Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Are We All So Afraid?

Want to come to Seattle for a great 1 day workshop April 17? REACHE 09

Why Are We All So Afraid?
Perspectives on How Fear and Risk Impact Birt

Featured Speakers

Hype or Help? The Media and Maternity Care.
Jennifer Block, Author and Journalist

Issues such as home birth, cesarean section, and maternity care in general have been getting more attention in recent months in print media, television, and film, and the amount of information accessible on the web continues to grow. How is modern childbirth being portrayed and how are mothers being portrayed? How does this affect pregnant women's knowledge and attitudes toward birth? Is the information age helping women make more informed choices or making them more fearful?

Balancing Fear and Faith: Risk Estimation in Modern Obstetrics.
Andrew Kotaska, MD, FRCSC

Dr. Kotaska's presentation will include: What is "normal" birth and why is it important to define? The language and the culture of risk. Overestimating obstetrical risk. Industrial versus normal birth. Fear versus faith in modern obstetrics. An interactive question and answer session.

Enhancing Confidence and Reducing Fear

Fear is a stumbling block to many women who are trying to achieve a normal birth. Learn how it affects labor progress and birth outcomes, and discover specific strategies to help clients reduce fears and develop the confidence needed to have a positive, satisfying birth experience.

The Effects of Fear and Risk on Obstetric Practice
Dawn Russell, MD, OB/GYN

Dr. Dawn Russell, MD, OB/GYN at Evergreen Women's Care in Kirkland, Washington. A local OB will speak to how patient and provider fears can affect obstetric practice.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A glimpse into the future....virtual conference

I love having the chance to go to birth-related conferences. It's not always the speakers that are the highlight as I tend to get really bored in power point presentations but it's having the chance to be with so many others who feel the same passion for working with women who are pregnant and their families. It's the discussions in the hallway, it's the laughter and story exchanging. It's those interactive sessions where I walk away with ideas and inspiration I can use right away. It's really hard to describe but I always leave conferences inspired and exhausted.

But with resources becoming limited and travel costs soaring, what does the future hold? Hold onto your hat and watch what some people think is the future - the virtual conference. Wonder if I could teach childbirth classes for Virtualis University?

Virtual Conference

Congrats to the PfB Alumni who are now LCCEs

So with great pride....I announce the folks who attended a Passion for Birth seminar and recently passed the Lamaze certification exam:
* Norma Agron-Perez - Chicago, IL
* Crystal Bourque - Edson, Alberta CANADA
* Julie Brown - East Lansing, MI
* Mihaela Ciocan - Targu Mures, Romania
* Roseanne Ebert - Ridgewood, NJ
* Dana Hoffman-Blustajn - San Francisco, CA
* Carrie Johnsen - Charlotte, NC
* Lisa Ramsey - Reading, UK
* Joyce Riley - Dothan, AL
* Jacqueline Ross - Kittrell, NC
* Angela Simpson - Salisbury, MD
* Trina Viramontes - Bend, OR
* Daniela Vranceanu - Bacau, Romania
* Constance Williams, Kensington, CA
* Chris Winterbottom - Pullman WA

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This will get them talking!

As I get ready to go to the Skagit County Breastfeeding Coalition meeting this morning I love what Sharon Muza New Moon Birth has sent me. The Marin County BF Coalition has created these life size cardboard cutouts of breastfeeding moms and have placed them around their city. They have cards that say "When breastfeeding is accepted, it won’t be noticed."

Read more about it
NBC Bay Area

I think our BF coalition should think about doing something similar, how about yours?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love research?

If you LOVE research, you need to close this window and immediately go to Facebook and sign up for The Family Way group. Debby Amis is a research hound/addict and even though she is really new to Facebook, she already has 4 important studies available there! What a treat. Debby and Jeanne Green are authors of The Family Way book you received at your seminar (if you have gone through PfB.)

Be sure to drop Debby a note and thank her - this is a GREAT resource! Trust me, more will come!

While you are there, if you have attended a PfB workshop, sign up for our Passion for Birth Alumni group. We have started a teaching tip discussion board there.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Time to "toot" our horn

What a treat to get the most recent edition of the American Baby CBE Reporter and see the feature article sharing the wisdom of Barbara Hotelling (a PfB learning facilitator as well as many other claims to fame but she is one of us!) She talks about Understanding FTP.

And it also quotes a Professional Survey of Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators and women between the ages of 16 and 44....

"women who attended a Lamaze class were more satisfied with their birth experience than women who took another kind of class or no class at all...."

"40% of mothers wanted a birth following the six care practices espoused by Lamaze as promoting normal birth..... Women who took Lamaze classes were more likely to have received the six care practices than those who took other kinds of classes or no classes at all."

Now if we could just convince American Baby to adhere to the World Health Organization Code on marketing breastmilk substitutes, maybe we could consider handing out their magazine to pregnant women. But until then, sorry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A book and a radio braodcast

There's a new book that has been circling around that's on my list to read for two good reasons - it's written by a midwife about birth and she is from West Virginia - where I use to live. The Blue Cotton Gown. The author describes the book: " not primarily about birth but about women giving birth to themselves. It is a work of the heart, a story about women in trouble, a celebration of courage and a tribute to all professionals who struggle to survive with their souls intact."

She is speaking on internet radio tomorrow (but it also looks like you can download the podcast after the event)at 8 Pacific time or 11 eastern time (you can do the math!) On The Home Stretch

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Giraffe birth

The birth junkie within ourselves won't be content that the actual birth/plop to the ground is missed but we all will be touched by the "normalcy". (From the time the head emerges until the baby giraffe is out is about 45 minutes according to the commentary and I guess that would be a little long to watch on You Tube) And humans are so worried if the feet come first, imagine if the feet and head came routinely at the same time? (not to mention weighing 100 - 130 lbs!)

Thanks to Katie Bachand who originally sent this on the PALSDoula list.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Being Remarkable!

Being remarkable....that's the key to survival. You need to have people leaving your Childbirth Class chattering, blogging, sharing stories about your classes. I just ordered a couple sets of socks from Little Miss Matched as a reminder to be REMARKABLE. Socks are rather boring but she intentionally sells not a pair but three to a set and they are all different. The result? People talk about them. How often have we complained about loosing the other sock in a pair or getting a hole in one?

So pause for a minute...and think about what you are doing in your next childbirth class that will make you REMARKABLE?

PS I get no $$ for my endorsement of the socks! Maybe if their Google Alert picks this up they will send me a set? That too would be remarkable!

Little Miss Matched

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ms. Tater Head

For those of you who have attended a Passion for Birth seminar, hopefully you will remember the session of "When the Taters Come to Class." We look at group dynamics - individual behaviors as if they are from the Tater Family. The Tater Family have creative names like "Agi-Tater" and Childbirth Educators are obviously "Facili-Taters". And there are many, many more.

So I loved it when I spoke at a conference last fall (NACE - National Association of Childbirth Educators in Australia ) and they had a Costume party and someone came dressed as Ms. Tater Head. I stumbled upon this picture, had a chuckle and decided to share!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Interested in a historical perspective on why discussion is more effective at changing behavior than lecture? As you teach your class and wonder why most may not be making the healthiest choices in regards to their birth...think about this study:

In World War II, the United States was facing a serious shortage of meat. The Committee on Food Habits was charged with figuring out how to keep Americans healthy and eating intestines and kidneys instead of the same meat they’d been accustomed to.

Lewin set up a study which Eliot Aronson writes about in Age of Propaganda. Lewin brought together housewives (who at that time were the chief decisionmakers about food.) He then divided them into two groups:

Group 1 was given a 45-minute lecture, which “emphasized the importance of eating these meats for the war effort. The economic advantages and the health of the meat were stressed. The lecture ended with a testimonial from the speaker about her success in serving intestinal meats to her own family.” 3% of the attendees ended up serving intestinal meats to their families.

Group 2 spent the same amount of time discussing the problem of a meat shortage. Lewin asked them, “Do you think that housewives like yourselves could be persuaded to participate in the intestinal meat program?” The women then discussed how that might happen. Remarkably, 32% of the housewives who had engaged in self-persuasion served their families intestinal meats.”

Think about it. The message has nothing to do with the eating of the meats and has everything to do with how we as childbirth educators structure our classes - do we lecture and tell them what they should do or do we set up discussions where they determine what needs to be done...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monumental Day

As I sit watching this Inauguration Day on TV - I decided to share this DVD in the spirit of it being a political day. Enjoy this look at Old Fat Naked Women for Peace. Hopefully Obama will solve the World Peace issues before the women have to think about getting naked!

The singing group is Righteous Mothers from the state of Washington. I love their song She Chanty and will be going to their concert in Seattle on Mother's Day weekend. To learn more about this group checkout their website: Righteous Mothers

Monday, January 19, 2009

Another book is birthed....

I am so happy to announce the arrival of this book! The author, Robin Weiss, is a dear friend who has introduced me to the world of blogging, twittering, facebook, IMing and so much more. I had so much fun as she was writing this most recent book as I took on the role of her "word count doula." Robin is much more organized than me and had it worked out how many words per day she had to write to stay on track to meet the publisher's deadline. We would be IMing - I'd ask her word count periodically and celebrate at the end of the day when she often met the goal or wrote even more. Now, you have to understand something. In between our IMs I would maybe get one email answered and Robin would reply she just wrote 1,000 words. Most of the time I felt slower than molasses in comparison. (Maybe that's why she has written 7 books and thousands of pages for

I have enjoyed my first skim through of this book. I love books with large, appealing pictures and there are many in this book. I love the extras she has included - the affirmations, the memorable moments, the checklist, the Hot Mama hints with baby data, pregnancy particulars. Talking about options like midwife care, home birth are woven in. And the telling question, would I recommend this book to a friend who was pregnant or a family member? And the answer is a resounding yes! (If you are going to order, consider ordering through our link to Amazon on the right hand side to add a small % to our scholarship fund)

Thanks Robin for another wonderful resource for pregnant women. I am looking forward to being your word count doula again! (sounds better to be a doula than a nag, eh!)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cotton Mother Dolls

I am home after a week traveling to see my folks in their winter getaway on the Alabama coast and spending a few days in Lamaze meetings in a cold (but I am not complaining!) Orlando. A friend sent a link to these hand-made dolls and I thought I would forward them to you. Cotton Mother Dolls

Monday, January 12, 2009

On the road again

I have been working hard to post to this blog almost everyday as a semi-New Year's Resolution but I am on the road and may not be able to post until I get back next week. I am spending time with my family along the Alabama coast and then on to a Lamaze meeting in Orlando. We are staying the same Disney Property that the Lamaze conference will be this fall. Hope you're saving your pennies and frequent flyer miles! Bring your family and stay a few days!

So keep on having fun in your childbirth classes. Be innovative.

Ponder this quote:

The person doing the most talking is doing the most learning.

Who does most of the talking in your class? Hope it's not you!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sphincter Law

Mothering Article Sphincter Law

While I was looking around the Mothering website for yesterday's post, I found an interview with Ina May Gaskin. If you have ever had the chance to watch her talk about the beauty of sphincters in her animated style, you have been lucky. For the rest of you, read the article and learn more about what it takes for Sphincters to open....

And do you know what the Gaskin Manuever is? I have been told it is the only obstetrical term named after a midwife. Read the research Gaskin Manuever

Friday, January 09, 2009

Lactation after loss

Mothering Lactation after loss article

As childbirth educators and doulas, if you are in the field long enough, your life will be touched by someone whose baby is stillborn or dies at a very young age. I thought there was a very interesting article in Mothering about lactation after loss and wanted to put it on your radar. In the case of stillbirth, a very hard issue to deal with is the engorgement, transitional milk, colostrum when there is no baby to remove it.

When we lived in Colorado and I donated to the Milk Bank there ($$ - my kids were in school by then) I was always touched in their newsletter by the number of women who donated their milk in memory of their babies who had been stillborn or didn't survive. My niece died when she was six months old and I know it was so tough on her mom to decide what to do with the milk in the fridge and how to gradually decrease her milk supply (and avoid mastitis) when there was no baby there, only sadness.

This is not a topic typically covered in cb class....but as CBEs we should know the options when our paths cross with a mom whose baby has died and she has a milk supply to deal with.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Time to make a political move!

I love birth centers! I wish every community had a birth center as an option! And I am talking about free-standing birth centers - not a name change/quilt on the bed birth center within a hospital.

And Birth Centers need your help. AABC has made it easy with very thorough and detailed steps outlined on their website. AABC Legislative Action It won't take you more than 15 minutes (from my experience). Make 2009 the year to have your voice heard.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

At Your Cervix

I am dating myself, I admit it. I was in college in the 70s and have a copy of the first newsprint copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. And yes, there was a strong movement to get to know your cervix at that time.

But I put all that way back in the memory bank. That memory surfaced when someone sent me the link to Beautiful Cervix
This woman has photographed her cervix for a complete cycle and posted them on her website. Of course it's graphic and of course you can be an awesome childbirth educator without having looked at a cervix but in some ways its good to be familiar with a topic we spend a lot of time talking about....the cervix.

I am sure somebody has already suggested to her to continue the series if she should become pregnant. Would it be helpful to see a cervix thinning? Softening? Opening? 2 cm vs 8 cm?

Bringing this back to childbirth classes, I hope everyone is teaching the six ways to progress in labor and not just focusing just on dilating and effacing.... and while women need to know what dilating and effacing is, I wish we could just simplify language and call it what is - opening and thinning.

horrified by ad

I am still appalled by this ad. I was going to copy it here and decided that was a bad idea. Torn Nipple

I was very impressed back in November when Motrin had an ad and implied that women who wear babies would need Motrin. Well, the baby-wearing mothers and families and friends became very active and vocal and the ad was pulled. Bravo! And another bravo to the moms who took on Facebook's policy of removing pictures of breastfeeding moms and babies (that battle is not won yet, but is ongoing!)

Now if all commercial products would think about the message behind the message and stop campaigns like the Torn Nipple ad...

As a childbirth educator, do you want to keep up on topics/outlets/needs for advocacy. Go to
Birth Activist

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Birth Stories


Sheri Menelli has made her book into an ebook that anyone can download for FREE. It is full of natural birth stories.

And the birth of my daughter is in there...."Are you Sure?" Page 287.

Monday, January 05, 2009

LA Times Article

Many of you were probably alerted about this article but maybe some of you were having a problem staying on top of all the Twitter, Facebook, Email traffic at the end of the year that I if you haven't seen this, check it out. It's a good read.

Midwives Deliver

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Birth Buzz ...

The world is a buzz ..... "did you see the 20/20 segment of Orgasmic Birth?"

I am so appreciative of the work, creativity, vision and resources that Debra Pascali Bonaro devoted tiredlessly to follow her dream and produce Orgasmic Birth!

And to watch her on 20/20 explaining things so eloquently made me so proud! (Did I mention she has led seminars for Passion for lucky were those folks who had her as a learning facilitator! I hope she'll soon have time to do more.)

If you missed the episode Friday night, you can see it here (for awhile at least) ABC 20/20 1/2/08

And if you are so inclined, drop her an appreciation note (and if your resources allow, make a donation, I know they are still in need of support to cover the debt to finance such a professional endeavor) Order a copy of the DVD. I just received the cd of soundtrack and love to play it.
Orgasmic Birth website

Thank you Debra for the inspiration you have shared!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

You know you are seen as a creative childbirth educator when...

a close friend (who is also an amazing childbirth educator) gives you a gift certificate to the Dollar Tree Store! Many of us are always on the lookout for fun, unique (and inexpensive) ways to improve the effectiveness and reinforce key lessons in our childbirth program. For those of you who have taken the Passion for Birth Childbirth Education Training program, I am talking about those "artichokes." While some look at Dollar Stores as a trove of junk, many of us have found treasures there!

Thanks Ann - only a true friend would know what a valuable gift that is!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Welcome, we are so excited you are here!

Brought to Earth by Birth by Harriette Hartigan

I must tell you the arrival of this book in many ways felt like "doula-ing" a dear friend as she welcomed a beautiful offspring after a long, long, long labor... the experience was special, knowing when we first met this "baby" was purely a twinkle in her mind. I love this book. The words are few but powerful. The pictures are captivating.

The fun part was being on the phone with Harriette purely by chance when the first copies of the book arrived at her home. I love how new moms gently soak in their baby and lightly touch/stroke and then totally embrace him/her to her chest while she herself projects pride, exhaustion and disbelief that she did it! Being on the other end of the phoneline while Harriette soaked in the first copy of her book was similar. And after first glances, she then quickly embraced it and was gleeful and excited...the parallels kept us talking - about the smell of a new book, the feel of the paper, the size.

As I say at the births I am fortunate to be at, "welcome to the world Brought to Earth By Birth You are beautiful and we are so glad you are here."

To order your copy and a copy for your doula, midwife, friend go to Midwifery Today

Thursday, January 01, 2009


How can it be January 1 already?

I have been overwhelmed and tried to stay focused on deadlines, commitments, etc. and put blogging on the back burner. One major project was completed and submitted before midnight last night - the ultimate deadline. With that weight lifted, I am going to breathe life back into this blog.

My special friend, Robin, sent me a small gift box with an important message - "Take Time To Breathe." Inside the blue box was a silver square inscribed with the word - breathe. How did she know I needed to be reminded to do just that?

As childbirth educators (especially if you are a Lamaze educator), you are saddled with the expectation that people come to you wanting to know how to breathe. In the beginning Lamaze promoted a very structured breathing ritual. Hollywood frequently likes to mock it. Some of us have worked very hard to distance ourselves from the hee-hee-hee-who while others still teach it because people want it.

Me? I think pregnant women who come to our programs already know how to breathe but may not be aware of their breath and the power they have with breathing!

There is no wrong way to breathe in labor unless it's holding your breath which makes it hard for the oxygen exchange to happen. But using your breath to center yourself, to relax, to focus, to inhale strength and exhale tension are powerful! Breathing is important of a woman's ritual with each contraction. With the rhythm of breathing it's good to realize that your body will inhale what it needs but often doesn't release a full sighing, moaning, are good things.

So while I was looking for a pic of my beautiful "breathe" gift to post here, I came across the You-Tube video below. While I will start the year with resolutions to exercise more, eat better, make deadlines but in reality, the most important resolution I am making is to "take time to breathe"... I can keep that resolution.