This past fall I had the incredible opportunity to study at The Farm, the community where Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives made their home, birthed they children, and their names as pioneers in the modern day American natural birth movement, delivering thousands of babies. All around the world, for centuries, women had been giving birth at home and naturally. By the time many of these midwives had come to have children, the maternal care system had become overly medicalized and severely limiting women's choices. Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives gave women another safe option, and I am so grateful for their bravery, courage, and hard work in paving the way for women to have options in childbirth today. Check out the video below to learn more.
Folic Acid (otherwise known as Folate, in it's non-synthetic form) : we know it's important for a developing fetus, but should everyone be taking folate?? This article contains groundbreaking information on folic acid and an uncommon, but not rare, genetic condition.
"There’s no solid consensus, but some reports state that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of Caucasians and more than 25 percent of Hispanics are unable to metabolize folic acid. Called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, or MTHFR for short, this defect refers to the MTHFR gene, which produces the enzyme responsible for converting synthetic folic acid (what’s found in prenatal vitamins and fortified grains) to methylated folate (the metabolized nutrient that protects against NTDs)."
Read the full article here.
This article is definitely worth a read if you are pregnant and preparing for labor. And especially if you are interested in anatomy! According to the article, it may be particularly applicable if any of the following are present:
A long and difficult labor in which normal remedies (Rebozo Sifting, Position Changes, Spinning Babies Maneuvers) are not fully effective
Persistently malpositioned baby
Highly athletic mother (especially those who are highly athletic into their pregnancy)
History of any trauma in which the ligaments of the pelvis could have been affected (accidents, falls, etc.)
A visible Pelvic Upslip: One (usually left) iliac crest superior to the other, one leg (usually left) functionally shorter than the other.
Finally, earlier this year, New York City unveiled a new in-hospital birthing center. Until recently, our only in-hospital birthing center was the Birthing Center at Mt. Sinai West (formerly known as St. Luke's Roosevelt). As of this winter, women have another in-hospital birthing center option: The Birthing Center at New York Presbyterian/ Lower Manhattan Hospital. I had the pleasure of attending a birth there as a doula just a few weeks ago, and the facilities are beautiful! (Not to mention the birth, too, of course!!)
Hopefully this trend will continue in NYC. There are so many women looking for low intervention birth settings, with the option to labor in a tub amongst other great options available in the birthing center. NYC residents also have the option to give birth at the Brooklyn Birthing Center, an out-of-hospital freestanding birthing center, and New York City's only independent birthing center.
Read more about the opening of Lower Manhattan's Birthing Center here.
If you haven't come across it before, Lamaze's blog, Science and Sensibility, is a great way to stay up to date on recent studies and new information in the maternal/perinatal health world. I recently came across this article and wanted to share it.
This is a relatively new phenomena that has come up in the birth world as more and more research on the significance of gut health and our microbiomes has emerged. In birth, this applies in particular to a vaginal vs. Cesarean birth. During a vaginal birth, the baby is colonized, or "seeded" with bacteria from the mother's vagina, which leads to long term health benefits; in a Cesarean birth, the baby does not have the same bacterial colonization opportunity. It is because of this that some women are looking to simulate this process at the time of a Cesarean.
We are just now beginning to understand that many modern day health conditions, such as colon cancer, Autism, and mental health (just to name a few) are likely affected by the balance, or lack of balance, in good and bad bacteria in our bodies. Think of the recent surge in the understanding and promotion of probiotics, our understanding of antibiotics, and the fermented food movement.
The recent documentary "Microbirth" focuses on bacterial health in birth, as well as some recent articles below. You can also check them out to understand how some women are choosing to take vaginal seeding into their own hands in the event of a Cesarean.
I recently attended a workshop on Essential Oils in Pregnancy and Birth. Big inhale, exhale... there are some great scents that can be used for a variety of ailments, concerns, and comforts. Some are quite powerful! So, what's the right way to use them? Read on for some more info.
Herbs for pregnancy and labor, explained by a doctor.
I have the honor of witnessing my clients give birth as they become mothers in an instant, and then visiting them several days after their baby is born. I love being able to answer newborn questions, to process their birth with them, and to answer newborn care and breastfeeding questions. Many of my clients prefer to go as holistic or natural as possible with caring for their baby in the early days, and even beyond. By the time my clients have "older" babies, I'm long gone! I thought this article would be a great help for parents who are attempting to breastfeed in the most "natural" way possible. This article is by Nancy Mohrbacher, breastfeeding expert.
"Has somebody told you that your baby doesn’t need to breastfeed at night past a certain age? This age often varies by advisor. However, science tells us that in many cases, this simply isn’t true.
Why? Babies and mothers are different and these differences affect baby’s need for night feedings. Some babies really do need to breastfeed at night, at six months, eight months, and beyond. This is in part because if their mother has a small “breast storage capacity” and tries to sleep train her baby, her milk production will slow, along with her baby’s growth. To find out what this means and if this applies to you, you need to know the basics of how milk production works."
Read the rest of the article here.
I love this article! Read the full text here.
"The problem with saying “It doesn’t matter how you give birth” is that if women take that to heart, they may not take the time to educate themselves on their choices or vet potential providers to find the right fit since the birth process doesn’t really matter anyway. Empowerment starts with women educating themselves on the childbirth process and understanding that they are the drivers of that process. Birth attendants are primarily experienced navigators who know what to do if inclement weather hits or if the car breaks down. They should not take the wheel unless there is truly no other choice.
Childbirth is the likely the hardest, most overwhelming thing a woman will ever do, so of course those experiences matter. If you walk away from your birth feeling powerless, that’s important. No matter how your baby ultimately enters the world, how you experience birth and how empowered you feel throughout the process does matter. Let’s stop telling women that it doesn’t."
You've chosen your doctor or your midwife; you've decided on the hospital, the birthing center, or giving birth at home; you've decided on a natural birth or that you'll use pain medication or maybe something in between; you have a list of baby names; you have the baby gear list... so what's missing? Your doula, of course! For some couples, whether or not to hire a doula is not an easy choice. One of the main concerns I hear from couples - especially those who are planning to have a natural birth with full support of their partner - is that they wonder if a doula is really necessary. Completely valid question. Below is an article that gives you some perspective on the Doula and the Dad - although prefer to use the term " birth partner" as there's not always a dad in every birthing couple!
"But doulas aren't there only for moms-to-be. They also play a key role in helping their partners, offering them invaluable emotional and practical support during the overwhelming experience of childbirth. "I see myself as having many roles, fitting in where I am needed, lifting up and supporting the partner in order for them to support the laboring mom," says Zoe Etkin, a birth and postpartum doula and women's sexual health coach in Los Angeles. "Looking back on the birth, I hope they will both remember how connected they were, and I will just fade into the background. Although I believe my role is important, it's ultimately about the birthing couple."
Even so, it's common for dads-to-be to worry that having a doula during delivery might push them out of the main labor support role. Doulas insist that couldn't be further from the truth. "I'm there to accentuate their involvement, not to take their place," explains Gena Kirby, a doula of 10 years, childbirth educator, and host of Progressive Parenting radio. "Partners have taught me so much over the years about different ways to approach different personalities and births."
Full article here.
These 6 principals by Lamaze are great way to set yourself up for a healthy birth. Take a look at this quick and easy-to-understand video below.