Archive for March, 2008

Childbirth Options

Care Providers

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): a registered nurse who has completed an advanced course of study and is certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. A midwife is trained to care for women during pregnancy, labor and the postnatal period; conduct normal deliveries, and care for newborn babies under normal circumstances. (source)

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): A CPM is a direct-entry practitioner who has met all the certification standards set by the North American Registry of Midwives. What distinguishes a CPM from other nationally certified midwives is that CPMs primarily attend to out-of-hospital births and are trained via a competency-based model of education. (source)

Obstetrician: a physician that specializes in caring for pregnant women through childbirth. Women with complicated or difficult pregnancies make up a majority of their work. Many obstetricians also train as gynecologists so they are able to give medical advice and treatment concerning a woman’s reproductive system. (source)

*Obstetrics is the surgical specialty dealing with the care of a woman and her offspring during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (period shortly after birth). Midwifery is the equivalent non-surgical specialty. (source)*

Doula: one who accompanies a woman in labor, taking care of her emotional needs throughout childbirth. A doula also provides support and suggestions for partners that can enhance their experiences of birth. A doula does not deliver the baby or have a clinical role at the birth. (source)

Birthing Locations

Hospital Birth: Traditional hospital births (in which the mother-to-be moves from a labor room to a delivery room and then, after the birth, to a semi-private room) are still the most common option. In a traditional hospital birth, doctors “manage” the delivery with their patients. In many cases, women in labor are not allowed to eat or drink (possibly due to anesthesia or for other medical reasons), and they may be required to deliver in a certain position. Pain medications are available during labor and delivery; labor may be induced, if necessary; and the fetus is usually electronically monitored throughout the labor. (source)

Birth Center: a homelike setting where natural childbirth is the focus. Since epidural anesthesia is not typically offered, women are free to move around in labor, get in positions that are most comfortable to them, spend time in the jacuzzi; or otherwise deal with the labor in a proactive manner. The baby is monitored frequently in labor typically with a handheld Doppler. Comfort measures such as hydrotherapy, massage, warm and cold compresses, and visualization and relaxation techniques are often used. The woman is free to eat and drink as she chooses. (source)

Home birth: childbirth that occurs outside a hospital or birthing center setting, usually in the home of the mother. Home births are usually attended by a midwife (or other attending medical professional) but there are some occasions when this does not happen. If labor progresses rapidly the midwife may not have arrived in time to catch the baby, but would then give immediate postnatal care. In rare cases the decision may be made to give birth without any medical professional present – this is sometimes known as an “unassisted home birth”. (source)

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The Best Breast Milk

I came across an interesting article in a current women’s magazine. According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, moms who ate more organic meat and dairy had higher levels of a fatty acid called CLA. CLA has been shown to boost immune systems in newborns and decrease the risk for eczema. You can read more about it here.

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La Leche League

In my breastfeeding “career” (those many years with a child at the breast), La Leche League has been an incredible resource for me. Now, I fully understand (and I have experienced it myself) that often when people hear La Leche League, they cringe and fear that those involved in the organization are so committed to breastfeeding that they forget the mother behind the breasts. While I have encountered one leader with that attitude, the people involved in the organization have been overwhelmingly helpful and encouraging.

The basic philosophy of La Leche League is summarized in the following statements:

  • Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby.
  • Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply.
  • In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.
  • Breast milk is the superior infant food.
  • For the healthy, full-term baby, breast milk is the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids, about the middle of the first year after birth.
  • Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need.
  • Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
  • Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby’s father. A father’s unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child’s development from early infancy.
  • Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
  • From infancy on, children need loving guidance which reflects acceptance of their capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings.

La Leche League leaders are mothers, just like us. They are well trained, having gone through training, required readings and mentoring by an established leader to earn their accreditation. They provide support in a number of ways. First, they run monthly meetings where nursing mothers gather, ask questions, and can see each other nurse in a safe, supportive environment. I have found wonderful camaraderie at these meetings and often, all a new mom needs is to see another mother nursing to gain the confidence she needs to continue in her journey.  Children are always welcome at meetings. Sometimes moms choose to come to only one meeting; sometimes moms choose to attend meetings throughout her entire pregnancy and nursing relationship. Either way is perfectly fine and acceptable. If you’d like to attend a meeting, know that you are welcome whether it is for one meeting or for many years. You can find your local meetings by clicking here and choosing your country from the grey bar just below the logo.

Leaders also provide breastfeeding support even if you don’t desire to ever attend a meeting. Leader’s phone numbers are listed and they welcome phone calls with breastfeeding questions and for those seeking support. Additionally, the La Leche League website offers a chat-style support and forums for asking questions. All questions will be answered by a La Leche League Leader.

I have found La Leche League to be a wonderful source of information and support in my breastfeeding season of my life.

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Fish consumption during Pregnancy

62529123erbxpm0ximg_4227.jpgI LOVE fish! I actually love to go fishing as much as I love to eat it. When I was 4 months pregnant, my husband, my father, and I went on an overnight fishing trip out of San Diego. Just last week we all went deep sea fishing in Mexico and in a few weeks Piney Run will hold it’s annual spring fishing tournament. Ahh, fishing! But wait, what is a woman to do of childbearing age? I did a lot of research with my first pregnancy and found that large predatory fish such swordfish and shark contain the highest levels of mercury and are therefore unsafe for consumption. These larger fish have lived longer so they have the highest levels of mercury because they’ve had more time to accumulate it (source). Too much mercury may damage your baby’s developing nervous system (source). According to the EPA, by adhering to the following advice, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and can be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

  1. Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
  2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
    • Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
    • Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
  3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during that week.

The Mayo Clinic also suggests the following:

To avoid ingesting harmful bacteria or viruses, avoid raw fish and shellfish — especially oysters and clams — and anything caught in polluted water. Refrigerated smoked seafood is also off-limits, unless it’s an ingredient in a casserole or other cooked dish. Most fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F. The fish is done when it separates into flakes and appears opaque throughout. Cook shrimp, lobster and scallops until they’re milky white. Cook clams, mussels and oysters until their shells open. Discard any that don’t open.

Since Seafood can be a great source of protein and iron, and the omega-3 fatty acids in many fish can help promote your baby’s brain development, I try to eat the allotted amount and type of fish, but I also take fish oil supplements. Check out Swanson vitamins for the best selection and prices on supplements. Because the Swanson site can be overwhelming, they have product guides on their site. The Essential Fatty Acid Guide is what you would want to review, in this case, and DHA is the specific EFA that I have discussed as far as promoting brain development. If you’re a member of Costco, they also have great prices, but with only one or two choices.

Best wishes for yummy eating and lucky fishing (if you’re into that kind of thing)!

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Pride

“Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it.” – Buddy Robinson

I’m sorry if I’ve made anyone sick lately. Please forgive me. I’m still working on it.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Prov. 11:2
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Prov. 13:10
A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor. Prov. 29:23
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Ecc. 7:8
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Phil 2:3

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Shannon’s Birth Story

I always enjoy exchanging birth stories, so here is the story of our journey through my pregnancy and labor of our first child.

It all started with asking my mother questions about how I was born. I had heard the story several times before but now I was much more interested since I would be experiencing childbirth shortly, too. I weighed 10 lbs and my mom actually had me with no pain medication. After hearing that she was in labor for 60 hours and had pitocin and then managed to have me with no pain medication I knew I could also do it without pain medication. I asked her if she would get me a natural childbirth book for Christmas and right away I was hooked. I read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon and signed up for classes soon afterwards.

I started my pregnancy seeing an OB/GYN, but once we started the Bradley classes and asked our OB/GYN many questions, I decided it would be best for me to switch to a midwifery practice. I thoroughly enjoyed the Bradley Method® classes I was taking and I couldn’t wait until the next week of class to learn something new.

My husband Billy and I weren’t great at practicing labor techniques but I tried to do it alone as much as I could. We decided when I was 8 months pregnant to ask our Bradley teacher to attend our birth as our doula. She was very supportive and is also a fellow believer so I felt that it would be a blessing to have her there.

I was 2 days away from my due date when I went to bend over and felt a small gush of water. I was sure that my bag of waters did not break because it was just enough to change my underwear but not enough to change my pants. At that point, I our doula and told her what had happened. She told me to give her a call when contractions started.

We went to a party and once arriving back at home with a movie rental I decided that instead of watching it, I was going to go to bed. Around 1 am I woke up to use that bathroom when I realized that I had a bloody show. I got back in bed to try to get more sleep but then realized I was having contractions. I went downstairs to tell Billy and he didn’t seem to believe me because I was so calm. I decided to get in the bathtub to relax for a while. My contractions were coming 8 minutes apart.

After the bath we went to bed, but I was so excited I could not sleep. I let Billy sleep but I just laid in bed, dreaming of holding our precious baby boy. Around 5 am I called the birth center and our doula to let them know that I was in labor. My contractions were coming about 7 minutes apart. I took another bath and checked my bag to make sure everything was there. We left for the birth center at 6 am.

Once there the midwife did a pelvic exam and said that I was 3 centimeters. The center had a policy of not accepting patients until they were at least 4 centimeters dilated so we met up with our doula and decided to go for a walk. I walked and would stop for each contraction leaning against Billy and trying to relax. We decided to walk to breakfast and once we were inside, the contractions became more intense. I felt strange being in public in labor. I wonder what those people were thinking. I wasn’t making strange noises or anything (at least not yet) but I was putting my head on the table or trying to get into a comfortable position with each contraction. Once we were finished with breakfast we walked back to The Maternity Center and got comfortable in a room.

It was about 11 and the midwife did a pelvic exam and said that I was about 5 centimeters dilated. I thought at that point that I might be in labor all day. I was trying to get comfortable in the room and the funniest thing happened. My doula was trying to set the mood so she turned on a calming water fountain that they had in the room. Instead of the soothing sound of water it let out this wretched noise. It was hilarious. I was laughing so hard.. that is, until another contraction came.

I decided it was time to get into the tub. There were candles lit and the water was warm. I soaked for almost an hour. Once I got out of the tub I laid on my side trying to relax with each contraction. Billy was on the bed lightly stroking me. In between contractions I mostly prayed and dreamed of my baby being born.

About 2 hours later I decided it was time to get back into the bathtub. Once I got in the tub and relaxed, my contractions started to come closer and stronger. While I was in transition and starting to make noises, I heard the midwife on the phone across the hall calling for a back-up midwife.My son was born the day before Memorial day so a lot of people had family in town or could not be reached. I knew that she could tell things were starting to get more intense when she said to someone on the other side of the phone that she needed someone there soon because “this young girl here is going to be having a baby soon.” She finally found someone and came to check on me.

At this point she had me stand up to do a pelvic exam. She said that I was 9 centimeters dialated. I was ready to lay back down in the tub when she said to me “okay, it is time to get out.” I wasn’t too happy about that. Once I was out which took a lot of effort and help from Billy, I sat on the birthing stool. The midwife came into the room and asked to break my water. She said that the back-up midwife was worried that there was meconium in my bag of waters. We asked her to give us a minute so that we could talk. When she came back in we told her we would rather her not break my bag of waters. We did not feel it was necessary since there were no signs of stress from the baby.

Because I was starting to feel pressure about how long things were taking, I decided that I would go sit on the toilet and push. After a few pushes “pop” my water broke. My doula told the midwife. She told me to lay down so that she could do another pelvic exam (ugh, again) to see if it was time for me to push. I tried a few different positions pushing but I ended up on my side which at the time was not very comfortable. After about 40 minutes of pushing my baby was born. It was such a joyful experience. As my baby lay on my stomach all I could do is sob and thank God for giving me a healthy baby boy.

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Easter Books & Activities

What activities do you do with your children? Here are some ideas. Please comment with your own!

Books:

1. Read the “Easter story” straight from your Bible — Matthew 27 on Good Friday and Matthew 28 on Easter morning

51tvkd4y1tl_aa240_.jpg2. Read The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt — this is a beautiful American folktalke for grade school children about three trees whose wishes come true in surprising ways. It’s a perfect culmination of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death & resurrection. I read it to my public school class every year at Easter as an “American folktale!”

3. Read younger children The Story of Easter by Patricia A. Pingry — a board book with few words and bright illustrations.

4. Read Peter Cottontail’s Easter Book by Lulu Delacre — Peter Cottontail leads readers through pages, accompanied by the nursery song “Itisket, Itasket,” and his own commentary. Interspersed are sections on crafts and customs, both religious and secular. Most appropriate for grade school children and mature preschoolers.

5. Read Easter by Gail Gibbons — an explanation of the religious aspect of Easter geared for preschool through early grade school children. Jesus’ life and death are treated briefly but with enough detail to provide a basic introduction to the subject. The crucifixion is shown from afar to soften its cruelty, and afterward the risen Jesus happily astonishes his followers. Next the symbols of candles and spring flowers lead logically into a discussion of the other aspects of the holiday, including Easter egg decoration, hunts, and baskets; Eostre, the spring goddess who gave the day its name; and the special Easter foods and clothes.

Activities

1. Color Easter Eggs — to add a little spice for primary grade school kids, buy two or three different kits and do an experiment to see which brand yielded the brightest colors and make a note of it for next year’s purchase. With my 4th graders one year we made a list of the most important criteria such as, quality of supplies, clarity of directions, lowest price, brightness, and add-ons, and then we rated each brand on a scale of 1-4. Whichever brand yielded the highest score was the winner. The kids asked their moms buy that brand before Easter. Click here for more ideas.img_6342.jpg

2. Easter Egg hunt — my parents woke up early every year to hide the REAL eggs we colored the day before. They were always on one floor of the house and there was a little added pressure to find all of the eggs because if we didn’t, we would smell them in a few days. Of course you can do the traditional way too — fill and hide plastic eggs and be sure to invite lots of kids! That’s what we did last year when our son was only 4 months old (see photo).

3. Easter basket hunt — we also had to find our Easter basket. When we were younger, it was in easy to find places like beside the couch or on top of the TV. As we got older it would appear in the dryer or on a hanger in the coat closet. Then in college (oh yes, we still did this in college) we would have to get hints because they were so hard to find we’d look forever! Be sure to label the basket with your kids’ names and tell them if they find their siblings’ basket to walk away quietly.

4. Make something crafty with your kids. For some great ideas go to Kaboose or Family Fun.

5. Buy, or better yet make, something special for their Easter basket. Check out these Easter lambs and bunnies at Etsy!

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