Birthowl’s natural childbirth

Prenatal love
April 23, 2008, 7:00 pm
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How to provide a prenatal environment that nurtures your growing baby.

By Thomas R. Verny with Pamela Weintraub

Where do we first experience the nascent emotions of love, rejection, anxiety, and joy? In the first school we ever attend—in our mother’s womb. Naturally, the student brings into this situation certain genetic endowments: intelligence, talents, and preferences. However, the teacher’s personality exerts a powerful influence on the result. Is she interested, patient, and knowledgeable? Does she spend time with the student? Does she like him, love him? Does she enjoy teaching? Is she happy, sad, or distracted? Is the classroom quiet or noisy, too hot or too cold, a place of calm and tranquility or a cauldron of stress?

Numerous lines of evidence and hundreds of research studies have convinced me that it makes a difference whether we are conceived in love or in hate, anxiety or violence. It makes a difference whether the mother desires to be pregnant and wants to have a child or whether that child is unwanted. It makes a difference whether or not the mother feels supported by family and friends, is free of addictions, lives in a stable, stress-free environment, and receives good prenatal care.

All these things matter enormously, not so much by themselves but as part of the ongoing education of the unborn child.

Nurturers and Managers
Having a baby is, for most people, an act of faith. It represents a belief in a better tomorrow, not just for themselves but for the world. But unless we actively improve our understanding and treatment of the unborn baby and the young child, that faith will go unrewarded because we may blindly pass on to our children the neurotic parenting we ourselves may have received. One key to parenting is flexibility. Those who can adapt to their baby’s wants and needs will be nurturing and responsive. Those who cannot change their lives to accommodate the child—who expect the baby to adapt to them instead of the other way around—may be too rigid and uninvolved to parent well.

These days that task is harder than ever, given the frequent necessity for both parents in a family to work. As parents who work, we delegate responsibilities—including the care of our children and our homes. To keep our lives afloat, to juggle all the elements, we tend to become as managerial in our private lives as we are in our jobs.

It is during pregnancy that parents—those who work as well as those who don’t—must create a balance for living. I urge both partners to examine their commitments and to create a plan for increasing their time away from work so they can spend more time at home with the baby.P


Enhancing milk supply naturally

Anxiety over milk supply
Breast milk is made on demand. The more often a baby feeds, the more milk will be produced. If breast-feeding sessions are frequent and long enough, the milk supply will rarely be inadequate. Parents can be reassured that their infants are receiving enough milk if they have six or more wet diapers a day while exclusively breast-feeding. If a parent still feels anxious about the adequacy of the nourishment provided by breast-feeding alone, weekly weighing may allay fears. A weight gain of 0.38 pound (190 grams) per week is evidence of sufficient nourishment and growth.

Some low-birth-weight infants will require intensive care and ventilation in the hospital. Mothers of these infants often have difficulty continuing to produce breast milk. These mothers must rely on expressing breast milk manually because their babies cannot effectively breast-feed. Pumping milk is much less efficient than breast-feeding. Due to the inadequacy of pumping milk, milk production can decline. In low-birth-weight infants in an intensive care setting, skin-to-skin holding over a four-week period postpartum has increased a mother’s milk supply.88

In contrast, women who did not participate in skin-to-skin holding of their low-birth-weight infants did not experience an increase in milk production. These findings may have implications for all mothers experiencing a diminishing milk supply. In addition, some doctors will prescribe a day of rest to busy mothers whose milk supply seems to be lessening.89 Spending a day in close and relaxed contact with one’s newborn, with its associated increase in frequency of feedings, can effectively increasing milk supply.

Stress and fatigue can greatly inhibit the let-down reflex, lessening the production of milk. In a clinical trial involving mothers of premature infants, mothers who listened to an audiocassette tape based on relaxation and imagery techniques increased milk production by more than 60%, compared with mothers not listening to the tape.90 Whether relaxation techniques would increase milk supply in the mothers of full-term infants is not known.

Three Births – Hospital, Birth Center, and Home

Martin Spielman Writes about Alex, Brandon and Grace Spielman’s Births

Our first son, Alexander, was born at a hospital and it was a horror story that fortunately my wife cannot remember a lot of to this day, which is better, since I can. It involved a disinterested staff and a doctor who had better things to do

We were sent home twice for not progressing and when Cherie finally started to progress the tiniest fraction hospital policy decreed that all and food and drink were to be withheld. It had been a long 2 days and we had had enough and so we signed ourselves out. Finally we returned and Cherie was progressing slowly, but after several hours the staff decided there was a problem being reported to them by the fetal monitor

We were told that since the baby’s heart rate was not climbing enough during contractions that an internal monitor was necessary. When we protested the doctor said, “You don’t want your baby to die do you?” So the doctor broke Cherie’s amniotic sac, attached the fetal monitor and put Cherie on Pitocin. Within 10 minutes (2 contractions) Cherie had gone from 3 cm to 10 not, I believe, because of the Pitocin but more along the lines of what her family history had going for her (Cherie was born on the way to the hospital.) The staff was shocked but said it was OK to go ahead and push, they were not prepared for the result.

Within 5 minutes of starting to push Alex’s head started to crown. The staff rushed Cherie to the delivery room, demanding she not push (as if.) I tried to take some pictures of Alex being born, but the nurses starting yelling at me for being at, The “Wrong” end of the table. The doctor was busy fiddling and did not notice Alexander emerging, and ended up lunging and catching him with one hand. As soon as Alex was born the doctor panicked and called for the pediatrician “Stat,” because Alex was not “Responding properly.” The less panic oriented pediatrician gave Alex the once over and declared, “He’s sleeping.” Obviously Doctor Dopey, had not considered that Cherie was not the only one having endured the 60 hour labor.

Our second son, Brandon, was born at the Familyborn birth center and we were very pleased. I even got to catch the baby. Cool, a must for all real fathers. I was shocked by the lack of poking and prodding this time around. The best part of Brandon Michael’s birth was when Cherie’s water broke. Cherie had not yet broken her amniotic sac by the time she was ready to push so she had to do it while pushing which was very uncomfortable for her, and a great relief once it did happen.

Cherie was in the middle of a full blown pushing contraction when her water was ready to break, and it was quite a show! The amniotic fluid sprayed 6 feet, past the end of the bed and on to the floor. Actually it looked like we were at the bottom of a log flume when the spray erupted. 10 minutes later Brandon was born with the most beautiful blond hair.

As we approached the midway point of our third pregnancy the center told us that they were closing down their on-site birth facilities and that we were out of luck. And so we decided on a home birth. Cherie’s labor actually started almost a full week before Grace was born. Cherie called me to come home at 8:30 am Saturday, 39.5 weeks into her pregnancy.

We were sure this baby was going to be special because she had stayed in so long, both her brothers had been born at 37 weeks and were 6lb 10oz and 7lb 1oz. Cherie had false labor twice before, so we were so worn down that we did not get our hopes up. By Sunday Cherie was still going steady, but not too strong so her midwife came by for a check/cheer up and found her to be 1 cm and 50% effaced. So we unfortunately prepared for the long haul since both of Cherie’s previous labor’s had lasted 60 hours. Sunday night and Monday passed without much fanfare, although Cherie’s labor began to take its toll on her sleep, so that by Tuesday, during her weekly appointment, Midwife Louise and trainee Martha were concerned, and we created a plan of action.

By Wednesday stress had taken its toll and the midwives rushed up to check on Cherie’s now stronger contractions early in the morning. After setting up and determining that Cherie was now 3cm 60% they stayed expecting a prompt arrival, they were to be disappointed. Cherie continued to putter along the rest of the day, but since she had progressed Louise and Martha thought it best to let nature take its course. The midwives agreed that since Cherie was tiring, an understatement, that unless something happened that, in accordance with our plan of action Friday morning she would take castor oil to stabilize and stimulate her labor. On Friday at 9:30 am Cherie took the castor oil “Milkshake” as prescribed, and boy did it ever work.

By 12:30 Cherie was into a strong, stable contraction pattern. Cherie became restless and it was nice to be able to waddle her around our own block. By 4:30pm Cherie’s water finally succumbed and things became intense. With the first push I could tell this baby was bigger than we had imagined just by how high Cherie’s belly rose. Louise and Martha gave a constant stream of direction and suggestion, including having Cherie change positions twice. Shortly before Grace was born Louise brought in Alex who sat by his mom’s head and was the official baby hat holder and coach. As the baby’s head started to crown I warned Martha and Louise to watch out in case I lost my balance since Cherie had a tendency to “blast” babies out.

Alex had to be caught with one hand by the doctor as he turned to get something and Brandon had gone from crowning directly to being exposed up to his elbows with one mighty push. I knew this had to be a big baby when it ended up taking Cherie two entire pushes to expel the head and another one to get out Grace’s body, which I happily caught without incident. Grace arrived at 5:19 pm and weighed in at 9lb 4 oz.

Homebirth slideshow
April 14, 2008, 7:00 pm
Filed under: birth, homebirth, slideshow | Tags: , ,

“After having four children in the hospital my wife wanted to try a homebirth. She talked me into it and this was our experience. We had three more at home after this experience.”

Latching On

When Latching
by Anne J. Barnes

Getting Started

  • Push baby’s bottom into your body with the side (the side of your baby finger) of your forearm
    • This will bring him towards your breast with the nipple pointing to the roof of his mouth
  • Mother’s hand under the baby’s face, palm up
  • Head supported but NOT pushed in against breast
  • Head tilted back slightly
  • Baby’s body and legs wrapped in around mother
  • Use your whole arm to bring the baby onto the breast, when mouth wide
    • Chin and lower jaw touch breast first
  • WATCH LOWER LIP, aim it as far from base of nipple as possible, so tongue draws lots of breast into mouth
  • Move baby’s body and head together – keep baby uncurled
  • Once latched, top lip will be close to nipple, areola shows above lip. Keep chin close against breast

Mother’s View While Latching Baby

Need mouth wide before baby moved onto breast. Teach baby to open wide/gape :

  • Move baby toward breast, touch top lip against nipple
  • Move mouth away SLIGHTLY
  • Touch top lip against nipple again, move away again
  • Repeat until baby opens wide and has tongue forward
  • Or, better yet, run nipple along the baby’s upper lip, from one corner to the other, lightly, until baby opens wide

Mother’s View While Latching Baby

Move baby, not breast!

Mother’s View of Nursing Baby

Recommendations for the Mother

Mother’s posture
  • Sit with straight, well-supported back
  • Trunk facing forwards, lap flat
  • Support breast and firm inner breast tissue by raising breast slightly with fingers placed flat on chest wall and thumb pointing up (if helpful, also use sling of tensor bandage around breast)
Baby’s position before feed begins
  • On pillow can be helpful
  • Nipple points to the baby’s upper lip or nostril
  • <DL>
    Baby’s body placed not quite tummy to tummy, but so that baby comes up to breast from below and baby’s upper eye makes eye contact with mother’s.


Entice baby to gape
  • Baby’s head and shoulders supported so head extends slightly as baby moved to breast
  • Touch baby’s top lip to nipple and move baby away slightly and repeat until baby opens wide with tongue forward
Move baby quickly on to breast
  • Head tilted back slightly, pushing in across shoulders so chin and lower jaw make first contact (not nose) while mouth still wide open
  • Keep baby uncurled (means tongue nearer breast)
  • Lower lip is aimed as far from nipple as possible so baby’s tongue draws in maximum amount of breast tissue


Mother needs to avoid
  • Pushing her breast across her body
  • Chasing the baby with her breast
  • Flapping the breast up and down
  • Holding breast with scissor grip
  • Not supporting breast
  • Twisting her body towards the baby instead of slightly away
  • Aiming nipple to center of baby’s mouth
  • Pulling baby’s chin down to open mouth
  • Flexing baby’s head as is brought to breast
  • Moving breast into baby’s mouth instead of bringing baby to breast
  • Moving baby onto breast without a proper gape
  • Not moving baby onto breast quickly enough at height of gape
  • Having baby’s nose touch breast first and not the chin
  • Holding breast away for baby’s nose (not necessary if the baby is well latched on, as the nose will be away from the breast anyway)

When Latching, by Anne J. Barnes is excerpted from Bestfeeding: Getting Breastfeeding Right For You by M Renfrew, C Fisher,

Maca Root Supports a Healthy Pregnancy

The Side Effects of Maca Root During Pregnancy

There are a lot of ways to use Maca Root for better health. One way that is often overlooked is its effects our body during pregnancy.

Is Maca Root Safe to Use While Pregnant? Maca Root can be consumed safely throughout your whole pregnancy. Maca Root is actually not technically an herb. It is a whole food. It is actually part of a daily diet consumed by the people of Peru. It works very well to balance hormones and keep progesterone levels high while you are pregnant. This can be especially beneficial during the first trimester. There are no hormones in the Maca itself, so there is no need to worry about over doing it in anyway. It works by stimulating and healing the pituitary gland so that it can function at a higher efficiency. There is no way to overdose on Maca Root; there is no toxicity from it. Worrying about overdosing on Maca is the same as worrying about overdosing on potatoes. It is a food, not a drug.

Maca Root Supports a Healthy Pregnancy There are vast amounts of nutrients found in Maca Root. It can almost be a pre-natal vitamin in itself due to the large amounts of vitamins, minerals and amino acids contained within. Maca Root helps to ensure that your unborn baby is getting the nutrients that he or she needs.

Choosing the Right Maca Root There are a lot of different brands of Maca Root out there. I have successfully only used one kind of Maca Root throughout two of my pregnancies. This is because the extracts and gelatinized versions do not contain the whole food, therefore they will not provide the same benefits. I highly recommend Organic Raw Maca Powder.

How to Eat Maca Root Maca Root tastes like it sounds, like a root. The taste can easily be compared to that of a potato, but slightly more bitter. This is why it is best to disguise the taste in food., posted by “the Reviewer”

Home Birth

Beautiful Natural Home Birth of Hudson James attended by a midwife. Katie’s son was asynclitic and needed assistance coming through the birth canal

Midwifery Today published the article by Valerie a while ago that presents very clear instructions on how to turn the baby’s head. IT WORKS. She has taught me the difference between intervention and intercession. We also use visualization, relaxation, talking-to-the-baby, pulsatilla ( for assisting the turn) and gelsemium ( for lips and rings). At a hospital labor support birth this past week, when the doctor announced that it was time for the pit and epidural, to see if we could “get things rolling” – I spoke to my couple. I told them that they had hired me to assist them with a natural birth, and that I was absolutely convinced that they could do this – as long as the baby’s head was lined up well. I told them that in other cultures there is no pitocin or epidurals – women do not have these as options – and yet they have their babies!! I told them that we are mammals – and that mammals have their babies. I told them that I had unwavering faith in a woman’s body’s ability to give birth. We adjusted the baby’s head ( in private) and the baby was born soon after.

At a labor support birth this past week, the midwife who came on call had heard me speak at an MT conference in Oregon a few years ago. She was very warm and friendly, and told me that I could “do this birth” ( by the way, I do not “do” births – I attend them, or assist at them, or help to “receive” the baby with the parent’s permission). I told her that it seemed necessary to adjust the head – she said “By all means please try! I have never done that!” Within a few minutes of the adjustment, the woman began to push and birthed her baby. It had been fifteen years since she had had a baby – the last birth had been a horror show with a “stuck” baby and a resulting forceps delivery – and she was 43 years old.

One last note. One of the women whom I attended had been at 7 centimeters for about four hours when I was called to her birth. Her cervix was swollen and not very giving. She had been told to pant and blow – not to push as it would further swell her cervix. The baby’s head was asynclitic. I adjusted the head, and told her to push – much to the dismay of those around me. This did not come from new-midwife uppity-ness or arrogance – but from my intuition – ” Just push, Kate – just push and lets see what happens.” Within a few moments, she was fully dilated. In some situations, a cervix that has been at 7 for that long probably wants to “go” just as much as the mom wants it too! It just needed the baby’s head more well applied to assist it in its final act of “disappearance”!