Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ringing in the New

The year is almost over. This year has been full of new studies promoting the safety of homebirth. It has been full of ACOG and the AMA fighting against midwives. The cesarean rate continues to climb and women all over are being denied any choice in how their babies will be born.

As they say, it is always darkest before the dawn. If women are going to be able to have any say at all in how they give birth, they must continue to speak up. Ask questions. Don't accept condescending answers. You're the one hiring the doctor, not the other way around. They work for YOU.

I was reading on the My OB Said What? site and today they posted a response where the OB told the laboring mother "You wouldn't tell a pilot how to fly a plane, would you?" I'd like to turn that right around on them. What gives them the authority to tell a woman she must lay on her back with her legs in the air and push uphill? Women's bodies are designed to give birth. If we listen to what our bodies tell us, most of us will end up in positions that work WITH gravity, not AGAINST it. Women should be piloting their births... the doctor can't tell when a woman's body is urging her to rock her hips back and forth or when she needs to stand and lean on something.

Let's make 2010 the year of the Birthing Mother. Let's help women get the autonomy they need for healthy births and healthy babies!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Virtual Birth Art Gallery

I have been privileged to have a couple pieces of my birth art added to Rachel Leavitt's Journey of Birth blog. She has put together a wonderful virtual gallery of artwork that speaks volumes about the journey of pregnancy and birth. Visit her blog here: Journey of Birth. Thanks for the invitation, Rachel! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I am experiencing fluctuations in my cycle now. It is inevitable... I'm on the far side of 45. I am still recording my temperatures every morning, watching the inevitable change that will happen.

It makes me profoundly sad.

Yeah, I know it is a normal part of life... I don't have a problem with that. I am profoundly sad that I will never feel another butterfly flutter inside. I am sad that I won't ever be able to see my belly grow and ripen with the progression of a baby. I am sad that I won't get kicked in the ribs again... from the inside. I am sad that I won't ever feel those overwhelming surges that propel that baby out of my uterus and into my arms. I am sad that I won't ever ease a baby out again and cuddle them, all covered in birth goo. I'll never see those newborn eyes staring into mine for the first time.

Pregnancy and childbirth has been a big part of how I defined myself as a person. I'm good at being pregnant. I'm good at giving birth. I'm good at nurturing babies. Who will I be now that I can't do that?

I admit that part of me is ready to move on... my youngest is almost three. I've been breastfeeding for more than 18 years. That part of me is ready to move from mother to wise woman. But so much of me is not. Guess this is just a part of the journey. I will let my instincts lead me through it, as I have learned to trust them through mothering.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2 Year Old Helps with Sibling's Birth

In a news story that is making the rounds on Facebook, little 2 year old Jeremiah Favazza helped his mother while she birthed his new brother at home. No one else was in attendance. His mother, Bobbye, was expecting to have her 4th cesarean section for this baby. Both mom and baby are healthy and fine.

I don't find this amazing in and of itself. What I find amazing is that everyone thinks this is a miracle. Small children handle birth very well. At several of my births, I've had a 2yo sitting right alongside me... calm, cool and collected. Sometimes they moaned with me. Sometimes they held my hand. They were always fascinated.

This woman experienced a healthy birth after three cesareans! Now she knows she is not relegated to surgical birth. Her uterus won't rupture. Her labor will progress. Her cervix will dilate and she will be able to push a baby out on her own. This is a wonderful thing.

Women need to know that they are strong enough to give birth. They need to know that the chances of their uterus rupturing during a natural labor are miniscule. They need to know that birth works.

Congratulations to Mrs. Favazza and kudos to little Jeremiah for helping his little brother come earthside. This is an experience that we all should have as children. Giving birth is a natural bodily function. Women are strong enough to birth. These are things we should all grow up knowing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lynsee's Birth on the Internet

A woman in Minnesota, Lynsee, decided to broadcast her birth live on the internet. When I heard she was in labor, I tuned in to see what would happen. Since I hadn't heard much about her plans beforehand, I was surprised to see she was in the hospital. I certainly didn't expect that any hospital would give permission for their procedures to be filmed.

She labored well for the most part. She used the shower, the tub and the birth ball. She leaned on her husband. All of these are fabulous techniques for handling labor. Lynsee seemed to be handling the contractions well. My sound quality was bad, so I could not hear most of what was said, but it seemed that she was doing really well in her quest for a natural birth.

Suddenly, she was getting an epidural. I didn't understand why... she was doing so well. I have read the comments of others that when she was in transition and mentioning that she "just couldn't do this anymore" they offered the epidural. This is such a common phrase for women to utter in transition! Why didn't anyone tell her how close she was? Why didn't anyone support her through what would be the briefest part of labor?

Once the epidural was placed, the whole energy in the room changed. The caption running beneath the picture announced she was at 10 cm and would soon be pushing for a long time before they actually had her doing anything. No one seemed to be in a rush to get started.

For what it is worth, Lynsee seemed to push very well. The baby was born quickly. I tuned out after a few photos were taken because I felt this was a special time between baby and parents. From what I have heard from posted comments is that it took quite awhile for baby to be put to the breast and she was getting a bit frustrated. Poor little one!

The positive things: Lynsee was able to labor actively until she got the epidural. She handled the contractions very well. She pushed effectively and she got a vaginal birth.

The negative things: Lynsee obviously didn't get the support she needed to get through transition. She and baby seemed disconnected from each other after the birth.

Lynsee, thank you for streaming your birth. I hope viewers learned a lot. Congratulations on the birth of your little girl. I hope you and your husband enjoy your new parenthood and that your daughter flourishes.

The best advice I can give you is to follow your instincts. Don't follow schedules for feeding your baby. Spend as much time with her in your arms as possible. Babies thrive on touch.

If you have another child in the future, I hope you can find the support you need to continue through labor. You were so close! You handled those contractions so very well! You should be proud of what you accomplished. If I could be your doula or midwife, I would let you know that those feelings you had were normal. That they are a sign of progress and that labor wouldn't last too much longer. I would try to give you more strength to help you have the birth that you wanted for yourself and your baby.

I hope your breastfeeding relationship with your daughter is long and successful. You are a brave soul to put your experience out there for all of us to judge. Thank you.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Art of Childbirth

The Art of Childbirth is a two day art exhibit at the Cabell County Public Library, located 455 9th St. Huntington, WV. The exhibit will run November 19th and 20th in Meeting Room #2, on the 3rd floor of the library. The exhibition will be open from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm both days. Admission is free.

The art will bring out the beauty and emotions of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by and take a look.

Oh, and some of my artwork will be on display. :)

I'm very proud of myself for being so cool and calm here, aren't you? In reality I'm jumping up and down because this is my very first exhibition! Woohoo! Yes, it's true... some of my own birth art will be flying through the postal service this week to hang in good company with other works depicting the beauty of birth. If you can't make it to the exhibition, my art is on display online at :) By the way, I do take commissions as time allows. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Infant Circumcision... What Happens to those Foreskins?

I just read this article on Dr Momma's blog... in it she traces some of the uses that circumcised foreskins are put to. Some are used to grow skin cultures that will be used for skin grafts. Some are used to make cosmetics. Did she really say cosmetics? Yes, she did. In fact, she goes in depth about how one very expensive skin cream advertised by Oprah Winfrey uses them. Oprah is silent on the issue.

I had heard rumors of infant foreskins being sold for use in cosmetics, but I never took the time to do the research myself. With the growing controversy about circumcision, it is no wonder that suddenly the CDC is promoting the practice again. Heaven forbid that parents actually want to keep their sons intact and that these cosmetic companies can't make their products!

When I was pregnant with my first child, I hoped and prayed for a girl so I wouldn't have to decide about this whole circumcision thing. I didn't really understand it all... they gave us literature in our childbirth class about it. I read it and reread it... it made sense to leave the baby alone, but it was such a prevalent practice that the whole issue was like taking a leap of faith. Luckily, my first child was a girl. Whew! I could table that issue until another time...

My second child was a boy. My inlaws offered to pay for the circumcision if we wanted, since funds were limited. Our pediatrician was willing to do the procedure in his office once my son was two weeks old. By that time, I had made up my mind. Our daughter had a wonderful, pain free start to life. Why shouldn't my son? Why should he have to experience pain every time he urinated? Why should he be strapped down and have this most sensitive of tissues cut off? At the time my son was born, many of these procedures were still being done without anesthesia... babies can't feel pain, right? Riiiiiggghhhhtt. I turned down my inlaws' offer and kept my son as he was meant to be. Maybe I got to this decision via a different route than some, but I've never looked back. When my others sons were born, circumcision was not even an option in my mind.

What about those parents who don't have the luxury I had? Most circumcisions are still done in the hospital before the baby is discharged. I wanted to cry when I changed my newborn nephew's diaper and saw the raw red flesh and the wound from the procedure on his little penis. How could anyone do this to a helpless little boy and feel good about it? I think that most parents don't think about the consequences. The baby is taken for circumcision so quickly after being born that most haven't even had time to really get to know their sons and their personalities. I had two wonderful weeks of getting to know my son... I could not let him be hurt. There was no argument strong enough for me to take him in and let them do unnecessary surgery on him.

So, even if a person is pro circumcision (something that I can't even fathom), how can they pay for a procedure to be done to their infant, and then let that body part be sold off to another company that uses it to harvest cells that are put into expensive cosmetics for rich women to smear on their faces? How can those women pay so much for cream containing the ingredients made from infant parts and knowingly use it? I don't know these answers. They baffle me.

They say that a single foreskin can be worth up to $100,000... you can bet that little boy never sees a penny of it for his contribution that he never even consented to. His parents don't see any of it either. How can this continue to happen? Protect your boys... they don't deserve to get the most sensitive area of their body lopped off so he'll "look like Dad." Say no to circumcision.

NOTE: For those who don't know what is involved in a circumcision, check out this description at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Docs Banning Doulas & Birth Plans... What's Next?

When I saw this I just hated to see that this is happening. This arrived on my Facebook page the same day as a notice about a woman who received a letter from her OB giving her HIS birth plan for HER birth. It was very similar in tone. When I first became a doula fifteen years ago, it was sometimes awkward to try and do your job around the OBs and hospital staff. Doulas were a new concept then for most hospitals, and none of us really knew where we stood.

As the years have gone by, doulas made their own niche, serving women who needed extra support. I never did understand the whole advocacy thing... if we spoke up, we ran the risk of being kicked out and then our client would be without the support they paid for.

I am no longer a doula. As much as I loved helping families welcome their new babies, it wasn't feasible to be gone at any hour on short notice with my own growing family. Once I had my homebirths, the hospital environment was very difficult for me to endure. I know that women in the hospitals need the help of doulas more than ever... and I admire those women who can see women being forced into the situations the sign above insinuates and still do their best for their clients. It takes a lot of grit and determination.

Birth plans have always been ignored... if you had an OB who not only read your birth plan but tried to abide by it... you are one lucky woman! While we all diligently wrote out our birth plans, fully believing they would be honored, one by one we have all become cynical as our plans were derailed, one by one.

We have fought long and hard to bring the ability for women to choose their birth experience and to bring their babies gently into the world if they so choose. Now the docs are fighting back by banning things like opting not to have an episiotomy or to have another support person in the room. Some hospitals are taking the chance with the CDC's recommendation of as few people as possible in the maternity ward during this H1N1 flu panic to ban doulas as well.

We need to step up and keep fighting. They are eroding our choices. No VBACs, no doulas, no birth plans. I say we keep fighting to have the births we want without interference. Why should we care about their time schedule? Babies come when they are ready and take as long as they need during labor. We owe it to ourselves, our babies and our daughters who will be birthing some day to make birth all it can be... as Harriette Hartigan so elegantly put it, "Birth is as Safe as Life Gets."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ICAN Needs Cases of Insurance Discrimination

Last Thursday, Peggy Robertson of Colorado testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee about being discriminated against by her insurance company. Her story can be found at the ICAN website:

According to the ICAN press release, Mrs. Robertson was not only rejected for coverage because she had previously had a cesarean section, she was told in a letter that the only way they would give her coverage was if she consented to sterilization.

With the percentage of pregnant women who give birth via cesarean section rising to almost 33%, using a cesarean as a "pre-existing" condition is setting up a third of American women to be uninsured in the future. More and more hospitals are not offering VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) as a choice to women. Page Hospital in AZ was the most recent one in the news that threatened a VBAC mother with a court ordered cesarean if she did not consent, even though she had had a successful VBAC for her last birth. This mother has decided to travel hundreds of miles in order to get her VBAC. This shouldn't happen, either.

If you have stories of insurance discrimination based on previous cesarean, send them to ICAN. The Senate committee wants to investigate this issue.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Change of Seasons

As we are preparing for winter (autumn just began, yet we are having freezing weather already)I am reminded of preparing for birth. We are blocking drafts and gathering in the last from the garden. When one prepares for birth one blocks fears and gathers their feelings in preparation. One must be prepared to meet the new baby... a new soul who is making their journey onto this plane with heart and mind open.

As pregnancy reaches its end, the ripeness of the body leads to the mind turning inward. Like summer ending, the plants must begin their journey inward to sleep through winter. A mother must turn inward so she can tune into the coming labor and the baby's arrival.

Once baby has arrived, she should be able to spend her time getting to know her baby. A cocoon should envelop them into a protected space while they get to know each other's rhythms and personalities. This is like closing yourself in for winter, secure against the storms that rage outside the door.

Protect yourself and your little one from the outside world for a while... spend those first few precious weeks together, locked away from the hustle and bustle of visitors, shopping and the world at large. Emerge together into the "spring" when you are ready.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Organic Birth Summer 2009 Issue

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reiki and Birth Trauma

Many of us birth under less than ideal circumstances. Some of us suffer terribly at the hands of "care givers" who don't see us as intelligent adults who can make our own decisions. We are mere vessels to manipulate until a child is extracted. Women who end up with these experiences often carry the emotional scars of these experiences forward with them and they color everything in their lives. When these women are expecting another child, these feelings may come to the forefront again and cause fear around the impending birth.

Reiki can help. With a compassionate ear and reiki flowing, the practitioner offers no judgments as a mother tells her story. Reiki is a smart, healing energy. It goes where it is needed. It brings release and healing. Within a few sessions, a mother to be can be better prepared to accept her next labor challenge, having let go of the traumatic emotions associated with her last birth. All that is left are memories and an acceptance of the past.

Does it sound too good to be true? It's not. Some women can resolve their issue with only a few sessions. Others need several sessions that may run from 30 to 60 minutes or more. In between sessions, she processes the thoughts and feelings that each session brings up.

I can do these sessions in person or over the phone for those not close enough to come in person. I offer a sliding scale so everyone can get assistance with these painful issues, no matter what their circumstances. If you want to know more about this service, post a comment and I will be in touch.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reducing Infant Mortality

Reducing Infant Mortality from Debby Takikawa on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pit to Distress

Oh my. I have been reading on Facebook recently about a hospital procedure known as "Pit to Distress." What this means is that pitocin is administered to a laboring woman in a maximum dose in order to distress the baby so they can move to cesarean. While we all had our nightmare scenarios, this one appears to be real. Several nurses have blogged about it, as well as Jill at Unnecesarean.

I have spent a lot of time ruminating about this over the past week or two, and I am still flabbergasted that obstetricians get away with this kind of behavior... even occasionally. If a midwife did something so reckless, they would be hauled into court and they would never practice again. Why should obstetricians be free to cause distress to an unborn baby in order to perform surgery? What harm are they potentially causing to the baby? What about the mother, who's uterus may become hyperstimulated or even rupture? What if, due to this practice, she loses her uterus and her potential to have more children? Who holds these obstetricians responsible?

Now, I obviously realize that there are some excellent OBs out there who would never consider doing such a thing. But the fact that even one can get away with doing this repeatedly puts mothers and babies at risk. How do they not lose their license? How can they still attract patients? How can they still have privileges at the hospital? Who do we lobby to change this? ACOG posts their guidelines, but obviously the docs do what they want (look at VBAC...).

Our maternity system needs a major overhaul... thank goodness there are some nurses out there who do what they can to keep as many women from experiencing Pit to Distress as much as possible. When a woman checks into the hospital... she trusts that she is in good hands. Obviously, this is not always the case.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Homebirth at Risk in Australia

This video is just a few of the homebirthing families in Australia who don't want homebirth midwives outlawed. Show your support for homebirth.

~We Love Homebirth~

Monday, June 15, 2009

Circumcision: Echoes in the Body

By Jeane Rhodes, Ph.D.
Recently, I completed a doctoral research project in which I investigated the possible link between the way children do selected yoga postures for the first time and their individual birth experiences. The body language of 22 children, five to nine years old, was carefully videotaped and analyzed. To learn about the children’s birth experiences I interviewed the parents. After analysis of the data, I was able to identify specific elements in the performance of the yoga postures that could be perceived as clues to the child’s prenatal and birth experience.�
In the course of this research, I made an unexpected observation related to male circumcision. It can only be considered preliminary at this point, as the study was not designed to focus on this issue, and, had it not been so evident in this small sample, I probably would not have noticed it. Asking about circumcision had not been on my original list of questions for the interview with parents. Fortunately, the first father interviewed mentioned it, so I included a question about circumcision for all of the boys in the study.
What I observed was that the seven boys in the study who had been circumcised did not place their hips on the floor when doing an abdominal-lying-arch posture (the “cobra” pose for those of you familiar with yoga postures). In contrast, the two boys in the study who had not been circumcised did it easily.
When I mentioned this observation to a colleague who is a body-worker, she said she had noticed that her clients who had been circumcised were much more rigid in the pelvic area than those who had not been cir-cumcised. If this very preliminary observation is confirmed, it would be coherent with a recent finding on the long-term effect of circumcision on pain tolerance. A team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario (1995) studied the pain responses of children having routine vaccinations four to six months after birth. They discovered that boys circumcised as infants had higher behavioral pain scores and cried longer.

Cobra Pose

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Homebirthing Days

My husband wrote this yesterday. It is an adaptation of the St. Crispin's Day speech from Shakespeare's Henry V. It is dedicated to homebirthers everywhere:

These days shall be called the feast of Homebirthing Days. They that live these days, and have safe homebirths will stand tall when these days are named, and be roused at the name of Homebirthing Days.

They that shall be there on those days, and see old age will yearly on the vigil feast with their neighbors, and say, "Tomorrow is my child's homebirthing day!" Then will grab their children into their loving arms and say, "these children I helped deliver on homebirthing days."

Old men and women may forget, yet all shall be forgot, but we'll remember with advantages what feats we did perform that day! Then shall their names, familiar in our mouths as household words and gods... Midwives, doulas, Mothers and they the Fathers themselves will be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. These stories the good people shall teach their sons and daughters, and Homebirthing Days shall never go by, from this day to the ending of the world.

But we in it shall be remembered... We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters. And gentle people in their bed shall think themselves accursed that they were not there, and will hold their lives cheap to those of us who stood vigil upon Homebirthing days!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Debunking Myths about Child Nudity

I came across this on Facebook. I got permission from Paul to share it. I think it is important to know the difference between nudity and pornography. Heck, I have an old disposable camera I can never get developed because there are birth pictures on it, and I was flat out told at the film counter at Walmart that if there was nudity, they would keep it and report it. Ask yourself... how far is too far? If we can't document the births of our children the way we want... if we can't record those precious moments when little Penny or Georgie strip down outside and step in the wading pool because it is one of those moments that we all treasure as parents... how far does it go?

YouTube has already removed many of the birth videos that have been posted. Facebook has the big controversy over breastfeeding photos. How far will we let it go?

Paul Rapoport, National Post
Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Last July in this newspaper, I described what I now call Acts I and II of a sorry controversy in Australia. It raged over photographs of naked minors by Bill Henson and Polixeni Papapetrou, both well-known artists. Photos that had been exhibited with no problems before were now claimed to exemplify sexual exploitation, child pornography and the downfall of all children's innocence. Those fears were expressed loudly. The evidence justifying them was absent.

One positive outcome in the controversy was a decision of Australia's Classification Board. Refusing to bow to political demands for censorship, it upheld the suitability of the attacked images.

Nonetheless, the whole drama hammered artists, galleries and publications. In a later act, the Australia Council, a granting agency somewhat like the Canada Council, imposed regulations that stifled all art involving children. Papapetrou explained, "I have to apply for a police check and then get special government permission on each occasion before I make pictures [of children]." And that has nothing to do with nudity.

The council is presuming that artists dealing with nudity of minors are child sexual abusers. With that perverse attitude, we would never have had the American Nick Ut's prize-winning photo (from 1972) of a nine-year-old girl escaping a napalm attack in Vietnam, nor the Canadian Paul Peel's iconic painting (from 1890), After the Bath. Neither Henson nor Papapetrou would have become known internationally.

This issue is hardly confined to Australia. Early this year, upon learning of an American photographic exhibition, one person launched a smear campaign against it wherever it was scheduled to appear.

His target was "The Century Project," by Frank Cordelle, a series of nude photographic portraits of girls and women, with important texts about each. It had been exhibited at universities and colleges in North America for 17 consecutive years, to high praise from psychiatrists, social workers and many others. That has included three successful visits to Canada.

One school ignored the complainer. But his false claim that all photos of female nudity are harmful pornography came in handy to officials elsewhere. For its exhibition at one university in March, an administrator banned all The Century Project's photos of girls under 18. Another school moved the project's exhibition to where fewer people would see it. A third cancelled it outright.

This censorship also had its bright side. The administrator who banned the girls' photos was unable to justify his authoritarian decision or cover up his false statements. He was forced to resign. But there was no real joy in this saga either. That people demand extreme censorship based on myths about children and nudity remains a serious problem.

The prime myth is that all photographs of child nudity are illegal. This is no longer in the background but considered a specific "fact." In early April, Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post left no doubt: "Nude photos of minors --- even if the minor is you --- are child pornography."

Not only is there no basis for that absurdity in jurisprudence in North America, it maligns family snapshots as well as photos in the arts, medicine or naturism; and it declares the sole purpose of a lack of clothes to be immoral, harmful sexuality.

Another myth: Sexual predation is an epidemic. Curiously, one major research centre in the U. S. states that between 1992 and 2006, substantiated child sexual abuse there declined by more than 50%. That suggestive detail accompanies the rapid rise of the Internet, with all its assumed dangers.

Repeatedly, researchers have tried to show that photos of nudity increase sex crimes in the general population. All reputable attempts have failed.

Still we make false universal connections between photos and child abuse, when, as the art historian Anne Higonnet points out, the indicators of the latter are often single parenthood, poverty and substance abuse. We encourage sexist beauty pageants that sexualize young girls while we vilify their non-sexualized unclothed portraits in a project with proven therapeutic value. We engage in abstinence-led sex education despite convincing evidence that it doesn't work. How could all this hypocrisy and shallowness produce anything but bad results?

The therapist and writer Marty Klein refers to these myths as propaganda from "the vampires of the sexual disaster industry." The war over bodies and sexuality is indeed an extended horror show. Those producing it may know that controlling bodies by shame and guilt is a powerful mechanism to dominate and manipulate people in many aspects of their lives.

There are implications in all this for the current concern over "sexting" --- teenagers using cellphones to take or transmit electronic images of themselves nude or partly dressed. Notwithstanding problems in this activity irrelevant to photographic exhibitions or publications, we hear the same myths about children. "Pornography!" is the cry here, too, although we rarely get adequate reports of the photos. Many in the media also report as if all child nudity entails catastrophic sexual misconduct.

For sexting, law enforcers in several states have been quick to bring charges of possession of child porn, mostly against female self-photographers. Ostensibly wanting to protect a girl as victim, they make her the perpetrator as well, and threaten her with prison time and sex offender status for decades.

Fortunately, in one recent instance of supposed sexting in Pennsylvania, a prosecutor was stopped from threatening child porn charges against girls who refused to submit to his spiteful corrections program when they had done nothing illegal.

Yet who really wins in all these confrontations? Pertinent is the answer of Robert Nelson, an Australian art critic and historian, and husband of Polixeni Papapetrou: "We are in a most unfortunate predicament where everyone is a loser." That includes children. They are more anxious and insecure about their bodies than ever.

The guise of protecting children that does no such thing may be defeated only by massive re-education about the body and sexuality. We may take heart in those brave artists, educators and others who point out not only our folly but ways to overcome it. We could start by recognizing that groundless fearful imaginings, while understandable, are awfully poor bases for any policy, including censorship.


Paul Rapoport is professor emeritus in the School of the Arts at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., editor of the magazine Going Natural / Au naturel and a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! As the year has turned once again to this sunny day in May, I want to thank all the mothers out there. You know who you are. Those unafraid of wiping snotty noses, changing diapers that could double as nuclear waste, and will hold a sick, feverish child close for hours to make them feel better.

We mothers come in all shapes and sizes; from all walks of life. Some of us work outside the home; some work within it; and others spend all their waking hours chasing children and cleaning up after them. Some of us have older children who attend twenty activities a day. Some of us have grown children with babies of their own. Some of us are still awaiting that miraculous change, when that big baby bump transforms magically into a baby in our arms... and the transformation takes a lot of work on our part.

So have a wondrous, marvelous day... take a few moments to look upon your children and marvel at their existence. They have helped make you who you are today. Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Project Homebirth

Project Homebirth is a new film project we are undertaking. We would like to invite anyone who has a perspective on homebirth to participate. We want to hear from moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, midwives and anyone else who has felt the impact homebirth makes.

Contact me to find out how to send in your video and audio clips. They only need to be a few minutes long. We want to put together a film that gives YOU your voice to tell the world how homebirth has impacted your family, why you chose it in the first place or anything else you would like to share.

Find out more about our project at

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I started another blog over on wordpress, thinking it had more features to use. After playing with it, I'm not so sure. I will keep both going for awhile and see which one I like best. :)

If you are on one or the other, please give me your opinions! Thanks!

Can you believe someone already took Organic Birth over there? And they haven't posted a single thing! :P

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cesarean Awareness & Personhood Laws

April is Cesarean Awareness Month. Because of that, I think it is the perfect time to talk about these personhood laws being promoted by Personhood USA. They currently have bills being presented in five states. These bills would give full rights to the fetus from the moment of conception. While that may not sound bad if you are pro-life, what they don't tell you is that the rights of the fetus then supersede the rights of the mother.

What this means for every pregnant woman is that a doctor or hospital can decide that you are making decisions for care that they do not agree with and can force you to have a cesarean. One woman in the video below was arrested at home while she was in labor because she wanted a VBAC. She was forcibly taken to the hospital and given a cesarean against her consent. She went on to have three successful VBACs at home later, proving the safety of VBAC and the integrity of her uterus.

Another woman was terminal. She wanted her husband to keep her alive as long as possible. The hospital decided it was against the baby's interest to do so and subjected her to a cesarean that neither she or the baby survived. Who's best interest was served here? Not the woman's... not the baby's... and not her family's.

Please... let your legislators know that this type of bill harms ALL pregnant women. If this bill is being presented in your state, actively oppose it. The states currently considering these bills include Montana, North Dakota, Mississippi, South Carolina and Maryland. Using pro-life arguments to undermine and remove the rights of the mother is unjust. These women in the video all wanted to carry their babies to term. They still fell victim to the courts, who ruled that they did not have the right to choose their method of birth or even get a second opinion. They lost the right to make their own medical decisions and to bodily integrity. Please take a stand for the women who give life to these precious babies. We are not just vessels from which to harvest children. Let us make the choices on how our babies enter this world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What No One Tells You About Birth... My Version

We picked up an issue of FitPregnancy recently. Inside was an article entitled "What No One Tells You (But You Need to Know) About Birth. I know this is a mainstream magazine, but sheesh.

Three of the tips mentioned epidurals. Five mentioned cesareans. One mentioned broken blood vessels in her face... from all the purple pushing, no doubt. One mentioned how embarrassed they were that they had a small bowel movement while pushing out the baby. Two mentioned episiotomy.

What do I see wrong with this article? Even though I freely admit I am NOT mainstream in any way, shape or form, I used to be. I admit I had a cesarean. I had two epidurals. I had an episiotomy. I learned my lesson after 4 births of hospital protocols. But I still see problems with this article.

No one mentions doulas as an alternative to an epidural. Studies show that the presence of a doula can reduce the number of epidurals AND cesarean sections because Mom gets the constant, caring support she needs.

While I don't particularly feel comfortable performing bodily functions in front of others either, the whole "eww gross" attitude that we actually have bodily functions bothers me to no end. When will we admit that people actually can smell like people instead of flowery deodorant? When will anyone admit that they pass gas at inopportune times, or that baby helped clean out your bowels on the way out? Not our favorite moments in life, it's true... but it happens frequently. In fact, baby can actually pick up important immunities by passing so close... hmmm. Maybe that's why the vagina is located down there so close to the anus and not up by our belly button?

The fact that 1 in 3 women get cesareans today (or more in some hospitals), and another 1/3 get episiotomies even though studies have shown that episiotomies cause more damage than natural tearing is utterly amazing to me. What is wrong with easing the baby out? Your body will push the baby out whether you actively help or not, and taking a break and breathing through a few pushing contractions can actually give your perineum time to stretch around baby's head. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. They don't call it the "ring of fire" for nothing! However, letting your tissues stretch little by little prevents tearing.

The whole "eww factor" that many people seem to have today really gets to me. What will they do when baby has a messy diaper? When baby throws up what looks like more milk than they've eaten in a week? What will they do when their 4 year old throws up macaroni and cheese in the middle of the night? That last one is sure to get inward groans from me and fighting my own gag reflexes, but they can't help it. They didn't do it on purpose to make your life a living hell. Life is messy. If you're going to have children, it is time to get used to it.

Maybe we need childbirth classes that really teach what will happen in labor. Will people listen and understand?

Here is my version of what you should know before going into labor.

1. It will probably hurt. Some women are lucky and don't feel labor pain... whether this is because of reframing their perception of pain, or just sheer luck... I don't know. Either way, wish I had been them! For most of us... it will involve some intense pain. But it is only for a short time out of your entire life. Drugs will cross the placental barrier and your baby will get the drug just like you. Only your baby is much smaller than you, and they are not getting the baby dose.

2. Being active can actually help you cope with pain! It's true! I've done the beached whale syndrome in labor, and I've walked, rocked on a birth ball, leaned on a wall... anything that even remotely sounded good at the time. It helped! While the contractions were still intense in active labor and transition, I knew they were accomplishing something. I told myself every contraction I went through never had to be experienced again. In the midst of transition with its overwhelming feelings, I told myself that millions of women throughout history had done this exact same thing... and so could I. I could feel the baby moving down, so as uncomfortable as I was, I knew what was happening in my labor and could deal with it.

3. Your water may break before labor, during labor, just before baby is born, or it can be broken after baby is born in rare cases. All are normal. Having someone break your waters in early labor puts you on a clock that will lead to more interference with your labor.

4. You can do this! Women are strong! Our bodies are wondrously designed to bring life into the world. This is an amazing super power that women are blessed with!

5. Purple pushing (where you continue to push hard while someone counts to 10... slowly) is not only exhausting for you, but it deprives your baby of oxygen. There are only a very few instances when you want to push this hard, and they all involve situations when your baby is in distress and needs to be born asap. In a normal labor with a healthy mom and baby, exhaling while you push, shorter pushes and pushing only when you feel the urge will let baby be born gently and you will stretch better instead of tearing. By the way, an episiotomy is like cutting a piece of fabric a few inches with the scissors. Try tearing it before making the cut. Pretty hard to do, isn't it? Now snip it and try to tear it again. It tears all the way down. Your perineum is the same way.

6. Once baby slips out, the pain is miraculously gone. Take the time to get lost in your baby's eyes... smell his or her head, still wet with birth goo. This helps your mothering hormones kick into high gear! Don't let society's "eww factor" come into play. Watch your baby... they will begin to lick and lap at your breast. This is an inborn instinct.

7. If breastfeeding hurts, baby is not latched on correctly! Baby needs to open wide and take in as much of the areola as possible. Their tongue needs to be under the nipple and over their bottom gum line. Don't let them clamp down ON the nipple. The nipple should be taken deep into their mouth along the roof of their mouth.

8. Sleep when baby sleeps! Don't take that precious time and clean the house or update your blog. Get as much rest during your babymoon as possible to get you and your baby off to a good start.

I have a zillion more tips... so more later. :) In the meantime, visit our site, for more tips and advice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stop the Mothers' Act

Congress is currently considering a bill that would make all women undergo screening for their potential to develop postpartum depression. Sounds good on the face of it, doesn't it? In fact, this bill would require many women to be prescribed antidepressants while pregnant. Babies exposed to antidepressants can be born with health problems, and many of them die soon after birth.

Antidepressants can help a lot of people, its true. They can also harm a lot of people, especially pregnant women and their unborn babies. Some women have adverse reactions to antidepressants. They can cause psychotic behavior and suicidal thoughts... the exact symptoms they are supposed to relieve.

Please write to your congressmen and urge them to vote no on the Mothers' Act. Mamas and babies should not be drugged. Pharmaceuticals cannot replace loving support and caring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Midwifery Today Conference

I was lucky enough to attend Friday at the Midwifery Today Conference in Eugene, Oregon. Not only did I get to see familiar faces, but I got to meet new people, learn new skills and have a great time.

We had a small meet up of a few members of the Organic Birth group from Facebook. Not too many people showed up, but there was so much to see and do that I can hardly blame anyone for forgetting.

The general session included talks by Jan Tritten, Mickey Sperlich, Elizabeth Davis, Gail Hart and Penny Simkin. I enjoyed them all, but Gail has a way of getting her point across with humor while being able to underscore the importance.

Some tidbits from the General Session:
Jan Tritten: For every year your last baby is breastfed, you get one more year of protection from diabetes.

Elizabeth Davis: There is nothing normal about birth... it is ecstatic, transforming, extraordinary and orgasmic!

Gail Hart: When a newborn baby is skin to skin with Mom, they have a higher blood saturation and a more stable blood sugar. Babies who are separated from Mom or wrapped tightly in blankets do not fare as well.

Penny and Mickey had terrific talks as well, but they were a bit more complex and technical and hard to quote a quick nugget.

After lunch, I went to Kara Spencer's class on Bodywork for the Pelvis. Kara does craniosacral therapy and massage. This was an interesting class where we learned a lot about how to apply this technique as well as use the rebozo and other techniques to help reposition baby and help labor along.

Next was Massage for Labor and Birth with Elaine Stillerman, Kara Spencer, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos and Naoli Vinaver. This was a terrific class on using acupressure points, massage, the rebozo and all sorts of physical tricks to help a labor along and reposition posterior babies.

I did not attend Dr. Michel Oden't's talk, or the Womb Dancing session. The Tricks of the Trade session was hosted by Gloria Lemay and Gail Hart, two of my favorites. This session was full of laughter, sharing and wonderful tricks to help everything from latching a baby on to emptying a waterbirth pool. It was a joy to be there. Many of the physical tricks we learned were graphically demonstrated... while we all learned much and laughed, I can't help but wonder what the hotel staff thought of all us crazy women. But then, they may be used to it... the conference is held here every other year.

It was a day I won't soon forget. Thank you, Kori, for letting me volunteer so I could get a day at the conference. I look forward to many more in the years to come.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Here's a Chance to Help Yourself and a Family in Need

This is from Carla Hartley, director of Ancient Art Midwifery Institute. She is offering a generous deal on her Introduction to Midwifery Course in order to help out a family facing a medical emergency. If you've thought about learning about midwifery, or maybe you want a refresher, this short course is a terrific option.

From Carla:

One of my daughters in law has a brother who has just been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He has been in the hospital for three weeks already while they try to figure out what is going on with him. It is a very bleak outlook from what I understand and there is little that is known about his condition or the prognosis. He has a wife and two young children. He lost an eye in a paintball accident a few years ago which devastated them financially and now this. I cannot imagine being in that position with no income and no answers about the future, while bills are piling up. I am so concerned for David and Julie and their kids.

I want to raise money to give to them to try to help so I am designating every cent we get from ITM enrollments over the next two months to a fund for them. Will you help me spread the word about Introduction to Midwifery? It is a great deal at the regular price but for this fundraiser, I am going to let people enroll in this 3 – 6 month program for $199 and that includes a download of Helping Hands. It is a great idea for apprentices or for practicing midwives who want a review of some of the info and study techniques.

Complete the form and email to with fundraiser in the subject line
or mail with check payable to carla hartley to 330 N Prospect Ave Redondo Beach, CA 90277.

Please pass this on to EVERYONE you know who might be interested in this bargain.
Thanks so much.....Carla

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spreading the Word

I've been thinking a lot about homebirth. With all the new movies out featuring homebirth like "Business of Being Born," "Orgasmic Birth," and "Pregnant in America," it is becoming front page news.

Instead of just a human interest story about a baby born "too quickly to get to the hospital... luckily they were both checked out by the doctor and are both fine," homebirth is being discussed, dismissed, considered and legally fought for.

This is good.

What else can we do to spread the word? More women need to learn that we are strong. We don't need to be saved from birth. We can birth our own babies.

We certainly don't need to add to the amount of cesarean sections. They can be life-saving, it's true... but does anyone really think that 1/3 of American women CAN'T have a baby without it being cut out of her? Really?

There is so much education to do. I don't really care where a woman chooses to birth. If she wants to be at home, fine. If she wants to be at the hospital, fine. But she should stand a good chance to have a natural birth in the hospital... not just a 2/3 chance.

What about educating the public about eating? Could it be that eating real food instead of the processed stuff we buy in boxes and in drive thrus can be contributing to women being overweight and diabetic? These are two major reasons for cesareans and why we are told "You must birth in the hospital!"

There is so much to do. Please share your ideas by posting comments. I want us to make a difference. I want my children's generation to feel confident in their body's ability to grow and birth their babies.

We need to start spreading the word.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why Women Birth at Home video

Look, I made a video! This is the first one I've made for our website, Will I be the next internet star?? Probably not, but here I am anyway.

The backdrop is a crocheted afghan made by my great-aunt Gustie, in case any of you are into textiles. It is acrylic yarn, first the backdrop was crocheted in panels, which were then stitched together. The sunflower design is cross-stitched onto the single crochet stitches. I don't know when Gustie made this, but my grandparents got it when she died, and then I got it about 10 or 15 years later when my grandmother passed away. That was 17 years ago, so it is beginning to age gracefully.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Public Perceptions of Breastfeeding

I am sharing this wonderful post about public perceptions of breastfeeding. I don't know who wrote it, but the author suggests sharing it if you agree. Thank you, Lennon, for posting this on your blog. I, too felt the need to share this!

Society is so sexualized that they have forgotten what God created our breasts for in the first place. They throw hissy fits over breastfeeding in public and expect us to feed our babies in dirty, stinky bathrooms. So I ask you to judge for yourself, which breasts are offensive here? And I understand some of you won't think ANY of them are offensive. But I am making a point by showing how ridiculous it is that society looks upon scantily clad women in sexy ads as ok, even GREAT, but providing important nourishment and nutrients to your child in public by breastfeeding is offensive, distasteful, disgusting, whatever. Give me your feedback. :)

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Wait... well, this is a bad example. Let's try again...

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Hmmm... just a minute. Surely i can find better ones than these...

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Eh... still not racy enough. I'll check one more time.

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That's better. LOOK AT THAT! I see about an inch of boob! Totally disgusting.

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Ugh! Look at that indecency!! She must be from some third-world country to be exposed like that!!

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Now that's just... There's no words to describe how inappropriate that is. Something needs to be done!!

Now this takes the cake!! How dare they actually put such a disgusting image on the cover of a magazine where teenage boys might see it. This simply must be disposed of ASAP via a shredder, before teenage boys learn what boobs are really for!!

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This just makes me want to vomit!

...but why stop at breastfeeding women? There are boobs everywhere. Beware! If you thought the above photos were offensive, you WILL DEFINITELY be offended by the photos below.

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Not this one though. This was in plain view on newsstands and in mailboxes in 19 countries worldwide!

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Not this one either. This one actually won an award!

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Oh, and i guess this ones fine too, since everyone knows you can't sell jeans without someone being topless.

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or beer, for that matter!

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or sunglasses...

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or movie tickets...

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or CDs... know what? Maybe I'm crazy, but i think that someone mixed up some photos here. The first batch are offensive, but the second batch are just fine and dandy???

people who live in glass bras:
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shouldn't throw stones:
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Which message is healthier?
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Breastfeeding which is medically approved to give HUMANS the best start in life. . . or

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Images that promote STD's, unattainable beauty standards, sexual promiscuity, plastic surgery, and just plain TRUE indecency?

Which would you rather your daughter live up to?

Ifyou think women have the right to breastfeed their children no matter where they are, please re-post this. The least you can do is help some children get the best nutrition they can get. Breastfed babies have lower instances of obesity, asthma, allergies, certain childhood diseases, learning disabilities, and other health problems. For each woman who feels like she shouldn't be breastfeeding right where she is, there is an innocent baby who is losing out. Don't be responsible for any child's health problems. support breastfed babies and their right to eat in public like the rest of us.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Home at Last!

We have just moved into our new home. As most people probably know, moving is an ordeal. Even though we pared down on our belongings using venues like Freecycle, we still had THREE trips with the U-Haul truck. Plus countless trips with our little car, my mom's truck and a few with my stepdad's bigger truck. I didn't think about how much space those few rabbit cages would take up. Whew!

For those of you who read that we entered a contest to win a house... well, the contest was stopped by the state. But thanks to our online friends, we had a huge amount of votes. We get to live in the contest house after all, with an option to buy it. Whee! Thank you to all of you who voted for us.

I spent a week without internet, so that left me time to unpack. Well, almost completely. There are a few discreet boxes still stashed here and there. The kids love it here... we are in the country on an acre. It is sooooo quiet! The cats are climbing all the oak trees, and the rabbits are settled in. On clear nights, it is amazing to see all the stars in the sky. Now if only the cell phone would work while we are on our property... as of this writing, we have to cross the street to get a signal.

I am now getting back into the swing of things online. Keeping up with Facebook, Twitter and writing for the website are definitely on my daily schedule. I have all my midwifery books on a handy shelf behind the couch I work at, and I'm feeling very optimistic about how everything will work out.

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