Musings of a crunchy, domestic goddess

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

An evening with Ina May May 8, 2007

Ina MayAs I set out driving Friday night to hear Ina May Gaskin – called “the mother of authentic midwifery” by Midwifery Today – speak, I was filled with nervous excitement. When I was about 10 minutes out from the church in Lafayette where the event was taking place, a friend of mine called me to say she was saving some seats for me and other friends of ours and she was able to get pretty close to the front. I felt like a teenager going to a rock concert. Third row seats! We got third row seats to see Ina May! 🙂

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw moms with their children in baby slings or carriers, groups of women without children, as well as some couples all making their way towards the entrance. I pulled in a spot, got Julian from the backseat and into the Ergo carrier when I overheard a woman a few cars down from me say, “I’m so glad I remembered to bring my book for her to sign.” D’oh! I never even thought to bring my copy of “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” Some groupie I am, eh?

With only five minutes to spare before the talk was supposed to begin, Julian and I hightailed it into the building, quickly saying hello as we passed a couple of women I know from our AP group on the way. I couldn’t wait to get inside.

We made our way to the front of the registration line and we were greeted by my midwife K with a big hug. I wanted to stay and chat with her, but there wasn’t time and she had a lot more participants to check in, so we agreed to try to meet up after Ina May’s talk to chat. My excitement and anticipation grew.

Once inside the church, I spotted my friends waving me down in, yes, the third(!) row, right in front of the podium. I may have skipped a little as I made my way towards them and settled down in my seat with Julian.

We chatted for a good 10 to 15 minutes before Karen Robinson, the president of the Colorado Midwives Association (CMA), came out to welcome everyone to the event, speak a bit about the CMA, and then, the moment we were all waiting for, introduce Ina May Gaskin.

The applause began immediately and Ina May walked in to a standing ovation.

She began her talk with a bit of history both about herself and about the history of birth and obstetrics in the United States. While I have read and heard before about how women used to be treated in hospitals (drugged to the point of being unconscious while their babies were extracted from their bodies using forceps, etc.), it gives me the heebie-jeebies every time. She told us how her first birth was in a hospital, where, despite her belief that she could’ve given birth naturally and without pain medication, she was drugged and her baby was taken out using forceps.

She spoke about the path that lead her to become a midwife, as she began attending births while traveling across the country (on hippie buses) with hundreds of others who were following Stephen Gaskin on a five-month-long speaking tour across the United States. 11 babies were born on the buses during the Caravan. She has attended more than 1200 births to date.

She talked about Sphincter Law which is described in detail in her book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.”

“The Sphincter Law recognizes the cervix as a sphincter along with the other excretory sphincters. These sphincters function best, Gaskin points out, in an atmosphere of privacy and familiarity.” —Midwifery: the Revival an Old Profession

So it is difficult for a woman to give birth in a hospital with nurses and doctors shouting “PUSH!” or making threats of “you’d better get that baby out soon or you’ll have a c-section” etc. Just as it would not be easy for any of us to shit (yes, she said shit! and ass too for that matter) on command. If you are sitting on the toilet, trying to take a crap and someone walks in on you – what happens? You stop crapping until you feel safe and no longer vulnerable. Same thing can also happen with birthing a baby.

She also talked about the mind/body connection, though I don’t know if she used that term. She described how she has witnessed a woman get stuck at 7 cm (or whatever) for hours on end with no apparent physical reason, only to later discover that this women’s mother died in childbirth, so this woman was afraid she would die too. Once the “secret” was out, however, the woman was able to dilate to completion and have her baby. She ran into something similar in another situation as well. But (and this is my own rambling here) had something like that happened in a hospital, how many doctors would stop to wonder what could be causing this woman’s labor to stall or would they threaten the woman that if she didn’t dilate by such and such time, she would need a c-section? Yes, I believe things need to change in the obstetrical world.

She talked a little bit about Ricki Lake’s new movie, “The Business of Being Born,” as she is interviewed in it. She mentioned that it received a standing ovation at the Tribeca Film Festival and that Ricki had recently been interviewed about it on “The View.” Someone asked how can we see the film and she recommended we start calling our local movie theaters to ask them when they will be getting it. Let them know there’s a demand for it.

At the end of her talk, she took questions from the audience. Questions were asked about VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccinations and breech births. I don’t recall all that was said since we were going on two hours of Julian being a happy camper in my lap and he was starting to get squirmy.

I know she said that she believes breastfeeding should continue as long as it’s mutually satisfying to both the child AND the mother. If mom isn’t enjoying the breastfeeding relationship anymore, she doesn’t believe in continuing to nurse out of guilt. She is currently in the process of writing a book about breastfeeding.

She doesn’t believe in routine circumcision, but has seen many circumcised boys in her years as a midwife, and even acted as a mohel for a while.

I didn’t get to hear a lot of what she said about vaccinations, since it was about that time that I decided Julian and I needed to move from our third(!) row seat and stand in the back, where I could sway with him and keep him contented. I recall her saying that she felt some vaccinations were OK, but she believes in starting them later than the recommended age. And that there were others (like chicken pox) that she wouldn’t recommend.

After I had Julian tucked back into the Ergo and we were swaying at the back of the room, someone asked a question about her thoughts on breech births (i.e. should they be automatic c-sections?). This, as some of you who have read Julian’s birth story* know, is a topic very dear and close to my heart. If you have a breech baby in a hospital with an OB, you are pretty much guaranteed a c-section. Of course midwives still perform vaginal breech births and believe that a woman should be able to choose to have a vaginal birth. Ina May helps educate midwives in her conferences (and through her videos) on the knowledge and skills required to successfully assist women having breech babies. In fact, one of the sessions from the following day’s midwifery conference was focusing on breech and twin births. “Vaginal birth of breech and twins has become a rarity for more and more OBs. Therefore the skills needed to assist in these types of vaginal births have begun to disappear and women are losing their right to choose a vaginal birth with twins or a breech.”

After that question was answered, Ina May wrapped up her talk and gracefully exited the room as everyone applauded with much gratitude.

Many people milled about for a while chatting with each other, meeting with Ina May or Debby Takikawa (the director of the movie “What Babies Want” narrated by Noah Wyle who was presenting at the midwifery conference held that day – by the way, it’s a great movie and you should definitely see it if you ever get the chance), etc. after the talk concluded. Yours truly was among them. I chatted with some friends for a while before realizing that Ina May was still around and signing autographs. I wished that I had my book with me, but since I didn’t, I asked her to sign a brochure from my midwife’s practice. She did.
“For Amy
Ina May Gaskin”
I talked to her briefly and told her a little bit about Julian’s birth, as he slept away in the Ergo. It was pretty darn cool to talk to her face to face. I knew she had had a busy day and another one ahead of her the next day (and still more autographs to sign), so I didn’t want to keep her for long. I thanked her and headed back over to my friends. We reminisced about how we used to get all excited about going to concerts or getting autographs from celebrities, etc., and there we were elated to hear a midwife talk and get her autograph. 😉 Times have certainly changed.

I must add that I also wished I had taken my camera with me, when I later saw Ina May pose for pictures with a few women. I guess I now know what to bring along with me to my next midwifery rock concert event. 😉

It was a wonderful evening and a great privilege to meet Ina May, a woman who has done so much to further the midwifery cause and offer women a choice, a very safe choice, when it comes to birth.

———————————————————————
I’m sure I forgot something from the evening and if anyone who was there wants to chime in in the comments with anything I overlooked, please do so. It really would’ve been nice to take notes, but there’s no way I could’ve kept the pen and paper out of Julian’s mouth. 😉

Salon.com has a great article about Ina May called, The Midwife of Modern Midwifery from a series called “Brilliant Careers” in the June 1, 1999 edition for those of you who’d like to learn more about this amazing woman.

*If you haven’t read Julian’s birth story and would like to, please e-mail me. It’s not currently on my blog.

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Giddy as a school girl May 4, 2007

Ina May Gaskin

I’m giving myself an early birthday present tonight (my birthday is actually Monday, May 7) and going to see/hear Ina May Gaskin, called “The Greatest Midwife In The World,” talk about her views on childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting at an evening talk. I was hoping both Jody and I could attend, but we didn’t have anyone available to watch Ava, so Julian and I are going ourselves and will meet several of my friends (and my midwife) there.

Since planning for a homebirth for Julian, I admit I’ve become quite the birth geek. I’m fascinated by and in awe of it and love to learn all that I can. I admire midwives so greatly for the work that they do. While I can’t picture myself ever becoming a midwife, I do think it’d be amazing, an honor and a privilege to be a birth photographer someday (when my kids are older).

Ina May is a midwifery pioneer, noted international speaker and author of “Spiritual Midwifery” – a book that “encourages Americans to view birth as a natural life process, rather than a medical emergency” – and “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” She’s been “catching babies” since 1970. She also introduced to the world the Gaskin Maneuver, an important birthing technique, which allows for a safe, non-invasive solution to shoulder dystocia, one of the most perplexing and feared complications facing obstetricians. – The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project

There’s a great interview with Ina May here.

Besides the fact that I get to hear this incredible woman share her views tonight, I feel it will be an awesome experience to be in a room with so many other women who are passionate about birth. Imagine the energy! After I sent my registration in, I received word that due to the overwhelming response, they were having to close registration. However, I found out last night that it has since been reopened as they found a larger room in which to host the talk. I’m glad that others who had wanted to go, but didn’t get their registration in in time, will now be able to. At least three women from my AP group have said they will now be coming since I posted that there is seating available. Yay! The more, the merrier.

Rest assured I will be posting about the talk in the next few days. Julian is usually a pretty mellow baby, so I’m hoping he’ll be content to either sleep on me in the Ergo or suck/chew on his toys while in my lap. I don’t want to miss a word Ina May says. Maybe I should bring a tape recorder? 😉

 

 

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”

— Barbara Katz Rothman

 

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

 

Go Green! – Earth Day 2007 April 21, 2007

Because living green is important to me and my family, I turned on Oprah’s Going Green 101: What Your Family Can Do Today! show on Friday to see if I could pick up some more tips. While we’re already doing several of the things they discussed on the show, I learned quite a bit more that we can start doing to help save our planet Earth.

I decided to make a list (in no particular order) of things YOU can do RIGHT NOW to help save the world. Many of the things are from Oprah’s show, while some are things I came up with myself or got elsewhere.

Choose one or two to get started, or do them all! Every little bit helps. 🙂

Help save the world by…

— Change the light bulbs in your house to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) – CFL’s are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!

— Buy natural cleaning products like Shaklee, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s. Or, make your own cleaning products – Homemade Cleaners!

— Buy organic foods whenever possible.

— Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. Even if items are in the off position, they are still using energy. Or buy Smart Power Strips to conserve energy and cash.

— Use cloth napkins.

— Use cloth diapers or if you must use disposables, consider buying gDiapers (which are flushable!) or Seventh Generation diapers.

— Use a reusable menstruation product like The Diva Cup or The Moon Cup or use cloth pads like Glad Rags.

— Take public transportation, carpool, bike or walk.

— Reuse one bottle for your water instead of buying bottled water.

— Bring your own coffee cup/mug/thermos when you go to Starbucks, etc. for your coffee. Starbucks even offers a discount when you bring in your own cup.

— Use cloth grocery bags.

— Breastfeed.

— RECYCLE your plastic, glass, aluminum and paper! Go to Earth911 and enter your zip code to find out what is recyclable in your area.

— Shop at second hand stores for clothing, etc., and donate, give or sell your old clothes, shoes, etc. to others.

— Keep stuff out of the landfills by Freecycling items you no longer need. One person’s trash is another’s treasure!

— Take shorter showers.

— Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving.

— Reduce your meat consumption, better yet – eat vegetarian, or even better still – go vegan. “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein

More Earth-friendly tips, contributed by Leigh:

— Purchase wooden toys, or at least used toys.

— Practice sustainable, green building practices for new homes or remodels (low VOC paint, renewable floors like bamboo, solar/passive solar, native planting, sustainable materials, low-water usage appliances, and so much more).

— If you can, convert your car to a bio-diesel or SVO powered vehicle.

— Compost and use in your garden

— Support businesses who invest in sustainable, earth-friendly practices

— Buy fair-trade (while it’s not directly linked to the earth per se, I believe that peace and fair living practices = respect for the Earth).

— Thank the earth daily.

Some more tips, contributed by Bazu:

— Use cold water when doing laundry. I was a little hesitant at first, but I haven’t noticed any difference in the level of cleanliness in the clothes, and it saves a good amount of energy.

— Keep your freezer full, it cools more efficiently. If you don’t have a lot of food, even ice packs or bags of ice will do.

— Convert your yard/lawn to natural native plants instead of non-local plants or grass. Lawn maintenance is a huge energy sucker.

Caroline suggests:
— Use biodegradable dog poop bags

And Erica recommends:
— Even better than vegan – eat RAW! No energy used to cook the food, and your body will thank you.

Check out these related links:

GreenDimes – Reduce your junk mail by 75-90% and have a tree planted for you each month – all for a dime/day

The Green Book – Full of hundreds of simple environmental solutions that can make a big difference in the world

Breastfeeding and the Environment – Breastmilk is a valuable renewable natural resource that is the most ecologically sound food source available. It is produced and delivered to the consumer without using other resources, and it creates no pollution. In contrast, artificial baby milk production pollutes our land, air, and water and uses up natural resources.

An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore’s movie about global warming

Ten Tips for Earth Day: Preserving Biodiversity

The History of Earth Day

Top 10 Earth Day Tips from National Geographic’s The Green Guide

Logical Environmental Reasoning for a Vegetarian Lifestyle

Climate Teacher – Focused on helping people understand, communicate, and take action on climate change.

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Do you have more tips or sites to share about going green or Earth Day? Please share them with me and I’ll add them to the list.

Mother Earth thanks you.
Happy Earth Day! 🙂

 

My honor student was breast-fed, etc. April 6, 2007

I don’t talk about my Cafe Press store – Attached At The Hip – here very often, but I did want to share a few new things that I have going on there these days.

I am now offering a new bumper sticker – “My honor student was breast-fed.” There was a recent discussion on “The Lactivist” about a Dr. Phil episode where wet nursing and breast-feeding were discussed (negatively unfortunately) and a commenter came up with the saying and said someone should put it on a bumper sticker. So I took that liberty and hope others will as well. It’s a great, fun saying!

My honor student was breast-fed

In other news, many of my designs are now available in women’s plus sizes (16/18-32/34) – like the ever-popular “I make milk. What’s your superpower?”. If you see a design in the store that’s not in plus sizes yet, shoot me an email and I will take care of it.

If you haven’t been by the store lately, please check it out. There are a variety of shirts offered now (both short and long sleeve and in different colors). And always, if you have an idea for something attachment parenting/natural family living-related you’d like to see on a shirt, send me an email. Thanks! 🙂

 

Healthy fast food? February 25, 2007

Filed under: Crunchiness,Food,Health,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 10:02 am

I recently came across this Rocky Mountain News article about a restaurant called “V.G. Burgers” on Kleo’s blog and I said, “Hey! We just ate there on Friday!”

V.G. Burgers is a new fast food restaurant in Boulder, CO, with an entirely vegetarian and almost entirely organic menu. In fact, 90% or more of the food is vegan.

I have a few friends (both vegan and not) who’ve eaten there lately and liked it, so when we found ourselves in Boulder Friday night, I said we should give it a try. Ava got the classic burger, Jody got the sunflower burger and I tried the falafel/hummus burger, all with (baked) fries. The food was good, though I wish we would’ve added something like guac or salsa to our burgers, because they were a bit on the dry side. The shakes, however, were delicious. We tried three different varieties – soymilk vanilla, hemp chocolate and chocolate peanut butter – and shared them between the three of us. The chocolate peanut butter was our favorite. 🙂

It was nice to find a fast food place with healthy (and vegetarian) food. Oh, and most, if not all, of their utensils, cups, plates, etc. are biodegradable (made from potato!). I hope the idea catches on elsewhere.

 

Look, ma – no hands! February 21, 2007

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Crunchiness,Julian,Mothering — amygeekgrl @ 1:37 pm

Hands-free nursing while walking. Sounds like some sort of acrobatic act you might expect to see at the circus, no?

They (the folks at Moby Wrap, that is) said it could be done, but I had yet to attempt it myself until yesterday.

With the weather finally warming up a bit and the snow melting, the kids and I went out for a walk yesterday. I honestly don’t pay much attention to the clock when it comes to nursing Julian – I practice “on-demand feeding.” So when Ava said she wanted to go for a walk, I thought it *might* be getting close to the time that he’d be hungry again, but I wasn’t sure. I figured we’d play it by ear. So I plopped him into the Moby, Ava and I got our coats on (Julian fits inside mine while in the Moby), and off we went.

It didn’t take long for him to start crying and I knew I either needed to plop down on the cold sidewalk and feed him, go home and feed him or figure out a way to nurse him while in the Moby. It took a bit of crazy maneuvering on my part, but I finally nudged him low enough so I could hoist my boob up into his mouth. He was happy to be fed, I was geeked that I did it, and Ava was delighted to get to continue playing outside. Success!

I didn’t actually follow the tips they give on the Moby site for nursing in the wrap, which may have worked a bit better. I just loosened the wrap so I could scoot Julian down on my chest a bit lower. It worked just fine, though I’m sure it looked a bit odd while I was getting him situated. 😉

We passed a few folks on our walk and even stopped to talk with a man who had a very friendly golden retriever named Kody and no one was the wiser that the bundle zipped up inside my coat was happily blissed out on mama’s milk. 🙂