Planning for a homebirth

By now you may have gathered that instead of choosing to have an OB-attended hospital birth this time around, we are planning to have a midwife-attended homebirth. There are a number of varied factors that have led me down such a different path with this baby and I’d like to share some of them here.

I have to first admit that I’ve been a little reticent to post about this, not because I’m not excited about it, but because homebirth in our culture is not seen as a safe or wise choice (though in reality it is as safe or safer than hospital births in most cases – there are a number of studies that indicate as such). I am open to questions about why I’ve made this decision or things specific to homebirths, but I don’t wish to be attacked for my choice. I have no desire to get into a debate over which is better – hospital or home. Rest assured I’ve done a lot of soul searching and research to come to the conclusion that planning a homebirth is right for me. In the event that a condition arises during my pregnancy or labor that indicates that a homebirth is no longer a safe, responsible choice, I have no qualms about going back to my OB (whom I like and respect) or being transferred to a hospital (which is literally less than five minutes from our house) if necessary.
OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive in, shall we? :)

First of all, I believe that – in the majority of cases – birth is a normal, natural and healthy process. I believe in a woman’s (and my own) ability to give birth naturally, normally, without intervention, as women have been doing for thousands of years.

I am drawn to the midwifery model of care because it feels normal and natural. I like that a typical midwife prenatal visit lasts 60 minutes (as opposed to the typical 6 minute OB prenatal visit) and does not feel rushed. I like that I am getting to know the woman who will be there for my labor and birth and that she will gain my trust so that I feel comfortable with her while laboring and birthing. I like that my midwife is interested in my nutrition and in suggesting preventative measures (such as acupuncture) to help ensure that I have a healthy birth.

My midwife in particular has a 15 year background as an EMT (emergency medical technician). I feel her experience in that capacity has helped her develop critical thinking skills and the ability to think quickly on her feet. After all, how can you be an EMT without that ability? So I feel very comfortable that if a situation should arise that is beyond her comfort level, she will know what steps to take (i.e. a hospital transfer). Because of my history of complications with Ava, this was very important for us. Both Jody and I feel very confident in her experience and abilities.

I love the idea of birthing at my own home, where I am comfortable and able to relax without worrying about who’s going to be walking in the door next (nurse shift changes, etc.), where Ava can play or sleep or do whatever she needs to (in a safe environment) and still be in close proximity to me and Jody. (My sister will be her primary caregiver while I am in labor.) And when the baby is born, Ava can chose whether or not she wants to be present. (Yes, we will be preparing her with regard to what to expect when mommy is in labor, etc. We actually watched a birth video – “Giving Birth: Challenges and Choices” by Suzanne Arms – this week.) I’d like her to be there, but I’m not going to force her. If she is meant to be there, she will be. After seeing her interest in watching the birth video though, I am pretty certain she’ll want to see baby brother join us.

I also love the idea of being able to sleep in my own bed after the birth. That was one of the hardest things for me in the hospital, not being able to sleep. I eventually had to ask for sleeping pills because it’d been something like three days since I’d slept for more than a few minutes at a time, and having hallucinations while trying to care for a newborn is no fun. Having my own bed will be heavenly. And I’m sure Jody would agree as well after sleeping on a flimsy mattress on the cold, hard hospital floor for 5 days after Ava’s birth.

Another compelling reason for me to have a homebirth is I’d like to labor and possibly birth in water and my midwife has a birthing pool that we can set up right in our house.

Because of all of this and more, I feel planning for a homebirth makes sense for us.
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The following information was taken from The Homebirth Choice by Jill Cohen and Marti Dorsey and further illustrates why I’ve decided a homebirth is the right choice for me and my family. I cut and pasted some things that I feel are particularly important to me.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MIDWIFERY:
“Midwife means “with woman.” Traditionally, women have attended and assisted other women during labor and birth. As modern medicine emerged in the West, birth fell into the realm of the medical. Since women were barred from attending medical schools, men became the birth practitioners. Having never had a baby themselves, they were unable to approach women and childbirth with the inner knowledge and experience of a woman. Childbirth became viewed as pathological rather than natural; unnecessary, and often dangerous or unproven, medical techniques and interventions became commonplace.

During the 1960s and 1970s, along with the women’s movement and renewed interest in homebirth, the midwifery movement rekindled. It has been growing steadily ever since. Midwives are becoming more and more involved with birthing families and have been instrumental in redefining birth as a natural event in women’s lives.

Midwifery empowers women and their families with the experience of birth.”

PRENATAL CARE:

“Prenatal visits may take place at the midwife’s home or clinic or at the family’s home. Prenatal visits are a time for the midwife to get to know the family and friends, neighbors, or other children who plan to be present at the birth.

Prenatal care for the pregnant woman includes discussion of nutrition, exercise and overall physical and emotional well-being, as well as overseeing the healthy development of the fetus.

Midwives include the family during prenatal care, inviting them to ask questions and to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Intimate involvement of the family throughout the pregnancy allows for early bonding of the newly emerging family unit.

The midwife and family will often discuss the mechanics of birth. The more people know what’s going to happen, the more comfortable they may be while awaiting the birth.”

LABOR:
“In the safety and security of her own home, the mom is likely to be less inhibited about trying different labor positions and locations. She can sit on the toilet or go for a walk outside. She can eat or drink whatever she wants. She writes her own script. When it’s time to deliver, she can often try whatever position she wants: on her side, squatting, sitting or kneeling.”

BIRTH:
“Homebirth allows for full participation of family members. Under the guidance and assistance of the midwife, the opportunity is available for husbands or partners to “catch” their child as it is born. These moments can be very powerful and transformational in the lives of the new parents.

At homebirths, babies are usually immediately placed on the mom’s stomach or breast, providing security, warmth and immediate bonding between mom and baby. This contact provides security for both mom and baby.

In the rare case when the baby has difficulty breathing on its own, midwives are fully trained in infant CPR. Usually, putting the baby right to the breast and having mom talk to her baby will encourage it to take those first breaths.

Putting the baby immediately to the breast helps reduce any bleeding the mom may have. The sucking action stimulates the uterus and causes it to contract. This closes off blood vessels and reduces bleeding.

Some members of the medical community have recently acknowledged that having a homebirth decreases the mother’s and baby’s chances of contracting an infection. The mother is used to the bacteria in her own environment and has built up immunities to it. This is passed on to the baby through the colostrum. Even when women are segregated in maternity wards, infections are much more commonplace after hospital births than homebirths.”

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Positive discipline to the rescue!

On Wednesday, our local Attachment Parenting group had its monthly meeting. This month’s topic was “Child Development and Discipline from Birth to Age Five,” with speaker Patience Bleskan, the founder of Parents and Children Empowered.

Patience’s talk was wonderful. She hit on several points that I’ve heard before, but it was a great reminder for me to hear them again, especially since Ava’s at an age now where she is testing her boundaries, etc.

Here’s a bit from Patience’s autobiography which helps explain her view on discipline:

“Through her past and continued work with families including her own, she continues to see the negative results of parents misunderstanding their child’s behavior. In general parents focus on the behaviors they see their children doing, with no attempt to understand why the child is acting a certain why. Patience firmly believes children have a legitimate reason for everything they do. But because they have few skills to express their thinking, their actions often leave us wondering. As a parent it is our job to find out the reasons behind what our children do so we can help them find better ways to be in the world.

If a child is misbehaving, and you only see the bad behavior, all you can do is punish. But if your child is misbehaving and you see the thinking and motivation behind the behavior, you have found an opportunity to teach.”

Her talk began with explaining child development at different ages. That was really interesting to learn when they can comprehend different things.

She explained the importance of first validating why your child is doing a specific behaviour. Say, for example, Ava is standing on her rocking chair (something she really likes to do). I could say to her, “I know you like to stand on your rocking chair. It’s really fun for you and you get to be tall!” Then go on to explain why this behaviour is something you don’t approve of. “Mommy gets scared when you stand on your rocking chair because you could fall down and get hurt.” I could then demonstrate a doll standing on the chair, rocking, and falling off, emphasizing that the doll gets hurt when she falls. And then explain what the proper behaviour is. “Rocking chairs are for sitting.” Etc.

My first reaction was, wow, that sounds like a lot of work. But Jody (who was able to sneak out of work to attend the meeting as well) and I have already started implementing these changes in how we address her, and once you start doing it, it’s really easy to get into the habit. And Ava really seems to be responding to what we say.

This doesn’t mean she’s going to be a perfectly behaved child, but hopefully we can use things like standing on a rocking chair or throwing a block, as opportunities to teach rather than just getting upset and frustrated that she’s not behaving the way that we want (which I know is so easy to do).

Patience also talked about giving your child choices (a la Love and Logic style), so they feel like they have some control over their lives.

She also mentioned that you don’t have to make your words simple for your child. Words are words are words are words. If you use larger words with them, they will quickly learn what they mean. I thought that was really cool because we don’t really use smaller words with Ava and it’s good to know that she can still learn and understand what we mean.

She talked a lot about positive reinforcement and how it’s been proven to be much more effective than punishment. Here are a couple articles on the subject: Why Positive Reinforcement Works and Positive Reinforcement vs. Punishment.

I know there are other things she mentioned (like effective ways to get your child to take turns and how to wean your toddler), but that’s all the time I have to write right now.

All-in-all, it was a very productive and beneficial meeting and I’m glad Patience was able to come. I know I had been feeling a bit frustrated lately about how to respond when Ava does this, that or the other thing, and I feel like I came away from the meeting with several useful tools to help me in my parenting journey. I am actually thinking about making myself some notecards to put up around the house with various reminders about how I want to respond in certain situations, because I know how easy it is to just react without thinking. I think that would be handy for both me and Jody.

Just came across this tidbit (on what looks to be a really good site on the topic of positive discipline), which I think sums it all up perfectly.:

Remember: the goal of discipline is not to control children and make them obey but to give them skills for making decisions, gradually gaining self-control, and being responsible for their own behavior.

Just ask Amy ;-)

In the past couple days I had two people ask me for my thoughts/advice about two parenting-related topics.

The first woman, a semi-regular commenter on this blog, emailed me to ask for advice regarding vaccinations for her 1-year-old son. She was feeling hesitant about taking him receiving so many shots at his 12 month check-up. I would never tell someone what they should or should not do. That’s not my style. I’m all about people doing their own research and making informed choices (regarding healthcare and other aspects of parenting), and I believe that those choices can differ from person to person. So I supplied her with some information, gave her some questions to ask her pediatrician regarding thimerosal use, and some things to think about as she makes these decisions.

The other woman, who I know from a message group, PM’d me to ask about starting solids while breastfeeding her 6-month-old daughter. It was funny to me to get questions about when are you supposed to feed them, how many times a day, etc., because that stage in Ava’s life seems like it was ages ago now and I really didn’t remember. I looked up some info for her on KellyMom and told her what I did remember. It’s amazing how it’s been less than a year since Ava was at that stage and I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like!

Anyway, it made me feel good to have people come to me for my thoughts and information on those topics. It’s nice to be respected. :) I would never claim to have all the answers, but I can speak from my research and personal experience and let them come to their own conclusions. It’s nice to see other mamas who want to make informed choices.

And the other cool thing that happened recently was that I discovered another commenter on my blog who seems to share my passion for APing and her husband plays Dungeons & Dragons (as does mine), lives a town over from me! We seem to have quite a few things in common so I look forward to learning more about her and her family. Small world. :)

Happy and healthy


We just got back from Ava’s 15 month well-child appointment, a little late (she’s almost 16 months) but that’s ok. She is the picture of health. She weighed in at 27 lbs., 6 oz. (90-95th percentile), and was 32 inches tall (90th percentile).

Dr. S said that Ava is the “healthiest breast-fed baby she’s ever seen.” I don’t know if she says that often or not, but I will take it as a compliment.

I had some concerns about Ava’s bowleggedness (Jody says she runs like John Wayne) but Dr. S assured me that kids’ legs don’t straighten out until they are 4 or 5 years old, so nothing to worry about there.

We also talked a bit about her eating habits (or lack thereof) lately. She gave me a handout on decreased appetite and eating in toddlers which is perfectly normal. I just have to trust that Ava will eat as much as she needs and not force food on her. Easier said than done, but I am going to try to relax about it. She also said it might help to let her eat before she nurses, something I tried doing for a while and then got lazy on, so we’ll get back on that kick again. There were some other tips on the handout that we will try following as well, such as letting her feed herself entirely and giving more finger foods. I just need to accept that mealtime is going to be messy and find some better bibs!

Oh! Also asked about when it’s ok to start giving peanut butter. She said all docs are different, but she thinks right about now is fine. She suggested doing almond butter first (which we’ve been doing for a cpl weeks now anyway) and then peanut butter.

I shared with Dr. S that article I recently wrote about here that states: “The longer a mother breast-feeds, the higher the fat and energy content of her breast milk.” She was very interested in it and thanked me several times. She said that this goes against what they had previously been lead to believe and she really appreciated me bringing it to her attention. Yay! Hopefully she’ll share it with the other drs in the practice and maybe this will help them become more supportive of moms who choose to nurse past 12 months.

Before she examined Ava, Dr. S mentioned that between 15 and 18 months is usually the hardest time to examine kids because they just won’t tolerate it, but she likes to still give it a try. Well, Ava let her do it with no protesting whatsoever. (Yes, I’m bragging.) She said that’s the easiest exam she’s had on a 16 month old in a while.

She asked me if Ava’s watching TV at all. I told her no, but once in a rare while I will use it as a distraction – like I turned on PBS this morning so I could cut her nails. It worked well and she got a couple minutes of Sesame Street. Anyway, she said that was good. (Funny the things doctors latch onto to ask you about, no?)

The other thing we talked about was potty training/learning. She said it’s good to have her potty in her play area, which may make her more likely to use it. She was doing good at going on it whenever I put her on, but has been regressing lately. I’m not concerned. She’s got plenty of time to learn. She also suggested using a small reward for every time she goes on it. She mentioned giving her one M&M or one Skittle or something (What?? Does she not know me at all? LOL I told her Ava’s never had candy.), and then she said maybe she could watch 1 minute of TV or get a sticker or something and that seemed a lot more appropriate to me. :)

We also got Ava’s third DTaP shot today. Even though we aren’t doing the majority of the vaccinations or delaying them (read why here and here), DTaP is one that we felt was important for Ava to have after she turned 1 and her immune system had been built up a bit. Hopefully we won’t have any reactions. I’m not sure if it’s coincidence or not, but the last two times she had vaccinations, we ended up in the ER a few days to weeks later for other illnesses. So of course, I am suspicious, but I’m also hoping it was just a fluke.

Anyway, hooray for a happy, healthy lil girl! :)

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In other happy news, I sold most of my maternity clothes (with the exception of a couple shirts I’m saving) today. I decided to get rid of them since a) most of them are clothes I wore to work and wouldn’t be comfy in around the house and b) I’m a lot smaller than I was when I got pregnant with Ava so they probably wouldn’t fit me if I were to get pregnant again anyway. I’m putting the money away as I save to buy the Olympus Evolt camera. ::insert Amy drooling all over the keyboard here:: ;)

We’ve got some fun stuff planned for the weekend. I think we might hit another pumpkin patch tomorrow (went to one last weekend and it was a lot of fun). Also plan to stop by the community garden for some clean-up work. I’m doing my first maternity photoshoot Sunday morning, then Sunday afternoon Jody, Ava and I are going to a farm for a hayride with a bunch of families. :)
Happy weekend all! :)

Random thoughts

I feel like I haven’t been posting anything of substance lately except pics, money woes and rants about my stinkin’ refrigerator.

Here it is, almost Friday again (where did the week go?) which means we are gearing up for another SPF (Self Portrait Friday). Katy hasn’t announced the theme yet though.

And do I have anything of substance to write about today? Eh, not really. :oP

Ava is sleeping on me with a boob in her mouth at the moment. I’d go lay her down but she really needs to get a good nap in today because we’re heading out to a meeting (for the advisory committee of that new attachment parenting group I’m involved in) in a litle bit and I want her to be well-rested. So I’ll just keep her here with me. :) The group’s first meeting is less than a month away! I’m excited but also a bit concerned as I wonder what kind of turnout we’ll have. Guess we shall see.

I cut Ava’s hair last night. She was in desperate need of a trim. Surprisingly, it didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it might. Maybe I’ll post a pic. I just took one of her earlier because besides the new haircut, she’s also wearing a new dress today – one that Aunt Carrie bought her in India. She got her a couple punjabi suits too, but they are too small for my large Western baby. ;-)

I do want to give a shout out to Brad over at Greystone Inn. He was nice enough to put up a link to my AP store on his site. :) Thanks, Brad. One of the storylines Brad’s comic strip follows is the adventures of Mac and Samantha – new parents who are practicing attachment parenting. He now has a book for sale with a collection of his AP strips called Prodromal Teeth. “The best of the Greystone strips about pregnancy and parenthood, reformatted into a graphic novel layout. Positive themes of attachment parenting such as breastfeeding and natural childbirth make this a terrific gift for parents-to-be.”

Well, the lil chica has arisen, so I’m off. :)

Announcing my new store! :)

I’m happy to announce my new store (through CafePress) – Attached At The Hip – is NOW online!

Attached At The Hip sells primarily advocacy clothing, stickers, buttons, etc. with logos that promote attachment parenting ideals such as breastfeeding, baby wearing, gentle discipline, natural birthing and more.

I also offer some non-AP logos for announcing an expected baby (I’m going to be a big brother/sister shirts) and crunchy/granola attire for mamas and the whole tree-hugging family. In addition, there are shirts for domestic “divas” and “goddesses.”

I’m very excited to get this off the ground and, while I am hoping it will be a profitable venture for me, I am also just glad to be spreading the word about attachment parenting.

The awesome thing is that most everything is handled through CafePress. They take the orders, they print the shirts/merchandise, they collect the money, they ship the product, they handle returns, etc. The bad thing about that is that they make most of the money. ;) But every little bit I make will help. :)

I’m currently offering a special of $5 off any purchase of $50 or more. Use coupon code: B2SALE when you check out.

Please feel free to give it a look-see and let me know what you think. If you have any ideas on how I can improve upon it, I am all ears. :)

Also, CafePress is planning on starting an affiliate program in September so if anyone is interested in linking to my store and making some money off any sales you generate, let me know. :)

Thanks for letting me share.