Breastfeeding

Guest Post: Adversity and Breastfeeding

Posted on August 5, 2010. Filed under: Breastfeeding | Tags: , , |


*Please note, this is a lengthy post to try and convey our breastfeeding experience

Background

I was due to give birth with our first child toward the end of January 2009 and I currently live in South Korea because my husband is in the military. Since I was living “outside of my comfort zone” I didn’t feel prepared to give birth and wanted a little more reinforcement. I was put in touch with a doula that a friend of mine used during her delivery about 5 months prior. After meeting with our doula, Amy, I realized that she was going to aid in my ability to have my baby naturally. I had never even thought about having a baby without the use of pain medication until I reached a certain point in my pregnancy and I thought about how I didn’t even want to take over-the-counter medication that was approved, why did I want to take “a cocktail” of drugs to just give birth.

Short summary of labor and delivery

I was 41 weeks and 1 day when I finally went into labor. I did not want to be induced and I had been monitored on a regular basis to make sure my baby was not under any stress. I spent several hours in a place set-up for expecting mothers that do not live on the army installation where I was going to give birth. I had my husband, Amy, and a doula-in-training, Karen, with me to help me achieve the birth plan that my husband and I set-up. I spent approximately 12 to 14 hours in the alternate location working through my labor before we decided as a group that it was time for me to be admitted to the hospital. I then spent another 14 to 16 hours working through contractions in the hospital. After a total of 30 hours of being in labor, the current doctor came in and told me that I had been in labor for too long and I was not progressing on my own and they had to intervene medically. At that point, I had been through a tough labor because my baby had flipped and was in an OP position several hours prior. My doula’s, husband, and I were all getting exhausted after my lengthy laboring process and once the doctor came into the room and made her statement that I wasn’t going to be able to do it on my own terms, my concentration was broken and I broke down in my husband’s arms. I remember stating to him, “get this baby out of me if she is not going to come out the way I want…NOW!!! I didn’t want to feel another contraction if it wasn’t going to result in the birth that I had discussed and worked for over the past 2 days. I would like to note that if the doctor would not have stopped us I would have probably continued for several more hours because I didn’t want to have drugs or a c-section. Would the outcome changed, I don’t really know. I do know that at the time both the baby and I were still medically okay. I then felt required to allow them to give me an epidural, what other choice did I have, and pitocin to help regulate my contractions and to allow them to “break my water.” I was then allowed to rest for about an hour while the “medical intervention” took effect. I had finally dilated and began to push for a few hours, but my baby stayed at 0 station and was not descending. My husband and I were then faced with the question of if we wanted them to use forceps or a vacuum. Thankfully I was semi-educated, due to my own research and my doula, and I didn’t want something attached to my unborn child’s head, if preventable. We opted for a c-section because it was the safest choice for our baby. In hindsight I wish I would have asked to push for longer since we were both still medically fine. However, I don’t know if I would have been allowed.

Recovery

The recovery following a c-section is very difficult and changes what you anticipate following birth. I was very firm when I told the nursing staff I did not want my baby to have formula or a pacifier after birth, unless medically there was a reason and my husband and I needed to be consulted first. After birth I was separated from my little girl, Sierra, for a little over an hour, but began to “try” my hand at breastfeeding almost the minute I was given her. She latched right on and I was elated to say the least.

This was only the second item on our birth plan that was accomplished. The first was my husband announcing the gender of our baby.

1st Breastfeeding hurdle

Our attending pediatrician came into our room on one occasion to discuss with us his concern because Sierra had not began urinating and it was now a day after her birth. He told us if she didn’t urinate within the next 12 hours she would be transferred to a Korean hospital for additional care and treatment. My mind went into immediate overdrive. I knew that my body was providing Sierra colostrum and it should have been adequate, so I wasn’t worried about her getting the correct nutrition because I knew she was. Amy had helped with the education and I also read a couple of baby books and searched the internet. However, we now had another hurdle. I asked what can we/I do to help this along. I told the pediatrician that I really wanted to continue breastfeeding, but if she needs more liquid in her diet that my body isn’t producing at this point to help her urinate that I was willing to do what she needed so that she didn’t have to leave me. At that point, it was a double-edged sword because if she left she would be given formula anyways because I couldn’t be released yet. He suggested that I nurse Sierra for five minutes and then I let my husband give her formula. We did this every hour for the next three hours and Sierra probably consumed less than 2 ounces of formula the entire time. However, she peed on the nurse while she was being examined 3.5 hours later. A huge relief!!! We were in the clear.

Incision

7 days after the birth of Sierra a portion of my c-section incision opened up. This is one aspect of a c-section that is not publicized and is fairly common. My husband and I were very concerned for my safety because we didn’t know what had just happened. I didn’t feel any pain, but I had a substantial amount of fluid on my clothes, fluid on the seat where I was sitting, and it was still minimally coming out of my incision. We called our medical care provider in our area and were advised that I would be fine and to come in the morning. Just what every new, paranoid mother wants to hear. After seeing the medical team in our area they called my attending OB doctor and we had an appointment with her the following day. We were told this is fairly common, and that we should begin packing it with gauze and changing it twice a day. I also started having medical appointments twice a week at the hospital I delivered at which is over an hour away, one-way. My husband was now my primary provider of the dressing changes. I was still recovering from a c-section, now had an open incision, and was still nursing Sierra exclusively. I did not even let the idea of a bottle and formula into my mind. She was too young and I wanted to prevent the likelihood of nipple confusion. There would be times in the early days of breastfeeding that I would be feeding Sierra and my husband would literally be feeding me food because there was so much going on around us. My husband could not have been a better provider to Sierra or me and still takes care of a lot of my medical issues. I couldn’t have done any of this without him because he took care of her in the early days of her life and my only function in the beginning was to breastfeed.

Over 4 months later we were still changing my dressing and my incision was still not healing. However, I was able to maintain my ability to breastfeed Sierra. In hindsight, it sounds like we didn’t ask enough questions, but we had complete confidence in our current OB. He has been an OB doctor for over 35 years and I am the only case he has EVER seen where the patient did not heal. I also need to note that I was in the United States for a month during this time and I also went to a doctor there and he told us the same things. I just needed more time because a wound takes time to heal. After the OB doctor consulted with many other doctors in his field and in surgery, I was being referred out of the OB area to a surgeon.

Surgery

I had exploratory surgery on my abdomen on June 4. My CT scan did not show anything that was alarming so he had to get in there and see what the problem was. My surgeon removed a rind of tissue that was not allowing me to heal. Prior to my surgery I couldn’t get an answer on the type of anesthetic that was going to be used so that I could continue to breastfeed. Because of this I had to stop breastfeeding Sierra for 24 hours and this broke my heart. I hadn’t stored any milk for her because she refused to take a bottle. She just couldn’t figure it out and my husband tried on numerous occasions with milk that I had pumped. This is when our breastfeeding journey begins to get very difficult for me, Sierra, and my husband. My husband had to take care of our baby who had been nursing on her mom for the past 4 months and try a bottle. At that point we had tried almost every nipple known to man to see if she would take one and my husband had to feed her with a syringe the first few days. Then we began getting nipples that are used for newborns in the hospital because she could figure those out. Throughout my 22 day hospital stay there were many instances when I had to pump out milk that Sierra should not have because of the medication that I was given. She began to take the formula from my husband, Kevin, and it broke my heart, but I was happy she adjusted so quickly. My milk supply was no longer what it used to be, but my baby stayed loyal. She still latched on right away every morning when she can to my room. This was a very difficult time for me because this was a bond with my daughter that I wasn’t ready to give up yet, but I didn’t know what else to do. It still brings tears to my eyes to even think about my time in the hospital. After 22 days in the hospital I no longer had a sufficient milk supply for Sierra and we even started her on vegetables a little over a month earlier than I wanted. Sierra still wasn’t a huge fan of formula and I thought at least she is getting nourishment from me, formula, and vegetables.

Back Home

By the time we were released from the hospital we had finally found a nipple that she could figure out. By figuring out I mean she could still use her breastfeeding latch and the formula would still come out. I continued to breastfeed Sierra and I wanted my milk supply back and was even given information from Amy on how to make this happen, but after I thought about it, I couldn’t let myself stress about the formula anymore. Our days were still very stressful because I had/have doctor appointments that are an hour drive one way from where we live two to three times a week. Plus, I am still attached to a wound VAC that I have to carry around because it is attached via cords to my open wound. I needed to make peace with myself that she was still getting some breastmilk and I needed to come to terms with the fact that she may wean herself off breastfeeding before I wanted because of our circumstances. I was also being faced with the good possibility that I may have to undergo another surgery and I couldn’t put Sierra or my husband through that painful transition again from breastfeeding to formula because I wasn’t ready. As of today, August 4th, I am still recovering and Sierra is a little over 6 months old. I still have an open wound and a slight possibility of another surgery, but Sierra is back to breastfeeding exclusively and formula is not a part of her nutrition as of yesterday, but she still enjoys her veggies daily. When I began to realize the little amount of formula she was actually taking I began to get really excited. The one thing I did do to help increase my milk supply was to keep her at my breast for longer to help with stimulation if she was nursing/sleeping on me.

If my story can influence anyone to push pass the physical pain that you may feel in the first few weeks or adversity you might be facing, I am happy to share.

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I Think My Nursling Is Weaning

Posted on January 8, 2010. Filed under: Breastfeeding | Tags: , , , , , |

And I am happier about it than I thought I would be although I am a little sad too. Graham has been down to two nursings a day for months now. He did it on his own. Sometimes he would nurse three times but mostly just twice. He would always nurse in the mornings, he HAD to, it was his coffee and then once in the afternoon. For the last week he has only nursed in the morning. He never asked at any point during the day. Then today, he didn’t ask this morning and never asked at any point. I can’t believe it really because that morning nursing has always been such a big deal to him. I am almost 14 weeks pregnant so maybe it tastes different, he never acted like it did though. Maybe there isn’t enough, I haven’t been very good about taking pre-natals and I don’t eat much. Maybe it’s just time. He just turned 21 months on the 5th (REALLY????!!!).

I had intended on nursing through the winter and weaning him at two, which will be in April, but I suppose if he is done then great. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding through the second year and I was hoping to continue those benefits. I believe child led weaning is the best method but I was going to gently encourage him in the hopes that by the time the new baby is born he would be done. Of course, I was mentally preparing to nurse both for a while because I didn’t want to upset Graham by weaning him then nursing a new born in front of him, that’s kind of mean.

Now if only potty training was that simple….

***UPDATE

A week after this was written it seems that my son is weaned. Over the next week, he only asked to nurse after waking up in the morning one time. A couple of mornings he was fussy and whiny like something was off (like not nursing) but he didn’t ask and I didn’t offer. He didn’t ask at any point throughout the day either. The last few days he’s woken up in the morning without so much as a thought of nursing. I guess it’s official, we are done! I am a little sad it’s ending but glad to finish this pregnancy without breastfeeding. I am also glad that I won’t have to worry about breastfeeding jealousy because by then he would have been weaned nearly six months. I was prepared to tandem nurse if necessary but I am kind of glad he weaned himself on his on when he was ready. I  feel accomplished!

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The Benefit of Breastfeeding Toddlers

Posted on August 25, 2009. Filed under: Breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding | Tags: , , |

I am still nursing my almost 17 month old. He generally nurses twice a day, sometimes only once  and sometimes three times but average twice. He HAS to have his morning nursing to start his day. It’s his morning coffee. During the day he may ask to nurse once or twice more depending on how busy we are and he if he thinks about it or not. He sleeps through the night and hasn’t had a night feeding since he turned one with the exception of a few nights where he was teething or not feeling well. I have no intention of weaning him until he is at least two and hope that he doesn’t self wean before then as he has a lactose sensitivity and I have no intention of giving him cows milk, especially while we are in Korea because the organic kind isn’t always available and I refuse to use the other kind plus I generally believe cow’s milk was intended for calves and not my toddler.  If he chooses to drink a little milk here and there later on (if he outgrows the lactose sensitivity), I won’t mind, but I certainly am not going to get into this whole idea of requiring or forcing him to drink a preset number of ounces of it daily. I feel confident in our very veggie heavy, very low processed food diet that he will get the proper nutrition and healthy fats without supplementing with cow’s milk.

People are often times surprised to learn that I am still nursing. The response ranges from ‘oh wow’ (as in ‘that’s cool!’) to ‘ooooh wow’ (as in ‘you freak!’). I have learned that the more shocked one is the less likely it is that they ever breastfed or they breastfed only a few short months. I am surrounded by mostly mainstream moms so it is not surprising to me and I actually enjoy telling them  because I hope that I am planting seeds in their minds for their own babies.  That said, I do enjoy sharing the information with them on the benefits of breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding.

Because my toddler nurses about 2 times a day off both sides for a total of about 15 minutes, I am estimating that he gets about 12-15 ounces of milk. I am not really sure as my breasts do not leak or get engorged and haven’t in months. I haven’t pumped in over a year so I probably couldn’t use that as a reliable way to tell what kind of supply I have either, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t get much out if I tried. But just based off every thing I know about breastfeeding, I think I have a pretty fair estimate.  Below is a breakdown of what the nutritional value is of that amount of milk.

  • In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL (15 ounces) of breastmilk provides:
    • 29% of energy requirements (calories)
    • 43% of protein requirements
    • 36% of calcium requirements
    • 75% of vitamin A requirements
    • 76% of folate requirements
    • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
    • 60% of vitamin C requirements

    Dewey KG. (2001) Nutrition, Growth and Complementary Feeding of the Breast-fed infant. Pediatric Clinic of North America

These are amazing numbers, especially considering how tough it can be to get a toddler to eat sometimes! This is also way better than an artificially made vitamin as the vitamins from the breast milk are better assimilated by the body and the mother would never have to worry about vitamin toxicity. It’s perfectly made and balanced.

In addition to dietary benefits, there are many other health benefits.  Nursing toddlers have fewer allergies and  are sick less often.

  • The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).
  • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).
  • “Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation” (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).

Some people think that nursing a toddler will create a clingy child. I completely disagree. My little guy is so independent that it drive me insane sometimes (like in the parking lot when he won’t hold my hand!). La Leche League’s statement for this is:

Breastfeeding a toddler helps with the child’s ability to mature. Although some experts say a toddler who is not weaned will have difficulty becoming independent, it’s usually the fearful, clingy children that have been pushed into situations requiring too much independence too soon. A breastfeeding toddler is having his dependency needs met. The closeness and availability of the mother through breastfeeding is one of the best ways to help toddlers grow emotionally.

Breastfeeding can help a toddler understand discipline as well. Discipline is teaching a child about what is right and good, not punishment for normal toddler behavior. To help a toddler with discipline, he needs to feel good about himself and his world. Breastfeeding helps a toddler feel good about himself, because his needs are being met.

The research is out there and the data proves it true: extended breastfeeding is healthy and beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child..”  The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years.

I think it’s important to have maternal instinct validated at times. I would nurse to at least two or beyond anyway but it is nice to know that the facts and data are on my side.

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Reducing Infant Mortality (Video)

Posted on August 22, 2009. Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, reducing infant mortality |

I can’t add certain types of video here but I am providing the link to this very well done video. It explains how our health care system is failing babies and mothers and what we can do about it. The video focuses on the issue of prematurity that we have in the US, the high rate of infant mortality and the difference in the midwifery model of care versus the obstetric model of care. Please watch and send to as many people as possible. Now would be the time to forward this to legislators as health care reform is a hot topic in the US today.
Go HERE to watch the video.


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Rebirth After Birth Trauma: My Story

Posted on August 2, 2009. Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Cesarean, Face First/Mentum Presentation, Rebirth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This post could be upsetting to someone who is currently pregnant. If you decide to read this and you are pregnant, please remember that many of the birth injuries mentioned are rare. You can also help prevent some of these injuries by preparing your body and your mind for an unmedicated birth as the use of forceps and vacuum extractions are reduced when unmedicated. Also, pushing in an upright or squatting position can help prevent the need for these interventions.

Birth trauma comes in many forms and can occur during vaginal deliveries and cesarean deliveries.  Trauma can be caused by:

fetal positioning
an irregular shaped pelvis
pushing in a supine (on the back) position
a very long or very fast labor
very large fetal head
fetal anomolies
sometimes there are unknown reasons

Trauma can range from mild to severe and can include:

Bruising and Forceps Marks – Sometimes a baby will have bruising on the face or head simply from passing though the birth canal, and from associated contact with the mother’s pelvic bones and tissues. If forceps are used during delivery, they may leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby’s head. Vacuum extraction can also cause bruising to the head, and may cause a scalp laceration. In extreme cases, forceps use can cause depressed skull fractures, which may require surgical elevation.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage – This common birth injury results in bright red band around the iris of one or both of the baby’s eyes. This does not cause damage to the eyes, and usually disappears completely within a week to ten days.

Caput Succedaneum – This is a severe swelling of the baby’s scalp, and is more likely to occur as a result of vacuum extraction. The swelling will ordinarily disappear within a few days.

Facial Paralysis – Pressure on the baby’s face during labor or birth, or the use of forceps during childbirth, may cause injury to a baby’s facial nerves. If a nerve is merely bruised, the paralysis will ordinarily clear up within a few weeks. With more severe nerve damage, it may be necessary to surgically repair the damaged facial nerves.

More severe injuries include Brachial Palsy Injuries, broken bones and brain damage. These are all very rare. Fetal birth injury accounts for less than 2% of fetal death.

When a newborn has birth trauma it often times causes breastfeeding and bonding problems. I learned this first hand in the birth of my own son. He was in a mentum (face first) presentation and I labored for 52 hours before having a c section.  I discuss both mentum presentations and my birth story in separate posts if you would like to read them.

Because of my sons positioning, his face took the force of 52 hours of contractions. His birth by cesarean was violent.  His face was so wedged into my pelvis that he could not move forward and the doctors could  not pull him back out. The OB tried to pull his head out my pelvis with six failed vacuum extraction attempts. It eventually took three different people pulling on his little body at once to get him out. He was swollen to the point that he could not open his eyes, had bruising and abrasions all over his face,  a hematoma, and what we initially thought was a broken nose.  Luckily and thankfully his nose wasn’t broken and he had no long term damage. Today he still had a little bit of a ‘birth mark’ where some of the bruising was (he is 16 months old) and I personally think it was from his birth trauma.

Once he was born he had deep suctioning because we had thick black meconium and of course he was poked and prodded and force fed formula until he puked. He had also had the cord around his neck twice and because of the way his neck was hyperextended with his face first positioning it was very tight. He remembered it and my husband said that when he was in the nursery while I was being put back together, he kept reaching for his neck.

This was a very rough start for my little guy and for the  first two days he was very very sleepy. We had to undress him to make him wake up to eat. He had so many drugs in his system. After that two days, the crying began and he cried so much. I think he was shell shocked. I was shell shocked myself so I totally understood how he felt but I just didn’t really know how to make him feel better. He had complete breast refusal and even though we had no separation, we were not bonding. My body was also in a state of shock and hardly producing any colostrum to make him interested. I didn’t get milk until six days postpartum. By day three after he was born and of not being able to express any colostrum or having any luck getting the baby to quit screaming at the breast long enough to try to latch, we began finger feeding him formula. I refused to give him a bottle because I knew my milk would eventually come in and I didn’t want for him to have nipple confusion. In the mean time, I pumped as frequently as I could with the hospital grade pump.

My milk came in six days postpartum, the day we left the hospital. Because of how difficult our birth was, we stayed twice as long as most other c section birth stay at the Army hospital in Seoul. I guess I just needed to be home and able to relax a little bit but once it came it in I had a big full supply. For the three days that we had been finger feeding the baby I had continued to try to latch him at the breast and he continued to scream. Once we were home and I had my own milk to give him I decided to take a day off from latching him because quite frankly, I was a wreck about it. I felt that at least I could give him my own milk and not formula and for then that would be ok. The next day, my husband borrowed two breastfeeding videos from the nurse that taught the breastfeeding class at the hospital. At that time there was no lactation consultant, so I was own my own in fixing this breast refusal problem.

About halfway through the video, which by the way was Australian and I have no idea what it was called now, a woman with inverted nipples started telling her breastfeeding story. She talked about how difficult it had been and how her baby had been OP (face up) and that she pushed for over two hours and he came out screaming and wouldn’t latch. He developed breast rejection because of her inverted nipples but she didn’t give up. She said that she and her husband decided to perform a ‘rebirth’ and recreate the birth experience that they wanted for their baby. I was fascinated and willing to try anything so when I told my husband that we were doing it that night.

The idea of rebirth is to recreate the birthing experience for the baby so that he can be born in a gentle and peaceful way. We had a garden tub and filled it with warm water and lit candles and warmed the bathroom up. I got in and my husband passed the baby to me. He was seven days old at this time.  As soon as he was naked he was screaming but I put him in the warm water and held him close and he calmed down a little, just to a cry rather than a scream. After a few minutes I put him in the water, floating him around with only his face out of the water. He fought it a little at first but after a few minutes he completely gave in. His entire body went limp. We were completely amazed at this point. We had successfully recreated the womb and he remembered it! This was the most relaxed this baby had been since he was born.

In following the idea of infant rebirth, I slowing began to lift him out of the water. The idea is that the change in temperature and the removal of water from his environment will trigger the hormonal response that is similar to that of what a baby experiences in a peaceful vaginal delivery. I took him completely out and put him to my chest, just as I would have wanted had our birth gone the way we wanted. He didn’t cry or fight it, he just went limp against me. I let him lay quietly for a bit then decided it was time to try latching on again. I used the nipple shield because I wanted it to be as easy as possible for him. I had tried it before but he screamed at the breast regardless. Not this time, he latched right on. He latched and nursed for almost an hour. I was in awe and shock and disbelief.

We continued using the nipple shield until he was six months old. I tried to get him to nurse without it for months but he refused. I didn’t care, he was breastfeeding and I had a great supply. I knew we would eventually get rid of it and we did when he was six months old. As of 16 months old he is still nursing. Our bonding really began that day. I know that you can bond with your baby if you do not breastfeed but we had so much anxiety between the two of us that we needed that moment to begin healing from our traumatic birth.

I would recommend rebirth to anyone who has birth trauma. As soon as you get home from the hospital, get in the water. Get skin to skin. Recreate what you wanted for you and for your baby. Even if the baby didn’t have a birth trauma or injury of any kind, but you did, do it. If your milk is taking a while to come in, do it. It will help your body to relax and produce the hormones necessary for milk production. I truly believe in this process and it’s healing powers and hope that more moms can learn about the benefits of rebirth after birth trauma.

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Breastfeeding w/in 1 hr of birth reduced neonatal mortality 31%

Posted on July 4, 2009. Filed under: Breastfeeding | Tags: , , , , |

Amazing!

Breastfeeding w/in 1 hr of birth reduced neonatal mortality 31%

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Maybe This Will Be America’s Children Someday

Posted on July 2, 2009. Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Cesarean, Pregnancy |

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Every Mama Needs A Doula!

Posted on July 1, 2009. Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Cesarean, doula, Pregnancy, vbac | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I just realized that I am a doula and I write a blog about birth and I have never done a post on doulas!

A doula (doo-la) is a Greek word that means ‘woman who serves.’ A doula is a professionally trained woman who provides information, physical and emotional support before, during and immediately following birth. Women have attended birthing women for centuries in all cultures. Ancient hieroglyphics show women birthing with other women supporting them. It is only in modern times that we have begun to stray from this support with the medicalization of birth. The need for one on one support in labor is so crucial to the birthing woman’s perception of the birth experience and ability cope with birth. Women supported by a doula frequently report a significant decrease in the length of labor, the perception of pain and the need for anesthesia or analgesia as well as fewer cesarean sections.

I said this about doulas in a previous post

I am a doula, I think every woman should have a doula. It’s not because I am trying to justify the profession or the cost or to promote myself, but I really believe that no woman should have to birth without someone who is trained to support a laboring woman. There is a big difference between a doula and a loving partner, a doula and a best friend who has had five kids and a doula and the grandma. While a doula does form a relationship with her clients, she doesn’t have that intimate relationship these other people do and can help the laboring woman without the emotions that are often involved with these family members. Doulas are also trained professionals who study birth and labor and ways to make labor easier and more comfortable with different positions and massage and other techniques that even someone who has had a few kids of their own may not know. Doctors, midwives and nurses often times have several patients at once and cannot stay with the laboring woman.

The research has shown that the presence of one-on-one support such as that of a doula a less likely to have:

have a cesarean section;
give birth with vacuum or forceps;
have regional analgesia (e.g., an epidural)
have any analgesia (pain medication)
report negative feelings about their childbirth experience

With a doula you can have up to*

• 50% reduction in the cesarean rate
• 25% shorter labor
• 60% reduction in epidural requests
• 40% reduction in oxytocin use
• 30% reduction in analgesia use
• 40% reduction in forceps delivery

*Information was obtained from Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter Easier and Healthier Birth, Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus (1993).nc

Doulas can also help incorporate the partner into the labor experience. Often times partners are very inexperienced in childbirth and they are nervous and worried and are scared of labor pains. They are often scared and unsure of how to help their partner even though they very much want to. I have found that they are relieved to have the help of a doula, especially once labor kicks in to high gear and they do feel more of a part of the labor process when they are shown ways to help the mother. It gives them a greater sense of importance and usefulness that they very much appreciate. I love working with the partners as much as the moms because they are so willing and grateful by the end. Even the strongest, most loving and supportive dads benefit from having a doula around.

With every birth I attend, I believe more and more that no woman should birth without a doula and that every woman has the ability and probably should birth without drugs. I have not had a client get an epidural yet but I would completely support a woman if she chose to.

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New Movie: Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies

Posted on June 27, 2009. Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Cesarean, Pregnancy, vbac | Tags: , |

This is a very important topic. As many people as possible need to see this film.

From The Unneccesarian

Reducing Infant Mortality, a free online film, will be released this summer as a tool for drawing attention to infant mortality and health issues as national health care policy is debated on Capitol Hill.

According to the film’s web site, the U.S. health care system is failing babies and families before, during and after birth as evidenced by the country’s worldwide infant mortality ranking of 42nd, with more than double the infant deaths compared to the top 10 countries of the world.

The filmmakers report that they are seizing the opportunity to make a 10-12 minute video to point out the flaws in the way we care for babies and families and to identify the keys to improved care at a time when the U.S. government is working to reform health care.

Of particular concern to the creators of Reducing Infant Mortality is the “astronomically high” African American infant mortality rate of 16 deaths per 1,000, which is similar to countries such as Malaysia and the West Bank. Their hope is for legislators and public policy makers to rethink the current health care system and incorporate the midwifery model of care to save taxpayers millions of dollars each year and promote a new measure of success for the infant’s first year of life—thriving, not just surviving.

The extensive list of experts interviewed for the film includes Michel Odent, Thomas Verny, Marshall Klaus, Phyllis Klaus, Marsdsen Wagner, David Chamberlain, Karen Strange, Robbie Davis-Floyd, Jennie Joseph, Sarah Buckley, Bruce Smith, Yeshi Neumann, Paul Fleiss, Maria Iorillo, Stuart Fischbein, Debra Bonaro-Pascali and Judith Prager.

The Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization, is the fiscal sponsor of the Reducing Infant Mortality film project. Tax deductible donations to support the film can be made by check or electronically via the website. The film’s creators are looking for networking partners to help promote the film and provide a contact e-mail on the site’s home page for those interested in helping.”

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Breastfeeding: The Real Economic Stimulus Packages

Posted on June 24, 2009. Filed under: Breastfeeding |

This article discusses a new breastfeeding campaign. I think it’s awesome and very well done.

The Best For Babes Foundation expects this ad to appear on billboards and buses in the near future. Keep your eyes out and help spread the word about this incredible foundation and their great ad campaign! Read the entire press release here: Best for Babies Gets Bold.

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