Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Understanding U.S. Birth Trends & How They Might Effect You

Currently there is a lot of buzz about our high cesarean section rate and trying to lower it. Why? Because the statistics are starting to bear out what many of us have been saying for years, that doing more cesareans doesn't mean better care or better results. Furthermore that moms are getting a tremendous amount of pressure from their doctors to have C-sections and that c-sections put moms at more risk with no improvement in benefits for babies. This video is a good explaination of current trends in our birth culture and medical practices. It goes on to show how these trends are effecting our cesarean section rates, maternal out-comes and baby out-comes.

My thoughts on the statistics coming out about c-sections:

What an outrage has been perpetrated on women yet again! The rising birth surgery rate in the last 10 years is an appalling abuse of power. This is just one more time in a long list of times when our society's views on women and it's values of pursuing science and money have blended with the male dominated medical model to put women in harms way. Women, just as other minorities within our culture, have been used and abused at the alter of the medical machine once again.

Young mother's today haven't grown up with the mantra, "Question Authority!" or the understanding of the true balance of power between men and women built into our system. They have grown up in a Hillary Clinton world where women like Meg Whitman appear to be able to have a firm grasp on the levers of power in the financial and political world. They don't understand that these women are an aberration. They are an illusion. In the world I live in thousands of women everyday are being lied to or at the very least subltly manipulated into turning their bodies over for someone else's monetary gain. And the propoganda is so good most of them have no idea what just happened to them. They actually believe that their rapists are their saviors. How sick is that? They arrive home dazed and in pain with only one clear thought, how grateful they are to their doctor for saving them and their baby.

I have one thing to say to young women today, "Wake up!! Stop drinking the kool-aid! Question Authority!" Just because Authority wears a white lab coat and has a degree behind the desk doesn't mean he or she has only your best interest at heart. Don't let yourself be a cog in the wheel of the great machine. Take a cue from your hippie sisters of the sixties and reclaim your right to your bodies and your births. You deserve it.

GET EDUCATED! WATCH THIS VIDEO: http://www.lamaze.org/OnlineCommunity/LamazeVideoLibrary/LamazeVideoPlayer/TabId/808/VideoId/4/Birth-By-The-Numbers.aspx

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More Confessions

In my teens our middle school’s marching band sold huge See’s Candies’ chocolate bars to raise money. I was a huge supporter; buying a candy bar each day for lunch and washing it down with a Hawaiian Punch. My future mother-in-law was a really good cook. When I met my husband one of his favorite meals included lime Jello with bananas as a “salad.” Wanting to live up to his mother’s high standards I dutifully made it for him at every holiday. When it wasn’t a holiday I was busy being a horsewoman. Every day I would dash out of the house in the morning after drinking my very sugary tea and munching down cinnamon toast for breakfast. Then I would skip lunch all together. I didn’t even bring anything to drink with me! I rarely came home to cook dinner until well after dark when all the horse chores were done. Tired and late I would throw together a meal, such as, 3 Can Chili (1 can of chili, 1 can or corn and 1 can of stewed tomatoes) and pour it over white rice. Viola! Dinner was served. I weighed 101 pounds from the time I was 14 or 15 until I was 32. Luckily my son rescued me from myself. 

When I had difficulty getting pregnant one of the things I did to help my fertility was force myself to eat more in order to gain 5 or 10 pounds. I ate 3 meals a day and began to care about what I put into my body. At first I added simple things, such as Yoplait yogurt and an apple for lunch. Later I branched out into actual peanut butter and jam or lunch meat sandwiches. I cut out my tea to get off all caffeine which took sugar out of my morning routine. 

During my pregnancy I tried to eat all the “servings’ they recommended in “What to Expect When You are Expecting.” I also thought it was fine to eat all the ice cream I wanted and I am ashamed to say I became addicted to Jello chocolate pudding cups. I still wasn’t drinking enough throughout the day and would gulp down a huge glass of cold apple juice as soon as I got in the door at night. I told myself it was a serving of fruit instead of the sugar fix it was really. I passed my gestational diabetes test but I don’t know how. I must have been right on the cusp. If I had failed it, I would have had an opportunity to reroute my eating habits earlier in my life. I felt so bad after driving back from the test I crawled into my truck at the barn and fell asleep for the afternoon. I blame all the sugar in that darned apple juice for the size of my son and the number of hours it took me to finally push him out. 

Breastfeeding went really well for me. I produced plenty and he nursed plenty. He grew like mad and no one could believe that little old me had a baby at the top of the height and weight chart at every pediatrician visit. The biggest change for me at this point was taking foods out of my diet that didn’t agree with my son. I learned I could live without dairy, although I craved it. I began to understand how my digestion and some other health issues seemed to be connected to consuming dairy. The other change was getting off the juice and drinking water instead. It took a few rounds of plugged ducts to get me paying attention to my fluid intake throughout the day. 

Toddlerhood kept me running. I was busy with horses, my son and starting my doula business. Meanwhile Joe still didn’t sleep through the night. I felt like I was a walking zombie. I finally took myself to an endocrinologist for testing. She explained to me that although I was not diabetic I had what she called a diabetic body type. I needed to get off sugars of all kinds and start eating protein with every meal. I jumped in with both feet and followed her advice religiously for a few years. I definitely felt better. I learned how a sugar rush felt and why I had nausea and shakiness sometimes from the drop off on the other side. Meanwhile I was no longer eating for two but I was constantly cooking for two. Food or thoughts about food are never far from a mother’s mind. I learned to take snacks with me ALL the time after Joe had a major melt down in a bank line. But was I feeding him wholesome organic food? No way. He adored corn dogs from Costco with Kraft Mac and Cheese. He ate Cheerios for breakfast and I felt virtuous because I added a banana and no sugar. After he went to a friend’s house and encountered Sugar Smacks was the first time he told me I was WAY TOO strict about eating. He had PBJ’s or bologna sandwiches for lunch. Hey, but it was on wheat bread. Darned if MY kid was eating those sugar butter sandwiches! Of course for special occasions I would make homemade cinnamon toast which essentially was an open faced toasted sugar butter sandwich with cinnamon but it was on WHOLE WHEAT bread. That should count for something right? 

Now life really began changing for our family and I blame it all on the company I was keeping. I began to meet moms who were eating and feeding their kids very differently than I. These women were La Leche League members, midwifery assistants and homeschoolers. I finally began to see food in a whole new light. I started thinking about what the heck was IN a corn dog and what made those sandwich crackers that brilliant orange? Well my family might say it was all downhill from there. I was the soccer mom who brought for everyone after the game homemade pumpkin muffins made with whole wheat flour and sweetened with applesauce along with a bottle of water as a snack. What no sugary drink box? No candy? No cup cake thick with frosting? What kind of mom ARE you? My son ate smoothies for lunch with whole fruit and tofu. We rarely ate at a fast food place. Veggies always have a place at my table, even if I have had to let my son dip them in ranch dressing to get them eaten. I am learning all the time about what constitutes good nutrition and incorporating it into our meals. 

Of course different people have different thoughts on nutrition. For me it involves good quality protein, pesticide free fresh fruits and veggies from our local farmer’s market or farm stands, organic dairy and eggs with no hormones or antibiotics. I am slowly converting my family to whole wheat pasta. They already have decided brown rice is ok. They will even eat quinoa and millet occasionally. Any meal I make has veggies or fruit as an important component. Salad happens several nights a week and is often the main course. My veggies are raw, steamed or sautéed. Plain fruit is often our dessert. 

But I am definitely not as crunchy and organic as some young moms these days. Today I sat on the grass in the park and listened to a mom talk about not only making her own bread but grinding her own wheat. It made me tired just to think of it! I’m sure her bread DOES taste better and IS more nutritious but I’m not ready to devote that much of my life to food preparation. 

Three years ago my son went off to college and the issue of food became an uncharted frontier for us; a land where I had no control. For the first 2 years I got to hear him complain about dorm food. It appalled me what they were serving. After all they had led me to believe they were a progressive northwestern liberal arts school. Didn’t they know anything about nutrition? Even worse my son was working for the college food service company and saw how they MADE the food. But more troubling for me was how often he was getting sick. I absolutely blame his diet. Last year he moved into an apartment and I put together a recipe book for him and packed up many of the basic ingredients; the spices and non-perishable items. I encouraged him to find out where the local health food store was located and if there was a farmer’s market. Then I sat back, crossed my fingers and tried hard not to think about it. Here is what I learned. He won’t starve. He can cook. He also won’t take the time and energy needed to buy fresh, organic and local. He still LOVES Mac and Cheese. Hearing he made himself a pot of Top Ramen with real veggies actually makes me happy. I don’t think he eats any fruit which makes me sad. He still gets sick way to often and I still blame his diet. I try not to nag. When he is home in the summer I have the urge to get as much nutritious food down him as possible but it is tricky. He makes his own breakfast and lunch. Although I have many healthy options for him to choose from he gravitates to carbs and will eat a lot of bagels, toast, and muffins. Sometimes he’ll eat all of them at 1 meal! But dinners are mine to create and I stuff as much goodness into them as possible. Tonight is nitrate free organic chicken and apple sausage with potatoes, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, green onions, corn and peppers sautéed together in a pan. Everything will be fresh and good and he will happily wolf it down. 

Teaching Nutrition: As a birth educator and doula I have been teaching women about nutrition for many years. Every time I learn something new I pass it on. Nutrition in pregnancy is critically important to the health of the mother, to the life-long health of the baby and to the health and safety of the pregnancy. Many common pregnancy related problems, and more serious complications can be resolved through appropriate nutrition. Issues such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure can be turned around. Food is the true path to life-long wellness. Finding ways to get people to make such fundamental changes is the difficulty. I know that the first step is becoming aware of what you are doing. Then you have to have a strong reason to change. For many women they will make changes for their child’s sake that they wouldn’t make for themselves. Finally they need simple ways to make those changes over time. It is important to keep in mind very few people are ready to massively overhaul their diet all at once. Our diet is intertwined with our culture, our family and our life style. These have strong holds over people. So I encourage moms to change out white rice for brown, add in fruit with breakfast, or eat a high quality protein snack instead of reaching for a cup of coffee or a sweet. Building awareness and taking baby steps with each meal is the best way to make a change that will last. I know if I can make an impact on how a mother views food during her pregnancy I potentially can impact her whole family for life. 

Learn about my Healthy Beginnings/Healthy Choices class series here.

Don't miss all the ways you can Create a Healthy Pregnancy. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Attachment Parenting cont.

Thoughts on Attachment Parenting

By Emily Phifer, M.S. MFT
There are two things that I think of as foundational to parenting with an attachment basis: 1.) Babies and children are incredibly impressionable and everything that happens is an opportunity for imprinting or shaping the child’s mind, body, emotions and psyche as well as relationships with self and other. 2.) Parents aren’t perfect, and when there is a “rupture” or disruption in ideal attachment with our children, there is a golden opportunity for deeper attachment and connection in the repair.  Learning and growing can be modeled for children through the care and commitment of caregivers who are willing to admit mistakes/ disconnects and work to repair them.  Parenting children with humility and respect is of utmost importance.

Additionally, I think of attachment parenting as knowing that I'm in an intimate and intentional process of mirroring my baby, responding to her needs, and helping to develop a safe and secure attachment for her in the world as she learns and grows (my husband and I are a team in this).  On a daily basis, this mirroring and responding entails talking to Lucia as we go about our activities, showing her that I hear her sounds and see her actions, and that I am tracking her responses to the world around her.  This might mean I praise or mimic her attempts at sounds or voice inflections, that I mirror her excitement over spotting the kitty across the room, or acknowledge her frustration when I prevent her from playing with something that isn’t safe or permissible.  

Physically, I make daily effort to sit with Lucia and make good eye contact as she plays and explores, interacting with hand pats, hugs and facial expressions to show her that I am encouraging her exploration and developmental play.  Mirroring Lucia’s excitement over playing with apples and measuring cups on the kitchen floor is a way to reinforce that what matters to her matters to me, and that her being is valid and important in our world.  This modeling translates into Lucia’s internal world of secure attachment and development as a healthy self.

I want her to know that her needs and feelings and experiences matter to my husband and I and we will do our best to respond.  When she hurts herself during crawling and exploration play, we pick her up, soothe her and acknowledge that it doesn’t feel good to get hurt, and that we’re there to comfort and help her while she’s hurting.  We also model that once Lucia feels better, she is encouraged to return to playing and exploring once again with confidence that help, care and safety are available.  Lucia has the opportunity to internalize this security while having space and encouragement to explore the world around her.

We can't be perfect as parents, but when we make mistakes, we can make repairs in our bond with our baby, making the attachment even stronger. On days where I’ve grown frustrated with Lucia for one reason or another, I sometimes make a determination to "press the reset button" on my patience and admit to her that I haven't been the best I can be for her.  I apologize to her, and acknowledge that we’re going to try again, to work together to move forward, learning and growing together. Our family needs to have grace for one another as we learn and grow as individuals, and as a family unit.

I also recognize that there must be room for my own self care as I care for my baby- so I have to find a balance of caring for myself and my marriage, while responding as best as I can to my baby's needs.  This has perhaps been the biggest challenge for me in being a new parent, as a baby’s needs can be all-encompassing and, at times, demanding.  Self care and balance in our family life includes finding little ways to nurture my own care (reading, going for a walk, listening to favorite music, coffee with a friend) and that of my marriage (comparing notes from the day, sitting down for a meal at the table together after Lucia is in bed, watching a show in the evening or getting away for a date). Attuning to our baby is a physical, emotional, spiritual and mental journey.  Healthy attachment is a foundational and life-giving gift we can give to our children. 

OK ready to learn more about parenting in an attached rather than a detached or unattached way? 
Listen to our discussion on KVEC.
Come to a gathering of my South County Holistic Mamas and Papas and listen, watch and learn. Ask to join the facebook group to get invites.
Attend a La Leche League meeting near you. Meetings in SLO & Los Osos. I'll soon be leading meetings in the South County! Not from SLO?
Learn the 8 principals of Attached Parenting.
Read a book! I recommend these books: 
The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, one of the founders of this cultural change, who took a fresh look at parenting from an anthropological/cultural point of view and sparked a fire that is still going
Attachment Parenting Book by William and Martha Sears, Dr. Sears is the beloved author of many books including The Baby Book a must read by this generation of parents. 
Attached at the Heart by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, the founders of Attachment Parenting International

I believe every family is unique and each person within that family is unique. As parents we are faced with daily challenges. One of those challenges is trying to be the best parent we can be at any given moment to each of our kids. There is no one right answer for every person but every human being deserves to be raised with respect, compassion and understanding. Finally I leave you with this statement which is said at every La Leche League meeting, 
"Take what works for your family and leave the rest." 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Good News about V-BACS!

Women need to think twice before they put their lives at risk by saying yes to a repeat elective cesarean! This was just forwarded to me from our local ICAN chapter leader about a new VBAC safety study:

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Found to be Safer for Moms than an Elective Repeat Cesarean

A study appearing in the June edition of the journal Obstetrics andGynecology reviews evidence about maternal and neonatal outcomes relating to vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). The study authors identified relevant studies from multiple searches of MEDLINE, DARE and the Cochrane data bases(1980 to September 2009) and from recent systematic reviews, reference lists, editorials, Web sites and experts. Overall, there were low rates of maternal harm for both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean delivery. Maternal mortality rates were higher for elective repeat cesarean delivery at 0.013% compared with 0.004% for trial of labor. Rates of maternal hysterectomy, hemorrhage and transfusions were similar for both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean delivery. Perinatal mortality was increased for trial of labor (0.13% compared with 0.05% for elective repeat cesarean delivery. The study authors concluded that VBAC is a reasonable choice for the majority of women, since adverse outcomes were rare.

To access the full study online, go to: http://journals.%20lww.com/greenjou%20rnal/Fulltext/%202010/06000/%20Vaginal_Birth_%20After_Cesarean_%20_New_Insights_%20on.25.aspx

ICAN of SLO: icanslo@yahoo.com