Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekly Report: Homeschooling Week of 1/24

Judging by our homeschool logbooks, it looks like the kids did a lot of work on Monday and Tuesday and not nearly as much the rest of the week.

We did math four days this week. Patrick did three lessons and one test in Saxon Math 6/5. Delilah finished the CLE Math 204 workbook and scored a 94% on the Lightunit Test. James did two pages in Counting With Numbers and played Zombie Dice.

Patrick and Delilah both did two lessons in their CLE Bible workbooks. I read #14 from Bible Stories to Read to Ben and James.

History was pretty fun. We're on chapter 15 of Story of the World, which focuses on the Phoenecians. On Monday, I read the SOTW chapter to the kids and they did the coloring page (a Phoenecian ship). Then Patrick read chapter 34 in Mystery of History. We watched videos on youtube about glassblowing. Patrick wanted to do the "Make Stinky Dye" project from MOH. Without thinking about how it would make the house smell, I agreed. It took hours to air out the stench. Today, Patrick and Delilah read the library books that we got to go along with the chapter.

In science, we checked on the apples that we mummified last week. The "mummified" one had dried out nicely, while the control group apple looked pretty much the same.

 Tim got the game "Settlers of Catan" for his birthday last weekend and Patrick and Delilah have been learning to play.

For P.E., the kids had their usual Homeschool Gym & Swim class at the North Y on Wednesday.

The Doula Connection met at my house last night. We were able to cover most of our business that we had planned and also spent hours and hours talking about everything else that came up. There are so many different women in our group who know lots about lots of different things and having them over is always a blast.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lotus Baby Birth Services' Giveaway!

Hey everyone!

My friend Bethany over at the Lotus Baby Birth Services blog is having a giveaway:

Winning (or buying) the Lunette menstrual cup can save you the money every month that you had been spending on tampons and pads.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Elizabeth Baer, CD(DONA)

Eleven months after I bought my DONA Birth Doula Certification packet, my DONA certification is done. I'm now a DONA-certified Birth Doula.

In case you were wondering, to become a DONA Doula, I had to:
  • Pay for DONA membership
  • Pay the certification application processing fee
  • Fill out the application
  • Read The Birth Doula's Contribution to Modern Maternity Care; The Doula Book; The Birth Partner; Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn; Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers
  • Attend a childbirth class (where I wasn't a pregnant participant)
  • Complete the course at
  • Attend a DONA birth doula workshop
  • Attend three births and submit three evaluations from mothers, three from caregivers, an essay about each one, DONA Birth Record sheets for each one
  • A resource list with resources from 30 different categories
  • Write an essay on the value of labor support
  • Sign Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
  • Take multiple choice quiz
To some people it sounds like a lot. Some people think that DONA certification is super-easy. I think that DONA Certification is a starting point, not an ending. It's an introduction into learning the things that one needs to know to serve families as a doula. I'm going to continue to learn as much as I can about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and working with women.

My next project (that I've already started working on) is the BirthWorks Childbirth Educator certification.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's ok Dearie, I'm a Doctor

What is birth anyway? Is it a medical event, where mom and baby are both in danger until the event has ended safely? It is a psychosocial event, where a couple turns into parents and a new person joins a family? What matters, the end or the means?

If birth is a medical event, then it would make sense to give birth in a hospital, with doctors nurses, medicine and machines. Something could happen, you know, and thank goodness they'll be there to help you. Such is generally the attitude of medical-model caregivers and this line of thinking seems to be what informed the newly released paper from ACOG on homebirth.

ACOG wrote: "Although the Committee on Obstetric Practice believes that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest setting for birth, it respects the right of a woman to make a medically informed decision about delivery."

Now, my experience working with medical care providers at this point has been that their idea of women making informed decisions involved 1) women being scared or guilted into doing what the provider is telling them to do and 2) doctors having a general attitude that women aren't capable of birthing their babies without medical intervention. I would be curious to see what ACOG's idea of a medically informed decision is. Doubtless, the doctors would explain that women need them to be there in case something happens and wouldn't mention any of the risks involved in going to a hospital setting to give birth.

About midwives who attend homebirths, ACOG has this to say, "At this time, for quality and safety reasons, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not support the provision of care by lay midwives or other midwives who are not certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board."

In other words, CPMs (certified professional midwife) who are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives, need not apply. ACOG's position appears to be that midwives who are not nurse-midwives ought to not be attending births.

Additionally, and perhaps the most interesting thing in their paper, is that ACOG wrote, "The relative risk versus benefit of a planned home birth, however, remains the subject of current debate. High-quality evidence to inform this debate is limited. To date there have been no adequate randomized clinical trials of planned home birth."

Essentially, what this means is that the entire opinion paper is ACOG's uninformed opinion about the safety of homebirth. When they say that there have been no adequate randomized trials of planned home birth, what they're saying is that they have not adequately studied home birth vs. birth in other settings, but they've decided to make decisions about it anyway.

I would have to argue that ACOG has no business making statements about the safety of something that hasn't been studied. And the fact that they're going around announcing that homebirth carries a risk of perinatal death in the same paper that states that they haven't done trials of planned home birth makes the whole paper seem just a little bit silly.

There is one section of their paper that perhaps, has something to offer, " It also is important for women thinking about a planned home birth to consider whether they are healthy and considered low-risk and to work with a Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Midwife, or physician that practices in an integrated and regulated health system; have ready access to consultation; and have a plan for safe and quick transportation to a nearby hospital in the event of an emergency." While I disagree that a midwife needs to be a nurse and was perfectly happy with the CPM I used for my last birth, I agree that women deserve to have access to consultation with physicians (who don't judge them or lecture them about their choice to birth at home) and access to hospital transport in the event of an emergency. I also think that medical institutions would do well to implement policies and staff trainings that teach their staff to treat women transferring to a hospital with respect.

What I would like to see is an integrated system where every woman has access to midwives and are able to choose to birth with a midwife at home, in a freestanding birth center or in a hospital. If a situation arose where the midwife decided that a doctor needed to be called in, one would be available and would treat the women in consultation with the midwife. Every book and study that I've read about maternity care has shown that women receive better quality care when they are primarily cared for by midwives.

If ACOG wants to form an opinion about home births, they would do well to study it and get back to us.

Resources about risks of hospital birth:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Midwife's Story

A Midwife's Story

This weekend, I took another quick break from non-fiction to read a story that combines two of my favorite things: midwifery and Anabaptists.

One night in 1974, Penny Armstrong woke from a dream, walked downstairs, stoked the fire in her stove, and pacing in front of its flames, realized that she wanted to be a midwife. Although she didn't think of herself as the midwifery type, she followed her dream to Highlands General Hospital in Scotland (not a place I'd want to have a baby myself, judging from the way she describes the headmistress). She then finished her licensure at Booth Hospital in Philadelphia.

While working at Booth, a doctor calls the unit where she is working and asks if any of the midwives there would be interested in joining his practice in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Living among the Amish is a bit of a culture shock for Armstrong, who seems to be, by all accounts a modern woman, one with short hair who wears pants, no less. When she first visits Lancaster to interview for the position, she doesn't think that she'll be able to work with the women. She writes, "These Amish women-as cold, joyless, and ascetic as they seemed to be- would shield themselves from the intelligence of their bodies... You would probably have to use dynamite and a pickax to dislodge their babies."

Luckily for Penny, the community welcomes her despite her modern ways. Throughout the stories, older women give her bits of advice that help her navigate the Amish culture. She's even able to branch off from the physician's practice and start her own homebirth service (despite her initial misgivings about birth at home).

Penny Armstrong and Sheryl Feldman (her co-author) write a midwifery autobiography that's tough to put down. I have to say that I'm disappointed that it ended the way it did. I would have liked to have heard more about what happened next.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week's End Homeschool Update

Another week of homeschooling is behind us. It feels like we got a lot done this week, which is good.

On Monday, we talked about Martin Luther King and the kids and I watched videos online about Martin Luther King's life and also his "I Have a Dream" speech.

On Wednesday, we had a trip to the library followed by the homeschool gym class at the Y.

Patrick did three lessons in CLE Bible Elective. He only did math three days this week, two lessons in Saxon 6/5 and a couple of pages in Key to Fractions. He read the first two books of the Guardians of Ga'hoole series and wrote a short book report about the first one. I was glad to see him finish chapter 23 in Latin for Children A and chapter 6 in Spanish for Children A. He also practiced Latin online at

Here's a bit of Patrick's book report:

"I read The Capture last night. It is about owls and it is cool. In the book, Soren (a barn owl) is captured by Jatt and Jutt and was called an orphan.Jatt and Jutt took him to Skench and Spoorn at St. Aggies where he met Gylfie (an elf owl).

When they escaped they met Twilight (a great grey owl). Then the trio of them went to the desert and found Digger.

I would recommend this book because it is funny."

Delilah did four lessons in her CLE Bible workbook and three lessons in CLE Math 204. She also did four pages in Math Practice 1A (Singapore). She spent lots of time reading this week. For Latin, she listened to the Song School Latin CD and practiced Latin online.

James learned about Moses as a baby and colored a picture in Bible Pictures to Color. He did four pages in Counting With Numbers and played Zombie Dice (which totally counts as math). He watched the Leapfrog Letter Factory movie with Ben a couple of times. Next week, we're going to start more reading instruction. He only had speech therapy at the school once this week because of the holiday on Monday, but we did practice at home.

James doing math

For science, all of the kids watched a PBS "Nova" episode about dinosaur fossils. In addition, Delilah has been doing a lot of reading about recycling and "going green."

In history, we read Story of the World chapter 14. I thought it was neat that it overlapped with James' Bible lesson about Moses.

Tim has been reading through the book of Mark with everyone at bedtime. I'm happy about how consistant he's been about doing it every night.

In momschooling news, I read p. 1-17 in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and p. 189-216 in Heart & Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. On Thursday night, I attended midwife Gloria Lemay's online "Fetal Circulation" class.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Doing hard things is fun!

This morning, I took a class at the Y called "Extreme Sculpt." Challenging would be putting it nicely. It's an hour of Maggie and Dina coming up with harder things for the five of us in the class to do. It's group personal training that focuses on strength. It's' hard. Oddly enough, when the class is over, I feel happy, energized even. I want to come home, eat an entire cow and clean my house.

Labor is this way. When we approach it with a positive attitude, surround ourselves with supportive, knowledgeable people and embrace the process, we can come out on the other side tired, happy and really hungry.

Delilah (my second child)'s birth is a good example of this. At three days after the estimated "due date," I was happy to be in labor. We had picked a location where people supported natural birth (Baltimore Birth Center) and I had Tim and my friend Alexis there. There were times that labor was tough (like pushing, not usually my favorite part). When she was out and the hard work was done I was amazed, happy, energized and starving. Alexis and I sent Tim out for pizza, which we promptly devoured.

The point is, it was worth doing. Hard things aren't things we need to be scared of. Preparation is important, whatever that looks like for you. For some people, it's taking natural birth classes, like Bradley or BirthWorks. For others, it's exercising during pregnancy. Having the right people with you is also important. If you are going for a natural birth, you'd want to have people along for the ride who trust the birth process and will encourage you to keep going. Many moms are choosing to have a doula at their births, a woman who is trained in being with other women during the birth process.

However you choose to approach your birth, remember that women's bodies are made for giving birth. You can do it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Good Week (homeschool week of 1/14)

My goal this week (and this year) was to be better about writing down what the kids do that's schooly in their Homeschool Logs. Then, if I open it up to this week and there are blank spaces, I would know that they're blank because they didn't do anything, not because I didn't write it down. I was actually pretty good about writing things down this week.


Bible- Did lessons 1-4 in Bible Elective 1, book 3 (CLE)

Math- Saxon Math 6/5, lessons 12-15

Lang. Arts- Wrote entries on two days.

Latin- Worked on ch. 23 in Latin for Children A


Bible- Did 2 lessons in Bible 104 (CLE)

Math- Lessons 7-10 in CLE Math 204

Lang Arts- Wrote two entries on

Science- CLE Science 101, lesson 11

Latin- Listened to Song School Latin CD


Bible- Listened to Mom read two stories from "Bible Stories to Read"

Math- Played checkers

Lang Arts- Did a page in "Adventures in Reading." Watched Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD. Played on

Speech- Had speech therapy at the school two days


Bible- Listened to Dad read Matthew ch. 28 && 29.

History- Read ch 13 in Story of the World and did pyramid activity kit. Mummified an apple.

Science- Went to the zoo (Wednesday)

Spanish-  Watched ch. 5 & 6 on Spanish for Children DVD

PE- 1/2 hour yoga class (Monday), 1/2 hour swim lesson and 45 minute gym class (Wednesday)


Read p. 221-273 in Spirital Midwifery, p. 75-86 & p. 99-106 in The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, and p. 58-66 in Paths to Becoming a Midwife

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting through Labor: Support

So far, we've touched on visualization, moving, warmth and hydration. With the Doula Connection Meet & Greet tonight, I'm going to talk today about labor support.

At my second birth, a friend came to the birth center with us. It was nice having her there, especially to hang out with afterwards. She supported Tim as much as she did me. She even went to our childbirth classes with us. When we had our fourth, the midwife brought two of her students along. They made great doulas. They rubbed my back, made suggestions and even went out and got me a snowball.

During labor, the people with the laboring woman should be the people who make her feel comfortable, encouraged and supported. A thorough reading of Ina May's Spirital Midwifery reveals that the people who should not be around the woman in labor are people who don't trust the birth process, who are nervous or overly worried about the woman or who have to pee.

Luckily for everyone, there are doulas. A doula is there for the whole family during the pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Doulas can help take care of birth partners by reassuring them that what's happening is normal and by staying with the mom while they go pee. Doulas do a great many other things as well.

Here, Doula Katie talks about the value of labor support:

If you live in Syracuse and need a doula, you can come to Cicero United Methodist Church tonight from 6-8pm to meet the ladies of the Doula Connection.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting through Labor: Move!

When I was in labor with my kids, I walked around the block, stood in the shower, bounced on a birth ball, walked around thr birth center (with the middle two). The only sitting I did was in the tub at the birth center, which was great. What I didn't do was lay in bed (except for a few hours with Patrick at the hospital).

Moving in labor is great for lots of reasons. What I've noticed, both at births I've attended as a doula and at my own births, is that contractions can be harder to deal with when you're laying down. I googled "contractions hurt more when laying down" and found link after link to moms talking about how their contractions hurt more when they laid down.

There are lots of different positions that the laboring mom can assume. The best thing to do is to listen to your body and keep trying different positions throughout your labor.

It may seem sometimes like your doula is encouraging you to change positions a lot during labor, but remember that she's doing it to help you be more comfortable and help your baby descend into the pelvis (and come out!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Through Labor: Hydration

One thing that many people don't think of when they think of their own comfort in labor is the topic of hydration. Getting dehydrated can contribute to tiredness, headaches, weakness, nausea and vomiting.

In almost every hospital, when you go in to have a baby, the nurse will want to start an IV as part of the admission procedure. This is not something that you have to consent to and I want parents to know that Mom can be hydrated just as well, and possibly better, by continuing to drink throughout her labor.

Some of the disadvantagest to consenting to an IV are:

- IVs interfere with mom's mobility

- IVs cause fluid overload, which can lead to fluid in both mother and baby's lungs

- The increase the rates of newborn jaundice

- The extra fluid from the IV infusion can artificially inflate the baby's birth weight and weight loss after birth. Since doctor's look at weight loss to determine how well breastfeeding is going, this can cause them to think that baby isn't getting enough to eat when he actually is.

The safer, healthier choice in labor is to eat what you feel like eating and to drink to thirst in early labor. Later in labor (like during transition and pushing), the partner or doula should offer sips of water and juice frequently.

In The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, the author says, "A sport-medicine physician would be horrified at the suggestion that an athlete engage in an endurance event with no food, nourishing drinks, or even water, but obstetricians and anesthesiologists are too wedded to their beliefs about labor to see it in these terms."

Luckily, midwives have long understood the value of eating and drinking during labor, and as more and more parents demand to be treated humanely during their births, hospital policies are slowly changing to allow laboring mothers to eat and drink.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting Through Labor: Warmth

Another great thing to utilize for getting through labor is warmth. One thing I carry with my in my doula bag is rice socks that can be heated in the microwave. These are great for moms who are having back pain.

Some people make these themselves. If you are using a doula for your birth, you can ask if she has rice socks or heat pads that she brings along with her.

You can order the ones in the picture from

Here are super easy directions for making your own rice sock:

Warm water is another great way to use warmth for pain relief during labor. With my second and third births, I spent time in the tub at the birth center. When I had Delilah, I got in the tub just planning to use it for labor pain relief and ended up deciding not to get out, so she was born in the tub (James was a waterbirth as well). During transition in my labor with Ben, I spent time in a hot shower. At that point, I didn't want to sit in the tub, but standing in the shower felt great.

The following video talks about using both water and temperature changes for relief in labor. The one thing that I don't agree with is when she says that if your water has broken, you should use a shower instead of the tub. A common misconception is that being in the tub when your water has broken increases the risk of infection. There is no evidence that this is the case.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Getting through Labor: Visualization

This week's blog project is called "Getting through Labor." The posts will be about, well, getting through labor. Each day I'll be covering a different topic to help families have a positive birth experience. All of these things are also things that your doula can help you with or remind you to try during labor.

When I went to the BirthWorks CBE training back in October, one thing we did was practice Visualization. We read visualizations aloud and wrote some of our own.

Visualization is something to practice during your pregnancy, with your partner and your doula. Getting used to relaxing during the visualizations you've selected while you're still pregnant will make for easier relaxation during labor.

In this YouTube video, the instructor talks about visualizing your cervix opening:

Here is one sample visualization:

"Gently close your eyes... listen to your breathing. Let your breathing become a little deeper... relaxed and in your own rhythm. As you breathe in ... you take oxygen into your body, and as you breathe out, you are breathing out what you don't need. You breathe out carbon dioxide, your body filters out all you don't need and takes in the oxygen you need.

As you breathe in... you take oxygen into your body, to your placenta, the oxygen travels from the placenta, along the cord and to your baby. As you breathe out, you breathe out what you and your baby don't need........... breathing out your carbon dioxide, your stress, your tension, your worries.

Imagine with your next breath out, breathing out any tension..... tension you have been holding onto during the day, the night or during the week.

With your next breath out, imagine breathing out any tension you may be holding from your left shoulder, all the way down through your arm to the elbow...... through the lower arm down through the wrist and hand, right out through your fingertips. Feel your arm beginning to let go, feeling heavy... feel it relax more and more with each breath out"

And links to more info on visualizations for birth:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: A Summer's Secret

Tim has been making fun of me for years for alternating between reading smut and books about the Amish. Lately, with all of my reading about birth and midwifery, both my smut reading and my reading about the Amish have suffered. Luckily, I was given a copy of A Summer Secret from BookSneeze in exchange for writing about the book.

The book starts out with a note about the Middlefield, Ohio Amish, on whom the book is based. That is followed by a "Glossary of Amish Terms," so that the reader can understand the Dutch words that pepper the story.

Thirteen year old Mary Beth, the main character, finds herself in the middle of a mystery when she finds a button in the borner of their barn. This raises flags, as the Amish don't use buttons on their clothes. Between doing chores on the family farm, spending time with her Ma and Da and fighting with her brothers, she continues to find more clues that point to something strange happening.

A few chapters into the book, we meet Sawyer, a runaway who has been hiding out in her family's barn. Throughout the story, Mary Beth and her brother, Johnny, spend time with Sawyer and wrestle with what to tell the adults in their lives.

Just like other books of the genre, A Summer Secret is a wholesome read, a book where people grapple with issues and come out of it ok. Though they have things going on in their lives that may feel challenging, they have a strong support system to fall back on when things get tough. Eventually, when the parents step in to help, everyone is kind and supportive.

Patrick, my oldest son, is reading A Summer Secret now.

Monday, January 3, 2011

For Thinking Women (And Men)

Before you give birth in a hospital, please, please read The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. A good subtitle for the book would have been "Things your hospital childbirth class isn't telling you," or maybe "What your OB doesn't want you to know."

While this is far from being a feel-good book about birth experiences that make women feel fulfilled and happy (it does touch on some feelings) and some of the things in the book may make readers feel upset, it's better to have real facts to make decisions with than to take the hospital ride without knowing what you're in for. The author even says in the introduction that she would rather the reader feel uncomfortable than ignorant.

Chapters cover Cesarean, breech birth, induction of labor, epidural and narcotic medication, labor support. electronic fetal monitoring, choosing your birth place and much more. Each chapter offers pros and cons for different options, along with gleanings from the medical literature. The author also includes helpful lists like "Ways to Avoid the Drawbacks of EFM (electronic fetal monitoring)" and "Interviewing a Caregiver."

Being informed about birth choices makes it possible for families to practice true "informed consent," the kind where you're making decisions based in information.