Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Taking charge of your fertility...part 1

I love babies. And love being pregnant….but all women need to have the knowledge to take charge of their fertility. We need options, to be able to have our babies on our schedules. As a midwife-in-training, I think it's important to serve women throughout their life cycles, including when they aren't or don't want to be pregnant.

We are all pretty much acquainted with the pill. The birth control pill was introduced to the public in the 1950’s in the US and became it became legal to prescribe it as a contraceptive in Canada in 1969 (before this point it could be prescribed to “regulate menstrual cycles”). It is generally accepted to have about a 99% effectiveness rate, as long as you don’t miss a dose and you take it at the same time every day. You can go online and look at all the wonderful benefits of the pill and the side effects and decide for yourself if it’s a good choice.

We all SHOULD be acquainted with condoms. If ya ain’t using them for contraception, you sure as heck should be using them if you aren’t in a monogamous relationship. Condoms are 97% effective when used properly. That includes using latex friendly lubrication to help avoid breakage. A point to note is the thinking in the late 1990’s was that spermicides like nonoxynol-9 were good to boost the effectiveness of the condom and to help prevent STDs. Several studies over the past decade have shown that spermicides actually irritate the vaginal wall and INCREASE chance of STD infection. I would suggest using the condom properly J

Most women don’t know that the morning after pill or “emergency contraception” as it’s also known, is available without a prescription at most local pharmacies. So you’ve made a mistake, missed some pills or the condom broke? Go see your pharmacist within 24-48 hours after having sex. One questionnaire (to ensure that you understand how the drug works and if it will be effective or not) and $40 later, you’ll walk out the door with two tiny pills. I bring this up here because while it’s more desirable to use an effective form of contraception ALL the time, there is a reason it’s called “emergency contraception” and in my mind it is important to have the option.

Ok….so what’s all this discussion leading up to? True, natural birth control, also known as fertility awareness. It is more in depth than the good ol’ “rhythm method”, and 99% effective when used correctly. Yep…you heard me right. 99% effective. And to me, every woman has the right to get to know her body in a drug-free, hormone-additive-free state. She can know when she’s fertile, so she can plan when to have her babies instead of going on the assumption that she “can get pregnant at any time”. She can stop dumping money into the drug companies’ pockets. She can get in touch with her inner goddess J

Tomorrow, I’ll go thru the basics of fertility awareness, who it is most effective for, and some things to start thinking about. An excellent resource is the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler, MPH.

In sisterhood,

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Baby wearing: benefits for mother and baby!

I first became interested in baby wearing with my first little one. She was happier in my arms, and I was happier with her there too. I could stare at her sleeping so peacefully, or take advantage of the nap and sleep with her! She wasn’t a big fan of being in a sling, but my arms got a workout and so did my back. Who knew that having children can improve your muscles!!

With my son, the sling was used extensively. He was a bit bigger than his sister, and I had figured out what to do with the darned thing. When he was still small, I could even get away with nursing hands free with the sling. The only downside to the sling was that it hung on one shoulder, and as he got older I found it just caused back pain and an overall “unbalanced” feeling.

Well, if slings were the “carrier du jour” of 10 years ago, wraps are where it’s at today! With a little practice, your newborn can sit snuggled against you, listening to your heartbeat and have easy access to either breast *BONUS*!!! I also love that many of the wraps have little bulk, so you can throw a poncho over them to stay warm as the fall days get chillier.

So why wear your baby, besides having a happier baby? Turns out that babies need to be able to block out stimulation. In a wrap, once they are an older baby, they can turn their head in toward mom to block out the world as they need to so they don't get overstimulated. Another positive benefit is that moms who carry their babies have better core body strength and get good aerobic benefits from carrying the extra weight. These gains in personal fitness can result in long term health like lowered rates of osteoporosis and heart disease.

I had the pleasure of looking at all the beautiful wraps Saint John’s own Sue Appleton sells while at the baby fair last Sunday. I wanted to buy them just for the colours! You can find these wraps at: There were a number of moms and babies walking around using them, all looking comfy and happy. Sue also offers many other quality products, like cloth diapers and non-leaching stainless steel sports bottles. Definitely worth a look, and if you are expecting, a gentle nudge to grammies, friends and family for some ways to spoil you and baby!

Monday, October 1, 2007


So let's play a game for a moment. Let's pretend that today in New Brunswick, you are free to give birth in the way you want to. Let's pretend that our c-section rate could be lowered to 5% or at worst 10%. Let's pretend that moms will be able to breastfeed their babies and receive prompt help when they encounter a problem.

Ok, so giving birth the way you want to. You want a birth pool? No problem. A great resource for info is Your pool can be set up for you to use as you see fit, whether it will be for simple pain relief, easing your joints and resting, or actually delivering your baby.

You want to avoid tears? pick the position you will give birth in. Will you be standing? On your hands and knees? Reclining in your bed? Who knows? You'll probably find a position that will feel better than others as your baby starts to emerge. Oh, and you won't be coached to push, ok? Read this article: Want to see a baby emerging with little effort on mom's part? Watch this cool video:

You want good postpartum care, with your caregiver coming to your home several times over the weeks following your baby's birth? Ok, sounds like a good plan for a healthy baby and healthy mom.

In our imagined world, homebirth is as safe as hospital birth. You have fewer problems with your birth because it starts on its own schedule, and noone is giving you drugs to make it go faster. You are in great shape physically and nutritionally, and you've been nourishing your body to prevent complications by following the Brewer diet:

Does all of this sound too good to be true? Most mothers tell me it is too good to be true. And yet it's not. There are women in New Brunswick who are choosing these alternatives for their births. They aren't all crazy hippies, they aren't all raging feminists, they aren't all women disillusioned by a previous hospital birth. They are women who are taking the time to educate themselves about birth options, who are more scared of unnecessary interventions than they are of birth.

Grab yourself a cup of tea (nettle/red raspberry leaf is a combo your body will appreciate!) and start educating yourself. You just might help yourself to have a better birth, or be able to support a friend or family member to do the same. Some resources to start with are:

Some of the information may seem technical, but you will learn! If you aren't choosing homebirth, these resources can be used to demand the care you deserve from your obstetrician and hospital.

Gentle, low- or no-intervention births ARE possible, and they ARE happening in our province. Let's turn the tables so they become the majority, instead of the minority of births!