Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mourning a Loss in the Midst of Joy

Amidst the joy and strength of the MANA conference in Traverse City, I found out yesterday that my friend and wise colleague from New York, Ilana Stein, passed away.

I am very, very sad.

It has made me do some internal reflection...

We must live each day as if it were our last..who knows, it may be our last!

We must love our family and friends with all of our spirit. Love and honor our spouses. Love, snuggle and honor our children. Grab our friends and hug them with gusto. Love all unconditionally.

In birth, advocate for what is right and just without inflicting our own biases/opinions. Give the evidence, the research, the facts. Be consistent, connecting, and compassionate. Act with energy, ethics and enthusiasm. Be a mentor, leader, sagefemme.

We must try to avoid conflict at all costs...and while I am not in a position to do much about the various wars that continue to rage across our globe, I can pray for those who do have input...pray for their wisdom and pray for their success in quickly ending suffering and conflict.

As I am enjoying the fruits of technology (blogging in the car in the middle of Michigan), I will live each day with gusto and intention, remembering the work of my dear friend. Continuing that work ~ so that all women can birth safely and all babies are born with the very best starts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MANA Conference in Traverse City

I have not been to northern Michigan since I was a child and my parents took me to Mackinaw Island. While we are not traveling that far, we are going to Traverse City to the Midwives Alliance of North America, where we will be exhibiting.

In the heart of cherry and wine country, Traverse City sits on the Lake and the trip proves to be a beautiful one, if traveling along 75 this morning is any indication. And (LOL) while I am not Bill Curtis, thanks to my new Verizon wireless card for my laptop, I have found the internet in the car! LOL, gotta love technology.

Marketing to this group of people (midwives) is a first for our company and one that I hope proves to facilitate a long and prosperous relationship. I have my usual conference goodies such as jewelry and massagers and aromatherapy, however, like with Lamaze, I am also bringing the Birth Pool In A Box, which has become wildly popular. Parents and professionals alike are finding how easy it is to set up, fill, use and empty. Doesn't get much easier unless it was built in!

Well, I don't want to run the laptop battery down so, more later!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Politically correct? Time to STOP with Birth.

Yes, I said it. There. It is time to stop being politically correct with issues surrounding birth. For way too long we have been polite about the presentation of the facts about the different interventions with human childbirth. We didn't want women who chose interventions to feel bad about their decisions. We didn't want be portrayed as militants or revolutionaries.

Since when does telling the truth make one a militant or revolutionary? It is time to stop candy coating the risks of inductions too early, the risks of using Cytotec as an induction agent, the risks of epidural anesthesia, risks of analgesics, risks of continuous fetal monitoring, cesarean is time to present the facts as they are presented in the same medical literature that the medical community publishes (but do they read it?).

We in the birthing community - every nurse, midwife, physician, childbirth educator, doula, lactation consultant - must change the focus of our practice to what is evidence-based, not popular based. Some of the practices that parents agree to are actually dangerous or potentially dangerous to the labor and birth and therefore dangerous to the newborn. Need an example? For some women, "term" is defined as 40 weeks, for others it may be 38 weeks or
42 weeks or even 44 weeks. If a woman's body gestates babies to 44 weeks and she is induced at 40 weeks, the baby will be 4 weeks premature and may have to spend time in the NICU. This separates mother from baby, eliminates the benefits of skin to skin contact, and challenges breastfeeding for, perhaps, months. Without prime followup care, this family will have future challenges ~ all because there was an induction too early.

It is difficult to hear the truth.

It is also difficult to embrace the truth and change care practices when we are comfortable with "the way we have always done it". It makes us feel uncomfortable and challenges US.

However, since we are talking about new human lives and new families in our society, I truly believe we need to move beyond OUR issues and do what is best for mothers and babies. It is time we truly do no harm.

Does anyone out there agree?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Healthy People 2010 ~ 15 months & counting

In the US, it is a difficult statistic to swallow...the US maternal mortality rate is rising. The rate rose in 2004 from 12/100,000 to 13/100,000. That was the first rise since 1977 and due, in part to the rise in the cesarean section rate.

But why in a country who boasts about the quality of health care and the nearly continuous use of technology at birth would the maternal mortality rate rise?

According to Dr. Elliot Main, who co-chairs a panel reviewing obstetrics care in California, "As you do thousands and thousands of them (cesarean sections), there's going to be a price."

With infection and blood vessel blockage leading the way as causes of death, we also have to look at the fact that black women are experiencing a maternal death rate THREE TIMES greater than it is for caucasian women. Black women are more susceptible to complications like high blood pressure and are more likely to receive inadequate prenatal care.

What is even more disturbing is that three different studies have indicated that at least 40% of maternal deaths could have been prevented. Obesity has a share in the growing statistic of maternal death - 1/3 of pregnant women were outside of the weight guidelines for healthy pregnancies which puts women at a greater risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and...cesarean sections.

So what should happen?

Perhaps instead of flooding the newswire with reports about Angelina Jolie's "amazing" post-pregnancy body, we need to have more news stories about education for early pregnancy. While some of us who have been in the birth business for years may be weary about saying it all again, the new generation of pregnant women (be they teens or older) may have never read a book or an internet site talking about pregnancy health, good and early prenatal care, or pregnancy nutrition.

And here is another disturbing fact: only 33% of expectant women attend childbirth education classes and get this valuable information albeit sometimes too late. Why is that? I will explore that in my next post.