Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Audio Slideshow: Birth in a Tree

In March 2000, Mozambique was hit by extreme floods. A woman named Carolina Pedro was heavily pregnant at the time, but she managed to clamber into the branches of a tree - where, three uncomfortable days later, she gave birth to a baby girl. When a helicopter came, the American aid workers needed to register every person they rescued. Carolina still hadn't named her baby, so she had to think of a name on the spot! She called the little girl Rosita, after her mother-in-law.

In this audio slideshow at BBC, published back in February, Carolina tells her story and Rosita talks about how she has always felt special because she was born in a tree! So cute.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Central Texas Birth Circles

New and expectant parents may find the Birth Circles offered by the Central Texas Birth Network to be a helpful resource. These monthly meetings are free and allow parents to discuss relevant topics and learn more about local resources.

Upcoming Birth Circle topics include: Gestating Parenthood, Choosing Your Ideal Birth Place, First Six Weeks Postpartum, and Connecting as a Couple. Future topics will be posted at
March 23rd - Gestating Parenthood
Pregnancy is not only a gestation period for your baby. It is also a period of growth for you and your partner in becoming parents. This month, we'll talk about common concerns about becoming a parent.
April 27th - Choosing Your Ideal Birth Place
Where is the “safest” place to give birth? Are there studies that address this? Join us as we examine the choices available to birthing women in the Austin area.
May 25th - The First Six Weeks Postpartum
Learn about the unique physical and emotional adjustment that occurs after the birth of your baby. We will also discuss changes in the family dynamic as it adjusts to the new baby.
June 22nd - Connecting as a Couple
Adding a baby to your family often changes the dynamics. We will examine the impact of pregnancy and birth on your relationship, and identifying ways to nurture your important relationship with each other.

The Myth of a Vaginal Exam

I found this article interesting, especially in light of my most recent post about all the alternative ways of assessing a mother's progress in labor. Apparently, cervical checks are not merely one of many comparable ways to check progress; they are actually inaccurate and unhelpful ways to attempt to check progress. These checks may give doctors and mothers a false idea of how soon labor may or may not begin and also introduce risks that are often not considered.

The Myth of a Vaginal Exam, by Robin Elise Weiss, on
Vaginal exams can measure certain things: dilation, ripeness, effacement, station, position of the baby, and position of the cervix.

What this equation leaves to be desired is something that is not always tangible. Many people try to use the information that is gathered from a vaginal exam to predict things like when labor will begin or if the baby will fit through the pelvis. A vaginal exam simply cannot measure these things.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Assessing Dilation in Labor Without an Internal Exam

I found this blog entry from a doula in Israel to be really insightful. I don't yet have enough experience (or am not perceptive enough!) to confirm all of her observations. But I have seen how a mother's look and sounds change through labor. These are great indicators to be watching for...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Enteromammary System

I have just finished reading an excellent book about breastfeeding called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers: The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solving Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America. The aforementioned expert is Dr. Jack Newman, a pediatrician from Canada.

There have been lots of gems in this book and I might share more of them later, but this paragraph awed me with the perfect design God engineered when he created breastfeeding and the relationship it fosters between a mother and her baby:

"[The enteromammary system] is one of the most fascinating aspects of the protective effects of breast milk. As a result of the mother being exposed to various bacteria and viruses, her milk will contain antibodies specifically directed at those very germs. For example, if a mother is exposed to E. coli bacteria, within hours of that exposure her milk will contain SIgA specifically made against E. coli bacteria. The baby is continually protected against those particular bacteria in his immediate environment, or at least the immediate environment of his mother, which is usually the same thing. Or if she is exposed to influenza virus, within hours of her being exposed, her milk will contain antibodies specifically directed against influenza virus. This is miraculous. Formula will never be able to replicate this - never."

I love this paragraph. I especially love that Dr. Newman describes the process as "miraculous." The enteromammary system does in fact bear testimony to God's character. Romans 1:20 says that "since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." It is truly the amazing work of God that he has equipped mothers' bodies to protect and care for their babies in this way.

Mothers, don't ever let anyone convince you that you formula is a close substitute for breast milk, let alone that it is superior. It is nothing of the sort. And when you are sick there is nothing better you can do for your baby than to continue breastfeeding, strengthening your baby's system with the antibodies and immunity that only you -- only YOU -- can!

Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute: