Friday, February 18, 2011


Pfieffer Rose and her daddy; love at first sight! This little girl is one of the strongest, smartest babies I know. She knew exactly how to take care of herself and patiently waited for all of us professionals to figure it out. She taught me just how brilliant babies are and the importance of tuning in to listen to what they are trying to tell you during birth.

Welcome Baby Brinlee!

Your birth brings healing and joy out of past pain, fear and suffering. You are the best valentine gift; a family complete.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

When Midwives Disagree

Midwives are human beings with all the good and bad that goes with that. The alternative birth community would like to present to the rest of the world a rosy picture of loving, nuturing and everyone getting along. They often paint the medical establishment as evil in contrast to themselves the angles of mercy and caring. Unfortunately in my experience this is far from the truth. The alternative birth community is just as full of politics, power stuggles and personalities as every other human endeavour. Money, group dynamics and territory are often issues. Opposing belief systems and practice protocols often clash. Often skills, abilities and safety get dragged into the fight. Yesterday I ran into just such a situation playing itself out on face book. It prompted me to write "A Good Midwife". Later I realized I wasn't done with my thinking on this topic. I wanted to explore how I felt about some of the underlying issues that I believe get in the way of building true community, true connection.

I believe:
The moment we think we know it all is the moment we stop learning. The moment we are convinced we know the TRUTH is the moment we stop seeking the truth. The moment we only see our differences is the moment we miss the opportunity to connect through our common bonds. The moment we believe there is only one way is the moment we have closed ourselves off to a world of possibilities. To think that we know all there is to know about something as complex and miraculous as birth is the height of egotism. Egotism is the opposite of midwifery, to be WITH woman, not above, not below but with. By being “with” we can learn much and we can teach much. From this all life flows.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Good Midwife

Today I stumbled upon an online debate over different views of midwifery. As commonly happens in arguments each side seemed to think it was all or nothing. You must either believe totally in the rightness of their side or you were evil; a danger to your unsuspecting clients.

This got me thinking. As a doula I have been in the unique position of watching many different midwives and doctors working with birthing women. I have been present in hospitals, homes and a birth center. I have listened to women grieving and traumatized by their births. Contrary to popular homebirth myth these did not all happen in hospitals. There are times when women suffer terribly after their homebirth. Sometimes they are speaking to me during those early postpartum weeks and sometimes it is years later during their next pregnancy.

After listening and watching here are some of the things I believe makes a good midwife no matter where she practices.

A midwife needs to know when to keep her hands out of a client and when to put her hands in.

A midwife needs to have the ability to be patient, to move slowly and carefully and the ability to move quickly, decisively and without hesitation.

A midwife needs to absolutely trust birth, and a woman's instincts and birth intuitions, and yet be skilled enough to know when a woman needs guidance.

A midwife needs to know how to let the laboring woman be center stage, the lead in the play, while she is prepared to step in as needed in the supporting role, as the hero or just make a cameo appearance.

A midwife balances equally the importance of the mother's experience with the mother's and baby's safety.

A midwife needs to know when to lead and when to follow.

A midwife needs to know the depth of the waters she is swimming in and is prepared to transfer care when she is out of her depth.

A midwife needs to know how to guide without taking over control.

A midwife needs to know all the variations of normal, what they look like, what they sound like, what they feel like so she can help her clients be unafraid.

A midwife needs to know how to help without rescuing. A midwife needs to have the skills and character to rescue when it is needed.

A midwife needs to be skilled at suturing tears and vigilant at trying to prevent them.

A midwife needs to be able to monitor the health of the mom and baby through skilled and timely assessments, heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature without interrupting the flow of labor.

A midwife needs to understand every birth follows its own unique timeline and plan and that sometimes that plan includes transferring care or surgical birth.

A midwife needs to create a relationship of trust with her clients and has a responsibility to not break that trust.

A midwife needs to be able to speak to both the instincts and the intellects of her clients.

I have a deep respect for all the midwives I have watched supporting, guiding and sometimes rescuing my clients over the years. The work is complex, physical, emotional and draining. When births go as planned the midwife will be an adored friend for life. When births aren't the fantasy a woman imagined, the midwife will be blamed forever. It is often very difficult for the birthing woman to grasp all the pieces of what happened and why because she was in the thick of labor. Without real understanding, it is natural to blame the person she imagined was to keep all bad things from happening; the midwife. There are no perfect midwives, just as there are no perfect people. They are simply flawed humans with strengths and weaknesses just like the rest of us.

Thank you to Edana Hall, Brenda Ramler, Sandy Rodriguez, Tiffany Dietrich, Lisa Winick, Linda Seeley, Helen Cominos, and JoAnne Tarkington for devoting your careers to caring about women.

Do you have thoughts on what makes a good midwife? Comment here or email me:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wonder How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex?

Your five-year-old child casually looks up from his plate of mac and cheese and utters some of the words most feared by parents,“Where do babies come from?”
Your heart races; a million thoughts and feelings flood in.“Oh my gosh! Why is he asking me this? How should I answer? Why does it feel like my heart just sank into my shoes? What is the RIGHT answer to this most important parenting test? What do I SAY?”

We all know the questions are coming. We wonder when and how we will react. So why are we left feeling astonished and unprepared for these natural questions, and why are they difficult to answer? Basic questions about human biology are no different than your child’s desire to know where stars come from
or how fish breathe in water.

Children are miniature scientists with a burning desire to explore and know their world. It is this same human desire that has propelled us to the moon, written
the most profound literature and created the most exquisite art. And yet, as an adult, we see the layers of complexity wrapped up in such a simple question and it makes our palms sweat.

Our deepest desire as a parent is to say the right thing to our child to start them on a life-long path of shared values surrounding sex and sexuality. We understand the importance of getting this right, but we can find ourselves at a loss for words.

Help is on the way! As part of Birth & Baby Resource Network’s on-going mission to support and educate parents, they are sponsoring “Opening the
Door: Talking with your Child about Sex.” This workshop is designed to empower parents of preschoolers and school-age children to become “askable”
parents right from the start.

Workshop leader Sue Simonson, I.C.C.E, is the founder of the Without Regret foundation, whose motto is “Children not taught by their parents, will be
taught by the world.” Sue helps parents understand why this can be a difficult subject, and she offers strategies for becoming your child’s primary sexuality

Simonson has been a birth, family and sexuality educator for 30 years. She does not feel it is her place to advocate either abstinence or safe sex. Instead, Sue views her role as enabling parents to communicate with their children about their own values. She has prepared thousands of parents to answer their children’s questions about sexuality openly and honestly, based on their own family beliefs. Sue equips parents to more confidently tackle the sensitive topic of sexuality with the theme statement, “If we are not answering their questions at ages 2 and 3, they will not be asking at ages 12 and 13.” As a childbirth
educator for pregnant teens, she is inspired to do this work with the hope that parents of teens won’t hear those other words that strike terror in a parent’s heart, “Mom, Dad, I think I’m pregnant.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to build a foundation of open communication about sexual issues on Tuesday, February 22nd from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at 1490 Southwood Drive in San Luis Obispo.
Pre-register at or call 473-3746.
Tickets will be $10 at the door.

Parents are advised to use their
best judgment regarding their
children’s attendance.