Monday, August 31, 2009

Get out your knitting needles or crochet hook

September is Infant Mortality Month. There is a campaign to have a baby hat created for every baby lost. The effort is being sponsored by a large group of organizations.

Directions provided for the pictured hat: Cast on 64 stitches and alternate knit and purl rows for about an inch, creating a garter stitch. Switch to stockinette until the hat measured about 4", then begin decrease, K8, K2TOG, then K7, K2TOG, etc.

The following websites have details about where to send the hats:
ICTC Midwives
Birthing Hands of DC
Commonsense Childbirth

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Breasts in mourning

Breasts in Mourning: How Bottle-Feeding Mimics Child Loss in Mothers' Brains

Stacie sent me the link to this interesting article. Thanks.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Belly paintings

I am very impressed with these paintings! I wonder if there will be an 09 contest? Get your paint brushes ready! Belly painting contest

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What a cool idea!

I have seen the time lapse for a pregnant belly but this is unique! Something to share in a childbirth class - how fast they grow!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pregnancy and Domestic Violence

There is a free online course about Pregnancy and Domestic Violence. I recommend that you participate for a variety of reasons:

1. it's an important topic for all of us
2. it's a way to earn 1.5 contact hours for those going for Lamaze certification on the open pathway or recertification and need the hours.
3. Experience an on-line class using blackboard.

Let me know what you think. Safe Place
(it's a lot of cognitive information...not really interactive- so don't have high hopes for that but the material is so important)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A little off topic: the font characters

I know this is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h to be related to Childbirth education, but many of us create brochures, handouts and flyers. And I know I play around with different fonts and wonder what the pros/cons are of each one.

Enjoy this clip about the characters behind the fonts:

Obviously there are people as passionate about fonts as we are about birth.

Monday, August 24, 2009

101 reasons to breastfeed

For years the way I have covered the benefits of breastmilk and risks of formula is that I have a lunchbox filled with symbols as to why formula doesn't have the benefits that breastmilk has. It's been an effective tool.

This YouTube video is another option for highlighting all the risks of formula.

Usually the topic of GUILT comes up around the topic of breastfeeding. Don't avoid addressing guilt! It's a rare mom who doesn't feel guilty about something she has done as a parent but we need to talk about the difference between guilt and regret and making the best decisions for ourselves at the time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reducing Infant Mortality

Reducing Infant Mortality from Debby Takikawa on Vimeo.

This video is available free - the intent is to spread it far and wide to change the way we birth that impacts infant mortality. DONA is one of the producers.

Director Debby Takikawa and Producer Shelley Campbell ask that you show the film to clients, friends and family; make it available on your web site; link to it; and most of all, send the link to government policy makers.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I need your help! My friend* and mentor Mary Jo Podgurski runs the most amazing teen program in her town of Washington, PA! They are going for a Nike grant and I need you to click and vote.. I did!

To vote: insert your email address into the slot. You could also go the main website at Nike and open "view 2009 applicants." If the Washington Teen Outreach program doesn't pop up, you'll need to click on the map of the US at PA and select them.

After you insert your email address and hit vote will be sent a validation email (to the email address with which you voted). You MUST hit click here on the email to verify the vote.

*My daughter would say she is my BFF!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Do you sew?

Let's admit it - there is never enough time in a childbirth class for all the amazing things you want to share! Childbirth educators need to prioritize and teach those things that women may not be able to learn elsewhere.

Let's talk baby care - I know they won't leave the hospital without learning how to bathe the baby. I know they won't be told how easy it is to wear your baby! So I do spend time on slings. The blog Stand and Deliver has shared a tutorial on how she makes slings.

What a great resource for any of you with a machine! Normally teach 8 folks? Think about making up 8 to have them wear the last night!

Or better yet, get samples or gently used slings of all the types out there. People love different types of slings for different reasons - give them a taste of many types.

Have no idea how to wear a baby? There is an instructional DVD Tummy 2 Tummy that covers the major types.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Girl Effect

Many, many years ago I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho, a small mountainous nation in southern Africa. The four years I spent there were rewarding and challenging, eye opening and fun. The experience changed me forever. This was in the 80s and the word AIDS was not even in our awareness. Now 1 out of 3 people in Lesotho are HIV positive. It is sobering. I have featured this clip as I think it is hopeful and on another level it is very effective in communicating it's message graphically with words and music.

So... who is up for creating a similar tool to get our healthy birth message out there?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

18 years ago today

Where has the time gone? 18 years ago today, I was welcoming my daughter into the world! Time to reflect.

Just like all babies, for me, she made a memorable entrance into the world. When you are pregnant and actively teaching childbirth classes, and you go into labor - there is a little bit of performance anxiety - will you be able to walk the talk?

I know I felt it with Courtney! This was before HIPPA and it didn't help that 3 weeks earlier my teaching partner had birthed there and at the height of transition she had screamed "this breathing !@#%^ doesn't work!" So I knew the staff was watching and talking.

My big thing for me is if you are going to have a hospital birth, don't get there too early. So 18 years ago, we took our sweet time getting there - my husband even thought it was a good idea to stop for breakfast. But when we were back in the car and I heard myself muttering "You know you can go a little faster," I knew I must be moving along fairly quickly. I spend most of married life when I am in the car saying "slow down please!"

So we got to the "triage" room (have I told you how I hate that term - that's a war/emergency term that should not be part of the birth unit!) the contractions had spread out. The wonderful nurse even asked if I was really in labor. The monitor wasn't showing any contractions. I was confused and felt "oh great, I am here too early, my biggest nightmare!"

Luckily she did check and when I thought she was going to mutter "and we'll send you home", she instead gasped "please don't push" I was in the "rest and be thankful stage" and my daughter was born 20 minutes later! Cue the Hallelujah chorus - I did it, I walked my talk!

Some of you may wonder why I was at the hospital...well we had worked hard to build a free-standing birth center in our community and it just didn't happen quick enough - when I went back for my 6 week check-up, later that the day I met the first midwife the community group hired to staff the Birth Center. I was just a few months too early!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Breastfeeding bags vs. formula bags

Looks like 200 hospitals have ditched the formula bags and are distributing breastfeeding friendly bags instead. Here is the press release

I still don't get why hospitals feel they need to be the conduit of any marketing to pregnant or new moms. That seems a strange thing to do.

But let's talk, does anyone teach at one of these hospitals that has these new bags? As a childbirth educator have you ever been required to hand out marketing materials to people in your class - has that put you in a tough position? Do you read all the materials you hand out or leave for pick up? Do you require that it be WHO code compliant?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Caul jewelry

It's important that childbirth educators keep up to date on all the new trends. This is most useful when someone in your class says, "Have you ever heard of ....." and you can honestly reply and say, yes, I've read about that on-line.

So thanks to Facebook and a post by Stephanie Soderbloom, here is a link to a slide show about making jewelry from the caul of a baby who was born in the caul.

Now you know! Being "in the know" is so much more than just knowing the current research!

Slide show

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday BIRTH SURVEY!

Birth Survey

Learn more about how to help celebrate at Birth Activist

The incredible work that has been accomplished in making the Birth Survey and giving women a voice truly reflects that saying: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does”

I certainly hope you are talking about the Birth Survey in your childbirth classes! Found a creative way to do it? Please share!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

International Birth Trauma Day

A double entry blog day! I didn't want to miss the chance to highlight that today is Birth Trauma Awareness Day. This is a UK group and they have some great resources that all childbirth educators should be aware of: what it is and help for fathers and partners and a resource if anyone receives a copy of their medical records so they will be able to translate the abbreviations

I think most educators cover emotional changes of postpartum - the blues and depression. With the way birth is happening, we also need to be talking about BIRTH TRAUMA and where to reach out for support. You may be the only one talking about it in their life. And even if they are not traumatized by their birth, chances are that someone in their family or circle of friends may be.

I just heard the amazing Sharon Storton at the DONA conference and in honor of this day, I also want to point you to Solace There are important resources there that we need to be aware of. If you are doing reunions, pack some Solace cards in your pocket and refer women to their discussion boards if they have been traumatized by their birth.

So we need to keep working to reduce the risk of traumatic birth and help those who have been traumatized.

One Act Play

Just in case any of you live in DC, there is a free performance coming up of a one act play written by the same woman who wrote BIRTH the play. (Kennedy Center 9 pm on Sept. 5) Knowing Karen Brody, it will probably be available lots more in 2010 and beyond) Taskmaster the play

But as I read about her labor to create this play, I began to think about what would a one act play look like if it featured a childbirth educator or a doula? How fun would that be to share the collection of stories of tragedy and triumph we have all experienced. Some of you who are reading this right now are great writers - ever fantasized about writing a one act play?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Oh my

Each Passion for Birth seminar has a discussion area/social network site. The link to this YouTube was shared there. Thanks Janis!

I am amazed what is called "news" these days. Understand that this type of commentary influences what people feel about breastfeeding. But I am surprised that a female commentator is complimented that her name is equated with sexism and she smiles while her chest is exposed....and then they equate breastfeeding with porn...I am flustered. I share this, not to fluster you but to motivate you to speak up if you are a Fox news fan. I think they have crossed a line. As I don't watch Fox, maybe this is a typical broadcast? Is it typical for their female commentators to have their breastfeeding anatomical parts so exposed? And here I thought they were the conservative voice.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mother Support

What a great resource...looking for Mother Support? Check out this map!

What tools do you use to let women in you class know where to find support? Face to face as well as on-line!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When the cat is away....

While I was in at the DONA conference, Washington state made a major shift in policy regarding the reimbursement for cesareans. They are hoping to reduce the number of optional cesareans.

Beginning this month, the state of Washington will pay hospitals the same amount for an uncomplicated C-section as for a complicated vaginal birth when it reimburses them through Medicaid. Almost half of all births in Washington are paid by Medicaid, so this measure will have a significant effect on the economics of birth in the state.

Robin at has captured the keypoints and the links that feature what a huge step this is!

Just one more reason I love living in Washington. Fellow Washingtonian @ New Moon Birth also blogged about it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

DONA conference

I have just returned from the DONA conference - always exhilarating and exhausting. While I appreciate the new facts, trends, highlights that are shared by the speakers, I truly appreciate the way being surrounded by people doing birth work and "get it" makes me feel.

For me, it's the chance to re-connect with friends and to meet new ones. It's a chance to wish we had more time to explore the city, to shake our heads about new trends in birth, to maybe purchase a nice piece of jewelry or a new book, to dance one night away with energetic women, and to celebrate that DONA has over 7,000 members!!! I love tradition and am always touched by the closing circle when we sing the DONA Nobis Pacem.

So, next year DONA is meeting in Albuquerque and in 2011 in Boston!

This year we had 14 passionate and skilled Childbirth educators complete the Passion for Birth pre-conference! Pictures to come!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Write yourself in the future!

Do you use the activity where you have people in your class write themselves a letter or postcard to be sent to themselves in the future - it can address things like what kind of parent they hope they are or a commitment to do something to keep their intimate relationship healthy or a number of other things.

Well now there is an electronic solution and it's FREE. I think I have to give that a try in seminars.... (because I have been guilty of forgetting to send out the letters at their assigned time)

Future me

Birth Quilt

I stumbled upon this beautiful quilt and thought you might enjoy. The project sounds like it was a powerful exercise. Birth Quilt

Sunday, August 09, 2009

International Mother baby Childbirth Organization

International Mother Baby Childbirth Organization

While many of us as childbirth educators are focusing on improving birth in our communities, it also helps to keep a global view and help where we can. Learn more about this organization. Watch this clip about that boldly states the issues pregnant women are facing daily.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

spilled milk and pumping images

I can't say I miss the days of pumping! I do miss the warm "cuddlies" of nursing but pumping was a task! I know this will sound like "I walked uphill both ways to school" but somehow I was able to pump enough to cover the part-time job I had with a pump that was one tube/canister inside another! Portable double electric pumps were a figment of my imagination!

With my youngest we were in the midst, "is she done nursing or not?" when I went to a five day conference on breastfeeding (so I could sit for the IBCLC exam) This is not the ideal location to be semi-weaning with the 8 hours focused on pictures of babies nursing which triggers let down after let down for me. It's hard to take notes when you have to keep your arms folded across your chest. Ah, the trials and tribulations!

So pumping is more mainstream today and thought I would share this picture: an ad for a band that makes hands frees pumping do-able.

And I heard about a Hallmark Card that reads on the cover: "Whoever said there's no use crying over spilled milk obviously never pumped six ounces, then accidentally dumped it!" The inside says: "Hang in there. You're doing fine."

To all the breastfeeding moms juggling pumping and their babies - that's a great motto: "Hang in there. You are doing fine!"

I do think in a childbirth class we have to facilitate women envisioning themselves breastfeeding (and pumping if they are returning to work!) Facts and benefits are not enough. Seeing themselves doing it will increase their chances! Equipping them with the tools for what they perceive will be barriers is essential.

Friday, August 07, 2009

How much time do you spend on breastfeeding?

It's seem more and more the trend to break breastfeeding away from childbirth classes. In my mind it's part of the continuum and how could it not be part? I am worried with a separate class that yes, it's usually taught by IBCLC who knows a lot about what to do when there are problems but you as a childbirth educator are the "queen of motivation!" Breastfeeding is usually a topic at the end of a series and by then you have the group's trust and the discussions will be deeper! Change group members and the facilitator and you are almost back to ground zero of group development.

My other fear is that BF classes are separated so to avoid angering those who are formula feeding. WIth that kind of logic, you may as well take out pre-natal nutrition or the wise use of an epidural or any number of a bazillion topics...but how does one make a wise decision of how to feed their baby if they are not exposed to lots of information...separate the women who are unsure and you have lost the important people.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Laid Back Breastfeeding

Just wanted to get this DVD on your radar! I love the promotion of a laid back position for nursing vs the stacking the pillow method! It seems like a nice compliment to Christina Smilies's work of Baby-led breastfeeding.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Knitting pattern

Need a breast for your childbirth class - here's a pattern!

Breast Pattern

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Teach 'em to compress!

And to download a free pdf handout go to Kelly Mom I recommend this website as a good resource to know about!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Virtual BF help

I found this very interesting - I have no connection to these folks but I am very intrigued by the concept.... helping moms via skype! I know as someone who has long given help via the phone for breastfeeding issues, I often felt limited because I couldn't see the mom or baby and I would talk with my hands and couldn't see the mom to see if what I was saying was making any sense to her. I think it's a great idea.

Virtual Breastfeeding Help

Maybe we could do private cb classes for moms on bedrest via skype...ah, the world is changing so fast!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Breastfeeding Moms Unite

Breastfeeding Moms Unite
Breastfeeding Moms Unite! invites you to submit your breastfeeding photo(s) for the Book Project. We welcome individual story submissions about this subject as well.

The purpose of The Book Project is to produce a book about breastfeeding in the public eye and the social issues breastfeeding women face in today’s mainstream culture.

One of the ways to get people to consider a health behavior change is to get them to visualize themselves doing it...and breastfeeding is a health behavior and if women in your class can start to see themselves breastfeeding their babies, you have helped them along the path to breastfeed. That's why you need lots of images of babies breastfeeding in a lot of common places. The pictures need to reinforce that it is do-able and convenient and acceptable!

So I have highlighted this Book Project because we need more resources - and who knows, maybe you have a picture you are willing to share!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

World Breastfeeding Week !!

World Breastfeeding Week

All childbirth educators - this is your time to thank your local breastfeeding supporters and promoters. I know all of you fall into that category but time to network! Do something fun - make a batch of breast cupcakes or drop off a bowl of Hershey Kisses (silver nipples) or just do something nice! Don't forget your local La Leche League Leaders! Does your town/county have a Breastfeeding Coalition?

This week I will post a different something related to breastfeeding every day...stay tuned!