Happy International Day of the Midwife!

Today, we are celebrating our midwives and sending them love.  Midwives do a tremendous work in the communities they serve.  The Midwifery Model of Care brought the opportunity for healthy birth to so many mothers whose options were limited.  We thank our midwives for believing in the normalcy of birth, creating safe spaces for us to birth in, their sacrifices, and all their long hours of loving our babies into this world.  Blessings to you.

Some of my posts on the benefits of midwifery care:

Supporting Homebirth and Birth Center Midwifery Care for Rural Kentucky Women

A Bill Proposing Federal Recognition of CPMs to be Introduced Soon – Great News for Rural Women

The Closing of a Historic Tradition – Mary Breckinridge Hospital Maternity Ward

More on Homebirth and the New Meta-Analysis

Is Homebirth a Safe Option?

Choosing A Care Provider

Watch Gentle Beginnings: Having Your Baby with a Midwife



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Article for The Daily Yonder and Pregnancy Awareness Month

I wanted to take a moment to welcome in Pregnancy Awareness Month by sharing with you the article I wrote which appeared in The Daily Yonder last week.  I am very excited about the response it has generated.  There has been some lively conversation and it was highlighted on www.kentucky.com.  The article is called Closing Maternity Wards: Costly and Risky.  Click on the picture below to read the article.

It only takes a quick Google search for rural options in maternity care to see that this issue is not very transparent.  As we  move through Pregnancy Awareness Month, I hope to highlight some of the issues that rural mothers face when expecting a new addition to the family.

“Like” Birth True on Facebook to discover some ways you can celebrate PAM! http://www.facebook.com/birthtrue

What have been your experiences with maternity care if you are a rural mother?

Many happy days to you and yours,

Kelli

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Remembering My Second Birth Journey

Three years ago yesterday, at around 5pm, my water broke right after ordering dinner at a little restaurant called Karma Cafe.  It didn’t just spring a leek.  It released the flood.  I sloshed myself to the bathroom to check the released fluids.  There was meconium (baby’s first bowel movement – can be a sign that the baby has been or is in stress).  We got our food to go, went to our van, and called our midwife to meet us at home where we planned to give birth.  I was a little alarmed about the meconium, but I felt my baby moving normally and that reassured me.  That is how my birth journey began.

My second daughter was born at 2:12am on April 28th.  Ivy Pearl weighed 11lbs. and was 22 inches long.  She was born healthy and hungry via cesarean section about 8 hours after we transferred to the hospital.  She wasn’t positioned in a way that would allow her head to engage in my pelvis, her cord was wrapped several times tightly around her arm, and her head was not tucked.  However, I know that labor was good for the both of us, and neither of us were ever in any danger throughout that labor.  I am happy and thankful to have had the opportunity to experience labor and for my baby to choose the day she would be born despite the fact that it was a long process which ended in cesarean.  I knew the chance of needing the surgery was there as we knew about the positioning ahead of time, but I also felt it was important to let the process determine the course it would take.  When it was clear the surgery was our best option, we consented.  It was a blessing to make those decisions on my own with advice from healthcare professionals whom I trusted to care for me and my baby’s wellbeing.  It is a wish I have for every birthing mother.

7 months along with my second daughter

After moving out of recovery to our room - Daylight appears

Sisters meet for the first time.

A tired family of 4.

My Mommy Received Prenatal and Birthing Care from a CPM!

Many happy days to you and yours!  Now let’s have some cake and ice cream!

Kelli

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Cesarean Awareness (Birthrights: The Risk of Choice)

AlJazeera English has created an excellent and concise documentary on the issue of the overuse of cesarean surgery in the United States.  I watched it last night after seeing it linked to The Unnecesarean’s Facebook page.  Today, I share it with you, not because it is easy to watch.  Not because I want to promote fear.  I will be honest.  The film is in many ways very sad.  It is very well made however, and I value its content and the interviews from obstetricians they were able to obtain.  Hearing those doctors speak warmed my heart.  It gave me hope.  This film opens eyes, educates, and shows the pockets of people out there who believe change is necessary.

I share this with you today as a mother who experienced an unnecessary operative delivery.  A mother who was not informed of most of the risks involved in cesarean, but only told that my baby was too big to risk vaginal birth.  I was told this based on an ultrasound, which is not accurate in determining size in later pregnancy.  I’m sharing this with you today as a mother who only knew that pulmonary embolism is a risk of cesarean after my OB suspected it while I was experiencing shortness of breath.  (A mother in this film passed away from a dislodged blood clot in her leg.)  I was kept in the hospital for five days.  I went through several tests.  My shortness of breath could have been prevented if I had been encouraged to get up and walk more after my surgery.  No one encouraged me and I was experiencing such pain that moving was very difficult.  On top of that, I was very sad for myself and my daughter, so I didn’t walk.  My daughter had trouble passing meconium and breastfeeding and went through procedures for her bowels and stomach. She was only 8lbs. 13oz.  I was told she would be upwards of 10lbs.

No lives were at risk when I had my surgery.  No lives were saved when I had my surgery.  A healthy mother and a healthy baby were subjected to the risks of major abdominal surgery because of some “what-ifs” that a skilled obstetrician or midwife would be able to address if or when the “what-if” actually occurred.  We were allowed to risk a 4 times increase in the possibility of my dying during the surgical birth for a “what-if”.

Am I upset.  Not so much anymore.  Am I angry.  Sometimes.  But, what matters to me most is that our birth culture change in the US, so that women like myself and babies like my daughter won’t needlessly be put through the risks of major abdominal surgery without true cause.  It is my hope that cesarean section not be used as a means to thwart a fear of litigation or out of convenience.  It is my hope that we can look at cesarean section as the life-saving procedure it is, because we can be assured that they are being performed for reasons that are necessary and worth the risks.

Please watch this film.  Share your thoughts with us.

Many happy days to you and yours,

Kelli


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Due Dates

Today, would have been my calculated due date for my second daughter – Ivy Pearl, had she actually been born on this day three years ago.  The date my midwife calculated was April 16th.  The day she was born was April 28th.  The birthing process began on April 26th.  I was pretty confident that the due date was accurate.  Despite having very irregular menstrual cycles, I knew the day that I conceived.  It was obvious to me what was going on in my body that day.  Clearer than anything of the sort had ever been before.

However, to actually expect Ivy to be born on that day was a long-shot.

Even if you know your exact date of conception, and the exact gestational age of your baby, and know the “average” length of pregnancy, it is still difficult to predict exactly when your baby will be born. A normal pregnancy can last anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. Only 4% of babies are actually born on their “due dates”.  6-10% of babies are born early – prior to 37 weeks; 4-14% of pregnancies last more then 42 weeks. -Janelle Durham (Transition to Parenthood)

Read more about how due dates are calculated (because there are several different ways) at Transition to Parenthood.

In a healthy pregnancy, there is no real concern in allowing your pregnancy to continue past the “due date”.  Actually, you must reach the 42 week mark before you can consider yourself overdue.

It has become relatively common to receive an ultrasound in the last trimester to check on the baby’s size.  This practice can be very misleading and can lead to unnecessary intervention (such as induction and cesarean surgery) in a healthy pregnancy.

Most ultrasound resources state that ultrasound for determining gestational age in the first trimester is accurate to within about a week.  Measurements in the second trimester are supposed to be accurate to within about two weeks.  By the third trimester, the accuracy rate has dropped significantly and can be off by as much as three weeks.  (Read more about ultrasound use and accuracy for determining fetal size here.)

Even early pregnancy ultrasounds should only be used to estimate the general timing of prenatal care, and not to put a end date on a pregnancy.

Your healthcare provider will use hormone levels in your blood, the date of your last menstrual period and, in some cases, results from an ultrasound to generate an estimated gestational age. However, variations in each woman’s cycle and each pregnancy may hinder the accuracy of the gestational age calculation. If your healthcare provider uses an ultrasound to get an estimated delivery date to base the timing of your prenatal care, the original estimated gestational age will not be changed.

It is thought that it is the baby that initiates labor by releasing a hormone that reacts to the mother’s hormones.  This hormone is released when the baby’s brain and lungs are mature enough for life outside of the womb.  Inducing or scheduling a c-section without a medical emergency any sooner than 39 or 40 weeks is dangerous for your baby, and could  result in he or she being born premature.

The healthiest and safest decision in a normal pregnancy for both mother and baby is to let labor begin on its own.

It might be more accurate to think of your pregnancy in terms of “birth month” instead of “due date.”  The anxiety and pressure of having a due date is not worth the cost of making decisions solely based on when it was thought that your baby might come.

If you are having trouble relaxing about your due date, or the real possibility that your pregnancy will continue past the due date, read this post from Birth Without Fear.  The Mayo Clinic also gives some great advice on how to relax and stay patient during those final weeks.

I am forever thankful for my midwife’s patience in regards to waiting for Ivy to come on her own.  When care providers place undue pressure on healthy, expecting mothers around the topic of due dates, it creates anxiety where there is not a need for concern.  The best way to create a comfortable environment for late pregnancy is to find a care provider that is comfortable with a healthy pregnancy lasting beyond 40 weeks, sharing with friends and family not a due date, but a due month, and avoiding ultrasounds that are not medically necessary.

Many happy days to you and yours,

Kelli

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March for Babies – Today!

You may still help me reach my goal by donating to the secure March of Dimes website by clicking the picture below.  Help support a great cause!

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A VBAC Birth Story

This birth story shows a few important things to realize if you are planning a VBAC.  It is a beautiful story with a lot to teach us.  1) If possible, choose a care provider who fully supports VBAC and natural childbirth by asking many, many questions.  Look into and explore for yourself homebirth as an option.  2) If neither of those things are possible, or if homebirth is something you aren’t comfortable considering, know that VBAC is possible when you are fully prepared and knowledgeable – confident enough to know when you should be the prime decision maker.

What do you think of this video?

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