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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Childbirth education is important!

Someone shared this meme on FaceBook and I totally loved it, because it was so true: (click here for full text)

It's been said that women spend more time researching and shopping for major appliances than they do their birth options. And when it comes to your wedding day, you go to great lengths to make sure everything turns out just so - even though it sometimes doesn't - spending countless hours in preparation.

I once heard someone say how when a wedding doesn't turn out as planned, when a detail doesn't work out the way you wanted or it pours down rain during your beautiful outdoor ceremony, people are sad for you. They express regret and sympathy for you that "your big day" might have somehow been marred. Yet, when your plans for childbirth are totally derailed or you feel that you were denied something during the process, they basically tell you to "deal with it!" or "Get over it, you don't get a medal!" "That's just the way it is, so what?"

They wouldn't tell you that if your bridesmaid ditched you a week before the wedding, or if the cake was the wrong flavor.

With a good childbirth class, it can not only help you prepare for that big day, but fully realize just what your body is capable of - as well as help you realize that sometimes, the routine practices in maternity care are not always evidenced-based, or the "best" thing for everyone.

Would you want a cake decorator to say, "You must have a chocolate cake. That is the only flavor that's any good, and even though you're allergic to chocolate and don't like the taste of it, I'm making you a chocolate wedding cake!"? Probably not. Just like flavors of a wedding cake, there are options in childbirth; you just have to know what they are.

There are all kinds of childbirth classes. Fortunately I had a great one with a nurse midwife who herself had had normal births and a VBAC. She discussed a wide range of options, the realities of choosing them, advantages and disadvantages. What she did not do was paint a picture that said, "You are a bad person for choosing to have an epidural!" Nor did she act like they were terrific and every woman should have them and no woman can ever make it without one.

I chose the long, six-week whatever class, because there was a lot to learn! Some choose the condensed, intense version that is over and done with in a few hours. Personally, when you consider that it seems like many women don't fully understand the process of childbirth and what it entails, it sounds like the long version might actually be a better option. It's hard to work that out with busy schedules and work, etc. but this is your body - and your baby - we're talking about here.

Would you buy a brand new car or go on a cruise without spending time and effort researching it? Hopefully not.

When it comes to birthing options, especially VBAC, it seems that not many women know they do have options. Studies have shown that women often choose the mode of delivery that's preferred by their doctors - which likely means a lot of physicians are influencing their patients to choose a repeat cesarean. Unfortunately, many are limited because of the hospital they plan to deliver at, where VBAC is either banned or there is a de facto ban (meaning, the hospital "lets you" attempt one but no doctor will agree to attend you. Especially with regards to cesarean section and induction, childbirth education can mean all the difference. What are the risk factors? What does the procedure entail? Sometimes you cannot always count on your doctor to tell you this information up front. And I can't even begin to tell you how many people I've heard say, I'm being induced tomorrow and I have no idea what to expect! Does their doctor not tell them anything? Do they do any of their own research?

I once sat in on a childbirth education class and was extremely disappointed to find people talking and chattering amongst themselves when the instructor mentioned risk factors for cesarean section. Ladies, don't ever think "This will never happen to me." Sometimes it happens for very necessary reasons that are beyond our control; sometimes it could have been avoided. I think prevention is key - and sometimes the very things we consent to in labor can often be risk factors in cesarean delivery. It's hard to focus on future births and how they might be impacted by decisions and choices you make today, but that's pretty much how it often works. How can you truly give informed consent when you aren't fully informed?

I don't ever want to blame a mother for not being "educated enough" about the process. Sometimes you have all the facts and it's still not enough to prevent something from happening. But being educated about the process and feeling capable of making informed choices and educated decisions can often help tremendously when it comes to accepting with the outcome.

Did you take a childbirth class? Did it help you or not?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mom nurses triplets!

I love this picture: a Florida mom (who birthed them naturally!) is nursing two of her three babies, while the third one presumably sits patiently in line, waiting his turn... LOL

Photo: *The Milk* Sunshine Coast Lactation Consultant
FaceBook fan page

I want to post this here to make a mental note of it, because I just like this picture so much. Breastfeeding is hard enough with just one sometimes, between pressures with work and family, well-meaning but crappy advice, and just everything else. To nurse multiples?? I can't imagine, but if I had them I know I would do it, come sleep or no sleep (but that's just me). So it's great to see a positive image of someone managing to do it.

Of course, somewhere along the way FaceBook had a hissy fit and reprimanded some fan page admins at Peaceful Parenting for sharing it. Even though they supposedly support breastfeeding mothers, "as long as the baby is actively nursing." A screenshot of FaceBook's TOS on breastfeeding is as follows:

Those babies sure look like they're actively nursing to me. So before it gets yanked by the powers-that-be, I'm sharing it here.

Of course, when there is no baby in the picture, those fully exposed breasts are just fine.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Maternity leave rates around the world

It may come as a shock to some, and not to others, that the US is one - if not the only - nation that does not offer mandatory paid maternity leave to new mothers.

It makes the US sound pretty darned bad to be stacked up against third-world nations who seemingly offer better for their women. Maybe, maybe not. Even working a dead-end job you hate is arguably better than no prospects at all. Some of the countries on this list made me wonder: What is it like giving birth in, say, the Democratic Republic of the Congo? What's it like living and working there?

My husband visited there last year and he could probably tell you better than I: if you are lucky to have a job, you will get, according to statistics, 14 weeks of partially paid maternity leave. Among the Congolese, however, about one in 13 women dies during childbirth, ranking them 17th in the world for maternal deaths. My husband was awestruck by the dichotomy of living conditions there: in the villages, at least one man took in many children (almost a dozen) who were either his own or orphaned, doling out food to the family and himself often not eating for days at a time. On the flight in from Brussels, only the wealthiest of Congolese could even begin to afford a plane ticket, and you would be sitting amongst only the upper crust of businessmen and women, not average citizens. In the city of Kinshasa, he noted the absolute dismal filth, and the children who would crush rocks and pebbles into sand to sell for a little extra money. He even got a tour of the local hospital (where Hillary Clinton once visited), which has a large wall around it to keep out the 'dregs.'

Yes, the same country that requires a woman's employer to grant her maternity leave and a part of her wages is also the same government that employs soldiers who help themselves to your possessions and house, because the military is grossly underpaid and pissed off that they can't feed their own families. They are also the same government that sanctions rape of their women, sometimes upwards of 100 victims at a time. In many aspects of life there, much of the female Congolese population are treated like shit. So who cares if they get paid maternity leave? (It's a wonder, really...)

One would wonder, then, especially among these poorest nations, what percentage of those women really get maternity leave? Likely precious few.

More reading:
Congo-Kinshasa: Where giving birth is deadly
In US, maternity leave benefits are still dismal
Women for Women International

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

OB complains about patient on FaceBook

This happy little post has made the rounds today over at - an obstetrician is openly venting her frustrations (well, now her wall is private) over a patient who has shown up late repeatedly for her prenatal appointments, and is now three hours late for her induction. The physician snarkily asks, May I show up late to her labor? (Gee, I think it's been done before...)

Apparently, she tells her friend, the only reason she's been putting up with it is because the woman has a prior history of stillbirth.

Hmm... On one hand, showing up late is not such a good thing. On the other, perhaps this mama doesn't want an induction. Doesn't like you as her doctor, but is afraid to tell you. Who knows what her issues are. All I know is, it seems like doctors have the market cornered on making people wait, often without any explanation, and you're just supposed to sit there and deal with it? What, like my time isn't important, too?

Someone said they had seen other posts on the good doctor's wall, including comments trivializing circumcision and complaining about having to return to the hospital later on in the day to do one. For some reason, her wall was public - duh! - and I hope her patient didn't happen upon it. How heartbreaking.

It kind of irritated me how both her friends and the commenters on Jezebel blamed the mother and acted as if the physician's time was way more important. "If it's elective, cancel the induction!" one friend trumpeted. I kind of agree. She might be better off if you do.

More reading:
Being censored: By your OB? 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Time for a new look here. Bear with me, because Blogger likes to make things ridiculously difficult when uploading templates, etc. and changing things around. It took me like ten whole minutes just to find out how to make a new post. It seems like every template that initially looks good ends up looking like crap once I make it go live, so it might take a while before anything is legible! And being as extremely anal as I am, this could get ugly. I am also having major computer issues so I'm wondering if that's part of the problem.

Blogger, you stink. But you're free, so I'll take what I can get. Hopefully the whole thing won't crash and blow up while I'm not looking.