Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Transformational Power of Birth

Powerful feelings
Feeling powerful

The power of change
Powerless to change
The power of acceptance

Accepting our power
Powerful birth
Birth's power
Birthing powerfully

Allowing the power
The power is outside of my control
The power is inside of me
The power is me.

Female power
Life giving power
Living a powerful life

Friday, December 18, 2009

Making a Baby Shower Special

Over the years as a doula I have been invited to many baby showers. Some have been traditional American showers with silly games, arrival date gambling pools, gifts and cake. Some have been more alternative or spiritual based Blessing Ways with ritual foot washing, adornment of the woman or couple, and blessings for the new life coming. Here are some of my favorite ideas.

Gifts are wonderful and are gratefully received. Most first time parents depend on their shower to help outfit the baby and the “nursery”, but to create a memorable shower material gifts should not be what a shower is all about. Equally important as these gifts is offering our collective wisdom on birth, parenting, and promises of future support to see them through the challenges ahead which will touch her heart and make her feel buoyed up by love and caring.

Here are some ways to create an atmosphere that allows the party goers to feel free to share their thoughts and feelings. Remember to bring a way to record all these wonderful gifts so the parents can listen to them whenever they need to feel your love and caring. I think audio is best because it is less intrusive.

For the Birth
Every first time mom feels a bit apprehensive when faced with the unknown quality of labor. No matter how many classes she has attended, or practicing relaxation she has done she has never labored and can’t really understand what labor is like until she has been through it and out the other side. Knowing people who care about her are holding her in their thoughts as labor approaches will surround her with positive & peaceful thoughts calming her anxieties.

Have all the party guests sit in a circle with the expectant mom, or expectant couple as part of the ring. Give the new mom a skein of yarn to hold. She keeps the string end and passes the rest of the skein to the guest sitting next to her. That guest wraps a loop of yarn loosely over their wrist and says some words of wisdom about labor and birth. She passes the yarn to the next person and they loop their wrist and share their feelings. This is repeated all the way around the circle finishing with the dad and finally he connects to the mom creating an unbroken tie. Now the new mom shares her feelings. Finally scissors are passed to cut the yarn between the guests. The guests are asked to continue to wear or keep this “bracelet” with them as a reminder of the love they all share for this new life and to keep the couple in their hearts in the coming days until mom and baby have passed safely through labor.

A similar ceremony can be done with candles. Pass out candles to everyone in the circle. Start by lighting the candle of the guest next to the new mom who uses that time to share her feelings. Her flame should light the next guest’s candle and so on around the circle finally lighting the new mom’s candle. Ask that each guest take their candle home and relight it each day to hold the coming labor in their hearts.

For Parenting
New parents really only need two things, physical help to get through the first draining weeks and confidence in their own ability to parent. Here are some easy ways to rally the troops to help during the first week. Create a dinner calendar. You can’t use dates because you don’t know when the baby will arrive. Instead mark the calendar first night home, second night, etc. Ask people to please sign up for a dinner and to put their phone number down. Everyone should make enough for at least two nights and bring it in a dish that can be frozen. From two weeks of dinners the couple will actually get four weeks. Once the baby arrives home you will need to call each guest and give them their dinner date.

Create a jobs list: laundry, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, baby sitting etc. Cut the list into strips with one job on each strip. Have one less job than players. Play any elimination game, such as, Musical Chairs. Each person eliminated must draw from the jobs bag. The winner gets to choose the job they want from among the all the jobs already handed out and then the big job swap can begin!

Initially confidence comes from knowing other people see the strengths the new parents bring to this difficult task, as well as, knowing there is lots of parenting wisdom out there for them to tap into when they aren’t sure what to do. Here are three ways to encourage guests to open up and share.

Ask all the guests to bring an item that can be strung. It is a good idea to give them an idea for the diameter of the hole, i.e. strung onto string, or thread or cord. These items should symbolize something they would like to impart to the new parents about parenting. Not every guest will be a parent but remind them they have all been parented. Sit in a circle and pass a bowl from person to person. Each guest should hold up their object and share what it represents before placing it in the bowl. After all the items are collected give the mom the bowl and something to string all the items. As she strings them one by one she has an opportunity to respond to all the positive energy coming her way.

Here is a wonderful activity if you have a quilter as a resource. Buy white muslin and different colors of fabric paint. You might want the paint colors to match the nursery color scheme. Before the guests arrive wash and dry the muslin and securely tape it down onto a large piece of plywood. Lay the plywood on a table or over some sawhorses. Use fabric tape to divide the cloth into squares. As guests arrive ask them to please paint their thoughts and good wishes on a square. After everyone has had an opportunity to paint, gather everyone around the table and have each guest explain their square. Later your quilter will decide how best to turn the art into a quilt to hang in the baby’s room. Don’t know a quilter? Alternatively this could be done as a less permanent piece of wall art by using a roll of butcher paper. Bring a way to “mount” the finished piece when you are done.

Do you need help pulling off either the craft side or ceremonial side of the event? Get help from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pots! This is a wonderful local business that specializes in making personal events memorable and from the heart through the medium of candle creation. They help people tap into their childlike creative side which allows them to feel safe expressing their hopes and dreams for the baby and new parents. They will talk to you about creating a ceremony unique to your new parents and their guests. Let the Sisterhood help you truly honor and bless the miracle of this birth. Contact them at

Showers are an important tradition. A time to honor the new family about to be born and recognize the power of the transformative process they are entering. Shower them with gifts. Shower them with friendship. Shower them with support. Shower them with love.

Jennifer Stover
Doula & Childbirth Educator

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Danielle's Birth Class Testamonial

Jennifer Stover's classes worked for me not just once, but twice. Why? The first thing that drew me in was how Jennifer promotes Natural Birth. This was something I desired, but taking a series of Bradley Classes was just not going to work for my time schedule. I was able to pick and choose the classes that I was most interested in. Jennifer came to my house, and houses of other couples in the class, which made it very convenient. This also made it comfortable and helped my husband to relax a bit more and get involved in the curriculum. I love the graphic nature of Jennifer's classes. They are hands on, and the video's and pictures she shows are very real. It was empowering to me, to see real women in the throws of labor coming off victorious, having the Natural Birth they wanted. I feel that Jennifer's classes did just that for me. Her scientific approach to the way our bodies work and are made to do this, gave me the confidence I needed to have both of my babies the Natural way. If I were ever to find myself pregnant again, I would surely take Jennifer's classes a third time.

Dannielle Clemens

Intro to Parenting 101 a Prerequisite to Parenting 102

Sitting in the inviting warmth of Colby and John's holiday decorated living room sharing food, sharing friendship, sharing stories. Listening to the buzz around me of women exchanging tips on where to buy used baby clothes, making arrangements to meet for yoga in Grover Beach, or talking about how helpful an alternative health care provider was for them. Watching the expectant parents watching Hattie, Sarah and Ryan's beautiful little blond haired toddler, interacting with Hurley, Colby's friendly little dog. Seeing the dawning of the realization that soon they will be parents too. Seeing Sarah and Renee never miss a beat in their conversations as they confidently latch their babies on and breastfeed in front of everyone, even the dads. Hearing the stories. How Kate, from Santa Maria, changed care providers during the last week of pregnancy in order to ensure she would successfully birth her twins vaginally with the midwives in Dr. Krumhout's office. How Sarah's Hattie was born at home with a Licensed Midwife but her youngest Tillie who was supposed to be born at home needed to be born at French Hospital and how Ryan caught on the bathroom floor there because Sarah said no to moving to the bed and Dr. Goodrich and the nurse were fine with that. How Jennifer, a professor at Cal Poly, is still processing why she made the choices she did during her first birth but accepts and understands it more now through the eyes of her second birth. How Renee, from Pismo Beach, had to learn to give in to the idea that labor wasn't something she could control and in that process how close she came to getting the epidural she had sworn before labor began she didn't want. So much learning going on effortlessly, person to person and seeing my couples drinking it all in; about to go through the initiation that is the key to joining the Parent Club, their ticket to the greatest adventure of their lives.

This was the final class, the Returning Parents Potluck. I love this class. I get to reconnect with my past clients and see their adorable babies. I get to listen to how they are growing as parents, the challenges they have been facing and the sweet sweet bliss of those first days, weeks and months of babymoon time. I get a glimpse into how their births affected them as women and men, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. None of them are the same people I met at our first class. Doorways in their hearts have opened creating new selves, forever.

I love teaching my birth class series. I have come to believe that preparing for birth has many dimensions. Yes, understanding the biological process is important. Yes, learning coping skills and relaxation techniques is important. Yes, learning how to be a good birth consumer and the importance of standing up for the birth you want is important. But there really is something more, something that isn't easily imparted in a larger more institutional setting. An intangible something that is at the core of what I try to impart to my couples. Pregnancy, birth and parenting is a time of amazing growth and in my classes I try to facilitate that growth. I try to create a safe place where all choices, thoughts and feelings are respected. A space where over the weeks bonds between couples spring up naturally. A space which encourages open communication between partners. We do simple thought provoking class work that spills over into discussions and sharing that continues beyond class and into cars or bedrooms. The time spent brings us all closer and creates a sense of community. I guess in my classes I am "doulaing" the birth of these new families.

Thank you to Sarah and Ryan, Renee and Travis, Kate and Tim, and Jennifer for giving the gift of your wisdom by sharing your stories.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Colby's Comment

AGREED! Even though I ended up planning a c-section due to a breech baby, Jennifer's classes were very useful even though I did not get the natural birth I was hoping for. She is very thorough, expicit, educates soon-to-be parents on the entire process from pregnancy to labor to having a newborn. She is also a fabulous resource to have and will tirelessly support you in your journey.

Thanks, Jennifer

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Team Effort

Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer. . . What I would give to articulate to families the wonder of your work. We believe you are a rare treasure and have been blessed with a gift: a gift of clarity, wisdom and connection to a complex and beautiful process. You believed in us as a family, and encouraged understanding at every turn. Your presence allowed for a greater sense of peace for us all. You relieved my husband of the conflict a birth partner sometimes feels to be supportive and soft, as well as, protective and strong; you helped us to inform our families and hospital staff of our birth choices with love in our hearts; and most of all, your knowledge-whether faced with the 'standard' pressures of delivery or the unexpected; letting us know we had a choice! If there were documented risks, questions we might want to ask, and reminding us that in some cases we even had the right to ask for privacy while making a decision. . .yes doc, that means delaying something a moment while we absorb what you've just said!

We had a wonderful team both times around and we always felt just that way; What a team!

Thanks, Coach!
The Engelmanns

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Family Bed

Many of my parents would like to sleep with their infant but have concerns about safety. Some end up sleeping with their baby anyway, some choose a crib and some choose the hybrid co-sleeper arrangement. I am a believer in figuring out what works best for your family; in other words, what way allows everyone the best sleep. Sleep is of vital importance for all of you. New mothers need sleep to be able to keep up their milk supply and their sanity. New dads need sleep to meet the demands of keeping up at work and doing a new shift at home. Babies need sleep to grow and thrive. No one benefits from being cranky!

For many families "family bed" is the way they all get the most sleep. Babies were meant to breastfeed 24 hours a day but at night they float up out of a deep sleep to a light sleep and, if mom is within snuggle, latch on and feed without ever coming fully awake. Moms too can learn to drift awake pull the baby in to nurse and fall off to sleep again during nursing with as little disturbance to their sleep pattern as possible. Dads may not even be aware that mom and baby are nursing because there was no loud crying to waken them. So for all the parents who are thinking they would like to try family bed here is a great article dissecting the relative risks of sleeping with your baby or not sleeping with your baby by Dr. Mercola.

Some things to remember:
No parenting decision is set in stone.
What worked today meeting everyone's needs may not work tomorrow.
Listen to your parenting heart it will rarely lead you astray.
What the experts say will change from year to year.
I have been involved with "family bed" families for twenty years and I DON'T KNOW ANY TWENTY YEAR OLDS WHO ARE STILL SLEEPING WITH THEIR PARENTS!!!!

Thanks to Marilyn Lund from Arroyo Grande for forwarding Dr. Mercola's article to me!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Courtney's Low Sugar Recipes for Increased Pregnancy Needs for Iron, Digestible Protein, & Calcium

Don't forget there are more recipes on her website at:

Sprouted & Simmered Whole Grain Millet & Amaranth - powerhouse grains for hard workers & people with increased iron needs: Soak 2 cups millet and 1 cup amaranth overnight under an inch of filtered water in the large saucepan you plan to cook it in. The next day, pour off the soak water and refill the pot so that the water level is about twice as much as grain (3 inches or so above the level of the grain). Bring to a boil, stir in 1 tsp whole sea salt, reduce to very low heat, put the lid on the pot at an angle so the steam can escape, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring twice during the last 5 minutes to make sure there’s enough water in the bottom of the pan to prevent burning - feel free to add a ½ cup or so of water if it’s all evaporated before 30 minutes. It’s better to have more water and just pour the excess off at the end, than to not have enough. Mil-amaranth is great stirred into vegetarian chili as faux ground beef.

Black Eyed Pea & Shitake Stew (a one pot meal to store & reheat for your busy week): Soak 4 cups dry black eyed peas for 24hrs under 6 inches filtered water in a large (6 - 8 qt.) pot. The next day, rinse off the old soak water and replace with fresh filtered water (enough so the beans are covered by at least 3 inches of water). Bring to a boil, skimming excess foam off the top for the first few minutes. Reduce to simmer, then after 20 minutes of simmering put the lid on at an angle and simmer another 40 minutes. When beans have simmered for 1 hour total, add 3 Tbsp ground cumin, ½ tsp cayenne, and 2 Tbsp each ground coriander and ginger. Stir and simmer another 5 minutes. Add 4 cups chopped carrots, 2 cups chopped shitake mushrooms, and a large handful dried arame sea vegetable. Simmer 3 more minutes, and add 4-5 cups (or as much as will fit in the pot) greens such as chopped kale, collards, savoy cabbage, bok choy or mustard greens. Turn off heat and stir in 1 Tbsp each dried dill, marjoram and sage or tarragon. Add 5 Tbsp ghee or olive oil, and 3 - 5 Tbsp each shoyu or tamari soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Stir in some leftover cooked grain at the end if there’s room in the pot. And a nice salad on the side makes this a perfect meal. Enjoy!

Dilled Eggs w/Oysters and Cayenne On Toast: This recipe sounds weird, but it's high in protein & the flavor will knock your socks off! In a small skillet on low heat add 2 Tbsp olive oil,1/8 tsp cayenne, 1 can drained Crown Prince smoked oysters in olive oil, and 2- 4 large eggs. Saute until eggs are almost done (still wet looking), then turn off the heat and add 1/4 tsp dill, ½ tsp whole sea salt, and plenty of lemon or lime juice. Toast 2 pieces of sprouted grain bread, butter them, and top with oyster-egg saute. Serve with plenty of greens (ex: stir fry w/kale in winter, salad in summer). This amazingly tasty meal packs a great iron and protein punch. Enjoy!

Hormone Balancing Plantain Bananas: Just place a ripe plantain banana or two (with black spots or all black) on the oven rack and bake on 350 degrees for 1 ½ to 2 hours. The plantain’s peel will turn charred black and it’ll split open. When the meat inside turns a nice copper color, it’s ready! It goes with any breakfast foods (soaked nuts, brown rice, carob powder, yogurt or kefir, etc.) Eat between 9 -11AM according to Solar Nutrition.

Courtney’s Killer Egg Tacos: Grate a large carrot, chop some fresh cilantro and 1/4 two limes and set aside. Saute on med. heat in 1tbs olive oil: 1/3 chopped yellow onion, 3/4 cup grated zucchini, 1 cup finely chopped kale or collard greens, and throw in ½ cup sun dried tomatoes with a pinch each of whole sea salt, dried rosemary, sage and parsley. Flake 1 drained can of Bella Olaho sardines in olive oil into the pan and mix in 5 beaten eggs. Stir continuously until the eggs are almost done (slightly wet looking - they’ll finish cooking in the hot pan - overcooked eggs loose their flavor) then remove from heat. Stuff into Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas with the fresh, grated carrot and chopped cilantro, and top with lime juice and a drizzle of Cardini’s Ceasar salad dressing. Mouth watering!

Cultured Turkey Stew (easily digestible protein meal): The day before hand, mix 1- 1.5 lb. ground turkey with 1 cup plain goat yogurt and store in the fridge covered. The next day soak a large handful of chopped Kombu sea vegetable in a small bowl of water and set aside. Then, in a large pot, sauté 2 chopped carrots, 1/4 lb. chopped green beans, and 1 small chopped fennel bulb in about 5 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 cup water on med heat, stirring for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in 2 Tbsp ground cumin, and 1 Tbsp each ground ginger and coriander, stir, and add the cultured turkey and 1 bunch chopped mustard greens. Cook another 5 minutes, stirring. Pour in the bowl of Kombu along with 2 - 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes, adding 1 tsp each dried dill, tarragon and ground sage, and either 2 tsp Celtic sea salt, or 3 - 4 Tbsp Tamari soy sauce. This stew is building for the weakened body and easy to digest.

Calcium Absorption Breakfasts: ~10 soaked almonds, 3 raw brazil nuts, a cup or so of soaked and cooked brown rice, and a pear or a banana
~ OR, 15 soaked almonds, a cup or so of soaked and cooked brown rice mixed with1tbs raw carob powder, a splash of almond milk and a sliced banana all mixed together

Iron Absorption Breakfast: 10 - 15 soaked almonds, a few raw nuts (ie: walnuts, pecans, macadamia or Brazil nuts), a cup of soaked and cooked brown rice, 3 - 5 soaked prunes, and fresh kiwi or stone fruit like plum, peach or nectarine (no citrus or melon).

Sesame-Wakame Calcium & Protein Rich Snack: Toast 1/4 inch thick layer of unhulled sesame seeds in a medium cast iron skillet on medium heat, turning with a spatula for 7-10 minutes until they pop and brown slightly. Turn off the heat and place them in a ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Into the still-hot skillet place a layer of dried wakame sea vegetable that's been cut with scissors into 1/2 in. pieces. The heat from the skillet will cause the wakame to dry out so that after 15 minutes or so, you can crumble it into the sesame seeds and mix them together. Store this mix in a glass jar and eat spoonfuls of it as you desire or sprinkle on salads or on crackers with tahini. 1/4 cup of unhulled sesame seeds = 40% of you daily value of calcium!

Calcium Rich Dinner: Saute ½ chopped onion, 1 grated zucchini and 1 grated carrot, ½ bunch chopped kale or collard greens, 1/4 cup soaked (for 30 min) wakame sea veggie, and 1 tsp each sage, rosemary and dill in 1 tbs ghee or butter in a skillet. Pour 5 beaten eggs over veggies, add 1-2 tbs Shoyu soy sauce OR ½ tsp whole sea salt, and flake 1 can sardines with bones into the mix. Remove from heat just before they’re done cooking (they’ll look a bit wet), as the heat from the pan will finish cooking them (overcooked eggs lose their flavor). Serve over soaked and simmered brown rice.

Three Calcium Soups:

1) Soak 2 cups whole barley (not “pearled”) for 24 hrs. Pour off soak water and either simmer for 50 minutes, adding kale, whole sea salt, ghee and spices 10 minutes before it’s done, OR sprout barley for a couple of days (rinsing it every 6 hrs. in a sprouting jar) and simmer for ten minutes with kale, whole sea salt, ghee, and spices (yellow curry, tarragon and dill tastes great).

2) A soup cooked with beans and sea vegetables is considered good for the kidneys and therefore good for the bones in Chinese Medicine. Both beans and sea vegetables are high in magnesium and calcium.

3) For those of blood type O, any bones from organically raised animals are broken, then cooked into a soup at low heat for a few hours with acid vegetables (tomatoes, lemon juice, etc.) to extract the marrow and other minerals. Good for weak or frail individuals needing building, strengthening foods. Amaranth Flour

Stevia-Sweetened Cookies: I recommend culturing the 2 cups amaranth flour 24 hrs ahead of time. Mix until just blended: 2 cups fresh ground amaranth (or packaged amaranth flour) with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup plain, cultured yogurt OR 1tsp acidophilus powder or two capsules of refrigerated probiotic opened & mixed with 1.5 cups water. Let the mixture sit for a day, covered, at room temperature so the yogurt cultures can neutralize the phytic acid in the whole grain flour and break down the complex starches. It’s much more digestible & the nutrients are better assimilated this way. The next day, make your cream mix in a small saucepan with the oil, egg, water, stevia & extracts (ingredient amounts in paragraph below). Just add the rest of the dry ingredients to the cream mix (salt, baking soda, & spices), blend it with the cultured flour mix, then add any nuts, fruit, coconut, chocolate chips, etc. If you don’t have time to culture the flour, you can do it this way: Dry mix > 2 cups amaranth flour, and ½ tsp each aluminum-free baking soda & whole sea salt, 1tsp ground coriander, & ½ tsp nutmeg. Sift & set aside. Cream mix > In a med saucepan on low heat, melt 1 ½ sticks butter OR 2/3 cup virgin coconut oil. Remove from heat & stir in 15 drops Nu Naturals brand Vanilla Stevia,1 tsp almond extract and beat in one egg. Mix dry & cream mixes together well. Then add 1 cup each fresh nuts of choice (pecans are great!), unsulphered coconut, and dark chocolate chips if you like (preferably malt-sweetened) or carob chips. Place heaping spoonfuls on a buttered baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Also, instead of nutmeg/coriander/almond extract/dried coconut/nuts/chocolate chips, you can get creative and use: pumpkin pie spice & allspice/ vanilla or almond extract/Sweet Leaf brand English Toffee stevia/finely diced fruit like apple, pear or persimmon OR coriander/vanilla extract & vanilla stevia/fresh, dried or frozen berries.

Apple-Raspberry Spice Rice (better for you than apple pie, and tastes twice as good!): In a small saucepan over low heat add 1 cup Pacific brand oat milk and 2 cups freshly simmered (or leftover) brown rice, 1 medium diced fresh apple, 2 Tbsp butter or ghee, ½ tsp whole sea salt, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice and ½ tsp allspice. Simmer & stir for 3 minutes or so, adding more oat milk if it’s too thick for you). Turn off heat & add 12 drops Sweet Leaf brand English Toffee stevia (1 Tbsp grade B maple syrup or raw honey if not using stevia). Stir until mixed well & enjoy warm, with individual servings topped with pecans and raspberry drizzle: in a small bowl mix the juice of 1 ripe lemon (Meyer lemon is best), 8 drops Nu Naturals vanilla stevia & 1 cup mashed raspberries from fresh or frozen. Wow!

Courtney's Recommended Reading List for Nutritional Health

The Self-Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner (best primer on Macrobiotics)

Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford (deep study of Macrobiotics & modern nutrition - great as reference for any ailment)

The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates and Linda Schatz (for cancer, AIDS, and autoimmune deficiency and candida/yeast sufferers to boost immunity and alkalize the body)

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (ancestral wisdom on whole foods preparation such as culturing flours, meats, etc.)

Eat Right For Your Type by Peter D Adamo (blood typing systems for four different diets & lifestyles)

Your Body knows Best by Ann Louise Gittleman (synthesis of several systems to further individualize your diet & lifestyle)

The Metabolic typing Diet by Trish Fahey and William Wolcott (helps with regulating metabolism for weight loss or weight gain)

Shocking Article in Huffington Post

As is often the case things are not as simple as they may at first appear. I posted the article below immediately after reading an article from the Huffington Post. I have since done some more research of my own and although this case is still shocking it is about as clear as mud.

The hospital, St. Barnabas, in New Jersey has a 49.3% cesarean section rate and wanted the laboring mom to sign a consent to a cesarean surgery as soon as she arrived! The also wanted a consent for an epidural, fetal scalp monitoring, an episiotomy and other procedures. This in and of itself is shocking to me and sends up many red flags.

On the other hand it is possible this women is suffering from mental health issues. Having been with many women in labor, which most psychiatrists or psychologists have not, I do not feel a woman's mental health should ever be assessed during labor. However this woman suffers from a diagnosed pre-existing condition: post traumatic stress disorder. The feelings of labor paired with the actions of the hospital may very well have provoked an episode of some sort. I have witnessed this myself with women who have suffered a trauma in the past. Labor opens many doors into the heart of a woman and sometimes her demons come out. Labor is an extremely vulnerable time. A woman with a history of trauma must be supported with understanding for her unique situation. On top of this I feel that how many hospitals treat women can bring on post traumatic stress disorder. We don't call it that; we call it post partum depression or an inability to reconcile with their cesarean experience.

Here is a link if you want to read further into this sad story after reading my original piece below.

OMG!!! I just read a stunning article about a woman who refused a c-section and although she gave birth vaginally to a healthy baby she had that baby forcibly taken from her afterwards and placed into state foster care. This is so wrong on so many levels that I am having trouble collecting my thoughts enough to write anything coherent. Tragedy; a tragedy for women's civil rights, a tragedy for this child, a tragedy for this family, a tragedy for all the women out there who may want to take a stand against their OB's "advice" but will now have this fear in the back of their minds. I am telling you the push back from the entrenched medical community against the rising tide of natural birth is very ugly indeed. It is coming at us on all levels; through the media (a ridiculous piece on the Today show against homebirth), through individual hospitals (telling women they can't give birth there if they use a doula or write a birth plan) and through individual birth practitioners (steering women into hospital based birth preparation classes and away from educators who advocate for natural birth).

Please educate yourself by reading this important article by Louise Marie Roth on Huffington Post "Is a Woman in Labor a 'Person'? New Assaults on Pregnant Women's Civil Rights in a NJ Case". Prepare yourself because this article is shocking and disturbing. Click on the Link in my Great Resources section. Continue further by reading "Controversy Sparked by a Sign on a Door", also on my Resources Links. Add that to the situation that I wrote about in my Informed Consent article. Then think about a Certified Nurse Midwife in our community, whom I respect, telling a Bradley educator during a public forum that Bradley teaches women to not "trust" their care providers. I believe this is because Bradley teaches women to be good birth "consumers"; to question, choose what they think is right for them and their baby, and to be prepared to stand up for their choice against opposition.

So why is this happening now? Money, power and fear come to mind. Could the current political climate come into play here as well? Is the right to life movement, which is something completely different, be spilling into other issues surrounding a woman's right to choose what is best for her body in other ways? For the first time women in the 'alternative' birth community are speaking up on the national stage, whether it is Ricki Lake's video The Business of Being Born or The Big Push for Midwives Campaign rallying women to speak to their legislators on Capitol Hill to be sure to include Certified Professional Midwives in the current national health care bill. The Internet is connecting women in a way never seen before and the younger women in the birth community are taking full advantage of it. Remember ordinary obstetrics is a huge money maker for the medical community but if you add in the money for inductions, epidurals, c-sections and extra days in the hospitals for moms and babies in neonatal intensive care units the fees skyrocket. On top of that birth is considered a gateway procedure. Women tend to return to the same hospital for additional births and other health issues as well as bringing their husband and kids when they have problems. That adds up to lots of money over lots of years! So what happens if women start saying no to their doctors "advice" to be induced simply because they are at 40 weeks, or work hard to not choose an epidural, or say no to having major abdominal surgery? There is so much to be lost or gained on both sides.

Please read the complete Huffington Post article then send my link on to family or friends you think would benefit. I really want to hear your thoughts on this issue after you have read the linked articles. Post a comment here.

Thanks goes out to the women at ICAN who told me about the Roth article!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Mom & a Dad's Perspective



Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Swimming to the raft really helped, along with moving around and trying different things, (shower, rocking chair, hot tub, etc.) Gus is a happy drug free boy as a result!




This is a big thanx for helping us bring Gus into the world. There were times I really wanted to go home, crawl into bed and hide under the covers...


Sheila & Marks Thoughts

Dear Jennifer,

We would like to thank you for the time and energy which you put into our weekly sessions. It was a very good thing to be so well equipped with information on procedures and interventions. We required very little in terms of explanations as our ordeal unfolded. You are very, very good at what you do, Jennifer. You burst with both knowledge and enthusiasm and possess a wonderful ability to transmit information. Many thanks,

Sheila and Mark