Monday, October 25, 2010

Do you use Aromatherapy? If not, consider this...

Aromatherapy is the use of pure essential and absolute oils derived from plants. The word "aromatherapy" was first used in the 1920's by a French perfumer named Rene Gattfosse. The use of the word "therapy" gives the impression of the need for treatment of an illness. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants.

Aromatherapy oils can not only be used as inhalants but they can also be massaged into the skin. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, or blossoms of plants. Each essential oil contains its own mix of active ingredients, and this mix determines the healing properties of the oil. 

Some oils promote physical healing-for example, some are able to relieve swelling. Others are used for their emotional value, such as lavender, as they may encourage relaxation or make a room smell nice. The essential oil derived from orange blossom, for example, contains a large amount of ester, an active ingredient thought to induce a calming effect.

It is not fully understood how or why essential oils produce the effects that they do. One obvious way that essential oils work is through the sense of smell. This sense is incredibly powerful-according to some estimates, about 10,000 times stronger than any other sense. The "smell" receptors in your nose communicate with two structures that are embedded deep in your brain and serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. These structures are called the amygdala and hippocampus. When essential oil molecules are inhaled, they affect these parts of the brain directly. Researchers believe that stimulation of these structures can affect our physical, emotional, and mental health.

It is also known that breathing in essential oils can affect the respiratory system. For example, certain oils from the eucalyptus plant are able to clear sinuses and prevent respiratory infections. Thus, the reason why Halls Mentholyptus and Vicks are so popular during cold and flu season.

Aromatherapy massage is a popular way of using essential oils, because it works in numerous ways at the same time: it produces benefits from absorbing the oils into the skin, from inhaling the oil's vapors, and from the physical therapy of the massage process itself.

We have two new aromatherapy lines now at  Cappriccio Aromatics is a unique blend of aromatherapy oils made especially for women in labor - there is the Early Labor Blend, Active Labor Blend, Transition Blend and Stage 2 Pushing Blend!  Also, we carry a limited supply of the Aura Cacia line!  Just click on the Aromas & More category on our website for all of the latest additions!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Striking The Right Cord in CBE Classes

One of the thoughts that hovers in my mind a lot is: why don't more expectant parents attend childbirth education classes.  Now, I am of the belief that expectant parents will get something out of any childbirth education class they attend ~ but is the information more "harmful" than helpful is my next question.

This is not to insinuate that any childbirth educator teaches harmful things.  No, please don't misconstrue.  Perhaps I should say it is the way that certain topics are presented, the time spent or NOT spent on other topics...this is what can be harmful.  

Here are some examples:

Susie The Childbirth Educator has been teaching independent classes for nearly 15 years.  Her feelings is that since labor and birth basically do not change, what she presents in her classes does not have to change either. Babies still come out either vaginally or by cesarean surgery.  Susie does not change the curriculum to fit the needs of the individual learners in the class and side-steps specific questions when her well-learned clients ask about some of the events happening in the birth world such as placenta encapsulation or delayed cord clamping.  Susie's answer is "those are questions to ask your careprovider".

Bev The Childbirth Educator has been teaching classes in a hospital environment for 6 years.  She learned much of how she teaches from the other educators in her department and what she teaches from the curriculum presented to her.  Her classes sound very much like this: "When you arrive, we'll take you upstairs and we'll help you get settled into one of our rooms".  "We will hook you up to the EFM to get a reading to make sure that the baby is tolerating labor properly".  "Once the cervix has dilated to 10 cms (not centimeters but "cms"), your nurse will give you permission to push".

Both Susie and Bev have essentially disempowered the women and their partners in their respective childbirth classes.  How? Susie, by not staying current in childbirth education, displays an air of "it doesn't matter".  She then counts on the care providers' 6-10 minute appointment with the expectant parents to fulfill this educational gap, which may or may not happen.  Parents may then put their questions in the "its too hard to learn about" pile and may not show up at the next class. Bev, on the other hand, disempowers those in her class by implying that the mind/body/spirit connection between mother/partner/baby is not functioning and that medical intervention of some kind is necessary for the baby to move down the most dangerous 4 inches in the world ~ the mother's birth canal.  Fear, then, may keep expectant parents from continuing the class series.

Ok, the last comments may have been a bit dramatic, I agree.  But do you see how important words and how they are crafted during a childbirth class can make a desired or undesired impact on not only the thought processes but also the emotions and confidence of expectant parents?

I challenge you, as childbirth educators, to take a strong look at your curriculum AND how you phrase topics in your childbirth class.  I challenge you to take a look at one topic at a time and figure a way to make that topic more empowering.  When you do this, you will find that the responses to your classes will be well worth your time!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Perfect Addition to A CBE or Doula's Lending Library

(If you are reading this as a Note on Facebook, please go to to see the interview!)

The new Parent Talk Game is the perfect addition to any childbirth educator or doula's lending library!

The brainchild of real-life parents Juliette and Michael Reynolds, The Parent Talk Game is designed to start the conversation about having children and raising them!  This game is 100% interactive and wonderfully imaginative ~ working with over 150 multiple choice cards, trump cards and a great blue/pink game board.

Listen to my interview with game creator, Juliette Reynolds!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Reflections from the 2010 Lamaze/ICEA Mega Conference

It was indeed humbling to be in Milwaukee this past weekend, attending the Lamaze/ICEA Mega Conference.  To be in the very city that birthed organizational birth some 50 years ago was thrilling.  Sharing that feeling with nearly 700 other childbirth professionals of varying ages and experience levels, too, was inspiring. 

As I sat amidst the glitz and glam of the 50th Anniversary luncheon ~ complete with recognition of past organizational presidents (minimal at best), and a multi-media celebration with an interview with Lamaze founder Elizabeth Bing, I couldn't help but reflect on those wo/men in birth who had made the Top 10 on my list.

Now absent from the festivities was Harriet Palmer, the ASPO (American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics) trainer who lead my educator seminar some 30 years ago in Fresno.  Not in attendance was Alice Berman, the voice of ASPO/Lamaze during the transitional period from ASPO to Lamaze and editor of Genesis.  Missing from the crowd was Polly Perez, a tireless volunteer in those transformational days of Education, Advocacy and Reform! However, I did catch a glimpse of two icons at the table in front of me: Joyce Difranco and Sandra Apgar Steffes, nor the dedicated Sigrid Nelson Ryan. These two women made a huge impact on the history of birth as they were two of the most prolific writers of birth in the 80's and 90's when childbirth was but cutting its new teeth!  Another childbirth educator and writer from the 1980's and beyond too was missing ~ Sherry Lynn Jimenez.  Absent was Eugene Declerqc, the champion of the independent educator in the 1980s when childbirth education was being co-opted into the hospital setting and in many aspects watered down.  And there was no mention of Sharron S. Humenick and Francine Nichols, who penned the quintessential Biblical-equivelant text for childbirth educators--> Childbirth Education: Practice, Research and Theory. The Journal of Perinatal Education was the brainchild of Nichols and Humenick, one of its editors.

While there are countless more who have inspired us throughout our careers, it would have been great to acknowledge their years, and decades of hard work, sweat and tears for a cause we all embrace.  From "Nan" the educator featured in one of the only childbirth films of the 70s, Nan's Class, to Dr. Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia [an internationally renowned research perinatologist, Director of the Latin American Center for Perinatology and Human Development, a unit of the World Health Organization, and President-Elect of the International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO)] to Ricki Lake, who catapulted birth back into common day conversation, recognition would have been welcomed. And last but not least, where was the accolades for Doris Haire, whose book The Cultural Warping of Childbirth was stunning for the birth community as was her testimony on April 17, 1978 before the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources of the U.S. Senate, her testimony on July 30, 1981 before the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives, and her 1982 report "How the FDA Determines the 'Safety' of Drugs — Just How Safe is 'Safe'?"  As Estelle Cohen of the Alliance for the Improvement of Maternity Services points out, "Mrs. Haire has called the administration of drugs to women in labor and delivery "obstetric roulette." The section on obstetric drugs in her 1982 report ought to be read by every expectant mother because most of our births are still not drug-free."

We do need to honor the work that these amazing men and women have done to bring us where we are today and inspire us to continue our work tomorrow. I challenge you to Google the names I have listed here - it will make for some really good reading, I guarantee it!