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Laboring On Birth Transition in the United States - Book Review

Touted as the first "feminist sociological analysis of birth in the United States", Laboring On can fit into the Women's Studies, Sociology, Midwifery and Health sections of your library. 

Together Wendy Simonds, Barbara Katz Rothman and Bari Meltzer Norman explore American birth practices and delve, in an easy to read manner, into the varying and conflicting perspectives of OB/GYNS, Midwives, CNMs and Doulas.

Throughout the book the authors focus on the medical model as separating mom from baby and doing what is best to prevent lawsuits, Nurse Midwives mostly having to compromise their ideals in order to work under the medical model of birth, Midwives needing to balance being the most knowledgeable of birth yet having the least rights of all practitioners and Doulas as championing the way in hospitals.

Interviews with medical professionals are printed verbatim, then analysed in Laboring On, which helps the reader find the nuances of doctor's language and the defeat in the voices of the Certified Nurse Midwives working in hospitals. 

This book provides a strong insight into the politics of birth and why America's maternity wards are in the shape they are in today.


Breast is the Best, Even if You’re Three - Guest Writer Series

The following article, written by Colleen Mahon-Haft, is an informative piece on extended breastfeeding. Welcome Colleen to Healing Midiwfery!

Last year a Delta Airlines employee asked a nursing mother to put a blanket on her child’s head, because she said seeing the toddler nurse was“weird” and made her uncomfortable. The flight attendant reacted in this manner simply because extended nursing, when a baby nurses past a year old, is not the norm in United States culture. As a result, virtually any mother of a nursing toddler can recall dirty looks she has received while nursing in public and is likely to have horror stories of more confrontational judgments from strangers, like the mother on the plane.


Mothers in the US generally wean before twelve months, most at six months or earlier.  A mere 14% of mothers still nurse their babies at seven months of age (Le Leche League International 1997).  However, breast milk is the optimal food not only during infancy but also into toddler-hood, and if more mothers were aware of the benefits of extended nursing, they would not look at it as “weird” and would be proud to offer their baby the best nutrition possible.  U.S. culture, many American doctors, and the mainstream media discourage extended breastfeeding, in the process attaching shame and embarrassment to a natural feeding process that is extremely beneficial to the child’s well being.  

A child can only absorb 10% of the iron from cow’s milk, while 50% of the iron from breast milk’s can be absorbed (Eiger and Olds 1999).  Additionally, “human milk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, immunoglobulins and compounds with unique structures that cannot be replicated in infant formula" (Benson, Masor March 1994).   For this reason, when both mother and baby are healthy, the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization all advise nursing for a year or longer, as long as mother and baby are comfortable.

 Beyond the nutrient content of breast milk, extended nursing also provides a crucial boost to children’s immature immune systems. Until the age of six a child's immune system isn't functioning at adult level, which leads parents to shield them from sick neighbors, bundle them up during the winter, and make sure they don’t leave the house with a wet head.  Still, by nursing for a limited time, many mothers pass up the opportunity to directly provide young children with what it needs to fight off a cold or the flu. The composition of mother’s milk provides infants and toddlers with vitamin E, which is crucial for immune system development, along with enzymes, proteins and already developed antibodies that are essential to developing and maintaining good health. For this reason, breastfeeding has been directly associated with fewer infant illnesses, and extended breastfeeding subsequently with fewer toddler illnesses (Gluiuk 1996).

Not only does extended nursing have great health benefits, it also plays an important role in mother/child bonding and later social bonding. Extended breastfeeding gives mothers and toddlers special time to be together, experiencing each other’s closeness. Getting a toddler to slow down can be challenging, so the time spent nursing is needed and enjoyed. Oxytocin and Prolactin are released into the mother’s body during nursing,  Both hormones have been referred to as the "love hormones" or the "bonding hormones.”  Those hormones provide a sense of calm to the mother, promoting bonding and creating desire for further contact with the child.  

Adversaries to extended nursing suggest that extended nursing makes weaning more difficult and leads children to be overly dependent, therefore advocating that mother’s force their babies to wean on a set time frame.  In reality, forced weaning can be a frustrating experience for both, as it requires fighting biological instincts to continue nursing. On the other hand, child-led weaning tends to be much easier on the mother and toddler as all children will eventually give up the breast when they feel the cues to do so.  Often, they will set their own time frames, such as “when I’m four” or “after Santa comes.” 

There is evidence that child-led weaning is beneficial for the social development of children. Dr. William Sears (The Breastfeeding Book 2000), having studied the long-term impacts of the weaning process on thousands of children, reports that “children who had timely weanings… are more independent, gravitate to people more than things, are easier to discipline, experience less anger, radiate trust.… [After] studying the long-term effects of long-term breastfeeding, the most secure... and happy children we have seen are those who have not been weaned before their time” (Sears 2000).  Thus, despite what opponents of extended breastfeeding suggest, research on childhood development shows that toddlers who nurse will not be clingy and overly  dependent, and are actually likely to be more trusting, independent, and happier than children who are force-weaned.

Additionally, extended nursing benefits children in ways that extend all the way to school age. One study found that school age children who were breastfed as infants and toddlers have I.Q. scores averaging seven to ten points higher than formula-fed infants (Dr. Sears 2000). Breastfed babies and toddlers also have the privilege of receiving high levels of DHA (docasahexaenoic acid), which is a brain boosting fat, found in cold water fish and in seaweed.  DHA is essential for the proper development of the nervous system and vision (Memmler’s 2005). DHA levels are highest in babies who are breastfed the longest. The cognitive development of babies fed formula does not equal that of those who are breastfed (Dr. Sears 2000).  

Mothers who nurse their babies into toddler-hood are doing themselves and their little ones a great service physically, socially, intellectually and emotionally.  They are providing comfort and nourishment that will affect the children their entire lives. Breastfeeding is also a life-affirming act of love. If you have ever observed an older baby or toddler nursing, you can see that there is something almost magical, something very special about the mother/ child bond.  With such strong evidence of the positive effects of extended nursing, the pattern of limited breastfeeding in the United States is puzzling. 


Royal Bottoms - A Review of Cloth Diapers

Royal Bottoms, a local Portland, Oregon company, is a mom owned and sustainable cloth diaper company. And these aren't your ordinary cloth diapers.

Raya, the mom, owner and talent behind the beautiful designs ensures that each order is made to your exact specifications and needs. Her Royal Bottoms blog as well as her website have lovely photos of each design, so you can find something for your needs.

Royal Bottoms recommends that parents start with 20 cloth diapers for a newborn. Although that sounds like a lot, Raya says that "when you take into account a one-size diaper will last until he or she is potty-trained it makes a lot of sense."

What about poop in the washer? Raya has this to say, "A lot of people worry about putting feces in their washer. But in the first six months of life when a baby is breastfeed that poop is 100% water soluble and will leave no trace in the washer. Then when the child starts eating solid foods you can use biodegradable rice paper liners and plop those off in the toilet before washing. Most of the time everything just shakes right off and whatever is left is fine to wash. Trust me, it's not as scary as it sounds."

Looking for sustainable clothing, wetbags, wipes? You can definitely find it at Royal Bottoms as well. Each wetbag is handcrafted at home by Raya and is used to hold the smells and moisture of dirty diapers until laundry day.

Here is what I love best about this company: the education. Raya takes the time to teach you how to begin the path of cloth diapering, and her products make it a much easier and safer task than the old school cloth diapers you had to fold and pin. And they look so cool on little babies.

Note to shoppers: Royal Bottoms is holding a sale on bumGenius diapers, 6-15% off for diapers that rarely go on sale. Contact Raya while supplies last.


Birth Poetry by Stephanie Elliott

This exaggerated hip swing, 
The rocking of my own cradle;
Relaxin relaxes my joints into soft sensual submission, 
Allowing me to open, open, open.

How did I get here?
Oxytocic orgasm, 
Estrogen and Progesterone, mounting, mounting, mounting,
Leaving me cry, cry, crying, over spilt milk. 

How did I know I was here? 
HCG whispered it in my ear
Two blue lines, in parallel
The tell tale sign, that every woman anticipates and fears.

Oxytocin awakes me at 2am, 
I feel the pulling
The downward force 
My body is moving
...without my permission.

Still, it says yes, and asks for more.
More oxytocin... more....
More pain, more force.

The hours go by...
I pace and dance 
With my relaxin hip swing.

I feel the baby drop down



Prostaglandins are massaging my cervix, 
Softer, thinner, 
Creating gentle passage for my child.

Down and through he slides...

Just when I think I can take no more, 
When I can do no more to birth my child.
Endorphin release...

Things get less sharp...
The sights, the sounds, the pain.
Suddenly it is just me 
And this child... Working together, a team.

Finally the time is coming
Rushes of oxytocin are overwhelming
I feel a rush of urgency and fear

Noradrenaline is telling me to get this baby out...

So I push... 
My heart pounds and I push....

                                                And I push...
And the child bursts forth, and lies before me...
Shakes its head and begins to scream.

I feel something come over me,
Something I never knew I could feel
Overwhelming love, intoxicating....

I hold my child on my chest,
He slowly bobs towards my breast.
I watch him with tears in my eyes. 
Prolactin and oxytocin bring me so close to my child.

These hormones have made me a mother today.


Upcoming Submission Requests

After the holidays, I'll be posting calls for the following submissions:

January: Birth Art
March: Personal Birth Narratives
May: Birth Rituals

If you would like to submit now, feel free to contact me.


Upcoming Articles

Healing Midwifery is pleased to announce the upcoming articles:

January: Bedsharing
February: Reiki Healing
March: Waterbirth
April: Creative Expression

Article suggestions are always welcome.


Resource List

Inspired by being snowed in for a full week out here in Portland, I've started putting together a resource binder for women who need information about getting pregnant, pregnancy, birth, infants, sleep, feeding, yoga, health, nutrition ---- all sorts of topics.

Very excited about this! Now I just need to come up with a cool name other than Community Resource Binder for Women. Any suggestions?


Getting the Best Eats During Pregnancy - December Article

There are heaps of nutrition articles on the Internet that can make a mother-to-be feel overwhelmed. If you’ve read any three, you can already surmise that there’s no special nutrition formula for your diet.

Consider the following to be general guidelines on how to eat an appropriate diet while pregnant. You’ll also find easy recipes that follow standard pregnancy nutritional guidelines. For more specific information, always check with your Midwife or caregiver. She knows your situation best and can provide the most accurate information specific to your needs.

Eating healthy, whether vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc., is almost always possible as long as it is well-planned and approved by your Midwife or caregiver. Don’t stress about how or what you are eating on a daily basis, but instead look at your diet over the course of a week to ensure it is balanced.

Over a seven day period, ask yourself if you’ve eaten enough greens, protein, fiber, fat and vitamins to satisfy your nutritional needs. If it’s hard to keep track, consider using a food journal for a week. If you feel you’ve been lacking something, plan how you will make changes and start again the next day. Each day is a new time to begin feeding you and your baby the way that is best for both of you.

Whenever possible, buy organic. This will ensure you are getting the best produce, dairy products, meat and snacks you can without harvesting them from your backyard.

When selecting fish, always check with your Midwife or caregiver to ensure it is safe for you to eat fish, and then chose varieties that are fresh rather than farmed for optimal nutrition.

For meat, select hormone and antibiotic free and grass fed to ensure the best cut of meat for you and your baby. The less synthetic hormones and medicine you have moving through your system, the better off you are.

Below are some nutrients that are vital to you and your baby’s wellbeing during pregnancy, followed by fast and easy recipes.

Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent abnormalities of the brain, spinal cord and neural tube. Ingesting 1 milligram a day during pregnancy, either through foods or supplements is essential to your baby’s well-being.

Organic leafy green vegetables (think kale, mustard greens, chard), root vegetables, organic citrus fruits, organic beans and fortified organic orange juice are great natural sources. Nutritional Yeast is also a nice way to add B vitamins to your diet. Sprinkle on popcorn or on dishes where you would normally use cheese. 

Calcium is another big one during your pregnant and breastfeeding months. Your skeletal, circulatory, muscular and nervous systems rely on calcium for day-to-day functioning. Add in a pregnancy and your body is thirsty for this nutrient. If you don’t provide enough calcium through the food you eat or your pre-natal supplement, then your body is going to take what it needs from your bones and teeth.

At least 1,000 milligrams per day is necessary, and more usually won’t hurt.

Again, organic leafy greens come into play here, as well as organic dairy and soy products, salmon (check with your Midwife) and yogurt.

The importance of protein cannot be stressed enough during pregnancy. Many Midwives and natural caregivers believe that protein can prevent serious pregnancy-related disorders. It is critical for your baby’s growth and your body’s ability to maintain a healthy environment.

At least 80 grams of protein per day is mandatory during pregnancy. Think 3 ounces of organic chicken breast (27g), 1 cup of organic cottage cheese (28g), 2 tablespoons of organic peanut butter (8g), 1 egg (6g).

All organic lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs are easy protein sources. For vegan and vegetarian diets look towards organic tofu, beans, TVP (textured vegetable protein) and nuts. 

Feeling tired? Your body requires iron to deliver oxygen to your body’s tissues. Your blood volume nearly doubles during pregnancy, which means you need around 30 milligrams of iron daily to ensure your tissues are able to receive enough oxygen.

Look to lean organic red meat, beans, spinach, dried fruit and nuts for your daily iron requirements.

Easy Recipes for Your Pleasure & Health

Roasted Root Veggies & Friends
This easy, veggie-friendly meal contains folic acid, fiber, vitamins and minerals aplenty plus it’s gluten-free and vegan, and makes a great cold snack, a nice side dish or even a main meal. Remember to purchase organic whenever possible.

Sweet Potatoes
Red or Yellow Pepper
Salt & Pepper
Olive or Coconut Oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Wash and cube veggies
Spread in baking dish, coat with oil and season as desired
Bake for 45 minutes, turning every 20 minutes

Yummy Sautéed Greens
Rich in all the good stuff like calcium, magnesium, fiber and vitamins A, C, and E, this gluten-free, vegan dish is a great side dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Handful (4-5 leaves per person) dark leafy greens (Chard, Kale, Mustard Greens, Bok Choy)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Slivered Almonds

Wash greens
Tear greens into bite-size pieces, composting the stems
Heat enough water to cover greens in wok
Add greens when water is lightly boiling
Stir and cook until tender (2-3 minutes)
Drain water
Add ACV as you would a dressing
Toss with almonds and enjoy

Midwife’s Breakfast
This protein packed breakfast will carry you through your morning. It contains protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and can be made vegan. It’s also great with some sautéed greens sprinkled on top.

Steel-cut Irish Oats
Milk Product of Choice

Cook oatmeal per product directions – use milk product for extra protein
Add cheese over oatmeal in your bowl
Cover cheese with cooked egg, prepared to your liking
Garnish with half an avocado (and sautéed greens if desired)
Sprinkle with almonds

Beef/Bison or Tofu Stir Fry
This quick dinner that you can put together at the last minute is packed with lean protein. It can also be made vegetarian with the addition of tofu or tempeh. 

Organic Lean Steak
Snow Peas
Green Beans
Bok Choy
Olive Oil
Soy Sauce

Wash and cut veggies
Coat protein in a little olive oil
Heat wok
Stir-fry the protein
Add vegetables to the wok and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes
Combine vegetables with soy sauce
Return protein to wok, toss to combine

Feeling confident about your diet is about understanding, both academically and intuitively, what you and your baby needs to grow strong and healthy. Rather than micromanaging your diet at every meal, take a step back and evaluate your eating over a longer period. Add in your emotional state and energy level and make decisions from that place as to what you should be eating. And of course, your Midwife is a great resource.


Doulas on the Today Show

The Today show ran a piece on Doulas. In addition to the article, click on the video on the right.

The piece started out on a positive note, but did contain a warning from a doctor who works in a hospital that banned Doulas all together.

Looks like our community is really starting to make itself known! Keep spreading the positive word about Doulas and our scope of practice.


Handmade Baby Products

Handmade baby presents are a great way to give this holiday season in a truly sustainable, from-the-heart way. The site owners of Make Your Own Baby Stuff have made it easy and fun to do just that.

They offer tips, instructions and motivation to craft everything from baby bedding to clothes and keepsakes.

Check out their offerings and let the community know what you think.


Baby, You're Home - New York Times Article

The New York Times published an article about NY homebirths.

I'd love to hear feedback from folks on it.


What Kind of Advocate am I?

Am I a birth advocate? Am I a baby advocate? Am I a mother advocate?
I am a birth baby mother advocate.

Providing the most diverse and safe options for a woman will allow her to birth in her most natural way. I believe that by doing this, the baby and mother will be safe and protected because the mother is using her natural instincts to birth her baby.

By allowing a woman to create this kind of natural childbirth space, I am empowering her to trust her body to allow the very best birth that is perfect for her little baby.

By holding a natural birth space, mom and Midwife are allowing the baby to come into this world with it's fullest potential and power.

What kind of advocate are you?


What a Midwife vs. Nurse Midwife vs. Doula?

I grew up going to the hospital with both my mother and step-father whenever they would get called into work. I'd spend weeknights and weekends there hanging out with doctors and nurses, helping mom run CT scans on patients and moving from department to department.

I'm very comfortable in that environment and don't have any of the fears that most people have in hospitals. So it's not intimidation that directs me away from the Nurse Midwife profession, it's actually because a hospital is too limiting for me.

My desire to be a homebirth/birth center Midwife is so that I can provide mothers, babies and their families with as many options as possible while maintaining a safe and protected environment.

Within the home setting of birth, I want to have clinical responsibility for the well-being of the mother and baby. Throughout my life I've always strived for as much ownership as possible and it doesn't really get bigger than taking care of two lives.

I also want to be involved in the actual birth of the baby. I think of the baby in the womb as a being with unlimited potential. As the baby comes into the world he or she is immediately shown sights, sounds, sensations and boundaries. It takes only a second to ground that baby to this earth and I want to help with that process.

Nurse Midwives are able to provide uplifting support and care to women who want to birth in hospitals and Doulas are so very very important to birth. Both provide a service that is truly beyond words and I'm so grateful that women are beginning to have more and more birth options available to them.


Make Peace with Holiday Stress - November Article

Make Peace with Holiday Stress

Celebration Season is upon us, and if you’re pregnant, now is not the year to worry about creating the perfect holiday for family and friends. Your sole responsibility when pregnant is to take care of yourself so you can care for your growing baby. Every expecting mother has day-to-day stress in her life; when the holidays come around there is a good chance she can up the stress ante two-fold. Reducing holiday stress makes for a happier mom, baby and family. So take off the white gloves and leave the picture perfect holiday behind. This is your only time to be a vessel for your baby, which is more than enough reason to relax and enjoy the season.

Don’t Stress
According to The Guardian, “Stress experienced by a woman during pregnancy may affect her unborn baby as early as 17 weeks after conception, with potentially harmful effects on brain and development”. High levels of stress can also boost your odds of preterm labor or delivering a low-birth weight baby. Since no mom-to-be wants those facts nagging her, it’s time to start preparing to do less during the holidays.

The first step to preventing holiday stress is to know when you're stressed. This may seem obvious, but often women don’t feel the early warning signs like a clenched jaw, increased heart rate, irritability, and guilt.
Lynette Winter, a development coach, reminds women that, “our bodies can be a great source of wisdom if we slow a bit to listen. The great thing is that it doesn't take a lot of time to hear the messages. In five-minutes we can do a thorough scan of our bodies to see what we need most.”

What does a body scan entail? Ms. Winter explains: “Start with your feet. What sensations do you notice? Are your feet tired? Swollen? Continue to scan upward moving to your lower leg, then thighs, tummy, lower back, chest, upper back, hands, lower then upper arms, neck and finally head. With each body area, simply notice the sensation and if possible, name it (energized, fatigued, warm, cool, green, blue, etc.). If you notice any tension, breathe into that tension. Then ask, what does my body and my baby need most? Is it rest, water, food, to not eat another holiday treat, to say no to another party? Ask how can I best meet that need? Is there anyone else who might support you in meeting this need?”

Familiarize yourself with stress-reducing techniques, such as the one above, before the holidays, and you will be able to access them when you really need to. Just like any skill, you need to practice what it feels like to relax when you are already partially in that state, not when you are on the verge of crumbling under the pressure.

In addition to supporting you through the holidays, the following toolkit will help you and your baby stay healthy during pregnancy and may even come in handy during labor.

Boundaries & Communication
When someone is asking you for a favor or to take on another responsibility, there are three possible answers; yes, no or maybe. Which answer is your usual default? If you're a “Yes woman,” then pregnancy is the perfect time for you to start setting more boundaries. Adding an ‘and’ statement to a “No” answer will ensure the asker feels heard and may provide them with other options.

For example, your boss asks you to stay late to finish a report. You’ve worked way too much already, are tired and have a pre-natal appointment to get to. Rather than saying, “No, I can’t do it” and then feeling guilty, include the ‘and’ statement: “I’m unable to stay late to finish the report AND I know it’s important to you, so would you be okay if I worked on it first-thing tomorrow morning?”

If you’re usually stuck in the maybe category, the ‘and’ statement will still come in handy. For example, your best friend asks if she can invite her out-of-town friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. An easy response if you’re hesitating is to reply, “I’m not sure that I can have two more people over for dinner AND I need to sleep on it before I decide.” Use the evening to determine how you want your holiday dinner to unfold and to take it easy.

Relationships with Yourself and Others
Boundaries and relationships go hand in hand. Your relationship with yourself dictates the type of relationships you will have with others. Be sure to create enough time for yourself by scheduling a vacation day during a week you know your time will be in high demand. If you can't take a full day off, then schedule an evening for yourself. Come home with some healthy take out, draw a bath and relax. Your baby will love spending time with just you.

While you’re sleeping on your friend’s request to invite more people to your Thanksgiving dinner, your body and baby are getting an important recharge. Jodi Mindell, a pediatric sleep expert, notes that nourishing and growing a baby takes enormous energy and sleep is vital to both mom and baby. So go to bed ladies and forget setting the table!

Eat Right, Be Fit
Speaking of takeout, what does healthy food look like anyway? Talk with your Midwife, Doula or health care provider to ensure you are getting the most balanced and perfect diet specifically custom to you and your little one’s needs.

In general, every pregnant women needs to eat a variety of foods that are high in fiber, protein and calcium. And remember to take your pre-natal supplements.

Also, keep in mind that the holidays are not a free-for-all. Overindulgence can lead to more stress, so pre-pack your meals, eat a healthy snack before the cocktail party and keep in mind that your baby needs you to make the best nutrition choices.

A great compliment to a healthy diet is a healthy exercise ritual. If you've been following an exercise routine throughout pregnancy - wonderful. If it's fallen off your schedule, slowly start to integrate it back in with your caregiver’s guidance.

Light exercising, even a brisk 20 minute walk in the sunshine, will give you more energy and stamina throughout your day. Your baby will have a lower heart rate, increased blood flow and will have a happier mom. If you are unable to exercise, try some deep-breathing and visualization practices. Spend 20 minutes a day focusing on your breath and releasing all thoughts from your mind. There are wonderful guided meditation CDs you can purchase or borrow from the library. As a bonus, this practice will help during labor as well.

Be Good to Yourself, Be Good to Your Baby
The holidays are a time of connecting with family and friends. Being pregnant makes this time of year even more memorable and significant. Be sure you create the holiday you want, while keeping in mind the important job you have of nurturing yourself for your birth as a Mamma to a new spirit.

If you are at your max stress load, speak to your Midwife, Doctor or Doula who can refer you to a therapist or coach that will help you with your stress. Sometimes all you need is a 3rd party to listen and possibly offer advice.
Kristen Thompson, a new mother, said it best, “I always thought of what I wanted to give my baby, which was love and peace, and I would go to that place in my private moments during the day when it was just me and the baby growing inside me. No matter what else was going on around us, no matter what was going on with work, bills, relationships, inside the womb there was a calm, warm, protected place for our baby. Connecting to that place was reassuring and had a deeply calming affect for me.”

There are many options for mothers-in-waiting to handle holiday stress. Remember, if keeping yourself healthy during the holidays isn’t reason enough to reduce your stress, always think about your baby.


The Community Behind This Site

I am loving how the site has evolved in such a short time! Thank you all for participating, reading and sharing.

Here is a quick update on what will be happening over the next few months:

  • Articles focusing on pregnancy, Midwifery and families will be posted by the 15th of every month. The first article in this series is titled, "Making Peace with Holiday Stress" and provides insight for pregnant women on relationships, setting boundaries and truly taking care of themselves during the upcoming holiday season.

  • The featured December article will focus on easy, healthy and nutritious recipes that are perfect for mothers-to-be.

  • Every few months I will be calling for submissions from readers. Most recently I asked for birth poetry and received such touching personal stories. The next call for submission will focus on birth art, so get your crafts and cameras ready. You can expect this posting mid-November.

Again, thank you all for participating. It is so important that we have a forum to connect with each other and share our stories.

If anyone would like to see something that is not posted, feel free to comment and let me know.

Hippie Sister Born at Home - Poetry Submission

Santa Ana winds call to her
Roasting LA, cooking us
Mom floating naked in the stealthy pool
No splashing, no voice
Only the treacherous moon

Patchouli and Jasmine kiss me good morning
Trips to Ventura keep it all very cool
Digging sand pits around the tummy that will soon
Be a sister

Lamaze classes with Carol King in the front row
Dreamy times for hippie children
Our lives turning out to be a Tapestry

Up all night, my first time knowing
Dad and I late Olympic coverage
Then watching Dondi
Fading into the celebratory mist of dreams

Awakening to the strange Moscow circus
The symphony of coordinated pain and breath
And joy, watching sister get born
Olive oil and boiling pots
Naked not transforming
In mom and dad's bed
In Van Nuys

There was music that day, always
Dad greeting the birth in song
Then a Pepsi and a filet for mom
Just one day old
Molly watched the green sparklers
As she and America celebrated their birth
One with the other

Michael Deasy Jr.10/31/08


Pregnant Woman - Poetry Submission

She is beautiful and strong
She is sensual and unafraid of being naked
She has excellent balance because she is rooted to the Earth
She is dancing because her swollen body wants to move
Her belly is like the full moon and the tides move within her
She smiles because she knows a secret. The secret.
She is a goodess – she can choose whether to bring life or send it away
Her heart is full and swells with blood
Her breasts swell with milk and nectar
Her belly swells with life
She is tender like a deer and ferocious like a tiger
She is radiant and people smile as she passes
She shares her body with her child as Mother Earth shares hers with all of her children
Magick is happening in her and to her and with her

Written by Chandala Tso Shiva
January 11, 2008

Before Air - Poetry Submission

It's not a baby. And it's not my politics
saying this, it's experience. A baby is
everyone's: grandma holds it, aunt
changes it, brother kisses it. But a
fetus does not breathe air, cannot live
on its own, and if it is anyone's other
that its own, it is mine, solely mine.
Perhaps you can't love a fetus, need it
to be a baby, an air breathing being that
looks like you. I need only to know it
is inside me, feel it pushing its way around
its tiny home. I love the almost baby because
it is not yet a baby. I love the fetus not
for its potential but for what it is right now.
Its own self, connected and separate. Mommy's
constant companion swimming without a name.

--Lisa Alden


Fully Empowered - Pablo Neruda - Poetry Submission


We will never have any memory of dying.

We were so patient
about our being,
noting down
numbers, days,
years and months,
hair, and the mouths we kiss,
and that moment of dying
we let pass without a note -
we leave it to others as memory,
or we leave it simply to water,
to water, to air, to time.
Nor do we even keep
the memory of being born,
although to come into being was tumultuous and new;
and now you don't remember a single detail
and haven't kept even a trace
of your first light.

It's well known that we are born.

It's well known that in the room
or in the wood
or in the shelter in the fishermen's quarter
or in the rustling canefields
there is a quite unusual silence,
a grave and wooden moment as
a woman prepares to give birth.

It's well known that we were all born.

But if that abrupt translation
from not being to existing, to having hands,
to seeing, to having eyes,
to eating and weeping and overflowing
and loving and loving and suffering and suffering,
of that transition, that quivering
of an electric presence, raising up
one body more, like a living cup,
and of that woman left empty,
the mother who is left there in her blood
and her lacerated fullness,
and its end and its beginning, and disorder
tumbling the pulse, the floor, the covers
till everything comes together and adds
one knot more to the thread of life,
nothing, nothing remains in your memory
of the savage sea which summoned up a wave
and plucked a shrouded apple from the tree.

The only thing you remember is your life.

Pablo Neruda: (from "Fully Empowered", translation of "Plenos Poderes" 1962)


Zen White Sale - Poetry Submission

Heat hovers
Like whispers close to the ear
In a room lit by an August moon
Quiet light warms your feet
Like slow moving water

The small of your back
A sweet dewey cup
The curve of your collarbone
The slope my fingers ride
The strand of hair wending across your forehead

My thrill

From the summit of this dizzying height I willingly leap onto the shores of your life and die happily in your love
White linen sheet cool as reprieveScented with loam Floats
In the hollows of your shapely bones
Lays delicatelyOver your undulating grace
The impossibility of your beauty
White seeps into every corner Ever expanding my fulfillment.

Its fibers
A trillion tiny stalks
Quivering with joy that they were plucked from the earth in time to enfold you

First published in the PoetSpeak anthology for their November 2004 poetry reading event. Written by Kim A. Steffgen

Sharing Thoughts From Danielle

Danielle sent the following note to me:

I am not one to write poetry but I was drawn to write you this email after reading your blog page. Quite a few things struck so true to my hopes and desires that I just HAD to share.

I have been waiting to find someone, and receive my reiki attunments for nearly a year now, I am so anxious to start doula work and to be fully entrenched in such miracle work. I think it was first the blog about "off timing" and then your amazing ability to see missing a birth as a lesson that just inspires :)

I've been struggling to let go that an acquaintance of mine that seemingly has no interest in birth work "fell" into a job at a birth center! Now I have never been the jealous type but I just cant let it go. Everyday she updates on myspace how she is at work and having a great day. I try and see it as lesson but have yet to get to that place.

I think I was even more drawn to you because I too plan to use reiki during labor and pregnancy. I found an awesome article online about repositioning baby(using reiki) during labor and avoiding a c-section last minute.

Every way I turn something seems to be blocking me, I can't help but wonder if it's not meant to be at all but this is what I want and feel so passionately about!

I've stopped by to see my midwife and talk doula paths/work, and all three times she was not there. Part of me feels crazy for writing this to a stranger but the other part feels I'm suppose to. Don't be afraid to just tell me I'm wacky but if nothing else I just wanted to share that I pray to be on a similar path soon and wish you well along your own!

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Danielle. I feel strongly that Midwives, Doulas, women and mothers need to have a place to connect with each other and share their joys and sorrows. And what you just wrote is evidence that everything happens for a reason.

Timing is Divine, not human. For 10 years I searched to find the perfect job. I tried everywhere, only to stumble upon Midwifery when I wasn't even looking. It took a lot of inner work and a major release of hurt and anger that I carried around from childhood, and only then was the gift of Midwifery available to me.

The greatest gifts come when you open yourself to love and forgiveness and it sounds like you are on that path. When you are able to release all hurt and open yourself to serving others, that is when everything will fall into place.

Thanks again for sharing.

Birth Poetry

I never expected to be so moved by the words mothers have sent me. I have chills reading their poems and feel humbled by the greatness of life.

Thank you for this gift.

Miracle? - Poetry Submission

A Woman waits, as
a Girl maybe of curls, yet
surely of cuddles

From the time of mud
puddles to the Rain from the
Moon, her Rain, her Reign...

Empowered as none
might even feign to know, 'cept
as, HerSelf under-

vibrancies we cannot see,
Empowered as none

might even feign to
know, tho'... And then the Love Be-
yond-Beyond, and to

The Plan... of a first
knowing Nau; draw the shudders
un-the-string, soon the the
Spring, my Darling, in the Spring!
We will taste the Wine's

Sublime... Yet, how do I
Feel me to You? I do, want
two...Alas, It is

Yours to know mine as
Mine, and you of three in Me
Feel this Miracle!


Yoko Smiles - Poetry Submission

effervescence hinges the high notes
while dreamy eyes blink
slow light
as fishes float lilac blue;

vermillion wonder flashing
fierce mother-Love through my fatal heart,
piercing the
foggy, breathless dreams.

i hold her softness with
careful memory:
golden glowing baubles,
aquatic gestures, when!

a sudden beam
smashes bittersweet tears
into the ache of Time
(a dilated sigh)

she, my yoko, smiles!

slipping silvery sands
cross my round belly,
over moony breasts;

through the untouched guise
i drift on the magick spell
of yoko’s newborn eyes.

katalin december, 2004
written a week or two after her birth

Rubybleu Puja - Poetry Submission

Venus has returned in early morning sky.
we called it your star, Ruby's star.
it shimmers over dark November stones, as i stumble
remembering, remembering, remembering...

her brilliant beginning: soft, red skin, misty eyes wide open
Birth: the smell of blood and salt in dark night.
wonder saturated the air, heavy as smoke,
in the finite hours of one precious day.
Suddenly! newness gave way to blueness; birth gave way to death.
a breath between one second and the next.

Death waxed calm terror as your Spirit flew fast
like a whisper over the ocean, fading like Moth wings at dawn,
lost among the waves of the world.
Dear one, came to leave, born to die, master of Samsara
Time spinning and i am holding you even as i am letting you go.

somehow the aching nights turned over.
dread days became lighter weeks,
sun revolving moon reverberating flow.
we floated your ashes, blue bone and red copper
down the Ganges, the divine Mother.
swirling amidst flame and hibiscus, a tiny vessel of Hope,
of Spirit transmuted
the fragile joy cracked open, shattered and revealing;
an illumined spark of the Divine,

Rubybleu essence: glowing burning seeds of truth.
and finally i can cast mine which is not mine
Beyond the you who is not you into the quiet unknown.

I wrote this poem about my daughter who was born in 2002, then died just a few days later.. She was born at home, but then was in the hospital for a couple days until she flew away.. katalin


A Return to Love - Marianne Williamson - Poetry Submission

My deepest fear is not that I am inadequate,
My deepest fear is that I am powerful beyond measure.
It is my light, not my darkness that most frightens me.
I ask myself
who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who am I not to be?
I am a child of God.
My playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people will not feel insecure around me.
I was born to manifest the glory of God that is within me.
It is not just in me; it is in everyone.
And as I let my own light shine,
I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As I am liberated from my own fear,
My presence automatically liberates others.


Off timing

During class last week, 3 women announced that they may not be able to apply to the Midwifery program this year. Things just weren't lining up for them the way they needed it to - finances, complicated circumstances...

My hope is that these awesome ladies see that what they are meant to do will happen, but it all revolves around divine timing rather than human timing.

I know that is not an easy thing to see when you're stuck inside your story, but when you're meant to do something, it will happen.


Call for Submissions - Birth Poetry

My intention with this blog is to create a community site where women, Midwives, Doulas and families can contribute and share their stories, insights, art, poetry, words, photos......

I'm interested in any type of submission and am specifically seeking poetry this month. If you're interested please leave me a comment and we can continue the conversation via email.

Application Complete

It was a nice feeling to hand in my Birthingway application this afternoon. Rather than a sense of relief, I felt like I was stepping into the next branch of my path. There is definitely a surrender to this process.

I knew on the third read of my fifth draft that everything was exactly the way I wanted it and any further edits would only detract from my words.

Everything feels really good right now.


Monthly Articles Coming Soon

Beginning in November I will be posting articles about pregnancy, birth, the Midwifery industry, babies, nutrition and healing - basically anything that can serve mothers, families, and women who guide birth and care.

Expect the first article before the Thanksgiving holiday.


Wildly Successful

The pre-req Human AP class at Birthingway has truly been a blessing for me.

I never really applied myself at Penn State, mostly because I didn't care about Landscape Design and I was partying way too much. All the academic classes I took to enhance my professional growth fell flat against my enthusiasm meter and again, I never truly applied myself.

As a result, I've always doubted if I was smart enough to really be successful. Because of this class and because I care so much about Midwifery, I have proven to myself that I can wildly succeed at school. This has been a huge boost for me.


I'm Offering Healing Sessions

Reiki, Shamballa and Multi-Dimensional Healing Sessions to assist with your physical, emotional and spiritual movement.

My focus is on supporting women as they walk their path with grace, power, integrity and health. Each session is uniquely guided and may include crystal therapy, divination and sacred card readings.

I offer 60 – 90 minute sessions for $45 - $75 based on what each person feels the session is worth. Sessions can be held in your home or in my practice space in NE Portland.



I'm just really glad to be doing what I'm doing and pursuing this path. Everything seems right when I think about going to Midwifery school and my future career. All my current job issues fall away and I know whatever I am going through is worth it.


First Day of Class

I'm just really grateful to be attending Birthingway every Monday evening for my Anatomy and Physiology class.

Good vibe, excellent teacher, lovely students.

I'm so excited!



Tomorrow I'm going to receive my Reiki Levels III & IV attunement. I'm doing this so I can use my healing ability to help women through pregnancy.

I plan on bringing my Moss Agate crystals to the ceremony as a symbol for Healing Midwifery.


Cesarean Semantics

Birthing From Within talks about the power of language and the difference between a C-Section verses a C-Birth.

A C-Section implies distance and being an observer to what is happening. Whereas C-Birth includes women as a participant at their own birth.

It's important that when a woman does have a Cesarean Birth that her family and friends support this path and do their best to empower her. The language that is used around her to discuss her birth is the first step.


A Midwife's Breakfast Updated

This one is called a Midwife's Special. Still the Irish oats, soy cheese and friend egg but the special is the sliced avocado placed on top of the egg.



Moss Agate

I went to the local rock hound shop ( and found two pieces of Moss Agate to kick off the beginning of my new college career.

Moss Agate is a birthing crystal and is known to assist Midwives in their work. It helps lessen the pain of birth and bring forth a positive delivery.

I cleared it with sunshine and Reiki and keep it nearby when I study. I find it's much more soothing to hold the smooth piece in my hand rather than play with my hair while I read.


School Supplies

I can now name 11 body systems, their functions and how metabolism works. I'm pretty amazed at how difficult chemistry was in in high school but now just seems to make sense (kinda).

I also put together a pencil pouch; colored pens, highlighters and colored sharpies. It's the same pencil pouch I used at Penn State; the one I bought while I was in New Zealand.

This is exciting and I can't wait to start class on the 8th.


Going Back to College

Satchel, Maji and I picked up my Human Anatomy and Physiology book yesterday - class starts on the 8th. I was so excited to be at the old Victorian home on a busy street...and feel the good energy coming from the ground.

I read the syllabus and had a minor freak out; Testing and reading assignments once a week, must earn a B or above in all examinations! How am I going to manage my study time with a demanding job, my family and taking care of my needs? I haven't been to college in a long time and this made me nervous. And excited.

So I started a new 3-ring binder (cover not yet made), peeled the plastic off my new text books (Memmler's The Human Body in Health and Disease) and dove right into Chapter 1. It took me about an hour to review how the textbook and study guide are arranged and get through the first few pages. I felt my brain making all sorts of new pathways. I hadn't exercised like that in a long, long time.

This feels good. My minor worry spell passed as I prepared for the class and recited my affirmation of I am capable, resourceful and successful at what I do.

I can not wait for the first day of class.


Breech - Moxibustion

A smoldering stick by the pinkie toes
turns the baby rightly so

Hold dried mugwort 1/4 inch away from the lower outside corner of each pinkie toe for 20 minutes two to three times per day to turn a breech baby.

The theory is that this works by increasing the baby's activity.

Love it!! No wonder why Midwives were thought to be witches.


Birthingway Application

I have the first draft of my application complete. I found my voice and style for the 23 essay pages and now I'm working on refining my story.

I feel like I'm really getting to the exciting part of the writing process and discovering connections in my life that have lead me to this place. Example: as I was re-reading the travel section of my life it dawned on me that I had forgotten one of the most important journeys - our trip to LA to visit friends and their past life regression therapist.

Though the regression and my choice to become a midwife aren't consciously linked together, because of that experience I was able to feel first-hand what it was like for me to give birth at the hands of a male doctor when all I wanted was a woman to help me.

This was a prairie life from the late 1800's and my husband had enough money that we could afford a doctor to come to the delivery of my second child. In that life I was submissive enough to never ask for what I wanted, which in the end resulted in my suicide.

The doctor was polite enough, but nothing was more humiliating than having him see me give birth. I longed for women to be supporting me.


First Thoughts

This is a brainstorm I did a few months ago when I first decided to enter into Midwifery. I discovered that birth is a dance and I will be a follower.


Powerful Truth

If you bring forth that which is within you,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

-Gospel of St. Thomas




Midwifery Dreams

This is the journal where I write all my inspirations, questions and ideas about Midwifery.
First thought: Why aren't women seen at least twice a month during the first three months of pregnancy to help guide diet, exercise and care when it matters most?
At my practice, this will be a standard of care.


Looking for a Housesitting Job

We are a married, house sitting couple with real-life experience. We are currently on year six of owning our own home and are looking at ways to cut back living expenses while I attend Midwifery school.

The ideal situation is that we find a multi-year house sitting opportunity while I attend Birthingway Midwifery School in Portland and my husband continues his writing and teaching business. We will rent our home while we house sit.

As a bonus, we are both expert gardeners and of course will provide basic upkeep and maintenance to your home. We are also willing to care for pets and farm animals.

We see this relationship as a perfect blend of gratitude and energy from the Universe. My husband and I understand the importance of entrusting your home with responsible adults and the honor and privilege of staying in a home that provides us with more financial room while I follow my passion of becoming a midwife.

Please feel free to contact us for an interview.


My Craig's List Ad - Homebirth Witness

I will be applying to Birthingway Midwifery School this fall with the intention of becoming a Homebirth Midwife. As part of my own personal due diligence I am looking for a woman that would feel comfortable with me witnessing her home or water birth.

I would be honored to be a part of your birth at any level you choose. I can stay in the shadows, take photos, or be a working part of your birthing team. In trade I offer my services as a post-partum Doula (non-certified) and assist you with anything from running household errands, babysitting, or house cleaning.

If you’re curious or have any questions, please contact me. Thank you so much for even considering providing me with this opportunity.

Happy Birthing.


Midwifery in My Family

I'm visiting Pennsylvania where I grew up and have begun the process of introducing the idea of becoming a Midwife to my family. I was expecting the sharp questions about money, long-term plans, supporting myself, and the subtle comments about me being childish.

What I didn't expect was how much those questions would rock me. My family has a way of doing that to me and when they tell me they only have my best interests in mind and they know how tough it can be to survive, I really allow it to penetrate me.

But Dave and I went for a walk this morning and talked about the same questions my family asked us when we told them we were moving from Wisconsin to Oregon without jobs or a place to live. Those questions are coming from hometown folks who rarely took risks in their life to follow their dreams. They work to retire and don't know what it means to live from a soul-place.

I feel much steadier now, but I'm wondering why it's been so hard to answer their questions.


A Midwife's Breakfast

This is a Midwife's Breakfast. Slow-cooked Irish oats, fried egg on top and melted soy cheese in between.

Sure to sustain a midwife through the first hours of a birth.


Birth Witness

A month ago I posted an add on Craig's List seeking the opportunity to observe a home birth. I told my story and offered postpartum support for every hour I witnessed their baby's birth.

Almost immediately a woman responding, saying as a Doula and birth instructor, she understands how difficult it is to find that experience. We talked on the phone, then met in person. She was awesome and we instantly clicked. As a bonus she was going to be having a water birth.

The bummer part was that with her other two boys she was a week late and her due date was scheduled a few days before Dave and I leave for Montana. Her date has passed, she's still pregnant and we're leaving tomorrow.

All night this week I had anxiety dreams about missing the birth, not being ready, wanting her to hurry up. I tried willing her to go into labor and meditated on her water breaking.

Then I realized the perfection in this lesson. Yes, witnessing a waterbirth would be completely rad, but the real learning for me is in the waiting. I can't control a birth and the Universe has taught me how to feel that lesson.

I also got a sneak peak at the anticipation that I will need to learn to manage at my first few approaching births.

Ahh, what a perfect situation. I'll post on Craig's List again when I return.


Feminism and Midwifery

In Other Words is a non-profit woman's bookstore (Yeah Portland!) located on North Killingsworth. I drive by it frequently on my way home from work and have always wanted to stop in and check it out but never motivated myself to actually find a parking spot.

Then the motivation came....Do they have a Midwifery section? If there are ever two groups of people that should be united it's Feminism and Midwifery.

Yes, they have a pregnancy and childcare section. No, they don't have speakers or groups on childbirth or midwifery. Hmm, this feels like an awesome community project.

Would Birthingway be interested in hosting a discussion circle about midwifery, homebirth and handing power back to women in our community at the bookstore? This seems like a worthwhile project that I would love to be a part of.

After I return from Montana in mid-August I'll call In Other Words to understand how to get a time slot on their community events calendar, then contact Rhonda at Birthingway to see if the school is interested in this type of outreach. I would be more than willing to manage this project from start to finish.

If anyone has other outreach ideas, please share.


New Thoughts on Pain Management

I have a theory about dealing with pain during dis-ease.

The only time people are allowed to scream, moan, move through and create ritual around pain is during childbirth. At all other times we are expected to still remain within the boundaries of acceptable, normal behavior.

What if we were encouraged to moan and audibly breathe through a migraine or pace and hang onto a partner during an appendicitis? And to help us find our place of instinct and rhythm we would all attend workshops on how to do this?

It seems this type of behavior could be an additional healing technique if we were told it was okay to try. Next time I get a migraine or cramps, I'm going to give it a go and report back.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experiences on this?


Healing Midwifery

A long time coming and sudden at the same time. I was looking for my passion while I was still in college. It took eleven years, a wonderful husband, moving across the country, a few bad jobs, two very strong careers and a mystical health crisis to find my path. Without the struggle I couldn't imagine the reward.

I've eaten meat today for the first time in eleven years. I interpret that as a sign that I am accepting new ways of being into my life. I also finished the first draft of my 13 essay application to Birthingway College of Midwifery. Another new way of being.

This is a blog about the journey of becoming a Midwife. The path is foggy and gray, but the ground is stable. I feel well supported and ready to walk. Please join me on this journey of Healing Midwifery.