Saturday, June 16, 2012

Expecting Fathers: You Play a Key Role in a Safe and Healthy Birth

Welcome to the Daddy Blogs! With Father's Day later this week, we have asked several Fathers to focus on Father's Day and what being a Father means to them.  Our next Daddy Blogger is Darin Gehrke, a new Dad who is featured in Lamaze's Push for Your Baby video and also Tara Owen Shuler, President-elect of Lamaze International.

When it comes to childbirth, popular media often love to portray fathers as helpless and incompetent during labor and birth.  When labor starts, the mother-to-be calmly manages her contractions as the dad sets into a panic, leaving behind the pre-packed bag, taking a wrong turn to the hospital, or running the halls searching for a nurse. 

In reality, dads often play a critical role in supporting mothers during pregnancy and birth and advocating for safe care.  As Father’s Day approaches, Lamaze International wants expectant dads to know that childbirth education goes a long way when it comes to learning how to be the most helpful, from the moment they find out they’re expecting through the first contraction and beyond.

Cherington Shucker and Darin Gehrke of New York welcomed their first child earlier this year and talked about their experience in Lamaze’s Push for Your Baby video, “Parents Push”: Both agreed that Darin’s participation in childbirth education classes enabled him to take an active, positive role in the delivery of their child.

“To help ease the pain of childbirth, I was able to support Cherington in using various types of pain-relief techniques,” said Gehrke.  “We knew in advance that there were many natural options to find greater comfort, and it was especially important for us to avoid any unneeded medical interventions that could lead us down the road to a cesarean birth.”

The importance of fathers advocating for the best care is underscored by persistent and growing gaps in the quality of care women and babies often receive.  A recent report by Consumer Reports says, too often, unnecessary medical interventions are used in birth, increasing risks to mothers and babies.[i]  For example, unnecessary cesarean births can come with unintended health consequences for mom and baby, including breathing problems for baby or complications in future pregnancies for mom.  One recent study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood even suggests that babies born by cesarean may have about twice the risk of becoming obese as infants delivered vaginally.[ii]

Other interventions pose challenges to the health of moms and babies too, including early induction (performed before 39 weeks of pregnancy), epidurals and electronic fetal monitoring.

“Dads can play a key role early on in pregnancy to help mom and baby get the care that’s safest and healthiest,” said Lamaze President-elect Tara Owens Shuler, MEd, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, Director of Continuing Education, Special Projects, and Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program for the Duke AHEC Program.  “He’s a very important advocate, and can provide emotional support for mom throughout labor and birth.”

Here are five tips to help dads prepare for and provide support through pregnancy, labor and birth:

1) Take a childbirth education class with your partner. The benefits of a good childbirth education class can often be overlooked. A class can help dads, and other support people, learn about the different options and interventions, and get the tools and knowledge to push for the best care during pregnancy, labor and birth. It can also spark the conversation between and among couples, so you can learn from one another and interact with other expectant parents in your shoes.

2) Work with mom to plan. Talk things through with one another and with your care provider. Chances are greater for a positive birth outcome if support begins early on in pregnancy. Discuss the different options for a safe and healthy birth, and map a pathway to get there. Labor and birth can be a dynamic process so it’s vital to work with mom to create Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

3) Learn how to be an advocate for mom. Birth is an intense process, emotionally and physically. It's important for dads to be informed and know how to advocate for her wishes. She may come under pressure from family members or healthcare providers and the father’s voice is important in pushing for the safest, healthiest care.

4) Find out about techniques to help minimize the pain. There are many natural ways, such as relaxation, to find greater comfort in childbirth and help labor progress. Every woman is unique and has her own ways of feeling safe, comfortable and relaxed. Whether she uses a hot shower or bath, hip squeezes and pressure points, or birth ball exercises, dads can help mom identify the pain-relief tools that are best suited for her individual needs.

5) Be prepared to welcome baby into the world (and help mom recover).  Birth can be exhausting for both mom and baby, and dad can help to support both after birth. He can help mom by managing visitor times, rocking baby to sleep after feeding, and making sure mom is fed and gets enough rest.

Expectant dads can find out even more at

About Push for Your Baby
Push for Your Baby was created by Lamaze International to provide expectant parents with the support and information needed to push for the safest, healthiest birth possible. Knowing how to spot good maternity care is the key to getting it, and through Lamaze childbirth education classes, parents-to-be can get the tools needed to have the best birth day. For more information visit:

About Lamaze International
Lamaze International promotes a healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting practices. Knowing that pregnancy and childbirth can be demanding on a woman’s body and mind, Lamaze serves as a resource for information about what to expect and what choices are available during the childbearing years. Lamaze childbirth education and practices are based on the best and most current medical evidence available. Working closely with their families, healthcare providers and Lamaze educators, millions of pregnant women have achieved their desired childbirth outcomes using Lamaze practices. The best way to learn about Lamaze’s steps to a safe and healthy birth is to take a class with a Lamaze certified instructor. To find classes in your area, or for more information visit:

[i] “What to reject when you’re expecting.” Consumer Reports. May 2012. Available online: Accessed 6/12/12.
[ii] Huh, S., et. al. Archives of Diseases in Childhood. March 2012. Available online: Accessed 6/12/12.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Daddy Blogs ~ Part 4

Welcome to the Daddy Blogs! With Father's Day later this week, we have asked several Fathers to focus on Father's Day and what being a Father means to them.  Our next Daddy Blogger is Russell Wing, an experienced Dad with great advice!

I was asked to put together some information about being a good dad. Well I am not sure in my younger years I had any idea how to be a good dad. I was not grown up myself. My beautiful wife Kathy had to raise our three boys and me at the same time. Our boys were never the problem that I was. If I can give any advice, it would be adore your spouse and keep God in the mix as number one, then your spouse, then the kids.

My boys were all boy and they were all involved in sports and were good students. My oldest, Brad, is a preacher in Canada today and is a much better daddy than I ever was. He and Eli and Sarah are best friends and respect their parents. Brad and his mom and I did everything together from birth forward. He played basketball from about four years old up and into college. He was a great athlete and was valedictorian of his class. He has a Master’s degree from Southeastern Seminary.

Cory, my middle son, works daily with me in real estate and is a great guy. He is married to a wonderful girl, who is a successful new homes sales agent. Cory collects guns and has lots of creative talents. Cory went to Columbia International University. Kris and Cory live in Davidson, NC.

Tony, my youngest, is my buddy. He also works with me and his mom. Tony is a real smart guy and dates a wonderful girl named Abby, whom we all hope he marries real soon. Tony went to Liberty University and has a Master’s degree from Southern Evangelical Seminary. Tony owns a home in Charlotte.

Now let’s get down to business. If you want to be a good dad do these things: Put God #1 then family then work. I did the backward. So as a dad, I spent time doing with the boys what I thought was cool but let mom deal with the mundane things while I entertained myself. I can tell you at 60 years old, you cannot replace those years or the time lost trying to be rich and cool.
It’s simple to be a good dad by treating mom like the queen she is. If you marry a lemon, just squeeze her. It’s not about you. That will stop a lot of divorces.

Tell your kids every day you love them. Kiss them and hug them…even as adults, they love to hear it. Don't try to have them be all you never were. And even if you were a jock with brains, your kids are not you. Let them be artists or band members or scouts etc. etc. etc. Support them and love them and encourage them. Guess what ~ you will need them someday. I know that now.

Author’s Bio:
Russell grew up in Indiana. He graduated from Brownsburg High School in 1971 and has been married to his wife, Kathy, since 1974. They have 3 boys and live in Indian Trail, NC.  He went in real estate in 1977 and work with his dad until 1999, when they moved to Monroe and has been a Realtor here ever since. He and his wife own Wing Property Management and work with The Allen Tate Company. Russell is a deacon at First Baptist Indian Trail. He is chairman of the board for Union County Habitat for Humanity, Vice Chair for The Arc of Union, Member of the Union County Planning Board, member of The Mumpo Board, vice chair of Family Fortress Ministries, member of North Carolina Association of Realtors and a State Political Coordinator. He is an Executive committee person for the Union County Republican party and vice chair for Safer Communities Ministries.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Daddy Blogs ~ Part 3

Welcome to the Daddy Blogs! With Father's Day later this week, we have asked several Fathers to focus on Father's Day and what being a Father means to them.  Our next Daddy Blogger is Christopher James from Beavercreek Ohio and Father to two active preschoolers!

Without a doubt, witnessing the birth of my son Warren five years ago was one of those life moments I will never forget.  The joy, the elation, the sheer wonder of it all was simply overwhelming.  After years of struggling with fertility issues, Molly and I felt quite blessed.  So as you can imagine, welcoming our second son Devon into the world some two years later was equally as exciting.

Chris and Newborn Warren
I'll never forget the ride home from the hospital with Warren.  I was 31 years old with 15 years driving experience.  Yet my senses were on edge like never before.  I don't think I ever drove as carefully as I did that day.  My awareness of all the possible dangers that surrounded us was quite shocking to me.  This child was my responsibility!

A family walk

It seems obvious looking back, but the realization that Warren and Devon depend on Molly and I for everything - not just for food and shelter, but their safety and well being - was quite something.  It was important for me to look out for him even in situations that didn't seem particularly dangerous.  The sense of responsibility is instinctive.

Any parent will tell you about the unconditional love you feel for your child, and the sacrifices we all make without a second thought.  Your life becomes all about them.  There's nothing I wouldn't do for my two boys.   And that’s how it should be.

Chris and Warren
But then there's the really cool stuff too.  The first smile.  The first laugh.  Cheering them on as they take their first steps. Seeing their eyes light up when I chase them around the house and wrestle them to the floor. Watching them cover their faces in vanilla icing as they attempt to eat their first birthday cake. Taking pictures as they hunt for Easter Eggs. Feeling their excitement as they rush to greet me when I pick them up from school. Opening presents on Christmas morning.  The list is endless!

Chris and Devon
Warren and Devon are without a doubt, the most precious things in my life.  Not only do they motivate me to be a good father, but as their role model, they make me want to be a better person in all aspects of my life. 

Every day brings brand new experiences and priceless memories.  And each Father's Day that passes is a reminder that time slips by far too quickly.  Father’s day for me is a friendly reminder to always be striving to step up the game and give them my all.

About the author:
Christopher James is husband to Molly, and proud Daddy to Warren (4) and Devon (2).  Chris is a website designer, videographer and entrepreneur based in Dayton Ohio.  He is also the founder/publisher of  Originally from England, Chris has lived in the Dayton area for 11 years, and became an American citizen in 2007.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Daddy Blogs ~ Part 2

Welcome to the Daddy Blogs! With Father's Day later this week, we have asked several Fathers to focus on Father's Day and what being a Father means to them.  Our next Daddy Blogger is new Daddy, Dean Walker from Greensboro, North Carolina!

My first Father’s Day is in a few days.  I’m not sure I ever expected to be sitting here watching my firstborn roll around on the floor.  My wife and I had been married six and a half years before we decided to start a family, I’d gotten used to it being just the two of us. Now, it’s hard to think of what life was like before our son.  Time passes so fast, it feels like we brought him home in a sleep deprived daze yesterday!  At least once a day I find myself wondering - who is that cute kid with my wife? “Dude, that’s MY kid!”  I feel as if a switch has been flicked on in my brain, screaming at me that I am a dad.  Adjusting to fatherhood has been an awesome, scary, and overwhelming experience that I have learned to embrace.

Newborn Daddy Bliss
When my son was born, the transition to fatherhood was a lot like when I got married.  But crazier because the sleep deprivation is way more fun after a wedding!  When I was single, it was all about ME. Then I got married and everything became US. Now we have a FAMILY. I think the shock of having a family is something all dads struggle with at first. Learning how to balance needing to provide for them but wanting to be with them all the time is quite a challenge.  I made my wife send me picture messages at least five times a day when I went back to work after G was born.   I kept expecting things to slow down and return to “normal” but I’ve found that we now have a new normal. I love it. I love that I can’t drink anything while holding him without having to defend myself.  The kid is mesmerized by anything we drink out of and immediately starts batting at it.  I love the challenges and the fact that I now have gray hairs in my beard. The challenges come with amazing moments like when I get home from work and my son’s face lights up as soon as he hears my voice.  I would do anything for that face. When G was only a few weeks old, my wife and I sat down to watch the movie Courageous.  There’s a scene where a car is stolen and the owner jumps on the car refusing to let it go. My wife says “Why won’t he just let the car go??” When the owner managed to fight off the thief and the movie reveals a small child in the backseat, my wife burst into tears (I said our son was only a few weeks old, she cried a lot).  I felt a kinship with the character; of COURSE he would jump on a moving vehicle and fight off an armed man to save his kid!

Daddy & G
Thankfully, in the weeks prior to the birth of my son, I joined a men’s fellowship group at church. My wife leads a breastfeeding support group, but I think guys need opportunities to talk about new parenthood too.  I’ve never been so glad to have friends and family giving me encouragement.  I don’t think I would know how to be a good role model or leader if it weren’t for the role models I have in my life.  I think of a lot of men take for granted what an honor, privilege and most of all blessing it is to have a child.  To me, the absence of fathers is painfully obvious in the lives of anyone who missed out on such an important role model. I never want my son to know that kind of pain.  I intend to be very purposeful when it comes to my family, giving them everything I have to show how much I love them.  My number one priority is to be a good leader and role model for my family. This June 17, I’m looking forward to starting my own collection of ties, coffee cups, and super dad hats that are bought every year.  None of it really matters. The fact that they will come from my FAMILY is what matters.  The best Father’s Day gift will be to sit back and look at my wife and our son and know that they are mine to love, provide for and protect. 

About the author:
Dean Walker works at Avery Dennison in Greensboro North Carolina and is the proud Dad of “G”, a ROBUST almost-crawler with loveable cheeks and a great smile, and husband to Jamilla, a great mom/nurse/doula/childbirth educator.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Daddy Blogs ~ Part 1

Welcome to the Daddy Blogs! With Father's Day later this week, we have asked several Fathers to focus on Father's Day and what being a Father means to them.  Our first Daddy Blogger is Jim Livingston, from Dayton, Ohio.

Daughters, Heather & Erin
I am a very blessed father with two wonderful daughters.  I have been a father for over three decades now, and have enjoyed every second of it.  When sitting down to write this piece it was with the intent of expressing what my feelings are of being a Dad, through those ups and downs of raising my daughters and the joy they are to me.  After a little reflection, I thought it better to express my feelings regarding Fathers Day as a son rather than a father.  Fathers Day to me is a special day to recognize my dad, who not only do I share the same name with but also who taught me what I needed to know to live life.

When I was growing up, there was a period of time Dad worked two jobs, along with any additional jobs he could get on the side in order to provide for us.  Though as tired as he must have been he never let on when I wanted a “horsy back” ride, or for him to play with me.  Dad - A coal miner in the early years before I was born, a welder and foreman in a steel mill as I grew up, disabled as I moved into adulthood in a terrible accident.

Jim Livingston Sr.
As the years passed while growing up and later in adulthood, dad taught me what a father should be, loving, compassionate, firm, disciplined, and a host of other things.  Perhaps the biggest lessons I learned were by observing my dad’s actions.  I realized it is not hard to tell someone how to be, how to live their life, be this way not that way, do this not that.  Heck anybody can do that.  Watching my dad live his life showed me the best example of how to live mine.  He did not have to say a word.  He passed to me how to have love, compassion, respect, honor, kindness and so many other things by his own actions.  Hopefully, I have been a good student and have been good son growing up, a good son as a man, and a good father to my daughters.

I can only hope and pray that my actions are as good as his and I set a good example for my daughters to learn from and pass on to their children.

What Fathers Day means to me?  Being able to point to him and proudly say, “That’s MY dad”.

Jim Livingston Jr.
About the author:
Jim Livingston Jr is a retired US Air Force Major now working as a government contractor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.  Married to his wife Connie who blessed him with his daughters, Heather and Erin.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hypnosis during the birthing year & more ~ and a Special Offer!

By Sharon Gourlay C.Ht, HBCE, HBIMI, RMT, BA 
Be sure to download the special offer flyer by clicking here!

There is no question that the things we think have a tremendous effect upon our bodies. If we can change our thinking, the body frequently heals itself.” ~C. Everett Koop, M.D.

When you hear the words hypnosis what do you think?  If you are like most of the world’s population your mind goes to “clucking like a chicken, doing something silly, or even an eerie trance”.  Unfortunately, that is the power of the media distorting the truth and power of hypnosis.  Hypnosis can be as simple as driving from point A to B and not realizing how you got there.  The natural state of hypnosis happens to everyone.  You could be simply watching a movie or reading a book and then lose track of time.  Simply said, our brains power down to this state every single day.  And this is where we can make changes to transform our lives.  Hypnosis is a very valuable tool during the birth year ~ from fertility, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and the postpartum period.  Hypnosis is a tool that you can use to help lower stress, fear, pain, and so much more. 

During pregnancy and the birthing year our culture has become fearful.  The contributing factors causing fear range from language, media portrayal, stories we tell one another that are not uplifting, the birthing room, to unsupportive Care Givers.  Somewhere we have lost the ability to believe in our bodies and our babies.  Women in our culture seek Care Providers who do not trust the body’s ability to get pregnant, birth, and nourish our babies.  Often the information presented is fear driven and lacks one central concept; listening to women.  Think about just the language of birth ~ “bloody show, ruptured bag of waters, or mucus plug”.  This language is medical in nature and not words women would traditionally use to describe birth.  These fearful words and concepts have seeped into our culture, seeped into our minds, and impacted our bodies. 

Fear impacts us so that our bodies are not working efficiently.  This is especially true when fertility issues crop up or even pregnancy/postpartum issues happen.  When humans enter into a fearful state this is called flight or fight.  It causes only our key organs and essential body parts to get the blood needed for survival.  Our reproductive organs are not a part of this system.  Fear and stress have been shown to repeatedly impact our reproductive system negatively.

If you can remove the fear, educate the woman, and lower her stress she can begin to connect with her body to overcome challenges that are posed.  The same can be said of men.  So how does this work?  Concepts heard repeatedly become our personal truth.  In a relaxed state a woman hears positive suggestions for relaxation, stress relief, visual imagery, or whatever she specifically needs.  This allows the information to sink into the mind.  What the mind accepts as real the body will respond to.  This is called The Law of Psycho-Physical Response.  This is truly the beauty of hypnosis.  We (hypnotherapist and client) can guide the mind to visualize conception to the point that body believes it.  So when fertilization takes place the body is willing and in the proper state to achieve conception.  We can help a mother on bed-rest relax get out of the negative thinking loop.  That in turn can impact her body, baby, and lend itself to a healthier situation.   With a mother who is having a cesarean section we can help her remove the fear associated with surgery, have an easier surgery experience and a faster recovery period.  During the postpartum period we can help a mother who is stressed or tired relax and allow her milk to come down.  The benefits are truly endless with hypnosis.

As a hypnotherapist, I truly enjoy working with women on a wide variety of issues because transformation is a continued component of our lives.  I came to this work through grief and loss and that is where I have learned the benefits of caring, holding space, and helping people.  This summer I am offering this special to help women of all socio-economic backgrounds;  “Love Offering” (pay what you can if you the package pricing doesn’t work for you).  The summer package pricing is as follows:  A 45 minute session is JUST~ $50, Three Sessions ~ $135, Five Sessions ~ $210!   This allows everyone the opportunity to experience hypnosis and learn more about what I offer to families.  All sessions will be held via Skype.  Women do not need to leave their homes for sessions.  This is especially beneficial to bed rest mothers who truly can benefit from the relaxation that hypnosis can provide.  I am able to offer alternate hours for sessions so that family schedules will not interfere with sessions.    All that is needed is a computer, microphone/speakers, a quiet location where you will not be disturbed, and a camera (optional).  The time needed for most sessions is 45 minutes and you will need to fill out an intake form prior to our session.  We will discuss your needs and create a custom plan of action.  This is all done prior to your first session.  Payment can be made through PayPal or a check.  I am only offering these specials during the summer from June 11 through July 31, 2012.  It is my goal to help many women and their families in a thoughtful way.  For more information you can contact me at my home office 740-687-5506 or

Below are just a few of the studies substantiating the benefits of hypnosis for the birthing year:

ü  Women facing fertility challenges utilizing mind/body techniques such as hypnosis have a 42 – 55% conception rate as compared to 20% with in vitro fertilization (IVF).The Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association 1999 and The Journal of Fertility and Sterility 2000. (Studies conducted by Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Behavioural Medicine Program for Infertility in Boston
ü  Hypnosis based on imagery and a relaxation strategy was successful in facilitating pregnancy. The treatment was considered to have resulted in beneficial modification of attitude, optimism, and mind-body interaction. The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. (Volume 38, Issue 1, 1995, 22-26): Hypnosis in the Treatment of Functional Infertility.
ü  Hypnosis was used to effectively overcome an acute phobia of needles and other invasive medical procedures that were associated with a high level of anticipatory pain with a client who was slightly over eight months pregnant. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. (Vol. 29, No. 2, 2001, 107-115): Brief Hypnosis for Needle Phobia.
ü  With the use of hypnosis 80% of hypertensive patients lowered blood pressure and decreased medications. 16% were able to discontinue all of their medication. The Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation 1989.
ü  Hypnotherapy was successfully utilized in the treatment of Postpartum Depression by attending to the specific problems presented by the client and developing client skills to resolve existing problems and prevent their recurrence. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (493, January 2007): Treating Postpartum Depression with Hypnosis: Addressing Specific Symptoms Presented by the Client.©2007 American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
ü  Women with depression, when treated showed a 60% viable pregnancy rate within six months, contrasting with 24% when depression went untreated. Journal of American Medical Women’s Association, 1999, vol. 54.
ü  A meta-analysis of studies conducted involving hypnosis with pregnant women was compared to non-hypnosis intervention, no treatment, and placebo. Primary measurements in the meta-analysis included analgesia used during labor and also pain scores during labor. The meta-analysis included 8395 women who had used hypnosis during pregnancy or labor. The analysis concluded that fewer women needed to use a form of analgesia during labor. Women who received hypnosis reported less severe pain than those in the control groups.  From Natural – Steve G. Jones, Ed.S
ü  In another study, 60 pregnant women participated. The participants were divided into two groups based on their suggestibility; all received childbirth education and tips on pain control. These two groups were then subdivided with half receiving a hypnotic induction and the other half learning breathing and relaxation exercises. Women in the hypnosis group and in the high suggestibility group reported less pain. Those who used hypnosis reported using less medication and had a shorter stage 1 labor.  From Natural – Steve G. Jones, Ed.S
ü  Another meta-analysis looking at various studies performed using hypnosis with pregnant women showed that hypnosis reduced the level of medical intervention during labor and reduced risk to women and newborn babies. One study showed that women who were trained to use hypnosis during childbirth very rarely experienced postpartum depression. Hypnosis can help manage both depression and anxiety related to pregnancy, labor, and becoming a new mom. This shows that hypnosis can have many benefits on both women and their newborn babies.  From Natural – Steve G. Jones, Ed.S
ü  One study found that women in their second and third trimester of pregnancy were more suggestible. The study showed that as women became further along in their pregnancy, their suggestibility increased according to the Harvard Hypnotizability Scale. Pregnant women also scored higher on the Creative Imagination Scale. This study researched women at two time periods, when they were pregnant and not pregnant. The research shows that if women are more suggestible during pregnancy, there is more of a reason to use hypnosis for pregnancy and childbirth.  From Natural – Steve G. Jones, Ed.S

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Addressing the Giant Pink Elephant in Our Room

The giant pink elephant?  Yes, you know the one that everyone addresses on Facebook and Twitter and blogs about?  We all "talk" about evidence-based care, yet precious few of us "do" anything about it.

A historic consensus statement was made today (6/5/12), by ACNM, MANA and NACPM which gives maternity care providers, policymakers and women a succinct summary of the evidence for the benefits of normal physiologic birth.  I highly encourage you to read the entire document!

The eight page document, titled Supporting Healthy and Normal Physiologic Childbirth, A Consensus Statement by ACNM, MANA, and NACPM, provides a definition of physiologic birth and the factors that interfere with physiologic birth ~ including but not limited to induction/augmentation of labor, time constraints on labor by policies and staffing, food and fluid deprivation, medications, immediate cord clamping and more.

With 64 references to solidify the evidence-based nature of this consensus, this document also identifies the delicate hormonal orchestration of physiologic birth, so often ignored in US maternity care.  Focusing on improvement of outcomes, the document lists the factors that influence the ability of women to give birth without intervention: for women, factors include a myriad of education including autonomy and self-determination through increased knowledge of the process with fully informed decision making.  Conversely, the document also lists factors from the clinician point of view that contributes to women birthing without intervention: education and competence in caring for women choosing physiologic birth, shared decision making and working within an infrastructure that supports physiologic birth.  Included also are suggestions for the birthing setting and environment that not surprisingly mirror the Lamaze Healthy Care Practices.

Together with the Blueprint for transforming maternity care by Childbirth Connection and the Lamaze Push for Your Baby: Push for the Safest, Healthiest Birth Possible, we have no reason not to move forward in this effort.  However, the giant pink elephant in the room is the fact that not all of us can work together toward a common goal.  Perhaps we need to take a deep breath, and begin anew.  Territorialism, and outright gnawing on each other cannot bring us together in the spirit inwhich the ACNM, MANA, and NACPM have done.  As we all need to do, they have embraced their differences and worked toward a common goal - one that seeks to define physiologic birth and show the way in which it can be achieved for the betterment of maternity care and the health and well-being of women and our next generation.  If we all worked together as the midwives have shown us, what we could accomplish! We could truly change the world.

The only obstacle in our way now is ourselves.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Giving Parents the Tools and Knowledge to Push for Better Maternity Care

This very special guest blog for Childbirth Today is from Lamaze International.  Tara Owens Shuler, MEd, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE is the Lamaze President-elect and Director of Continuing Education, Special Projects and the Lamaze Childbirth Education Program for the Duke AHEC Program.

Every pregnant woman hopes for the same thing – a safe and healthy birth for her baby. But, as childbirth educators, we well know that these hopes exist against a backdrop of concerning facts:
  • Critical health measures for women in the U.S. are flat or falling;
  • More money is spent on high-intervention health care for moms and babies and there’s been no improvement in outcomes; and
  • Even the most proactive woman may be reticent to advocate for herself in the care setting, and sometimes she feels pressured to agree to interventions.

A recent study in Health Affairs showed that patients, worried about being labeled ‘difficult,’ often avoid discussing or questioning a health care provider’s recommendation.  For many pregnant women, the pressure to agree to certain practices – from family and friends, as well as care providers – can be significant. In fact, a Childbirth Connection study showed that many mothers have felt pressured by a health care provider to have an induction (17 percent with induction) and a cesarean birth (24 percent with cesarean).

You may also be seeing more women going into childbirth without getting educated first. Taking a childbirth education course may seem like a hassle to busy parents-to-be and Google might feel like a decent way to answer questions, but a good childbirth class can help them sort through conflicting or inaccurate information, and give them the tools they need to get the care they’re looking for.

Lamaze International has launched a new effort to support pregnant women, and their partners, so they can get the best care. The campaign is called Push for Your Baby and it’s aimed at bringing attention to the role of childbirth education in helping expecting parents to partner with their care providers to push for the safest, healthiest birth possible.

For parents-to-be, understanding the different options and working in partnerships with their care provider is critical to receiving the unique care moms and babies deserve. Push for Your Baby provides resources to get educators and parents involved:

  • – Conversation starters for educators about childbirth challenges, ways to identify the best care, tips for pushing for better care, details about Lamaze education, and questions for expectant moms to ask their care provider.
  • Web Banner and Button: To help you spread the word about Push for Your Baby, and the importance of helping expectant parents to partner with their care providers to push for better care, we’ve developed a banner and button that you can post to your website or blog.
  • Parents Push – A shareable video of moms – and dads – sharing their personal childbirth experiences (the highs and the lows). This video underscores the importance of childbirth education in preparing for the safest, healthiest birth possible. Share the video through your social networks, link to it from your website or blog, and show it to the pregnant women you teach or care for.
  • Push Stories – Lamaze knows that some of the best learning happens through story telling. The Push for Your Baby campaign gives parents the opportunity to share both written and video birth stories highlighting the things they were glad they knew - or wish they had known - before labor and delivery, as well as the role that childbirth education played in their experience. Winners will receive prizes from Lamaze, Tomy and GC Brands Childrenswear, and their photos and blogs posted to the home pages of and Tell the expectant moms you teach or care for about the contest and their chance to win!

As Lamaze educators, it’s our goal to help expectant parents prepare for one of the most important days of their life – their baby’s birth day. We’re working to educate parents about the best birth practices based on the most current medical evidence available, and we hope you’ll join us in this effort.