Archive for September, 2008

Birth…a play

Where can you hear a woman in labor chanting…my body rocks…my body ROCKS…MY BODY ROCKS!  At the play Birth, of course!  It’s just one of the memorable lines in a performance that will keep you engaged from start to finish. 

Each September for the past 3 years, BOLD (Birth On Labor Day) takes place throughout the month in cities across the country and around the globe.  The main event of BOLD is Birth, “a critically-acclaimed documentary-style play that tells the birth stories of eight women, and paints an alarming picture of how low-risk, educated women are giving birth today”.   

In each city, local volunteer organizers bring the play to their community, raising funds for an organization of their choice and raising awareness for the state of maternity care.  It’s an amazing grassroots movement, educating people about the reality of maternity care, how women’s power is being taken from them in many births today and inspiring people to work toward more empowering, mother-centered, mother-friendly maternity care.   

The latest newsletter from BOLD arrived in my inbox the other morning, and I was stuck by a passage from Earth Lande’s feedback about her experience as BOLD San Francisco’s co-organizer.  She wrote:

 “This play has the potential, no the power to dramatically change people. As an actor and a producer of the San Francisco premiere I know how much raw emotion I am holding. We all are…this is the work of this project. Be prepared to hold this space for people who have their whole world shaken to its core. The audience comes in with all its birth baggage & at the end they leave naked and vulnerable. I have a deep appreciation for feeling emotionally naked, it is a time when great change is possible…”

Having seen Birth several times myself and having felt those feelings, I definitely think she hit the nail on the head!  Change IS possible.  Women are educating themselves and are learning they don’t have to accept the status quo of physician-centered births.  But we still have a long way to go, and movements like BOLD will help us get there!

This play is so incredibly powerful and inspirational.   Get out to see it if you have the chance!  In New England, performances of Birth will take place Thursday and Friday at 7pm in Garmany Hall at the Austin Arts Center at Trinity College in Hartford, CT and in Gardiner, ME at on September 26 at 7pm & September 28 at 2pm.  Check out the BOLD website for a full listing of performances in other cities.

18 September 2008 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

Concierge physicians…a bit like home birth midwives

Tonight, Channel 5 of Boston ran a news story about the shortage of Primary Care Providers in the state. They featured Dr. Mark Costa, a Mass General internist who left his Downtown Crossing office to launch a private “concierge” practice out of his home in Newton. His wife, a registered nurse, and he charge a $2,400 annual fee to offer care for an exclusive number of patients  and promise 24 hour access and unrushed visits.

“The patients leave here saying this is the best office visit, or best experience that I’ve had with a doctor ever. Because you’re relaxed and I feel completely listened to and taken care of,” said Costa .

Any woman who has used the services of a certified professional midwife for a pregnancy knows exactly what he is talking about. The midwifery model of care is the original concierge health service. A home birth midwife spends an hour with you at each prenatal visit, talking about all of your concerns about your pregnancy, your diet, your feelings about birth, anything you want, and she is available to you at all hours. You know her, and she knows you.

Dr. Costa claims that even though he had over 2000 patients at his former practice, the insurance companies were pressuring him to take on more, to serve them all even less effectively. By coincidence, I was a former patient in that practice several years ago. I recall a horrible visit when I took a $20 cab ride, too sick to drive, to his office, experiencing the worst virus in recent memory. I was shown to a room where I was left and forgotten about. In my sickly state, I fell asleep on the examining table, woke up an hour later, and still, no one had come to see me, so I just left…for good. 

Anyone who has had the care of a home birth midwife can see how broken our medical system is when they compare the quality of care to HMO offerings, and sadly, like concierge medical practices, women pay thousands of dollars out of pocket  for the privledge of such personal care. I will make an educated guess that the average rate of home birth midwifery services in the Greater Boston area is $4,000.

Medical care disparity is such a problem in this country that I hate to see an increasing trend of elite primary care, but the one upside is that future studies may show better health outcomes for all populations receiving the “midwifery model” of more personal, continuous care.

16 September 2008 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment


(September 11, 2008 – San Francisco) What happens to a mother and child the first few months after birth? From the physiological, emotional and psychological perspective, people are exploring the boundaries between work and motherhood in America.

The current discussion and awareness about what happens when a baby arrives is making national news. According to this week’s front page article in The New York Times, “Fusing Politics with Motherhood in a New Way” (Sept. 8, 2008), Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin stated that she would not take much time off, having returned to work the day after giving birth to her child.

From the award-winning and international producers of “BIRTH” comes “BORN”, a public radio journey about the postpartum experience in contemporary American life looking at the ways in which a woman, a family, society evolve after birth. “BORN” seeks answers to the following question: How do our societal, professional and governmental systems support new mothers and families after a child is born?

“BORN” is nationally distributed by Public Radio International (PRI) and available to public radio stations from September 2008 – September 2009.

With questions of early motherhood and work at the center of today’s public debate, please request “BORN” be aired on your local public radio station.

Find the station closest to you:

To learn more about “BORN” and other projects by THIN AIR MEDIA, please visit:

“BORN” was made possible in part by Organic Valley, Motherlove Herbal Company, gDiapers and Mothering Magazine.

Media Contact: Ahri Golden, co-executive producer
Phone: 312.330.3232  Email:

11 September 2008 at 7:58 pm Leave a comment


Perhaps this is a little personal but, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you again for everyone who has been involved with the fight to get better regulation for midwives in Massachusetts to give women the right to birth with who and where we want. When we lived in Pennsylvania, homebirthing was not really an option for us. While technically a woman in Pennsylvania can give birth anywhere she chooses — unassisted — CPMs could be jailed for practicing midwifery without a license for attending a birth and providing skilled care. All the CNMs in Pittsburgh, where we were living, were associated with a hospital, a private practice where the midwife (mr. midwife, in fact!) caught babies exclusively in the local women’s hospital, or with a free-standing birth center.

Our insurance didn’t cover the birth center until we were about 4-5 months along in the pregnancy, and by then we were feeling rather attached to our midwives at the hospital — and the insurance only covered part of the birth center’s fee, one that we felt we could not quite afford even with the partial coverage.

Our midwives were pretty great at the hospital, but in retrospect, there were a lot of things about the hospital that really impacted the outcome of our birth, even though we had felt we were prepared to deal with them. We are really looking forward to the opportunity to have a homebirth here in Massachusetts the next time(s) around and are so grateful that CPMs will be able to practice in Massachusetts without threat of legal action once the Board of Midwifery legislation passes.

Thanks again everyone, for your dedication to midwifery and a mother’s right to choose how and where she gives birth. It is something that I, for one, will never take for granted.

8 September 2008 at 9:36 pm 1 comment

Help Support the Breastfeeding Promotion Act

Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands already have enacted various laws protecting breastfeeding mothers, but they are not uniform and most are not comprehensive. Ask your congressperson to support the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2007 to provide a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children and their communities healthy!

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2007 includes four provisions:

  • Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace
  • Provides tax incentives for businesses that establish private lactation areas in the workplace
  • Provides for a performance standard to ensure breast pumps are safe and effective
  • Allows breastfeeding equipment and lactation services to be tax-deductible for families

To contact your congressperson, visit the United States Breastfeeding Committee call to action.

2 September 2008 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

Home birth attacks…

Well, we start our back-to-school/back-to-business time of year with some home birth backlash.

Dr. Phil is seeking women who regret their home birth for his show on home births. Dare he ask for women who regret their hospital births? He could devote the rest of his season exclusively for women of that demographic. I can only imagine and fear what type of woman they are seeking to represent the home birth mom. She will look unclean, unhealthy, and uneducated. Feel free to let the producers have a piece of your mind.

And The Big Push lets us know that ACOG has put outlawing home birth midwives on the highest legislative priority:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 1, 2008) In the newest phase of its ongoing effort to deny women the right to choose their maternity care providers and birth settings, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has announced that eliminating access to midwives who specialize in out-of-hospital birth is now the second most important issue on its state legislative agenda. This move puts restricting access to trained midwives ahead of such critical issues as contraceptive equity, ensuring access to emergency contraception, and the prevention and treatment of perinatal HIV/AIDS.

ACOG claims to be an advocate of women’s health and choice, but when it comes to the right to choose to deliver your baby in the privacy of your own home with a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) who is specifically trained to provide the safest care possible, ACOG’s paternalistic colors bleed through,” said Susan M. Jenkins, Legal Counsel for the Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “It is astonishing that an organization that purports to be a champion of women’s healthcare would put a petty turf battle that affects less than one percent of the nation’s childbearing women ahead of pressing issues that have an impact on nearly every woman in this country. If this is not dereliction of duty, I can’t imagine what is.”

We have our work cut out for us to protect the birthing rights of women in Massachusetts!

2 September 2008 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

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September 2008
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