Monday, April 25, 2011

Mothers' Day; Thinking Globally

As Mother's Day has come and gone for another year I am confronted with the cold reality that most mothers around the world don't have what we take for granted; good quality prenatal care, access to high quality nutrition, and well trained birth attendants. These simple things hold the key between life or death for women of the developing world. The gulf between the developed world and the emerging nations is wide and deep.

Surviving Motherhood
by Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

Reprint from UNICEF Philippines
UNICEF Philippines celebrates Mother's Day with the rest of the nation with a message to nurture and protect all mothers. Mothers’ Day is upon us in many countries around the world. Children of all ages will give flowers, make breakfast, call home.This is as it should be. On my travels around the world, particularly to its poorest and most troubled places, I have learned that it is mothers who keep families together -- indeed, who keep entire societies intact. Mothers are society’s weavers. They make the world go round. Yet too often, the world is letting mothers down.In the rich world, when a mother dies giving birth, we assume that something went wrong. For women in the developing world, by contrast, dying in childbirth is simply a fact of life. In some countries, one woman in eight will die giving birth. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide.Becoming a mother -- the rite of passage that Mothers’ Day celebrates -- can carry a terrible burden of fear, anxiety and loss for many women and their families.We know how to save mothers’ lives. Simple blood tests, a doctor’s consultation and someone qualified to help with the birth can make a huge difference. Add some basic antibiotics, blood transfusions and a safe operating room, and the risk of death can almost be eliminated.Recent figures show that we are making progress in helping women throughout the world. Yet we still have very far to go. Every year, hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth, 99 percent of them in developing countries. That is why, as secretary-general, I have spoken out for the needs of mothers and pregnant women at every opportunity. I am counting on people around the world to back us in ending this silent scandal. No woman should have to pay with her life for giving life. On Mothers’ Day, let us honor mothers around the world by pledging to do everything we can to make motherhood safer for all.

Feeling inspired to do something to help our world wide community of mothers but you don't know how? Some of the members of Birth & Baby Resource Network are doing just that. These doulas have been called to work not only with birthing women here at home but they have a global commitment as well. Heather Larson went to study midwifery in Senegal and was so impacted by her experience she came home and founded Tree of Light. This non-profit is working to build a Birth House in Senegal. Terri Woods is part of a family inspired to help women have access to quality maternity care. She lives in the North County but also spends time each year working with her sister and daughter building, managing and staffing birth centers in remote areas of the Philippines. On September 22, 2010, the United Nations launched "The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health". They understand that to lift women and children out of sickness, poverty and death creates a more peaceful world for all. We all need to invest in the world's future.

Thank you to Terri Woods of Mercy in Action who posted this to her face book page.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What’s a Parent to Do?

The American Academy of Pediatrics latest guidelines on car seat safety recently hit the news. Are you confused about which seat in your car to use, which direction to have it face and when your child can safely come out of a car seat? What about air bags? When should you move your child from full on car seat to booster seat? What about safely using seat belts with older kids and a host of other questions? The San Luis Obispo County Child Injury Prevention Coalition will be teaming up with the Birth & Baby Fair this year to answer all your questions about the new guidelines and state laws regarding car seat safety. There will be 10 certified car seat technicians on hand to check car seats for proper installation, broken parts and recalls in the parking lot next to the Historical Museum on Broad St. in SLO. The Coalition is happy to provide this service free to the community. San Luis Obispo Police Officer John Caudill, a member of the Coalition, says much of what he does is education because car seats constantly change, as well as the laws about them. This is an important year to get your questions answered Caudill clarifies because, “although these new guidelines are only recommendations they are very significant and we support the changes. They go over and above current laws in California. They aren’t the law yet but we will be lobbying the state to change California law.”

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and injuries for children because they aren’t properly restrained in car seats. This led to a nation wide campaign to educate parents. Officer Caudill who attended a week long series of classes to become certified said, “The guidelines are rigid because of the little ones we are keeping safe.” Typically eighty to ninety percent of the seats checked have some sort of problem, usually misuse by parents; anywhere from just installing it too loosely to actual broken parts. Caudill explained, “We’re not going to be writing tickets. We don’t want to cite parents. We want to help fix things so they leave safer than they came.”

Bring your car and seat on Saturday May 7 from 10 to 3 or make an appointment during the Fair for a check to be done at a later date.

Birth & Baby Resource Network Celebrates!

From a booth at Earth Day to a school hallway to Garden Street to Mission Plaza; this year marks a milestone in the history of this local all women non-profit organization as we host our fifteenth annual Birth & Baby Fair. In presenting this year’s Fair BBRN is excited to be partnering with Santa Lucia Birth Center andCommunity Health Centers. We are a very small organization of dedicated volunteers and putting on the Birth Fair is a huge task each year. To have Santa Lucia Birth Center and Community Health Centers come in as co-sponsors of the Fair this year helped make our fifteenth annual a reality. Since our founding nearly 20 years ago our mission hasn't changed. It is to connect families to information and resources that help empower them to make safe decisions. The Fair is our premier community outreach event creating a network of resources for families across the spectrum of health care.

The Fair is looked forward to each year by pregnant couples and new parents all over the county as the best place to connect to health practitioners, photographers, and local craft people with ties to pregnancy, birth and babies, as well as, gathering health and safety information. There will be raffles, freebies, food and fun. The
Silent Auction will have many wonderful items including a car seat donated by San Luis Obispo County Child Injury Prevention Coalition. It is BBRN’s tradition to hold the Fair the day before Mother’s Day as part of our way of celebrating motherhood and honoring the work mothers do. What started as a few booths in a school hallway has blossomed into spilling out onto the streets surrounding Mission Plaza. Come join the excitement as we celebrate from 10 to 3.

BBRN is also proud to announce the reopening of our Lending Library which had been put in storage due to earthquake retrofitting. The Library is an important part of fulfilling our mission of providing families access to information empowering them to make their own decisions surrounding pregnancy, birth & parenting. The Library is located in the Santa Lucia Birth Center on South Higuera across from Los Osos Valley Road.

Another way the Resource Network has been busy this year with community outreach is hosting
monthly events on such varied topics as; “Birth from a Multicultural Perspective”, “Talking with Your Child about Sex”, “Postpartum Depression”, and “How Birth is Portrayed in the Media”. Coming in May is “Birthing an Earth Friendly Family” and June we will hold another "Meet the Midwives" night. In order to provide a wide range of topics BBRN networks with many local non-profits and individuals to present up to date information on what is currently available in our community. The environmentally friendly baby store, EcoBambino in downtown SLO graciously provides a location.

For information on events, Library hours, membership, or to access our on-line
Resource Guide visit their web site at

Thank you to Marilyn Rivas Tate who took beautiful photographs of the 2010 Birth Fair !

Breastfeeding & Working: I did it and you can too!

Are you breastfeeding and working? Whether you are leaving your baby and stepping back into a suit or juggling working from home it is challenging continuing to breastfeed. I applaud you for wanting to give your baby the very best! You probably already know breast milk is nutritionally far superior to formula with long and short term health, emotional and intellectual benefits for you both. My guess is that is why you have taken on the many challenges which come with this territory.

I have first hand experience at being a working breastfeeding mom. When my son was born I was a professional horse trainer. I had continued to ride until I was almost 7 months pregnant. When I was told it was time to get off my feet I took a chaise lounge to the arena's edge and instructed students from my throne. The day I went into labor I had been helping the vet do lameness exams. In the throes of labor it floated into my consciousness that it was Sunday; I was missing the local horse show. Clutching my husband's hand I whispered I would rather be at the show. After about 2 weeks off I packed my baby up and headed back to the barn. By 5 weeks I was pumping and leaving him home with his dad one day a week having compresssed all my students' riding lessons into one day. That first day I don't know which ached more when I got home to our little Shell Beach home, my arms from longing to hold him, my heart from the separation or my boobs!

My son went to the barn with me 5 days a week until he was about 11 years old. Through teething, weaning, learning to walk, ride a bike, skate board and scooter, homeschooling and more I mothered him in the midst of my professional life. It required patience, flexibility, daring and determination on my part. I guess it required that from Joe as well. It was a conscious choice on both our parts that we wanted to be together. Somehow we made it work for both of us. Every day was different because he was growing and changing, so I was constantly having to shift gears and learn something new; step into unknown mommy territory.

During our breastfeeding stage I didn't know anyone else who was doing what I was doing. I'm sure they were out there but I didn't know them. If I had gone to a La Leche League meeting I could have connected to women who were also blending their career and mommyhood. I sure could have used the ideas and encouragement. Unfortunately I didn't know League existed so I blazed my own trail with my son riding double behind.

Now there is an evening La Leche League meeting which speaks to the specific issues of breastfeeding while working. On the 4th Monday women and their babies are gathering at Santa Lucia Birth Center to share, laugh, decompress and advise one another. In a warm friendly atmosphere important bits of information are passed from woman to woman, such as, which breast pump worked the best for you, how did you work that through with your boss, how has your husband been able to help, or how do you get enough sleep at night to go to work the next day. The conversation is different every time. Although there is a general discussion topic, questions or concerns about anything are always welcome. Of course once you get home from work it may feel insurmountable to go out of the house again. But if you can get yourself to come to just one meeting I think you will find yourself re-energized with good mommy feelings and recommitted to giving your baby the best. Don't forget if you bring the baby Dad gets a night to re-energize too!

Newest Addition to the Labor of Love Family

What a difference an hour and a half can make in one family's life!

"This little piggy went to market"... Big brother says hello.

Baby bliss!

Photos courtesy of Cindy Franklin Photography

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Photo Essay: A Santa Lucia Birth Center Birth

Parker Wilson became a part of one of my favorite familys on January 14.
Between Heather and John, brother and sister, I have been honored to be included in 4 of their family centered births; one at General Hospital, two at home and this one at the new birth center.

Peace Before the Storm

Shortly after arriving Mom and Dad settle into the birth tub. Candles, a beautiful serene room and a warm tub to relax in; exactly the experience Heather and Mike were looking for.

Moments Old

After an intense pushing phase Parker enters this world surrounded by family. Everyone crowds around the big double bed as tears of joy flow freely from Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt Emily and Uncle John. Still wet with amniotic fluid Parker is placed in Heather's loving arms to warm and dry.

First Step Toward Independence

After Parker has made the change to oxygenating his own blood, Dr. Dietrich, Licensed Midwife, deftly guides the new Dad through the ritual of cutting the cord that connects Mom and baby.

Precious Moments

Mom, Dad and Parker undisturbed together in the big bed with hearts over flowing. Time stands still. Disbelief that it is over quickly turns to awe.


Heather and Mike tenderly get to know their new son. Amazed at his size. Wondering, at how vigorous, alert and healthy he is. The first hour of smell, touch and taste unwinds at its own unhurried pace. Loving gazes and excited exclamations of, "He has your nose" and "Look how long his fingers are" draw the new baby into the family.

Vital Statistics

After sufficient time has passed Dr. Dietrich starts the newborn assessments with the traditional weighing followed by a complete health screening of the new arrival done on the bed with Mom and Dad close at hand.

Life Begins

After only 3 hours Heather, Mike and baby Parker are ready to head home to start their new life together. They will be visited tomorrow by a midwife to make sure they are settling into their babymoon.

As a doula I am blessed to meet and work with many families. I met Heather 9 years ago when she needed someone to guide her and Valerie, her mother, through the birth of Heather's second son. This wonderful extended family accepted my help with open arms. Each birth has been unique. Each experience has had its own challenges along the way. My only regret is that I think this will be the last birth for a while. I'll have to wait for the next generation to start having babies but when they do; I'm there!