Thursday, May 26, 2011

Midwifery Savings Update

After another donation from a friend and part of my paycheck from Walmart (wanted to use the whole thing, but I had to contribute to fixing one of our cars), the "Liz's Midwifery School" fund is at $870, fast approaching $1000.

I'm planning to go to a couponing seminar tomorrow night out in Oswego, taught by blogger: The couponing has been going well, but I'd like to pick up some more saving tricks. Our weekly grocery budget (for 6 people) is $150. My goal is to use the couponing to come in under budget every week so I can transfer the difference to my education account.

More updates and pictures of my lovely belly shaped fundraising chart will be forthcoming, as I save up more money.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The New Big Thing

Coming up on the first Sunday in June, I will be attending the first meeting of our local midwifery study group. There are a few if us who have been talking to a homebirth midwife about teaching a midwife's assistant course. We're going to be picking different topics andmeeting to study midwifery together.

Does anyone have any tips or experience with holding a student midwives' group?

Meet a couple of the ladies participating:

Doula Sarah

Doula and Student Midwife Naomi

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Natural Birth" in a Hospital is Nothing but a Fantasy- Guest Blogger Sabrina at Jerusalem Health Coach

Today on facebook, I read this article by Sabrina of Jerusalem Health Coach. I am reposting because I think that it contains important information, however unpopular it might be. Parents need to understand that planning a "natural" birth in a hospital setting is something that takes a work: planning, education, hiring a doula and being your own advocate.

That’s right, I said it. Now, I hope everyone will forgive me as I let myself off the hook. These are not my words. My teacher and mentor, Shoshana Goldbaum (doula with 30 years experience) said it, first. She even goes on to say, “Natural birth is for the kitty cats having their babies behind the dumpsters. What I teach parents is prepared childbirth, or responsible, minimal intervention childbirth.”

When I first heard this, I must admit, I was shocked. “But wait,” I thought, “what about the fact that birth is a natural process? What about trusting our bodies?” Surely she couldn’t deny that birth is a womanly phenomenon, regardless of where it may occur. With time and a little experience, I began to see where she was coming from. The moment a woman leaves the comfort of her home and enters a hospital setting, the process takes a huge leap away from “natural.” Forms filled, heparin lock inserted, hospital gown on, cervix checked by a stranger’s gloved hand, belly strapped with two monitor belts, body reclined on a bed… There is nothing “natural” about any of it.

At a hospital, there is a slew of possible interventions that could take place… a variety of induction methods, sedatives, pain-blockers, metal instruments, antibiotics. A clock is ticking, from the time that the waters break, whether artificially or on their own. Various possible dangers loom overhead: infection, dystocias, nuchal cord, fetal distress, problematic presentation, placental issues, hemorrhage … the list continues. The medical staff is aware of all of them and is prepared to handle anything and everything. A woman’s body is not to be trusted because there is always a risk that something could go wrong.

I am learning that birthing with a licensed nurse-midwife has all the similar risks, but the difference is that the setting is warmer and invasive techniques are usually kept to a minimum. This lessens the possibility of causing many of the problems that lead to cesareans and instrument-assisted deliveries. However, while hospitals will take high-risk pregnancies, most licensed midwives in Israel will not. This can put a “high-risk” pregnant woman somewhere between a rock and a hard place when she is not comfortable birthing in a hospital where the chances of avoiding a traumatic birth or an unnecessary cesarean are next-to-nothing and no licensed midwife will take the risk of attending her birth. For many of these women, a natural birth can seem like more of a dream than a reality.

What my teacher is trying to alert women about is simple. Nobody just goes skipping down Pregnancy Lane all “la-dee-dah. I’m going to do everything natural” and somehow magically at the end of the road there is a peaceful baby in her arms and everyone is glowing and happy. There is a lot of work involved for mom: a great deal of learning, strategizing, planning, preparing, and understanding the uniqueness of her own body and circumstances.

When first-time birthing women tell me all about wanting a natural hospital birth, I smile and ask, “What’s your birth plan?” This initiates the conversation. Once I listen to her thoughts and feelings (sometimes for quite awhile) and help her sort out her own values, limiting beliefs, resources, and priorities, I remind her gently that any plan she may devise is almost always “plan B.” Plan A is G-d’s plan, which is ever-unfolding—and as choices in labor are made, a new set of choices appear (see my past article “When Your Birth Plan Flies Out the Window”).

As the minutes tick away, the possible outcomes in a hospital gradually become more and more limited. Therefore, if a woman is committed to a having a minimum intervention (natural) birth, certain aspects of her experience must be worked out well in advance:

1.Support. This is not a friend, a mother, sister, rebbetzin or any other kind of well-intentioned and loving hand-holder. I’m talking about a trained, professional doula or birthing assistant who is familiar with the various aspects of birth, including anatomy and physiology, emotional sign posts in labor, coping techniques, and educational resources. Ideally, she is someone who is calm and confident in the process of labor, compassionate, patient, and sensitive to the cues a woman’s body may give at any time. At the same time, she should be familiar with the warning signs indicating that emergency care is needed. Extensive time and energy should be invested in prenatal meetings because, as I say all the time, "90% of what I do happens before labor even starts." Indeed, my most successful birth stories were with women who valued my guidance enough to meet with me three and four times before their births.

2.Education. I strongly recommend taking a birth preparation course from a birth educator who is certified by an organization that is “mother and family-centered” in its philosophy. Otherwise, a woman runs the risk of sitting through a hospital-centered course which may teach her little else besides which drugs she has to choose from (all absolutely harmless, of course) and how to be a “good patient” and cooperate with the medical staff as they follow their necessary protocol. It’s also very important to involve a spouse or any person who will be entrusted with any decision-making power at the time of birth.

3.Preparation and Planning. This is best done with the doula and may include all parties who will be involved in some way with the birth. This is the time to understand all the various expectations, doubts, fears and thoughts that may come up in the process. This is also a good time to examine all the visible circumstances of the upcoming birth. Are there any special considerations? Is the mother GBS positive? What if her water breaks before the onset of labor? How will she deal with the increased risk of infection to her baby as time passes by? How is the baby positioned? Is there anything that can be done to encourage a fetal positioning that is more optimal? What are some coping strategies that sound appealing to the mother-to-be? What are the financial constraints on the situation, if any? Does it limit the possibilities? These are only a few considerations.

4.Labor Plan. Where does the mother intend to labor and how far is the location from the hospital? How can she use the resources around her at home to ease into labor and feel most safe and comfortable? When will it be time to get over to the hospital? What facilities does the hospital have for laboring, besides a bed? Creating a solid labor plan will ensure that a woman can feel the maximum confidence and support in her laboring process at the beginning and as she progresses onward to the second stage of labor (pushing). It’s especially helpful to discuss with the doula when is the appropriate time to leave for the hospital. Given a normal and healthy laboring process, it can be best to work though labor in a familiar space until labor is well-established and transfer to hospital is least likely to cause labor to stall. In the event that the woman must go to the hospital sooner, she and her doula should have a flexible game-plan for making use of the hospital's resources.

5.Perineal Support. Many first-time birthing women want to avoid an episiotomy or major tear. Advance preparation of the perineum to stretch as much as necessary during birth will help with healing and minimize discomfort later. There are also pelvic floor exercises which can help the mom to relax the muscles at crowning. Finally, there is a mental and emotional preparation that can be done in advance to reframe the anticipated uncomfortable experience.

6.Hospital Protocols. It is incredibly useful to know hospital protocols and the risks involved in deciding to go against them. I cannot stress this more. If a woman chooses to birth in a hospital, she must constantly remember (and accept) that she is on their turf. The doula is a privately-hired support person who is there with her but cannot and will not be expected to make any decisions for the birthing mom. This means that whatever their protocols may be (I listed several at the beginning of this article) they are expecting a woman to follow them without asking too many questions. In Israel, a woman has the right to refuse ANY and ALL hospital protocols that she sees fit and in doing so she assumes all responsibility for the outcome. She won’t be very well-liked by the hospital staff and she may need to sign a form, but this is her legal right. I will add that any woman who takes a hospital tour may be completely familiar with many of the major policies involved with birthing there and she may even feel okay with it at the time. However, many of these seemingly trivial details can add up to being a very big deal when she is in labor and hormonal and needing more than ever to be comfortable and feel safe.

These are some considerations to keep in mind in order to effectively plan and prepare for a natural birth in a hospital. I am aware that there are women who reportedly can create a “bubble of safety” around them and can just ignore hospital staff and pretend she’s laboring somewhere on a cloud far away. It is a special and enviable gift to be able to do this and as a doula I’d be hesitant to mess with perfection. However, in most cases women cannot achieve this level of unconditional safety and relaxation in a hospital setting. So, for all those ladies who choose a hospital birth and want to do it naturally, this article is for you.!/notes/jerusalem-health-coach/natural-birth-in-a-hospital-is-nothing-but-a-fantasy/205339296172125

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Have you thought about homebirth?

Often, when I talk to CNY moms who are outside of the Holistic Moms Network or the Syracuse AP yahoo group, they don't realize that birthing their baby in their home is an option for them. I've even been asked if homebirth is legal. I would like to point out today that, here in Syracuse and the surrounding area, homebirth is an option for families.

When birthing at home, the caregiver women use is a midwife. A midwife is a provider who is a specialist in normal pregnancy and birth. Your midwife can do all of your prenatal care, handle the birth of your baby, provide postpartum and newborn care and even do well-woman care like Pap smears and menopause counseling.

When I was first learning about homebirth years ago, I got a lot of information from the ladies at

One provider of homebirth in this area is Merideth Geers: I have not done a birth with Merideth yet, but I have attended several community outreach events that she has hosted and we've done lunch at Chipotle (where else?).

Another lady that many Syracuse moms use is an Ithaca midwife named Kate Finn: Kate works with several other midwives in the Ithaca area, who also provide homebirth to their clients.

For people closer to Rochester, you have the ladies at Meg and Sarah have a lovely website with lots of information about their practice on it.

You may already know that I had my last baby at home, though while we were living in Baltmore. If you are considering homebirth and have questions or didn't realize homebirth was an option and you want more information, feel free to contact me and ask away.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cute Boys and Walmart

The cute boys pictured above are my two younger children. Ben (3) is on the left and James (5) is on the right.

Leaving my job as overnight people greeter on Friday morning, I noticed that the merchandise supervisor at Walmart was marking a bunch of kids' clothes down to a dollar. I went back later in the day and got these matching outfits for Ben and James. I got a bunch of other things too, 15 items in all, for $15.

I've been learning to appreciate the job at Walmart. Working from 10pm to 7am five nights a week is hard and I'm often ready to leave by 4am, but the fact that I'm using it to fund my midwifery education makes it worth it.

Standing at the door leaves a lot of time for thinking. Here are some things I've noticed:

Ways that Being the Overnight People Greeter is Like Being a Midwife
  • You spend hours looking like you aren't doing anything.
  • You have to be able to just wait around.
  • Being able to read people matters.
  • After hours of using your keen powers of observation, you'll need to fix something, then go back to waiting.
  • It's important to have a good sense of humor.
To help motivate myself to keep showing up at the Walmart, I've made one of those fundraising chart thingies to keep track of how much I've raised for midwifery school. I'll warn you now that in the coming weeks and months I'm going to be extending my fundraising to friends and family.

Here's my chart:

That little colored in bit is the $500 that I have in my midwifery savings account. The goal at this point is to earn/raise $13,000. I'll post pictures of my chart as it gets colored in.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Birth Plan Workshop at CNY Healing Arts Center

Join the women of the Doula Connection at CNY Healing Arts on Saturday, May 14th from 1 to 3pm to learn about the ins and outs of birth plan writing. Couples will be given the opportunity to see sample birth plans, hear about all of their options during the birth process and begin writing their birth plan with the guidance of experienced birth attendants. Cost to attend is $20 per couple. Reserve your spot by calling CNY Healing Arts at 315 671 5755.

CNY Healing Arts opened in July 2007 with the mission of providing comprehensive complimentary health services in a compassionate, honest and friendly environment. A well rounded menu of services is offered including Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Massage, Yoga and Esthetics.
phone: 315 671 5755
address: 191 Intrepid Lane Syracuse, NY 13205

The CNY Doula Connection is a growing network of independent doulas who attend births and provide postpartum care in the Central New York Area. We provide networking opportunities, client referrals and educational enrichment for our members.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cutting Costs

Since people on facebook have had questions about things that I've been posting about my couponing, I thought I would whip up a blog post about it before I take James to speech this morning.

Back when we lived in Baltimore, I went through phases where I used coupons for things that we bought, but I wasn't very organized about it. There was that one shopping trip where I got my total from $400 down to $93. I thought recently, with trying to put money into my doula business and save for midwifery school, that it was time to stop reminiscing about when I used to coupon and get back into doing it.

Yesterday, I posted my shopping totals on facebook: Original total: $241.19. Sales & coupons: $117.67 off. Total spent: $123.52.

Here's how I did it:

- The past couple of weeks, I've been working on getting my coupons more organized. I bought a binder, tabs to separate the different sections and plastic sheets with 3, 4, 6 and 8 sections to hold coupons.

- I visited the websites for Tops and Price Chopper to match up the coupons I had on hand with their weekly sales:

- I made up a shopping list based on things that were on sale that I thought we would eat and could make meals with.

- James and I started out at Tops, where we spent $34.03 on an order that was originally $80.96.

- We then went to Price Chopper and spent $89.49 on an order that would have been $160.23

We got some great deals at Price Chopper. For example, they had bread "Buy 1, Get 2 Free." I also decided to try the Emerald Nuts Breakfast to Go box. They were on sale for $2.99 and I had a $1 off coupon, that, combined with the dollar coupon doubler, made the box $0.99.

** A note: I often see people write online that they don't bother with coupons because "You can only buy crap with coupons" or "There aren't any coupons for healthy food." In the past couple of weeks, I have found and used coupons for organic eggs, organic yogurt, Greek yogurt, almond milk, Newman's Own cereal and pizza, popcorn, nuts, Seeds of Change organics, frozen vegetables, etc. You can feed your family healthy food at discounted prices:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Homeschooling Week of 5/2

I'm not sure how we got to May 6th already, but it seems to be today's date. The week was really quite a blur.

With me working 10pm-7am and being a bit fuzzy during the day, the kids have almost started unschooling. Both Patrick and Delilah did some lessons on this week. I'm really starting to appreciate time4learning because the kids will actually do it unprompted. So if I'm napping on the couch, they'll hop on the computer and do Math, Language Arts, Science or Social Studies. Patrick is enrolled in their fifth grade level and Delilah is doing second grade.

We did manage to make it out to two homeschool activities this week. The kids had their Homeschool P.E. class at the YMCA on Wednesday afternoon, where they played raquetball and volleyball. Thursday afternoon, we went to the homeschool group at the library, where the kids celebrated Cinco de Mayo with stories, music, games and crafts.

I'll be away in New York City tomorrow for the Neonatal Resuscitation class. I've been studying the book all week. Let's hope that I can remember the important stuff.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Practically Perfect Day

The past twenty-four hours were about as perfectly balanced as our crazy schedule gets.

Last night, I worked at Walmart from 10pm-7am (gotta save up for school). When I got home in the morning, the kids were all still asleep. I checked email, ate something (waffles w/Nutella) and straightened up  the house a little.

Patrick and Delilah both did some lessons on while I napped on the couch and the little boys played. I woke up around 2pm, a long nap.

I woke up to find that the house was just about the messiest that I've ever seen it. Pretty much every room needed to be cleaned. Patrick, Delilah, James and I straightened and cleaned from about 2-3:30pm. At 3:30, we dropped off books at the library, went to Chipotle for a late lunch, then to Barnes&Noble to get the kids some books. While out, I got to talk to a doula from Binghamtom (we set up a lunch date) and one of the ladies from our group, the Doula Connection in Syracuse.

From there, we went to the YMCA so that I could work out and do some studying while the kids played. I worked on Patrick's 5th grade test prep book with him and worked on really soaking in the info in my Neonatal Resuscitation book.

My index card version of the Neonatal Resuscitation flow chart

Wonderful Husband Tim made a couple of frozen pizzas so that the kids could eat again before bed. We fed them pizza, brushed teeth and did vitamins. Tim read us a chapter from Acts and we all prayed together.

Tim and I are watching an episode of "The Event" that we recorded yesterday. At 9:45pm, I'll be back out the door for the overnight shift at Walmart (gotta pay for school).