Friday, May 04, 2012

2012 Blog Carnival: "We Have To Help"

Welcome to Childbirth Today's 2012 Blog Carnival - honoring the busy month of May and all of the celebrations of midwives, nurses, doulas and childbirth educators...AND mothers!  Our next blog carnival entry features a post by Jeri Layer, a birth professional from Dayton Ohio.

I’ve  spent many years observing the birth process as a doula, and an equal number of years sharing education with expectant mothers of all ages as a childbirth educator.  It has been an interesting and joyful journey.  In the past year, I have discovered a new-found a love and passion for research.  Specifically,  research regarding birth and how we, as women, assume certain positions, accept certain advice, use medications, and yes, become fearful of giving birth. 

My first research project focused simply on the history of positions for giving birth.  Basically what I found out was what I suspected; that historically women assumed upright positions for birth and it was with the event of the use of anesthetics that women were placed upon their back for ease of delivery.  The supine position allowed for the use of forceps which became necessary as women were unconscious with anesthetic and the baby needed to be pulled out of her.   ( Midwiferey Magazine, Summer 2011, June.)

My second research project focused on the use of the electronic fetal monitor.  This project was a more personal look at how I have witnessed the use of  the monitor and the frequency with which it was more accurate than the laboring women when predicting strength of contractions and onset of birth.  The data I collected confirmed  that most women were more accurate than the machine.  Women repeatedly reported the onset of birth long before the monitor picked up the “pattern” and often-times gave birth to the surprise of the medical professionals who have been trained to use and rely on this technology.  (International Doula, Volume 19, issue 3-2011)

Beyond a quest for a better understanding of how we came to practice and believe certain “truth’s” about birth and the medical model we practice here in the Midwest, I found that by doing this research, I can help dispel some of the myths about childbirth that my clients fall prey to. I can offer them facts instead! I can share with them the knowledge that they are the best predictors of how their labor will go, and that they are the best decision makers when it comes to choosing a place, a position, or a provider for their birth journey.  I am able to share stories of ease and comfort during childbirth, rather than scary horror stories (which they hear enough of, right?)

What I would like to invite all of you to do, is to help me with my next project.  As our second blogger stated, we are all on this journey together.  So instead of competing with one another, let’s join forces to help mothers feel safer, calmer, and more informed.  I need your help to offer my clients, as well as yours, the truth about one of their most common fears – the fear that their baby will be too big to come out of their body without help.  Sadly, what I hear mothers reporting (and often times) early on in their pregnancy, is that an ultrasound has measured their baby and it is big.  I hear this at least once a week, from at least 3 to 4 of my 8 to 10 mothers in a class.  While I do not want to increase their fear by making them doubt that their well-meaning care provider is telling them the truth, I do not want to perpetuate their fear either.  So, after some thought, I decided that some solid facts would be the best positive remedy for their fear.  I don’t want to discard the validity of the ultrasound technology, my goal is simply to provide some hope and share some happy endings. 

Here’s how I started my research.  When a mother tells me this news (“I had an ultrasound today and I guess my baby is really big”) or some similar statement, I provide her with my phone number, and ask her if she would mind giving me a call after her baby is born to let me know how much the baby actually weighed.  I also tell her, that with her permission, eventually I would like to share her information if she is agreeable to do so. (This is in written form when the time comes, for all legal purposes including privacy). So far I have a growing number of women that I expect to hear from.  I have results from a handful of women and the results are all the same.  You probably guessed it, the baby is smaller (one baby by 2 pounds) than the ultrasound predicted.   This is not a surprise to me, however, it is disheartening.  Again, not because we shouldn’t trust the ultrasound, but because some mothers will plan a cesarean section based on fear, and often times a woman will agree to an induction based on that same fear.  I never understand the reason for instilling fear into an already somewhat fearful mother-to-be. What is the purpose of telling a mother that her body will probably not be able to deliver what she herself has helped to create? Our bodies are not without knowledge! I am preaching to the choir, right? I know that most of you reading this are very knowledgeable about the birthing women’s abilities, but many birthing mothers are not!  We have to help.

You may wonder why I am choosing to gather research in this manner when I could gather it some other, non-personal way. I want it to be personal and local. I am not looking for a massive study.  I believe that a local (tri-county, tri-state) area would be sufficient to start.
 I want permission from the mother to use her first name or initial or whatever she is comfortable using to share her truth with other expectant mothers.   Names are nicer than numbers at times.

This study may end up providing us all with some simple facts to share.  It may end up being an article, a bigger project, or something that we share with local care providers in a professional and helpful manner.  It may be that it will only help one or two mothers to feel more confident or comfortable.  In my opinion, one or two is enough.  Please help me if you are interested.  My cell number is 937 371-2058.  My email address is  I will accept information directly from the mother after she delivers.  All I am asking you to do is to pass my name and phone number along if you hear a mom utter those words (big baby + ultrasound).

Remember, this is not about the ultrasound, or the care provider.  Nor is it meant to undermine the machine or the person.  It is to share truth, to offer hope, to provide a sense of empowerment to a fearful mom.   If you would like, I will gladly share information as I go along.  Simply call or email me for an up-do-date version of facts that I have gathered thus far. I am offering and asking, in the doula spirit. 

May you all spread peace and empowerment each day this May and long thereafter.

My bio:  I am Jeri Layer; mother, grandmother, wife, doula and childbirth educator. I have been practicing as a doula and childbirth educator of 16 years with a focus on the younger expectant population.   I have attended over 150 births! I have had a few articles published and am working on a childbirth education manual for teens. I am also an adjunct faculty member at Sinclair Community College in the Life and Health Sciences Division and have taught there for 10 years.  I love taking classes that relate to health, fitness and human development.  I have a passion for research, gardening, sewing and baking (as well as for nurturing my family). 

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