So first of all, Happy Halloween! One of my favorite things to do during this holiday is to carve pumpkins and along with that comes roasted pumpkin seeds. Yummy!!! So you may be asking why I’m posting this on a birthing blog and there in an excellent reason: iron. It is so important to get enough iron in life and especially during pregnancy because iron is needed to make red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. During pregnancy, our bodies need 25-40% more blood so of course we need more iron. The recommended dose of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg per day. (for non-pregnant women it’s 18 mg per day.) Pumpkin seeds have about 8 mg of iron per cup and better yet, they also have some vitamin c which helps the iron get absorbed into our systems even better! If that weren’t enough, pumpkin seeds are also high in omega-3′s, antioxidants and other essential minerals.
Another important thing to note about iron is that babies are born with their iron stores for the first 5-6 months of life so if mom is anemic, baby has a higher chance of also being anemic. Iron in not readily passed though breast milk either. (side note -Another way to insure that your baby has an adequate amount of iron is to the delay the clamping of the umbilical cord until it has stopped pulsing or at least 5-10 minuets. Placenta encapsulation can also help replenish moms iron losses after the birth.)
Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to roasting your own pumpkin seeds. First of all, the easiest way to clean you seeds is to soak them in a bowl of water. When you soak them, the seeds float the the top and all of the pumpkin junk sinks to the bottom. I follow the soak with a quick rinse in a strainer and you’re good to go. Once your seeds are clean you can use your imagination as to how you want to flavor them. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- cinnamon sugar (a favorite in our house)
- hint of salt
- garlic and parmesan
- curry and salt
- cayenne and sugar
Or you could always do a pumpkin seed brittle, pumpkin muffins with a twist, or even make your own trail mix.
Once you pick your seasoning, roast them on 300 for 45 min. Chances are, your seeds won’t last the night but if they do, store them in a zipper bag or air tight container.
In love and light (and good food)
I recently had the opportunity to have a henna piece drawn on my arm. What is henna you ask? Well, henna is an all natural substance derived from drying and grinding the leaves and stems of the henna tree. The powder is mixed to make a paste which is then applied to the skin. After the paste dries, it flakes off to reveal a temporary brownish, red, or orange design. Some people use henna in ritual skin painting, called Mehndi, for birth and marriage celebrations. Western cultures have adopted henna to make temporary tattoos and organic hair dye. The dye on the skin will last sometimes 2-3 weeks.
I bring this up because henna is a beautiful way to celebrate your pregnancy. I just had a simple flower on my wrist but every time I looked down, it brought a smile to me face. The process of getting the henna is just as fun. You sit in a comfy chair, have a glass of tea, and watch the beautiful design unfold before you eyes. What a great way to pamper yourself during those that few weeks.
We are fortunate enough to have a great artists here in Atlanta: Talitha Seibel. You can check her out at http://talithaseibel.com
Recently I had the chance to share what I do on tv. I was interviewed but the wonderful Paulette Payne for her show “Profiles”. We had a great time chatting before and during the show about doulas and Hypnobabies so without further a due, here is the final result. I hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed that taping!
in love and light.
Recently, our wonderful, local perinatologist, Dr. Brad Bootstaylor, created an “app” for all pregnant women. All pregnant women should ask these questions of their health care provider early in their relationship (if not before) to help determine the probability of having a safe, empowering, and life-enhancing vaginal birth. Dr. Brad shared that if your provider does not score a perfect 10, you should consider switching. For more information on Dr. Bootstaylor, please visit www.seebaby.org.
1. Does your Provider believe your pregnancy is normal, despite any co-existing medical problems that can be managed expectantly & safely?
2. Does your Provider believe you can go into spontaneous labor after the EDD (estimated date of delivery) while monitoring your pregnancy safely?
3. Does your Provider listen to you?
4. Does your Provider discuss your concerns with you like an adult?
5. Does your Provider encourage a “patient centered” approach to labor support (e.g. Doula, Childbirth Education, Breastfeeding)?
6. Does your Provider support “Birth Options”, despite some not being available at the facility of choice?
7. Does your Provider support and encourage VBAC, which is consistent with ACOG recommendations?
8. Do you feel comfortable and well informed after speaking with your Provider?
9. Does your family, friends, or acquaintances support your Birth Options?
10. At or near term, do you sense a “change” in your Provider’s temperament towards you?
Each “yes” answer = 10% and the probability of having a safe, empowering, and life-enhancing vaginal birth.
Are you Pregnant?
Do you know where you are planning on birthing your baby?
Do you know what their c-section rates are?
Do you know what your care providers c-section rates are?
Is your care provider supportive of VBAC’s (vaginal birth after cesarean?
These are all questions that should be answered before you begin a relationship (or very early in on) with the care provider of your choice. The last published c-section rates for Georgia were for Jan- Dec 2010. In January 27, 2012 The Georgia Hospital Association confirmed via Twitter that the DRGs (Diagnosis-Related Groups) for vaginal birth and cesarean delivery are no longer available on their site. If we want the information, we must ask for it. Below are the last published c-section rates that were made available for the state of Georgia. How does your hospital stack up?
cesarean sections rates for Atlanta Georgia hospitals
Here are a few more sites with great info about c-sections and maternal health:
A while ago I posted about doulas and what a doula really does: What Doulas “Do”. For this post, I’m going to talk about the importance of a Hypno-doula. Let me preface this by saying that all (good) hypno-doulas should also have the basic regular doula training as well, usually through DONA, CAPPA, ALACE or the like. They might not actually be certified but they should at least be trained. This is because a Hypnodoula training is not meant to be a complete doula training but rather supplimental information to teach doulas how to use Hypnobabies techniques along with their other tools.
That being said, lets move on to what a Hypno-doula does. A hypno-doula is specially trained to assist a mom/couple who have chosen to use hypnosis during their birth. They understand the power of the mind body connection as well as the tools and techniques taught in a Hypnobabies class (or home study). This might sound like a simple thing to learn and it is as long as that doula is open to learning. In fact, many doulas will say that they are familiar with the techniques but in reality, that doula may have a fundamental belief that pain is necessary in birth which is totally contrary to the philosophies of Hypnobabies. If a doula is serious about supporting couples that are using Hypnobabies (or any other class), they should be willing to go through the additional training (if offered) or sit in on the class with the couple.
You may be getting the sense that this is a bit of a sore subject for me because well… it is. I love teaching! I love empowering families to have EMpowered births that can be comfortable and peaceful. Finding the right doula for you is just one step in the process. I personally don’t believe that birth has to be a power struggle where a woman has to earn the right to be called mom. At the end of the day it may be a struggle for one mom but it may NOT be for the next. It’s all about her journey. Would I be a good fit for a mom that believes pain is necessary? Maybe not, which leads me to my point. Find a doula that will support you in the method you choose. Talk to her and find out what her core beliefs are. If she is teaching another class than the one you are taking, there may be a difference of opinions. Please understand that I’m not saying that one class is better than another because there is no “perfect class”. They are all (well most of them) great classes with amazing information and they are all different.
What I’m saying here is that if you choose to invest you time and money into a specific class, do your homework / homeplay and find a doula that is trained to support you, or is willing to learn about the way that you have chosen. If she says she can support you along your Hypnobabies journey, ask her if she is a certified hypno-doula, if she has attended a class, a training or if she is willing to. Ask her what instructor she trained with and why or why not she chose to get certified. Check out the Hypnobabies website to see if she is listed.
Why is it so important you ask? Great questions. At the end of the day, in the wee hours of the morning, doulas rely on their inner strength and their core beliefs to get them through. In the beginning, a doula can “try” different things that might work and if she doesn’t believe they will work, they won’t. In Hypnobabies class we talk extensively about “focus on what you want” and “what the mind believes the body will achieve”. During birth, a mom is on auto pilot so she relies on her birth partner and her doula to be her voice and sometimes even her brain. If a doula doesn’t believe that mom can have a comfortable birth, chances are, she won’t so do your homework. Ask for references from other couples that have used the same method that you have chosen. At the end of the day, you get one chance to have the birth you want so be your own advocate and ask the questions.
If the doula you choose is or is not a hypnodoula, can you still have an amazing birth? Of course!!! This is just one step in the process. One choice you can make that will form the complete picture. There is no such thing as a “perfect” birth except your birth so why not make informed decisions.
ok. now let’s talk about Vitamin K.
A Vitamin K injection is routinely given to all newborns that are born in the hospitals in the United States. Vitamin K effects the bloods clotting abilities so with a low level, it predisposes the infant to bleeding problems. About every 1 in 10,000 babies is born with a vit k deficiency and in about half of babies who suffer this bleeding problem after the first week of life, many will die or sustain significant brain-damage due to the disease, because of bleeding into the brain. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends this as a routine procedure as there are no other signs of a vit k deficiency.
So it sounds like a no brainer for an infant to get a vit K injection right? well, lets look at the other side of the coin. First of all, this injection is usually given within the first few hours of the babies life. It can be traumatic physically and mentally. (Welcome to the world little one now let me stick this needle in your thigh and fill your system with toxins that I don’t even know about on the off chance that you are that 1 in 10,000) Well, if you are that 1, it is worth it and there are options. There is an oral option available so that eliminates the injection part. It also has it’s pros and cons so please do your research.
So then we move on to the “toxins” part. Make no mistake, the Vitamin K shot is a vaccine and as such, contains preservatives. There are also studies out there that link the vit k shot to childhood leukaemia. If you want to know more about what is in the injection that your child might get, ask your doctor to see the package insert BEFORE your child receives the injection and ideally before you give birth. Read the label and become and informed parent. We must also look at the dose that is being given. The amount if vit k is 20,000 times the newborn level at birth. This dose is based on an adult level and one of the side effects from too much vit k is jaundice. Vitamin K is also meant to be absorbed through the gut but given as an injection, it bypasses this system in a way the body was not meant to handle.
Lets take a step back for a moment and think. The rational behind the Vit K shot is that all newborns are born deficient in this wonderful thing so in order for the species to survive, we must give them this life-saving shot? I’m being a bit sarcastic but really, all babies born in the us NEED this shot? Where in other countries they don’t? Babies may be born with a naturally low level of vitamin K but guess what? Vitamin K is naturally found in colostrum! Once again, nature has designed a perfect system for the survival of the species. Vitamin K is also found in the dark green leafy veggies so mom can also load up on these in the last few weeks before birth. When babies receive vitamin k through the mom/colostrum they 1. process it though their gut, 2. are with their mom without interruption, 3. their levels gradually rise and peak on about the 8th day of life. 4. there are no additional chemicals put into the babies system for them to process, 5. we are honoring the perfection of nature.
Now, there are some risk factors that might sway a parent decision making process. If it was a traumatic birth including vacuum or forceps delivery or if the newborn will undergo a procedure where bleeding might occur (like circumcision, heel sticks or blood draws, or surgery of any kind), those may be valid reasons to get the shot. Delayed cord clamping can also help insure that the baby gets all of the blood, including vit K, that it needs.
The bottom line is to know your options and be an informed parent, question everything and make the best decision for YOUR family.
I first learned about this from the book “What Your Pediatrician Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Your Child:” by Susan Markel. http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Markel/e/B00467C0TW. There is also a great podcast with Dr. Markel from progressive parenting at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/progressive-parenting/2011/10/04/important-facts-about-what-happens-after-baby-is-born. For more information, please check out http://www.givingbirthnaturally.com/newborn-vitamin-k.html.
Today was a rather long day. I drove back from Fl as the only adult with my 2 kids. They are great kids and usually I have things planned out to include a stop or two and car activities/ toys. Today however, the universe had different plans than mine. We left late (so no time to stop and play along the way), the movie that I downloaded didn’t work and so of course, they went through their toys in the first hour. Ugh!
I did figure out plan B though: a book on tape. I have a (free) app with a bunch of classic book on tape so as I scrolled through the most popular ones, I saw The Wizard of Oz. I love this movie! I have never read the book and I thought the kids might actually enjoy it so win, win, win! It was quite long and as I listened, it dawned on me that it is all about the power of our own minds. The actual book is a good bit different than the movie. Some were some minor changes like Dorothy had silver slippers and not ruby (gasp!). Then others that were not so minor. For example, in the book, Glenda the good witch does not come to Oz to tell Dorothy she can go home but instead, the 4 (Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion) travel through 3 different “lands” to get to the land of Glenda, but I digress.
When the 4 get to Oz the second time, after the wicked witch of the west is dead, they went see the great wizard of Oz for him to fulfill his promise. They find out however, that he is just a scared little man from Omaha that is just hiding behind a screen. Not being one to want to break his promises, he tells them all to come back tomorrow and he will give them what they each asked for: the scarecrow a brain, the tin man a heart and the lion courage and to get Dorothy home. The scarecrow is the first to come back to get his brain and we find out that his brain is nothing more than oats mixed with pins and needles (so he would be sharp). After getting his “brain”, he immediately feels so much smarter when in reality, the only thing that changed was his perception.
The Tin man goes next to get his heart and the same thing happens. The Wizard of Oz said he had to cut a small hole in the tin mans chest but it couldn’t be helped. The only thing the wizard put in there was a stuffed heart but the tin man immediately felt more compassion and love. The cowardly lion was last and the wizard gave him a green potion to drink saying it’s nothing now but once it’s inside, it will be courage because courage is only on the inside. The lion gulped it down as quick as he could and once more, immediately felt more courageous.
In all 3 of these cases, the only thing that changed was that ‘persons’ perception of themselves. In medical terms this is called the placebo effect. For me, I call it the power of our own minds. We all have within ourselves to be our own Wizard of Oz and yet so often, we keep looking for external validation. How many times have you asked your friend if you look ok? After they say,”you look awesome”, your confidence soars! Or have you ever known that you were doing the right thing but then stopped because a family member didn’t approve?
So what does this all have to do with birth? Well… everything! No matter how you are planning on birthing you child, you need to feel that it is the right path for you regardless of how other think or feel. Your mind is a powerful tool so why not use it to your advantage. Just remember, weather you think you can or you think you can’t, you are always right!
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a pretty positive person so with a title like that, I’ve got a little bit of explaining to do. When I use the term “negative space”, I’m not referring to ‘the opposite of good’ but rather ‘the absence of’. Let me explain. When I was in college, I studied photography. Back then we used the real cameras that had no “auto” button and (gasp) real film. We did everything in black and white. We learned the mechanics of using a camera, composition of a good photograph and how to develop our own film. It was in this photography class that I learned the importance of “negative space” because without it, there would be no picture. A good black and white photographer learned how to master the balance between the positive and negative space. I love this thought because when we look at it like this, the “negative” is actually mandatory. It is the contrast that creates the art.
We can take this analogy further and relate it to well… Everything. If we look at “negative space” just as the contrast that creates the art, our view of life completely changes. The Negative actually becomes a good thing but how does this look in life. Indulge me for another moment while I use another analogy. I like to use the analogy of breathing. When we breath, we breath in and then we breath out, we breath in and then we breath out again. We do this usually, without thinking. We don’t ever stop and think “oh no, my lungs have no oxygen” and yet that is a perfect example of the negative space or “the absence of”. Just because the air is not inside our bodies at that moment, there is no reason for alarm because we know there is always enough oxygen.
If you think about it, everything has this same pattern or cycle: the waves at the beach, our heart, our money and yes, even birth. Even when things seem to not have this cycle, when we look close enough or far enough away, we will always find it. Anyone who has ever attended at birth know that there is a natural rhythm to each pressure wave and if we stop for a moment and take a step back, we will see a much larger rhythm. The ebb and flow of personal space. A friend of mine and fellow doula says, “An overly solicitous care provider makes a woman feel weak and disempowered.” When I first heard this, I really had to stop and think for a moment. If you think about it, when a doctor is ever present/ always there, the patient will start to think, “what’s wrong? why are they watching me so closely?” But this can and does apply to doula work.
I am a pretty hands on doula. I like my clients to feel supported and comfortable so this really got me thinking. If I am “ever present”, what will my clients think. Will they questions their own power, wondering whose strength it was that got them through? Now, I’m not advocating that doulas leave a birth for a few hours, I’m just saying that there is power in giving a mom her personal space. In this way, we can think of negative space as the absence of me. As I look back, a good majority of the births that I’ve attended have benefited from, or could have benefited from this negative space.
As a doula and educator, I don’t like it when my clients say “we couldn’t have done it without you”. My ego loves it but at that moment, it’s not about my ego, it’s about my clients. I want them to walk away feeling empowered knowing that they made the decisions that were right for them and that I supported them in those decisions. In providing that “negative space”, I allow a mom the chance to get to know herself and really find her power.
So for this post, I’m going to take you back to the basics. If you are reading this blog, chances are that you know that I am a doula but you may be asking, “ok great. now what the heck is that and what does a doula really do?” If you are indeed asking those questions, or even something similar, keep reading. If you’re not asking yourself those questions, keep reading, you just may learn something.
The work “doula” actually comes from the Greek word meaning “to serve”. Today, we use the word to describe (usually) a woman who is trained to serve another woman emotionally and physically during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. I am a labor doula meaning I am specifically trained to support a woman during childbirth. Part of that support involves education before the actual day as well as postpartum support.
So now you may be saying, “that sounds great but what does a doula really DO?” I can and will tell you what I do and I want to preface it by saying that every doula is different and every birth is different. What I do in one birth may or may not work in another birth for one reason or another so it’s important for all doulas to be versatile and to have a big “bag of trick”. A lot of my work as a doula is getting to know my clients, their thoughts and ideas about birth, their history and why they feel the way they do about certain things. Like I mentioned earlier, I do a good bit of education with my clients. Most, but not all of my clients have gone through my Hypnobabies class and even with that solid foundation, there is still a lot of information I share that is a little more specific to that couple and their needs. (sidenote- I’m using the term “couple” but by not means am I referring to just husband and wife. I love working with diverse couples and single moms too.) We do this education throughout a series of prenatal meetings. I like to have at least 2 meetings and more if time permits. In these meeting we really just get to know each other. I’m not there to tell that couple what they should and shouldn’t do but to educate them what they COULD do. I support the decisions made by that couple because after all, it’s their birth, not mine. We also talk about some of the things we may do in the birth, what that mom likes and what makes her feel good. I show her and her partner some things they can do before I get there and of course we talk about when they should call me.
After that, I’m on-call 2 weeks before mom’s guess date until the baby is born. That basically means that I’m available 24-7. I live, eat, breath and sleep with my phone and I’m always within a 1 hour driving distance. When we have all decided that it’s time for me to come, I like to meet the couple at their home so we can get into a good groove. I would love to tell you what I do from there but it is SO different from every birth! At one birth I may be supporting the birth partner and at the next, there may not be a birth partner. At this birth mom might really enjoy the birth ball and the the next, mom may absolutely love the rebozo. I like to incorporate energy work, aromatherapy, acupressure and massage and if that mom doesn’t like it, we move on. A doula does not preform medical tasks, they are there for physical and emotional support only. We find our rhythm until we decide that it’s time to move to the place of birth. Once we get there, we get back into that same rhythm or as close as we can get. From there, we keep doing what works until baby comes. I will stay as long as the couple needs me which usually ends up to be about 2-3 hours after the birth. When everyone gets settled and sleepy, I gracefully make my exit.
I stay available for the next week to 2 and in that time we do at least 1 postpartum meeting. This is one of my favorite times because I usually get to get me baby hugs and we (the birth team) get to process the birth. This can be such an empowering time for moms and partners and it’s so rewarding for me to see this new family ending one journey and starting on the next.
So now you know what I do but why do I do it? I do it because I love it but there are also so many benefits to having a doula, it’s almost crazy to not have one. Here are some of the statistics of having a doula at your birth:
-50% reduction in the cesarean rate
-25% shorter labor
-60% reduction in epidural requests
-40% reduction in oxytocin use
-30% reduction in analgesia use
-40% reduction in forceps deliver
All I can say is WOW!
So I now have you convinced that doulas are awesome but now, how do you find one? There are a few nationally certified organizations:DONA, CAPPA, and ALACE are a few of the bigger ones. This is a good place to start. Another good resource is your childbirth class. Your instructor should have a list of doulas that support your chosen method. (Don’t know which one to choose, we will cover that in another post.) I always recommend interviewing at least 3 different doulas and have no fear, most doulas do a free initial consultation. It’s a big decision and you want to make sure you choose someone you really mesh with and feel comfortable with. You can also talk to your friends to see if they have any recommendations. Just a quick note of caution, talk to your friend about their birth and see if that’s the kind of birth you want. If not, you may not want to go with their recommendation for an ob or doula… Just a thought. Once you have found a few, look at their credentials, ask them questions and then, go with your gut. Sometimes you just don’t need to know why, you just go with it.
I hope I’ve shed a bit of light on a new topic for you and if you have questions, please ASK!!! There is no such thing as a silly question.
Birth is a journey, not a destination.