Five Things for Friday: 2nd Edition

October 24, 2015 at 12:50 am

About three weeks ago I wrote my first “Five Things for Friday” post. Time for another quintuplet of randomness, I think. 

Friday

Thing 1

I learned a fun fact about kissing and breastfeeding this past week. Many of you probably saw this on facebook, but I want to share it again here just in case. It’s rare that the word awesome is applied to something that is truly awe-inspiring, but this really is:

kissingbabyKissing your baby changes your breast milk. Did you know that the undeniable urge to cover your baby in kisses serves a biological purpose? When a mother kisses her baby, she samples the pathogens on baby’s face, which then travel to mom’s lymphatic system. Mom’s body then creates antibodies to fight those pathogens, which baby receives through breast milk. What?! Amazing, right? (quoted from 10 Things You Might Not Know About Breastfeeding)

I learned something similar related to nipples and “baby backwash” a couple of months ago. Katie Hinde, a biologist, associate professor, and blogger at Mammals Suck… Milk! shared these fascinating details with Angela Garbes for her breastmilk post on The Stranger:

According to Hinde, when a baby suckles at its mother’s breast, a vacuum is created. Within that vacuum, the infant’s saliva is sucked back into the mother’s nipple, where receptors in her mammary gland read its signals. . . . If the mammary gland receptors detect the presence of pathogens, they compel the mother’s body to produce antibodies to fight it, and those antibodies travel through breast milk back into the baby’s body, where they target the infection (Source).

Exhale

June 26, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Take a deep breath.

This was my go-to stress-coping strategy for decades. We hear it all the time, right? Take a deep breath.

So when, after having four kids, I felt like I was drowning every day, when the weight of the world was just too much, I opened my mouth, and I took a deep breath. And another. And another. And I kept taking deep breaths because I didn’t know what else to do. And when I started feeling like I couldn’t get enough air, I just tried harder… more deep breaths… more gasping for air… more forcefully. And then the panic set in. And still I opened my mouth, sucked in my belly, and gasped for air.

It was a long time before I finally realized what my body was trying to tell me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t get enough air. That’s not why my deep breaths never seemed to satisfy. The problem wasn’t that I needed more air. The problem was that I needed to exhale.

When we are under stress, our nervous systems cannot distinguish between a financial crisis or a bear attack. The response is the same: fight-or-flight mode. When the threat is more abstract, as most modern crises are, rather than actually life-threatening, we need a way to tell our nervous systems that the fight-or-flight response isn’t necessary.

In Transition

May 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I should be working on my Yoga Teacher Training exam and certification packet, but instead I’ve been looking at homes online. And now here I am blogging. We found out that we’ll have to move this summer. 2015 just keeps getting more and more interesting. I feel like everything about my world right now is “in transition.”

2013-06-12 03.49.40 pmI’m finishing up teacher training. Hallelujah. I’m adjusting to a surprise pregnancy. I’m transitioning through some unwelcome anxiety flare-ups and medication dosage adaptations. I’m remembering to take my own advice about minimizing morning sickness (thank you, cucumbers and magnesium). We’re getting geared-up to move. And I’m transitioning to a new prenatal care provider.

Yeah… switching to a new midwife. With my anxiety struggles and the minor chance of difficulties for the baby because of my medication, I had a strong feeling that I couldn’t do another home birth. If only for my anxiety’s sake, I felt it was best to know I would be much closer to a hospital. Instead, I have chosen to give birth at Blossom Birth Center, located across the street from Phoenix Children’s Hospital and five minutes down the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital. In addition, one of the care providers on staff is an OB, and hospital transfers are smooth and seamless because of their strong relationships with doctors and hospital staff. Also, I’ve done hospital births and home births, but I’ve never done a birth center… might as well give it a try.

Find a Spring

September 16, 2013 at 11:30 pm

This past weekend we did something I’ve been dreaming of doing for a few years now. We went to a natural spring and collected cool, crystal clear, delicious, living water, straight from Mother Earth.

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Midwives Save Lives

May 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Midwives have been saving mothers and babies for thousands of years. Long before the words “hospital” and “obstetrician” even existed, midwives were passing down the skills and wisdom of their wise women, nurturing mothers and babies into life.

In one of humanity’s oldest and most well-read stories, midwives were saving lives. The first chapter of Exodus tells of two midwives (Puah and Shiphrah) who saved countless lives through their courage and compassion. When Pharaoh demanded that they kill all the male babies born to the Hebrew women in slavery, Puah and Shiphrah saved the boys instead. It is likely thanks to them that anyone knows and reveres the name of Moses. Midwives save lives.

My own faith’s history claims many brave midwives. In the late 1800’s, Emma Andersen Liljenquist attended a course in midwifery after Mormon church president Brigham Young had urged many women to receive medical training to meet the needs of the Utah’s growing families. (You can read more about Utah’s midwifery history here.) Emma recorded these experiences from her years as a midwife among Utah’s early settlers:

Give the gift of survival

November 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

“We continue because marginalization continues, we continue because we cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of women and children.” -Dr. Robert Lokong, volunteer doctor

This year my dad and stepmom are doing something different for Christmas. They asked all their children and grandchildren to select a project from Global Giving, and they will donate $10 for each person in the family. My family has selected to donate to the Onura Maternal Survival Project and Hope Ofiriha maternity clinic in South Sudan. From the project website:

The maternal mortality rate in South Sudan is one of the highest in the world. An absence of trained healthcare staff, structures, and paved roads means the small, rustic maternity clinic Hope Ofiriha runs in the Onura settlement is the only medical facility about 3,500 area women can turn to. . . . The clinic isn’t fully equipped to handle deliveries, so many mothers needlessly die giving birth.

Since there are six of us, that means $60 for the project. I am thinking of talking to our children about finding some other projects to donate our Christmas money to. I’ve had a hard time feeling the “Christmas Spirit” for the past few years, but this just might be what I needed to pull out of that funk.

Sending you my love, mothers and babies of South Sudan. I wish I could do more. Maybe someday I will.

For them I could

December 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Over the weekend, I attended a Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) training taught by Karen Strange. My mind is still trying to process all of the information we were given in those ten hours together. So much to think about and practice! One of my main reasons for taking the class was that I wanted to be prepared to assist pregnant mothers and newborns in a potential disaster situation.  I wanted to know how to help women on the side of the road, in an elevator, in a disaster relief camp, etc. Karen Strange’s NRP class focuses on neonatal resuscitation in an out of hospital setting, so I knew it was going to be the best choice for my purposes. I’m so grateful for the tools we were given to not only help new babies come into life but also to keep ourselves calm and grounded as we encounter those sometimes intense situations.

Rubbing shoulders with all those lovely midwives, doulas, and mommas was wonderful, of course. And it had me asking myself, once again, am I heading toward midwifery? Then, last night, midwife Robin Lim was selected as CNN’s 2011 Hero of the Year. I am so inspired by Robin and midwives like her who offer their love and skills in behalf of those who are desperate for true caregiving. As I pondered my weekend and Robin Lim, I kept thinking of this post I wrote on my old blog in April of 2010. I do think I will end up catching babies. And this is why…

Baby shower basket essentials

August 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

After ten years as a momma, I’ve learned a thing or two.  For instance, I’ve learned that a lot of the things on most soon-to-be parents’ baby registries (and in some of their carefully decorated baby nurseries) are non-essential.  There are really very few things most new parents/babies need, and some of the best essentials aren’t really available for baby shower presents (boobs, for instance).  It has been a while since I attended a baby shower for a first-time momma, but next time I’m invited, here’s what I wish I could afford to load into a pretty basket for her, though I’ll probably settle for just one or two items from the list…

1) Emergency Birth Kit

As I posted back in January, even in the absence of a large-scale disaster, on just an ordinary day-to-day basis, sometimes a birth happens too quickly to make it to the planned location or before a qualified birth attendant can be present.  You’d never be sorry that you had birth supplies on hand.  I know I was glad I had a kit for the car when I drove to my midwives’ office in labor last time! I’d also include a print-out of the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ Giving Birth “In Place”: A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth.

Surrender, part 3

March 16, 2011 at 12:28 am

I needed to take my time writing this birth journey. In part, because it felt like writing it down was placing it squarely in the past, and I didn’t want it to be totally over.  But also because it has taken me all this time to process the experience, and yet I’m still processing it as we speak.   Birth is unpredictable, raw, and real.  Sometimes it can be just as traumatic as it is beautiful.  How do we convey all that complexity of experience with words?  How can we describe it?  These words in a blog comment from Kassandra were so spot-on:

There are so many layers to your birth story because there are so many different parts of yourself experiencing it.

It is such an incredibly rich spiritual experience, a full on physical sensation and accomplishment, and an emotional rollercoaster changing from moment to moment, with a different focus depending on what part of it you are trying to convey. Is it about the outcome? Is it about the moments? Is it about how you felt during, or afterwards? It’s everything… and it will change depending on who you are telling and why.

This birth was, at once, the absolute easiest and the absolute most difficult of my children’s births.  It was both gentle and jarring.  As I mentioned in part 1, I was initially disappointed.  There was no dreamy, on-another-planet, endorphin-filled build to a climax—something I’d become addicted to since my first birth.  It felt sort of like I got cheated out of one of the best parts of giving birth unmedicated.  Robert Louis Stevenson has said, “And the true realism, always and everywhere, is that of the poets, to find where the joy resides, and give it voice, far beyond singing.”  Coming to peace with this birth has been just such a poetic process… finding where the joy resides and figuring out how to give it voice and make it sing.

Emergency Preparedness

January 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Regardless of what type of disaster may strike or how severe it is, there will always be pregnant women in need of special assistance. Pregnant women are among those most at risk in disaster situations, in part because severe stress can trigger premature labor, but also because so many women are forced to give birth under precarious circumstances. When hospitals may be over-flowing with sick and injured survivors, roads or transportation inaccessible, and electricity likely unavailable, women who would otherwise have given birth at the hospital will have to seek alternatives.  It is also a possibility that hospitals will only have resources for the most high-risk pregnant women, leaving low-risk mothers to give birth with little or no assistance from staff.   Even in the absence of a large-scale disaster, on just an ordinary day-to-day basis, sometimes a birth happens too quickly to make it to the planned location or before a qualified birth attendant can be present.

Robbie Prepas, a certified nurse-midwife, saw many such births first-hand during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.  She delivered five babies in the New Orleans airport, twins in an ambulance, and provided impromptu care to hundreds of pregnant and postpartum women, checking fetal heart tones, etc.  She explains, “There were no policies or procedures in place to care for pregnant women or mothers and their babies after Katrina.  We even lacked such basics as diapers, formula, baby bottles and clean clothes” (“Disaster Preparedness for Mothers & Babies: Getting Prepared”).  Midwife Mary Callahan, CNM, MS, also assisted in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, providing midwifery services to displaced women in a large shelter and assembling emergency birth and prenatal kits for use in other area shelters (“Chicago Midwives Travel to Baton Rouge”).   While we may be fortunate to cross paths with a doctor, midwife, or paramedic with birth supplies in an emergency childbirth situation, we can’t be certain of such luck. Given all of the possibilities, the best course is to have plans and supplies in place so that we can meet our specific needs in emergency situations.

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