Posts Tagged "midwifery"

International Day of the Midwife

Posted on May 5, 2011 in Maternity Care Options | 2 comments

International Day of the Midwife

I just got back from the dentist. I really dislike going to the dentist but I needed a filling so there I was, lying in the chair, upside down, with my standard issue protective glasses, feeling very anxious. From my vantage point I could see a small bit of the ceiling tile, a big square bright light, and the faces of the dentist and the dental assistant. They were talking back and forth about something banal in the office. They passed instruments back and forth above me. My fists were clenched. The noise of the drill echoed in my head and I smelled burning tooth. At one point, the dentist was pushing hard on my jaw in a way that was painful. I was having a hard time swallowing. With the rubber dam in, I couldn’t speak or ask them to stop. I didn’t understand everything that they were doing, nor did I know what all of the tools were for. No one saw the need to explain step by step what was happening. I was powerless. I had no choice but to defer to the dentist because he has Knowledge that I do not. And I thought to myself, “this is not natural.” And then, with relief and wonder I thought, “Thank goodness the births of my children were not like this.” And I felt terribly sorry for the many many women who experience their children’s births the same way I experience the dentist. I thought of that ridiculous comparison between natural childbirth and having a tooth pulled without anesthetic. I thought of all the ways that medicine and power and birth are in such a huge big jumble in our culture. So today, International Day of the Midwife, while I was at the dentist I felt love, respect and gratitude for all the midwives out there: The ones who, in a world where birth often looks like this: photo credit: Mwesigwa can make it look like...

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Begin at the Beginning

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 in Childbirth Options, Featured, Parenting | 9 comments

Begin at the Beginning

Forgive me for being a bit obvious here: Natural Parenting came pretty naturally to us. When I look at the list of principles that make up the natural parenting philosophy, I identify with so many of them that it’s hard for me to think of just one that might resonate more than another. I can’t even really pinpoint how or when I came to incorporate them into my life. Sometimes I end up in a situation (like the sign-in sheet at La Leche League meetings) when I am asked where I first heard of La Leche League or co-sleeping, or when did I first become interested in homeschooling or midwifery, or when did I decide to breastfeed and to leave my son intact, and I just can’t say. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about those things, yet the truth is that somewhere in my twenties I must have started absorbing the Natural Parenting principles from somewhere, little by little. I have a feeling that the process was very organic, each of these ideas meshing with some part of who I was already. There were no epiphanies; just a feeling that “hey, this makes sense—how could I do it any other way?” If I had to say what opened the door for natural parenting in my life, I’d have to start at the beginning, and for me, that is homebirth. I was born at home and thus, all my life I’ve understood homebirth as a legitimate option. In grade school, I was more interested in the fact that I could wow my classmates as the only one not born in a hospital. I didn’t give much thought to the significance in terms of birth options or maternity care reform, but subconsciously I must have realised that I was proof that hospitals were NOT a vital part of the process of birthing a baby. In University I took a class on the Psychology of Health where one section looked at maternity care around the world. I was instantly enraptured by the system in the Netherlands. In the Dutch system, prenatal care is delivered by midwives and general practitioners, unless the patient is deemed high risk and transferred to the care of an obstetrician. Thirty percent of Dutch births take place at home and every new mother receives free daily in-home post-natal care visits by a nurse who helps with chores and gives assistance establishing breastfeeding. Sitting in this class in my early 20’s I knew that I would be seeking midwifery care for my own pregnancies. Midwifery care was attractive to me in the beginning primarily because the midwifery model of care is so strikingly different than the medical model. For a really in depth explanation, I highly recommend Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, but in a nutshell, the midwifery model of care views pregnancy and childbirth as normal, natural parts of life.  The midwifery model believes that birth unfolds best when left alone and that the fewer the interventions the better. Even though I’d never been pregnant before that rang true for me; I didn’t believe that pregnancy was a disability or that birth was an emergency waiting to happen. I guess what it came down to is that midwifery validated what I’d known deep down my whole life—that birth is a safe and normal part of life. Nevertheless, when I was pregnant with my first my attitude toward homebirth was “we’ll see.” I thought we’d explore it, talk it over with the midwives but that it was more likely we’d have a homebirth with our second baby. I thought back to my mom saying that one of the reasons she had me at home was because she’d already given birth twice before. She talked about it like it was no big deal, but there was always the underlying explanation that she had experience. And me? In my first pregnancy? Of course, no experience. Over and above the fact that many studies have been done recently that verify the safety of homebirth, a few things...

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A Quiet Example

Posted on May 9, 2010 in Birthing, Childbirth Options, Featured, Maternity Care Options | 13 comments

A Quiet Example

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. *** In 2005, we had a baby. We used midwifery care. We had a home birth. We had a son and we did not circumcise him. We used a cloth diaper service. We breastfed. Aaron and I were the first in our group of friends to have kids. At first it was kind of strange and we felt like outsiders among them. Life had changed in that instant, punch-in-the-face kind of way that seems normal among first time parents, and we found ourselves withdrawing from our childless friends. Out of necessity, we hunkered in and learned to parent. Along the way, one-by-one our friends joined us in parenthood. Five years later, nine of the couples that we regularly associated with back then either have kids or are pregnant. In this group of nine couples, seven used (or are using) midwifery care. The two couples that didn’t were pregnant with twins. Only one birth was by cesarean (and it was one of the twin births). Two couples had their babies at home and two more couples are currently planning home births. Surrounded by these people, I often make the mistake of thinking that midwifery care and home birth are more widespread than they are. But when you look at the data, a different picture emerges. According to the most recent reports from the BC Perinatal Health Program, only 5.8% of births in BC were attended by a midwife (versus 78% in our friends), and 29.3% of births were by cesarean section (versus 14% in our friends). In 2007/2008, there were 671 home births out of a total 43,505 births which gives us a home birth rate of 1.5%. If all goes as planned, the home birth rate among our friends will be 44%. Why is it that our group of friends has this vastly different set of statistics for their births? I suppose it is partly demographic. Perhaps we share similar mentalities that would predispose us towards these kinds of choices: cloth diapering, eating organic, and so on. We are friends for a reason. But it’s not like our friends are hippies. Overall, most of our friends are regular people, professionals, home owners. Aaron and I were probably closest to the home birth “type” – you know, living in a bus and sporting dreads and all. When I look at the numbers though and realize how different our group is from the rest of the province, I would like to think that maybe we were a positive example to our friends. I tried not to be preachy but I answered questions when they came our way. I only remember a few conversations and no one has ever said that we influenced them. I don’t take credit for their decisions. After all, I don’t think anyone chooses home birth because their friends did. You have to make that choice for yourself and you don’t make it lightly. You ask questions. You read. You talk to your caregiver. Yet, even knowing one person who has actually had a home birth can demystify it for you. Every single person who uses a midwife or has a baby at home helps to normalize birth options for everyone they know. Even if you never really talk about it you become a shining example that there is another way, that there are choices. So in some small way, I like to think that we did have a role to play, that we were a positive influence among our friends. Maybe when they walked into their first appointment with a midwife and she offered them a choice of birth place, they didn’t brush it off as quickly as they might...

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First Baby First Homebirth

Posted on Dec 12, 2009 in Childbirth Options, Featured | 3 comments

First Baby First Homebirth

I was born at home so I’ve known all my life that there was a possibility that it wasn’t all about the hospital, that there were options. Even so, when I was pregnant with my first my attitude was “we’ll see.” I thought we’d explore it, talk it over with the midwives but that it was more likely we’d have a homebirth with our second baby. I was unsure and I thought back to my mom saying that one of the reasons she had me at home was because she’d already given birth twice before. She talked about it like it was no big deal, but there was always the underlying explanation that she had experience. And me? In my first pregnancy? Of course, no experience. I recently read this post by @heartsandhandss from twitter where she talks about whether or not homebirth is for you. What struck me so much about her post was the idea that as a first time mom, even those who are drawn to homebirth often feel this ambivalence about homebirth. You say that with your second baby you might consider a birthing center or a homebirth because it won’t be as scary as with your first baby. Her argument is that you might as well have a homebirth while you still qualify for one, while you are still low risk. With cesarean rates hovering round 30% (depending on where you are), you have a 1 in 3 chance of coming home from the hospital with the prospect of trying for a VBAC next time. Again, depending on where you are, you might not be eligible for a homebirth anymore after that. This point of view really stuck with me. To me the tricky part is being able to balance that kind of rationale with the fact that first time moms often haven’t got the experience to TRUST birth yet. Interestingly, for so many the experience they gain in the hospital does the exact opposite: it doesn’t teach them to trust birth at all. Or you find that experienced mothers turn to homebirth only because they’ve had such a terrible hospital experience that they go looking for anything, any alternative must be better than doing THAT again. A few things helped change my mind about having a homebirth for my first baby. The first was that in my family it was treated like a normal and acceptable choice. I had support for my decision and it was something I’d known about my whole life. The second factor was the trust I had in my midwives and when I told them that I thought maybe a homebirth the second time around, they were able to put whatever nebulous fears I had to rest. In fact, I can’t even remember what their answer was. I just knew after that talk that we’d be planning a homebirth. And lastly, I read books books books until I trusted birth at least logically if not from experience. For me, it ended up being the natural path to take, perhaps because that’s where my path started in the first place. For others, I really think that @heartsandhandss makes a compelling and logical argument. If you want the best chance of staying low risk, staying eligible for homebirth in the future, at least explore it as an option the first time. Or make the choice to birth with a midwife in a hospital or birth centre. Otherwise, the choice may never be yours. photo credit:...

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My birth stories

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 in Birth Stories, Birthing | 0 comments

My birth stories

I believe that a lot of good can come from people who find the positive in their birth experience and share it with, well, anyone who will listen. This is an age where between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 births occur by cesarean. Most women never experience birth before they find themselves in labour. Our society has very little practical experience with normal birth and we are afraid. But there is a rising tide of people who know that birth needn’t be treated like a disease or a medical emergency waiting to happen. There is a growing movement that is shouting and stomping feet and demanding maternity care reform. Change is coming and I sincerely believe that the day will come when we have the best of both worlds: the safety of modern medicine and the sanctity of trust in our bodies and the birth process. That change starts every time someone tells a positive birth story that empowers women to learn more and fear less. I was born at home in the Yukon in the 1970’s. I am so thankful to my parents for this gift: opening my eyes to the beauty of home both that very first time, and again when I birthed my son into my home as an adult. I am grateful for my mother’s dutch doctor who, at my older brother’s birth, showed her that maternity care didn’t have to look like the standard North American medical model, a man who brought new ideas to a prairie town on a new continent and changed the course of birth in my family. Both of my children were born at home with midwives in attendance. Neither birth went exactly as I’d hoped it would. My first resulted in a hospital transfer for retained placenta. My second caught us unprepared three weeks early and ended up being a neighbourhood event. I had envisioned quiet and intimate, not neighbours in the kitchen eating pizza. But when a 10 year old boy who had just seen my hour old daughter exclaimed “This is the best birthday party I’ve ever been to!” I saw the power of sharing positive experiences with everyone around us. Maybe when this boy becomes a father he will remember, just as I remember my mother’s dutch...

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