Friday, December 29, 2006

The importance of birth memories

One of the important topics to cover in childbirth class is the importance of birth memories. It sounds overused but it's true - we never forget the day our babies are born (unless given an amnesiac drug that many of our mothers/grandmothers had).

I am sitting here reflecting on the birth of my oldest - it's his birthday today! I remember my water breaking in a K-Mart parking lot! Going to my doctor's office where it was confirmed and I was sent home! I remember thinking labor was going to be like a marathon, so we went out and carbo loaded (what was I thinking?) at a Pizza place. I remember waiting and waiting for a contraction all day and all night. Never happened. So went to the hospital the next day for the dreaded "pit". I remember trying to bribe the nurse with 10 grand to turn it off - my body over-reacted to it and we went from zero to ten to babe in arms in under 3 hours. I remember walking to the delivery room in between urges to push (I am dating myself I know....even though the walk down the hall seemed overwhelming at the time, it was the best use of gravity!) I remember welcoming Craig and then we did a Leboyer bath - which was popular at the time.

So things have changed - in the US there are very few labor rooms with a mandatory move to the delivery room. It would be rare to find an OB now that would send someone with ruptured membranes home to wait, and Leboyer has been replaced with the importance of immediate skin to skin contact! And the very structured breathing we learned in our Lamaze class has been replaced with the importance of rhythm, ritual and relaxation. We still breathe in labor - but the patterns are less mandated, acknowledging that women will find what works for them. My husband was so worried about breathing "right" that he had a little cheat sheet - at this centimeter you breathe this way. Gone is that performance anxiety, replaced with "check in with your breathing - is it working? Is it relaxing? Have a rhythm?" Now classes focus on so much more than the breathing - it's still a tool but so is a birth ball, hand massage, active positions, use of water, etc. etc.

I am forever grateful to that Lamaze class instructor...I took her out to lunch to see if I wanted to be a Lamaze instructor what would I do. She started me on the path I am that time I had no idea the places it would take me! (high points include creating the Idea Box; travelling to train childbirth educators in Russia, China, Australia, Romania, Korea, and England; serving as the President of Lamaze; and creating Passion for Birth and being connected to people like YOU!)

We must continue our important work to help women have positive memories of their births - so they can reflect back on their experience, feeling that they were treated with respect and kindness, that they were involved with decisions and that they were well supported. If only every woman could reflect on her birth with the feeling that "now I know I can do anything!"

So it's time for me to go make a birthday cake!! (and begin the mandatory re-telling of the story about "on the day that you were born" to my son!)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A-ha Moment #1: Persuasion Not Required

A-ha Moment #1: Persuasion Not Required

So here’s the thing about childbirth classes that teach normal birth: educators don’t have to bend over backward to persuade students that normal birth is the best choice. The facts speak for themselves. It’s that simple.

I remember attending childbirth classes when I was pregnant with my first baby. Each and every class was an epiphany for me. The fog lifted. The lights came on. My path was illuminated. This wonderfully feminine body of mine is designed to gift birth in Mother Nature's perfect way. My pelvis CAN open wide enough to accommodate an infant’s safe passage. My perineum doesn’t NEED to be cut. My biggest allies, I learned, would be time, support, peace and gravity.

What did my instructor do that was so special? Nothing, really. She offered the facts of normal birth. She presented the upsides and downsides of routine hospital interventions. She demonstrated various relaxation techniques. No soapbox tirades bemoaning the medicalized birth practices of our culture. No badmouthing of the hospital “clock,” insensitive OBs or antiquated hospital policies. Just the facts.

I recently observed another series of childbirth classes to fulfill the Lamaze certification requirement. The instructor for this class had a similarly simple approach, and one that I hope to emulate. As I watched Robin lead this class, I noticed the students (all first-time parents) coming to the same realizations I had in my first class. Birth is normal. The facts are that powerful.

But you know what? Ultimately, it’s not my responsibility as an educator to convince anyone of anything. My job will be to help women understand their birth options, the risks, benefits and alternatives. With the power of that knowledge, hopefully these women can make informed choices, and feel confident in their decisions no matter what they are.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Knit a baby hat this week!

Now that you have NOTHING to do this week - grab some needles or a crochet hook and knit a baby hat! And send it to Washington DC by January 2! Why? Save the Children is organizing a Caps to the Capital campaign to improve birth for women and their children. See the beautiful cap that Robin knit at Birth Activist or read more about the Cap project at make a baby hat. No time to write, I've got to finish mine!!

with a passion for birth,

Monday, December 25, 2006

You are passionate about normal birth when....

How do you know when teaching childbirth education or being a birth advocate has become a passion? It happens gradually but you are there when everything you see in a store makes you wonder: "how can I use this in class?" For example while out looking for stocking stuffers this year, I found a panic button coaster. I will add it to my labor support tool belt as another role of the partner. "Help her when she hits the panic button to regain her focus and her power."

A friend illustrated her passion for normal birth when she wrote Christmas eve to share this: At church tonight, I decided Lamaze was really getting to me -- When our minister read the story saying .".. and Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger -- I turned to my daughter and said.... "she should have been holding him skin to skin!"

No matter how you celebrate at this time of year - Hanukkah, Christmas, The Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year - I hope it is filled with laughter, family, friends, and celebration.

I have been truly blessed with amazing people I have had the honor to work with through Passion for Birth. They are some of the most inspirational and thoughtful and wise women. And they know me so well, one surprised me with a new necklace - a circle with Passion stamped into it; another sent a boxful of treats including one ceramic plaque: "Until further notice...celebrate everything". This time of year if you email anyone, you are likely to get an "auto-response about being unable to read your email at this time." I think I need to set up an auto-respone: "until further notice, I am celebrating everything and will respond when I can!"

hug the ones who have touched your life,

Friday, December 22, 2006

Me, in a nutshell

With the mad holiday rush in full swing, I don’t have much time to spare these last couple of days before Christmas. But I wanted to take a few moments to post in introduction.

Hi, I’m Amy. And I’m a pregnancy/birth/baby addict. A certifiable birth junkie, you might say. I’ve been hooked on all things birth since I became pregnant with my first child four years ago. As soon as the second line appeared on my pee stick, I dashed to the bookstore. My first childbirth paperback? The Birth Book, by the wonderful William Sears. I count my lucky stars each and every day for picking that book over all the others that night. Before then, my notions about birth were based solely on the melodramatic frightfests common to mainstream television. Of course I’d be in a hospital bed, on my back, cursing my husband and screaming for the drugs! How else does one give birth?

Well, thanks to Dr. Sears, I soon discovered that birth is not to be feared, pain has a purpose in birth, and a normal, natural birth became my goal.

Fast forward to today. I’m a 32-year-old mother of beautiful boys, a wonderfully supportive husband, and a growing passion to help other women embrace—not fear—the physical, emotional and spiritual transformation that birth offers us. So here I am, starting on my path to become a birth educator. I have much to learn, and I’m overjoyed to be sharing my journey with you.

I’ll be posting more later… after the wrapping paper is cleared away, and my boys, drunk on presents, are passed out in their beds.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Insights into the world of a dynamic childbirth educator to be!

Exciting news! I want to introduce new members of the Passion for Birth blogging team!
Amy Goforth has recently enrolled in Passion for Birth and is starting the steps to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE). She will share her musings, inspirations, Ah-Ha moments and the challenges. My hope is that her experience will show others what the path is like and how it is worth taking! Be sure to check back soon for posts from Amy.
And watch for posts from Robin Weiss who is a PfB trainer, lives fairly close to Amy and is mentoring Amy as she observes her classes, etc!
Check back soon!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Calling all knitters to action!

For those of you who know me, you know that one of my passions is to knit. (not enough time, but...) At the last two Lamaze conferences we have even had knitting circles. My partner in this exploration of the parallels of knitting and birth is my dear friend Harriette Hartigan. Her website is listed in my favorites.

Well, I have just learned about a knitters' action for the sake of babies and birth. Save the Children is sponsoring "Caps to the Capital" This campaign wants to focus on simple things that could be done to support women, babies and famillies. Read more about it: knitting project

Post a comment here if you create a cap and send it off!! Deadline is January 2, 2007!!

Person of the Year

I have only been blogging for a couple weeks and already acknowledged as person of the year! (wink and a smile!) If you haven't seen it, check out what TIME did - named people like all of us as "people of the year" for using or creating content on the world wide web! Take your bow, it's a real honor!

I do feel as childbirth educators we need to embrace the technology! We should be sending class reminders by IM, hosting discussion boards for classes, sending out handouts as email attachments.......and obviously blogging!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Epidural impacts breastfeeding

The internet is "buzzing" about the new epidural study from Australia that shows how epidurals impact breastfeeding. There is a short video clip here from a Canadian news program that is worth checking out: epidural impacts breastfeeding

There is also a click on the page to go to the actual study in the International Breastfeeding Journal. If the URL changes (as may happen over time) go to Canada Global TV and search for epidural and breastfeeding. The reporter is Jennifer Tryon and Dr. Jack Newman makes a cameo.

The URL (if you want to copy directly into your addres bar) is:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Birth in the Media

Robin Weiss sent me this article about a baby born on an airplane flight! At many of the seminars I read the airport birth story....and this reminded me of that:,baby120707.article

Of course she birthed the baby but the reporter commented that she was lucky there was an obstetrician on board. I am assuming most of us realize that baby would have born whether there was an ob or not!!

Tina Cassidy, author of a new book on the history of birth, had a notable artcle published in the Boston Globe - worth reading about the new Listening to Mothers study.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Centerpiece 'ala pelvis!!

Looking for a unique centerpeice for your next holiday function. Be creative. Use those pelvises! Ann Tumblin sent me this picture. Martha was never so creative!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lamaze certification results are posted!

Days like today are always fun! My email inbox is overflowing with "I passed" messages from people who went through Passion for Birth program and took the Lamaze certification exam! Preliminary results were posted on line. I am so proud. I hope everyone takes time to celebrate whether it be with confetti, champagne or chocolate!! The steps required to qualify for the exam and the broad knowledge that is tested are something to be honored. I hope you are all busy adding LCCE to your business cards, email signatures and resumes! Now the real work begins: stomping out boring childbirth classes and building confidence and advocating for normal birth!

with a passion for birth,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Resource and updates

I hope to make this blog a resource for tips and tricks for chldbirth educators as well as a source for what is happening in the world of birth. Recently there was an article in the New Yorker that caused quite a stir. Henci Goer has written a great response in mothering magazine:

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Wonderful World of Blogging

Blogging has been on my list of to-do's for a long time! I actually started this blog a couple years ago - I have deleted all those out-of-date posts for a fresh start!

I wanted to thank my amazing mentor Robin Weiss and point you to her incredible blog at Go there to stay up to date on what action needs to be done or awareness created in the world of birth.

As we go into this busy time of year, remember to take care of yourself...breathe in and breathe out!