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…

Surrender, part 5

May 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I’ve debated off and on whether to post about this. I guess you can tell which of my inner-dialogue teams won.

My birth story didn’t end with my daughter’s birth. Some things happened afterward that I would say were an extension of that birth. They’ve been sitting on the back burner in my mind, waiting. I suppose I’ve been holding them back because I just wasn’t quite ready to process them yet. Pondering and writing this post was an intense journey of realization and discovery and spiritual revelation. I don’t know exactly why I feel like I need to share it, but I do. What follows is a little graphic and a lot personal. If you choose to comment, please be respectful. Here goes…

My uncle somehow always seems to know when I’m pregnant before I make it public knowledge. This last time, after we shared the news, he said, “I think you’re having twins.” We laughed.

Busca’s birthing brew

February 5, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Since August, I’ve been concocting a birthing beverage in my head. A couple of nights ago, my husband and I tried it out.

It’s a lot tastier than it looks. :-)

First I’ll give you the recipe, and then I’ll explain the why-to’s…

Improving your epidural birth

November 18, 2010 at 8:46 am

Back in August, a close friend from college specifically requested that I do some posts for women like her who plan to have epidurals. So I wrote the first in a supposed series of “Improving your epidural birth” posts, encouraging pregnant women to “hire wisely” when choosing a care provider.

This morning I got feeling bad that I haven’t written any more posts for that series, and I suddenly realized that I have! In fact, the vast majority of the posts I’ve written over the last six months are on topics that would be of interest to all women, not just those who choose to forgo pharmaceutical pain relief in childbirth. And scanning three+ years of posts on my old blog brought up many more.

So, with all of that in mind, I give you some of my best tips for improving your epidural birth (besides carefully choosing a care provider), gleaned from my blog (and other helpful sites) over the years.

1) Prepare your body for pregnancy.

The more I learn, the more I realize that the groundwork for a really wonderful birth experience must be laid long before labor begins. When you nourish and take care of yourself, your body will be stronger and better able to perform its vital functions in pregnancy and childbirth. A strong, healthy body is much less likely to suffer complications that can have a detrimental and traumatic impact on your birth experience.

Many of the same things that will best prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy will also improve your chances of conceiving—eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low on processed foods, maintaining a healthy weight, optimizing your body’s levels of key nutrients (vitamin d, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and folate).  Making these dietary and lifestyle changes habits before conception will make them much easier to maintain throughout the coming pregnancy and beyond. 

Suicide: the silent thief of mothers

September 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm

A story my sister-in-law told several years ago has been on my mind today. She had been living in Denmark as a missionary and had a strong feeling one day that they needed to stop and visit a particular friend who had recently given birth. Upon their arrival at her home, the woman (visibly distressed) started crying and explained that she had become overwhelmed with thoughts of harming herself or her new baby, so she had been calling out to God to please send help. My sister-in-law’s arrival likely prevented a horrible tragedy that day.

This story was on my mind because of an alarming fact I discovered for the first time today. For so long I have read and believed that hemorrhage was the leading cause of maternal death. And hemorrhage does, in fact, account for a large portion of maternal deaths–25% of them, according to the World Health Organization. What I didn’t know was that there is (more specifically in the developed world) a larger and more disturbing cause of maternal death.  According to the 1997 to 1999 Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths conducted by British medical researchers, the leading cause of maternal death (within pregnancy and the year following childbirth) wasn’t hemorrhage.

Preventing postpartum hemorrhage: a follow-up

August 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm

After publishing my last post, “Preventing postpartum hemorrhage naturally,” I was lying in bed thinking, and I realized I should have talked about the importance of skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding to keep oxytocin levels high, reducing postpartum bleeding. Then this morning I got a lovely comment from Sherry reminding me about Michel Odent’s recommendations for preventing postpartum hemorrhage. So I whipped out my copy of Odent’s Birth and Breastfeeding to refresh my memory (it’s been about five years since I read it).

Darkness

I’ll admit that I was originally a little hesitant to suggest that low lighting might make a difference in preventing postpartum hemorrhage. Of all the tips I mentioned in my last post, that was the one I felt least confident about. I even asked my husband, after he finished reading the post, whether he thought I was “way out in left field” on that one. So I was relieved, as I skimmed through Odent’s book this afternoon, to find that his views support my “left field” suggestion. He says:

The need for privacy does not end when the baby is born. An environment that enhances the delivery is also needed immediately afterwards, so as not to disturb the first contact between mother and baby. . . . The best way to avoid haemorrhage is to enable mother and baby to stay in close contact in a warm, dark, and silent place—and get rid of any observers. The contact with the baby’s eyes and skin helps the mother to secrete the hormone necessary to stimulate the ‘placenta ejection reflex.’ When the baby suckles the nipple, the reflex is reinforced. (Birth and Breastfeeding, p. 46-47, emphasis mine)

Preventing postpartum hemorrhage naturally

August 25, 2010 at 4:39 am

Childbirth involves blood loss. There’s no way around it. How much blood a woman loses is the potentially dangerous variable. Postpartum hemorrhage accounts for the majority of maternal deaths worldwide. Fortunately, in the United States where maternity care is more readily accessible, most postpartum hemorrhages are not fatal. But they do happen, regardless of where you give birth.

So what do we know about postpartum hemorrhage?

Who is most at risk of experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage soon after giving birth?

  • Women with pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Women who experience a prolonged second stage of labor
  • Women who are induced or have their labors augmented with Pitocin
  • Women whose babies are delivered via vacuum extraction
  • Women with “large for gestational age” infants

(Source: Obstetric risk factors and outcome of pregnancies complicated with early postpartum hemorrhage: A population-based study)

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