Placental encapsulation–yea or nay?

This local placenta encapsulator was recommended to me recently, and as I think about my upcoming homebirth, I’m not yet decided whether to go this route. The squeamish factor that some cite doesn’t bother me, but I am truly terrible at taking pills. Awful. I gag every time. I nearly vomit every third or fourth time. Tylenol caplets? No way, can’t swallow them. Vitamins? Ditto. My mother rolls her eyes at me and asks why I haven’t “grown out of” this; my husband also thinks it’s a crazy put-on behavior, but I just gag and choke, despite attempts with water and applesauce and Jello, you name it. So, personally, I like the idea of placental encapsulation, but I am not at all sure I’d be able to physically get the things down.

Of course, there’s always the placenta smoothie option, but here the squeamish factor does play a role for me–and also for my relatives who will be my post-partum support and might end up making these, at least the first few days.

What about you? Thoughts?


25 August 2011 at 5:15 pm 2 comments

Birth circles, homebirth meet-ups, and other social events

Recently, on a parenting listserv I’m a part of, there have been several pleas for real-life, in-person get-togethers to discuss birth. One mom began by asking if others would be interested in a natural-childbirth-focused discussion group, and the discussion along those lines made me think about the idea of birth circles (I’m not aware of any currently active birth circles in the Boston area at the moment, unfortunately), where women can talk about their birth experiences–natural or “unnatural,” midwife-attended or medically-guided, homebirth or hospital birth–in a non-judgmental environment. Separately, I asked if some people would be interested in having a homebirth-focused meet-up, which could be attended by moms, partners, kids, and indeed whole families interested in homebirth–whether they’ve had a homebirth, attempted homebirth but transferred, are planning a homebirth, or are even vaguely interested in one.

What I think is really interesting about this desire for face-to-face gatherings is that, no surprise, the Web has made more information more readily available to more people than we’ve had in a long time. Clearly, my mother in the 1970s–though she did manage to find a LLL phone number somewhere–did not have access to as much information or sharing of stories as we do today online. But, just as clearly, in previous generations, women did have access to a female-centered community which talked about birth experiences and shared information–my grandmother, who had two children in a railroad flat in a Lower East Side tenement in the 1920s, attended by a midwife, must have talked to other women about birth; her mother, my great-grandmother, who had three (or four? memories are hazy that far back) children at home in a Sicilian peasant village in the 1890s, also attended by a midwife, must have similarly had a community to talk to.

So, no big surprise here–it seems like we still crave that real-life sense of community, especially about important or highly emotional things (and birth, certainly, is both). What about you? Do you have real-life friends or contacts who have had homebirths, or used midwives, or are interested in a midwifery model of birth? Or are you the only one you know, as some moms too often say, outside of whatever online communities and message boards you’ve become a part of?




18 August 2011 at 5:14 pm 1 comment

Homebirths (still) in the news!

This just in from The New York Times–and, shockingly, it’s not even in the “Styles” section, which is normally where they stick all their breastfeeding/natural-birthing articles!


9 August 2011 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Homebirths in the news!

My sweet friend from Brooklyn is featured in this piece–go take a look!


1 August 2011 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Quick links: What I’m reading

I’m waiting on the book Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives from the library, but meanwhile I thought this Lisa Belkin–even though she normally aggravates me–preview (not really a review) of it was intriguing.

Beyond intriguing, into downright uplifting, is this piece about one hospital’s attempts to lower the c-section rate.

For another project–not specifically birth-related, but pertaining to a seminar I taught this spring and am teaching again this fall on women’s studies in the developing world, I came across this discussion of women’s choices–namely, education vs. childbearing.

Finally, oddly related to that, yet also coming from another univerrse entirely (perhaps the universe of the really aggravating), there’s this Erica Jong piece. Uh, yeah, I do proudly “wear one’s baby in a man-distancing sling and breast-feed at all hours so your mate knows your breasts don’t belong to him.” This is not my terminology, obviously–I might say “baby-hugging” instead, but that’s of course the difference in point of view and emphasis here. And, uh, yeah, my breasts do not belong to my “mate,” male or female, but rather to me, and how I choose to use them, for these few short years of my baby’s life when he can take milk and comfort from them, is my own business. Go ahead, read the whole piece and join the aggravation.


20 July 2011 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Great read!

How is this article different from all other mainstream news reports about birth outside of hospitals? Well, it gives the birthing mother agency (even in the title!) and emphasizes her calmness, strength, and innate bodily knowledge. Worth a quick look!


19 July 2011 at 3:18 am Leave a comment

Babies vs. Big Boys

My son is almost three, and a self-proclaimed “BIG BOY!”

We didn’t consciously use that language with him, but he must have picked it up from somewhere, and now uses it constantly: “No, mommy, I put my shoes on by myself–only BIG BOYS can do that!”

He’s still nursing, and he still co-sleeps for at least part of the night, and obviously in so many ways he’s still a baby, and my baby, but it’s undeniable that with a new baby coming (approximately 20 weeks from now), things will change a bit at home. I wonder if he’ll still be insisting on his “big boy” status then, but there’s no way to know, of course.

This weekend, though, we had a few babies over. One of them was just twelve weeks old and very lumpy–not in a bad way, in an “I’m-a-baby-what-else-am-I-supposed-to-d0-but-lie-here?” way–and Marcus was not hugely interested in him. In fact, when hyper and running around roaring like a lion, he roared at the baby, who promptly started screaming, and led me to invent the new rule of “We only roar at people who can walk,” a handy rule I didn’t even know we needed. Another baby was close to 20 weeks and a bit more interested in people and things around her, and Marcus was fascinated by her. He begged and begged to hold her, and after he washed his hands, we let him sit down and I put her in his lap. He oohed and aahed and gently stroked her head. She has really good head control, so she wasn’t quite a floppy little thing, but she’s still tiny, and he was so gentle with her. Another little boy–er, sorry, BIG BOY–of four came over and joined in on the baby love: I really wish someone had gotten a picture of the two of them hugging her and petting her.

So yeah, in short: I don’t know if the “big boy” thing is just a phase, will last continuously, or what, but I’m loving the baby-adoration phase, at least, and hoping that lasts through next year.


14 July 2011 at 8:24 am Leave a comment

Dear friends and supporters of midwifery

As many of you know, the Midwifery Bill, now known as An Act Relative to
Certified Professional Midwives (House Bill 2368 and Senate Bill 1133; same
text) is being heard on Beacon Hill by the MA Joint Committee for Public
Health next Tuesday, 7/19/2011. This bill, when passed, will recognize and
regulate the practice of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). A link to
the text for this bill follows later in this post. As always, a few
prominent medical interest groups (most notably the American Congress of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Massachusetts Medical Society
(MMS) are actively trying to kill this midwifery bill, so we need many
citizens to voice their support NOW for midwifery options.

Please call your MA State Rep. and MA Senator TODAY, next week, or at any
point before next Tuesday, 7/19, letting him/her know that this bill is
important to you. and to urge its passage. With legislators, the squeaky
wheel gets the oil so it’s important that you and any friends and colleagues
you know call in support of this bill. If you only have a minute and don’t
have time to look up your Senator’s or Representative’s direct line, you can
call the main number at the State House and ask to be forwarded to him/her.
The main number at the State House is 617.722.2000.

You can find the name and contact information for your MA Senator and Rep.
as the following link:

Bill text (now known as House Bill 2368 and Senate Bill 1133) is available
by clicking here:

It’s especially important to call if your Representative or Senator is on
the Joint Committee for Public Health. Committee members and their districts
are listed below:

Sen. Chandler (Senate Vice-Chair of Public Health Comm.):

1st Worcester: Berlin, Boylston, Clinton (Pcts. 3-4), Holden, Northborough,
Paxton, Princeton, West Boylston, Worcester (Wds. 1-4, 9-10)

Rep. Lewis (House Vice-Chair of Public Health Comm.)
31st Middlesex: Stoneham (Pcts. 1-2, 4-7), Winchester

Sen. Timilty

Bristol & Norfolk: Attleboro (Wd. 3, Pct B; Wds 4-6), Dover, Foxboro,
Mansfield, Medfield, Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Sharon (Pcts, 1, 4, 5),

Sen. Clark

Middlesex & Essex: Lynnfield, Malden, Melrose (Wds. 1-5), Reading, Stoneham,

Rep. Fallon

33rd Middlesex: Malden (Wd. 2; Wd. 3, Pct 1; Wds. 4-6; Wd 8)

Rep. Balser (bill cosponsor)

12th Middlesex: Newton (Wd. 5, Pcts. 1-3; Wd. 6; Wd 7, Pcts 1, 3-4; Wd 8)

Rep. Sciortino (bill cosponsor)

34th Middlesex: Medford (Wds 4-5; Wd. 7, Pct. 1; Wd. 8, Pct. 2), Somerville
(Wd. 4, Pcts 1-2; Wd. 7)

Rep. Garlick (also on Health Care Financing Committee)

13th Norfolk: Dover, Medfield (Pcts. 1-2), Needham

Rep. Mahoney

13th Worcester: Paxton, Worcester (Wd. 1, Pcts 1-4; Wd. 9; Wd 10, Pct 3)

Rep. Adams

17th Essex: Andover (Pcts. 2-6,9), Lawrence(Wd. D, Pcts. 1-2; Wd E, Pcts. 1,
4), Tewksbury (Pcts. 3, 3A)

Rep. George Ross

2nd Bristol: Attleboro (Wds. 1-2; Wd. 3, Pct. A; Wds. 4-6)

It takes only a minute or two to call, and this will make a big difference.

Here’s a sample script:

Hello! My name is XXX. I’m a constituent of XXXX’s. I’m calling today to
request that Sen./Rep. XXX support An Act Relative to Certified Professional
Midwives (House Bill 2368 and Senate Bill 1133). This bill is being heard
before the Joint Committee for Public Health on July 19th. Thank you for
your support of this important legislation.

(You may be asked for your name again, as well as for your address and/or
phone number).

It’s that simple!

Please call today and help make good birth choices available to all MA women
and their families.

Thanks so much for your support!

Ann Sweeney

Mass. Friends of Midwives!/home.php?sk=group_41256021750

13 July 2011 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment


I remember the first time I felt my baby move in utero in my first pregnancy. I was sitting in a conference and was kind of zoned-out half-listening to the presenter, in a very quiet room, when I noticed something–half a sound, half a hunch–and when I tuned into it, I realized I was feeling the first small bubbles and flutters of movement, sometimes called the “quickening.” When I told my husband, later that night, he was shocked that the term he associated with the “Highlander” movies was also used in this context–I told him of course he had it backwards, and that the movies use the term because of its associations with birth and new life.

Fast-forward three years, and here I am, pregnant with my second. I was looking forward to feeling the first movements immensely, and I was sure I’d recognize them right away. But the same thing happened to me this time around too–I was in a quiet place (in this case, lying in my son’s bed, nursing him to sleep) and was completely surprised by those first lovely flutters. It was also early, close to twelve weeks, when I felt them this time, so I was caught off-guard.

Now I’m 18 weeks along, and I feel the baby move whenever I slow down enough to notice it. If I’m teaching or cooking or walking around, then no, I don’t notice the flutters, but just now–sitting on a bench in the sun catching up on various things on my laptop–I was overwhelmed with the feeling once again.

My midwife says she often finds second-time-around moms feel the baby move at twelve weeks or so, even though “They” say you can’t feel it until later. What’s your experience been?


7 July 2011 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Athlete moms

I just read this article from The New York Times about elite track and field athletes (mainly women) who are combining parenthood and competition. It’s both inspiring and heart-breaking; I can’t imagine trying to run competitively less than three weeks after giving birth, as one athlete says her coach called her and urged her to do. The pressures on the body, and the physical stresses of birth and breastfeeding, are certainly a powerful combination.



29 June 2011 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

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