Birth by Design

Bringing the support you need to surround your birth experience with joy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer

I have to admit, I am a blogging failure!  I wish I could remember to make posts on a regular basis, but life gets in the way.  OH, I often think of things I should write about, but I don't get them done.  But today I had something to say and I remembered!

This weekend I attended the funeral of a childhood friend who died of breast cancer.  It was very sad to see a lovely, vital person cut down at 48 years old.  She had a wonderful and full life, which she fully enjoyed.  She made a conscious choice to not have children.  Is this a valid choice, OF COURSE!  Could this have led to her early death, MAYBE.

Much research has been done recently about the connection between breastfeeding and breast cancer.  Breastfeeding not only protects your baby from many diseases, but gives her an edge against breast cancer.  But even more, breastfeeding protects you from cancer.  It has been suggested by researchers that the earlier a woman has her first baby, the more cancer protection she has.  Also, the cumulative months of breastfeeding give her more protection.  Having no pregnancies increases risks as well, but having an abortion, especially before a first completed pregnancy, greatly increases the risks.

Since my grandma died from breast cancer, it has my attention.  I get yearly mammograms and take care of myself.  But little did I know that my early pregnancies and multiple cumulative months of breast feeding my babies (90 months!) was giving me protection.  I wish I could say that it was because I was so wise, but I had no idea.  I lucked into it!

So, am I judging my friend's choices?  No, not really.  It does make me more thankful for mine.  What about you?  I would urge you not to wait too long for that first baby, if you have a choice.  I encourgage you to breastfeed and follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, at least: exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continuing to breastfeed along with introducing foods for at LEAST one year.  But nursing into the second and third year is valuable and enjoyable, for both mom and baby.  How do you think I got 90 months!!!

If you choose not to have children, or are unable, please get early and frequent mammograms.  Early detection could have saved my friend.  I had mine today...what about you?

3:15 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why the wait?
So, why do we have to wait on babies?  I recently heard a dad say that he thought women should have a pop up timer that tells when the baby is done, like a turkey!  Wouldn't that be great? Why did God plan it with the unknown waiting period?  Well, we know it should be around 38 to 42 weeks of gestation, with the average being just over 40 weeks.  That sounds pretty specific, until you are the one who is waiting!  My next client was "DUE" yesterday, but still no baby.  She is miserable.  She is physically, mentally and emotionally ready to have her baby.  But, evidently, baby is not ready yet, so we wait.

Why the wait?  I really believe that women need to get to the point where they are completely willing to do the work of labor because they want the baby out of their body.  Sometimes that is because of being uncomfortable.  Face it, nothing is easy to do when you are 40 weeks pregnant.  Other times it is because she is emotionally done with being pregnant.  Sometime she just wants desperately in her heart to see and hold her new little miracle.  I call this the "miserable stage" and I rarely work with a woman who doesn't get there!

What do I suggest in the meantime?  Well, I encourage women to enjoy caring for their babies in utero, because it is easier than it will be soon.  I also suggest that they enjoy the time to themselves that they have now.  If it is a first baby, they may be used to long baths, reading time alone or dates with their partners.  This is soon to change.  If they already have children, I encourage them to do things that will be harder to do with a baby; go to the pool, go to the museum, etc.  I also remind them that their youngest child will never have the baby status again, so baby them with a little cuddling.  These final days go very slowly, but soon they will disappear like a mist.

So we wait...wait for the baby to be ready, to secrete his hormones that tell the body to contract.  We wait for the perfect day, the day that God ordained before he was even conceived.  We learn patience...

9:42 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Respecting the process...
I had another great birth this week and it made me think about how every birth is different.  I guess that is one reason why I love this work so much is that I can never get bored!  I love new challenges.

My client this week had a wonderful birth with about 7 hours of labor and 10 minutes of pushing...tops.  That sounds easy enough.  But, she had to be patient to get there.  Three days earlier, we spent 6 hours together having regular, progressing contractions.  It looked like labor and even went to about 2 minutes apart.  It just didn't feel right to me though, so was in no hurry to rush to the hospital.  Indeed, it slowed and sputtered to a stop.  This client could have been very bummed out, or anxious, or mad, but she was just accepting.  She could have gone to the doctor and demanded to be induced.  But instead,  she trusted that labor would come at the right time.  She was tired.  She had some unresolved issues about having baby number two.  She was ready, but just didn't feel READY...

Well, three days later, after Grandma had arrived from out-of-state, her water broke early in the morning.  She went about her morning getting ready for her birthing day.  She trusted her body to do what was right at its own time...and it did.  In about 5 or 6 hours, regular contractions started.  Three hours later we were getting to the hospital and 2 hours after that her beautiful 9+ pound baby was born, naturally and easily.  Right after birth, mom said, "That wasn't as hard as I thought!"  Wow!

So, I am learing to trust the process.  Labor is not a straight, paved road, but a winding path that is sometimes covered with rocks or bumps or even stop signs.  The body can stop when mom doesn't feel safe or ready.  We need to respect the process and watch in amazement as it unfolds before us.

10:10 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thoughts on home birth...
I have to say that I am supportive of home birth, but I am not a militant home birther.  I don't think it is the best choice for every family, but as a doula I want to do what I can do to help home birth to be available as a choice.  It can be a beautiful choice, but not one that is supported by our medical community or society.

I've attended a few planned home births and I loved being a part of each experience.  It is almost a different experience than a hospital birth, even though birth itself doesn't change.  Even though I usually help my clients avoid unnecessary interventions, the lack of intervention at home makes me a little nervous and I must admit that I am indeed tainted by the medical establishment.

My latest experience with unintended homebirth has made me think about it even more.  If I could go back and birth my babies, I would choose home birth.  I would have to drug my husband, but I would at least want to try it.  Should women have the choice?

It was interesting to hear people's comments about the unintended home birth.  Many were amazed that everyone was alive!  I did remind a few people that this was the norm less than 100 years ago.  Women know how to give birth instinctively and babies know how to get out.  How amazing!

Interestingly enough, my mom saw an article for me in the Indianapolis Star, Sunday 9/6.  Here is how it starts out:

"Having a baby at home with a registered midwife is just as safe as  conventional hospital birth, a new study says.  In fact, planned home births of this kind may have a lower rate of complications, according to a Canadian study published in the Sept. 15 issue of CMAJ."

Wow!  It goes on to say that the study from British Columbia from 2000 to 2004 included almost 13,000 births.  That is a huge study!  The mortality rate was .35 per 1000 births for homebirth with midwife, .57 per 1000 for hospital birth with midwife and .64 per 1000 for hospital birth with doctor.  Women who gave birth at home needed less interventions and babies were less likely to need oxygen or resuscitation.

The author, Patricia Janssen, director of the Master of Public Health program at the Universtiy of British Columbia said she hoped "this article will have a major impact in the U.S."  She also stated that there is a definite establishment bias against home births.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is officially opposed to home births...hmmmm
2:51 pm edt          Comments

Monday, September 7, 2009

Birth blog begins...
Welcome!  This is a new venture for me and I invite you to join me in it too.  As a doula, I am a birth junkie; I just love all things about birth.  If you do too, then you may enjoy my blog.  Send it to your friends if they love birth too!

I would love to tell about my birth experiences while protecting the identities of my clients, so my posts will always refer to "mom", "dad", "doctor", "baby", etc.  I hope to write about what I am learning in my experiences.  If you are a client and you want to write your birth story to my blog, I would welcome your input.  We birth junkies love to hear birth stories.  I will view and edit, if necessary, all comments before they are posted. 

My last birth was my first unintended home birth.  This was a second baby who just came very quickly.  Since mom pushed over 3 hours the first time, I thought she would have to do a little work to get this baby out.  But, two contractions after her water broke, the baby was crowning.  So, I coached dad and the baby was born on the bathroom floor into the loving hands of her father.  I learned that I do really trust the body to do this work we call labor.  It was so amazing to watch this mom do her work so quickly and efficiently.  What a loving bond was formed within this family.  Their story will be told and retold.  Maybe women will trust birth more from hearing it.  I hope so; I know I will.  I love my job!  Thank you God for a beautiful birth experience...again!

10:56 pm edt          Comments

2011.03.01 | 2010.09.01 | 2009.09.01

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