Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More boob talk...

Watch the ABC News segment on cross nursing.

Read Milk and Love, a blog post about milk sisters.

See the new breastfeeding campaign in Britain, designed by art students. (Read more about the campaign and art exhibition here). You can see lots more pro-breastfeeding posters from the exhibition at Best Beginnings.

One of the posters, pictured below, mentioned turning regular bras into nursing bras. Has anyone come across a tutorial for this? If not, I might work on took me a ridiculously long time to find a nursing bra that fit right. I must have ordered and then mailed back about 30 different nursing bras in the search for the perfect one (which, ironically, I found for $8 at Wal-Mart after I had given up all hope). Okay, it wasn't 100% perfect--I was looking for a white bra and preferred smooth fabric over lace, whereas the bra I found was nude colored and had lace--but it fit perfectly in all directions, was easy to open and close with one hand, and the straps didn't slip off my shoulders. Still, I'd rather just pop into my local department store, buy a few well-fitting underwire bras, and convert them to nursing bras.

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Breastfeeding latch video

You can read about how to breastfeed, but sometimes you need to see it in action. When I was pregnant and newly postpartum, I found Dr. Jack Newman's videos extremely helpful.

Thanks to the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog, I found this new video from Ameda teaching how to help your baby attain a proper latch. I like the explanations and illustrations of a shallow versus a deep latch. I love the part showing the baby bobbing its head as it senses the breast is near!
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Amish defend midwife Diane Goslin

The Christian Science Monitor recently published a story, Laboring To Save Home Birth, about a midwife who serves the Pennsylvania Amish and the political battles over her right to practice.

What surprised me the most was how many births the midwife attends each year: 200 to 300. Most home birth midwives limit their practice to around 40 or 50 births per year. This is in part due to the relative scarcity of midwives, which means they spend a lot of their time traveling to and from their clients' houses. I wonder how she manages such a large load. I have read the the Amish generally do a lot less prenatal care, which would definitely cut down on the midwife's time demands. Her practice is 65% Amish.

A few paragraphs from the article:
Midwife Diane Goslin’s farmhouse office bustles with activity this summer morning. Horse drawn buggies line the driveway, while pregnant women line the waiting room inside – their hair tucked into bonnets, their dark dresses covered by black aprons.

A mother expecting her 11th child arrives with her daughter, who is expecting her first. Women do mending as toddlers scoot around their ankles. Childhood friends reunite, chattering in Pennsylvania Dutch. Sisters shriek with laughter at the unexpected sight of their expectant aunt.

Outside, on the porch – in a waiting room of his own – a lone, straw-hatted man rocks, amused, pretending not to overhear the women.

The Amish here in Lancaster County may go to the hospital if they break an arm or need surgery, but when it’s time to give birth they stay home. Usually, they deliver their babies with the aid of a midwife, and the women in this waiting room half-joke that if Ms. Goslin goes out of business, they are through with childbearing.
Read the rest of the story...
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eze and Monaco

Last Saturday we went on an excursion to Eze and Monaco. Eze is a medieval village perched on top of a cliff nearly 1,400 feet above sea level. The views are spectacular.

We climbed up a lot of stairs. The entire village is pedestrian-only, since there is nowhere a car could possibly go.

On the very top of the hill is a botanical garden, where I found this lovely sculpture by Jean-Philippe Richard of a pregnant woman, titled "Justine ou Isis." It was accompanied with the following short poem:

Vous m’avez reconnue…
Je suis la même
Et pourtant autre

You have recognized me...
I am the same
And yet different.

Our next visit was to Monaco and Monte-Carlo. We expored Le Rocher (the Rock of Monaco, or just "the rock" in French), on top of which sits the old town, the prince's palace, and the aquarium. Zari was entranced watching all of the fish.

The last stop was, of course, the Monte-Carlo Casino. Yes, the same casino featured in many James Bond films, including Casino Royale.
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Just a few waterbirth videos I've come across recently.

This first one, linked from Bellies and Babies, takes place in St. Thomas Hospital in London.

The second one is a home waterbirth/Hypnobirth. Thanks to one of my commentors for posting the link--I hope you don't mind me re-posting it here!

The last video is a home waterbirth of twins that took place in Australia with Lisa Barrett, (whom I greatly admire). Lisa is a UK-trained midwife who now practices independently in Austraila. I couldn't embed the video directly onto this post, so you'll have to go to Lisa's site to see it.
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Laila Ali blogs about her birth plans

From Laila Ali's website:

I'm Having a Natural, Home Birth!

A little while back, I wrote that I had some exciting news to share. Well, guess what? I have decided that I am going to have a natural home-birth! That's right, I am going to have my son in my own home with no medications. Curtis Jr. will be delivered by a midwife.

I did a lot of research before I made the decision. Like most women, I didn't know that there were so many different birthing options. I thought I had to get an OBGYN and give birth at the hospital. Once I got a hold of Ricki Lake's documentary called THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN ( and as soon as I watched the DVD, I knew home-birth was for me. I was so thankful that I learned that it was an option before it was too late. I want to be in full control of my body and give birth to my son the same way women have been doing for thousands of years. Our bodies were made to birth and I trust the process. I encourage all women to educate themselves on all of the options available when it comes to having a child whether it is in a hospital or at home.

Read the rest...
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Canadian cloth diaper tutorial

I've had lots of requests from people wanting to buy my Canadian cloth diapers (featured on the photo at the top of the blog). Unfortunately I am not making them to sell. Believe me, you probably couldn't afford them anyway.* Good news is they are not too hard to make yourself, if you are reasonably handy with a sewing machine.

Here is a tutorial on how to make the maple leaf diaper or cover.

1 mil white and red PUL
white and red polyester thread (Gutermann's, not the cheap stuff)
white and red 1" matte FOE (fold-over-elastic)
glue stick
ballpoint 14-gauge sewing machine needle
snaps or hook-and-loop tape
Chloe Toes diaper pattern (or you can use her free side-snapping diaper cover pattern!) or your own favorite diaper pattern

I made hemp fleece AIOs using the Chloe Toes pattern, which I modified for a hook-and-loop closure. (I haven't written this tutorial yet, but I will. Hold tight!) I didn't want to pay the big bucks for a snap press, and I like the adjustability of the H&L. I used 1 1/2" Aplix for the loop and 1 1/2" TouchTape for the hook.

If you can't find red FOE, you can dye it. I used the Jacquard acid dye from Dharma Trading in Fire Red. I think Bright Scarlet or Cherry Red might be a better match, actually. Follow their instructions for vat dyeing and you'll have beautiful red FOE!

Optional step for AIO or pocket diaper: Cut out body pieces and assemble the body and soaker out of the absorbent material, as indicated on the Chloe Toes instructions. If you're doing a H&L closure, this is where you'll sew on the fold-over hook tabs.

Next, cut out a body piece of PUL and one maple leaf in the contrasting color. Mark the edges on the fabric side of the PUL with a disappearing fabric marker. I used this pattern. Click to see the full-size image. You can reduce or enlarge it until it looks like the right size on the bum of the diaper.

Attach the applique to the PUL body piece with a glue stick. Press firmly and let dry for at least a few minutes. Zig-zag stitch around the entire applique piece with a small, narrow zig-zag stitch. This is a slow process, since you want the outside "zag" to just barely overlap the applique piece. If it's too far in or too far out, it won't hold the applique on very well.

Optional step for H&L closure: zig-zag the hook pieces to the front of the diaper (yes, this is also part of another upcoming totorial!)

Cut another piece of white PUL the entire size of the main diaper piece. This is to overlap the applique & H&L stitches with another layer, otherwise the needle holes will let water seep through the PUL.

Optional step for AIO or pocket diaper: glue the fabric and the PUL together.

Next, attach the FOE as indicated on the Chloe Toes instructions. For H&L closure: sew on hook tabs (tutorial in the works). For snap closure: attach snaps.

You're done!

The finished hemp fleece AIO diaper, with hook & loop closure. I did a sewn-in soaker flap for the newborn and small sizes, which helped cut down on drying time. For more mobile babies, I found that the soaker flap tended to scrunch up. When I made size M diapers, I swiched over to a soaker sandwiched between the full-size layers of hemp. 

* This sentence does not mean, as one anonymous commentor suggested, that I am super-rich and snotty and full of myself because I can afford very expensive diapers. In fact I made my own diapers myself (primarily to save money). They were fairly time-intensive, which is why I don't sell them, even though I've had requests from people wanting to buy them. I would have to charge too much in order to make a decent wage.
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Jessica Alba & hypnobirthing

Seems like a lot of celebrities are having C-sections these days, so it's refreshing to read about those doing something a bit different. Crunchy Domestic Goddess just posted some comments from Jessica Alba on her recent labor and birth. (You have to scroll down really far to see the post).

A few quotes from the post:

Jessica told OK! magazine:
“I didn’t scream,” Jessica tells OK! in an exclusive interview and photoshoot. “It was really Zen.” And Cash could only marvel at his wife’s quiet strength when she gave birth. “She didn’t make a sound,” he says. “It was amazing.” “The labor was more like meditation,” she says. “I did yoga breathing. I was focused.”
While Jessica was pregnant, she told FitPregnancy about her birth plan:
I want to spend as much of my labor as possible at home, and I’m taking a HypnoBirthing class. It’s a relaxation technique that allows you to avoid going into panic mode and tightening up. If you are calm and relaxed, your body will just do what it has to do.
For those of you who have done hypnobirthing (including Hypbirth, Hypnobabies, and Hypnobirthing, etc.) or your own forms of visualization and meditation, what were your experiences like? My labor was very serene and meditative, except for the pushing stage. That I would describe more as wild and crazy and intense.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

4th degree tears and forced cesareans

I think I've linked to the At Your Cervix blog before, but I wanted to mention it again. She is a L&D nurse and recently met a woman who, after two 4th degree lacerations (thanks, most likely, to her episiotomies), was coerced into having a cesarean section. Read more about it here. I have heard of women threatened with court-ordered cesareans for other reasons, but never because of a history of 4th degree tears.
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DIY home birth kit

This is what most people think of when they hear you're giving birth at home:


Thankfully it's not the reality.

I take no credit for this hilarious photo. I found it here.
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More! Better! BirthTrack (TM)!

Remember in Pushed, where Jennifer Block mentioned a company developing a continuous dilation and station monitor that would clip onto the cervix? Well, the BirthTrack is here and being actively marketed to both doctors and mothers-to-be. It consists of an internal electrode that is screwed into the baby's head and two ultrasound clips that attach to the cervix. Its purported benefits include (quotes from the manufacturer's website in red):

It will reduce the number of vaginal exams during labor. Instead, you'll have two clips permanently attached to your cervix the whole time! Sign me up! "In the usual procedure vaginal examinations are performed numerous times during normal labor. In the case of labor arrest or other complications the number of vaginal examinations increases."

It will help doctors perform a cesarean for "failure to progress" even faster! Because we're not jumping the gun fast enough as it is, with our 31.1% cesarean rate! Remember, labor must never stop or slow down! "In the event of non-progressive labor, the diagnosis may be delayed, thereby preventing the mother from obtaining the best medical care."

It will make sure you don't go too slow or too fast! "In managing labor, obstetricians are faced with a number of important challenges, including...identification of inadequate progress of labor and assessment of a quick developing labor process."

It is more accurate! "The information available to the caregiver is inaccurate due to the objective nature of the measurement and intermittent [assessment]."

You'll have information streaming at you non-stop, every second! Next up: sending the info to your Blackberry in real-time! "You will have continuous information regarding the progress of labor and you will know the position of your baby every second."

Your partner will be more involved in the birth! He can stare even more at the machines and less at you! "Your partner will be able to be an active participant in the labor process as he/she follows the progress of the partogram on the screen next to your bed."

Oh and of course, as this last statement indicated, you WILL be lying in bed!
You won't even notice it! It will just "minimally disrupt patient comfort."

It's more convenient for your doctor's pocketbook! He will get sued less, since the machine gives him "a lower risk of malpractice"! BirthTrack is also a "Support tool during litigation--BirthTrack provides full documentation of cervical dilatation and fetal head descent during the labor process."

More is better! This new device results in "significantly improved medical care"!

More is cheaper! By buying this expensive piece of machinery, we can achieve "reduced costs" by reducing human-to-human interaction even more! We can also make more money at each birth by increasing the cesarean rate due for failure to progress!

It provides not one, not two, not three, but FOUR paths to getting an infection. First, your water is broken. Next, an internal fetal monitor is screwed into your baby's head. Then you get two clips attached to the opening of your uterus. Free ride to any germs looking for some action!

My suggestion to BirthTrack and to those who stand to profit by making, marketing, and selling this new piece of gadgetry: get your hands (or rather your cervical clips) outta my vagina and outta my pocketbook!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Twin Homebirth

A lovely story of a home birth of twins, from a guest author on Ricki Lake's new blog Ricki's Room. (You have to scroll down a bit before the text appears).
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Monday, July 14, 2008

The 11 hour miracle

When Zari was four months old, my mom started asking me, "so is she sleeping through the night yet?" I laughed. Not even close. In fact, over the past 20 months of her life she's woken up every few hours at night, every night. The newborn stage was actually the easiest of all for me. She'd sleep like a log, nurse, and fall right back asleep again and not even stir in between. It's actually been the later months that have been very difficult, when she would wake up every hour or two and need to nurse back to sleep every single time. Or when she'd crawl or roll around in her sleep.

So imagine my surprise when we arrived in France and she started sleeping long stretches: 6 or 7 hours. I usually put her to bed by 9 pm and she'd often sleep until 3 or 4 am. At that point I'd bring her into bed with us, nurse her back to sleep, and she'd sleep again until 7 or 8 am (maybe nursing once during that time when it first got light out).

Then last night happened. She slept for 11 hours straight, from 9 pm to 8 am. It was such a surprise that I was actually awake from about 4 am on, waiting for her to wake up!

I don't know what it is I'm doing, or not doing, but this is amazing. The only factors I can isolate:

1) I have a fan going while she sleeps (no A/C here in France, so a fan is a must). Perhaps the white noise helps.

2) She starts out in another bedroom, rather than in a crib in our own bedroom like we'd do at home. Perhaps we were waking her up (even though we were extra careful at home to be super quiet).

3) We are always doing something here and she is worn out with all of the physical activity. We go the park at least once every day, we walk all over town, we play ball, we go to the beach, we swim in a blow-up kiddie pool, we play with the students and short, she's always moving and playing. At home, we did a lot more sitting around the house.
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

St. Tropez

I went with Eric to yesterday's excursion to St. Tropez. We drove to Sainte Maxime, then took a ferry across the bay to St. Tropez because there are always traffic jams going into the village. We first visited the Musée de l'Annonciade. The museum, a converted 16th century chapel, features post-Impressionist art, including pointillism and fauvism. Zari is a great connisseur of art. She pointed at every female nude painting or sculpture and signed "nurse"! She also said "nurse" several times, which sounds like "na na."
We ate the famous Tarte Tropézienne created by A. Micka--a round brioche filled with a creme anglaise and topped with rock sugar.

Zari napping in her stroller.

Splashing in the small beach in St. Tropez

In front of a modest 135' yacht
Seriously, it's pretty disturbing to see the amount of wealth and privilege in this former fishing village. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be wealthy enough to own a yacht like this (which, in relation to the others around it, was on the small end) and to have a staff of servants. I concluded that I wouldn't like it. I mean, I just couldn't handle having someone else clean my toilet or wash my windows when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself. I would always be painfully aware of the class differences in such a setting. What makes it fair for one person to lounge around in a 100+ foot yacht, sipping whatever glamorous drinks a rich person sips, while a crew of people--who work hard yet earn very little money--do menial tasks such as polishing the yacht's chrome handrails?
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National Database of Obstetric Intervention

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) has launched a new project to gather rates of obstetric interventions in hospitals and birth centers from all 50 states. What a wonderful idea! Women deserve to have access to accurate information on rates of procedures such as cesarean section, induction/augmentation of labor, and episiotomies. In addition, providing information on obstetric interventions is one of the ten requirements for a hospital, birth center, or home birth service to qualify as Mother-Friendly (see page 3 of the download). If you'd like to participate in gathering this information, please click here for more information.

This will make a wonderful addition to ICAN's ongoing efforts to gather information on VBAC policies of all U.S. hospitals.
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

MANA responds to AMA Resolutuion

The Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) just released a President’s Editorial responding to the AMA's recent resolution on home birth.

July 11, 2008

Midwives Alliance of North America
611 Pennsylvania Avenue SE # 1700
Washington, DC20003-4303

888-923-MANA (6262)

Doctors Ignore Evidence,AMA Seeks to Deny Women Choices in Childbirth

One wonders what process the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates used to determine that “Resolution 205 on Home Deliveries” was a prudent and reasonable proposal to adopt. AMA Resolution 205 attempts to outlaw a woman’s choice to birth at home or in a freestanding birth center by calling for legislation to establish hospitals and hospital-based birth centers as the safest place for labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. Further, Resolution 205 seeks to establish that hospital-based midwives who work under the control of physicians are the only safe midwifery practitioners.

The Midwives Alliance of North America, which has represented the profession of midwifery since 1982 and whose members are specialists in homebirth, finds AMA’s Resolution 205 to be arrogant, patronizing and self-serving. We have three major objections to Resolution 2005. First, Resolution 205 patently ignores the vast body of scientific evidence that has documented homebirth to be a safe, cost-effective and satisfying option for women who prefer this alternative to hospital birth. Second, AMA Resolution 205 is seriously out-of-step with the ethical concept of patient autonomy in health care (encompassing both informed consent and informed refusal), which has gained widespread acceptance in the medical community. And third, Resolution 205 distracts from other critical issues in maternity care to which healthcare professionals should be giving substantial attention, including increasing access to care, improving perinatal outcomes, reducing health disparities and fostering client satisfaction. AMA Resolution 205 is anti-homebirth, anti-midwife, anti-choice and is unsupported by scientific evidence.

Why is the American Medical Association not asking the real questions instead of trying to debunk existing research evidence on the safety and efficacy of homebirth and attempting to corner the market on maternity care? For example, why are midwife-attended births far more likely to have fewer interventions, fewer postpartum infections, more successful breastfeeding rates, healthy infant weight gain and result in more satisfied, empowered mothers ready to embrace their newborns and parenting experiences? Why are so many women across the nation left emotionally traumatized by their childbirth experiences in hospitals and consequently why do rates of postpartum depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress continue to escalate?

It is ironic that the AMA should have a quarrel with a known safe birth option such as homebirth at the same time when the epidemic rise in coerced or elective cesarean sections puts healthy mothers and infants at greater risk than normal vaginal birth and causes excess strain on the limited resources of our healthcare system. The rate of cesarean sections in the United States is unacceptable-one in three pregnancies end in major abdominal surgery-and the decline in availability of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is deplorable. It is unethical to expect that women and infants should continue to bear the brunt of increasing medical malpractice risks by over-treating them with obstetric technologies such as c-sections while denying them safe evidence-based options such as VBAC. It is past time that the AMA in collusion against homebirth with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) realizes that women and their partners are choosing to labor and deliver at home and in freestanding birth centers to avoid ethically unsupported obstetric interventions.

Modern medical ethics have evolved to embrace autonomy-patient choices and patient rights-over medical recommendations based on paternalism or physician preference. In almost all areas of modern medicine, except obstetrics, the locus of control rests firmly with the client or patient and not with the medical provider. It is a commonly held principle that it is not appropriate to force medical treatment upon clients or patients against their will, including medications, blood transfusions, chemotherapy or even life-saving surgeries. Informed consent has appropriately become the gold standard in healthcare decision-making. Why then do the AMA and ACOG believe that they can promote legislative efforts to deny women choices in maternity care providers and childbirth settings? In the 21st century this concept is outdated and absurd.
The AMA and its members might consider using their considerable energy, intelligence and resources to focus on promoting the health and well-being of mothers and babies and devote less time to limiting women’s access to midwifery services. All maternity care providers should band together to reduce the unacceptably high rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the United States, increase access to maternity care for all women, reduce unnecessary cesarean sections, encourage vaginal birth and VBACs for healthy women, reduce health disparities of women and infants in minority populations, and promote increased breastfeeding. These challenging but attainable goals would improve the health of mothers and babies far more impressively than reducing the rates of homebirth.

The Midwives Alliance joins the other individuals and organizations, including individual AMA and ACOG members, who have grave concerns about the AMA taking the stand articulated in Resolution 205, and calls for the AMA to abandon this resolution. Midwives everywhere honor and respect the numerous friendly physicians with whom we already partner and look to the day when midwives and obstetricians will consistently work collaboratively to support women’s choices in childbirth and provide the best possible and most appropriate range of services for every situation.

1.. K.C. Johnson, B.A. Daviss, Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America, British Medical Journal 2005; 330: 1416 (18 June).
2.. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Royal College of Midwives Joint Statement No. 2, April 2007. See
3.. Wiegers TA, Keirse MJ, Van der Zee J, Berghs GA. Outcome of planned home birth and planned hospital births in low risk pregnancies: prospective study in midwifery practices in the Netherlands. BMJ 1996; 313:1309-13.
4.. Olsen O. Meta-analysis of the safety of the home birth. Birth 1997; 24:4-13.
5.. Ogden J, Shaw A, Zander L. Deciding on a home birth: help and hindrances. Br J Midwifery 1997;5:212-15.
6.. Canadian Institute for Health Research Giving Birth in Canada: Regional Trends From 2001-2002 to 2005-2006.
7. CMAJ Maternal mortality and severe morbidity associated with low-risk planned Cesarean delivery versus planned vaginal delivery at term.
8. Listening to Mothers II Report (2006.) Childbirth Connections,
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ABC news article about home birth

On the heels of other recent posts about home births and the ACOG/AMA resolutions, ABC News just posted this lengthy article. Are Home Births Dangerous? AMA Says Women Should Use a Hospital -- Some Doctors Disagree
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Unassisted footling breech birth

Something you don't see very often--a baby emerging feet first. The labor and postpartum pictures are quite modest, while the birth photos in the middle are more graphic (for those of you at work or, say, in the public library!). What struck me about this birth was the various labor positions the woman moved in and out of. The woman also had a very supportive family physician--kudos to her whoever she is!
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Home birth in the news

Some recent home birth news...

1) Jennifer Block's editorial in the LA Times about the AMA and ACOG resolutions on home birth

2) Chicago Tribune article Docs vs. Documentary

Champion boxer Laila Ali, 30, has had a non-eventful pregnancy so far and has started making plans for the delivery of her baby boy -- who will be named Curtis Muhammad -- in three months. Choosing a road less taken by celebrities these days, Laila is anticipating a "natural homebirth with no medication" and has scheduled a midwife to be by her side... (read more)
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

At play

At the playground in the parc du chateau, overlooking Nice...

On our rooftop terrace...
Bossing around some of our staff (aka making them play with her)...
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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hospital waterbirth VBAC

A great birth story showing how all hospitals ought to be! For women who want a VBAC in a hospital, it's often a frustrating uphill battle to "try" and "attempt" a VBAC in a climate that doesn't do much to facilitate it. So it's encouraging to read stories like this one.
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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Home Made: Inside Baltimore's Home Birth Underground

An in-depth look at home birth in Baltimore, the article Home Made is worth reading.

ETA: The link hasn't been working recently, but I found the full text reprinted on this blog post.
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How I spend my days in France

We're settled in here in France, Zari has recovered from jet lag, and our students have arrived and started their classes (French in the morning, plus studio arts/art history/French cooking in the afternoon). Here's my daily routine:

7:00 am: wake up

7:30 am: run for 30 minutes through vieux Nice and along the Promenade des Anglais, turning around at the Hotel Negresco.

8:30 am: breakfast

9:00-noon: walk with Zari up to the parks and playground on the top of the hill overlooking Nice.

Noon: lunch

1:00-4:00 pm: naptime for Zari, while I work on my dissertation and check email

4:00-5:00 pm: yoga on MWF (taught by one of our senior staff)

5:00-7:00 pm: swim in the ocean (a 5 minute walk away) or do other fun outings with Zari

7:00 pm: dinner

8 or 9:00 pm: bedtime for Zari

11:00 pm: bedtime for me

Eric joins us occasionally when he has some free time. Right now (8 pm, just after dinner) he's playing soccer in the courtyard with Zari. This a view from the terrace of our apartment, which is in the middle of the school on the 4th floor. All of the buildings in the foreground, including the clock tower, are part of the school. This picture shows about 1/4 of the school; it's huge.

Other news: I saw in our local paper that Angelina Jolie had checked into a maternity hospital in Nice for the duration of her pregnancy (however long that will be--they've been mum about her due date). One of the people we work with, an art history professor at the University of Nice, saw Brad Pitt yesterday. He happened upon him by accident when he was driving near the hospital.
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I put Zari in pigtails for the first time.

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Sjogren's Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

I recently received a request for more information on how Sjogren's Syndrome and Fibromyalgia may affect pregnancy and birth. Please comment or pass on links if you can help out. I'm especially interested to hear from those who have either deal with these personally, or assisted pregnant or birthing women with these conditions.

UC & general natural childbirth (i.e. w/ a midwife either at home or in a
birthing center) seem to be geared more towards very healthy, low-risk
pregnancies. What about those of us who no matter what we do are
automatically classified as high-risk? I am 25, and have two autoimmune
diseases: Sjogren's Syndrome (attacks moisture producing glands in body), and
Fibromyalgia. Both are mostly under control with medication, mild
exercise, and massage therapy, and my husband and I have begun to think about
children. Sjogren's Syndrome is known to cause fetal heart blocks and,
like any other autoimmune disorder, you can either have a disease-symptom-free
pregnancy or one that will literally knock you flat on your back for nine months
because you are in so much pain. This scares me, yes, but I have felt so
out of control of my body for the last eight years that I want to see what it is
really capable of and welcome pregnancy & labor-- reclaiming myself, if you

Unfortunately, if I become pregnant, I am automatically classified as "High
Risk" and most midwives probably will not want to work with me due to
this. I fear that I will not be allowed to have the kind of birth and
pregnancy I am hoping for, both as natural as possible, with the labor &
delivery in a birthing center.

Do you know of any resources for having a natural pregnancy & delivery
when you are a "High Risk" individual? I do not want to put our children
in any jeopardy of course, but I also do not want unnecessary medicines &

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