Nursing Birth

One Labor & Delivery Nurse’s View From the Inside

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!!!




*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





* 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





* 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!


If Help Is What You Need, Then She Will Breastfeed! February 16, 2009

By now it seems like everyone has either seen or heard about the Nightline segment that aired on ABC on Thursday February 12, 2009 showing actress Salma Hayek breastfeeding another woman’s starving baby during her trip to Sierra Leone to support a tetanus-vaccination project.  I have to admit that while checking the news Friday morning, this story did indeed catch my eye as well.  As one can imagine, comments posted for the video ranged from praise and adoration to outrage and disgust. 


Many news sources have tried to present the story in the context of the current debate surrounding breast milk banking, cross nursing, and wet nursing (for example see the recent Time magazine and ABC news articles on the story).  Some include La Leche League’s official position statement on human milk banking and cross & wet nursing as evidence of the wrongness of Hayek’s actions.  In contrast, I would like to take the discussion out of this context.  I believe that the media’s portrayal of this story and hence the public’s reaction to it is completely and utterly misguided in the fact that they fail to approach the story in the context of Hayek’s motivation and reasons for her actions in Sierra Leone. 


According to the segment and Hayek’s own explanations, the actress was not breastfeeding this baby to promote cross nursing, wet nursing, or even human milk banking.  In fact, it does not even matter what side of that debate she supports!  Of course one can argue against her actions (whether founded or unfounded) by citing emotional, physical, or cultural risks and concerns.  Let us remember that Hayek states she breastfed that baby because she saw a child in need…a child in need in a country where infant mortality and starvation rates are heartbreakingly high and stigmas surrounding breastfeeding negatively affect the amount of woman willing and able to breastfeed for a healthy and adequate amount of time.  In addition, it is motivating to see a celebrity advocate for breastfeeding as both normal and natural!  (We certainly do not see this enough in our society).  Instead of analyzing the situation, why don’t we just look at the story as inspirational for the intrinsic principle it promotes and message it sends rather than the practicality of the action itself, just as the story of Jiang Xiaojuan’s heroic breast-feeding of several babies orphaned by China’s devastating earthquake in May of 2008 is.  Anyone arguing against Xiajuan’s heroic actions on the basis of risk or infection or disloyalty to her own nursing baby is sorely missing the point! 


With the availability of modern technology that allows thorough testing and pasteurization of donated breast milk, I could see that from a public health standpoint, perhaps cross nursing is not something to support in a formal position statement.  But when it comes to people helping people in tough times or devastating crises, let us focus on the good in this inspirational and empowering story!



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