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Archive for the ‘Postnatal Information’ Category

Mothering Magazine Online


For all the moms who I’ve worked with over the years, I always recommend Mothering Magazine, and often give out a complimentary copy of the magazine in my prenatal classes (I’ll be giving them out today at Black Lotus – Monday 2/16 President’s Day)  


Awhile ago, Mothering started offering their magazine online, which is fantastic!  Here are the benefits of subscribing to the online edition of a magazine:


          Cheaper than getting the print copies

          Ecofriendly – no paper!   This is also good for folks like me who are trying to be more minimalist (ie have less clutter).

          Access to previous issues – they have an archives section!

          Can print what you need, and also email articles to friends

          Awesome content


I also love the discussion boards, and just checking out their website, which features even more content.


Check it out, moms and moms-to-be!  Now, if only other magazines would follow suit, I’d have some room in my office…






I Trust the Internet More than My Pediatrician – Part 2


Here’s our Part 2 installment from new mom blogger Catherine.  A few weeks ago, she wrote this post about some common postpartum issues.   Enjoy!



The next issue is a major one – the Vaccine Issue. My husband and I had been warned that there were some controversies around vaccines (mercury content, unnecessary vaccines, bad side effects, possible autism links, and so on). We did our best as new parents to look into this, research it with our friends, and read about it. But, of course, we are busy people so we don’t have time to read all of the literature about vaccines. We came across the Dr. Sears book (aptly named “The Vaccine Book”) which, for us, was the most balanced look at vaccines written for laypeople. We decided to follow Dr. Sears’ alternative vaccine schedule for our son. In this schedule, you get all of the recommended vaccines, just in a different order and staggered differently. From our first pediatrician visit, I warned our pediatrician that this is what we wanted to do. I offered to set up a special meeting with her where we could talk about the vaccine schedule that we were going to follow. Nevertheless, at our two-month visit, she had the four regular shots prepared to give him and was offended when I told her that we were not going to get those because we were doing something different. She harrumphed and made a photocopy of the Dr. Sears schedule. She then told me that what we were doing was against all medical protocol. I said, “OK, but that’s what we are doing nevertheless.” She was disgruntled for the rest of the appointment and I started thinking seriously about changing pediatricians at that point.


The final issue that made me switch pediatricians is not really a single issue. After the vaccine visit, I had other new parent issues and questions come up. Are his grunts normal? Until when should I swaddle my son? Is the red around his bottom a diaper rash? What kind and what’s the best treatment? Will the white bump on his face go away? He hates being on his tummy, is his neck really weak now? These and many other questions. I realized that I didn’t want to bring up any of these little questions with his pediatrician because I did not trust her. I was afraid that she wouldn’t respect my desire for a non-interventionist approach to raising my son – i.e. as few prescriptions and medications as possible. I was afraid that if I brought up an issue, she would bring out her prescription pad. 


This was the point where I realized that I trusted the Internet more than my pediatrician. I could go on the Internet to look up diaper rash, for example, and choose to read the information that accorded with my desire for natural methods (rubbing breast milk on his bottom – a natural solution that really worked!) And the Internet was full of information and never condescending to me. I didn’t have to withold information from Google because I wasn’t afraid of what Google would think of me as a mother.


So why not just have the Internet as your pediatrician, you might ask? (You probably wouldn’t ask that, but just for the sake of argument…) Well, looking up diaper rash and swaddling is one thing, but what if he becomes really ill? I don’t want to be keeping that information from my pediatrician and hoping that WebMD will be able to diagnose him remotely (“Please click here once you have placed your baby on the scanner.”) I realized I needed a pediatrician who I could trust, who would respect my wishes for a low-intervention parenting style, and who would understand that I’m trying to do the best I can for my son. I think I have found the right practice – one town away – and I hear they are friendly to alternate vaccine schedules. We have our first appointment tomorrow.


I trust the internet more than my pediatrician

This is from guest poster, Catherine.   She’s a dedicated yogini and a new mom whose agreed to write a few guest posts for us here.  I thought it would be great to get her perspective about life with an infant.  Thank you Catherine!


Uh Oh. I trust the Internet more than my pediatrician.


I have a big, healthy four-month-old son. Everything about him so far is very normal and average (which is great!) When I was pregnant, my belly would measure exactly on target for the week that I was in and I actually went into labor on his due date.


Given that I had such a low-risk pregnancy, I didn’t think much of the choice of his pediatrician. Around our 38th week, the midwife asked for the name of the pediatrician and my husband and I looked at each other as it dawned on us, “Oh, right. We should probably do that before he’s born.” Given that we were attempting to get 1000 other things done before he arrived, we went to the first pediatrician that we could find who was close to our house and covered by our insurance. We didn’t think much about the choice at the time. After ten minutes talking to the pediatrician, we thought she seemed like a very reasonable, knowledgeable woman.


And she DID turn out to be a reasonable, knowledgeable woman, but not the right pediatrician for us. 


She wasn’t right for us for a few reasons. First of all, there was the Eye-Gunk Issue. From birth, my son would get mucus-y stuff in his eyes. It happened particularly when he slept, but occasionally at other times as well. For the first 6-7 weeks of his life it didn’t get worse or better, there was just always eye gunk in his eyes and I would wipe it away whenever I could with a warm washcloth. When it first started happening, I looked it up on the Internet (of course, right? Why go to a knowledgeable professional when you have Google?) and it seemed to simply be a clogged tear duct. All the sites say to just keep it clean and the tear duct will eventually open on its own. When we saw the pediatrician, however, she saw the eye gunk and prescribed erythromycin to rub on his eyes.


I said, “But is it an infection? Isn’t that an antibiotic?” She said, “No, it’s not an infection but this will clear it up.” I remained confused by her answer but after another week where the eye gunk level stayed the same, I decided to actually fill the prescription and start applying it. We had a messy several days of me trying to coat the inner eyelid of a baby with petroleum-based goo. He would then always rub his eyes with his hands and then of course stick them in his mouth. Being a new mom, I then became worried about him eating the eye goo. Since it didn’t seem to help the eye gunk issue, I simply stopped administering the goo and just didn’t tell our pediatrician. I just made sure that his eyes were nice and clean right before we went to see her. Now that he’s four months, the eye gunk issue is totally gone. Chalk one up for the Internet.


Next time I post I’ll write about another major issue – all about Vaccines. 



The ‘Inconvenient Truth’ of Childbirth

I just finished watching the documentary that the Tribeca film festival dubbed “The ‘Inconvenient Truth’ of Childbirth.”  It’s called The Business of Being Born, and it is produced by actress Ricki Lake.   I’d been meaning to see it for a long while, and as soon as I saw it available on Netflix Instant, I watched it.

It’s an amazing video for those of you thinking about your birth options, now or in the future.  It’s pretty well-balanced, interviewing a range of providers and families, but the central story it tells is about why giving birth, and the place you give birth and the way you give birth, is controversial.  And why it matters to many women and their partners.  

I want to recommend it to anyone who is planning on being pregnant in the next few years, or to anyone who cares about healthcare and access to a range of care options.  I found particularly compelling the parts of the documentary about how few birth centers there are, and about the lobbying actions of ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) to make homebirth illegal.  In Massachusetts, we had 3 birth centers when I started working in the prenatal field – one closed about 3 years ago, and 1 is on the  verge of closing now, as I’ve written about here in this blog.  That leaves only one left, the Cambridge Birth Center.   They are maxed out, filled to capacity, months in advance.   Clearly, there’s a desire on the part of women to avoid the excess of interventions in birth, and yet there’s little access to low-tech birth options.

Anyway, when I watch something like this, it confirms to me that prenatal yoga is more important than ever.  As you’re growing your baby, you need a safe and sacred space away from all the hype, and the fear, and the questioning.   Each of us need that space in our lives to be still and silent, and let our bodies’ wisdom shine forth.   I think if more women felt good about themselves, from yoga or childbirth education classes, or from positive, empowering visits with their midwives/doctors, then we’d have better outcomes for women and babies.    

I encourage you to watch the documentary – it’s compelling! Next on my list is to read Birth and Pushed.   Anyone read them?

Postpartum: Healing the Abdominals

My prenatal yoga teacher mentor, Colette Crawford, sends out a monthly newsletter.  In this month’s newsletter, she includes a small article about healing from a diastasis (separation of abdominal muscles in pregnancy).   Those of you who have taken  my postnatal class will find much of the information familiar, but it’s still very helpful to read and hear again.     

Here’s her article:

Preventing and Healing from a Diastasis
A diastasis is the separation of the first layer of abdominal muscles called the recti. These muscles overstretch from the growing uterus, and due to the softening hormones of pregnancy can pull away from the dark line below the naval called the linea negra.

A diastasis can also develop during the pushing stage of labor, especially from excessive breath holding during pushing.

To prevent a diastasis during pregnancy:

  • Avoid sitting straight up from a lying down position; instead roll to the side and sit up with the aid of your arms and hands pushing down.
  • Avoid bearing down and holding the breath when lifting something heavy or during elimination. When lifting stand close to the object, bend your knees, tilt the pelvis forward and lift with the strength of the legs.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink 8-10 glasses of water daily to promote elimination and avoid constipation.

Healing Poses After the Birth
These poses strengthen the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, free energy in the pelvis, and improve digestion and elimination.

Agni sara
Lie down, knees bent and feet hip width a part; place your hands on your lower belly. On exhale, contract anal and urethral sphincter (as if you are tying to stop urinating), lower abdominal and upper abdominal muscles, then release upper, lower and pelvic floor as you inhale.
Start with 10 rounds and over a period of a several weeks increase to 20+ rounds. Always do this on an empty stomach. Women should avoid this pose during menstruation.

Side-lying leg lifts
Lie on your right side with your head resting on your arm; bend the left knee bringing the left foot behind your right leg. Inhale lifting the right leg, foot flexed, no more than 12 inches from floor. Exhale extending the right leg away from you and down to the floor. Do this 10 to 20 times. Now bend your right knee and bring it towards the belly and straighten left leg, foot is flexed. Inhale raising the left leg up no more than 2 feet. Exhale, extend the leg out and down to the floor. Do this 10 to 20 times. Change sides.

Stirring the pot
Sit with your legs stretched out and hip-width apart. Interlace your fingers together as if you were holding a big stick. With your arms straight, exhale and bend forward, reach between your feet. Inhale over to the right and draw back as if you were stirring a large pot of soup. Move from the waist. Exhale and bend forward down the middle again. On the inhale swivel to the left and lean back as far as possible. This is one round. Do 5 to 10 rounds.

Homebirth in the News

I am a big fan of women and families having choices, options and alternatives throughout pregnancy, birth, and childraising.  That’s why it’s always bugged me that if the medical establishment  had its way, homebirth would be illegal everywhere in the US. It’s already illegal in several states for a midwife to attend a woman in labor at home – see (Midwives Alliance of North America) for more details.  FYI, for those of you in Massachusetts, it is alegal – meaning it is unregulated and there is no law for or against homebirth midwives practicing (although Mass Midwives want to change this and create a bipartisan regulatory board).

It’s heartening to read this front page news in the NYTimes about more women choosing home birth.   I think enough information is out there about women not being listened to in some hospital settings, and of the huge number of unnecessary interventions happening these days (I’ve written on this before here).

My sincere question is – if ACOG (the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) and the AMA (American Medical Association) really want satisfied customers and good outcomes for healthy and happy babies *and* moms, why don’t they try to support homebirth with the best kind of backup support and communication between midwives and doctors? Instead, doctors are strongly discouraged from developing relationships with homebirth midwives.  Why don’t they try to establish a more nurturing atmosphere in the hospital so that more families are satisfied with their hospital birth experiences?  Instead, more often than not, women are pressured into following hospital protocol, and aren’t encouraged to question their care on anything – from the easy (do I have to wear a hospital gown – why can’t I give birth in my own clothes?) to the more complicated (why do you induce labor? when do you induce labor?  what are the many methods of induction?  what if I don’t choose to be induced?).    

Finally, it’s all well and good that ACOG says they support births in either a hospital or “accredited birth center on hospital grounds.”  But how many birth centers are left these days?   We had three in Massachusetts.  The Wellesley Birth Center closed abruptly a few years ago.  The North Shore Birth Center is about to close as we write (click here to get in on the consumer actions being taken to try and save the birth center).   Only the Cambridge Birth Center remains – which fills up months and months in advance.  The fact is, the climate exists where birth centers can’t operate freely – the owners/practitioners are scared out of business.  It’s only because of the homebirth midwives, who really are tenacious, amazing women who will not be silenced, intimidated or scared, that we still have a national conversation about a family’s rights in the birthing world. 

To all my wonderful prenatal and postnatal students, present, past and future: every birth is sacred.   On some level, I don’t care how or where someone gives birth (that’s only one part of the whole experience of pregnancy and parenthood). I only care that every mom and family feels respected, cared for, and informed.  I am supporting homebirth midwives, birth centers, and all other practitioners who are working for this same right to choose how you will bring your baby into the world. 


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