Archive for August, 2008


What are your thoughts on hypnobirthing?  Is it used commonly these days?  When I discovered it a couple of years ago I wondered where it was hiding when I was having babies so many years ago.  Recently, one of my daughters used it and it was wonderful.  Not painless, but so much more manageable.  Her midwife was delighted when she told her she planned to use it.  Another daughter plans to use it next month and I hope her results are similar.  Though she will be birthing in a different part of the country, her midwife was “relieved” when she learned my daughter would use it.  She said it makes the whole thing easier on everyone involved.  However, neither of them had it suggested by their midwife, rather found it on her own.  Anyone have experiences to share?

26 August 2008 at 7:07 pm 6 comments

Should We Push for Better Birth on Television as Well?

Not every woman cares to watch television or even to have one in her home, but many of those who do, choose to watch the wide variety of birth shows available to them. But is there really any true variety to these shows? The answer is no. Many of the birth stories on shows such as The Baby Story, Babies: Special Delivery, and the new show, Deliver Me, are told in a way that dramatize and sensationalize the experience, especially when there is some sort of a problem. Everything from the narrator’s voice to the music played in the background and the clips chosen evokes anxiety in the viewer. Even worse, the shows rarely focus on the rarity of the circumstances they present, even the one percent situations.

Enter House of Babies, the only series I am aware of that tells the accounts of natural childbirth. Other shows might include the occasional, rare homebirth, but when they do so the title of the episode becomes “Unconventional Birth.” What is so wonderful and so beautifully normal and natural is deemed abnormal! In House of Babies, however, women finally receive a show that promotes normal, natural birth:

“In 2006, the Discovery Health Channel premiered a new factual show about natural childbirth, called “House of Babies,” shot at Shari’s Miami Maternity Clinic. The 26-episode, fact-based series follows the stories of Shari, other midwives and midwifery students, and parents as they experience the day-to-day joy and drama of drug-free childbirth. The footage of the births is raw and real; the pain and hard work of labor is evidenced.”

Seeing as television has such strong influence in our society, it is good that shows such as House of Babies are out there, and that some women are willing to share their intensely personal birth experiences in an effort to educate about birth options. But there are only 26 episodes in this program, they are already becoming outdated, and I know of no other program other like it. Is there a place for a show that educates not only about midwifery, but about homebirth as well? A show that will educate and celebrate the safety, beauty, and normalcy of homebirth, and take the time to explain what is not being articulated to so many women as they sit and watch anxiety-provoking stories of hospital births with obstetricians?

Deliver Me, the newest of these shows, is particularly disappointing. All three obstetricians are women, which initially offers a glimmer of hope, but the medical model of care is clear as day as the story of each pregnancy and birth is told; The doctors are quick to offer intervention and equally as quick in their conversations with their “patients.”

Perhaps what women need to see instead are many different midwives, in many different homes, delivering many different babies to many different families, treating each one of them as though they are the only one in the world, their birth the only birth. Can television be a place for this? For those of us committed to the cause, inspired and empowered by our own natural births and those of other women, the stories we know are enough. What can we change in this realm of the media for the women who do not yet share and delight in the secret of all of this, to make it not so secret after all?

23 August 2008 at 8:46 pm 5 comments

Must Read article on home birth politics

It is a hopefully a new trend to read well reported journalism on home birth midwives. Alternet posted Anna Clark’s article on licensure and its legislative obstacles from medical trader organizations:

Dr. Henry Dorn of High Point, NC, is one OB/GYN — and former AMA member — who questions the recent obstacles to widespread licensure for midwives. Dorn operates a gynecology practice that offers midwifery services.

“I feel that (the AMA’s) statement may stem from a combination of ignorance or avoidance of the facts regarding out-of-hospital birth by skilled attendants, and perhaps a desire to protect the business interests of the physician community,”

Dorn said. “This is not to say that AMA members do not care for their patients’ best interests, but only that given the current medical climate, it would not be surprising to see those outside pressures affect [their] conclusions.”

Dorn expects the resolution to “discourage another generation of doctors from considering alternatives to highly medicalized birth, as most feel that any statements by the AMA should be viewed as gospel.”

Mattingly wonders if the root issue is that many doctors fear what they don’t know. “Very few doctors have seen a birth without any medical intervention,” she said. That means, “Most have never ever seen a normal birth.”

It is a very good article. Hopefully more Massachusetts legislators become aware of international trends of governments’ aims to increase homebirth:

Comparatively, home births are actively encouraged by U.K. governments, and in Edinburgh in particular. Nicola Goodall is an Edinburgh doula who reports that OB/GYNs and midwifes are partnering in an effort to respond to more babies being born than there are hospital units to accommodate them; Goodall said the collective goal is to increase home births by 800%. It’s an ambition that also translates into making midwifery an appealing and accessible profession.

“Midwives are registered here and they work alongside doctors and hospitals,” Goodall said. “All women giving birth in the UK get midwifery care, but they may get it alongside doctors if they have a special need (such as) a medical problem like diabetes.”

I read recently that South Australia had similar goals in the “Women’s Health Action Plan Initiative.”

23 August 2008 at 7:17 am Leave a comment

Wall Street Journal Article

The Wall Street Journal published an article earlier this month about the relationship between birth trauma and stress disorder, stating, “Maternity-care providers say the increase in the number of medical obstetric procedures in labor and delivery, like Caesarean sections and premature births, could be contributing to PTSD” (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). The article was focused more on the specific treatment of these women after trauma than the causes of the trauma, but both would have lent well to a discussion of the midwifery model of care and its potential both to help avoid cases of PTSD and to heal those who have experienced it.

As someone who experienced a natural second birth with a midwife after a traumatic emergency c-section with my first child, I kept waiting for the next paragraph of the article to mention the role of midwifery and natural birth in the healing process for many of these women. PTSD is a very real, very serious illness that often needs medical treatment, and each case comes with its own complexities. The potential that natural birth has to heal past trauma and help a woman “unlearn” her fear, however, is undeniable. Perhaps we will see another article soon about the role of midwifery care, when appropriate, in the healing process for women who experience birth trauma; There is no doubt that the unquestioning belief that my midwife had in my body and in me and the constant and genuine care that she gave were the very things that eventually allowed for the peaceful, natural, and empowering birth of my daughter. And perhaps one day we will see an article on the role of midwifery care and natural birth in the reduction of birth-related cases of PTSD. While midwifery was never mentioned in this article, it sang in the spaces in-between from start to finish.

21 August 2008 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment

News from the Big Push

The most recent newsletter from the Big Push mentioned our lobbying efforts:


Perhaps not victory in the legislative sense, but the folks in Massachusetts found their power as they withstood the full, gale force of the AMA and ACOG:

“While last night’s result was not what we hoped for, we have laid the groundwork to come back even stronger and more effectively this fall. We may have lost the battle, but we went down fighting. And to paraphrase the words of that quixotic cyborg … We’ll be back.”

The newsletter featured many fantastic links of interest to all MFOM members. It also includes a link to an online petition to preserve the right to home birth. You can sign up for these newsletters by emailing

21 August 2008 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

JP Birth Circle Afterglow

(Author’s note: I meant to post this Monday night after the gathering, while I was still all warm and mushy from the discussion, but it had been a long day in toddlerland before that, so my apologies for the less gushy sounding reportback. xoxo, blc)

Monday night we hosted a Birth Circle Meeting at the Connolly Library on Centre Ave in Jamaica Plain. We had a small turnout — 2 MFOM members, 3 moms, and one CPM-in-training — but an excellent discussion. One of the moms brought her *beautiful* 4 wk old homebirthed daughter! And another was talking about the homebirth she has planned for November. It was great fun talking with new mamas and a mama-to-be about the early months of parenting. It was also wonderful to get to talk to candidly about homebirthing and natural birth and our thoughts and even frustrations with the current medical system. And even though I’m an “experienced” mama with an 18 month old toddler, there was as much for me to learn from everyone else as there was for me to offer.

I know that it sometimes hard to get motivated to get out to a meeting in the evening, particularly when you are feeling tired and/or when you have to have someone watch the kid(s), but if you haven’t made it to a Birth Circle in your area yet, I do highly recommend it! I came home feeling so refreshed and excited! I don’t think we get to talk enough about birth in our culture or get to share enough with each other about our birth and pre- and post-partum experiences! Even if you aren’t planning to give birth any time soon, there really is something wonderful in these discussions for everyone.

Hope to see you at the next one!

20 August 2008 at 10:09 am 1 comment

Have You Given Birth in the Last Three Years?


newborn on bed

A beautiful Massachusettts home birth


For years, consumers have enthusiastically shared online reviews of movies, restaurants, products and services, but readily available information about maternity care services was nearly unattainable—but no longer. The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) has developed The Birth Survey, a consumer feedback website where women provide information about the maternity care they received from specific doctors, midwives, hospitals, and birth centers. Families choosing where and with whom to birth can utilize this consumer feedback, along with data on hospital and birth center standard practices and intervention rates, to make more informed health care choices.

Take the survey now!

17 August 2008 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

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