Archive for the ‘Birth advocacy’ Category

Drive by Link Post

Instead of always posting my favorite links up on Facebook all the time, I was thinking I should take some time and write more posts here, including them!

This video by Heather Cushman-Dowdee (AKA Hathor the Cow Goddess, also mama-is dot com, and author of one of the many books on my to-read list) is so right on about many hospital births. I’ve heard the stories, and even experienced it myself. Hilariously depressing.


Outlaw Midwives vol. 1 is out and awesome. I think I need to re-read it later to fully absorb it. I was turning the online pages and just admiring the words and thinking about the work and love this took to create.

My favorite quote? “A community is only as empowered as its mothers.”

Finally, a post by Gloria Lemay on retained placenta and some tricks that may help:

Molly, I am confident about your placenta coming out smoothly after the birth.
There will be no rush and no need to do anything except enjoy the amazing feeling of that slippery, soft, delicious newborn in your arms. It is the little (or big) sounds of the baby and the skin to skin contact that floods the body with oxytocin and clamps the uterus down around the placenta.”

Now, only because your busy mind needs to have some “things to do”, I’m going to give you some tricks to get the placenta out naturally that I have heard about over the years:
1. Sniff a little bit of pepper to make yourself sneeze. Sneezing will expel the placenta (same principle as when you pee a bit when you sneeze)
2. Blow hard into a narrow necked bottle. Blowing into a bottle uses those diaphragm muscles that make you bear down
3. Have someone stick two fingers down your throat to make you gag (this is something that was done in the Far North of Canada by an Inuit grandmother to help her grand daughter get her placenta birthed. I filed it in a corner of my mind but have never used it, sounds a bit harsh but was apparently effective).
4. Buy a bedpan. If the placenta doesn’t come out with you reclining and enjoying your baby, you could sit on the bedpan after the cord is cut and just bending your body forward in a safe space will probably give you the feeling of “needing to push” and out the placenta will plop.


Obstetric Fistula: What it is & How You can Help

September 29, 2009 Leave a comment

We are so lucky in our country to have access to midwifery care and emergency obstetric services when needed. In some parts of this world, hundreds of thousands of women are unable seek help when it is needed. These women can labor for days and days, and many times in these terrible situations, their babies are born still. As a result of their traumatic labors, many of these women develop obstetric fistula.

What is a fistula?

“A fistula is a hole. An obstetric fistula of the kind that occurs in many developing countries is a hole between a woman’s birth passage and one or more of her internal organs. This hole develops over many days of obstructed labor, when the pressure of the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvis cuts off blood supply to delicate tissues in the region. The dead tissue falls away and the woman is left with a hole between her vagina and her bladder (called a vesicovaginal fistula or VVF) and sometimes between her vagina and rectum (rectovaginal fistula, RVF). This hole results in permanent incontinence of urine and/or feces. A majority of women who develop fistulas are abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their communities because of their inability to have children and their foul smell. Traumatic fistula is the result of sexual violence. The injury can occur through rape or women being butchered from the inside with bayonets, wood or even rifles. The aim is to destroy the women and the community within which the sufferer lives. Once committed the survivor, her husband, children and extended family become traumatized and humiliated.” (Fistula Foundation)

  • Fistula used to be present in the U.S. and Europe, but was largely eliminated in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century with improved obstetric care in general and the use of c-sections in particular to relieve obstructed labor.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 2 million women have untreated fistula and that approximately 100,000 women develop fistula each year. Fistula is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
  • There are an estimated 100,000 women suffering with untreated fistula, and another 9,000 women who develop fistula each year.
  • Less than 6 in 10 women in developing countries give birth with any trained professional, such as a midwife or a doctor.When complications arise, as they do in approximately 15% of all births, there is no one available to treat the woman, leading to disabling injuries like fistula, and even death.
  • The root causes of fistula are grinding poverty and the low status of women and girls. In developing countries, the poverty and malnutrition in children contributes to the condition of stunting, where the girl skeleton, and therefore pelvis as well, do not fully mature. This stunted condition can contribute to obstructed labor, and therefore fistula.
  • But, fistula is both preventable and treatable. For instance, the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital has treated over 30,000 women over 33 years. Their cure rate is over 90%. Fistula can be prevented if laboring women are provided with adequate emergency obstetric care when complications arise. (Fistula Foundation)

The Addis Adaba Fistula Hospital provides these surgeries for women in need with donations. For $450, they can provide one woman with a fistula repair operation, high-quality post-operative care, a new dress and bus fare home. What they are giving these women is their life back, and that is an incredibly amazing gift for such a low cost.

How can you help?

You can help by donating any amount to the Fistula Foundation. You can also join their Love-a-Sister program, and donate $450 (either the full amount or 12 monthly installments of $37.50) to ensure that one woman will get the help that she so desperately needs and deserves. If you are unable to donate yourself, please take the time to pass on this information to others. By educating ourselves, we can all work together to support these women, and change the lives of those who are not so different from ourselves.

Also, please take the time to view “A Walk to Beautiful” – this amazing documentary on obstetric fistulas filmed in Ethiopia. The Addis Adaba Fistula Hospital is featured, and you can see the amazing work that they do, as well as witness the incredible transformation these women go through once they are cured.

For more information:

Campaign to End Fistula

The Worldwide Fistula Fund


Fistula Foundation

“Baby, You’re Home”

November 14, 2008 Leave a comment

The NY Times wrote a great article about home birth on the rise a couple days ago. I always love reading about birth in the news. I think it is great the Ricki Lake’s documentary “The Business of Being Born” made such an impact on moms in this country. No matter what a woman chooses, I think it important that she knows what options are out there.

As a new mother, the reality of birth is so much different than what you expect it to be. By bringing birth out in the open, taking away it’s mystery, women are given a chance to see it for what it really is: an incredibly raw, brutally intimate, & overwhelming, life changing event like no other.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Some people, concerned that a home birth might be traumatic for children to witness, send them to stay with a friend or relative for the duration. Ms. Rickert and her husband, Cameron Skene, on the other hand, saw it as an educational opportunity for their 2 ½-year-old daughter, Maya. “There’s nothing mysterious about birth unless you want there to be,” Ms. Rickert said. “For us it just introduced Maya to life, and how life comes about.”

Maya awoke around 4 a.m. and joined her parents in the living room. “She was munching away on her apple and talking about 2-year-old stuff when I was having contractions,” Ms. Rickert said.

When it was time for Ms. Rickert to push, Maya watched intently. Although she didn’t like the blood and water that followed the baby, her mother reported, she wasn’t surprised: for months Ms. Rickert had prepared the toddler with an explanation of what would happen.

Check out the article in it’s entirety HERE.

The Business of Being Born

June 19, 2008 1 comment

I finally saw it! I know, I know. A little behind on the times. In my defense, I do not have Netflix, and there were no screenings nearby. I finally broke down, and watched it online. I really enjoyed it. I think my favorite part was when Michel Odent was talking about the “love hormone cocktail”, and the relationship that is formed right after birth. The beginning of attachment. Had me in tears!

I think that this documentary came at the perfect time. I know that before I really looked into birth, I really had no idea what I wanted or what could happen. I naively assumed that everyone would watch out for me, and that the doctors and nurses would do what was best for me. That was not the case, in my experience. I am happy for this movie, because I think that more women will strive to educate themselves on the choices available. More women will have the type of birth that they hope for, whether it be in a birth center, at home, or in a hospital. And hopefully, more women will be happy with their births, when all is said and done.