Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blizzard of Breeches

I love this story, so romantic, in the sense of a baby coming during a blizzard.
Guess the baby wanted to test the temp and put his little toes out first. I'd love to know the details.

Meanwhile, a midwife texted me that she had a surprise breech with a first time mom. This baby came with the feet and buttocks together. Yes, you see the feet first, but the bottom opens the cervix wonderfully. If the baby is full term and the cord is in its proper place, the birth goes well, as it did in this case. First time mom, refused to go to the hospital, and had a lovely birth.

Hung out with a fun group today, Martha Low, my videographer and video editor came today to shoot another part of the Resolving Shoulder Dystocia video. I felt I left out some instruction in the first go round. Nickie and Rebecca were coming to be the midwives and oops, I forgot to ask a pregnant woman to come and play with us. Its 10 am and I'm calling all around to find a woman due now or soon to be the actress for the mother. Now its a sunny day and the roads were dry and not many were home. Liz said she and her children could come, though she was super busy. But I knew Martha would want quiet on the set. Hmm, more calls, Alisa would come but she isn't due till March and her cute little tummy might seem a bit petite for a full term Mom in labor. What to do? Oh, of course! Call Sarah Longacre. Running Blooma, she knows a lot of pregnant women!! Not only did she suggest some wonderful women, like Rose, who didn't answer but would have been perfect, but she even starting calling women herself. Nickie also began calling, unbeknownst to me and texted that she found may have found a mama. A baby sitter had to be found first, though. At the same time Jess called, reintroducing herself -we'd met some months before at a Belly Mapping and painting evening - and she had the afternoon free. Since her gestating twins were of her first pregnancy, she could just come on over!
And though she has two months to go, her belly was the perfect size! And what a trooper! She had baby after baby, all my singleton Childbirth Graphics doll, and had to go through all sorts of position changes. All the while I reassured her, I've never known twins to have shoulder dystocia!
She's got a honey of an OB helping her and her partner birth these babies, plus doula Sarah Longacre. She wasn't fazed.
I'm excited for the addition to the DVD. All previous buyers can send their old Resolving Shoulder Dystocia DVDs in for a free replacement any time during or after March 2011. We have a more clear enactment of FlipFLOP, we show 5 types of shoulder dystocia and a common complication of shoulder dystocia (that's a redundancy!), and Rebecca repeats the posterior arm removal. This time Rebecca helps out a doll, and we will put it so that viewers see this just before we see the animated stills of her doing the same technique with her baby daughter. Each illustration gets more and more detailed!

What a fun and busy day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

flexion, looking "down"

A woman wrote me today saying she's due now but her baby isn't engaged. Her doctor said her baby is on her left facing her right hip and looking down.
Was that a problem she asked?

I began to answer in one way and suddenly realized as I wrote that I wasn't sure exactly what her doctor meant!

See the drawings here, the babies on the left side are flexed, with their chin's tucked and the one on the bottom left is engaged.
There is one finger width between the baby's shoulder and the mother's pubic bone. The bigger baby above is flexed but not engaged. The two on the right show one beginning to engage on the top right and the bottom right this baby can't engage because the head is resting atop the symphysis pubis (pubic bone).
A chiropractic adjustment of the sacro-ischial joints and the symphysis will likely help. A myofascial release of the sacrum may be needed to help baby engage, too.

"Looking down could be a big deal," I started, "if down means literally down, towards your pelvis. If it means that baby is looking "down" into baby's lap, then that's good.
Find out because its all the difference in the world.

If baby's head is extended, a pelvic floor release (sidelying release) would be helpful. Don't do hip circles on the birth ball until the baby is flexed - meaning has her or his chin tucked. See circle of LOT baby here.
Face up means the hair line above the baby's forehead will be the closest part of the baby coming, The baby would then be extended a bit or even all the way to a face presentation. I don't have a drawing of that.

Myofascial release of all three, abdominal, sacral and pelvic floor would be good. In addition, the rebozo then the foreward leaning inversion. And if baby is in a good position, won't hurt, but only make labor progress more smoothly."

She'd asked if she should be concerned and what could she do (as my reply addresses) but added,
Should I just let nature take it's course?

"You could let nature take its course now, and not do these things. That is an alternate way to cope. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Which isn't the same as saying both routes will have the same result!

I suggest women ask, in one year looking back if you were to need a cesarean, whould you be satisfied that you did "all you" could or wanted to do at this time to prepare."

Being pro-active is implied in using a Spinning Babies approach. But having a wait-and see attitude isn't wrong. But notice in yourself if it is being trusting or being in avoidance.
There's a significant difference there in birth outcomes.

Let's be balanced, active and working on flexibility. Nature's course is to be in balance and to be active.
Modern life doesn't offer much spontaneous symmetry or activity. Today, we must choose to be active. We also may have to overcome imbalances brought on by sitting or standing for hours, especially in chairs growing up in school. As adults we over use our right leg driving our cars.

Look at the first principle of Spinning Babies, Balance.

Carol Phillips, DC, is teaching doulas, midwives and yoginis three specific techniques that are specific to balance the day after my Spinning Babies Workshop in Richmond, Virginia. Come and see how amazing this could be for your birth practice!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nurses and Spinning Babies

Today, some sweet Labor and Delivery nurses, who may want to keep quiet about their Spinning Babies plans and do will remain anonymous until they say that I can brag about their individual beautifulnesses, talked with me about what activities they could teach and do with a pregnant woman in prenatal testing sessions.

We talked about using the first principle of Spinning Babies at three anatomical levels, above the brim, the midpelvis, and the outlet. We focused on the Rebozo Manteado or "Sifting", the Abdominal Release (Diaphragmatic Release), and the Forward-leaning Inversion.
Nickie, my devoted Spinning Babies supporter, had to stay home with sick grandkids. So My husband Vic was a willing, if not expressive, model for a pregnant woman for us! What a sweetie!
He may go past his due date, but never his freshness date!

We talked about two activities to help babies into the brim following the Abdominal Release if still necessary. The two activities were the Abdominal Lift and Tuck (aka Belly Lift) and the Trochanter Roll (aka Walcher's Position). These exercises are illustrated on my website under Techniques.

Our conversation tickled the nurses interest for more information on the three levels (associated with station, they may be categorized as -2 and higher, -1, 0, +1 station, and +1 and lower) and the techniques that may correspond best with each level.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Car Breech w yoga breathing!

Newspapers love to publish car birth stories and the latest in the stream is a breech birth in England. The local hospital closed to births so the parents had drive to a hospital a little farther than labor had time for. A healthy 7 1/2 pound girl was born while the father drove on.
The cute baby has the classic breech forehead shape showing us that she likely was breech for a while as her head shaped to the inside curve of the upper uterine wall (fundus).

Either breech isn't such a drama there, or no one knew, at least foreknowledge wasn't mentioned in the news story. And this mother knew to keep herself calm,

“It was fortunate because when I realised what was happening, the things I learnt in my yoga classes such as how to control my breathing focused my mind and stopped me from panicking.

(Spelling from the Petersberg Post article on the same birth.)

Articles like these might give people the idea that breech birth isn't so damaging after all.

Let's see if baby Eliza's birth fit the protocols, fast birth? Yep, water broke on the road.
Mother upright? Well, she was in the front seat, so we can assume either sitting or kneeling backwards.
Hands off the breech? Yep, Dad's hands were on the driving wheel. Mom clutching the car door as Dad swerved through winding country roads.
Baby the right size for mom? Yep, everything was just perfect!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fetal position and Thyroid

Check out this post at Perfect Health Diet on Thyroid health and breech rates. We have also heard that low thyroid is associated with posterior babies.
Optimal TSH levels are not what the current tests indicate. This is obvious to anyone struggling with thyroid symptoms who is told their levels are normal. Read the fine print about the test...

But it may be worth the test anyway...
and don't forget Vitamin D levels.
For women without insurance... dietary enhancement can be inexpensive.

And you and your baby are worth it.

Any way, I'd started asking women to eat seaweed in pregnancy. What's your favorite way to enhance thyroid function in pregnancy?

  1. Perfect Health Diet » Thyroid

    Now, a Dutch study shows that the likelihood of breech birth rises monotonically with the mother’s TSH levels at gestational week 36. ...The Dutch study found that:

  • Pregnant women with a TSH of 0.5 or less had NO breech births at all, and those between 0.51 and 0.71 had only a 1% chance of a breech birth.
  • Pregnant women with a TSH between 0.71 and 2.49 had about a 5% chance of breech birth.
  • Pregnant women with TSH of 2.50 to 2.89 had an 11% chance of breech birth, while those with TSH above 2.89 had a 14% chance of breech birth.

  1. Perinatal Outcome of Children Born to Mothers with Thyroid ...

    by T Mannisto - 2009
    Thyroid autoantibodies are also associated with an increased rate of LGA infants. ... thyroxin during early gestation: a risk factor of breech presentation? ...
  2. Werner & Ingbar's the thyroid: a fundamental and clinical text

    Sidney C. Werner, Sidney H. Ingbar, Lewis E. Braverman - 2005
    Patients with idiopathic hypopituitarism may have a history of breech delivery or birth by vacuum extraction. The rate of progression and the degree of ...
  3. High TSH levels increased risk for breech delivery

    Jul 23, 2010 ... Women with thyroid stimulating hormone levels greater than 2.5 mIU/L during the end of pregnancy appear to be at increased risk for breech ...

A doula once again...

Sometimes I ponder if a birth I attend will be my last one. I don't know, I've always been on the verge of some ending or another. This summer God gave me another chance and so did a mother from Wisconsin. Well, actually, I asked her if I could be her doula! Can you believe it?

I've mentioned her before on this blog. She's the woman who felt in her heart that having a routine cesarean for a breech baby didn't make sense. She found a great doctor by the time I returned her call. (She was fast!) and I said, "with your birth plans, even with such a supportive doctor, in this culture, I really suggest having a doula... And if you don't have one in mind, I'd love to be your doula."

Kinda bold, huh? But she called me back after talking with her husband and they decided yes. I met them at their doctor's office and afterwards, decided that they'd call me in labor. Halfway through Karen Strange's Midwifery Management of Neonatal Resuscitation I got the call. I hope to pick up the second half of Karen's great class again. I've attended it before, too, its phenomenal... but then, it does support what we do.

So during this lovely birth in which I got to love and adore this really cool, self-assured first time mother, I asked the doctor, "Would you be comfortable not cutting the cord until either it stops pulsing or the baby transitions? And if baby needs faster care, could we milk the cord blood back into the baby before cutting the cord?" I was really hopeful since this first baby was coming bottom first rather than head first and sometimes breeches start a bit slowly. He didn't hesitate, but said, sure, we can try that.

Dr. George Morley would be so pleased.

Surprisingly, the cord snapped right after the baby came out. Just snapped! I'd never seen that but called out to the doctor, holding the baby, who had just turned to pick up the bulb syringe. You should have seen him spin around and grab that cord in mid air. There was no blood spilled it was so fast.

I really didn't have what would be noticed as an active role in the labor. Cooing and smiling doesn't seem to be doing much. Some call it holding the space.

The parents were calm and perhaps I reinforced their own confidence by being calm also.

If you don't know the role of the doula, you should look up some things at www.dona.org because I'm understating here.

I opened a treasure tonight. Its a card from this family with pictures of this fine boy! He's over 12 pounds at six-weeks old - he was 9.9 at birth - (!) The milk in Wisconsin is good, and not just from the cows!

He is so cute! Clear eyes and trusting gaze. His mom said, if you don't mind, "You were like an angel sent from God Himself."

Many a doula has heard this praise, so please don't think I'm special. Though, it did seem this connection was put together so easily and quickly as if Divine cords were drawn together.

It gets me thinking of how important the doula role is. A midwife isn't a doula, neither is the dad. A good nurse isn't a doula and neither is the grandmother. The unique thing about a doula is that she is a woman who is the mother's peer, but not her relative; she is knowledgeable about birth, but she is not responsible for decision making.

She may advocate for things, as I did when I asked for delayed cord cutting. And I did that out of range of hearing of the parents in case the doctor had a reason to say no, I wouldn't be worrying the parents about a possible diversion in perspectives. We all work so harmoniously to welcome this woman into motherhood.

The reality of it all is, I get to look good simply because the mother sees her own beauty and strength reflected in my eyes.

That is the role of a doula.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Breech updates

The Midwives Alliance conference offered two wonderful presentations on breech. First, Midwife Abby Kinne of Ohio (right, helping a student) taught a day long class emphasizing no-touch but helping midwives get hands-on skills with a wonderful womb-anikin from Australia called Sophie and her Mum.

Thanks to Candace Robinson for the pictures.

I couldn't sit back! I so wanted to "feel" the models.
This picture could have the caption, "Each one teach one."
Which is
not to say, "caught one; taught one."

My turn. Hands-off, remember, unless... there's a compelling reason to go get your child.
For instance, in a class room where resolving the shoulder dystocia of a breech baby is being taught!

I nearly cried when I saw Jan's expression
- on my face!-

I miss her so and
am deeply grateful that she yet comes to visit me during breech births,
even with a manikin.

No, you can't get the anterior arm like this. Rotate and get the posterior arm.
You know this from Lovset. 180 then 90 degrees... unless 90 will do it without rotating the baby's chin to the symphysis.

Now I can get the posterior arm. (of course, if the mother were on her hands and knees, this would be easier on the baby. But this is if the mother has been knocked on conscious and there's no one to hold her on her hands and knees, I guess! )

Find the "nape" of the neck...

Lift the legs to bring the face slowly out...

And here's the baby!

I'm laughing in amazement and surprise at how heavy "Sophie" is. She's 7 and an half pounds and comes out feeling much like a newborn.
Don't worry, we won't cut her cord and she'll pink up very soon!

(I'd love to get a "Sophie and her Mum" --as soon as I can raise several thousand dollars!! I'd love to present the shoulder dystocia training with this set up. We can rig her for hands and knees birth...

It will require a grant from somewhere...)

Next, Betty-Anne Daviss of Understanding Birth Better taught us what recent studies were out, and the news from Frankfort and Tel-Aviv and Ottawa on breech. One of the recent articles on breech is hers and Ken Johnson's!
Rixa Freeze does a wonderful job discussing the breech articles at her blog Stand and Deliver.
There was much more fun and education at the conference. More later!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Email if you have questions

Some of you post your question on my Inversion blog and I missed someone' s post until after her due date. Please email me instead
Gail @ Spinning Babies Dot Com.
Fix the address according to the address need.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Organic Birth Movie

Congratulations, Debra Pascali-Bonaro on Going Green
Angie and I will be selling Organic Birth at the LAMAZE ICEA CONFERENCE in Milwaukee, WI this coming weekend!

Our Spinning Babies exhibit will offer both Organic Birth, 57 minutes, $19.99 and
Orgasmic Birth, 72 minutes, $29.99
at this special conference pricing.

ORGANIC BIRTH is a tighter, 52-minute updated version of the original 85-minute ORGASMIC BIRTH film. It has new expanded Midwife content and focuses more on the benefits of Midwife-Assisted and Natural Birth options than the original film. This shorter length will work better when used in Childbirth Education and it has easier chapter navigation for quickly accessing specific topics or scenes.
Come to Booth 331 this weekend and get your copy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blasting oxytocin at a baby's brain desensitizes the brain to love

Midwifery Today publishes the answer: Questioning Oxytocin

Dr. Odent, a leading visionary and leading voice in normal voice, "The most common medical intervention is undoubtedly the use of drips of synthetic oxytocin. ... the rates of labor inductions are very high in many countries and, in practice, labor induction implies hours of intravenous drip.

"One should first wonder why the use of intravenous oxytocin during labor is perceived as a detail not worth mentioning in statistics. The main reason might be that the nonapeptide oxytocin is not considered a real medication because, from a chemical perspective, the synthetic form is not different from the natural hormone. Another reason might be that oxytocinases (enzymes that metabolize biologically active peptides) have been found in the placenta. This might have led to the tacit conclusion that synthetic oxytocin does not cross the placenta.

"On the day when we realize that most women, all over the world, receive synthetic oxytocin when giving birth, we’ll give paramount importance to new questions, particularly about placental transfer of peptides. Paradoxically, there is only one serious published article on this issue.(1) After measuring concentrations of oxytocin in maternal blood, and also in the blood of the umbilical vein and of the umbilical arteries, and after perfusions of placental cotyledons, a team from Arkansas came to the conclusion that oxytocin crosses the placenta in both directions....

"Since there is a high probability that a significant amount of synthetic oxytocin can reach the brain of the fetus, we must raise questions regarding the permeability of the blood-brain barrier at this phase of human development. ...it is probable that, at a quasi-global level, we routinely interfere with the development of the oxytocin system of human beings at a critical phase ...." For more go to http://www.midwiferytoday.com/enews/enews1215.asp


  1. Malek, A., E. Blann and D.R. Mattison. 1996. Human placental transport of oxytocin. J Matern Fetal Med 5(5): 245–55.

See the rest of Dr. Michel Odent's article and references at
"If I Were the Baby: Questioning the Widespread Use of Synthetic Oxytocin," Midwifery Today, Issue 94

Dr. Odent, we know you have the answer to this question. I hope people listen.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

breech elephant born

Elephants also have a doula with them during birth. A smart zookeeper knows this. A breech baby elephant was born with the help of doula-elephant Num-Oi in the Melbourne, AUS zoo.
I remember hearing about and watching Raja's birth in the St. Louis zoo some years ago. His mother was in a long labor until the zoo keepers got the idea to bring in a female companion who had given birth her elephant self.
For people, I still recommend also having a person quite experienced in physiological breech birth.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Illinois tyranny again

Illinois may be the most dangerous place for a baby to be born at home. State agents, in this case social workers, assume their views supersede parent rights when the doctors and hospital social workers are upset about birth choices.

Here's an attachment parenting view by Alicia Bayer, Mankato writer:

Baby born via homebirth taken from parents

Some parents choose a vaginal breech birth to allow the physiological process of birth to complete itself naturally. Spontaneous labor changes the mother's brain in ways that enhance care taking behavior. Women may also hope to avoid major surgery and the risks associated, including the typical 1,00o ml blood loss, routine IV antibiotic use to manage the 50% rate of infection, and the typical mother baby separation.

Controversy about vaginal birth is built into the medical model of breech birth in America. And this fear spreads faster than education about the correct physiological approach to vaginal breech birth. America does not have the best record of vaginal breech outcomes. This is more a reflection of ego and ignorance than breech birth. Its also a reflection of a misplaced accountability in court and in the state, rather than in the relationships between a woman and her baby, her Faith, her caregivers and in the lost art of breech birth.

I don't blame people for having concerns. And so, from here the post gets heavy.

Doctors and midwives, all, have concerns about home breech birth.
Breech skills vary widely at this time in and out side the hospital. There are risks to vaginal breech birth in and out of the hospital, vaginally or by cesarean (in the hospital). These concerns are often about a trapped head and /or arms. But concerns should also include the risk of attendant ignorance and the damage done by pulling, by not knowing how to rotate the baby and manually swing the arms down, by not knowing how to bring the chin to the chest, and most of all when to leave well enough alone and go for the big C.

Little Ruth's arms were stressed in some way during the birth. The attendant worked successfully to release them from the pelvic brim. While unfortunate, breech home birth, even with a complication, is not a reason to separate the baby from her parents.

Even though breech birth risks are higher than with a head down baby, well informed parents have good reasons when they choose homebirth with an experienced midwife. They want to avoid risks of cesarean which include death of the mother, separation and subsequent disruption in breastfeeding. With the true physiological approach to breech birth the birth has a high chance of finishing successfully. A excellent understanding of physiological resuscitation and the value of an intact umbilical cord is a required skill particularly for breeches. Parents should also face the risk of death for their baby if the birth goes wrong. Therefore, parents choosing cesarean for their breech baby have good reasons to choose surgery, too.

The problem is in thinking that one way is without risk and the other way is evil. That's ideological and not helpful. If you are surprised by a birth in the manner that you thought unsafe, say the baby is born naturally before the cesarean could be performed, or the labor went on too long and too irregularly so that trouble with the arms began to be suspected and the birth was finished by surgery, you wouldn't want to be devastated by the change in plan.

The challenge in choosing a home breech birth is in assessing the likelihood that the birth will go well at home and the midwife or doctor's ability to 1.) avoid causing a problem, and 2.) resolving a problem should it occur spontaneously. The approach we take should be from those who attend breech births with few complications. I've blogged about the low complication rates of midwives Mary Cronk and Jane Evans of the UK. One birth with stuck arms out of 100 home breeches. These women are not touching the baby or the perineum and the mother is most often on her hands and knees. Doctor Frank Louwen's team in Frankfort, Germany are using the same method and have had 2 sets of stuck arms in 300 births.

If you touch the baby as the baby is being born it can disrupt the cardinal movements and then you have to solve what you caused. This is my soap box of the year.

I'm not assuming Ruth's birth attendant caused her stuck arms, I wasn't there. I'm not saying she touched Ruth in the process, and usually it won't cause this, but there are smart people with lots of experience who see that it can. No, I'm just saying that "Hands off the Breech" means keep your hands off for the entire process -unless, and not until, the arms or head need help.

Instead of having a fit, Illinois, why not Praise God? The attendant got the arms out and Ruth is in good shape. This is a cause for congratulations.

The tyrant solution to parents with a normal physiological intent to birth outside of the "powers that be"? Take the baby away and disrupt the mother baby relationship as much as possible, disrupt breastfeeding, frighten the parents and distress the grandmother. That'll teach 'em!

The state, social workers and responsible hospital staff should be sued for child abuse. I'm not much for law suit justice, but this has to stop.
Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn (1926 – 1988) may have suggested some Chicago-style justice for these folks as he did for other doctors that hurt children - and those did it legally. Taking baby Ruth away from her parents was a violation of all of their constitutional rights.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Optimal fetal positioning gaining popularity

birth is in bloom.: on optimal fetal positioning.: "A woman I work with asked me yesterday what I know about fetal positioning. She is 38 weeks pregnant. I palpated her belly, but had to admit..."

More doulas and midwives are posting more on optimal fetal positioning
And mothers, too! Here's one after my own heart!

Connecting In Utero without a Sonogram

"What if you knew the exact position of your child? What if every movement from the first quickening until delivery day, you bonded with your child and began to understand their personality? What if just by being aware of the baby's position you you were prepared for the unexpected?....

"...there is a midwife in Minnesota, who has reconnected with this science and calls it Belly Mapping. She can help women know the exact position of their baby thus connecting them and empowering them for welcoming the baby into the world. Once the exact position is known, she can recommend exercises and activities for proper alignment." http://livinginharmonymotherhood.blogspot.com/

What fun is this!! Let's keep blogging, Twittering and getting together to
Change Birth on Earth! Bonding, Birthing and breastfeeding -- it all goes together!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Wax melted - Home birth IS safe

The British Medical Journal
exposes the Wax et. al. Meta-Analysis
which wrongly claimed
that there were more deaths
at homebirths
and wrongly concluded that "the triple infant mortality" was due to the fewer interventions happening
at homebirth.

Betty-Anne Daviss, Co-author of BMJ's report involving homebirths, says,

...the Wax et al. publication was bad academia, go to www.understandingbirthbetter.com

There are more and more homebirths happening in our state. How 'bout yours?
Ricki Lake's Business of Being Born may be the tipping point, and Debra Pascali-Bonaro's Orgasmic Birth is the reward. But homebirth isn't just to feel good. Its better science, better physiology and better for the planet. So if you are healthy, if you feel able to, check out home birth for your children.

If your left-brain wants reassurance,
Let Birth by the Numbers, by Eugene R. Declercq, PhD, Professor of Maternal and Child Health, of Boston University School of Public Health, present the sobering statistics of birth in the United States today.

Certified Professional Midwives were the source of the data for

Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America (See it)

  1. Kenneth C Johnson, senior epidemiologist (ken_lcdc_johnson@phac-aspc.gc.ca),
  2. Betty-Anne Daviss, project manager
They Conclude: Planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births in the United States.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spinning Babies on the net

Its fun to come across references to SpinningBabies.com so I thought I'd share one with you. The links are from google...

You spin me right round baby right round... - Hackney Birth Doula

If you've got a little tinker in your tummy who isn't responding to your daily cries of, 'for Pete's sake turn round', take a look at the Spinning Babies site.
Hackney Birth Doula - http://rebeccaschiller.posterous.com/

I got a big kick out of this one!

Monday, August 30, 2010

BellyraMa and Belly Painting

BellyraMA was glorious! 200 yoga mamas, pregnant and new, dads, doulas - and me! Painting bellies along the lake was bliss. The video is too small.

"Throughout the day I have received such positive energy from people reacting to your painting - the energy flowing through me right now is incredible! I feel so grateful... for one, grateful for the attention and love you gave our baby, [husband] and myself. Thank you!" said Hannah, who is due now.

Alisa let this painting announce her new baby to the community!

Her Blooma and Childbirth Collective friends came up and said,

"Does this mean what I think it means?"

Here's a 27 week baby peaking out at us. Don't worry, she'll get head down soon.

See Gail's list of coming events at Spinning Babies and...classes and events.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And so she did!

I got to attend another little breechling yesterday as a doula with our beloved Dr. Denny. What a strong mama! Oh, my.
She and her husband live in rural WI and at 38 weeks when her local OB told her that her baby was breech and he was scheduling a cesarean, she just knew that surgical birth didn't make sense for all breeches. That's when she started her journey. Based on her inner knowing she got online and found Dr. Hartung and myself (I got to be her doula).
Isn't her connection to her inner sense wonderful. I could cry, its so heartening to have someone come to her knowing with no birth community, no exposure, in this time, on this topic. She felt that women could birth their breech babies. And so she did.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Send more Belly Mapping Workbooks!

I love the sound of this:
"...need more The Belly Mapping Workbooks.
Sold the last one I had this morning"

Writing connects many members of a community. I wrote to pregnant women and their doulas, and yes, to the young midwife. Our community is much broader! Certainly, educators, caregivers and grandmothers, yes; but also book sellers, photographers, producers and all walks of supportive people! Amazing!

We're going to meet more as Angie Wiechmann, my editor, and I go to the 50th Anniversary Mega Conference for Lamaze and ICEA Sept 30 to October 3. We'll be the ones in exhibit hall painting bellies, listening to pregnant women, showing a few techniques in our 10 x 10 booth, and oh, yes, selling The Belly Mapping Workbook!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Breech birth comparison

Rae Davies sent along a breech birth link of a clinic birth shown on a NYtimes.com clip. She says about the Frank Breech Birth clip I posted in June,
"Thank you for sharing this - it's refreshing to see after I just watched a film by renowned NY Times Journalist and author of "Half the Sky" Nick Kristoff. Compare and contrast http://video.nytimes.com/video/2007/02/24/opinion/1194817102255/mothers-at-risk.html. "

This frank breech little girl is born with a partial breech extraction. The hips are born and then the doctor manipulates the baby the rest of the way out. Its not the low risk approach. The doctor did the best she could given her training and the custom of using a non-physiological birth position. Its tough to watch this birth, but the doctor is competent. She has to retry the Brant maneuver after repositioning the baby to let the nape of the neck out (hairline at the back of the head at the top of the neck). The setting is not what we might consider mother or baby friendly, but others may think this was the safe way for the baby to be born! The funny think is the comment that the baby may have been born in the street if the birth had been just ten minutes earlier. And that have been any worse, why??

A physiological breech birth involves a birthing position in sync with the pelvic design. I'll emphasize the kneeling position with the mother leaning forward, perhaps on hands and knees, perhaps knee-elbow. The baby enters the pelvis in active labor in whatever active birth positions the mother is drawn to use. When the first bit of baby only first appears, the mother may be asked to be kneeling if she isn't already. It is a typical position for women to get into spontaneously.

Now gravity helps pull the baby to the anterior sacrum position by the time that the abdomen appears. The baby faces the back and as the helper is behind the mother, the helper sees the baby's cord easily. The arms come spontaneously and then the baby seems to be sitting on the towels between the mother's knees. The chin appears and then the mouth and nose. With the next contraction the head comes out and now the helper can touch the baby!
All this time no one touches the baby or the mother. UK Midwife Jane Evans reports 1 in 100 physiological breech births needed help with arms. Germany physicians Frank Louwen and Anke Rietter report 2 needing help among 300 knee-elbow breech births.

We're at a breech birth today. Mom laboring slowly but encouragingly. We are in the hospital and anticipating a hands-off breech birth in hands and knees position if the baby continues to come down so nicely. Don't expect a clip, though. ;)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Walcher's on tv!

I was tucking my 85 year old Mama in and she had her tv on. A Hallmark channel movie had a midwife leaving a pregnant woman's house while young "Doc Owen," rode up on her horse. Suddenly a man galloped up and said his wife was in labor and it wasn't going well. As the doctor turned to go the midwife brought her bag to come along. Reluctantly the doctor accepted the midwife's help. The father beckoned them into the cabin saying it'd never taken that long before. The baby was stuck but the head wasn't out.
TV birth is so wierdly funny, the doctor looks down at the woman laying under the bed covers and says, the shoulders are stuck and she pulls out her forceps!! Forceps are for a head stuck in the pelvis, not the shoulders. The head is out when the shoulders are stuck (though there is another discussion here about shoulder alignment slowing the labor before the head is out, too).

I was at the edge of my mom's bed waiting to see if the doctor's approach or the midwife's was going to be presented by the script. Suddenly the midwife is shoving a big pillow under the mother's hips and says, we're going to straighten out her hips...
She does, essentially, the Walcher's technique, also called the trochanter roll, to open the pelvic brim. The OP baby who has a forehead overlapping the pubis now has a cm or more room in the Anterior-Posterior diameter of the pelvis. The roll put under the mother should be firmer than the pillow on tv, and about 12-15" (half a meter) or the legs can lay off the edge of the bed, hanging into the air. The roll is at the socket of the thigh, not under the sacrum, this is important.
The camera pans the father and older children outside as a baby's lusty cry fills the forest. Sure enough, Walcher's has done it again!
This show seems to be called "A Love Saga." I wrote an article on Walcher's for Midwifery Today which is waiting to be considered for publication. Here's one of the illustrations. Its amazing to see this obscure technique presented on tv. I gotta go , another baby is coming on Hallmark!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Now, why do we want to mainstream homebirth?

First we're asked, "Is homebirth safe?
Is it as safe as hospital birth?"
(Then we're asked, who'll clean the mess, and yes, midwives help with that!)

To be current-
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has come out with a slanted "mega-analysis" claiming triple the death rate for homebirth. The experts of normal birth, say his collection of review articles included unplanned homebirths and therefore the conclusion is misleading.

It makes sense that if you include sudden, unplanned births and therefore unattended by a skilled provider you will see more unnecessary death.

To be reflective-
Back in 1976, Lewis Mehl, PhD put out the definitive study of homebirth using 26 variables comparing many women, woman to woman as matching sets of birthers using home or hospital as the only significant variable remaining. Since Mehl's report there have been mostly good news about homebirth, including the Daviss-Johnson study of North American Certified Professional Midwives attending 1500 homebirths in the year 2000.

These and other comparison studies show no increased death rates at homebirths with a midwife. What they do show is that hospital birthing women have greater numbers of injuries, infections and procedures.

Planned homebirth has better outcomes than hospital birth for motivated and healthy women.

Home birthed babies typically breastfeed longer and with less other foods in the first two months, such as formula. Homebirth and breastfeeding may increase a child's immunities through support of beneficial bacteria in the home and in breastmilk. See earlier breastfeeding post.

I was at a labor in the hospital recently. The mother asked for and received 8 doses of pain medications. She was given 4 doses of prostoglandins, 3 of which were cytotec. The resident physicians looked at the parents and said that cytotec was "perfectly safe." I told the resident that the FDA didn't approve cytotec for labor induction. She again said it was "perfectly safe" (again) since they weren't using cytotec for induction but only for ripening. (The FDA neither approves Cytotec for ripening!) I looked her in the eye and said we lose a mother a year at one of the Metro area hospitals to the side effects of cytotec. (That "stat'"s via the L & D grapevine.) What more could I say? At least the baby and mother weren't subjected to Pitocin.

Though the physicians spoke with kind and patient voices, I wonder if false claims are an assault to the patient bill of rights? When they arrived, the nurse told them their rights, including how they would be treated respectfully if they disagreed with treatment. I guess the solution to avoiding a disagreement in the first place is to lie.

The baby's cord was cut immediately denying the child of needed blood volume and risking hypovolemic shock.

The odd thing is, this was an unplanned hospital birth. The parents did not prepare for the events typical to hospital birth. The public doesn't realize that there are often reductions in procedures and medications when there is a chance to plan for a hospital birth.

Many families experience unplanned hospital birth. Its not enough to know the effects of drugs, its important to know the whole drug package. That means the environment, the emotional effect and the effect on parenting, breastfeeding and adjustment to each other. This family is doing fantastic. They beat the odds. As a biased homebirther, I say they are lucky. You can laugh, because often that's the reaction an uninformed relative has about homebirth!

I emphasize the negative about hospital birth in this blog post strategically to make the counter point to ACOG attacking homebirth, but there were many good things about this birth! Welcoming a baby is a sacred event in any location. This family has love. Most important of all is love. Add a sense of humor and a practical air about choices and we have a healthy rebound.

Back to my original point.
Should we attempt to bring homebirth midwives to the mainstream? For instance, do midwives want the legal right to prescribe and use drugs for non emergency uses? Do we really want to match AWOHNN's monitoring guidelines. Is it good care we want or protection from litigation? Can we separate the two? If we adopt medical maternity models of labor and postpartum management how can the entry level midwife know which practices are actually for safety and well being and which are intended to keep the chart updated in case there is a disaster so we can show diligence before hand and hope to sway the case in the favor of the provider?

Why don't we work to bring hospital practices up to the standard of homebirth?
Why not promote the practices of nutritional counseling, promotion of health and holding our families and especially pregnant women in high esteem (as opposed to high alert for litigation?). Let's increase the value of touch, skill in palpation, massage and rebozo techniques rather than reliance on doppler and ultrasound, which is another step away from touch? Lets increase the community support for birthing families and promote a model of trust and celebration around childbearing. Social support reduces infant mortality more than the location of birth.

I'm hoping to go see Jennie Joseph in Wisconsin and to hear the Dane County story of how midwives did away with disparities in infant mortality next Sunday at the Regional MANA conference.

Let's bring the nation up to our standards and not stoop to the standards less than ours. It seems there is a vulnerability to want to be recognized by those in power simply because they are in power. Its not protection for midwives, its compromise for birth.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Frank breech home birth

I've just been given permission to post this lovely breech home birth video.

This is a third baby, her second natural (vaginal) birth and first home birth for this family. The baby was small and full term. Apgar Scores were 10 and 10. You also see the first 30 seconds after the birth.
The t-shirt was worn to make Robin Guy and the women of Coalition for Breech Birth smile --they made these t-shirts for the CBB conference in 2009. It says, "Whose afraid of a little bum?" and on the back, "Not me." I almost didn't wear it because of magical thinking, but choose faith instead of fear, community instead of isolation. Thanks, CBB community!
Thanks especially much to the brilliant Jane Evans, UK Midwife and the full-hearted Drs. Anke Rietter and Frank Louwen of Germany for their Day at the Breech training in Ottawa which improved the way I attend breech births. I'm no expert, but simply responded to this woman's clear determination.

She had a cesarean for breech with her first, and had a homebirth for breech with her second.

If she'd have been able to have a hospital breech birth she wouldn't have gone looking for a homebirth midwife. That being said, I do believe we gave her excellent care. This birth is probably safer than what would have happened in a typical US hospital right now. Being hands-off allowed her baby to do the cardinal movements.
Now, honestly, I'm a bit appalled to see that I started to reach to intervene for the birth of the head. (I was thinking the cord on the shoulder was taunt and restraining the baby). I can't remember touching the mother then at all! --and in speaking to the mother (we spoke just now on the day I posted this nad I'm editing accordingly) she does not remember me touching her either. I had thought about it though before looking again and suddenly she was out.
This little girl gained half-a-pound in her first week of life and two full pounds at exactly one month old. She was never separated from her mother, got skin-to-skin contact much of the week, and nursed(s) on demand and not on schedule. Her mother is still blissed out and agreed to let me use this video for education. Please do not try to download it or copy it.

You may be interested to know that there was also a surprise breech birth in June and that momma did have to leave her home to get a safe cesarean because the baby was not able to conduct the breech cardinal movements to get through the pelvis. There was much time to discover that and plenty of time to discuss it and drive to the hospital. We were welcomed and the family was cared for so kindly and well. There is no place for ideology in birthing. Each birth has its own story and we must respond to what the baby tells us.

The family, other midwives and I hope for safer breech births. There is quite a difference in the safety of spontaneous breech birth and what is really a breech extraction. The breech extraction involves pulling the baby through the pelvis and pelvic floor without the fetal reflexes involved to make the breech cardinal movements. Bruising, nerve strain and brain swelling may result.

The mother's hands and knees position lets the baby make a safe rotation through her pelvic floor. Gravity pulls the baby to the sacrum anterior position by the end of the birth when it is important for safety. Never pull on a baby.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Breech sifting

Ok, I haven't been blogging for a while. Two breech labors lately. Were still waiting for footage from the first to be edited and in the second family the poor little breech guy couldn't line up on the pelvis so thankfully the warm folks at Hudson, WI welcomed the family in for care and ultimately a cesarean. Two other babies were born with compound presentations. Those two probably would have had a cesarean if birthing in a busy hospital. Not for sure, because with the right mix of people women do still have long labors in the hospital. These weren't THAT long.

Sarah Shannon of our local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter sent me a link to make my day! This is an excerpt:

Traditions In Prenatal Care

Liz Jones

...In the U.S., about one in every three births are Cesarean. The procedure is more expensive and can be riskier than a so–called natural delivery. But often, a Cesarean is necessary because the baby is breech, meaning it's not head down. Many mothers will try anything to get that baby in the right position. So will the staff at a clinic near Tacoma, where they've hit on an alternative method that's delivering remarkable results. KUOW's Liz Jones has our story.

We stop at Timothy Panzer's office. He's a family doctor here. He works with [Kara] McEvoy and the other nurses to provide pre natal care to expectant moms. He says with a breech baby, the stand

ard medical approach is to try something called a cephalic version.

Dr. Panzer: "Which is manually, in the hospital, at the labor and delivery floor, manually trying to turn the baby with the doctor's hands on the outside of the woman's belly."

...That versioning process also comes with some medical risks and a hefty bill. If it doesn't work, a Cesarean, or C–Section, is typically scheduled.

And if a woman gets a Cesarean once, chances are she'll need one for subsequent births.

Panzer: "So especially in the case of a first mom, a first delivery, if you can get that breech baby to turn, you've done a lot to help that mom."

When some of the nurses heard about a gentler way to try to turn the baby, called sifting, McEvoy says they were eager to give it a shot....

The exercise is designed to loosen the woman's body and re–position the baby.

Alma Pisano is the woman who introduced sifting here. She's part of the clinic's labor support staff [doula]. She explains it's a Latin American tradition that's still practiced in many cultures.

.... Alma says it's best to do the sifting a few times a day, along with other exercises to help the baby rotate.

Alma says out of her last nine breech patients, seven have turned. Granted, there's no scientific study on the effectiveness of sifting. But still, Alma's success rate so far is pretty good. Especially compared to the more painful versioning technique, which works about half the time on average.


Now, McEvoy is a sifting convert. Although she's only sent a few breech patients to Alma, she says they've all come back with good news.

McEvoy: "Flipped! Head down! Cancel the C–Section!"

Thank you, Liz Jones from KUOW News.

The photo here is of Gail "sifting" the breech baby of a Baby Expo participant this Spring, and of three students during a Spinning Babies Workshop.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Natural Birth is economically necessary

Natural birth practices are less expensive as well as better for healthy women and their healthy babies. Even high risk mothers have better health outcomes when lower tech methods and locations are generally used (Margaret Tew). The key is knowing how to combine healthy holistic practices with the rare need for medical technology and intervention.

With less federal and state money available, hospitals are looking for ways to boost popularity with lower cost. Natural birth has been sought after by parents wanting both hospital birth and mother-centered or baby-centered care.

Spinning Babies has lots to offer. Spinning Babies has lots of tips to avoid cesareans due to long labors, posterior and other challenging fetal positions, or the routine hospital practice of reclining in bed during labor (the mom not the doctor).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

BIrth in MN newspaper!

The Star and Tribune has run three articles lately all favorable to midwifery and childbirth. You wouldn't think anyone would be opposed to childbirth, would you? Anyway,
these articles were glowing. Thank you to reporters Chen May Yee and Josephine Marcotty!

Where C-sections are few highlights the work of midwives and physicians at St. Joseph's hospital with a walk down memory lane with St. Joe's first midwife Deb Monson. Chen May Yee also highlighted a mother's whose baby was posterior and the midwife, Melissa Hasler, helped her into a hands and knees position which allowed this baby to rotate quickly and be born vaginally. A long time ago, I was at a posterior birth with Deb Monson in which the mom was working hard but staying at 7 cm for 3 hours. Deb's simple trick of 3 pushes against her fingers as they created a false pelvic floor quickly turned the baby and let the labor proceed. Doctors at St. Joe's (Idon't know if the Midwives do this) will also occasionally reach in and manually rotate the posterior baby's head to anterior so the birth can finish vaginally. Not all posterior births need any of these interventions, but some do and I believe these skills are a big part of why St. Joe's has a low rate of cesarean section. Plus, the community midwives and doulas have long referred to St. Joe's for their quiet, kind nurses, and mother-centered birthing practices. Its not a birth center, there's still hospital politics happening. The nurses should be paid well and not given multiple patients. That's true for all hospital nurses everywhere.

I've written about Josephine Marcotty's articles earlier. Birthing a new option is online.

Let's keep the good news coming!

And hopefully these gals will come on down to St. Francis hospital in Shakopee Saturday June 5th to see me present Belly Mapping at 12:30 at the Baby Fair in Shakopee High School.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friends in the news

Here are a couple cool articles about this "natural birth trend" and they are about friends of mine.
Our local Paula Bernini Fiegal's Birth Center was in the news again with luscious photos of her St. Louis Park mama's at her new Birth Center on Excelsior Blvd. Read the Star and Trib article.

And Orgasmic Birth Website posted a Hudson Reporter newspaper story about a New Jersey family who birthed at home with two midwife friends of mine after being inspired by Orgasmic Birth and Business of Being Born.
We found in Minneapolis as well that watching the dynamic duo of natural birth videos, Business of Being Born, first, which raises the issues of birth location and providers, and then watching Orgasmic Birth, second, which shows why the uninterrupted physiological process of birth holds the most potential for an ecstatic or orgasmic birth experience. Orgasmic Birth is coming out as a book this June as a companion for the fantastic DVD.

The Seventh Moon Homebirth Midwifery service is Vicki Hedley and Sabine Kennon, Certified Professional Midwives. I got to ride up to Ottawa last fall with these ladies, and we picked up a fourth midwife in Montreal, all the while Vicki saying she wouldn't make it through a surprise breech birth. Well recently Vicki arrived at a fast moving surprise breech birth. The baby boy did great. And more surprisingly (to herself at least), Vicki did great, too, staying very calm throughout.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Doulas reform health care for 1.5 million

Another sample of real Health Reform! Thank you, Illinois Senator Durbin!! He worked hard, with others, I'm sure, to get federal monies for community doulas.

"Research shows women who use doulas have a significantly lower risk of cesarean, use of medication and other interventions, which helps to reduce rates of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. (The Doula Book, MH Klaus, JH Kennel, PH Klaus, 2002) During the postpartum period, doulas offer education, support and assistance with newborn care and family adjustment.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) inserted the funding for community doula programs into healthcare reform legislation citing the success of the Health Connect program in Chicago, a program that provides doulas to low-income families and teen clients at no cost.

"In Chicago, we have seen how the community-doula model can improve the odds for those young moms and their babies. The Chicago Health Connection [now HealthConnect One] pioneered this model. The group trained mentors from the community to work with at-risk moms, many of whom had few ideas of where else to turn." says Senator Durbin.

Chicago's channel 7 news interviews Laura McAlpine of Health Connect One See Channel 7's Doulas Become A Household Name. A legislative mini-history of Illinois support for Community Doula Programs and a good description of doulas, the difference between doulas and midwives, and what a community doula is (in today's terms). Exciting development!
Visit www.HealthConnectionOne.org or DONA.org

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Minnesota passes Birth Center Law

"Time to celebrate!

"The governor signed the birth center bill into law this morning, May 21, 2010! You can see for your self at: http://www.governor.state.mn.us/priorities/legislation/index.htm

"What an incredible day for birth centers, midwives, and childbearing women! We are the first state to have equal reimbursement for CPMs written into law. Women on medicaid now have expanded birth options. And CPMs are now a medicaid provider type! We have a great birth center licensure bill that other states can use as a model. What an incredible journey.

"Thank you to everyone who contributed to this effort!" Kate Saumweber sent this announcement out to the midwives in Minnesota with the exciting news. In her email she acknowledges many of the midwives and birth activists working towards this historical event. My own midwife, Mary Rossi, CNM, was one, she caught my first born in 1977!

Just like birth, what is expected to go in a predictable pattern sometimes does not, but the blessing reveals itself in its own way. Kate Saumweber, aspiring midwife and excellent help to the MCCPM group here in Minnesota, and now to Naturopath and CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) Amy Johnson-Grass of Health Foundations Birth Center shares the news with the Minnesota midwifery community. Kate described the last hour decision of one of the bill's authors,

"...[B]y the hard work of our House Author, Rep Maria Ruud, our birth center language was included into the omnibus budget bill during the special session. "

Midwife Connection online newsletter published a celebratory article by CNM, Brielle Stoyker,

MN Passes Bill to License Birth Centers, Save Midwives from Reduced Payments

Brielle relayed the CNM's motives who worked so hard on the bill, "Our intention was just licensure, but because it included fiscal savings, the bill became a bit more complicated....Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) in MN are currently paid at 100% of what physicians receive for their services under Medicaid, and we would have been brought down to the 65% Medicare rate. But, because of the new federal health care reform law that will raise Medicare reimbursement for CNMs to 100% beginning in January 2011, we were able to persuasively argue that imposing a 35% reimbursement cut would be unfair and contrary to the intent of federal policy. In the process of working with legislators and lobbyists, we were able to whip up an amendment to exempt CNMs from the Medicare rebasing! On the last day of the session, both our amendment and the birth center bill were passed by both houses, and the bill now awaits consideration by the Governor. We have our fingers crossed that the bill will soon become law. For the hard work it took to get this far, special thanks go to the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC), MN midwives, as well as midwives and their supporters across the US."

This is an amazing and important acknowledgment for CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives) and for CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives). Working together on this project is promising that unity can expand and continue. Having a two-tiered midwife credential in this nation need not be any more confusing than having two types of physicians that catch babies, family practice and obstetricians.

In Minnesota, we believe women are smart (and men are good looking...) and can find the midwife, or doctor, for that matter, that fits their needs. We are also practical and fair. Midwives should get paid for the fine work they do. Their birth statistics are excellent overall. Hopefully, this is another midwifery statute that is a model for the rest of the nation. (Our Traditional Midwife law for CPMs is one of the very best!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A beautiful controversary on breast feeding

The Breast Way's interview with James Akre.

Read a perspective that will take you deeper than the jingle. A symphony beyond our time, but one that will be playing soon upon the hearts of mothers and the lips of babes:

"Removing this inert pediatric fast-food from the kitchen pantry and returning it to where it got its start – in the medicine cabinet for emergency use only – requires a society-wide shift in popular, health-professional and political thinking. Deconstructing infant formula is one of the most important tasks at hand. "

Q. Okay, breast is normal. But surely infant formula is second-best isn’t it?
A. No, the second-best feeding option is obviously other breast milk, for example expressed milk from a child’s own mother or milk from another mother in good health, whether directly from the breast or a human-milk bank.

There's lots more!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Art-a-Whirl Belly Mapping

First thing, today, Vic and I picked up my glass fusing pendants from Glass Endeavors and stopped out back of the 331 Club to hear The Roe Family Singers with Vic's Kurt playing mandolin. Kim and Quillan Roe's little 15-month-old girl, Elspeth warmed up with the band by grabbing the mike and imitating her mama.
Kim and Quillan stopped a moment with they saw Vic and I walk up and said how much they are recommending the Spinning Babies Website and how it helped them so much just before they had Elspeth. They mentioned that before, but as they are suddenly surrounded by pregnant friends their finding the site is useful to have as a reference for their friends, as well. That was fun to hear! And you should go hear them play Monday nights 9:30 at the 331 or first Friday and Saturdays at the Sea Salt right above the Minnehaha Falls. What a nice day. I continued on to take the glass and more Belly Mapping booklets over to Everyday-Miracles in the Waterbury Building.

Everyday-Miracles Doula Program enjoyed a busy open house today during the North East Minneapolis annual Art-a-Whirl. The center was filled with painted belly casts, oil paintings, craft and baked goods.
Lots of neighborhood art lovers strolled through, along with children, doulas, families and supporters. Meg Novak was there supporting their prison outreach doula program. Rae was everywhere and so were more volunteers for whom I wished I'd gotten their names.

My role was to offer individualized Belly Mapping sessions with pregnant women and their partners. Two women were already waiting for me though I came an hour early. I love the look on one father's face when he felt the shape of his 30 week baby curled in side his Beloved. What a joy to give a little window into the miracle they carry within them everyday for nine months. We also demonstrated the Forward-Leaning Inversion with the parents and later, the Rebozo with Deb, who just got accepted into the U of M's Master's Program for Nursing with a goal of Nurse Midwifery. She was so excited to get a head start on a little midwifery lore.

Everyday-Miracles is a miracle to me, because Deb and Mary work so hard to serve high-need women and their families, whether the need is financial, social or even imprisonment. Most of the mothers, however, are healthy women looking for empowerment in the pregnancy and birthing process and during early parenting. Its so fun for me to pop over and do a bit of Belly Mapping with the pregnant women. What a gift to draw babies of the bellies of women glowing with wonderment.

Everyday-Miracles strengthens families through the parenting experience, by supporting and empowering mothers during pregnancy. They provide pregnancy and labor support as well as prenatal education in a supportive, non-judgmental community for at-risk pregnant women who desire pregnancy, birth and early parenting services, regardless of age or culture.

Everyday-Miracle Programs

Their clients receive (at no charge) pre-natal education, doula support, postpartum care. They offer:

  • Group prenatal educational classes in English, Spanish and Somali
  • Free doula services including prenatal and postpartum visits along with continuous labor support
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Car seat clinics and home delivery for Ucare, MHP and Medica participants
  • Breast pump education and delivery for Ucare and MHP participants
  • Prenatal Yoga on Tuesdays, 4, 5 or 6 pm. (Gail: I noticed that the 5 pm class often has Islamic chanting playing while the 6 pm has East Indian music.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Belly Mapping in Michigan Center

Patty Brennan is a Michigan Midwife and Doula trainer with a wide range of excellent and unique education for parents, doulas and midwives on her Center for the Childbearing Year Website. She offers a dual purpose Belly Mapping and Palpation class to parents and aspiring midwives. (What a brilliant idea!) Patty has nice things to say about my new Belly Mapping Workbook on Patty's prolific blog and on her website (She has a cute typo on my name, I think I'll claim it, "Gaily." Thanks, Patty!)

Patty's great idea is to bring pregnant women in their last trimester together with aspiring and fresh midwives so that the women and the emerging care providers can learn the mysteries of fetal positioning together. The mother's are empowered in validating and/or learning their baby's positions. Plus its a fun and popular gathering. It takes a special teacher to bring together an audience in which their are two varying goals. The goals of a Belly Mapping/Palpation class can fit well with outgoing parents and sensitive aspiring midwives. I'm guessing that the aspiring get a chance to feel the womb-babies of the visiting mothers.

This level of training would best be offered by a very experienced midwife who has had her hands on lots of womb-babies. Palpation is an art and it takes spatial skills and study in books for the details of flexion, lie, and presentations. There are several things that aren't in books, well, they are now appearing, as in The Belly Mapping Workbook which teaches doulas and fresh midwives as well as parents, and of course, my favorite all inclusive series, Anne Frye's Holistic Midwifery.

Patty is an excellent teacher with so many great and often unique classes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Belly Mapping Workbook could be improved

Ahh, darn. I found both a mistake and an awkwardness in the center of my new Belly Mapping Workbook.
The mistake is in the circle depicting what should be the map of a Left Occiput Posterior baby but has an older map in that placement of an oblique lie (a baby lying diagonally in the womb). The words "bulge in hip" in that circle should be omitted and the word "wiggles" should be in their place, centered, above the symphysis pubis.

The awkward page is right across on the page to the left of the transparency. The words describing what is seen when the transparency is set over that page are on the opposite sides of the circle than they should be. Its not wrong information, its just put in the wrong place and someone could be confused unless they were astute to see that the placement of the text isn't the best.

I'll release a pdf page with the correction. It can be pasted over the page in the book with thin glue or contact cement. More soon.

Meanwhile, the praise for the book is blooming like our Spring here in Minnesota! People are loving it.
Read about the book, read quotes and see how to purchase one or even bulk copies.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Breastmilk Is a Cure for Cancer

What about this finding and the probiotics in breastmilk, is there an association ?
Its funny that Breastmilk Is a Cure for Cancer and they aren't announcing it from the roof tops. How could money be made from Mama's milk??
'Til that is answered, who will be interested in marketing? Meanwhile, if we have placental medicine why not milk medicine?

"Substance Found in Breastmilk Kills 40 kinds of Cancer"

Swedish researchers have discovered that a substance found in human breast milk has the ability to kill cancer cells, according to a study published in the PLoS One Journal.

The substance known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells), was discovered years ago, but has just recently been tested on humans.

In the trial conducted at Lund University in Sweden, patients suffering from bladder cancer were treated with HAMLET. After each treatment, the patients excreted dead cancer cells in their urine, healthy cells remaining intact.... More at Fox News

Monday, April 12, 2010

The tears of breech

The Ottawa Citizen heralds the re-newed Canadian acceptance of vaginal breech birth in Elizabeth Payne's article, Giving Birth the Natural Way. Andre' Lalonde, head of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, said last year, "The safest way to deliver a baby has always been the natural way," and then began to bring back breech birth to Canadian hospitals.
A young OB attends his first breech vaginal birth and baby Lily's birth becomes a promise of more safe breech birthing in Canada. Betty-Anne Daviss, CPM, highlighted in Payne's article, has been uniquely active in Ottawa, along with Robin Guy of the Coalition for Breech Birth, to educate doctors and parents to safer methods of breech birthing and making them available.

Breech vaginal birth has never been understood in American Obstetrics. Here, doctors neglected to learn from midwives the traditional skills for breech or any form of birthing. In Europe, midwives were brought into the medical model. Also, European and Canadian medical practice actually uses evidence-based research for practice, not just discussion.
That said, the Canadian 2000 Hannah Breech Trial did not choose a research form to accurately show the safety of skillfully attended breech births. Here is what Andrew Kotaska wrote about the Breech Trial in 2005,

"All major advances in technique have occurred in Europe—notable were Bracht's and Thiessen's introduction of a one-phase spontaneous birth resulting in the largest published decrease in perinatal breech mortality.3 4 Experienced European centres showing safety in vaginal breech delivery with these techniques were under-represented in the term breech trial, partly because some declined to participate. In contrast, the term breech trial was based in North America, where the vaginal breech birth rate is a quarter that in Norway or the Netherlands. The protocol superficially outlined a two-phase birth, neglecting techniques that are widespread in Europe and largely responsible for safe success with vaginal breech birth.5 Despite its design by North American experts, and its international vetting (minimally in Norway, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany), the protocol represented a simplified and outdated approach, comparatively less safe for achieving a vaginal breech birth rate > 50%. Declaring this standard the best achievable because it was studied in a randomised fashion seriously breaches the limits of evidence based medicine."

Yet, because of both the loss of breech skills in Canada and America and further, because of the 2000 Breech Trial, women here face a dearth of support when their babies are breech. They are gawked and gasped at by friends and strangers, "You're having a breech? Oh, that's so dangerous. You'll have to have a cesarean."

At the Minnesota Baby Expo this past weekend, several women approached me with their breech stories literally crying to be told. The first was a healthy woman carrying two breech twins due shortly. She burst into tears as she asked me if there weren't anything she could do to get her babies' head down? Two more women came to my table with twin singletons. One allowed me to have pictures taken while we went through a home, self-care breech protocol - things she could do herself at home to help balance her pelvis. I hope to post these photos on the breech section of SpinningBabies.com

My body shakes and my brains sag in their sac recalling the mother who asked me if I'd ever seen a baby cut during a cesarean? Anticipating bad news, I quietly said I had heard of it. Of course, I wondered if the sweet, tiny baby she held by her heart was the baby she meant. But she turned and pulled up her shirt and told me of how when her mother came to the hospital in labor with her, the doctors discovered her baby, the woman now before me, was breech and they rushed her to surgery. In performing the cesarean section they cut her back open. The scar was surprisingly deep, long and puckered. She herself had been that sweet, tiny baby, trying to go about her birthing business and being cut right out of the womb. In this instance, literally cut. Newborns generally heal so well but this scar is broad and deep that I think, she must have been cut to her ribs! As she finished her story our eyes locked, frozen in mutual astonishment. Though she has come to terms with it in her way, telling it to someone who is comfortable with (physiologic) breech vaginal birth allows the absurdity of slicing into a rapidly progressing breech birth to be seen for what it is. She was less than 6 pounds when she was born. I hope she contacts me again, I didn't even get her name. She promised to send me a picture of her back next time she was pregnant! I hope she does! You should be confident in the truth of her story.

In all sincerity the breech twins mother tells me through her tears, "I'd do anything not to have a cesarean, but since its my first pregnancy, and perhaps if they weren't breech, well, I might have a homebirth , but you know, I don't want to do anything that isn't safe..."

The suggestion of changing obstetricians was also frightening to her. Once the stress is super high, women often won't do anything not to have a cesarean. Is this the strategy of the old boy's club?

Dr. Lalonde is quoted, "Vaginal births are the preferred method of having a baby because a C-section in itself has complications." He spoke eloquently for natural birth, and especially, natural breech birth, at the Ottawa Coalition for Breech Birth conference last October.

Women will accept the risks of cesarean section because they believe these risks take place in a controlled environment where they can be handled successfully. They don't think they can happen to them. They trust the recommendations of their doctor.
They have met and developed a relationship with the doctor, and even if the doctor makes her cry every time she leaves the clinic (women have told me that they do), she's put her trust in the persona of techno-surgical, medical authoritarianism (because, hey, it isn't evidence-based fact).
We tend to go with known dangers than trust the unknown. We tend to accommodate the person we see as most powerful rather than the person with the facts. Women have told me they won't leave their doctor because their doctor may get mad (I'm not kidding you), even to go to another doctor. Even to see a doctor with a good reputation and community praise...

Unless that woman has an inner strength to connect with her truth, a trust in the Divine, a trust in the Design. Support from her mate and a guide of some sort (doula, midwife, childbirth educator) to lead them to the person and place they can give birth with safely.
Really, it isn't whether she had a cesarean or a vaginal birth, home or hospital, that is the most important individually, but rather that she is heard and respected and nurtured while she brings in her child. Being surrounded by fear and ignorance during childbearing is not empowering whether or not you have a homebirth or a cesarean. I'm not into ideology either way. Every birth is different and each situation needs assessment before and during birth.

Giving birth to a breech baby vaginally, while in the knee-elbow (or hands and knees) position has been shown to be the safest. Safer than cesarean section as long as the labor is progressing normally, as long as the person attending knows the set of simple maneuvers to free trapped arms or to flex an extended head. As long as no one touches, turns, or otherwise surprises the baby who is birthing spontaneously.

Its ok to rescue a stuck baby, of course. The proper methods are simple if the entire physiological "method" is honored!

Right now, it may be as safe or safer to do this at home in America, if the midwife attending will go with such breech birth guidelines as recommended by UK midwives, Mary Cronk and Jane Evans.

Changing the Earth by supporting Birth

Mothers bring forth life; medical corporations do not. Birth can be simple, powerful and loving. Fetal positioning, natural birthing and practical help for normal birth.