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Summer Meetup #3 Recap

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The third and final gathering of the Summer Series for the Birth Philosophy Meetup Group was chock full of really interesting info and conversation!  Here is a brief report of what we covered on July 28th over at the Life Alive Café in Salem, MA.

Jennifer, a doula, shared information about a group she and Kira of  North Shore Birth and Beyond are hosting that allow people to process their birth if they have any lingering feelings of disappointment, anger or trauma. What a great offering. This type of circle can  be really healing and important for those who might need it. The next gathering of this group is Thursday, August 29th in Salem. Click here for more details.

Also, this duo is holding a Meet the Doulas event at Hip Baby Gear in Marblehead this Saturday, August 3rd. That is tomorrow! Get more info here.

Kira is also offering a Fertility Awarness Meetup for anyone in the area to get together and discuss fertility awareness method for birth control, or for achieving pregnancy. This is incredibly valuable information to have for women at any stage of their life so hats off to Kira for offering this peer to peer sharing group. We discussed how we wish that more younger women could have access to information about these type of options for managing fertility, particularly for those who might like to avoid hormonal birth control for various reasons.

And, I have to say, I really also love that Kira also has her own lending library of books on midwifery, parenting, women’s studies, pregnancy, fertility, birth, breastfeeding etc.  I love this!  There are so many interesting threads and topics to explore in regard to these topics. Digging deeper into some of the great books out there is how all of us really get to know more about some of these areas. A movie screening of A Birth Story (August 8th @ 7PM) and a breastfeeding support group at Hip Baby Gear in Marblehead are also events that Kira is hosting in the near future so check out her site for more info on these events or if you want to track her down to borrow a book.

Kathleen of  Side by Side Doulas gave us an overview of the many services that she and her partners offer.  They include Hypnobirthing, Wavework, Belly Casting and Mapping, Lactation Support, C-Section Prep and Doula Mentoring in addition to Birth and Postpartum Doula services.  Kathleen also works for WIC. Check out her website here.

Nicole and Kathy drove up from the South Shore with small people in tow, which was great!  We were so glad that they made the trek. Kathy is a nurse and Nicole is a doula.  We talked about the challenges of pursuing our careers as birth workers and balancing that with family and mothering and all the rest. Always a great topic.

Group members Chris, a newer doula, and Maire a local IBCLC in private practice and Nursing Mother’s Counselor were also in attendance.  Below is a picture of the group as we were occupying the back seating area enjoying our tasty food and conversation.  If you are in the area, do join us for the next gathering. Thanks to everyone for coming out and sharing about the important work you are doing. I will post the dates for the Fall Meetup Series as soon as they are set.

In the meantime, if you want to keep discussing and sharing the latest news and happenings in the world of birth, sign in to the Birth Philosophy Facebook page.  Or if you like to read articles at a faster pace, definitely follow me on Twitter.

Enjoy the great month of August.  I’ll be hitting the beach as much as I can while the getting is good.

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Summer Meetup #2 Recap

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Ahhhh, the lazy, hazy days of summer…I love this time of year!

A few of us met again at the Life Alive Cafe in Salem this past Sunday for the second of three Summer Meetup gatherings. Megan and Jenne joined me and we talked about a number of topics. Megan shared some details about the recent DONA doula training she completed. Now that she has that under her belt, she is set to sign on to be one of the doulas who assist as part of Beverly Hospital’s Connecting Young Moms doula program.

We shared info on a number of upcoming continuing education opportunities in the area that are coming up including a July 26th rebozo workshop with Gena Kirby, the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition 2013 Conference  the end of September and a Boston Association of Childbirth Educators (BACE) workshop featuring Gale Tully who will talking about Spinning Babies techniques.

Jenne brought some Hypnobabies information since we talked about this type of childbirth preparation method last time around. She also shared a great doula trick that she says gets great feedback. She puts some lavender essential oil on a manilla folder and packs it in her doula bag. When the laboring mama seems to need some cool air to keep her comfortable, Jenne uses the folder as a fan and send not only cool air but calming scent into the room. Great idea. Thanks Jenne!

Here is a list of other topics we touched on, some of which I may try to work into an upcoming Meetup as the topic/focus:

~Acupuncture for pregnancy and labor

~Counseling services for pregnancy and postpartum

~essential oils for pregnancy, labor and postpartum

~blessingway ideas

~fun ways to honor a mother’s lovely pregnant shape such as belly casting or henna

~herbs

All in all, we covered quite a bit and, again, enjoyed the food, drink and atmosphere over at Life Alive. Be sure to get in touch or leave a comment here on the blog if you have other topic idea suggestions or requests for an upcoming gathering.

Hope to see a few more of you at the last date of the Summer Meetup Series, which will be Sunday, July 28th from 4-6pm.

Stay cool now…

Maureen

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Summer Meetup #1 recap

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Sunday was the first of three in-person summer Meetup gatherings at Life Alive in Salem, MA.  There were several of us who gathered to discuss a number of current events and issues in the world of birth. Jenne, who is a nursing student at North Shore Community College, shared how seeing ‘The Business of Being Born’ before she had children really “blew my mind wide open”.  Jenne also commented on how the social narrative about childbirth from movies and most of the stories people tell really set women up to be afraid while painting a picture that is not necessarily accurate. I know this is a big reason why I feel that it is important to include younger men and women in our conversations about birth practices and available birthing options out there. The more people are aware of and informed about before they are pregnant, the better.  Speaking of being aware, this is an eye opening article about the cost of birth in America that just came out in the New York Times. It is a lengthy article so be ready!

We discussed a book that I just read called “Cut, Stapled and Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean” by Roanna Rosewood. I really got engrossed in the story and was struck by how open and raw it was.  I didn’t think that with all of my years of working with childbearing women and the issues they are faced with, that I would be stunned by an account like this but I was. It underscored for me how strongly some women feel about giving birth and how complicated it can be to navigate the emotions involved. I already knew this, but the very personal details of the author’s journey made an impact. The best part about the book, for me, was the in depth way that Roanna explored her own feelings and attitudes.  She worked very hard to connect the dots about what was driving her actions and did not heap blame on those around her.  She owned her experiences and processed each of her births in such a way as to clearly see and understand them without really worrying about justifying or defending. A lot of honesty there.
A few of the participants that attended are lactation professionals and we talked some about the Affordable Care Act and how insurance companies are all over the map in the way that they may or may not covering lactation services. Maire is one of several International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) at Home Visiting Lactation Consultants who provide some useful links at their website with more information to assist families in getting reimbursed.

Jen, who is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) shared a bit with us about her work with WIC as well as her experience with the Hypnobabies method of childbirth preparation. She also mentioned that La Leche League of Danvers/Hamilton is going to be at the Beverly Farmer’s Market on July 8th answering questions and giving out information on local breastfeeding support resources.
All in all it was a great meeting chock full of good info and discussion. Join us on July 14th when we will do it again! Happy 4th of July everyone…
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Birth…it’s not just for pregnant people anymore!

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Here at Birth Philosophy, we feel that it is really important to not only invite, but highlight the voices of young students and professionals in our conversations about childbirth. As educators and advocates who support positive birth experiences and evidence based care we have to start including younger voices. These are the people who are emerging into places and positions where they can bring about change and influence their peers and communities. In her own words, Eliza Duggan explains why birth is not just for pregnant people anymore!

“Interesting! … What’s that?” This is a typical response that I received when I told people, especially my peers, that I was writing my senior thesis on midwifery. I became accustomed to saying, “I’m writing on midwifery – midwives,” since most people have at the very least heard the term “midwife.” The initial lack of knowledge was slightly discouraging, though unsurprising; however, the best parts of my project were the conversations that followed the introduction to midwifery. The more that I researched and wrote on midwifery, the more that it became clear to me that not only could young people be interested in birth and midwifery, this knowledge could be vital to our futures.

I have always been familiar with home birth since I grew up in a small town in Maine, a place where midwives are well known and well respected in the community. However, I did not really think about the political complexity of midwifery, nor the unique position that midwifery holds in relatively rural areas like mid-coast Maine, until I moved away. I went to Boston for college, and during the summer of 2011 took an internship with the women’s advocacy organization Our Bodies Ourselves. One of the projects on which I worked was promoting some midwifery legislation at the Massachusetts State House, work that I was proud to engage in. The more I dove into the issue, however, the more I became surprised at the ambivalent and sometimes even hostile reception I was getting to the very idea of midwifery. I was intrigued by this, since I had assumed that the famously liberal citizens of Massachusetts would generally have the same attitude towards midwives and home birth that I had. When beginning to brainstorm ideas for my senior honors thesis at Boston College, I felt compelled to investigate this issue further.

Thus, I began in the fall of 2012 by doing extensive research on the history of midwifery and how it had become so marginalized in Massachusetts. I then interviewed countless home birth midwives, nurse-midwives, childbirth educators, public health experts, and consumers in order to gauge the current state of maternity care in the state. One of the most troubling things that I found was that not only were few people (relative to the entire population) interested in this issue, the vast majority of the people who were involved had already had children. Not only were most people my age unfamiliar with midwives, they were generally unfamiliar with the topic of childbirth as a whole.

After any initial discomfort or confusion that my friends and classmates had, it was apparent young people are intensely curious about childbirth, and most people I talked with had a lot of questions. People are not invited to think about how they feel about childbirth before getting pregnant, so most young people do not have a sense of their options or a working knowledge of the process before the months they have to prepare. When talking with my friends and classmates about my research, I realized that there is need for more discussion about childbirth before getting pregnant, so that not only do we know our options, we can make informed decisions about how we want our children to be brought into the world. This, I believe, should be an easy fix, because young people are not averse to learning about these things. On the contrary, countless conversations I have had with my peers have demonstrated that pregnancy and birth are not only interesting to pregnant women; young men and women are eager for information.

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Eliza Duggan is a 2013 graduate of Boston College, where she majored in English and women’s studies. Her interest in feminism and home birth stems from her roots in Belfast, Maine, where she grew up. In college, she engaged with the Women’s Resource Center to help efforts like the Take Back the Night campaign against sexual violence on campus, and was a Teaching Assistant for the Introduction to Feminisms course. She also worked with Our Bodies Ourselves (The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective) on various projects, including advocating for midwifery legislation at the Massachusetts State House, promoting the Infertility Family Research Registry based in Dartmouth, and writing occasional guest posts for Our Bodies Our Blog. Her time at OBOS and her thesis work have inspired her to pursue women’s advocacy, which is why she will be a first year law student at the University of California at Berkeley Law School in the fall.  

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Jane sanford - June 28, 2013 Reply

Awesome and enlightening

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Partners In Perinatal Health Conference Report

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I love continuing education opportunities and wanted to take some time to report on a few of the excellent sessions I attended at the Partners In Perinatal Health 24th Annual Conference in Norwood, Massachusetts last month.  This event featured a really impressive slate of presenters and session topics.

Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC was the keynote speaker for the morning session and gave a talk entitled “What Would Mammals Do?” where she discussed normal mammalian maternal-infant behavior as well as some of the common interventions many human mothers encounter and how they may interfere or introduce difficulties to the birth experience. Sophie Godley, MPH provided a pre-conference evening presentation called “Fifty Shades of Real” on the topic of authentic sexuality and strategies for promoting sexual health. I was unable to see either of these presentations (although I have seen Diane Wiessinger in the past and she is always great!) but if you click on their names above you can redirect to those links and learn more about these speakers and subjects.

The first session I got to was “Heal the Mother/Heal the Baby: Microbes, Gut Health, and the Enteric Nervous System & Breastfeeding”, by Jennifer Tow, IBCLC, Founder of Intuitive Parenting Network.  WOW! This session was really jammed packed with incredible info:  neither I, nor the nurse sitting next to me, could take notes fast enough! It was really interesting to hear about all the cases where she has been able to trace back and /or treat various breastfeeding issues by addressing gut health. This topic is also part of a broader set of conversations around discoveries many health care practitioners are starting to discuss widely in terms of the links between gut health/flora and many chronic health issues that children and adults of all ages experience. Jennifer lists some upcoming webinars on her website linked above if you are interested in this topic.

I then listened to a presentation called “Pre-Birth Acupuncture-A New Standard of Care” by Kathy J. Seltzer, BA, Licensed Acupuncturist.  Learning about the simple, yet extremely beneficial, care that a pregnant mother can receive using Chinese medical theory/acupuncture was fantastic.  She shared that this type of prenatal care is very common in places like Germany and something that more and more women are looking for. Kathy is the Co-Founder of Acupuncture Birthing Associates along with Sharon J. Levy. This presenter was very well organized and did a great job of explaining this interesting topic. I plan to research more about this area of care as I know many women might not seek it out as they may not be aware of the benefits that acupuncture in pregnancy can be outside of moxibustion for turning a breech baby.

Kajsa Brimdyr, PhD, CLC, Director of Operations, Healthy Children Project, Inc. was the presenter of the last session I attended.  Her topic was “Supporting Newborns-The 9 Stages During Skin to Skin. She highlighted her work in a number of places including Egypt, Sweden and the US and outlined the 9 stages all babies experience if undisturbed and skin to skin with their mother in the hour or so after birth. The video The Magical Hour is a great resource for parents and this link also highlights a similar DVD geared toward hospital or birth center staff. It was quite fascinating to watch the footage of babies working their way through the 9 steps. Also good food for thought on how typical hospital procedures can sometimes interfere with a baby cycling through these stages undisturbed. The baby then will need to attempt to start again from the beginning which is possible but never as simple or ideal as in that first hour immediately after birth.

There were many other really wonderful presenters and topics and I will definitely be planning a return trip next year for the 25th Annual PIPH Conference!

 

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Michele in Salem - June 19, 2013 Reply

sounds like it was an awesome conference Maureen!

Maureen - June 19, 2013 Reply

It really was a good conference Michele! I had previously tried to go several years in a row and somehow could not get there. Going to be marking off this day for next year for sure.

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Taking Responsibility~guest post from Wisdom and Birth

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One of the goals of Birth Philosophy is to seek out and highlight young voices who are taking the initiative to learn and share about birth related issues.  Many have always been interested or fascinated by birth. Others are questioning some of our systems and cultural beliefs and hope to be social change agents. Not surprisingly, some end up planning careers that will allow them to continue this work into the future. Today I would like to introduce you to one of those people.  Enjoy the following guest post from Randi McCallian (and read her bio at the end of the post).

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I will have my babies at home. I have known this for many years. I have had ample time, experience, and education to know what my birth choices are – and where and with whom I feel the most comfortable giving birth. I learned about birth far in advance of embarking on such a monumental journey… giving birth and becoming a mother. I believe every woman needs to know more about birth BEFORE she becomes pregnant!

I first began researching my birth options when I overheard a close relative discussing her elective cesarean delivery. In her first pregnancy her doctor had determined that her pelvis was too small to deliver vaginally…then he said, ‘once a cesarean, always a cesarean’; and she eventually had 3 scheduled cesareans. Being a petite woman myself, and knowing very strongly that I wanted to be a mother one day, I was terrified about having to deliver my babies surgically. I was determined to understand the physiology of birth and how to have my future babies vaginally.

We all need to take responsibility for our reproductive health and our reproductive rights, and the perfect time to begin is a lot earlier than most might think. We need to support young women and men learning about their body, hormones, desires, pleasures, sexual organs, and the process of reproduction. We need to have access to family planning methods and the knowledge of how to use them. It is unrealistic to expect a girl to become a woman if she is not given the capability to make decisions about her reproductive health, and for that woman to become a responsible mother if she is not trusted with the ability to make informed decisions about her body, baby, and delivery.

Culturally, our current expectation of women is that they learn about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and infant care in the few short months between discovering the pregnancy and delivering the baby. This is unrealistic and it has led to a great majority of women (and men!) who don’t know what to expect from birth and new motherhood and then they are completely lost and disappointed by their birth and postpartum experience. This puts mothers and babies at a disadvantage. We can change this.

We should encourage women to become familiar with pregnancy and birth physiology; the various choices in childbirth location, provider, and labor management techniques; hospital and provider practices in their area and how to advocate for their best birth… and much of this can and should be considered well BEFORE a woman is pregnant. If a woman enters pregnancy and new motherhood with ample information and knowledge in her ‘toolbox’, then she enters this new journey with the confidence to make decisions for herself and her new family. She becomes an empowered mother.

As a sister, daughter, friend, peer, community member, and MCH professional, I strive to inform those around me about the current state of the maternity care system and what this may mean for their birth, or chosen birth environment. I encourage everyone to research and ask questions about the practices that interest them the most and to follow their gut when something doesn’t feel right, even if it means changing providers! I encourage all women to understand the common delivery practices of their hospital and provider; and I always recommend a doula.

We need to support the process of women becoming mothers, and long before they are pregnant. We can do this by fostering a culture of open-communication and shared ideas around motherhood and birth. Ideally a young woman will take responsibility for her family, long before she intends to have one; a young woman who is educated about her body, family planning, and the resources that are available in order to make the best choices for her situation.

As an emerging public health professional I have been charged with the mission to prevent. Whatever the circumstance, when it comes to health, prevention is key to a healthier and happier society. Right now there are large numbers of uninformed women who are unjustly more vulnerable to a disempowering birth and postpartum experience. I would like to prevent that.  All women deserve the knowledge, opportunities, and resources necessary to make empowered decisions and to advocate for herself and her family. Young women who are supported and empowered very early on to be responsible for their reproductive health will become responsible mothers who own their body, their birth, and their family!

guestblogger300x300duoRandi McCallian has been an advocate for mothers, babies, and families for almost 10 years and is completing her Master’s degree in public health, with a concentration in maternal and child health at the University of South Florida. Her background includes in-home therapy with children on the Autism Spectrum, in-home parent education for low-income families, certification as a labor doula and lactation counselor, and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Biology, from Drake University. Randi currently works for the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative as a research assistant on a project to eliminate non-medically indicated deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation in the State of Florida, as well as being an intern with the Hillsborough County REACHUP where she leads community support groups and improves maternal and infant health in her community through action and advocacy. She has been awarded the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Trainee Scholarship at USF and is a former President elect of the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization.   Check out Randi’s blog at Wisdom and Birth.

 

 

 

 

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Let’s get started…

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Welcome to Birth Philosophy!

Birth is an important and defining life experience. And yet, unfortunately, after many years of counseling and working with women during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, I saw far too many women struggle to come to terms with birth experiences that they were unhappy with. Despite the vast amount of quality information and resources available on healthy pregnancy and childbirth, many women do not begin the process of learning much about how to navigate this time period in their lives until after they discover they are pregnant. And, more often than not, 9 months is not nearly long enough for a pregnant mother to formulate a clear and confident philosophy of birth to base her decisions on.

Many women solidify their own personal birth philosophy after having one or more births that were not so great. Through trial and error, they finally take control, start to trust their instincts and gain confidence in their natural abilities. But wouldn’t it be better if they were in control from the start?

A mother that directs her own birth experience by taking an educated and active role in decision making is much more likely to be satisfied how things unfold: even if things do not go as she had planned. It is never too late to read, learn about and develop a personally tailored approach that supports the unique vision a woman may have for her birth. Buy why wait?

Once she has peed on the stick and seen a positive result, the clock is ticking and the pressure is on. It is hard to be objective when the situation is so personal. So even though most childbirth education is aimed toward families actively planning or already expecting, I started asking myself why these topics couldn’t be discussed much earlier. And I couldn’t come up with a good reason. I noticed that most of the young, non-pregnant people I talked to about my work as a breastfeeding counselor and childbirth educator were quite interested in birth related issues and very open to concepts and ideas that they may not have previously been aware of. And, since being pregnant was not personal to them, they felt free to explore, question and consider all types of options without being self conscious, defensive or pressured to make a ‘right’ decision.

So that is how Birth Philosophy was ‘born’. I felt that young women (and men) would respond positively and take advantage of the opportunity if they had a place to go where they could ‘study’ and discuss all of the great books, resources, blog postings, articles and research BEFORE they were anywhere close to planning a pregnancy. They didn’t need to be pregnant, they just needed an invitation. (And a bit of reassurance that even though society might send the message that they don’t really have permission to go there, they do!)

So, if you are a young person interested in birth from a medical, political, societal or historical perspective~this is the place for you. Your voice is important! Or, if you are already a parent or a birth professional, and you agree that mentoring and reaching out to a younger and wider audience is a key to improving outcomes here in the US and beyond, then welcome aboard and I look forward to having you as part of the Birth Philosophy community and network.

So, without further ado, let’s get started….

Thanks for visiting and spread the word: Birth: It’s not just for pregnant people anymore!

Maureen

 

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Joan - May 22, 2013 Reply

I wish I had more resources and support when I was going through a decade of difficult experiences with my 7 pregnancies. I feel blessed to have been able to successfully birth my 2 sons. But the stain of sorrow and the loss trust in the medical system are still are etched on my heart. I realize now that I totally surrendered the birthing process to the doctors who eventually admitted they did not have the answers and in one case were forced to admit their negligence. The young women and mothers of tomorrow need to educate themselves, create a network of support and feel confident in their journey into motherhood.
What a wonderful invitation to participate in such a life altering and natural process. Thank you Maureen.

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Happy Mother’s Day

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I suppose it is fitting that the Birth Philosophy website is about to be ‘born’ just as Mother’s Day is being celebrated this year. Helping people to develop a personal birth philosophy at an earlier age and stage than is typical is something I hope to be able to encourage and promote here.

So much in childbirth education is centered around the baby and how exactly the tiny new person is born. And, isn’t that what it is all about? Well, yes, but there is more. Each time a women gives birth, a mother is also born. Motherhood is defined as ‘a state of being a mother’, and how a woman gets to that state is important.

I look forward to highlighting not only the work of many famous Birth Philosophers (authors, advocates and experts) who have supported women having healthy and positive birth experiences, but also young voices who are engaged and interested in learning, sharing and effecting change.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, past, present and future.

 

 

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