Nursing Birth

One Labor & Delivery Nurse’s View From the Inside

One Woman’s Journey To Her Own HBAC Water Birth and 360 Degree Career Change October 12, 2009

I found this video on It’s Your Birth Right! this morning and was so incredibly moved that I had to share it with you all:

 

My Journey to a VBAC by Lindsey Meehleis
 

 

What an amazing and empowering story to watch on so many levels!  I am inspired by Lindsey’s story in many ways:

 

First, as a woman who has yet to have any children.  After watching this video I am left with feelings of awe, reverence, and respect for what we as women are capable of!  I can’t help but be excited about my own potential as someone able (I hope of course) to conceive, grow, nurture, birth, and nourish a new life!  (I am giving myself goose bumps just thinking about it!!) 

 

 

Second, as a labor and delivery nurse.  Watching this video reminds me not only of what consumers of maternity care are capable of but also of how much of a difference each one of us can make just by changing our own attitude, educating our own minds, and stacking the cards in our favor to help shape our own experiences!  (Now I’m going to be humming Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror for the rest of the day: “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change!  Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na, Na Nah!”  J)  And as a labor and delivery nurse I hope to help as much as I can help by strategically, respectfully, and appropriately planting little “seeds” of encouragement, knowledge, and know-how in the minds of the many women I am fortunate enough to meet in my personal and professional life.

 

 

Third as a labor and delivery nurse who has yet to have children!!  Lindsey wrote, “As the years pass and [my daughter] grows I soon find myself sending my baby off to kindergarten!  Fighting off the urges to have another baby over the years because of the intense fear I have of having the same birth experience again.   I know that its time and I must face my fears head on!  All of my training and experience with over 175+ births has surely had to of taught me something!  Without looking back I take a leap of faith and trust my body will work!” 

 

I hear nurses I work with all the time say “Oh I am so glad I had my children before I started working here!  I would have been a nervous wreck if I was in your position!”  My first thought it always “Umm yeah thanks, that isn’t very comforting.”  But I also know that I am so very fortunate to have worked where I work before having kids.  I think about how much I didn’t know before I started and how I very easily could have been a victim of situations like these.  However, as much as I know in my heart that I want to take that leap of faith and trust my body will work as I have seen it so many times before, even labor and delivery nurses like me have that little voice of doubt in the back of their minds.  You know the one that says “But can I really do it?”  So reading stories like Lindsey’s where even a midwife has that little voice is very reassuring to me that a certain amount of worrying and doubt is totally normal and doesn’t mean that I will fall victim to the old adage “Oh she’s a nurse?  Set up the back for a cesarean!” 

 

 

Forth, as a nurse with aspirations of becoming a midwife.  Lindsey wrote, “I knew at the deepest level of my being that I had to help women, educate women” and I have to say, when I have the privilege of being part of an incredibly empowering birth experience I can’t help but think to myself, “I have to be a midwife!  I just have too!”  Likewise, when I find myself in one hell of a mess at work (especially if a midwifery model of care and the Six Healthy Birth Practices that Support Normal Birth are not followed for any other reason besides true medical necessity) I also think to myself, “I have to be a midwife!  I just have too!” 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this video as much as I did.  Stay tuned for next time as I have been excited to tell you all about an absolutely amazing birth I was lucky enough to be a part of where I had My First Catch

 

No Doula in the Name of Privacy? Oh Come On! September 26, 2009

This comment was recently left by a reader named Jessica under one of my older posts.  Since I read every comment that is posted on my blog I happened to stumble upon it this morning.  When I read it I couldn’t help but think “I Hear Ya Sister!!!”and felt that it was so well stated that it needed to be its own post!  I know that there are quite a few doulas out there that read my blog and I just wanted to take this opportunity and give a shout out to them all and say thank you for all you try to do to educate women before they get to me on L&D!  Unfortunately, they don’t all listen but I hope you know that there is at least one L&D nurse out there that appreciates your efforts, both before and during labor!!!

 

For all you expecting moms out there please check out DONA’s website to learn a bit more about what a doula is, how you can find one, the effects a doula can have on your birth outcome and experience, and how a doula can advocate for you!

 

And just for the record, there is NOTHING private about a hospital birth experience.  Even in the most well meaning hospitals with the most well meaning birth attendant and the most well meaning nurse(s).  Albeit some women’s hospital births might be more private than others and I personally have had the priviledge to be a part of a few totally amazing hospital births.  But to not hire a doula for your hospital birth (especially at a university hospital!) because you want a “private” experience is a very VERY naive and misguided idea!  I am not saying that to hurt anyone’s feelings and I am certainly not judging anyone out there who decided not to hire a doula for one reason or another.  I am just telling it like it is.  Some food for thought…

 

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Hi NursingBirth!

I am a certifying doula and have recently had an interview with a perspective client. She is 36wks pregnant with her first. She was strongly considering a doula, but everyone else in her family was on the fence, and pushing a “private” birth experience. However, they are planning a delivery at a university hospital, she has yet to see the same health care provider throughout her prenatal care, she has no idea which one will be at the birth, or if it will even be someone she has met. They are planning a natural birth. She assured me that the hospital she is birthing at offers a multitude of birth options, including water birth, birth ball, position changes, etc… and the childbirth education from the hospital has given them confidence in their ability to get what they want from this birth. After much “deliberation” they decided that they were not going to hire a doula, based solely on their confidence in the hospital to give them what they want, and their desire for privacy. While I can completely respect their privacy request, I fail to see how birthing in a university hospital will give her much if any privacy…AND if she doesn’t even know who will be her health care provider at the birth…how is she confident that the hospital will give her what she needs? I wish there was some way to help open her naive eyes to the reality of birth in hospitals today. Her chances of getting to work with a mother friendly doc that understands and respects natural birth have got to be low! Reading your blog was comforting (because I know there are others who struggle with this) and depressing(because we have to struggle with this). I don’t want to have her hire me for her VBAC next time around. I want her to have the birth she desires now. I realize there isn’t much I can do for her at this point, which is why I am here, leaving my frustration with a bunch of like minded individuals. I am hoping things will go well for her and in the mean time, I’ve let her know that I am and will be available until the baby is born. just in case. Thanks for the space to rant.

  

Sincerely,

Jessica

  

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Jessica, you can rant here anytime!!!  I Hear Ya Sister!  Loud and clear!!

 

And now I leave you with one of my FAVORITE Monty Python skits of all time.  I have seen it a million times but it is still as hilarious (and eerily true) each time I see it.  Notice how the doctor invites in an army of people to watch.  It often feels like that where I work no matter what I do!!!

 

 

Believe! A Tear-Jerkin’ Inspirational Midwifery Ad September 4, 2009

The other day I stumbled upon a YouTube video advertisement for a midwife in Albuquerque, New Mexico via a friend’s facebook page.  You’d think that I must get sick of watching videos of births and babies since I am, after all, a labor and delivery nurse but alas, I am a true birth junkie and just can’t get enough!!  I don’t know anything about the midwife in the movie but I have to say that not only do I BELIEVE everything she quotes in the video but I wish that every health care professional that provides care for childbearing familes felt and practiced the same way as she does! 

 

I believe that every mother DESERVES a midwife and that every baby DESERVES to be born into gentle hands!

 

 

 

The following is from Citizens for Midwifery:

 

The Midwives Model of Care

The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.

The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • Minimizing technological interventions
  • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

 

The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

Copyright (c) 1996-2008, Midwifery Task Force, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

 

“Pit to Distress”: A Disturbing Reality July 8, 2009

Dear NursingBirth,

 

I just saw a couple of posts about “pit to distress” on Unnecessarean and Keyboard Revolutionary’s blogs. Can you comment on that as an L&D nurse?! Is the intent really to distress the baby in order to “induce” a c-section?  I’m distressed that such things may actually happen, and am holding out a little hope that it’s a misunderstanding in terms….

 

Thanks!!!

Alev

 

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Dear Alev,

 

I wish I could put your heart and mind at ease and tell you, from experience, that this type of outrageous activity (i.e. “pit to distress”) does not happen in our country’s maternity wards but unfortunately it does.  I know that it does because:

 

1) I have read and heard stories from other labor and delivery nurses who have worked with birth attendants who practice “pit to distress,”

 

2) I have read and heard stories from women (and their doulas!) who have personally experienced the consequences of “pit to distress,”

 

and, most importantly…

 

3) I personally have worked with attending obstetricians who subscribe to this philosophy. 

  

Before I start my discussion on this topic I would like to quote a blog post I wrote back in April entitled “Don’t Let This Happen To You #25 PART 2 of 2: Sarah & John’s Unnecessary Induction”.  This post is actually the first post I ever wrote for my Injustice in Maternity Care Series.  It is a TRUE story (although all identifying information has been changed to adhere to HIPPA regulations) about a first time mom who was scheduled for a completely unnecessary labor induction and the following excerpt is a good example of how “pit to distress” is ordered by physicians, EVEN IF they don’t actually write it out as an order (although some actually do!)

 

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“…At 1:30pm, right on schedule, Dr. F came into the room.  After some quick small talk he asked Sarah to get into the bed so that he could perform a vaginal exam and break her water. 

 

Sarah: “Umm, I was hoping we could wait a little bit longer to do that, until I am in more active labor.”

 

Dr. F: “Well, if I break your water it is really going to rev things up and put you into active labor.”

  

Sarah: “I’d really rather wait.”

  

Dr. F: (visibly frustrated) “Well I at least have to check you!”

 

(Oh lord, I love the “have to”!)  Dr. F’s exam revealed that Sarah was 4 centimeters!  Yay!

 

After helping Sarah to the bathroom and back to her rocking chair, I stepped out the catch Dr. F at the desk.  “Thanks for holding off on the amniotomy, it was really important to her birth plan,” I said, trying to “smooth things over” and (gently) remind him that the patient was in charge!  “Yeah well I’ll be back around 4:00pm to check her again and if she hasn’t made any progress I am going to break her water,” he said, grudgingly. 

 

He started to walk towards the elevator but then turned around to me and said:

 

Dr. F: “You have the pit at 20 right?”

 

(Note: The way pitocin is administered for induction in my hospital (and many others) is that you start the pitocin at 2mu/min (or 6mL/hr) and increase by 2mu/min every 15-30 min (or more) to a maximum of 20mu/min (or 60mL/hr) until you obtain an adequate contraction pattern (or, 3-5 contractions in 10 minutes).  So what does that mean?  That means that you do NOT just crank the pitocin until you get to “max pit,” rather you TITRATE it until you get 3-5 contractions in 10 minutes that are palpable and are causing cervical change.  However, this is not what many physicians I work with ask you to do.   Bottom line is everyone is different.  I personally could take a whole box of Benadryl and not so much as yawn while my husband can take one tablet and all but hallucinate!  It is no different for pitocin.  Some people are extra sensitive and only need a little bit, and others tolerate “max pit” very well.  I seem to have this same “fight” with physicians all the time at work.  They insist you “keep cranking the pit” when all you are going to do is hyperstimulate the uterus and cause the baby to go into distress.  But I digress….)

 

Me: “No, I have her at 10mu/min.”

 

Dr. F: (sarcastically)  “What!?  What are you waiting for?! 

 

Me: (said while biting my lip so I didn’t say something I would regret)  “She is contracting every 2-3 min and they are palpating moderate to strong.  She has to breathe through them.  And the baby is looking good on the monitor.  I want to keep it that way!”

 

Dr. F:  “But she’s not going anywhere!  You have to keep going up if you want her to progress.”

 

Me: “But she has changed to 4 centimeters…”

 

Dr. F:  “I was being generous!”

 

Me: “So you lied…”

 

Dr. F:  (annoyed) “Listen, keep going up on the pit, even if she is contracting every 2-3 min.  They aren’t strong enough.  Keep going up.  If we hyperstimulate her, we can just turn the pit down.”  (Note: These were his exact words.  I know this because I was so flabbergasted that he said it, I wrote it down in my notebook that very moment!  The fact is sometimes the baby is in so much distress after hyperstimulating the uterus that just turning the pitocin down isn’t enough!  And it really bothers me when doctors start sentences off with “Listen…”  Grrrrr.)

 

Me:  (jaw dropped, completely dumfounded) If I turn the pit up anymore, I am GUARANTEED to hyperstim her.”

 

Dr. F: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  I’ll be back around 4:00pm.”

 

By this point I was more than annoyed with Dr. F.  I explained the situation to the charge nurse and told her that I would not be cranking the pit on room 11 unless Dr. F wrote me an order that read “Regardless of hyperstimulation or contraction pattern, continue to increase pitocin until the maximum dose is reached.”  (By the way, he wouldn’t’ write me that order).  She basically told me to do what I felt was right because it was my license at stake too.”

 

 

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Ladies and gentleman the account that you have just read is called “Pit to Distress” whether the pitocin order was actually written that way or not.  What Dr. F gave me was a VERBAL ORDER to increase the pitocin, regardless of contraction or fetal heart rate pattern, until I reached “max pit,” which he acknowledged would hyperstimulate her uterus.  This goes against our hospital’s policy and the physical written order that this doctor signed his name under.  However, like some other doctors I work with, none of that mattered to him.  What he wanted was for me to “crank her pit” regardless and from my experience with this doctor, at the first sign of fetal distress we would have been crashing down the hallway for a stat cesarean!

 

Hyperstimulation of the uterus (more appropriately called tachysystole) is harmful and dangerous for both mothers and babies: 

 

“If contractions are persistently more often than 5 contractions in 10 minutes, this is called “tachysystole.” Tachysystole poses a problem for the fetus because it allows very little time for re-supply of the fetus with oxygen and removal of waste products. For a normal fetus, tachysystole can usually be tolerated for a while, but if it goes on long enough, the fetus can be expected to become increasingly hypoxic and acidotic.

 

Tachysystole is most often caused by too much oxytocin stimulation. In these cases, the simplest solution is to reduce or stop the oxytocin to achieve a more normal and better tolerated labor pattern.”

Electronic Fetal Heart Monitoring” by Dr. M. J. Hughey

 

The truth, however, is that many times stopping tachysystole is not as easy as just shutting the pitocin off.  Although the plasma half-life of pitocin is about 6 minutes, it can take up to 1 hour for the effects of pitocin to completely wear off.  And for a baby in distress, one more hour in a hyperstimulated uterus is too much!  So guess what?!  The physician has two choices:

 

#1 Administer yet another drug (like terbutaline) to decrease contractions and wait and see (unlikely to happen), or

 

#2 Administer yet another drug (like terbutaline) to decrease contractions while heading to the OR for an emergency cesarean section (much more likely to happen.) 

 

Because in the end…who wants to “sit” on a compromised baby?!

 

 

What is also unsettling is that my encounter with Dr. F regarding the most appropriate administration of pitocin for that mother was downright pleasant as compared to some of the other encounters I have had with much more intimidating and hot-headed physicians.  Labor and delivery nurses all over this country (including myself) have been bullied, yelled at, cursed out, and down-right humiliated by birth attendants who want you to “keep cranking the pit” regardless of maternal contraction or fetal heart rate patterns or in general, refusing to be a part of or questioning other harmful obstetrical practices.

 

I once had an obstetrician, while in the patient’s room, call me “incompetent” in front of the patient and her entire family because I had not continuously increased the pitocin every 15 minutes until I reached “max pit” and instead, kept the pitocin at half the maximum dose because increasing it anymore caused my patient to scream and cry in pain and her uterus to contract every 1 minute without a break.  Who wants a nurse to take care of them that was just called “incompetent” by their doctor??!? 

 

Another time I had a physician (who via this program called “OBLink” can watch her patient’s monitor strips from her own home or office) call me on the phone from her house to chew me out about not having the pitocin higher.  When I explained that I had to shut the pitocin off an hour earlier and start back up at a slower rate because the baby started to have repetitive and deep variable decelerations despite position changes, IV fluid bolus, and 10 liters of oxygen via face mask, I was told that the decels “weren’t big enough” to warrant such a “drastic measure as shutting of the pitocin” and I was “wasting her time” because “at the rate [I] was going [her] patient wouldn’t deliver until after midnight.”

 

I had yet a third doctor tell me once that he wished that only the “older” nurses on the floor would take care of his patients because they aren’t “as timid” and “are not afraid to turn up the pitocin when a doctor orders them to.”  That younger nurses like me are “too idealistic” and don’t understand “how the world really works.” 

 

And yet another time I had a physician tell me that I needed to “crank the pit to make this baby prove himself either way” and that if I couldn’t do “what needed to be done” for his patient, then he would ask the charge nurse to “replace me with a nurse who could.”

 

And guess what, when I came in the next day and read the birth log, I discovered that 3 out of those 4 patients ended up with cesarean sections after I had left that night for “fetal distress.” 

 

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

 

Although not one of these physicians actually wrote in black and white “Pit to Distress” and they didn’t have to; their words and actions speak to their true intentions.  These physicians are smart in the fact that they know that actually writing “pit to distress” like some practitioners do can land them with a law suit if an adverse outcome happens and they find themselves in court.  So while it is true that one’s medical record might not show “pit to distress” on the order form, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen to you!  What these doctors do instead are bully nurses into to doing their dirty work for them.  (And I would like to note that just like Dr. F, I have yet to encounter one physician who will actually physically put their hands on the IV pump and turn up the pitocin themselves when I refuse to do it!…..They know better!)

 

 

As a registered nurse my practice must adhere to the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses.  Here is an excerpt:

 

“The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community.  The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.”

 

What these practitioners don’t realize is that when they work with nurses like me (and there are many out there!!), they are working with someone who values the health and safety of women and babies (as well as their nursing license) much more than a fake cordial kiss-ass relationship with some high-and-mighty doctor!  But let me tell you, its really frigging hard to work like that!  That is, to constantly battle with practitioners who have such a different philosophy about maternity care than you do!  I mean, even the best nurses will start to doubt themselves if they are constantly being bullied and told that they “can’t cut it” or are “incompetent” if they don’t follow the status quo!  Like many other nurses, sometimes I just don’t have the energy to argue and fight.  Sometimes I have down right lied to a doctor over the phone about how high the pitocin really is (telling them it’s running at a much higher rate than it actually is).  Other times I just “forget” to turn up the pitocin for hours at a time.  One time I actually disconnected the pitocin and discretely ran it into the floor!

 

Women of this earth…TAKE BACK YOUR BIRTH!!!  We need YOUR voice!  We need you to choose caregivers that practice evidenced based medicine, and BOYCOTT ones that don’t!  We need you to HIT THEM WHERE IT HURTS….in their WALLET!!  We need you to DEMAND better care!!  We nurses, birth advocates, doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, etc. etc. can’t make change without YOU!!

 

Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU to Jill at Keyboard Revolutionary and Jill from The Unnecessarean for their blog posts on this issue!  I second their anger, outrage, and voice for change!!!

 

Are you an L&D nurse who has ever been ordered to “pit to distress?”  Are you a mother who has ever experienced the consequences of a birth attendant who followed a “pit to distress” philosophy?    Please share your story with us!! 

 

In closing I would like to say that I am NOT anti pitocin, but like ALL labor & delivery interventions, I speak out and advocate for the appropriate, evidenced-based, and safe use of them!

 

Please check out my next post!  “Pit To Distress” PART 2: Top 7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Unnecessary & Harmful Interventions

 

Research Shows TENS Unit Can Ease Labor Pain May 15, 2009

It’s been waaaaaaaaaaay too long since I have posted!  It’s been really crazy busy at work and I’ve had to work some overtime to help out.  But I’m back in the saddle again!  So here it goes!

 

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Medical News Todayrecently published a press release citing a 2009 review by the Cochrane Collaboration that concluded that women should have the option of using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) as a non-pharmacological method of pain management in labor.

 

The full report can be found on the Cochrane Collaboration’s website.  The summary reads:

“TENS is a device which emits low voltage currents which has been used for pain relief in labour. The way that TENS acts to relieve pain is not well understood. The electrical pulses are thought to stimulate nerve pathways in the spinal cord which block the transmission of pain. In labour, the electrodes from the TENS machine are usually attached to the lower back (and women themselves control the electrical currents using a hand-held device) but TENS can also be applied to acupuncture points or directly to the head. The purpose of the review was to see whether TENS is effective in relieving pain in labour. The review includes 19 studies with a total of 1671 women. Fifteen studies examined TENS applied to the back, two to acupuncture points and two to the cranium (head). Results show that pain scores were similar in women using TENS and in control groups. There was some evidence that women using TENS were less likely to rate their pain as severe but results were not consistent. Many women said they would be willing to use TENS again in a future labour. TENS did not seem have an effect on the length of labour, interventions in labour, or the wellbeing of mothers and babies. It is not known whether TENS would help women to manage pain at home in early labour. Although it is not clear that it reduces pain, women should have the choice of using TENS in labour if they think it will be helpful.”

 

I think the findings of this study are interesting.  I certainly support pain management techniques in labor that 1) are non-pharmacological, 2) do no harm to mother or baby or to the progress of labor, and 3) increase a mother’s feeling of control during her labor.  So it seems like the use of a TENS unit could be really helpful to some moms.  On the other hand I have never had any experience with a TENS unit, either personally or via any of the moms I have taken care of, so I have little knowledge about it. 

 

Since I have little knowledge on the subject I naturally did an Internet search to learn more.  If you are interested in using a TENS unit for pain management in labor please check out one of these websites:

 

1) Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) for Labor Pain Relief   By Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

2) How to Use a Portable TENS Unit for Labor  By eHow Health Editor

 

Here are some quick facts about TENS units to get you started:

 

1) DO learn how to use a TENS unit before labor from a trained professional.  (This can usually be done by a trained doctor, midwife, or physical therapist.)

 

2) DO continue to move with your TENS unit on!  (A TENS unit does not keep you from moving around or assuming various labor positions.)

 

3) DO use a TENS unit beginning early in labor and if you have back pain/back labor.  (Studies have shown that it is most effective in these situations).

 

4) DO NOT use a TENS unit while you are in a tub or shower.  (Although a TENS unit can be used during times when you are not in the water.)

 

5) DO turn up the frequency of the nerve simulations to help with the pain of contractions or push a button to give you a “boost” as needed during labor, then turn down during periods of rest.

 

6) DO try turning the TENS unit off and seeing how your contractions feel if you feel the TENS unit isn’t helping.  (You may find the TENS unit is actually helping!)

 

7) DO learn about, read about, and practice other non-pharmacological pain management techniques for labor even if you are planning on using a TENS unit including: warm water showers/bath/jacuzzi, back massage, leg massage, counter pressure, various labor positions, birthing ball, squat bar, birthing stool, visualization, affirmations, music therapy, aromatherapy, walking, warm packs, breathing & relaxation techniques, doula support, and most importantly, loving undivided attention and care from supportive labor companions.

 

Recommended Reading:  The Birth Partner, Third Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions  by Penny Simkin

 

Penny Simkin’s book is a MUST read for any woman or labor companion preparing for childbirth (EVEN women who are planning on using pharmacological pain management options including epidural and IV pain medications should read this book!!!)  On page 150-151 Penny describes how to use a TENS unit in labor. 

 

Are you looking to rent a TENS unit for your labor?  Please check out www.babycaretens.com

 

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Have any of you ever used a TENS unit for pain management in labor?  I’d love to hear how it worked for you!

 

Birth Resources EVERY Woman Should Know About April 23, 2009

I was at my local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meeting yesterday and the theme for the night was “Birth Stories.”  Although I have never had a cesarean section, attending the local ICAN meetings is, for me, a way to get together and work with other people in the birth advocacy community and meet pregnant moms who are seeking out more information regarding their birth choices.  Anyways, throughout the meeting last night I found myself often referring to different books that I have read that I feel are great resources for pregnant moms.  Everyone else seemed to jump on the bandwagon and by the end of the night, I think all the gestating members of the group had heads that were spinning with tons of different information!

 

This meeting inspired me to put together a list of books, websites, and movies that I have personally read or watched that I feel are “must see/must reads” for any woman who is trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant or newly postpartum.  Whether you are planning a homebirth birth with a direct entry midwife or wishing you could have your OBGYN call in your epidural before even getting to the hospital, these resources are something to seriously consider.

 

It is important to note that this is an abbreviated list.  I have so many amazing books on pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding that it’s kind of ridiculous.  But I made sure to keep this list brief for a reason; I don’t want to scare anyone away!  I don’t want anyone to think “Oh jeeze, there are just too many things on this list.  I am too overwhelmed to read any of them!”  That being said, if there is any book, movie, website, etc that you found or are finding to be very helpful with your past or current pregnancies, I’d love to hear about it!!!

 

MUST READ BOOKS:

 

*Best Childbirth Preparation Book*

- Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England & Rob Horowitz

 

*Best “How To” Guide to Helping a Woman Through Childbirth*

- The Birth Partner, Third Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions  by Penny Simkin

 

*Most Inspiring/Positive/Empowering “What To Expect” Book*

            - Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth  by Ina May Gaskin

 

*Best Practical Guide to Breastfeeding*

            - So That’s What They’re for: Breastfeeding Basics by Janet Tamaro

 

*Best “Research that Doesn’t Read Like Research” Book*

            - The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer

 

 

 MUST WATCH MOVIES:

 

* Best Hard Look at the Current State of Maternity Care in America

- The Business of Being Born (2007)  Directed by Abby Epstein, Produced by Ricki Lake

 

*Most Personal Documentary About Being Pregnant In America

- Pregnant in America: A Nation’s Miscarriage (2008)  Directed by Steve Buonagurio

 

 

MUST SEE WEBSITES:

 

* ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network)

- ICAN’s mission is to prevent unnecessary cesareans through education, to provide support for cesarean recovery, and to promote VBAC.

 

* Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS)

- CIMS is a coalition of individuals and national organizations with concern for the care and well-being of mothers, babies, and families. Their mission is to promote a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs.

- CIMS is the founder of the The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative  and The Birth Survey

 

* Citizens for Midwifery

- Citizens for Midwifery (CfM) is a non-profit, volunteer, grassroots organization. Founded by several mothers in 1996, it is the only national consumer-based group promoting the Midwives Model of Care.

- CfM can help you learn about the Midwives Model of Care, find a midwife in your area, and connect with resources about birth and midwifery

 

* La Leche League International (LLLI)

- La Leche League International strives to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.

 

* BirthNetwork National (BNN)

- BNN is is leading a grassroots movement based on the belief that birth can profoundly affect our physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

- BNN has local chapters and holds monthly meetings all around the country!

- BNN believes that:

· Birth is a normal, healthy process, not an illness or disease.

· Empowering births can take place in birth centers, hospitals and homes.

· Women are entitled to complete and accurate information on their full range of options for pregnancy, birth, post-partum and breastfeeding.

· Women have a right to make health care decisions for themselves and their babies. That right includes Informed Consent as well as Informed Refusal.

           

 

So now it’s your turn!  What books or other resources did you find helpful when preparing for pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum?  We all want to know J!

 

Review for Black Family: A Doula Story March 1, 2009

One of my mentors in this movement is a woman by the name of Carolyn Keefe J. Although we have never met, Carolyn has been an incredible resource for me regarding how to become more involved in the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative and how to use my voice and knowledge as a labor & delivery in a positive way for this very important cause.  Carolyn is a cofounder & coordinating council member for BirthNet, a non-profit organization in the Albany area whose mission is to educate the public about maternity care in order to improve it.  Carolyn recently sent out a link to a video entitled Black Family: A Doula Story produced by Danny Alpert.  You can see the movie for free at BlackPublicMedia.org.

Here is what Carolyn had to say about the film:

“I heard about a wonderful video recently and took an hour to watch it last night. It touched very deeply it’s about an African-American doula named Loretha Weisinger who works with teen moms in Chicago.  Loretha is a true angel, incorporating love and support for “her girls” into her terrific doula care.  She empowers these girls to “find their voice”, breastfeed, and learn to care for their babies even before they are born, as well as nurturing them through labor and birth.  Loretha provides incredible care and support, weaving in Mother-Friendly suggestions that all of us will recognize but in terms “her girls” will get.  I was in awe watching as she patiently and lovingly helped these young women become mothers.  The film itself is also beautiful and riveting, if sometimes hard to watch how difficult the lives of these young women can be.”

So if you have an hour to spare (I know, who does?!) this movie is definitely worth watching.  I was getting a bit teary eyed at times, especially when Loretha was speaking about how once these young teen moms leave the hospital, they are often met with so much resistance from their boyfriends, friends, and family regarding breastfeeding that they often stop from the pressure.  It is truly heartbreaking.  Please pass this link around!

 

 
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