Friday, April 30, 2010

The New Science of Mother-Baby Bonding

Laurie Stern, one of the wonderful nurses who works with newborns at our hospitals posted this info on FaceBook. Thank you Laurie! Although those of us who have been working with moms and babies as long as we have were convinced of these things already it is nice to have science back up what our hearts have always known. Every mother knows if she listens with her heart that our babies thrive on being close to us.

Groundbreaking new research shows that a strong emotional bond between a mother and her baby may help prevent diseases, boost immunity, and enhance a child's IQ
By Patty Onderko, Parenting
A must read for prospective parents!

More on a similar topic: How pheromones, those mysterious chemicals we exude when attracting love, affect our babies in the first hour of life.

The Science Behind Baby Bonding
How the chemical connection a mom has with her baby within the first hour of birth sets the tone for their relationship and helps determine the future emotional and physical health of the child for decades to come.
By Patty Onderko, Babytalk
Read this before birthing!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Healthy Beginnings/Healthy Choices

Getting Your Pregnancy Off to a Great Start!

This is a new 3 class series focusing on pregnancy as opposed to labor & birth. For maximum benifit it should be taken as early as possible during pregnancy.

Healthy Beginnings for Baby
Viewing pregnancy as a state of health
Understanding the building blocks of a great pregnancy
Nurturing ourselves and our babies through nutrition & exercise

Making better choices
How our choices early in pregnancy can affect third trimester complications
What is getting in our way?

Unlocking the mystery of prenatal care

Healthy Beginnings for a Family
Bridging the gap between men & women's journeys through pregnancy

Enriching your relationship during this special time
Using communication & understanding to build strong bonds

A window into the miracle of creation

Healthy Choices for our Births
Freeing yourself to create the birth you want
How Did We Get Here?
Understanding how our past & our present influence our choices in childbirth.

Homebirth as the standard for normal birth & why
Issues of safety vs. risk
Your choice; doctor or midwife?

Components of a positive birth
Positive births can happen everywhere

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Example of the Wonder of Birth

Welcome Little Slugger!
Some births are so full of surprises they confound even the "professionals". Thank you Baby Ryan for reminding all of us that labor and pain are not one and the same and that birth is new every day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where Does a Dad Fit into the Picture?

To my love, my partner, my son’s father this is for all the things you didn’t do.

Begging Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pardon…

“How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways”

My husband never said, “Wouldn’t it be easier to use formula?”

My husband never looked at my small breasts and said, “Are you sure you can make enough milk?”

My husband never said, “If we used bottles I could help out more.”

My husband never said, “If we used bottles I could feel closer to Joe.”

My husband never said, “Are you sure you know what you are doing?”

My husband never said, “My mother didn’t breastfeed me and I turned out fine.”

My husband never said, “My dad’s really uncomfortable with you nursing. Maybe you shouldn’t nurse while we are visiting my parents.”

My husband never said, “He’s too attached to you. He needs to learn how to be independent.”

My husband never said, “I want my wife back.”

My husband never said, “I want my life back.”

My husband never said, “What are you doing taking Joe to the barn? It is too dirty and dangerous there for an infant.”

My husband never said, “You’re going back to teaching riding? But Joe is only 5 weeks old. You can’t go away all day. What if he won’t take these bottles of breastmilk while you are gone? What am I to do?”

My husband never said, “I don’t think I can do this.”

My husband never said, “I don’t want to do this.”

My husband never said, “I don’t want my talking, walking son to breastfeed. It’s perverted.”

My husband never said, “The pediatrician said you can’t know if Joe has a dairy sensitivity. I believe the doctor. He is the expert.”

My husband never questioned my commitment or ability to breastfeed our son. He felt that it was the very best choice for my son’s health and future development. If he sometimes thought I didn’t know what I was doing he never let it show. He has always been my devoted partner in the great adventure of parenthood.
Six days after my son was born we left our tiny rented house in Shell Beach for our first family walk. The love I felt for the tiny bundle I was carrying in the Snugli Sack on my chest was overpowering. I had never felt such a strong emotion. As we walked back from the ocean’s edge I confessed to him my need for his help.

“I’m going to need your help because I’m never going to be able to let him go. I love him too much.”

“What do you mean?” he answered.

“Well you know how I feel about all my animals and that is nothing compared to how I feel about him. Can you imagine how devastated I would be if Spot walked in one day and said, ‘Well I’m going now. Thanks for taking care of me.’

“I know” he said.

“I mean I understand that the goal is to raise him so he CAN go away and I want to be a good parent. I want him to be successful and grow up to be independent, but it feels wrong. I don’t know if I can do it.” I added.

Putting his arm around me he replied, “I’ll help you”.

And he has. He has allowed me to be free to focus on nurturing and closeness while he has lead each step of Joe’s moving away from us. He has been the rock I can lean on. He creates an ever enlarging safety net under Joe so that I feel ok about letting him go. Whether it is scouting, or backpacking, or hiking to the top of Mount Whitney, I know I can count on Mike. Now college and on to traveling in Europe, I know I can count on Mike. He stood by my side when I gave Joe a hug and said good bye after dropping him off for his freshman year at college. He knew how hard that moment was for me. Then he drove for 3 days to get us home while I sank into a deep sadness. He was patient with me; waiting to see what would happen next. And what happened next was that I learned I could live without my son, although it still feels as if part of me is missing. And I also learned once again how much I love my husband.

To my husband on Father’s Day,

How Do I love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways..."
    By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.                              
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;                          Click here to read a birth story which includes
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.                            this amazing dad!
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Health-care legislation increases birth options: Women covered by Medicaid are insured for delivery at birth centers as well as hospitals

Publised in the SLO New Times April 14, 2010
Picked up by the American Association of Birth Centers for their web site.


A provision in the new legislation for health care gives women more latitude to decide where, how, and with what kind of professional they will give birth, and may lead to a birth center finally being established in San Luis Obispo.

Most Americans don’t know that 42 percent of all births in the United States are paid through Medicaid reimbursement. Thanks to the passage of the health-care bill, women so insured will have a choice of how they spend that money. Section 2301 includes full Medicaid reimbursement for free-standing birth centers, certified nurse midwives working in hospitals or birth centers, and certified professional midwives (CPMs) working in birth centers. Women can continue to choose a hospital birth with a doctor or midwife, but now they can choose to birth at a licensed out-of-hospital birth center attended by midwives instead.

The average cost of a birth-center birth is approximately one-fifth of a doctor-attended hospital delivery, a huge potential savings to Medicaid: Consider that the typical hospital birth costs approximately $20,000 and the cost can climb to $60,000 for a cesarean birth. Not all women will want to birth naturally without pain medication in birth centers. Not all women are appropriate candidates for birthing with midwives in birth centers. But if only 5 percent of the 4.3 million women in this country who give birth annually choose this option, it would mean millions of dollars saved each year.

For 28 years, local women have been asking now-retired Certified Nurse Midwife Linda Seeley why we don’t have this option. She explained, “A lot of women don’t want to have their babies at home, but also don’t want to be in a hospital. A birth center is usually located close to a hospital but not in a hospital.” After General Hospital closed, Seeley was part of San Luis Obispo General Hospital Foundation’s attempt to start up a birth center. She continued, “A center is more intimate, the women themselves are more in control of what happens. There is more satisfaction and lower stress. It is well known that the lower the stress, the better the outcomes.”

We have no out-of-hospital birth centers in the county. Atascadero midwife Edana Hall, CPM, who is licensed by the California Medical Board, said she is “cautiously optimistic this could lead to the opening of a birth center in San Luis.”

Tiffany Dietrich, a naturopathic doctor and midwife who recently moved to San Luis Obispo, explained that in the greater Seattle area where she recently practiced there are two birth centers. The fact that Medicaid in Washington State already paid for out-of-hospital birth-center births is part of what made that possible.

“When Medicaid pays for something, eventually the insurance companies also begin to pay,” Dietrich said. “It’s a good time to open a community birth center here. Our culture is changing. Out-of-hospital births are on the rise due to media exposure, such as The Business of Being Born, the documentary by Ricki Lake.
“What is happening in Washington State shows that birth centers are a successful model of care for women and babies—as well as financially—for the birth center and Medicaid,” she added.

Jessica Elliott relocated from Morro Bay to Oregon, where Medicaid and insurance companies already pay for out-of-hospital births. She echoed Dietrich: “There are currently three birth centers located in the Portland area where CPMs attend births.”
Elliott, a participant in an intensive clinical training for midwifery at the Andaluz Waterbirth Center, continued, “We do anywhere from 20 to 30 births a month, but demand is growing. The center recently had to hire two new midwives to keep up.”

Last June, a panel of local professionals who work with children and birthing women met with Congresswoman Lois Capps’ district representative, Betsy Umhofer, to present information about the merits of midwifery and out-of-hospital births. She listened to us carefully and relayed our information to Capps, who, as vice chairman of the Health Committee, was in Washington, D.C., working on the legislation that just passed.

After the signing ceremony, Congresswoman Capps issued this statement about this important section of the health-care bill: “I know that bringing a new life into the world can be the most profound moment of a woman’s life. And I am proud that this new legislation will afford women more choices regarding the setting in which this momentous occasion can occur. One of the many important provisions in the new health-care reform legislation is the increased access to care in a variety of settings, including for women who choose to obtain prenatal care and deliver their babies in freestanding birth centers. I was proud to support this provision that assures these centers Medicaid reimbursement for providing this important service in promoting women’s health.”

Jennifer Stover, the president of Birth and Baby Resource Network in San Luis Obispo, is a childbirth educator and doula.

Send comments via the editor at

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mothering as a Spiritual Quest

Below is a quote by Dr. Sarah Buckley,MD which I saw posted on FaceBook today. It immediately rang true for me and expressed a piece of mothering I have always felt. Who is really doing the growing; our children or ourselves? For me this was indistinguishable.

"In our society, mothering is often seen as a chore — a time in our lives
when we are unintellectual, and unproductive. There is, however, a radically different point of view,shared by many in other cultures, that sees mothering as a women's spiritual practice, and our babies as our teachers. We have the opportunity in mothering, as never before, to practise devotion, awareness, selflessness, and
unconditional love through our daily mothering tasks. Our intellectual
capacities may (or may not) be diminished, but our hearts and instincts
can bloom, and we can practise the mindfulness that allows us to be
totally in the present — in love with our babies and children — which is
where they are. Blessed be the babies."

I would love to share your thoughts on this quote with other about-to-be-mothers. Please post a comment.

This came from a new resource, a blog site about many issues in gentle parenting practices. To read about Elimination Communication, The Circumcision Decision, Baby Wearing, The No Cry Sleep Solution and many other topics visit:

Thank you to Pacha for posting this and for being a mindful mother.

Monday, April 5, 2010

More Good News about Breastfeeding

In today's Tribune is a wire story about breastfeeding.The results of a study published today in the Journal Pediatrics says if 90% of babies were breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives it could save billions of dollars and 900 babies lives. An article on La Leche League International's web site talks about a different study published in 2009, "a group of infants fed artificial milk had $68,000 in health care costs in a six-month period, while an equal number of nursing babies had only $4,000 worth. In Brazil, where medical care is not readily available, an artificially fed baby is 14 times more likely to die than an exclusively breastfed baby, and at least four times more likely to die than an infant receiving both mother's milk and artificial milk." Why? Because of all the childhood and life time diseases that breast-feeding protects kids from, such as, asthma, diabetes, ear infections and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. They don't even factor in the psychological issues for mom, baby and bonding which lead to less postpartum depression, better relationships and less child abuse and neglect.

And that doesn't even factor in the health benefits for the moms! Dr. Alicia Dermer says in an article for La Leche League, "Breastfeeding reduces risk factors for three of the most serious diseases for women-female cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis-without any significant health risks." Choosing to breast-feed will also reduce your chance of developing high blood pressure and diabetes. In another LLL article researcher Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, an assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, said: "Breastfeeding is an important part of the way women's bodies recover from pregnancy. There are certain hormonal and physiological changes the body expects to go through after pregnancy and when those changes don't happen, that leaves certain body systems in a precarious way. The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them."

This may be new information for some people but the local women who work with nursing moms and babies have known this for many years. I heard about all the health benefits 20 years ago sitting in a breastfeeding class at General Hospital given by Kathleen Huggins. She is our local breastfeeding guru and author of several books on the topic, including one that I referenced often during my nursing era, The Nursing Mother's Companion. She also started the Breastfeeding Warm Line and currently owns Simply Mama in downtown SLO. Understanding the health impact of breastfeeding is one of the reasons the midwives and nurses at General Hospital worked so hard to become Baby Friendly Certified by the World Health Organization. To be certified a hospital must actively promote breastfeeding in their practices and give out no "freebies" from formula companies. Then our other hospitals followed suit and became very pro-breastfeeding. Because of the great local support for breastfeeding in our hospitals and out our county has had a fantastic breastfeeding rate for years. At times we have been at the 90% mark promoted in this new study when women first leave our hospitals.

Breastfeeding is the most important thing you can do for your child's immediate and long term health!

Local Warm Line: telephone help, classes and one-on-one support: 541-Baby.

La Leche League: For the best breast-feeding resources available on the planet

Local La Leche League: group and individual support and counseling

To check out the articles I quoted

Good For Moms Too: What does the April 2009 Journal, Obstetrics and Gynaecology have to say

A Well-Kept Secret: Breast-feeding's Benefits for Mothers

Breastfeeding Saved My Child's Life: One mother's story

Nursing the World Back to Health: A great article about the connection between breast-feeding, the environment and saving our planet