Musings of a crunchy, domestic goddess

Just another mama musing about her kids, Attachment Parenting, activism, photography, and life in general

Free the placenta! May 14, 2007

Ann Swanson, a Hynobirthing Childbirth Educator, recently gave birth to her second child, a daughter, at Sunrise Hospital in Nevada. Knowing that she developed postpartum depression after the birth of her first child, she wanted to combat it this time around by having her placenta dried, ground into a powder and encapsulated for ingestion – a practice known as placentophagy. However, the hospital would not release her placenta – the life-giving organ that provided nutrients to her baby in utero – citing health reasons, though Ann has neither HIV nor Hepatitis. The hospital stated that the only way she may be granted access to the placenta was to obtain a court order. She said, “it was never my intent to file a lawsuit, but I have definitely been pushed into doing just that.”

Unable to find an attorney to take on her case pro bono, Ann is representing herself, which means she is responsible for all legal filings and costs. She had an injunction today and is starting a campaign to pass legislation that makes it illegal for hospitals to refuse women the rights to their placenta (provided it is determined to be non-infectious).

Because all of these things will take money, donations are needed. A PayPal fund has been established to take the donations : LegalizePlacenta@PlacentaBenefits.info – Go to PayPal.com, select the “Send Money” tab and then fill out the “Send Money” form on the right hand side of the screen. Any amount, even if it’s only $1 or $5, will help offset her fees. If more money is received than needed to cover the injunction, the excess will be used for other legal placenta issues and passing legislation.

Ann said, “If the issue was just *my* daughter’s placenta, I would drop the issue. However, the issue is much larger and it affects all women.”

Read more about Ann’s story in an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal – Making pills from placentas, and a follow-up story – SUNRISE HOSPITAL: Placenta befouled, mom told. Because the hospital has now said the placenta is contaminated, Ann no longer has plans to ingest it, but does still want the organ “for the principle of the thing” so that she can plant it. You can also follow Ann’s story and another woman who also was denied her placenta at a different hospital in NV, by reading Diva/Mama‘s blog.

ONLINE PETITIONS:
Sign the petition to the medical establishment to Release Placentas to Mothers. (For anyone to sign):
Petition to release placentas to mothers

Sign the petition for the Nevada legislature, and should only be signed by residents of Nevada. This one will be used to create a state law giving mothers the right to take their placenta from the hospital.
Create NV state law

Are you wondering why is this so important?

Eating the placenta is known as placentophagy. It is practiced by most mammals in the animal world, including many primates. This excludes the majority of humans.

However, there are some that proport that eating the human placenta can help with ailments from postpartum depression to postpartum hemorrhage. There are some midwives and doctors who use the placenta medicinally in the early stages of postpartum because it is high in progesterone and has small amount of oxytocin. This supposedly helps stem bleeding after birth and causes the uterus to clean itself out. Some forms of Chinese medicines also contain parts of human placenta. — From About.com

For the record, I haven’t mentioned it here before, but yes, after my home birth I had my midwife dry, power and encapsulate my placenta (she calls it “placental medicine”), which I took for a few weeks following Julian’s birth. (I would never have eaten it raw or cooked – I’m too squeamish, but when it was in the capsules, it wasn’t a big deal to me.) I do feel that it had a very positive effect on my emotional well-being and my healing from the birth. I am saving the remaining pills for either Julian when he gets older and goes through a major life transition or for myself for menopause. The placenta is such an amazing organ, why throw it away when it has so many health benefits?

 

Firsthand review of “The Business of Being Born” May 11, 2007

Below is a review of the movie “The Business of Being Born” by Rachel, from Queens, New York City, NY, a woman I met on Mothering.com. She saw the movie during the premier at the Tribeca Film Festival and gave me permission to print her review here.:

I was able to see this movie last night (May 3, 2007) at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was fantastic. You can read the synopsis on the website, but basically the film features women who choose home birth with a midwife, contrasting this with what happens in a hospital birth, the stats of US births v. other developed countries, some history about birth in the US like “twilight sleep” and Cytotec and cesarean rates, lots of interviews with mainstream OB/GYNs, labor and delivery staff, midwives, birth activists and educators, and women about birth. Michel Odent is featured, and a few short snips of an interview with Ina May Gaskin. We follow NYC home birth midwife Cara Muhlhahn as she tends to her patients in prenatal care and at the birth itself. One humorous segment has Cara talking about her own home birth spliced in with footage of her home birth. She admits she wasn’t an ideal patient and could write the book on “home birth midwife begs for c-section!” Less than 90 minutes long, the film was tightly edited and kept me enthralled the whole time.

The facts and expert opinions are mixed in with the experiences and birth footage of women featured in the film. I think 4 or 5 home births or birth center births were shown, all so beautiful and natural and moving in their simplicity. I cried through each one, and the audience literally gasped with joy as each baby was safely and gently delivered and given right to mom. It was a stark contrast to the footage of hospital births.

As one moviegoer said in the Q&A after, “thank you for making a film that celebrates life.”

Parts that stood out for me:
-The filmmaker interviews 3 OB/GYN med student residents and asks them how often they get to see a natural birth. They stare at her blankly before admitting “not very often.”
– All of the births: home, birth center, and hospital.
– A range of opinions from the OBs, those who don’t know anything about home birth and think it is crazy, to those who fully support it
– How women were treated in the hospital vs. at home

The message is very straightforward. It wasn’t preachy and condescending. They use a lot of humor, intelligence, facts, and humanness to illustrate their message that “hey! Women deserve options in birth and to learn what those options are.” Most of the audience seemed already open to or educated on the topic. Even the family physician and OB who spoke up at the Q&A were not newbies to the concept of home birth. The former said that he found the film very balanced and was now interested in learning how to offer home birth as an option to his patients, and the latter is an OB who had her babies at home and said this movie captured the message that she was always trying to give her colleagues. I’d be interested to hear what a skeptic would think of the movie.

Ricki Lake was the executive producer and is featured in the film, too, talking about her own journey to home birth and showing the experience itself. My opinion of her as a Jerry Springer-ish talk show host has definitely changed! She comes across as smart and strong and I’m so happy that she is using her wealth and celebrity to get this important message out. She mentioned that one journalist had written an article slamming her as an opportunist for making this tasteless film, and he wrote a long retraction after seeing it and finding it very worthwhile. I’d love to read both if anyone finds them.

On a more personal note, I was deeply moved by this film. Having been grouchy and depressed for days, my mood turned to elation watching this film and I still am high from it. I wish every woman thinking about having a baby could see it. But I know it would not impact many of them, since so many of us in the US are conditioned to see birth as a nightmare to just get over and do whatever the OB says and nothing really matters but getting a healthy baby in your arms at the end of the day. To me, my birth experience DOES matter. I want it to be the transformative, powerful, life-altering experience I know it can be. Seeing this made me so excited and proud that we are planning a home birth, and grateful that I live in a state and have an insurance company that makes it possible. And that my husband supports my choice despite his misgivings. I hope it gets distributed before our baby comes so he can see it.

Another funny story—the NY Daily News said this movie “wasn’t for the squeamish.” And when I picked up my tickets at will call, the woman who gave them to me said, “are you sure you want to see this? It is very graphic.” I said, “I can’t wait to see it! I’ve heard such great things about it!” She said, “well, won’t it scare you, you know, with all you’re about to go through?” [indicating my pregnant belly] I was a little tongue tied for a moment, and said, “It won’t scare me, it will prepare me.” And she seemed happy with that. I just think it would be so weird to be thinking, “Ok, my body is about to go through this tremendous experience, so I’ll just be sure to remain as ignorant about it as possible.” But I guess that is true for a lot of people. I didn’t get the “squeamish” or “graphic” comments at all. Considering what you see in movies and TV these days, these births were so simple and beautiful. Maybe I’ve just seen enough birth footage already that this wasn’t shocking to me. We are so cut off in our culture from birth and death. How it all starts and ends. Interesting.

Everyone should see this movie! Enjoy! You can sign up for the email list on the website, and I assume they will send an update when they get a distributor.

Thank you, Rachel, for letting me share this with my readers. 🙂

 

International Day of the Midwife May 2, 2007

The International Day of the Midwife is this Saturday, May 5. Don’t forget to honor and celebrate the special midwife/midwives in your life. 🙂

And if you don’t know any midwives, perhaps take this opportunity to learn more about the profession of midwifery.

Did you know?
“In the Netherlands, midwives attend over 70% of all births, and one in three children is born at home. The Netherlands has one of the highest percentages of normal childbirths and the lowest percentages of infant and maternal deaths in the world.” – Global Midwives

From Midwifery Today:

This year’s International Day of the Midwife emphasizes the midwife’s role in primary care. You are the first source of help, advice and protection. Evidence shows that preventive care provided by midwives results in fewer maternal and neonatal deaths. You are the first line of defense, the safety net, the pair of loving hands that safely eases a woman and baby through the life-altering passage of pregnancy and birth. Go ahead and give yourself all the commendation you deserve. Put your feet up on May 5 and say to yourself, “I have made a difference in the world and I’m proud of myself.” And for those of you who will be catching babies that day–well, your actions speak even louder than words. Happy midwifing. Happy International Day of the Midwife. -Cher Mikkola, E-News editor

Thank you to my dear midwife, K, for helping me have an amazing, unforgettable, empowering beyond belief, healthy and safe birth. And to all of the midwives around the world, especially those here in the United States who are making changes in the medical world and helping empower women to take back birth, thank you for your wisdom, compassion, knowledge, patience, passion, flexibility and respect.

Well-behaved women rarely make history. — Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

 

Ricki Lake produces “The Business of Being Born” May 1, 2007

Photo from The Business of Being Born

It’s hard for me to express just how excited I am about the new documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” with Ricki Lake as the executive producer. From what I have read and seen, it looks like it was very well done. It is my supreme hope that it will continue to build momentum towards a shift in how birth happens in this country.

There was just a brief discussion about it on The View this morning. I don’t normally watch The View, but a friend told me Ricki was going to be on, so I tuned in to catch what I could while Ava chattered in the background. 😉 Ricki said she isn’t trying to say that everyone should have a home birth or that she’s anti-hospitals, but she wants all women to know that they have a choice. Rosie O’Donnell sounded very supportive of it and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who’s pregnant with her second child, seemed very interested as well. Joy Behar said she was skeptical. I guess ya can’t win ’em all. And Barbara Walters wasn’t there. (aww, bummer. ha!)

Here are a few clips from the segment. It sucks that I can’t find the whole thing online yet. Maybe later.

Added on 5/5/07: Someone on Mothering.com posted a link to the whole Ricki Lake segment on “The View” from the other day.

About the documentary from The Business of Being Born:

THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN

Birth is a miracle, a rite of passage, a natural part of life. But birth is also big
business.

Compelled to explore the subject after the delivery of her first child, actress Ricki
Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to question the way American women have
babies.

Epstein gains access to several pregnant New York City women as they weigh
their options. Some of these women are or will become clients of Cara
Muhlhahn, a charismatic midwife who, between birth events, shares both
memories and footage of her own birth experience.

Footage of women having babies punctuates THE BUSINESS OF BEING
BORN. Each experience is unique; all are equally beautiful and equally
surprising. Giving birth is clearly the most physically challenging event these
women have ever gone through, but it is also the most emotionally rewarding.
Along the way, Epstein conducts interviews with a number of obstetricians,
experts and advocates about the history, culture and economics of childbirth.
The film’s fundamental question: should most births be viewed as a natural life
process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency?
As Epstein uncovers some surprising answers, her own pregnancy adds a very
personal dimension to THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, a must-see movie for
anyone even thinking about having a baby.

Want to read more? Here’s an interview with Ricki Lake and the Huffington Post discussing the movie. Here’s a bit of it:

Why did you want to produce this film?
I wanted to make this movie after my two very different birth experiences with my children. I felt like I had an opportunity to explore and question birthing practices in this country and perhaps be an advocate for mothers’ rights and better maternity care.

How did your personal birth experiences influence you?
After the birth of my sons, particularly my home birth with my second son, I thought I wanted to become a midwife. Then I looked at all the years of schooling and training that I would have to do and felt that the time could be better spent doing a documentary on the subject of birth.

How intimate does the film get?
I am naked at 195 pounds giving birth in my own bathtub. It can’t get any more intimate than that!

What do you hope people take away from the film?
A lot! I hope this film educates people and empowers them to really know their choices in childbirth. We do not want to make any woman feel bad about the outcome of her birth, or the choices she made (or will make).

The film is currently premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and, according to Rosie O’Donnell on The View, it was the only film that received a standing ovation. 🙂

I leave you with some quotes about birth:

“If we are to heal the planet, we must begin by healing birthing.” — Agnes Sallet Von Tannenberg

“$13 to $20 billion a year could be saved in health care costs by demedicalizing childbirth, developing midwifery, and encouraging breastfeeding.” — Frank Oski, MD, Professor and Director, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

“Unfortunately, the role of obstetrics has never been to help women give birth. There is a big difference between the medical discipline we call “obstetrics’ and something completely different, the art of midwifery. If we want to find safe alternatives to obstetrics, we must rediscover midwifery. To rediscover midwifery is the same as giving back childbirth to women. And imagine the future if surgical teams were at the service of the midwives and the women instead of controlling them.” — Michel Odent, MD

“The experience profoundly changed my perspective. In the hospital, I hadn’t perceived the anxiety and foreboding that permeated birth until I experienced the impact of its absence among the midwives. The peace, wonder, and intimacy were infinitely greater. What a compelling difference!” — Heidi Rinehart, MD (as quoted in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin)

 

Blog-iversary – 2 years! February 10, 2007

Feb. 11 is my 2-year blogging anniversary. Wow! Time flies when you are having fun, huh?

One of my goals when I started my blog is mentioned on my “About” page:

“Since Ava’s birth, I’ve felt a need to raise awareness on various issues relating to women’s health and children, something I try to do via my blog. I truly do want to make the world a better place for her and Julian and I hope that I can do that even if it’s in a very small way. As Gandhi said, ‘We must be the change we wish to see in the world.’”

I think I’ve managed to raise awareness over the past two years. I write about the issues that are important in my and my children’s lives, which most recently have been pregnancy, natural childbirth, home birth and the ever-relevant topic of breastfeeding.

In viewing my stats, I’ve noticed that numerous people come to my blog after doing a search for topics such as “nursing toddler,” “extended nursing,” or “nursing while pregnant.” There have also been frequent searches for “plugged duct” or “mastitis,” or things related to “pregnancy,” “hypnobirthing,” “home birth,” “circumcision, “vaccinations” or “Attachment Parenting.” I hope that something I’ve written in the past two years has helped or touched someone in their parenting journey.

I also get many visitors to my blog in search of recipes, which delights me as well. I enjoy sharing the tasty meals I come across.

Also along the lines of raising awareness, in 2005 I started the Attached At The Hip online store, featuring advocacy wear that supports Attachment Parenting ideals. From August 2005 to today, I’ve sold over 1,100 items, including shirts, bibs, bumper stickers, etc. My biggest seller (which I happen to be quite fond of – see below 😉 ) is the “I make milk. What’s your superpower?” design with over 130 shirts, stickers and tote bags sold to date. My profit from the store sales is only a couple dollars per item, so I’m not in it for some quick money, but it makes me happy to know that so many people around the world (I’ve sold to people in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Uzbekistan, as well as 47 of the 50 U.S. states) are interested in spreading the word about breastfeeding and other AP ideals.

superpower

With regard to my blogging, someone once told me “…you aren’t going to change the world.” I disagreed at the time and I disagree today. I may be only one person, but I know I can make small changes for the better here and there, and that’s really the only way the world is going to change – a little bit at a time.

A recent example of one person making a difference in the world is Jennifer from “The Lactivist Breastfeeding Blog“. You may or may not have heard about her fund-raising efforts for the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio or her run-in with the National Pork Board, but it resulted in the Pork Board organizing it’s own fund-raising campaign among it’s employees, which will likely result in a generous donation to the milk bank. (And that’s in addition to the $1000 Jennifer raised via her blog and CafePress store.) All of this positive change happening because of one woman. Jennifer, you rock! In fact, I was so inspired by Jennifer’s fund-raising efforts on her site, that I’m planning on conducting one myself using Attached at the Hip in the near future. I’m still brainstorming worthy causes to donate the proceeds to. (Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I’d prefer it be a charity that benefits babies and/or children.)

Thank you to those of you who’ve been with me and supporting me for the whole two years and to those of you whom I’ve met along the way. I’m happy to be on this blogging journey with you.

I mentioned Gandhi’s quote above, but it is a fitting ending for this post and is worth repeating (and repeating, and repeating): “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Namaste.

 

 

 

10 days old (pics) and a bit of an update December 4, 2006

I know, I know – all I seem to do anymore is post pictures. :oP I’m trying to find the time to write some actual posts, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

So in the meantime, I decided to get out of bed yesterday and take some pictures of my “little” boy (he weighed 10 lbs., 6 oz. at his one week check-up) before he loses all of his newborn characteristics. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to doing it until the sun was setting (doh!), so I only had 15 minutes of daylight to snap, snap, snap away.

Here are the best ones of the bunch. 🙂

Julian at 10 days old





Things are going well pretty here.

Julian is a cuddly little bundle, who nurses well and sleeps a lot.

I may have jinxed myself earlier by saying how well Ava was adapting. She is definitely in love with her baby brother, but she has had some meltdowns in the past week. I think it’s been hard for her to share mom and dad. Some days are better than others. Yesterday was really hard, but today was much, much better. While daddy or Aunt Carrie have been good about getting her out of the house most days, I think it helped that she had a playdate with another child today.

I am feeling good. I had a couple of migraines last week and ended up taking my acupuncturist up on her offer to come out to the house to treat me and prescribe more Chinese herbs. So she was here on Saturday and did a bit of acupuncture and got me more herbs (that taste even worse than what I had prenatally). Blah. No more migraines though since she came to see me. I’m knocking wood that they are gone (at least for a while).
I have my 2 week check up with my midwife on Thursday, then I don’t see her again until 6 weeks postpartum. After seeing her so much these past few weeks, I will probably go through withdrawal.

Jody is home from work this week again, which is wonderful. His help around the house and with the kiddos is priceless. I’m feeling very thankful for my husband.

The photographer is coming to our house on Friday to take some family pictures of us. I’m looking forward to that because (for a change) I will be able to just relax and be with my family while she worries about all the photography stuff. 🙂

Now for my random thought:
I can’t believe it’s already December! We haven’t done anything to decorate for the holidays yet. That might have to wait until my parents get here next week. Oh, and Christmas shopping?? Hmmm, that might all be done via the Internet this year.

So that’s us in a nutshell. Hope you all are doing well. 🙂 I’m trying to read up on my regular posters when I can, but I don’t usually have time to comment these days. (Sorry!) Hugs. 🙂

 

We are getting close! November 10, 2006

Every time I head out to the grocery stores (Safeway or Vitamin Cottage) the past few weeks, I wonder if it’s going to be my last trip before baby. And because I’m in major nesting mode, I end up stocking up on more and more things each trip. If I end up going to 42 weeks before having this child, our house is going to be seriously bursting with food!

Today I decided to pick up an organic cake and frosting mix (never tried one of those before) to make while I’m in labor so we have a birthday cake for baby boy. Ava immediately told me that she will have a piece of it. 😉 I think it will be something fun for us to do together in the early stages of labor and will be a nice way to celebrate the little one’s arrival. 🙂 I wanted to get chocolate cake AND chocolate frosting, but settled on a marble cake mix with choco frosting, because I know not everyone (*ahem* – Jody) likes chocolate as much as Ava and me.

I also bought some things for our Thanksgiving dinner today, including stuffing mix, ingredients to make a pumpkin pie, and cool whip. I’m not exactly sure who’s going to be making our Thanksgiving dinner because my sister may well be flying back to MI to spend it with her boyfriend (provided that baby boy has made his grand entrance) and my parents will probably not be in town yet – so I’m thinking Jody it is (with me yelling instructions from the bed or couch – hee, hee). I plan on making the pie this weekend and freezing it and may end up making some side dishes that can be frozen if I have time next week.

My estimated due date is Nov. 16 – less than a week away. After today is done, I feel like I am OK to have this baby. The photographer who’s coming to photograph the birth had a wedding to shoot today, but after that her calendar can be easily freed up. So I think baby boy and I will have a talk tonight so that he knows that any time he’s ready to come now, we are ready to meet him. 🙂

I went for another acupuncture appointment on Wednesday. All is going well and the supervisor of the clinic I go to was very encouraged by my recent lab results. She mixed up a special blend of Chinese herbs for me (in addition to my usual “pregnancy” herbs) to be cooked up while I’m in labor and drank right after the baby is born to help prevent hemorrhaging (which was an issue with Ava because my platelet levels were so low). She also said to call her if I do have any bleeding and she will come to my house with other herbs that will help my recovery. So nice of her! But anyway, the way everything with this pregnancy has been so different (for the better) from my pregnancy with Ava, I feel like while it’s great that we have courses of action for “just in case” scenarios, everything is going to go so well with this birth that we won’t need any of it. 🙂

My midwife STRONGLY recommends that I take it very easy for the first two weeks after the birth, which will help significantly with my recovery. (She suggests this with all of her clients, I’m no exception.) In fact, for the first three days after he’s born, she wants me laying in bed with the baby, sleeping as much as possible (even though I may feel great). I have to admit, that part is rather appealing to me. Sure, I know I will have a baby pretty much attached to my breast the whole time, but just chillin’ with the little guy will be nice. After day 3, I can venture downstairs, but still need to stay off my feet and am NOT to do any cooking, laundry, picking up toddlers, etc. I think after a week I can start spending a little time on my feet (no more than 10 minutes at a time), but still should not be cooking or doing household chores. (Do you see why I’m not fighting this? *wink, wink*) Although I am sure that I will start getting a little stir crazy and will want to be getting back into the swing of things, which she says is fine by the time I am 2 weeks postpartum. So we’ll see how it goes. I think having the house well-stocked with food, organic fruits and veggies delivered to the house each Monday, as well as having our milk delivered, it should help Jody out a lot. Thankfully, he has two weeks paternity time off work to be here with us, and has some additional vacation time he may take later. After he goes back to work, my parents plan on coming from MI to help out with Ava for another week or so. I am sure all of this assistance will be very much welcome as we adjust to our new life.

So now, the waiting game begins. 🙂

By the way, the picture of the book above, “Welcome With Love,” is a wonderful children’s book about natural childbirth. In the book, Jack, his family and the midwife await the homebirth of his baby brother. There are beautiful pictures depicting the midwife preparing for the birth, mom in labor, the birth itself, the baby after he is born with the umbilical cord attached, and many lovely images of the family. Ava has greatly enjoyed reading this book in the last few months and I think it well prepares any child for the natural birth of a sibling, whether it be a homebirth or hospital birth.