Thursday, March 22, 2012

Self-Care for the Birth Professional - How to NOT Feel Guilty!

I was alot like you.
I didn't feel like I deserved to rest, let alone be pampered.
I didn't take time for myself.
I felt so guilty when even a little pampering happened.

Then it came like a bolt out of the blue.  Signs of impending burn-out.

You know the effects of stress on a person's mental and physical self.  And it can affect YOU as well as those for which you care.  The key is to recognize that you need self-care BEFORE it becomes an issue.

And no - it is NOT pampering.  It is taking care of one's self.

Lisa Chu MD, writing for, identifies five major self-care points.  You can read her whole blog entry by clicking here.

Chu's five self-care points include:

1. Setting defined boundaries.

2. Move from the reactive state to the creative mode.  Setting intentions for the day and meditation may sound like hippie-speak but those techniques DO work!

3. Listen to your body, your intuition and your felt experience.  To me, this meant slowing down and not trying to multi-task.  Taking time, and "smelling the flowers".  Half of the time we don't even SEE the flowers, let alone smell them!

4. Find out what restores you.  No, it is not a nap or watching your favorite TV show.  Leave the email go and don't succumb to your smart phone.  If this is hard, try it for an hour.  Then work your way up to 2-3 hours.  Read a book, do a craft, take a walk in a park, taking a soothing bath with candles and zen-like music.  Get a massage! Take a yoga class or art class.  The results may amaze you.

5. Give yourself permission to feel good, and want what you want.  As birth professionals, we are constantly caring for others, often at the expense of time for ourselves.   We tell ourselves we don't have time for that pedicure, that it is a waste of time and money - and who really sees our feet anyway.  We see our feet every day and if it makes you smile to see that bright color and nail art on your big toe, then it was worth it!

Find a special place, too, that can be your go-to place for self-care.  I have a gazebo on our deck - it cost about $100 at Big Lots.  I have decorated it with tiny white (Christmas) lights, flowers, and wind chimes.  When I need to escape, even a little, I leave all electronics inside and go outside.  The soft breezes and birds chirping help to make all of the stress float away on those breezes.  You can find your place too.  Set that as an intention for the rest of the month - finding your go-to place!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Why I Do What I Do....

Someone mentioned to me the other day that she'd heard several people quote something I'd had on or on my Facebook page.  The implication was "how does she do it, tirelessly and nearly every day."  The answer is simple.

As a nurse, childbirth educator, birth researcher/writer, I have a calling for this work.  It is my calling to provide, in as many venues as possible, evidence-based information for both parents and birth professionals.  When that information is available for both to read and embrace, it makes for informed choices on all parts.  When a large group, such as parents and birth professionals embrace the same informed decisions, then we have a mandate...a mandate for change in the maternity care system.

This is why I do what I do.  Because every day millions of women are being lied to about what is safe for their babies.  Every day, birth professionals are working under the wrong assumptions that the care they provide is the best quality care.  And every day, the maternal/infant morbidity and mortality rates in this country are getting worse.  Every day, the cesarean rate and elective induction rate stands outrageously high.  Every day, mothers and their babies are put at risk.

That is why I do what I do.  And don't be deceived.  I have been doing this work for over 30 years and watching things get worse is not pleasing.  Much of the reason why things are not improving is a complex compilation of poor marketing/dissemination of evidence-based information to both parents and professionals plus the lack of cohesiveness between birth professionals.  We just simply cannot work together.  Many feel the need to empire build for their own selves and do not see the work for the big picture.  This also is not pleasing.

I also do what I do because I want to be there as a helper, "doula", mentor and cheerleader for others who have the same passion/obsession as I.  Early in my career, I had people (women and men) who were my helpers, mentors and cheerleaders.  Returning the favor is also what it is about.

The answer is simple.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

International Women's Day March 8

As we approach International Womens Day on March 8, perhaps we should bring to the forefront the most pressing issue (IMHO) in the US today - maternal morbidity and mortality.

Many of us are scattered around the country, in our own little pockets and trying to make a difference.  Each one of us has our own little victories, our own little A-ha moments.  But what if all of us took our little victories and put them together?  If we all banded together, working together, putting our philosophical disagreements aside and worked for one common goal: reducing maternal morbidity/mortality through evidence-based maternity care?

Sadly, many hospitals do not practice evidence-based care.  Many are practicing what was taught X number of years ago when the care providers were in school, or they are practicing the same as when their last practice guidelines were written, or they are practicing this way because that is the "way we've always done it".    As a birth researcher, I know it takes many hours to examine the current (defined as the last 3 years) research and decide which is plausible and which is not.  But to ignore evidence-based care because it rocks the traditional boat or because of ignorance of the studies does not instill a great deal of confidence in today's maternity care.

For example, how many hospitals in your community are designated as "Baby Friendly"?  If not 100%, it should be!  Not only does Baby Friendly examine breastfeeding outcomes, but it also examines the obstetrical policies and procedures and practice guidelines that lead up to the birth, skin-to-skin and breastfeeding moment!  The impact of those obstetrical practices during labor certainly do impact thebirth, skin-to-skin and all subsequent breastfeeding moments!  To ignore this, is to ignore the health and well-being of every mother-baby couplet in the US.

Maternity professionals are dealing with isolationism and apathy.  Many are tired of the "fight", tired of working toward the same goals and not making any progress.  Really?  You think we have not come very far?  While the maternal morbidity/mortality and infant morbidity/mortality statistics are still deplorable and the cesarean section rate and elective induction rate are still too high, more and more hospitals are using birth balls and hydrotherapy ....more women are using doulas and seeking good childbirth education than 20 years ago.

If birth is your calling, your passion, then don't give in to the isolationism and apathy.  Contact your certifying organization TODAY and ask two questions: what are they doing to promote evidence-based maternity care and how can you help?  One person can make a difference.  And why can't that one person be you.

Celebrate Women.  Celebrate Birth.

Monday, March 05, 2012

"I am a midwife" from Midwives Alliance of North America

Yes, I have not actually blogged in a while. There have been so many video trailers available lately, I just wanted to share some of them with you.