospital so they told me to come in and get checked. this was my first visit to the L & D ward and i felt uncomfortable and edgy as soon as we arrived.

the midwives checked me out and said indeed, my water was leaking. I had an NST and everything was fine. now the "clock" was ticking on when this baby had to arrive... 24 hours "they" say. so off we went, to walk and walk and walk and get labour started. contractions started and were painful but they were totally irregular. that night they started up but disappeared by morning.

our midwife met us at home in the morning to check out what was happening and she said i was about 4cm but that kalden wasn't low enough to progess any further. 24 hours had come and gone but i wasn't about to give up and go for a hospital birth and induction. so we went and bought the dreaded castor oil.

it was disgusting and did nothing. i had contractions if i was walking and they were crippling but if i stayed still - they stopped. it was infuriating!

at that point the midwife said we had to meet at the hospital to discuss our options. i was devastated and in tears. the thought of having my baby in a hospital terrified me. we got in the car around 4:30 and on the way to the hospital, the contraction started. they were 5 minutes apart and 30-45 seconds long. we had another NST, the contractions were strong and my midwife told us that we couldn't be "forced" to stay in the hospital but that the doctors were HIGHLY recommending that we start an induction.

we left the hospital as fast as we could and on the way home my husband joked that i'm the only person who goes into labour IN the hospital and runs home as fast as i can!

we stopped at my parents house to see our 2 year old daughter and then i requested a hamburger. i wolfed it down and realized that the pain was getting intense. we went home and laid down to sleep. i had the amazing ability to fall asleep between contractions even though they were less than 4 minutes apart!

we both woke up and my husband pointed out that we should probably call the midwives. by the time they arrived, i was in excruciating pain from contstant waves of contractions. it was much more intense than it was with my daughter. i laboured on the toilet for a few minutes and then got into bed and laid on my side.

in transition, i tried to cancel the whole thing and told everyone i was giving up. lol.... then i realized that i needed to push. the midwives agreed and i closed my eyes and was so focussed on pushing that i didn't even realize when kalden was born. suddenly my midwife said "open your eyes" and when i did my son was on my belly.

it was 6:55pm - less than 2.5 hours from start to finish. my beautiful baby boy.

in defense of co-sleeping

InFact Canada released this response to the Ontario Coroner's report which slammed co-sleeping as dangerous.

Thanks to Dani at mom2mom for sharing this.
Last week, Ontario’s deputy chief coroner James Cairns released a widely-publicized report which strongly recommended that parents not sleep in the same bed with their infant children. “We are opposed to co-sleeping, period,” said Cairns.

"The only safe sleeping environment is in a properly manufactured crib with a proper mattress and nothing in it."

Cairns is much too quick to condemn co-sleeping, a normal nurturing tradition that is practiced by the majority of mothers around the globe and has been proven to be beneficial for infants.

The coroner based his conclusions on only 11 infant deaths in 2005 which were attributed to sharing a bed with a parent or sibling. However, at least six of these deaths involved parents who were intoxicated by alcohol or marijuana. Given that over half the deaths attributed to co-sleeping involved other dangerous factors, a wholesale condemnation of bed-sharing is hardly justified. Instead, the coroner should have outlined safe co-sleeping practices, which include never bed-sharing if a parent’s ability to be roused by the infant’s cues is impaired by intoxication, medication, or extreme fatigue.

The coroner’s report is a disservice to Ontario’s families. The importance of co-sleeping is well-documented and substantial. Significantly, during the first few days after birth, co-sleeping allows for immediate breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, which helps to regulate an infant’s heart beat, sleep patterns, and body temperature.

Despite popular myths about the repercussions on children of sharing a bed with parents, studies indicate that infants who co-sleep grow up to have higher self-esteem and less guilt and anxiety. Sleeping next to an infant allows a mother to respond better to her baby’s cues. Research has shown that this increased responsiveness can reduce incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).[1]

Co-sleeping also facilitates breastfeeding. Many mothers have reported deriving great pleasure and comfort from being able to wake up during the night when their nearby baby wants to suckle, and then falling asleep together once the child is full. Co-sleeping allows infants to breastfeed whenever they need to, usually 2-3 times a night.[2]

That’s more often than crib-sleeping babies, who may not get to feed when they need to.

Aside from providing an infant with optimal nutrition, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the incidence of SIDS. Breastfed infants are much less likely to die from SIDS than are bottle-fed infants.[3]

Co-sleeping is part of the normal mother baby relationship and can be done safely. Parents should be made aware of the proper precautions they need to take when sharing a bed with their infant. But outright condemnation of the practice is simply not responsible, especially when it is known that bed-sharing can confer many important benefits to mother and child.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

co-sleeping safely

all week, thanks to Ontario's coroner's report, we've been bombarded with headlines like this:

Does co-sleeping kill?
Dangers of 'co-sleeping
Every parent should know: Co-sleeping kills
Coroner Warns Parents: Don't Take Baby To Bed

first my mother mentioned it - then my husband came home asking me if this stuff is true. i'm at the point where i want to scream! let's examine this a bit closer; the coroner says that co-sleeping is unsafe because last year co-sleeping was attributed to 11 out of 21 "sudden unexpected death syndrome". What the media HASN'T picked up on is that the vast majority of those deaths were ACTUALLY attributed to the co-sleeping parent being intoxicated, heavily medicated, using drugs or other unsafe practises. the act of co-sleeping is not the problem, it's a practise considered normal in most of the world.

Let's just go back to the numbers for a minute. 11 of 21 deaths. so just over 50% right? and where, you might ask were the other deaths? most of them were in a CRIB. so is anyone saying that a crib is unsafe? of course not. because those crib deaths were attributed to unsafe crib practises. having an overcrowded crib is as dangerous as falling asleep drunk with your baby in your arms.

i co-sleep with my babies for the first 6 months. i believe it's not only better for my children's emotional and mental health but i strongly believe that it's safer. i believe in instinctual parenting and my instincts tell me to keep my babies close. and research agrees. studies have shown that co-sleeping babies gain more weight, have lower SIDS rates and that mom ends up with better mental health.

here is a site with great links about co-sleeping:

Guidelines for Sleeping With Your Baby

  • Always place baby to sleep on their back.
  • Baby should sleep next to mother, rather than between mother and father.
  • Take precautions to prevent baby from rolling out of bed. Use a mesh guardrail and be sure the guardrail is flush against the mattress and fill in any crevice with a rolled-up baby blanket or towel.
  • Use a large bed with a mattress that fits snugly against the rail or is flush up against a wall.
  • Don't use fluffy bedding or cover baby with comforters, etc.
  • Do not sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or sleep-inducing over-the-counter medications or if you are overly exhausted from sleep deprivation
  • Do not allow baby-sitters or older siblings to sleep with baby.
  • Don't fall asleep with baby on a couch, bean bag chair or waterbed.
  • Do not let baby sleep unattended on an adult bed.
  • Don't overly bundle baby, because they get additional warmth from the mother's body. Overheating can be dangerous to infants.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

the birth of india

i was 27 when i was pregnant with my first child. an amazing transformation took place in those months; i suddenly became acutely aware of my surroundings, of what i was putting in my body, of what i was watching on tv and of where our precious planet was headed.

suddenly i could not read enough. i literally devoured every website i could find, every book i could check out of the library and soon i found myself at odds with much of the mainstream world.

i decided to have a homebirth with my midwives and i read every study, statistic and article i could find. my instincts told me it was the safest option for me and i soon found that the facts backed me up.

i never worried about my homebirth, people asked me all sorts of questions and i never had a moment's second thought. it was on of the easiest decisions that i've ever made.

labour with india was LOOOOOOONG. i wan 9 days overdue but happy. i went into labour on a Sunday - hung out with my family, walked around the local malls and played cards with my husband. my contractions remained fairly insignificant. i didn't get any sleep at night though, and by monday evening i knew things were getting serious. contractions were more regular and not so much fun anymore. i had a bath and a glass of champagne and revelled in my last moments of "freedom".

by 11:30pm my midwife arrived and settled in. i made her some soup and she took a nap. i was horrified to find out that i was only 3 cm dilated and thought for sure i was going to be in labour forever. by that time i could no longer sit or lie down. it was far too painful and so i walked. i walked up and down and around our apartment. at around midnight my water broke (thanks yoga ball!) and then my midwife says she knew things were picking up because i lost my sense of humour. there was a small amount of meconium in the fluid and we discussed the option of tranferring to a hospital but my instinct told me that all was fine and we stayed at home.

i continued to walk. i had my husband pressing on my lower back through each contraction and i got in and out of the tub and shower to relieve the pain. i tried to meditate through the pain - i used pictures of the dalai lama, i used a prayer wheel, i used my husband.

at one point my midwife told me to eat something to keep up my energy and so i chose some jello. as the early morning approached, i was losing energy and feeling hopeless. i cried. i threw up. i tried to cancel the whole thing.

my husband was a rock throughout everything. he cheered me on, did exactly what i told him to and held me hand the whole time. FINALLY around 6am my secondary midwife arrived and after they checked me they told me that i could start to push whenever i felt the urge. sure enough, a few minutes later i felt that unforgettable sensation. i started pushing while sitting on the toilet (not a pretty image i know) and my midwives helped me focus my energy to get the most out of my contractions. finally my husband looked at me and said "i can see her hair!"

at that point adrenalin kicked in.

they got a mirror and i was able to see the full head of hair that my daughter had. i was so excited. i was about to be a mother.

i pushed some more and then moved to a birthing stool. DH held me up and my midwives guided me through it. once her head was out they suctioned her (because of the meconium) and i noticed my midwives look at each other. i focused on a couple more pushes and out she came. my gorgeous baby girl.

my midwife put india on me and tears of joy and relief poured down my face. i held her and told her a million times that i was her mommy. it was then that they told me she had been born posterior. a sunny side up baby. a 9 pound 3 oz direct OP baby.

within a few seconds, india was breastfeeding and thus began my life as a parent. it's a memory i cherish more than anything. for weeks i felt like a superhero. in fact i think i still feel that way.


i had midwives present at my homebirths and i wouldn't have had it any other way but every woman should decide what's right for them. i can't believe that doctor believes that giving birth "is the most dangerous thing" most women will do in their lives. where do doctors learn to be so fearful of childbirth??
Freebirthers dismiss fear and
bring babies home

POSTED: 1353 GMT (2153 HKT), May 23,

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- They insist they're no superwomen, they have no special powers, and are certainly not pain or adrenaline junkies. But "freebirthers" choose to go through what some call the most painful and potentially frightening experience of a woman's life with no drugs, no midwife and no medical help.
Delivering their own babies at home, often alone, they dismiss what they say is "fearmongering" by doctors and midwives and confidently catch their offspring as they leave the womb.

"Birthing uses the same hormones as lovemaking -- so why would you want anyone poking and prodding you, observing you and putting you under a spotlight?" said Veronika Robinson, an Australian based in Britain who sees growing interest in freebirth among readers of international magazine, "The Mother."

Her comment is echoed by many in online discussion groups about freebirth, where women insist having a baby is as intimate an experience as having sex.

"We were the only people there when she was conceived, and it felt absolutely 100 percent right that we were the only people there when she was born," writes Laura Fields from the United States.

Robinson says medical establishments in Britain and across other westernized nations have for years been "taking something that's natural and making it into a disease," and now, with freebirthing, "women are taking their power back."

Free- or unassisted birth means having a baby with no medical or professional help. In Britain, as in North America, where its popularity is growing, it is legal as long as delivery is not "assisted" by an unqualified partner, friend or husband.

To some, like new mum Janet Sears, the idea of giving birth alone, with no-one around to help if things go wrong, is little short of madness: "It's my idea of hell," she told Reuters.

Intervention and fear

But one of its most prominent supporters, Laura Shanley, an author on childbirth, is now mother to four children -- all of whom were born at home without the help of doctors or midwives. Shanley, who lives in Colorado in the United States, says that in essence birth is only problematic because of three main factors -- poverty, intervention and fear.
As long as clean water and reasonable living standards are available -- as they are to many women in the west -- then the task is to eliminate the other two factors and a natural birth will be as safe as it can be.

"As I began to understand how fear affects the body, and that birth is not inherently dangerous provided we don't trigger the fight-flight response and shut down labor, then to me it was natural to want to just trust myself," she told Reuters.

"It didn't make sense to me that something that ensures the continuation of the race would be a dangerous and scary event."

Diana Drescher, a Dutch freebirthing enthusiast who lives in Britain and wants a fourth baby with her German partner, agrees.

"We've been giving birth for thousands of years and we're still in this world. If it was that dangerous we wouldn't be here," she told Reuters.

Coming from the Netherlands, where there is a more relaxed attitude to birth, Diana finds British medical authorities far too quick to intervene and is determined to have her next baby here with no professional presence. She says she will also avoid being in her partner's native Germany where she says freebirth is virtually impossible without fear of the authorities finding out and intervening.

"I do know some people who have had unassisted births in Germany, but they will not talk about it. It's a very close community that does it and they have to be very careful."

'Most dangerous thing'

Britain's Department of Health frowns on the practice of freebirthing and says every woman should have a midwife.

"The safety of mothers and their babies is our top priority," a spokesman told Reuters. "Midwives are the experts in normal pregnancy and birth and have the skills to refer to and coordinate between specialist services. Every woman needs the care of a midwife in labor and birth and those women with more complex pregnancies may need a doctor too."

And some doctors, as well as some friends and relatives of those who chose to go it alone when they go into labor, are fiercely critical of what they see as a selfish,
reckless, even irresponsible approach to childbirth.

"Dr. Crippen," a British National Health Service doctor who writes an award-winning blog on the Internet, has reacted angrily to growing interest in freebirth, saying babies born this way should have a right to legal recourse later in life. He says "giving
birth is the most dangerous thing that most woman will do during their life,"
and argues:

"Does a mother not owe a duty of care to her baby? Should a
mother not take reasonable care to protect the baby when she gives birth? And if
she does not take reasonable care -- and the standard should be objective not
subjective -- why should a baby who has sustained avoidable brain damage due to
the mother's negligence not take action against his mother?"

If a baby were to die during a freebirth, Dr Crippen argues the mother should be prosecuted for manslaughter.

Mary Siever, a mother of three who lives in Alberta, Canada, said she has experienced the wrath of those around her when they learned she had a baby on her own.

"There are are people who are horrified when they find out that an unassisted birth has taken place," she told Reuters.

"I can't claim to know why they feel this way, but my belief is that the majority of them --
doctors and health authorities -- truly do not think women are intellectually capable of making their own decisions when it comes to birth."

Monday, June 4, 2007

where are all the midwives?

i can't even fathom what my children's births would have been like if i
hadn't had my midwives. they are truly PRICELESS.

From The Toronto Star

The hands in demand
Midwives are wanted more than ever as OB doctors retire, writes Andrea Gordon
May 25, 2007 Andrea Gordon

Dori Skye Engel has a tiny foot wedged high beneath her ribcage. It's been a long time since she could see her own neatly polished toes. And these days it requires a Herculean effort to hoist her toddler.

But still, Skye Engel's blue eyes sparkle. One month before her due date, she radiates that unmistakeable glow.

Pregnancy hasn't always been this serene, though. Two years ago, when just five weeks along with her first child, Skye Engel, 32, was frantic to find a midwife.

"I was on six wait lists in my catchment area, I called all of them every week," recalls the Toronto mom. "That was a pretty big shocker for me."

This is no surprise to midwives who are distressed at the number of women they are forced to turn away. According to the Association of Ontario Midwives, 40 per cent of women seeking midwifery care can't get it. Those in the profession say clients will lie about their due dates, addresses, and use different names to get on wait lists more than once.

"It's really heartbreaking," says Manavi Handa, Skye Engel's midwife at Kensington Midwives in downtown Toronto. "That's how desperate women are."

When she was five months pregnant, Skye Engel got the call she'd been waiting for from Kensington. She and her husband were elated. Four months later, Noah was born at home, all nine pounds, 13 ounces of him.

Now Skye Engel is back at Kensington, listening to the rhythmic swoosh of her second baby's heartbeat on the fetal Doppler, grinning as Handa gently prods the little being that responds with heels and elbows.

Midwifery has come a long way since joining the Ontario health care system 13 years ago.

Midwives have gone from having no hospital privileges to delivering eight per cent of the babies in Ontario says Handa, 35, who has been a midwife for seven years. It has meant more choice for women and families, a boom in midwifery services and a more collaborative and responsive maternity care system.

But the mismatch of supply and demand – which reflects a trend among all maternity care providers, including obstetricians and family physicians – is worrisome.

Kensington's eight midwives, who deliver about 320 babies a year and have privileges at St. Joseph's Health Centre, are among the many who can't meet the demand for their services. Similar tales prevail at practices throughout the GTA.

"You have to call the midwife and get on that list the minute you pee on the stick," says Stephanie Alouche, of Ajax, who had a home birth two years ago, thanks to Sages-Femmes Rouge Valley Midwives, which serves Scarborough and Durham.

The shortage of midwives also creates a conundrum for the profession, adds Elizabeth Brandeis of the Toronto Midwives Collective, a group of 10 who deliver a total of 300 babies a year – two-thirds at Mount Sinai Hospital, the rest at home.

"We're hesitant to promote our services because there isn't the access, but that's exactly what we need to do ... In order to really be providing choice to the women of Ontario, it's important they have access to midwifery."

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, which over the years has become a big supporter of accredited midwives, has been warning for several years now that a crisis is looming in obstetrical care. Nearly one in three OBs is expected to retire from full-time practice over the next five years. Among family physicians, 13 per cent delivered babies in 2004, down from 36 per cent in 1990. And 36 per cent report they do not provide any maternity or newborn care in their practice.

Midwives would like to fill the gap and cite three areas that need to be addressed:

A raised cap on the number of midwives licensed to work in each hospital. Busy collectives can't hire more midwives unless they can promise them hospital privileges. Otherwise, those entering the field can't practise.

Adding spots at the province's three education programs at Ryerson University in Toronto, McMaster University in Hamilton and Laurentian University in Sudbury, which graduate a total 40 to 60 new midwives each year. As well, expand the accelerated program for midwives trained in other countries.

Create birthing centres that would take the pressure off hospitals.

Handa stresses that greater reliance on midwives is cost-efficient. Ten midwives might bring in a caseload equal to that of two obstetricians. But their patient-centred personal care, including 45-minute appointments and continuous emotional support, also means clients tend to leave hospital more quickly, require fewer medical interventions, and receive attentive prenatal and postnatal care. All of which translate to lower costs for the health care system. They are also the only regulated professionals to accommodate home births.

Many midwives are concerned about mounting C-section rates – currently about 25 per cent of all deliveries – and the medicalization of childbirth by specialists whose training focuses on high-risk situations and intervention. The price is fear and apprehension that translates even to women in low-risk labour and delivery. "When does a woman ever get told your body knows what to do?" says Handa.

Adds Brandeis: "A midwife's perspective is that addressing fear with information is probably a healthier place to start."

Personal care was one of the main reasons Lisa Marie Fletcher, of Whitby, wanted to have her babies with a midwife. Now 24 weeks pregnant with her third child, she has received her maternity care from Carole Cameron of Midwifery Services of Durham. Her eldest, 3-year-old William, arrived after a smooth four-hour labour. With her second, a little over a year ago, Fletcher had an hour of contractions, called her midwife and then promptly gave birth to Samuel on the floor of her front hall. Her husband delivered.

"This time around we are hoping for a different kind of home birth," she laughs.

To Fletcher, the most important element of midwifery has been the post-partum care. The midwives were there when Samuel turned blue at two days old and was rushed to intensive care with apnea. They sat with her in the hospital, helped her pump breast milk through the week she couldn't nurse him and helped with the transition when they were finally able to bring the baby home.

Cameron, the first midwife in Ontario to deliver a baby unassisted by a physician just after the legislation passed in 1994, remembers when women had to pay for services and also had to be under a physician's prenatal, labour and delivery care for hospital births.

Since joining the system, midwives can now stand up in hospital rounds, they teach nurses, and work collaboratively with obstetricians

Like many midwives, Cameron joined the profession following the birth of her own children, the first with a physician and the next two with midwives.

"For me, it was about control. I felt as if I gave it all up with my first child." She doesn't blame the people, just the system. "I had to fit."

As midwives, "it's our job to fit the client and what they need."

That's an approach that was hugely important to Alouche as she prepared for the birth of her fourth child. Alouche, 33, had delivered one baby with the OB on call, who wasn't her own; she had one baby induced so her own OB could be there; her third started with midwives and ended up a Caesarean after the baby turned to breech position, which she describes as "the most horrendous experience of my God-given life."

Fourth time round she knew what she wanted: to at least try for a natural vaginal birth at home. She found a midwife who was willing to try. "When I talked, I felt I was being heard. When I said no, she said okay." Alouche delivered Meaghan Rae at home in a joyous bathtub birth two years ago.

For Handa, it's a privilege to be with a woman during the transformative process of birth and motherhood.

"It's the continuity of care that really makes me care. That's what gets me out of my bed at three in the morning."Skye Engel says the trusting relationship with her midwives was what got her through the toughest parts of a home birth.

"People will say to me `I'm not a hero like you.' And I don't understand that. I'm no hero."
Handa doesn't miss a beat on that comment: "As a midwife, I say you are a hero, it doesn't matter how you do it."