Follow-up to TODAY show guest post: childbirth resources


If you are visiting from the TODAY show blog, welcome and thank you for visiting. :) If you haven’t yet read my guest post on the TODAY show, you can read it here: Viewer: Learn more about cesarean births. I’d love it if you would like to contribute to the discussion and leave a comment over there.

Because there was only so much information I could include in my guest post, I’ve put together some additional resources here for those of you who are interested in learning more about c-sections, VBAC, giving birth vaginally to larger babies, and more. I believe in informed consent. Knowledge is power.

Information about Cesarean Sections and VBAC:

  • International Cesarean Awareness Network – “The International Cesarean Awareness Network is a non-profit advocacy and support group whose mission is to improve maternal and child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, provide support for cesarean recovery, and promote vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).”
  • Childbirth Connection’s Cesarean Section Resources
  • The Reality of C-Sections by A Mama’s Blog – Heather writes about the many things about c-sections that she didn’t know and wished she had been told before she had her own c-section, as well as includes pictures of actual c-sections (something we didn’t get to see on the TODAY show).
  • VBAC Facts – Jennifer, teacher of The Truth about VBAC classes, deeply believes that women, after educating themselves on the risks and benefits, should be the ultimate decision makers on their medical care – not OBs or insurance companies.
  • Maternal Death Rates Rise, C-sections Now Considered a Factor – another post by Heather from A Mama’s Blog
  • The Unnecesarean – The Unnecesarean provides information about preventing an unnecessary cesarean and resources for making fully-informed decisions about childbirth while offering an irreverent take on the maternity care crisis in the United States and beyond.

Giving Birth Vaginally to Large (Macrosomic) Babies – Information & Birth Stories:
Although your doctor may suspect that you might have a larger baby, that does not mean you should automatically schedule an induction or a c-section. Ultrasound exams are notoriously inaccurate for predicting the weight of a baby and can be off by a pound or more in either direction. There’s no way to know how much a baby will actually weigh until it is born and weighed. If you are told you are going to have a large baby, weigh the risks and benefits of any intervention and make the choice that is right for you and your baby.

  • Big Baby Bull****
  • Baby Julian – My son (pictured above) was born at home and was a surprise footling breech. He weighed in at 9 lbs. 8 oz., and was 22 inches long.
  • Baby Lazlo – Justine gave birth to her 11 lb., 23-inch son at home
  • Baby “D-Man” – Kat’s son weighed in at 11 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Baby “Muski” – Kate’s son was a VBAC and weighed 10 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Baby Peggy – Annette‘s daughter was 9 lbs., 6 oz.
  • Baby Jaxon – Jaclyn’s son weighed 9 lbs., 4.4 oz.
  • Baby Iris – Sybil‘s daughter was 9 lbs., 14 oz.
  • Baby Mikko – Lauren’s son was 11 lbs., 13 oz.
  • Baby Emma – Jessica’s daughter was 9 lbs., 2 oz.
  • Baby “Boychick” – Arwyn‘s son was 10 lbs., 6 oz. and born at home
  • Baby Julian and Baby Emma – Annie‘s two kiddos (not twins) were 9 lbs. and 9 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Baby “Junior” – Candace’s son was 10 lbs., 4 oz. and sunny side up
  • Baby “M” – Jennifer’s son was 9 lbs., 10 oz. – a home birth after cesarean (HBAC)

Additional Childbirth Resources:

  • Business Of Being Born – A documentary that “interlaces intimate birth stories with surprising historical, political and scientific insights and shocking statistics about the current maternity care system.”
  • Pushed Birth a book by Jennifer Block – “The painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care”
  • Ina May Gaskin – Author of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. “Discover the proven wisdom that has guided thousands of women through childbirth with more confidence, less pain, and little or no medical intervention.”
  • Doulas of North America – A doula is “a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.”
  • Considering an induction? Use the Bishop’s Score for Labor Success – “This tool measures certain components with regard to the mother’s cervix and baby’s position to evaluate her readiness for an induction and ultimately increase the chance of having a vaginal birth. This scoring system can also be used to determine the likelihood of spontaneous labor.”
  • Post-Partum Crotch Care 101 – A humorous, but very practical list. This is one of those things that nobody ever talks about, but is good information to have.

Are there any childbirth resources YOU think should be on this list? Leave a comment and let me know. Thank you. :)

Disclaimer: The information included on this blog is not medical advice and should be used for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a medical professional (doctor or midwife).

Don’t miss a single Crunchy Domestic Goddess post, subscribe to my blog.

Rate your doctor, midwife & hospital on The Birth Survey

If you’ve given birth in the United States in the past three years, you are eligible to participate in The Birth Survey. Thanks to The Birth Survey: Transparency in Maternity Care, “women can now give consumer reviews of doctors, midwives, hospitals, and birth centers, learn about the choices and birth experiences of others, and view data on hospital and birth center standard practices and intervention rates.” If enough women take this survey, it could have a serious impact on maternity care in the U.S.

The survey was developed by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services or the CIMS. “Our goal is to give women a mechanism that can be used to share information about maternity care practices in their community while at the same time providing practitioners and institutions feedback for quality of care improvement efforts.”

tbs_button1_5×2.jpgFrom The Birth Survey:

We are dedicated to improving maternity care for all women. We will do this by 1) creating a higher level of transparency in maternity care so that women will be better able to make informed decisions about where and with whom to birth and 2) providing practitioners and hospitals with information that will aid in evaluating and improving quality of care.

Can I just say I really wish this type of resource had been available when I was pregnant with my daughter? If I had been able to read about my OB’s episiotomy rate for one, I think it may have helped me pass her by and find another doctor who’s intervention rates were more in line with the type of birth I was hoping to have. My doctor may be a great surgeon, but I felt that she was cut-happy and performed an unnecessary episiotomy that I still doesn’t feel right 4+ years later. Since my daughter was born more than 3 years ago I cannot complete the survey to rate this particular doctor, but boy, oh boy, do I wish I could to help other women with their choices.

However, on a positive note, I was able to rate the midwife that was in attendance for my son’s home birth 20 months ago. She received a glowing review from me and I am hopeful that the information I shared in the survey will influence women as well, just in the opposite direction.

The survey itself goes into quite a bit of detail about your prenatal care, labor, birth, and postpartum care with a doctor or midwife as well as asks you to rate the hospital or birthing center in which you gave birth (though you may complete it for home births as well – as I did – you just aren’t rating a facility in that case). I believe it took me about 30 minutes or so to complete. A very nice feature, especially for busy moms, is you have the option of saving your answers and returning to it later, something I definitely took advantage of.

I believe The Birth Survey has the potential to make a real impact on the maternity care in this country and I hope that many, many women will take advantage of it to share their experiences and their knowledge with other women. I really feel it is every woman’s duty to share her experience in an effort to educate others and, in turn, hopefully improve the quality of care. As Citizens for Midwifery points out, “For years, consumers have enthusiastically shared online reviews of movies, restaurants, products and services, but readily available information about maternity care providers and birth settings was nearly unattainable–but no longer.” Doesn’t it just make sense that there should be some sort of resource to compare care providers so that we can all make educated choices for our health and the health of our babies?

Heather at Meet the Heathons shares my excitement and optimism about the survey:

I am SO excited that this is FINALLY getting done. It was my dream as a public health graduate to do something like this. I’ve heard rumors that there are efforts to do this sort of thing for ALL types of medicine. So that say you needed a knee replacement, you could look up the hospital/doctor and see their success rate, compare prices, methods, etc… How AWESOME would that be. It would be one step towards changing health care in America– but I won’t get started on that one!

Giving Birth With Confidence says, “Hats off to the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, the incredible women working within community based birth networks throughout the US, and to all the women who are sharing their birth stories. Finally, there is hope that birth, and women’s decisions about care provider and place of birth, will no longer happen ‘in the dark.'”

Upon completion of the survey, I found it interesting and helpful that there were additional resources listed for women who may have experienced negative feelings about their birth while taking the survey. Had I been taking it for my daughter’s birth instead of my son’s, I am sure a lot of the anger and negative emotions I have had in the past about the care I received during that time may have been brought to the forefront. (Heck, I’m experiencing some of them just writing the little bit that I did about it.) While it sucks that women may experience these feelings, it’s good to know there are resources available to help them deal with them.

If this survey brought up traumatic feelings for you regarding your labor, birth, or postpartum experience we encourage you to seek help from a licensed mental health professional who specializes in birth trauma. The following resources may also be helpful to you www.postpartum.net, www.ican-online.org, and Solace for Mothers.

Now let’s spread the word. Activistas says, “Share your story, voice your opinion, mamas. It’s important, and it feels really good (kind of like having a baby!). If you don’t, how will your experience help others?”

If you’ve given birth in the past three years, will you take The Birth Survey? Will you forward it on to your friends? Will you add a button to your blog? Let your voice be heard!

Other bloggers who have written about The Birth Survey:

Think Mama Think
Faith Walker
Mama Knows Breast
Finally Living Deliberately
…And a doula, too

Cross-posted on BlogHer

Guest post: Shot from the Heart

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. This guest post is from Stephanie of Adventures In Babywearing.

Shot From The Heart
By Stephanie Precourt, Adventures In Babywearing

My decision to not vaccinate my children is something I get asked about a lot. This seems to be one of the hardest subjects to “agree to disagree” upon. Whether it is with your doctor, your mother, or your friend. I get the impression that when someone hears we do not vaccinate, they feel like they must put up their defenses and explain why they do. And all too often they think not vaccinating is neglectful and alarmist. But most of these people have never met someone with a vaccine-injured child. And many times they have not really researched- both sides or any side at all.

I do not vaccinate for a few different reasons that include adverse reactions immediately after vaccination for one of my children, neurological issues in my oldest son, as well as several years of research on the subject.

But I would never criticize those that do vaccinate. I understand that neither choice is easy. I am so glad that we at least have a choice and I hope everyone is making an absolutely informed choice- one made on their own and not only with the help and instruction of their doctor.

Some of the most common false assumptions parents have about vaccines are based on fear, and not on truth. They think their child won’t be able to attend school. You can see your state’s laws regarding that right here. Many parents think that since the mercury has been removed from vaccines, there’s nothing to worry about anymore. But not all mercury has been removed. You can see the CDC (Center For Disease Control) vaccine ingredient listing here. And one of the scariest thoughts of all is that your child will die if they get the chicken pox, measles, or tetanus. If you do your research on all the diseases children are “immunized” for and see the true statistics and treatment options, it’s not so scary anymore. To people like me, the ingredients alone in just one shot is what is frightening.

When we all are informed, aware, and concerned, then good changes can start happening. Until then, why shouldn’t they just continue giving your baby shots with formaldehyde, aluminum, and thimerosal if no one’s complaining?

Doctors and the men and women running our government are human. They can be helpful, but they are not God. They do not know everything- how something will turn out tomorrow or in five years. In the end, only you as the parent are the one who will be held accountable. Go with your heart, your gut, and your instinct, and above all, make your choice an informed one.

Stephanie blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing. You can also read more of her posts on the subject of vaccines in depth here.

Ain’t no power like the power of the mama

About nine months after I had my first child, I went (with the kiddo in tow) to my first Mothers Acting Up meeting. It was my first foray, at least post-children, into an organized activist group. While the timing wasn’t right for me to become a regular bottomlogo.jpgmember, I gleaned a piece of knowledge from that meeting that I think will always stay with me. That is that mothers as a whole are a very, very large group, and if they use their power for good, they can become a force to be reckoned with.

That little gem has stuck with me over the years especially as I blog. Once I became a mom, specifically a stay at home mom, I had more time to think about the things in the world that I wanted to make better and the ways that I could make a difference, no matter how small, in the life of my child or the life of another mother or child. That was actually my motivation behind starting my blog in the first place. I came to realize that, in the words of Edward Everett Hale, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

I often think about all of the power we as women and we as mothers have and wish there was an easy way we could harness it. Thanks to access to the Internet, getting involved and harnessing that power is easier now than ever before. If you are looking for a way to affect some change for the better in your world or the lives of children around the world, chances are there is an organization out there that’s right for you.

Here are some of the mother-centric advocacy groups out there:

MomsRising

… is working to bring together millions of people who share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America. Started in May of 2006, MomsRising has gained over 140,000 citizen members and is rapidly growing. More than 85 national and state organizations have signed on to be aligned with MomsRising.

Our members are bringing important motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country’s awareness. We are working to create both cultural and legislative change. It is time to break the logjam that has been holding back family-friendly legislation for decades and to advance workplace policies that will support families.

MomsRising offers easy entry into citizen advocacy and is bringing the power of online organizing to motherhood and family issues.

Mothers & More

…is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of mothers through support, education and advocacy.

We address mothers’ needs as individuals and members of society, and promote the value of all the work mothers do.

Mothers Acting Up

…exists to inspire and mobilize mothers (and others) to advocate on behalf of the world’s children.
MAU inspires, educates and engages mothers — a gigantic force to be reckoned with— to prioritize children in our corporate and public policies. MAU believes that when mothers lead, generations of global citizens will follow.

Children’s Defense Fund

…The voice for all the children of America. The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

CDF provides a strong, effective voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves.

We pay particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities.

When Ava was just shy of a year old, my husband with Ava on his shoulders and I walked in the annual Mothers Acting Up Mother’s Day parade on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colo. The parade was followed by a rally in front of the courthouse and it was a pretty powerful event to be a part of as I celebrated my very first Mother’s Day as a mom. As the mothers (and others) walked in the parade we chanted, “Ain’t no power like the power of the mama and the power of the mama don’t stop.” Remember that, mamas. The power is ours for the taking. We are women. Hear us roar.

Activist mommy bloggers and other activism sites:
Moms for Modesty
Mojo Mom
Eco Child’s Play
Moms Speak Up
MOMocrats
Nature Moms Blog
PunditMom
Healthy Child, Healthy World
Feminist Moms
Mothers Acting Up (blog)
Attachment Parenting International

Cross-posted on BlogHer

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Bloggers UniteToday bloggers around the world are uniting to blog about human rights. “Bloggers Unite For Human Rights challenges bloggers everywhere to help elevate human rights by drawing attention to the challenges and successes of human rights issues on May 15.”

I won’t have my human rights post up until later this evening – better late than never – but for now I want to share what others are blogging about today. Also be sure to check out CNN’s coverage of Bloggers for Human Rights and leave a comment with a link to your human rights post and I will add you to the list. Thank you.

What other bloggers are raising awareness about today:

To learn more and get involved, visit Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Mother’s Day + Economic Stimulus + Comment Love = 3 Occasions to Donate to Save Women’s Lives

Cross-posted on BlogHer

After reading Denise‘s BlogHer post last week that the gift of maternal health is the perfect Mother’s Day gift, I thought “this really is perfect!” I blogged it and suggested that not only is it a great cause, but it is also a great consumerism/stuff-free gift, something that I feel, in our consumerism-driven society, is so important, but so often forgotten.

I had plans (and still have plans) to donate in my mom’s honor for Mother’s Day. I knew it wouldn’t be a surprise to her since she faithfully reads my blog, but what I wasn’t expecting was that she would beat me to the punch and make a donation in my honor first! My mom chose to honor me for Mother’s Day with a gift to Help Afghan Women Deliver Healthy Babies Safely, a cause that I would’ve chosen myself. My mom said that she thought I would “appreciate that much more than flowers or anything else” and, aside from perhaps a massage (*wink*), she is right. I am happy my mom chose to donate as a gift to me and I hope she will be happy when she receives that email saying I’ve donated as a Mother’s Day gift to her as well.

Speaking of honoring women on Mother’s Day, Jen Lemen suggests honoring a woman you admire by making a donation in her name and then telling her about the ways she’s inspired you. She wrote a wonderful “primer to help you make a perfect match between that woman who inspires you and an organization that’s changing the world.”

Aside from Mother’s Day being the perfect opportunity to donate to Global Giving, Britt Bravo recently asked, “Will You Donate Your Economic Stimulus Check?” Britt said, “FinancialAidPodcast suggests paying down your debt, putting it in a savings account, or donating to a charitable organization.” BlogHer Community Manager Denise left a comment suggesting people use their economic stimulus checks to make a donation to Global Giving. Another wonderful idea.

Smtwngrl at Writing: My Life recently came up with a very creative way to raise money for Global Giving. She originally vowed to donate $0.10 for each comment she received between May 5 and May 9 to one of the Blogher-supported organizations (for a maximum donation of $100). However, after realizing that her original goal may have been a little too lofty, she upped the ante, “In addition to my $25 Mother’s Day donation in my mother’s name, for every unique commenter each day this week (May 5th through May 9th) I’ll donate $1 (up to $100) toward the maternal health cause that receives the most votes.” What are you waiting for? Head on over there and get the comment love a flowing. You still have three days to get those comments in and spread the word.

In addition to the original five worthy maternal health causes (see below), Lisa Stone announced earlier today that BlogHers Act and Global Giving have added the Myanmar relief effort to provide emergency relief to thousands and thousands of people devastated by Cyclone Nargis. The storm has killed over 22,000 people, thousands more are presumed dead, and the million who’s lives have been spared are without shelter and with only a few days food supply. Lisa encouraged everyone to donate and blog this.

She also announced that BlogHer and Global Giving will be matching your donation. “Whichever of the now six projects recommended via the BlogHers Act fundraising widget receives the most donations between now and the end of the week will get a $1,000 donation from BlogHer, which Global Giving has agreed to match. The other five worthy projects will also get a donation of $200 each from BlogHer.”

Karoli at Odd Time Signatures answered Lisa’s call to action and donated to Global Giving again, this time to the Myanmar people, blogged it and encourages others to “please dig deep” and “consider rounding up your loose change around the house, under the couch, hidden in old handbags, wallets and drawers.”

I think it’s important to note that no amount is too small. Every little bit adds up and can help the people, including mothers and children, in Myanmar, as well as other maternal health projects around the world. We’re at $3415 donated so far. How much more can we raise between now and Mother’s Day? How will you help?

More about each of the BlogHers Act/Global Giving projects:

Provide Emergency Relief – Myanmar Cyclone Victims: Donate as little as $10 to support urgent disaster relief efforts by helping provide food, clean water, and supplies for those affected by the cyclone, which has killed thousands and caused extensive flooding and damage.

Maternal Health Projects:

* Mother and Child Clinic in Nepal: $10 – 2 days’ operating costs for the Clinic OR a year’s worth of care for 5 women and children

* Help Afghan Women Deliver Healthy Babies Safely: $25 – 20 women will have improved quality of life through reproductive healthcare and education

* Ensure Healthcare for 40,000+ Displaced Darfurians: $25 – Trains 2 Traditional Birthing Attendants (includes 3 training sessions and training materials)

* Empower Women to End HIV/AIDS Stigma, South Africa: $50 – 2 women living with HIV/AIDS can receive counseling

* Noon Meal Improves Girls’ Learning in Burkina Faso: $15 – Provides a noon meal for 50 students for one day.

Take Action Now:

1) Grab a button or donation widget to place on your blog.

2) Share this information with your readers by blogging about maternal health, the Myanmar relief effort, or the individual project you’re supporting.

3) If you blog it, leave your link at the bottom of this post, so others can read your thoughts on these issues. (And so we can feature you on BlogHer.com and in our newsletters.)

4) Donate to save women’s lives, today.