Friday, December 17, 2010

Cytotec Is Dangerous, No Matter What Your Doctor Told You...

There has been renewed conversation about Cytotec in my local doula community recently because a doula was concerned that this was what a doctor had prescribed for her client. A few doulas commented that their clients had experienced medically-induced labor with Cytotec and had good outcomes. But we must remember that a few happy endings are not evidence that the practice is safe.

This article by Marsden Wagner in a 2001 issue of Midwifery Today covers the major points...

Induction with Cytotec should never be attempted anywhere, most especially in out-of-hospital settings. Incredibly, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently approved Cytotec induction: 1) in spite of lack of FDA approval; 2) in spite of a letter to doctors earlier this year from Searle (which manufactures Cytotec) imploring doctors not to use it for induction; 3) in spite of lack of approval from the Cochrane Library (the best scientific opinion); and 4) in spite of the fact that it is not approved nor used for induction in any country in Western Europe.

Recent articles in prestigious medical journals such as The Lancet have questioned the validity of standards of practice from professional organizations like ACOG, because their goal of protecting the health of women through using scientific evidence to guide members toward best practices too often conflicts with their other role as a trade union representing the interest of their members. As a result of this "trade union" role, ACOG recommendations are too often compromised by the needs of the obstetricians. A classic example of putting the doctors' needs ahead of the families' needs is the ACOG recommendation not to permit videotaping by families of a hospital birth.

So ACOG quotes studies of Cytotec induction, none of which have a sufficient number of research subjects, and consequently, none of the studies quoted have sufficient statistical power to detect small but potentially important risks such as uterine hyperstimulation and uterine rupture. Furthermore, because published studies of Cytotec induction have such wide methodological variability, meta-analysis is impossible and the published attempts at such meta-analysis are seriously flawed. But Cytotec is a godsend for busy obstetricians, as its use allows them to schedule the woman's labor at a convenient time and speeds up the labor, resulting in a return to "daylight obstetrics"-pharmacological induction of labor has increased from 10 percent to 20 percent in the past decade in the United States. So with their members' needs in mind, ACOG plows ahead, ignoring the best scientific evidence as well as the recommendations of the best scientific bodies, of government agencies not only in the United States but in every country in Western Europe, and of the pharmaceutical company. Instead, ACOG uses weak, inadequate evidence to approve Cytotec induction. Midwives should stay as far away as possible from such vigilante obstetrics-obstetricians taking matters into their own hands while ignoring the recommendations of the real judges.

article from Midwifery Today, Issue 57, Spring 2001, page 44

by Marsden Wagner MD, MSPH

Cover photo of Jessie and Hans © 2000 by Caroline E. Brown, DEd, MS, RNC.

Debunking Doula Myths

This is a column by Danielle Elwood from Babble, a parenting website. I have included part of it and you can find the rest here:

"The longer I’ve worked in the birth community the more I’ve learned just how many mainstream forums carry horrible inaccuracies about doulas. I wanted to write something to kind of set the record straight and let women, especially pregnant women, or women who will some day plan to have a child of their own what is real, and what is a big ol’ myth."

Myth: A doula shows up only for the birth, and leaves immediately after.
The relationship a doula builds with a mother and her family starts during pregnancy, and expands to labor and postpartum care. When labor begins your doula will accompany you fromstart to finish, and even in the hours after, no matter what setting you have chosen for your birth. After your baby is born you should expect your doula to check in on you a couple times to see how you are adjusting to your new life and roles.

Myth: Doulas are only for crazy hippies.
Contrary to popular belief, all doulas are not going to show up with bongos and magical healing crystals. Most doulas may be into natural healing, or holistic health care, but are not going to be pushy if this is something you do not want to choose for your own birth.

Myth: Doulas take over the role a husband has during labor.
This is probably the most common myth I hear. A doula’s role in labor is to not only be of help tothe mother and her partner, but to work on enhancing the relationship the couple has with the hospital staff. She will advocate for the mother and function as a liason between the couple and hospital staff such as residents and nurses. During labor, mom and dad are often too preoccupied to deal with lots of details– this is one reason a doula comes in handy.
As Penny Simkin says: “While a doula probably knows more than then partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman and her personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he or she loves the woman more than anyone else there.”

Myth: Doulas take the place of Midwives or OB/GYNs.
This is another huge myth I constantly hear. Many people mistakenly think that a doula takes the place of a midwife, or medical professional who handles prenatal care and delivery. Or that a doula and midwife are interchangeable. While some doulas may carry other certifications in the medical field they are not midwives or doctors and should not be treated as such. They are there to provide labor support and guidance, not medical care.Myth: Doulas cost too much!
Doulas are not only for the rich, or for those with kick ass health insurance that will cover doula care. Doulas are for all women. In some areas they can range up to about $600 for a birth, but many doulas are willing to work on a sliding scale, or even for free while working on their certification. Many hospitals across the country have programs with doulas on staff that can cost as low as $100 for an entire birth.

Myth: If you have a doula, you cannot have an epidural or pain relief.
While women who make the choice to have a doula do not typically wish to have medical pain relief during labor, doulas are not going to judge your choices for what you want during your birth. They are there to support your labor and birth, not dictate what they think you should be doing. Heck, I had a doula with my second birth and after laboring for nearly a day opted for an epidural for some sleep. There is nothing wrong with it as long as you are educated on your choices.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Study Shows Pregnant Mother's Diet Impacts Infant's Sense of Smell


A major new study shows that a pregnant mother's diet not only sensitizes the baby to those smells and flavors, but physically changes the brain, directly impacting what the infant eats and drinks in the future.

"This highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet and refraining from drinking alcohol during pregnancy and nursing," said Josephine Todrank, PhD, who conducted the two-year study while a visiting scientist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "If the mother drinks alcohol, her child may be more attracted to alcohol because the developing baby "expects" that whatever comes from the mother must be safe. If she eats healthy food, the child will prefer healthy food."

Researchers studying mice found that the pups' sense of smell is changed by what their mothers eat, teaching them to like the flavors in her diet. At the same time, they found significant changes in the structure of the brain's olfactory glomeruli, which processes smells, because odors in the amniotic fluid affect how this system develops.

"This is the first study to address the changes in the brain that occur upon steady exposure to flavors in utero and early in postnatal life when the newborn is receiving milk from the mother," said Diego Restrepo, PhD, co-director of the Center for NeuroScience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and sponsor of the study. "During these periods the pup is exposed to flavors found in the food the mom is eating."

The research, he said, could have important public health implications.

"Many diseases plaguing society involve excess consumption or avoidance of certain kinds of foods," said Restrepo, a professor of cell and developmental biology. "Understanding the factors that determine choice and ingestion, particularly the early factors, is important in designing strategies to enhance the health of the infant, child, and adult."

In her study, Josephine Todrank fed one group of pregnant and nursing mice a bland diet and another a flavored diet. At weaning age, the pups from mothers on the flavored diet had significantly larger glomeruli than those on the bland diet. They also preferred the same flavor their mother ate, while the other pups had no preference.

"Exposure to odor or flavor in the womb elicits the preference but also shapes the brain development," said Todrank, whose work was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and was published December 1, 2010 in the
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a major biological research journal.

"From the fetus' point of view, whatever is in the womb is considered "good." If your mother ate it and survived to give birth to you then it was probably safe," she said. "This is a good strategy for a mouse that is foraging for food. It treats those same foods as safe."

Due to the similarities in mammalian development, she said, there is no reason to think that experiments would produce different results in humans.

"What an expectant mother chooses to eat and drink has long-term effects – for better or worse – on her child's sensory anatomy as well his or her odor memory and food preferences in the future," Todrank said. "It is not yet clear how long these changes and preferences last, but we are currently investigating that question."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Austin American Statesman Publishes Story Featuring GetBabied! Doula Collective

I got a mention in the Austin American Statesman today! My name is included in the caption of the photo accompanying an article about mothers who are taking their placentas home from the hospital and how GetBabied (via specialist Lindsey Roberts) is making information available to mothers who want to go through the time-consuming process... which includes securing necessary legal paperwork, signing an Unopposed Motion, taking notarized documents and fee to the county courthouse, filing documents, appearing before the judge, and keeping a copy of the Agreed Order to deliver to the hospital staff. Whew!

Celebrate the Opening of South Austin-Area Birthing Center

Austin Area Birthing Center:

This kid-friendly open house will include Joe McDermott and his Smart Little Creatures Band (performing from 2-3pm), the George Carver Quintet, and Santa and his balloon-twisting, face-painting elves. The kiddie train will take families on a tour of the parking lot. Food and frolic provided. Visit with all the AABC midwives and help them celebrate their new baby, AustinABC South.

For more information and to RSVP, visit

Monday, November 15, 2010

Breastfeeding moms don't get less sleep

This Reuters story summarizes a recent university study that found breastfeeding mothers to be as well rested as formula-feeding mothers. I wasn't aware that it is commonly believed that breastfeeding mothers get less sleep - I tend to believe the opposite! - but I am glad that research is debunking that myth so that mothers will have one less bad reason to consider giving their babies formula instead of milk!

Contradicting the suspicion that breastfeeding moms get less sleep, the results represent "good information to be able to tell women, (that) 'not breastfeeding is not going to help you get better sleep,'" study author Dr. Hawley Montgomery-Downs of West Virginia University told Reuters Health. "And the benefits (of breastfeeding) for both mom and baby are tremendous."

Read the entire story here:
More commentary from TIME magazine:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mother's Cuddle Brings Baby "Back to Life"

An Australian woman tells how she resuscitated her premature baby son with cuddles, two hours after doctors had declared him dead.

Baby Jamie showed no signs of life when he was delivered along with a twin sister, Emily, at just 27 weeks gestation and weighing 2lb at a hospital in Sydney, Australia.

Doctors said they had lost him and he was given to his mother, Kate, who unwrapped his blankets and placed him on her chest so she and her husband, David, could say their goodbyes.

Following two hours of cuddling and being spoken to by his parents, Jamie began to gasp. Doctors initially claimed it was a "reflex" but the baby began gasping more often and then opened his eyes.

The family have spoken of their experience for the first time since Jamie was born five months ago. They told of the importance of "skin-to-skin" bonding between mother and baby in a technique also known as the "kangaroo touch" in Australia because of the way the animals held their newborns close to the skin in their pouch.

Read the full story by Rebecca Smith on Mother's Cuddle Brings Baby Back to Life

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ob/gyn: "Fetal heart monitoring is an appallingly poor test."

This story in The Philadelphia Inquirer asks a good question...
Why do we use fetal heart monitors when they do not lead to improved outcomes?

"A test leading to an unnecessary major abdominal operation in more than 99.5 percent of cases should be regarded by the medical community as absurd at best," wrote Steven Clark and Gary Hankins in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "Electronic fetal heart rate monitoring has probably done more harm than good."
Why do doctors cling to continuous fetal heart monitoring? An obstetrician will most likely point to the fear of being sued, but the complete answer is more complex. Our medical culture prizes technology and tests, even if they don't work and can cause harm.

"It's our bias that anything that can be quantified is an improvement," said H. Gilbert Welch, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School whose research focuses on harm caused by screening and over-diagnosis.
Alex Friedman is a fellow in maternal-fetal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Read the full story by Dr. Friedman in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Breastfeeding Cuts Fever Risk After Vaccines

A new study shows that infants who are exclusively breastfed are less likely to run fevers after their routine immunizations than infants who are partially breastfed or only receive formula.

"Babies want to nurse more frequently, and because they are nursing more frequently, they are getting more food [than formula-fed infants], so whatever need they have to repair their body and bring down the fever is being met," said Barbara Holmes, a lactation specialist at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Read more:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't Short-Change Your Baby By Inducing Labor

I read this column on MSNBC today, about why women should not choose to induce labor in their final weeks of pregnancy. The author refers to a recent study that details the complications that come with late preterm births, including respiratory distress and difficulty sucking and swallowing.

I agree with the column, but I would add that the dangers of induction do not end at 40 weeks or the "due date" your doctor wrote in your medical file. Just because some babies are born around 40 weeks does not mean every baby is ready to be born at 40 weeks. Why induce at 40 weeks if you would not induce at 38?

Here are some good comments from Judith A. Lothian in the Journal of Perinatal Education:
Thinking of, and clinging to, the “due date” as “the day” makes it difficult for women to trust nature's beautiful plan for the end of pregnancy and the start of labor. What women rarely know, and what people tend to forget, is that some variation exists in how long it takes for an individual baby to mature fully. Acknowledging that babies can safely come 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after the due date does not tell the whole story. Some babies are mature as early as 37 weeks (259 days), and others need 42 completed weeks (294 days) and sometimes a bit more to be fully ready. Size is not an indication of maturity, and the due date is only a guideline.

She notes that "Waiting for labor to start spontaneously is almost always the best way to know that the baby is ready to be born and that a woman's body is ready for labor." Read her article for more details about the risks of induction:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Project Helps Parents Understand Colic as "Purple Crying"

A doula in my local doula association recently sent around a link to a website called The Period of Purple Crying. I checked it out and found that their goal is to help parents understand that there is a stage of development in which their baby may cry inconsolably or inexplicably... and that this is normal! The organization refers to this stage as "purple crying" in an effort to change parents' perception that their baby has a problem that needs to be fixed. I'm not sure that "purple crying" sounds much better than "colic," but I think the information that they provide on their website is useful nonetheless!

I've included an excerpt below. Visit the Period of Purple Crying website to see more articles and related videos.

The period of purple crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development. It is confusing and concerning to be told your baby “has colic” because it sounds like it is an illness or a condition that is abnormal. When the baby is given colic medicine it reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with the baby, when in fact the baby is going through a very normal developmental phase.

The period of purple crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months. There are other common characteristics of this phases, or period, which are better described by the acronym PURPLE. All babies go through this period; some can cry a lot, some far less, but they all go through it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Plumber Helps Deliver Son in Bathroom

I always enjoy stories of families who bring their newest additions into the world without a team of medical staff. Maybe these fantastic news stories perpetuate the common (but false) idea that birth is always dramatic and fast, but they simply remind me that birth is a natural process and that mothers can do this work on their own if they need to. It's always nice to see how proud the father who got to catch the baby is, too. His role at a birth like this is very different than it would have been if he and his wife made it to the hospital...

Brian Hines, a plumber, helped his wife Andrea deliver their second son in the bathroom of their home, in Waterford, Michigan. WDIV's Lauren Podell reports.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Historical Breastfeeding Photo: The Cornstalk Madonna

My sister sent me another historical breastfeeding image.

This photo was taken by Orin Crooker 94 years ago, on May 15th, 1916. The mother is sitting on a wooden box next to cornstalks, feeding her child on a farm in Hoopeston, Illinois.

I tried to find more info about the photographer and stumbled across this entry in the August 1922 issue of Farm Mechanics, where he described how a local farmer was using electric power on his farm. I could not find any information as to whether Orin Crooker was a farmer or reporter or something else... So I can't know who this woman was or what the circumstances surrounding this photo were. But I love that the baby is so tuckered out that he's falling asleep on the job. :) And that the mother is peacefully letting him sleep while she enjoys looking at him. So lovely! And such a contrast to the fast-paced, sterile, convenience-oriented, expensive, powder-measuring, bottle-warming culture of formula that most American mothers participate in these days. What a sad loss.

You can find this photo at the Library of Congress website at this URL:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Defeating the Culture of Death

Vision Forum has posted the topics that will be addressed at its Baby Conference next month. It isn't too late to sign up! The topics look GREAT and include:

A Season of Victory in the Long War Against Babies — Doug Phillips
The Wonders of Embryology — Geoff Botkin
Haiti’s Message to the Families of the World — Doug Phillips
The Glorious Vision of Adoption and Why You Should Consider It
Symposium: Babies, Children And Training
The Glory of the Fruitful Womb
Naming Babies
The First Three Years
Children as Pets
Toys, Tools, and Children
How to Practice Biblical Discipline in the Home
The Indispensable Role of Grandparents in the Life of Children
The Hopeful Theology of Miscarriage
What Every Father Needs to Know About Government Education
Children and the Dominion Mandate
How the Local Church Builds a Thriving Culture of Life
What About Reversal Surgery?
The Myth of Overpopulation
Why I Chose A Midwife Over a Doctor
Suffer the Children: How Families and the Local Church Must Care for the Sick and the Disabled
How Reproductive “Freedom” Destroyed Not Only our Culture, But The Christian Church
Top Seven Legal Issues Facing Christian Parents
The Demographic Bomb
What the Bible Says About Birth Control
The Future of Healthcare in America: How Must the Church and Family Respond to Socialized Medicine
How to End Abortion in America: A Look at the Spiritual, Practical and Constitutional Realities
Symposium on Biblical Bio-Ethics for Birth in the 21st Century: Surrogacy, In Vitro Fertilization, Designer Babies, Cloning, Artificial Wombs, Male Pregnancy, Stem Cells, and More
Symposium on Biblical Bio-Ethics for the Infirm and Aging in the 21st Century: Brain Death, Organ Transplants, Euthanasia, and Care for the Elderly
First We Were Wives, Then We Became Mothers
Women’s Symposium: Managing Logistics for a Large Family
Lessons for the Future of Adoption from the Great 2010 Crisis in Haiti
The Who, What, When, Where and Why of International Adoptions
Top Ten Toughest Adoption Questions

Register for the conference here:
I'll be there. I look forward to seeing any of you who can make it!

"Speed Dating" Connects Families and Doulas in Toronto

To make it easier for parents to pick the right doula, Amanda Spakowski of The Nesting Place and Dr. Jennifer Wise of Urban Chiropractic have started a service called Doula Speed Dating in Toronto, Ontario.

The idea is to meet several doulas face-to-face and conduct mini-interviews. It allows couples to get to know multiple doulas while cutting down their research and interviewing time. I think it's a good idea because I often conduct extensive email correspondences with potential clients before I meet them. Then so much of our compatibility (or lack thereof) is established when we meet in person. So it seems efficient and effective to meet lots of clients in one place and to skip the time and money spent on organizing lunch dates for those separate initial interviews. Then clients can contact the doulas they best connected with and set up appointments, or hire them immediately, since they already know their options.

Maybe it's time to organize something like this in Austin. What do others think of this concept?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Farmer's Market Fun

This past week I enjoyed an afternoon of catching up with my friend and back-up doula, Sarah. Neither she or I have ever had to call on the other to fill in at a birth, but we have met each other's clients and we keep each other posted about upcoming births. I have enjoyed getting to know her and learn from her, as well as being able to process my questions and insecurities with her. She is a wife, a mother of two, and is currently hosting a postpartum support group for new mothers in her home. I recommend her highly to anyone looking for a birth or postpartum doula in Round Rock or North Austin!

Here's a great photo of Sarah and equally awkward photo of me with my eyes closed. :) Sarah visits the farmer's market at The Triangle every week and she invited me to come along with her last Wednesday.

Sarah and I both decided that the farmer's market would be a great place for postpartum mommas to come hang out. There were lots of young families sitting on blankets and enjoying the atmosphere, letting their children play in the green space, and getting grocery shopping done, too!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tactile and Emotional Support During Labor

This month's issue of the Charis Childbirth newsletter included great introductory information about the role of birth doulas. I've included an excerpt below, but there's more info at this link:

A doula is a layperson, most often a woman, who understands the biological and medical processes involved in labor and obstetrics, and who usually has assisted in at least five or six deliveries under the supervision of another doula. Her training also provides her with knowledge of obstetrical interventions, so that she can explain them to the woman and her partner in the event they are needed.

Doulas typically function as a part of the "birthing team," serving as an adjunct to the midwife or the hospital obstetrical staff. Physicians and labor and delivery nurses may appreciate the doula's sustained attention to the mother, especially in hospitals where demands on the staff interfere with exclusive contact with the mother. The doula also serves a critical role in supporting and educating the woman's partner, enabling him or her to be as involved and as effective as possible in supporting the mother.

In the United States, most doulas work as independent providers hired by the expectant woman. (In fact, many hold full-time jobs outside the realm of health care.) Increasingly, managed care organizations are offering doula support as part of regular obstetrical care. In some European institutions, doula support is offered as a standard of care by midwives or nursing students. In many cultures, of course, the practice of a knowledgeable woman helping a mother in labor is not labeled anything as official as "doula" support; it is simply an ingrained, centuries-old custom.

Overall, the defining characteristic of doula-type care is continuous, uninterrupted, emotional and physical support of the woman for the duration of the labor and childbirth.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Babies Documentary Beautifully Captures Family Bond

I've been looking forward to this film since I first saw the trailer. And I've watched the trailer a few times since then! :)

It's still not showing in Austin. But here's a review from someone who has seen it.
French director Thomas Balmes brings us the daily ins and outs, from mundane moments to milestones, of four infants living disparate lives: Ponijao, a girl from Namibia; Mari, a baby girl in Tokyo; Hattie from San Francisco, and Bayarjargal, the only boy (and the biggest scene-stealer) in Mongolia. Balmes does this without narration, without marking the passage of time or even subtitles to clarify what's being said; then again, there are very few words. Instead, he roams from one baby to the next as they cry, eat, sleep, play and — eventually — crawl, stand up and walk.

It's a bold storytelling approach: Balmes runs the risk of alienating his audience members, the vast majority of whom won't be able to understand what's being said. "Babies" frequently lacks momentum because there's no strong narrative drive, just an easy, casual stroll from baby to baby, moment to moment. Then again, the familiarity of infancy emerges in time. When a mother assuages her child on an African plane or in a Japanese high-rise, it's clear what she's saying.

At the same time, the differences are striking. Helicopter parenting doesn't seem to exist in Mongolia, for example, where adorable Bayarjargal crawls out by himself into a scruffy field in the sunshine wearing nothing but a T-shirt and a diaper. Soon he's surrounded by cattle, all of whom seem to know instinctively to step carefully around this delicate creature, to protect him. When Ponijao bends down to sip water from a stream in the desert, you can almost hear the moms in the audience cringing because it's not sanitary.

But parents in the United States will also get a kick out of Hattie's reaction when her mom drags her to a crunchy-granola, mommy-and-me song circle. Her instinct is to run screaming for the door. (Smart cookie. Learning early.) Similarly, Mari has a prolonged and hilarious tantrum when she can't figure out how to stack a series of blocks in her bedroom. These are little people with big personalities, and Balmes lucked out in finding them; after all, he arranged to film these families while the babies were still in the womb.

Balmes shot nearly all this footage himself, 400 hours of it, all on a tripod, and the stillness of the lengthy moments that result can be mesmerizing. In crisp high definition and accompanied by Bruno Coulais' gorgeous score, he shows us everything from grand vistas of the Mongolian planes to nighttime quiet of a Namibian family's hut.

Read the full review by Christy Lemire of the Associated Press:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Knitted Womb

I saw this knitted womb on the website today. The subtitle on the website is "purls of wisdom." :)

The knitter, K Carroll, says, "Human anatomy is pretty amazing, but not always pretty. My interest in anatomy coupled with the Blythe dolls phenomenon somehow combined in my imagination to produce a cute, cuddly uterus doll."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Vaginal Birth Now Recommended for Babies in Breech Positions

This is year-old news, but I just found it today. It surprised me that this wasn't bigger news when the study was released... The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has announced that c-sections are no longer recommended for breech babies!

An article at the Globe and Mail states that Canadian medical schools will now start training doctors to deliver breech babies, so that they can conform to the current guidelines:

Since 2000, C-sections have been the preferred method of delivery in breech births. Studies suggested that breached births were associated with an increased rate of complication when performed vaginally.

As a result, many medical schools have stopped training their physicians in breech vaginal delivery.

The problem now, according to Dr. Lalonde, is that there is a serious shortage of doctors to teach and perform these deliveries.

With the release of the new guidelines, the SOGC will launch a nationwide training program to ensure that doctors will be adequately prepared to offer vaginal breech births .

The new approach was prompted by a reassessment of earlier trials. It now appears that there is no difference in complication rates between vaginal and cesarean section deliveries in the case of breech births.

The article also references an organization called the Coalition for Breech Birth. Their stated purpose is to educate women about breech birth and to inform them that they have the option to choose to birth a breech baby vaginally, c-section is not the only option. “Educating women is our primary goal because it takes more than just a guideline change,” the coalition co-founder says.

Read more here:

If you're interested in seeing images of other breech positions that babies may take, check out this page:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Odyssey Ends with Reunion of Haitian Baby and Parents

Four days after Haiti's earthquake, a 2-month-old baby girl was brought to a field hospital where CNN's senior medical field correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, was stationed. She was able to follow the story of this baby from rescue to reunion.

I love that the doctor, when questioned about transporting the baby to America without state permission, said "I don't care what the state department cares about." Many lives, like baby Jenny's, were saved because people like Dr. Arthur Fournier did what was right.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Historic Breastfeeding Photo: The Mother

This is a black and white photograph of a painting by American painter, Gari Melchers, who lived from 1860 to 1932. The painting is signed by the artist. I imagine the original painting was in color. The Library of Congress calls this image, "The Mother." No other information is readily available.

This image at the Library of Congress website:

Apparently Gari Melchers painted many mother and child subjects. Among these, he is best known for his painting "Mother and Child" which is displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Mother and Child, ca.1906, oil on canvas, gift of James Deering, Art Institute of Chicago.

"Melchers experienced occasional moments of genius, and that was unquestionably the case on the day he put brush to canvas to produce this universal image of motherhood. The mother's protective ardor, the lifelike naturalism of the baby and the directness of their gaze, strike a responsive chord with anyone who ever had a mother. "
- Joanna D. Catron, University of Mary Washington

Here is a very colorful example called Madonna of the Fields. It is on display at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia.

Gari Melchers, Madonna of the Fields, c. 1895, gouache on canvas, 30 x 27 inches

"Madonna of the Fields appeared on the cover of the New York Evening Post Saturday Magazine in December of 1915. It is a classic example of one of Melchers' best-known and beloved themes, the Dutch mother and child.

The painting depicts a young mother seated in a bucolic village landscape, serenely nursing her baby while a young blond child cuddles close and gazes directly at the viewer through large blue eyes.Traces of pencil - elegant and subtle - enhance the gouache paint and invite the viewer for a close study that reveals Melchers' masterful touch. Stylistically, Madonna of the Fields illustrates Melchers' interest in Symbolism..." - Telfair Museum

Of these three examples, and the dozens of others I found online, the first is still my favorite. I would love to find a copy of the original image in color!