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Dec 14, 2009

Ten Reasons to Make Time for Play

How children learn is as important as what children learn—and what children learn and take away from play experiences is endless!

1. Play nurtures your child’s healthy social-emotional development. Playing with peers helps children become more emotionally aware. Children also practice self-regulation, empathy and understanding during play, which leads to more independent group management strategies like sharing, taking turns, etc… (Honig, 2007; Hirsch-Pasek, et al, 2009).

2. Your child practices everyday problem solving skills during play. Problem-solving skills help determine goals and plan how to achieve them. Open-ended play experiences provide children with multiple opportunities to experiment, explore and manipulate objects and materials in different ways as they work towards a specific goal (AAP, 2007; Koenig, 2007).

3. Creativity and wonder spark from child-driven play. According to David Elkind, Ph.D, “Self-initiated play nourishes the child’s curiosity, imagination, and creativity, and these abilities are like muscles—if you don’t use them, you lose them” (2008).

4. Play is integral to your child’s academic success. Children’s language, early literacy, math and science understanding are stimulated from early play experiences. Block play and guided play provide children exposure to spatial and numerical concepts (Hirsch-Pasek, et al, 2009). Additionally, when a part of the child’s academic environment, play helps nurture learning readiness and learning behaviors (AAP, 2007).

5. Active play nurtures your child’s physical development. “In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies” (AAP, 2007). Play also provides children opportunities to practice balance, dexterity and other still developing gross motor skills (Koenig, 2007).

6. Play provides your child with an outlet to explore, create and learn at her own pace. Fred Rogers said, “When children build and make things, they can feel more in control not only of the outside world but their inner selves as well…they’re creating from their own ideas!” (2002). Play also often allows children the opportunity to learn in a more relaxed, less pressured situation or environment.

7. Spending time together during play helps nurture your parent-child bond. Elkind states that there are three basic drives that lead us to a full, happy and productive life. These are play, love and work. As you participate in your child’s play, you communicate support and unconditional love to your child. You also demonstrates care and reassure your child that what he is doing is important (AAP, 2007; Elkind, 2008).

8. Your child learns about himself and the world around him through play. Play allows children the opportunity to interact, learn and ask questions about the world around them (NAEYC, 1997; AAP, 2007). “When we offer our children opportunities to explore this new and exciting world in their own time and at their own pace, we open them up to powerful learning experiences they could not encounter in any other way” (Elkind, 2008).

9. See the world through your child’s eyes by simply watching her play. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Observe your child as she plays to get a better glimpse of what her skills and interests are. As you watch, think about “why” and “how” questions you might ask to challenge your child’s thinking or help her problem solve.

10. Play is enjoyable and fun! Children learn best through play perhaps because “Learning and play are not incompatible—learning takes place best when children are engaged and enjoying themselves”

(Hirsch-Pasek, et al, 2009).

Dec 8, 2009

Babies 'cry in mother's tongue'

German researchers say babies begin to pick up the nuances of their parents' accents while still in the womb.
The researchers studied the cries of 60 healthy babies born to families speaking French and German. The French newborns cried with a rising "accent" while the German babies' cries had a falling inflection.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, they say the babies are probably trying to form a bond with their mothers by imitating them. The findings suggest that unborn babies are influenced by the sound of the first language that penetrates the womb.

Cry melodies

It was already known that foetuses could memorise sounds from the outside world in the last three months of pregnancy and were particularly sensitive to the contour of the melody in both music and human voices.

Earlier studies had shown that infants could match vowel sounds presented to them by adult speakers, but only from 12 weeks of age.

Kathleen Wermke from the University of Wurzburg, who led the research, said: "The dramatic finding of this study is that not only are human neonates capable of producing different cry melodies, but they prefer to produce those melody patterns that are typical for the ambient language they have heard during their foetal life.

Newborns are highly motivated to imitate their mother's behaviour in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding
Kathleen Wermke, Unversity of Wurzburg "Contrary to orthodox interpretations, these data support the importance of human infants' crying for seeding language development."

Dr Wermke's team recorded and analysed the cries of 60 healthy newborns when they were three to five days old.
Their analysis revealed clear differences in the shape of the infants' cry melodies that corresponded to their mother tongue.
They say the babies need only well-co-ordinated respiratory-laryngeal systems to imitate melody contours and not the vocal control that develops later.

Dr Wermke said: "Newborns are highly motivated to imitate their mother's behaviour in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding. "Because melody contour may be the only aspect of their mother's speech that newborns are able to imitate, this might explain why we found melody contour imitation at that early age."

Debbie Mills, a reader in developmental cognitive neuroscience at Bangor University, said: "This is really interesting because it suggests that they are producing sounds they have heard in the womb and that means learning and that it is not an innate behaviour.

"Many of the early infant behaviours are almost like reflexes that go away after the first month and then come back later in a different form.

"It would be interesting to look at these babies after a month and see if their ability to follow the melodic contours of their language is still there."

Dec 3, 2009


Everybody loves... Babies. This visually stunning new movie simultaneously follows four babies around the world - from first breath to first steps. From Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo, Babies joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us all.

Nov 29, 2009

Many Women Miscalculate Time to Full-Term Birth

Here is an insightful article written by Jennifer Thomas HealthDay Reporter, on the miscalculation of full term birth. Where 1 in 4 thinks it's as short as 34 weeks, potentially adding to preemie delivery rate.

Recent reports show that the rate of preterm deliveries continues to climb in the United States. Now, a new study suggests one reason why: Many women are confused about what constitutes a full-term birth in the first place.

About one-quarter of new mothers surveyed in the study considered a baby born at 34 to 36 weeks of gestation to be full term, while slightly more than half of women considered 37 to 38 weeks full term.

Though technically speaking, preterm births are babies born prior to 37 weeks, 39 to 40 weeks is optimal, according to the researchers.

Many women interviewed were also unaware that babies born even a little bit premature are at a higher risk of serious health problems compared to babies born at term, the new survey shows.

Misconceptions about what constitutes full gestation and how soon it's safe to schedule an elective induction or cesarean delivery are contributing to increasing numbers of premature births in the United States, said lead study author Dr. Robert L. Goldenberg, professor of obstetrics and director of research at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

"Clearly, the preterm birth rate is going up, as are early deliveries that are at term but are 37 and 38 weeks," Goldenberg said. "The data is becoming more and more clear that the outcomes of births at those earlier gestational ages are not as good as babies that are born at 39 or 40 weeks."

The study, which included 650 first-time mothers ages 21 to 45 from around the nation who had health insurance, is in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

When asked, "What is the earliest point in pregnancy that it is safe to deliver the baby, should there not be other medical complications requiring early delivery?", more than half chose 34 to 36 weeks, 41 percent chose 37 to 38 weeks and less than 8 percent chose 39 to 40 weeks.

However, experts warn that any delivery short of 39 weeks puts a baby at higher risk of respiratory distress, sepsis (blood infection) and needing to be placed in the neonatal intensive care unit, according to background information in the study. Only one-quarter of new moms realized 39 to 40 weeks was safest.

Premature births are a growing problem in the United States. In fact, the percentage of babies born preterm rose by more than 20 percent from 1990 to 2006, according to a report released in November by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

Technically, the World Health Organization and other major medical organizations define preterm births as babies born before 37 weeks. But that definition was developed some 50 years ago and is outdated, said Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes.

More recently, studies have shown that babies born even a bit too early -- at 37 or 38 weeks -- have a greater chance of chronic respiratory disease and learning disorders than children born at 39 weeks or later.

Babies born between 34 and 37 weeks are six times more likely to die during their first week or life and three times more likely to die during their first year than babies born at 39 or 40 weeks, Fleishman added.

"Everybody knows a baby who has been born a bit early who has done pretty well," Fleischman said. "But what we've learned is that, going backwards, there is increasing mortality and morbidity for every week prior to 39 weeks of gestation."

Many experts now refer to babies born between 34 and 36 weeks as "late preterm," while babies born at 37 and 38 weeks are "early term."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the March of Dimes recommend against elective inductions or C-sections prior to 39 weeks.

In many situations, there is probably some medical reason for choosing to deliver early -- perhaps the mother has slightly elevated blood pressure, for example, Goldenberg said.

"I call them semi-electives," Goldenberg said. "I believe over the last 15 or 20 years, the practice is evolving to deliver those babies earlier and earlier when there is no evidence of benefits."

TV shows and news reports about very premature babies that survive may also be fueling misconceptions, Goldenberg said. Some women are left with the impression that if babies born before 30 weeks can survive, infants that are just a little bit premature should have no problems.

"Because the shows don't emphasize the bad outcomes at those ages, it's led not only women but doctors to conclude that by the time you get up to 34, 35 or 36 weeks, everything is fine," Goldenberg said. "But the recent research is showing it's not fine."

The last few weeks of gestation are critical to fetal development. All of the organs continue to mature in preparation for moving from the womb to the outside world, Fleischman explained. Between 35 and 40 weeks, the fetal brain grows by about 50 percent.

Educating expectant mothers and their physicians about the risk of preterm births may help women to make more informed decisions about when to schedule elective inductions and C-sections, Goldenberg said. That includes setting up hospital policies that discourage elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks and enforcing it through peer review to help curb the practice.

More information

There's more on preventing premature births at the March of Dimes.

Nov 27, 2009

Do dads belong in the delivery room?

Do dads belong in the delivery room? Here is a story on one doctor's opinion.

Many new fathers are nothing short of awe-stricken by the birth of their child, and cherish their baby's first moments shared with the mother in the delivery room. In fact, ever since Dr. Robert Bradley introduced the concept of husband-coached childbirth in the early 1960s, fathers have been routinely encouraged to be present at their children's births. Yet, now, in what is sure to stir up some fatherly frustration, to say the least, French obstetrician Michel Odent argues that fathers specifically, and men in general, don't have a place in the delivery room.

According to Odent, not only are fathers in the way, but because their presence often makes the laboring mother anxious, they may be interrupting the production of a hormone critical to the birth process. The slowed supply of that hormone, oxytocin, may even increase the chances that a woman will have to deliver by Cesarean section. Odent, who believes that the safest birthing environment involves only the mother and a skilled midwife, told the Daily Mail:
"If she can't release oxytocin she can't have effective contractions, and everything becomes more difficult... Labor becomes longer, more painful and more difficult because the hormonal balance in the woman is disturbed by the environment that's not appropriate because of the presence of the man."

Odent will argue his views this week at a forum hosted by the Royal College of Midwives. He will be challenged in a debate by Duncan Fisher, an advocate for fathers, who believes that men should defer to the women's desire to have them in the room.
Yet, even before the debate, Odent's controversial perspective is likely to generate some opposing views, including those from fellow physicians who suggest that recent increases in C-section deliveries have no correlation with dads being in the delivery room. As Patrick O'Brien of the U.K.'s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told Clare Murphy with the BBC:
"What we do know is that there are many reasons why the number of emergency cesarean sections has risen—including obesity, older mothers, and fear of litigation—none of which have anything to do with the presence of dads."

And while the birthing process has been known to make a few men feel squeamish (or even terrified), whether or not they are in the room should be a decision left to the fathers- and mothers-to-be, O'Brien says. He also told the BBC:
"Having a baby together is an intense, life-changing experience that most couples want to experience together. The father can be an immensely reassuring presence for the mother... And as for the suggestion that men won't cope with the so-called gore - well, most of his role can be carried out at the head-end, talking, mopping her brow, offering sips of water. Of course a man shouldn't feel forced to be there, but I have yet to meet one who said after the birth of his baby - 'I wish I'd stayed at home'."

Toddler Helps His Mom Give Birth.

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. (Nov. 19) -- A 2-year-old in north Mississippi has done something few toddlers can: He helped his mother give birth to his brother.

Bobbye Favazza told The Commercial Appeal she went into labor Friday and gave birth on the family's living room couch in Olive Branch. She said her toddler, Jeremiha Taylor, got her a towel and caught the baby before firefighters arrived to cut the umbilical cord.

Favazza gave birth to a 7-pound, 4-ounce baby boy, Kamron Taylor. She had been scheduled for a Cesarean section Dec. 6. Not only was Kamron's timing a surprise, but Favazza had been told she was carrying a girl.

City emergency services supervisor Greg Mynatt said the 911 call about Favazza was probably the third this year about a woman in labor, but usually the mother makes it to the hospital before delivery.

Embedded video from CNN Video

Nov 9, 2009

New Study Says Cancer Can Pass from Mom to Womb A new study has provided genetic evidence for the first time that it is possible for a mother to transmit cancer to her unborn child via the placenta.

wikimedia commons
Cases have been reported on rare occasions where a mother and newborn child develop the same cancer, but there has never been proof until now that the mother passed the cancer to the child. In theory it should not be possible, since the infant's immune system should destroy the cancer cells.

The team of British and Japanese researchers studied a case in Japan in which the 28-year-old mother developed leukemia shortly after giving birth to a daughter. Eleven months later the baby developed a cancer with the same genetic markers as her mother's cancer cells.

Using advanced genetic fingerprinting techniques, the scientists were able to prove the leukemia cells in the baby were present at her birth, and that they could only have come from the mother, since the cancer cells had an identical mutation in the cancer gene BCR-ABL1.

They also looked at how the cancer cells from the mother could have avoided being destroyed by the infant's immune system, and discovered that the baby's cancer cells lacked part of the DNA that would have indicated to the immune system the cells were foreign. The leader of the team, Professor Mel Greaves of the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, UK, said the cancer cells were in effect invisible to the immune system and therefore were able to implant without being attacked.

The transfer of cancer from mother to unborn child is rare, with only around 30 cases known, and the mother usually has a melanoma or leukemia. Professor Greaves stressed that even if the mother has cancer it is still extremely unlikely she would pass it on to the child, but if pregnant women with cancer are concerned, they should seek the advice of their specialists.

Chief Clinician at Cancer Research UK, Professor Peter Johnson, said the research was important because it shows that for cancers to grow they need to elude the immune system. This means we might be able to develop new treatments that help alert the patient's immune system to the presence of cancer.

The research findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

© 2009

Nov 3, 2009

Dr Oz's Children Will NOT be Receiving H1N1 Vaccine!

Four Perspectives on the H1N1 Virus and Vaccine

The following article is taken from Healthy Child, Healthy World. It has become especially important with the pandemic spread of the H1N1 virus. Parents are scared and I want to help. I don’t have a recommendation for whether you should vaccinate or not, but I do believe you should have easy access to expert insights that can help you make an informed decision. Here are four perspectives you should take into consideration.

Dr. Robert Sears:

Dr. Sears’ position on the issue is emblematic of the entire discussion. He states that in general, he doesn’t “have a recommendation one way or another.” He acknowledges H1N1 to be a serious illness that is potentially life-threatening, noting that “seasonal flu in the U.S. causes about 20 infant and 100 total pediatric deaths each year. The swine flu has so far caused 112 pediatric deaths.” In light of the 36,000 Americans who die of the flu every year, he believes that “the shot helps protect against the flu and lowers this risk.” But he also acknowledges the risk inherent, stating that “there hasn’t been a lot of research on safety and efficacy of flu shots”.

Though that fact is less than a comfort to both patients and physicians, Dr. Sears doesn’t “see any reason to doubt that our immune systems won’t respond to this vaccine the same way they respond to regular flu shots.” He also covers potential side effects, which he doesn’t predict to be any different from those experienced from regular flu shots.

So what really concerns Dr. Sears then?

“(W)hat I DO worry about is that infants will be getting FOUR (count them, FOUR) flu vaccines this year – two doses of the regular one, and two doses of the swine flu vaccine. That’s unprecedented. We’ve never given anyone four doses of a flu vaccine in one year.

There is no way to predict what the side effects might be.” His other major concern is that despite a complete lack of testing to determine if there is any harm to fetuses or young babies, both the regular flu and H1N1 vaccines are recommended unequivocally for pregnant and nursing mothers.

He advises getting the shots alone, as far apart as you can from any other shots. And he urges parents “to delay any vaccines for diseases that don’t pose an immediate danger to a baby’s or child’s life and catch up on those vaccines in February or March, a couple months after finishing the flu vaccines.” Consult your physician for which diseases pose an immediate risk and which can be delayed.

Dr. Jay Gordon:

Dr. Gordon seeks to quell the widespread alarm about H1N1 and discourage a knee-jerk impulse to vaccinate. He advises that winter flues are unavoidable, and integral to strengthening proper long-term immunity. “Children, in particular,” he says, “must suffer through a lot of winter illnesses because their immune systems are so inexperienced. New viruses get more people sick than older ones and this year the H1N1 virus is the newest common infection.”

Dr. Gordon believes the media are responsible for creating more anxiety about winter illness than at any time in recent memory. They are taking advantage of this situation to drive up TV viewership, increase web page visits, and sell more newspapers, he says, citing the SARS scare, the Bird Flu scare, and the West Nile Virus scare as examples.

He also includes the potential mortality risk as part of a broader scare tactic:

“The CDC released fatality data this past week and were quite clear in their assessment of this relatively non-virulent strain of influenza: 75-80% of the 76 children had significant or severe underlying medical problems.

Any child's death creates an extremely difficult public discussion but of the 300,000,000 Americans there are 45,000,000 children and teens and there have been 76 deaths of younger people. About 15 of these deaths occurred in seemingly healthy children and teens.

Please put all of these numbers in the proper perspective and realize that there are many important lifesaving topics for the media to publicize but none which sell papers and create TV viewership quite as well as this new flu…the science is terrible but the publicity is geared towards increasing fear, selling vaccines and Tamiflu and keeping us all on edge.”

He does not predict disaster from this year's pair of flu vaccines, but doesn’t think that they're a good use of our health care dollars, saying, “They are definitely not worth the amount of media and medical attention they've received and continue to receive.”

Jackie Lombardo, Sierra Club National Toxics Committee and

Ms. Lombardo brings up questions about levels of mercury in the vaccine, and the contentious use of the preservative thimerosal. She provides a comprehensive breakdown of all of the ingredients used in the four different manufactured versions of the vaccine, and confirms that some do contain thimerosal, which is 49% mercury by weight.

The dangers, especially the risk of brain damage, associated with mercury are well established in scientific literature. So concerns over mercury exposure for infants, children, and pregnant women are no small matter. She points out that, “reviews in the medical journal The Lancet found a lack of health benefit of the seasonal flu vaccine for children under two and significantly increased rates of vaccine related adverse events in children.”

She recommends reading the package inserts very carefully, paying special attention to risks and safety studies, and insisting on a mercury-free version if you decide to get the shot. Refer to her complete list of ingredients before getting vaccinated.

Dr. Greene:

Dr. Greene emphasizes how little we know about the potential severity of the H1N1 flu, but he does believe it’s likely to be several times worse than usual flu season illness, with children, college and grad-school age adults and pregnant women most vulnerable. Interestingly, he points out that boys who catch H1N1 seem to get a lot sicker than the regular flu.

Overall he feels positively about the prognosis for the vaccine, though he admits that we don’t know the whole story. Though no serious side effects have been noted so far, he warns, “I expect we'll see some side effects emerge when larger populations are immunized. After all, if we gave enough people bananas or spinach we would see a few serious side effects and allergic reactions.” But he does feel that the benefits outweigh any risks.

He also quells a persistent rumor: that people will get the flu from the H1N1 vaccine. Not true, he says: “Unlike some other vaccines, this one is not a live virus; it's bits and pieces that recombine in the body and then prompt it later recognize and attack the flu virus.”

He prefers the versions with no added mercury as a preservative (the ones that come in single dose vials), and he reminds parents that no infants under 6 months should get the vaccine.

What You Can Do:

1. Carefully consider all of the perspectives we’ve presented here. Consider your child’s unique risks (e.g. children in day care are more at risk for catching H1N1 than children who are at home most of the time). Make an informed choice for your child. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that you’re taking a risk either way.

2. Stay as healthy as possible during flu season. Use our 10 Tips for Flu Season Super Defense, and practice vigilant but common sense prevention.

3. If you’re feeling ill, use Microsoft Health Vault's at-home tool designed to help people decide whether their symptoms indicate heading to a clinic or hospital or staying home in bed. This may help alleviate the strain on hospital emergency departments and help limit the number of people exposed to this life-threatening illness.

4. Still have more unanswered questions? The New York Times recently ran a comprehensive Q&A that covers more obscure concerns.

Editor's Note: Dr. Greene's quote says that the vaccine does not contain a live virus. This is true for the shot, but not for the nasal mist - which does contain the live virus.

10 flu-fighting foods

Got the sniffles?

Buried in the controversy over whether to get the H1N1 vaccination (or even where to find one), is that one of the best ways to ward off any flu is to build up your overall immunity. Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, reveals 10 foods that provide top doses of the vitamins and nutrients you need to protect and defend against illness.

Mushrooms used to get overlooked as a health food, but they possess two big weapons you need this flu season: selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines that clear sickness, and beta glucan, an antimicrobial type of fiber, which helps activate “superhero” cells that find and destroy infections.

Fresh garlic
Strong smelling foods like garlic can stink out sickness thanks to the phytochemical allicin, an antimicrobial compound. A British study found that people taking allicin supplements suffered 46 percent fewer colds and recovered faster from the ones they did get. So start cooking with it daily — experts recommend two fresh cloves a day.

Wild-caught salmon
In a recent study, participants with the lowest levels of vitamin D were about 40 percent more likely to report a recent respiratory infection than those with higher levels of vitamin D. Increase your intake with salmon, a 3.5-ounce serving provides 360 IU – some experts recommend as much as 800 to 1000 IU each day.

Researchers at Harvard University found that drinking five cups of black tea a day quadrupled the body’s immune defense system after two weeks, probably because of theanine. Tea also contains catechins, including ECGC, which act like a cleanup crew against free radicals. Grotto suggests drinking one to three cups of black, green or white tea every day.

The digestive tract is one of your biggest immune organs, so keep disease-causing germs out with probiotics and prebiotics, found in naturally fermented foods like yogurt. One serving a day labeled with “live and active cultures” will enhance immune function according to a study from the University of Vienna in Austria.

Dark chocolate
Nutrition experts agree that dark chocolate deserves a place in healthy diets, and a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition says it can boost your immunity, too. High doses of cocoa support T-helper cells, which increase the immune system’s ability to defend against infection. Sweet!

Zinc is critical for the immune system — it rallies the troupes, or white blood cells, to attack bacteria and viruses like a flu or cold. One medium oyster provides nearly all of the zinc you need for a day, while a portion of six gives you over five times the recommended amount.

Heart-healthy almonds boast immune-boosting antioxidant vitamin E, which can reduce your chance of catching colds and developing respiratory infections according to researchers at Tufts University. You’ll need more than a serving of almonds for your daily dose though, so try fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, turnip greens and wheat germ, too.

Even though vitamin C-rich foods (hello oranges!) are probably the first thing you think of when you feel a cold coming, Grotto says the illness-preventing power of the antioxidant is debatable. That said, some studies show it can reduce the intensity and duration of cold and flu, so it’s worth a try. One cup of strawberries provides 160 percent of your daily needs.

Sweet potato
Beta-carotene improves your body’s defenses. It’s instrumental in the growth and development of immune system cells and helps neutralize harmful toxins. Sweet potatoes and other orange foods like carrots, squash, pumpkin, egg yolks and cantaloupe are top sources.

Prenatal Education and Yoga Series

Pregnancy is a profound journey and a meaningful time to commit to a practice of self-nurturing. Yoga Goddess offers a prenatal class unlike any other because it includes practical labour preparation, prenatal yoga poses, and calming meditations in each class - so you're preparing physically, emotionally and spiritually for childbirth.

The next 4-week sessions begin on:
Tuesday October 20th
Tuesday November 17th
Tuesday January 12th

Classes take place at the gorgeous ravine studio called The Yoga House at Danforth and Coxwell.

Follow this link to learn more and register on line:

Oct 28, 2009

H1N1 Prevention

Historically, alternative preventative treatment has been utilized successfully in times of epidemic flu outbreak. Although there is an option to vaccinate oneself with this new H1N1 vaccine, I would argue that the current global situation warrants a more serious search for safe, non-invasive alternatives. The inherent risks of vaccinations can serve as a reminder for midwives to return to the basics, creating and maintaining a healthy immune system.

One alternative approach being considered in countries such as India and France is nationwide homeopathic vaccination. Homeopathy as we know it today was founded by Samuel Hahnemann, although the principle dates back as far as Hippocrates. In essence, homeopathy is based on the concept that a disease can be cured by infinitesimal doses of a substance that in larger quantities mimics disease symptoms. It is governed by the principle that "like cures like"—if a substance can cause symptoms in a healthy person, then it can cure similar symptoms in a sick person. In sections 100 and 102 of his "Organon," Hahnemann describes the use of homeopathics in relation to epidemic disease.

A "Times of India" article from August 2009 explores the link between homeopathy and epidemic outbreaks, historically and today.

"Well-known Delhi-based homeopath Mukesh Batra cited the instance of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 in which more than 50 million people were killed worldwide. He said the mortality rate of people given allopathic treatment was 28.2 percent, while [in] those given homeopathic treatment [it] was 1.05 percent at that time." In the case of the 1918 flu, the most common homeopathic remedies were Gelsenium and Bryonia, both 30C.

Oscillococcinum was first studied in France during the 1987 flu epidemic caused by an H1N1 virus similar to the swine flu of today. This multi-center study examined the effect of Oscillococcinum (200C) on the early symptoms of flu. Results were published in the peer-reviewed "British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology." More patients in the treatment group recovered completely in the first 48 hours than the control group (17% of patients with active treatment compared to 10% of controls). More patients in the treatment group also judged the treatment as better compared to the placebo, 61% versus 49%.

— Jeramie Peacock
Excerpted from "Pregnancy and the H1N1 Flu Virus." on the Midwifery Today Web site.

Mama Pumpkin Gives Birth To Baby!

Oct 27, 2009

Mama, Get a Grip!

Mama, Get a Grip! with Shawnda Chambers and Rhondda Smiley

at The Union Yoga Centre - 242 Carlton St (at Parliament)

Sat Nov 14 from 1:30-3:30pm

A stress management workshop for mothers. Leave this workshop with hands-on tools you can use immediately to combat the feelings of being overwhelmed by motherhood. Will include introductory meditation techniques and simple yet effective physical poses, from two mothers who have been there.

Shawnda Chambers is a single working mother of 4. She began an intense spiritual journey with the pregnancy of her last child. She is a certified Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki practitioner and inspired writer. As the founder of Bhavana Yoga, she offers emPOWerment workshops for women and teaches spiritual principals to children in her Storytime Yoga classes.

Rhondda Smiley is mum to a 7 year old daughter, and works full time in the arts & entertainment industry. She has been practicing yoga since 1999 and Tibetan Buddhism since 2007, and co-founded Clear Light Toronto in 2008. A retired La Leche League leader, Rhondda is co-moderator of the popular KoalaMamas online forum, as well as the Clear Light Toronto Families forum. Children welcome - parents will be responsible for attending to their children as child care will not be provided.

Suggested donation $10. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. All donations support UNICEF's Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS program, as part of the 2009 National Yoga Challenge.

Oct 20, 2009

Traditional birth attendants in Atiak Camp, Northern Uganda

Earth Birth

Taye Diggs Interview On Ellen Show 10/15/2009

"Actor Taye Diggs appeared on The Ellen Show on October 15, 2009, and discussed his wife Idina Menzel and the birth of their now six-week-old son. According to Diggs, Menzel labored in a tub with a midwife and gave birth unmedicated like “a warrior.”

Louis Vuitton Supports The White Ribbon Alliance on Special Request of Naomi Campbell

Louis Vuitton is pleased to support Naomi Campbell and the White Ribbon Alliance, donating a portion of sales from a Spring/Summer 2010 bag. Naomi Campbell, in her role as Global Ambassador of the charity, was at Louis Vuitton headquarters yesterday to choose the bag, made of khaki metallic monogram canvas stripes, embroidered on colored metallic leather with natural leather trim. The bag will be available in Louis Vuitton stores in March, coinciding with the 100th Anniversary of International Womens Day.

The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood is an international coalition of organisations and individuals dedicated to reducing maternal mortality worldwide (

Oct 9, 2009

15th October: Tweet-a-thon for Million Mums

The Million Mums Tweet-a-thon coming soon/ Tweet the World!

If you aren’t aware of the work that the Million Mums Campaign and its mother charity the White Ribbon Alliance do regarding reducing the maternal mortality rates across the world then now is the time to take note.

Next week MumsRock in partnership with the Million Mums Campaign are hosting their very first Tweet-a-thon. If you’re a member of Twitter all you need to do is tweet why you think mums rock to ‘@mumsrock because...’ Simple isn’t it?!

If you can then retweet the ones you like to your followers we’ll retweet yours too. The aim is to get a million mums around the globe to tweet together why they think mums rock. This could be what your mum has done for you, why you love her, or even why you think being a mum is cool too.

Don’t worry if you’re not on twitter - you can take part too by emailing us here at and we’ll tweet them for you. You just have to keep your tweet to under 140 characters.

Sarah Brown (wife of Gordon) is patron of the charity and has been very proactive at raising the issues. Other famous mums (and cool women) that are already part of the campaign include: Sarah Ferguson, Davina McCall, Claudia Winkleman, Naomi Campbell, Mariella Frostrup, Kirsty Young and Eve Pollard.

Sarah says, “...throughout the UK people are becoming one of a million mums. I know because every time I twitter about the campaign I get a fantastic response. Young people and not so young, mothers, men, grandparents - all seem to instantly recognize that it doesn’t make sense for a woman to die needlessly or only just survive giving birth when we could so easily do something about it and reap dividends,”

We’re asking you all to spread the word about our Tweet-a-thon which will last for just one day, midnight to midnight, next Thursday October 15th 2009. If you tweet, we'll add your name to the growing list of names around the world who are supporting the Million Mums campaign.

Sarah continues “ People are running marathons, climbing Mount Blanc, doing sponsored walks....whatever their special skill might be. It’s also possible to simply go to the MILLIONMUMS.ORG website, sign up, donate and hear more. “

“The Million Mums Campaign will take up all our voices and make sure they are heard far and wide. It will connect people north and south to raise awareness and to advocate for the trained health workers girls and women need so that they, and their babies, have the care they need, before, during and after birth.”

And some of the campaign’s star-mums are already warming up their tweeting muscles to sum up motherhood in those all important 140 characters: Lauren Laverne says, 'My mum is little, red-haired, funny and very kind. I think she should be President of the Earth because she is the most organized capable person I know.'

Naomi Campbell: My mum rocks because...
'She is my whole inspiration, the person I lean on, the person I confide in and I'm truly grateful to her...she is my best friend.'

So whatever you want to say about mums, mothers, mummy’s (yummy or otherwise) make sure you remember the date - October 15th 2009. If we can get a million mums tweeting on this it will make a great statement about what we believe women deserve during pregnancy and childbirth. And maybe the politicians and policy makers around the world will sit up and take notice. After all isn’t this what motherhood should be about?

Don’t forget to tweet @mumsrock because.....on October 15th 2009. Let’s show the world the power of mum.

Great Breastfeeding Cartoons by Neil

by Neil

Oct 7, 2009

If your baby is breech

Most breech babies will turn naturally before labour. You will probably be referred to an obstetrician as these days few midwives will undertake a breech birth, even though in the past most midwives considered this within their scope of practice. There are still some midwives who are happy to assist with this variation of a normal birth, so it may be worthwhile asking around in your local community to see if you can find a willing midwife.

Recent research, an internationally conducted randomised controlled trial, concluded that caesarean section was the preferred birth option, but this study has been heavily criticised because it has given conflicting results. In the countries and hospitals where vaginal breech births are a common occurrence, there were good results for vaginal breech births. In those hospitals where caesareans have been the norm for some time and where obstetricians are the primary care givers for labouring women, outcomes for vaginal breech births were not as good for the babies as caesarean births. Independent reviewers of this trial have suggested that the results of this trial prove that when the primary caregiver is a doctor, a caesarean section is preferable to a vaginal birth. In other words, where the caregiver has not learned or retained the skills of managing breech births vaginally, it may be safer for the baby to perform a caesarean.

The book Breech Birth Woman Wise by Maggie Banks (an experienced New Zealand midwife) is also worth reading. Intended as a manual for midwives and doctors, it contains considerable detail that will interest parents as well, and may be useful as a reference for your caregiver.

Your main problem will be the limited time you have in which to consider your options. Breech babies are usually only diagnosed in the last weeks of pregnancy and there is little time to organise consultations or second opinions. Your midwife is a useful source of information: she will know which obstetricians are supportive of vaginal births (probably not many) and which practitioners can perform an external cephalic version (ECV) for you.

Some midwives will also undertake vaginal breech births, as part of their home birth practice. In the UK, some women choose to stay at home because they believe they can give birth to their breech baby vaginally, and wish to avoid the pressures imposed by hospital environments. They are also protected by the law in the UK that requires a midwife to stay with a woman to chooses to birth at home, even of they have been advising against it. In other countries, midwives and women don't have this legal protection and this may be a limiting factor in finding a midwife who can assist with the birth, either within a hospital or in your home.

Options for managing the birth are described below. In the meantime, it is worthwhile encouraging the baby to turn head down, as this will solve the problem and a straightforward vaginal birth can be anticipated.

Helping the baby to turn


If the baby settles (engages) into the pelvis it will be difficult for the baby to turn. This exercise, done 3 times each day for 15 minutes discourages the baby from settling into the pelvis.

Lie on your back, with your bottom away from the wall. Place the feet high on the wall, and using it for support, lift your hips high. Have pillows or a firmly rolled towel ready to slip behind your back for support. Your hips need to be higher than your shoulders.
An alternative is to adopt a "knee-chest" position, with your bottom high in the air and your head and chest on the floor.

External cephalic version

Research indicates that manually massaging the baby into a better position is often successful for turning breech babies if done around 39 weeks. You will need to find a caregiver skilled in this procedure, and you may need to take a drug (Ventolin or Ritadrine are commonly used) to calm the painless contractions and reduce the sensitivity of the uterus while it is being done. As there is always a very slight risk that the cord will become entangled or the placenta starts to separate as the baby is turned, external cephalic version should always be done in a hospital, where a Caesarean section is available in the unlikely event of such an emergency.

Using moxibustion to encourage the baby to turn by itself

A very successful "do it yourself" technique with a proven high success rate is to use locally applied heat treatment.

The heat from burning moxa sticks can also be used to stimulate the baby's movements and encourage it to turn. These sticks, shaped like cigars, are available from herbalists, Chinese medicine stockists and some acupuncturists (who use moxa sticks for other purposes) and they contain tightly rolled dried leaves of the mugwort plant. They are very inexpensive and two sticks will be needed - they can be used several times.

Sit on a chair and place each foot on a book with your little toes hanging over the edge. Place each stick on another book with the tip in the gap.

Light the sticks (they burn with no flame but an intense heat and pungent smell) and position the hot tip as close as possible to the outside of each little toe, with the heat directed at the point just above the toe nail. Leave in place for 20 minutes. Be careful not to touch the skin as you will burn yourself. The heat should be as strong as you can tolerate, for the best effect.

After a few minutes, you will notice the baby begin to kick and move. The primary aim of the moxibustion treatment is to encourage the baby to move around and thus increase the effect of gravity which will help the heaviest part of the baby (its head) to turn over and enter into the pelvis.

This simple treatment is best done just before bed, starting at 34 - 36 weeks. It takes several hours for the baby to turn, and this will be easier if you are lying down, because the baby will not be sitting as firmly into the pelvis. Continue over several nights, or until the baby has turned itself.

A randomised controlled trial indicates that at approximately 70% of breech babies will turn using this method. If the baby does not turn from its breech position, external cephalic version should be attempted just before labour begins.

If, after trying the moxibustion and/or external cephalic version, the baby does not move into a head down position, there may be a good reason why the baby prefers to remain in the breech position -perhaps the placenta is positioned low down, limiting the space for the baby's head in the lower part of the uterus or the uterus itself is shaped unusually and is restricting the baby's movements. If the baby does not turn easily, then it must be assumed that the baby needs to stay where it is, and options for the birth (either by caesarean or vaginally) will need to be considered.

Giving birth to a breech baby

Today, most women will be advised to have a caesarean section for the birth of their breech baby, especially if it their first child. Although caesarean section carries its own risks and requires time to recover from the surgery afterwards, this may be the only option available, especially if your caregiver has little or no experience of vaginal breech birth.

Your chances of a safe vaginal birth will be increased if this is not your first baby, you have a small baby, you are carrying twins (twins are usually much smaller than singleton babies), you have given birth vaginally to a breech baby before, you labour without an epidural or an induction and you remain upright and mobile during the labour and birth. A caregiver who is familiar with breech birth and confident of their practice will also make this option much more successful.

If you decide to accept a caesarean birth, it is advisable to wait until labour begins before the surgery is performed, as this will eliminate the risk of prematurity and give the baby the benefits of the labour contractions, which are important for the final maturation of the baby's lungs in readiness for breathing on its own.

Shop around for a caregiver if your baby is breech. You may have little time, but it may prove worth the effort to get the birth you want for your baby.

by Andrea Robertson

Andrea Robertson is a Consultant in Childbirth Education from Sydney, Australia. Her books include Preparing for Birth, Making Birth Easier, Empowering Women, and The Midwife Companion. As the Principal of Associates in Childbirth Education, an independent training organisation, she oversees the world's first Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education, and presents highly acclaimed training workshops for midwives and educators on teaching and practical midwifery, within Australia, and in many overseas countries.

Oct 6, 2009

Juggling career & baby

Juggling career & baby was written by Janet Reid who introduced Megan Pedersen’s daughter, Millie, who was about 10 weeks old when Pedersen dropped her off at day care for the first time and then headed back to work.

“When I dropped her off, I left, and I cried the whole way to work,” Pedersen says. “It was just so traumatic, and she was crying when I left. I just thought it was the most awful thing.”

New moms in some countries have the luxury of one or more years of maternity leave, but American moms don't get that kind of reprieve.

Megan Pedersen, of Lawrence, picks up her daughter Millie from day care, Pederson met Millie’s caretaker, Melanie Gabel, while working at the Lawrence Family Dental Vision Clinic, 3111 W. Sixth St. Now that she has two children, Gabel operates a day care business, while Pedersen recently returned to work after a nine-week maternity leave.

Lawrence dentist Nealy Newkirk returned to work just two-and-a-half weeks after the birth of her third child, despite undergoing a C-section.

“If I don’t work, the bills don’t get paid, so that makes a big difference,” Newkirk says. “It does make a difference when you own or co-own the business.”

It’s something new moms everywhere struggle with: returning to work, usually less than three months after bringing a new little human being into this world.

In the United States, the Family Medical Leave Act guarantees new moms up to 12 weeks unpaid leave from work after the birth of a child. That’s in stark contrast to the benefits new mothers receive in places such as Canada, the United Kingdom and some countries in Europe, where moms have the luxury of spending the first year of their child’s life — or even longer — at home, before returning to their jobs.

“Ready or not, they know how much time they have,” says Melissa Hoffman, a community education specialist for pre-natal and parenting programs at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

But Hoffman does have some tips for making that transition from maternity leave back into the working world smoother.

“I always say take as much time as you can,” Hoffman says, “because until you’re there, you don’t know what you are going to feel like, and most times women are not feeling ready to go back to work because they’re going to want to stay home with the baby as long as they can.”

Pedersen, who has worked as the practice manager for Lawrence Family Vision for eight years, found herself surprised at how her feelings changed once Millie came along.

“I did not want to stay at home at all, absolutely not,” she says. “I thought that I would be a terrible stay-at-home mom, and I would just be miserable.”

But as the weeks went by and she continued to bond with her new baby girl, Pedersen dreaded the thought of being away from her daughter.

“It was awful,” she says. “For the first time in my life, I thought, maybe I do want to be a stay-at-home mom. And actually, the night before I went back to work, I got our bills out and tried to figure out, can we do it? Can we make it if I quit my job?”

“You just have to know that it’s hard for a lot of people,” says Hoffman, who leads a support group for new moms on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at LMH. “I don’t know that there’s a magic answer, as far as when you feel like you are ready emotionally. If you are feeling the sadness about leaving the baby or guilt about going back to work, you just kind of push through, and it does get easier as things fall into a routine.”

Hoffman says the best advice she can offer new mothers is easing back into work, perhaps returning part-time for a few weeks if your employer will allow it, or take the first few Wednesdays off. Hoffman says that way you only have to make it through a couple of days before having a break and then two more days of work before the weekend.

Pedersen actually shortened her maternity leave. Instead of taking the full 12 weeks, she went back a little earlier so that she could work part-time. She says that made all the difference.

“Definitely, I would recommend it if anybody can, because it was such a transition sending her to day care,” Pedersen says. “I didn’t realize what a difficult situation it would be. To be able to just go part-time for a little bit is letting her ease into it and me, so we’re just able to function a little bit better.”

For Newkirk, she found returning to work after the birth of her child easier than working while in the late stages of pregnancy. She also has help at home — a relative watches the newborn so she doesn’t have to drop the baby off at a day care center, but, she says, there are still some challenges.

“The hardest part is the breast feeding,” Newkirk says. “Pumping at work and figuring that all out.”

Hoffman says choosing when to return to work, or even if to return at all, is a personal decision, one that all new families have to make for themselves.

“You can’t let society’s ideas of what the perfect mom is influence you, you have to do what’s best for you,” Hoffman says. “There’s people who really thrive on the satisfaction of a job outside of the home and that’s what makes them a better parent and vice versa. There’s the moms and dads who really do thrive on being the parent inside the home, 24 hours a day, and that’s their job.”

Sep 27, 2009

A Contemporary Children's Book for Todays Homebirthing Families...

Children will love this colorful, contemporary book about
their family's special upcoming homebirth event. A great
tool for discussion about what to expect when the baby
arrives, this affordable book covers important issues like
the role of a midwife, being good labor support, noises to
expect mom to make, cord cutting, placenta delivery and
breastfeeding. Combined with healthy conversation about
pregnancy and homebirth, this book will help teach children
that birth is a natural occurence, not a medical emergency.

To learn more or make a purchase

Sep 18, 2009

Have something to say? Question to ask? Something to submit? I'd love to hear from you.

Welcome to Mama Sayana Doula support. I started this blog as a way to provide real, unedited information about pregnancy and birth to pregnant mothers and couples.

The true heart of this blog lies in the stories and pictures submitted by you.
Please feel free to visit often and post your comments.

Happy blogging.

Sep 16, 2009

Yemeni Girl, 12, Dies in Painful Childbirth.

CNN reports that a 12-year-old Yemeni girl, who was forced into marriage, died during a painful childbirth that also killed her baby, a children's rights group said Monday.

Fawziya Ammodi struggled for three days in labor, before dying of severe bleeding at a hospital on Friday, said the Seyaj Organization for the Protection of Children.

"Although the cause of her death was lack of medical care, the real case was the lack of education in Yemen and the fact that child marriages keep happening," said Seyaj President Ahmed al-Qureshi.

Born into an impoverished family in Hodeidah, Fawziya was forced to drop out of school and married off to a 24-year-old man last year, al-Qureshi said.

Child brides are commonplace in Yemen, especially in the Red Sea Coast where tribal customs hold sway. Hodeidah is the fourth largest city in Yemen and an important port.

More than half of all young Yemeni girls are married off before the age of 18 -- many times to older men, some with more than one wife, a study by Sanaa University found.

While it was not immediately known why Fawziya's parents married her off, the reasons vary. Sometimes, financially-strapped parents offer up their daughters for hefty dowries.

Marriage means the girls are no longer a financial or moral burden to their parents. And often, parents will extract a promise from the husband to wait until the girl is older to consummate the marriage.

The issue of Yemeni child brides came to the forefront in 2008 with 10-year-old Nujood Ali.

She was pulled out of school and married to a man who beat and raped her within weeks of the ceremony.

To escape, Nujood hailed a taxi -- the first time in her life -- to get across town to the central courthouse where she sat on a bench and demanded to see a judge.

After a well-publicized trial, she was granted a divorce.

Mother’s Milk

Students in an advanced Biology class were taking their mid-term exam. The last question was, 'Name seven advantages of mother's milk; worth 70 points or none at all.

One student in particular was having a hard time to think of seven advantages. He wrote:

1. It is perfect formula for the child.

2. It provides immunity against several diseases..

3. It is always the right temperature.

4. It is inexpensive.

5. It bonds the child to mother, and vice versa..

6. It is always available as needed.

And then, the student's mind went blank. Finally, in desperation, just before the bell rang indicating the end of the test, he wrote....

7. It comes in awesome containers.

He got an A.

Sep 2, 2009

Moms-to-be warned over use of fetal heart rate monitors

Moms-to-be are being advised not to use personal monitors (Doppler devices) to listen to their baby's heartbeat at home over fears that they may lead to delays in seeking help for reduced fetal movements.

In this week's BMJ, Dr Thomas Aust and colleagues from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral describe the case of a 27 year old woman who presented to their labour ward 32 weeks into her first pregnancy with reduced fetal movements.

She had first noted a reduction in her baby's activity two days earlier but had used her own Doppler device to listen to the heartbeat and reassured herself that everything was normal.
Further monitoring by the antenatal care team was not reassuring and the baby was delivered by caesarean section later that evening. The baby remained on the special care baby unit for eight weeks and is making steady progress.

A hand-held Doppler device assesses the presence of fetal heart pulsations only at that moment, and it is used by midwives and obstetricians to check for viability or for intermittent monitoring during labour, explain the authors. In untrained hands it is more likely that blood flow through the placenta or the mother's main blood vessels will be heard.
Following this case, they searched the internet and found that a fetal Doppler device could be hired for £10 a month or bought for £25-50 ( Although the companies offering sales state that the device is not intended to replace recommended antenatal care, they also make claims such as "you will be able to locate and hear the heartbeat with excellent clarity" (

It is difficult to say whether self monitoring altered the outcome in this case, say the authors. But they now have posters in their antenatal areas recommending that patients do not use these devices.

Home birth with midwife safe as hospital

Giving birth at home with a registered midwife can be as safe as a hospital birth for the infant and the mom, according to a Canadian study released Monday.

Midwives provide round-the-clock care for women during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum in hospitals, birthing centres and at the homes of women.

The rate of deaths was about two per 1,000 for planned home births involving midwives as well as deliveries in hospitals involving either midwives or doctors, the researchers found.

"Women planning birth at home experienced reduced risk for all obstetric interventions measured, and similar or reduced risk for adverse maternal outcomes," such as electronic fetal monitoring and postpartum hemorrhage, Dr. Patricia Janssen from the University of British Columbia and her co-authors wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada does not take a specific stand on the safety of home births, and has called for more research on it. The society said it should be up to each woman to decide where to give birth.

The American, Australian and New Zealand Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose home births while the United Kingdom's Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Royal College of Midwives are supportive, as are midwife organizations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In the study, researchers looked at 2,889 home births attended by regulated midwives in British Columbia and 4,752 planned hospital births attended by the same group of midwives, compared with 5,331 births in hospital attended by a physician.

The rate of deaths per 1,000 births in the first month of life was 0.35 for the planned home births, 0.57 for the hospital births with a midwife, and 0.64 with a physician, the researchers found.

Women in the planned home-birth group were much less likely than those who gave birth in hospital to have obstetric interventions including:

0.32 times less likely to receive electronic fetal monitoring.
0.41 times less likely to have an assisted vaginal delivery.
0.41 times less likely to suffer third- or fourth-degree perineal tears.
0.62 times less likely to have postpartum hemorrhage.
Women who planned to give birth at home needed less medical intervention, even among those who ended up in the hospital. Janssen doesn't know why, but it may be because women who choose home birth are determined not to have those procedures.

"So our study is not to say that home birth causes you to have fewer interventions," said Janssen. "It's really to say for women choosing this option, do they put themselves at increased risk for bad outcomes? And the answer to that is no."

Newborns who were born at home were also 0.23 times less likely to require resuscitation or oxygen therapy after 24 hours compared with those who were born in hospital with a midwife.

Infants born at home were also 0.45 times less likely to have aspirate meconium (inhaling a mixture of their feces and amniotic fluid).

Babies born to mothers who planned a home birth were 1.39 times more likely to be admitted to hospital after the birth, but Janssen believes the hospitalizations were related to jaundice, an easily treatable and relatively common condition.

Women self-selecting home births

It's not well understood what factors may help decrease the risks while giving birth at home, but researchers cautioned that those who choose to do so are self-selecting and may be healthier, which would be an important way to manage the risk.

The study also excluded women with medical conditions either before or during pregnancy. The results also don't cover deliveries by midwives who lacked extensive academic and clinical training.

"Given the current lack of evidence from randomized controlled trials, the study by Janssen and colleagues makes an important contribution to our knowledge about the safety of home birth," midwife Helen McLachlan from La Trobe University in Bundoora, Australia, and Della Forster of Royal Women's Hospital in Parville, Australia, wrote in a journal commentary.

Despite ethical hurdles for conducting randomized controlled trials on home births, the pair called for such research to provide better evidence.

"The available evidence suggests that planned home birth is safe for women who are at low risk of complications and are cared for by appropriately qualified and licensed midwives with access to timely transfer to hospital if required," they wrote.

Option to consider

McLachlan and Forster also noted that while policymakers often support choice in childbirth, home-birthing options may be limited, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Acceptance of home births is generally low. For example, six per cent of all births in B.C. involve a midwife.

"Obviously a research study such as this provides more information for women to carefully consider their options," said Kris Robinson, who chairs the Canadian Midwife Regulators Consortium. "You know, one of them might be more attractive to women if they see results of this research that are so favourable."

In Canada, midwives are registered in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec and the Northwest Territories, according to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

B.C.'s regulations for home births are stricter than in most provinces, said Dr. André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the society.

The study may not offer a fair comparison between between home and hospital births, Lalonde said.

"What I would like to see is that we have a hospital setting where every woman that comes into a hospital setting has a full-time nurse with her from the beginning to the end of delivery," Lalonde said. "Then we can compare."

In 2007, Statistics Canada reported that the majority of Canadian mothers who gave birth during a three-month period in 2006 were happy with their labour and the birth of their child.

Among those who had a midwife delivery, 71 per cent rated it as "very positive" compared with 53 per cent of women who had their babies delivered by obstetricians/gynecologists, family doctors or nurses and nurse practitioners.

The B.C. researchers are planning to compare the costs involved for home births, and to track the health of each of the babies up to one year of age.

CBC News

Aug 24, 2009

"I tweeted about my home birth between contractions." -Erykah Badu

This awesome interview with Erykah Badu sheds some light on her vegan lifestyle, her 3 home-births and her choice to homeschool her children.

Erykah Badu, thirty-eight, is the queen of hip-hop soul. But more than that, she's an innovator. Take the birth of her third child, Mars Merkaba: In February, when the little girl was born in Badu's Dallas home, she Tweeted between contractions. Her son and daughter were also in the room. Now little Mars is the first Twitter baby, Badu says, growing strong and healthy on "Twitty milk." Babble checked in with Badu in August while she was on a tour bus bound for Brooklyn (little Mars, who comes with Badu on all her tours, gurgled in the background throughout). — Tammy La Gorce

Erykah, you have a ton going on with your tour and a new album coming up (New Amerykah Part II comes out later this year), but first things first: You just home-delivered a daughter and Tweeted about it! Tell us about that.

Well, the home birth and the tweeting are two separate things. I had all my children at home, naturally. First my son [Seven Sirius] was born at home in 1997, because that's the natural environment, the old way. There's not a lot of fuss and moving around. I had a very wise doula and midwives giving me the freedom to continue living my life. I didn't have to uproot myself.

You had no fear, though? You weren't scared you'd need medical attention?
No. Maybe to some it's scary, but preparation is the whole key. When a mother has found out she's going to have a baby, her whole life — her diet, her mood, her energy — should kind of prepare her. After she prepares herself, fear is never a part of it. I expected success and health, so I made sure I surrounded myself with it. By the time I had my third baby, childbirth seemed a very natural part of life to me. And it's always been a part of my life since I've been in music — my first album [Baduizm] came out Feb. 11, 1997, right when I got pregnant. Then I had my first baby Nov. 19, 1997, the same day my live album came out. So I've never known a life in music outside of being a mom.

Got it. But what about the tweeting? What made you want to tweet while giving birth?

"Questlove said, 'I bet you won't Twitter while you're in labor.'"
I was dared to do it. Actually, Questlove of The Roots — he said, "I bet you won't Twitter while you're in labor." I said, "I bet I will." So I did. I tweeted about what was happening with the birth between contractions.

Wow. And your kids were in the room, too?

Yeah. They were a big part of it. A very big part, because it was very sacred. They helped me welcome this baby into the world.

In addition to your incredible baby deliveries, you are also an incredibly hands-on parent. For example, you home-school.

Yes. I wanted to give Seven Sirius [who is entering sixth grade in the fall] special attention academically, to give him an advantage. So by being home-schooled he learned how to learn — he learned how to solve problems in a nontraditional way. In doing that he developed an edge in his schoolwork. He enjoys challenges. He pushes himself. He does his homework voluntarily. He does not want to miss school or be late or be untidy or not have his things in order because that was a big part of how he was brought up [Seven was home-schooled until he entered second grade]. I don't have any idea what Seven is going to choose to do, but he knows how to be disciplined and how to learn, and because of that he's one of the top students in his school, and one of the top students in Dallas.

Did you home-school him yourself, or was there a teacher you hired? And what about the other kids?

I home-schooled him myself. And my daughter, Puma Sabti, she's five — she's home-schooled. And the new baby just started school this week, now that she's six months.

All with you?

Yes, all with me. Of course.

You're also vegan. Are the kids vegan too?

Of course they are. When Seven was born I was a vegetarian and his father [Andre 3000, of Outkast] was too, so it was a natural progression for him in life to eat the things we eat. Puma [whose father is the rapper The D.O.C; Mars' father is longtime boyfriend Jay Electronica] is the same way. It's just what's in the house. They also now have an understanding of how to read ingredients — it's Mommy's lifestyle so it's their lifestyle.

But don't they ever get curious about hot dogs? Or beef jerky? What do you do about that?

I don't in any way force them to have the same lifestyle, but I think they should know the benefits of having a healthy body. If they were to choose to do anything else after they become high school students, I would have full confidence that they know how to take care of their bodies and themselves. By making sure they use preventive medicine — getting plenty of water, plenty of chlorophyll and vegetable juices and good, healthy rest and activity — I know they'll be able to take good care of themselves.

But what about the hot dogs? They never ask?

They joke about it. And I'm sure as children they feel left out sometimes. But that's why we provide them with alternatives. We make sure we keep a school menu on hand, and we prepare the same foods the kids at school are eating but in a healthier manner. That's what this lifestyle provides us with. I work really hard the way I do so I can give them all the things they need without them feeling like they're being punished. So they can have a good understanding of what it means to be healthy.

"The more children you have, the more you get into health."
What do you think is the worst parenting practice going on in America today?

Parents not participating in kids' schooling. I don't think it matters what school you go to, but I think it's important for parents to be involved. And to know that when school stops, learning continues, and to continue teaching at home.

Back to Mars for a minute — how did the people who were reading about her birth react on Twitter? Did you get any criticism about tweeting while birthing?

I have no idea, actually. But the Twitter community was happy to welcome her into the world. They ask about her every month. She just turned six months, and I got a lot of "happy six months." She's the first Twitter baby, and she's breastfed on Twitty milk.

Ha! Is that vegan?

Actually, we're applying a macrobiotic diet with her — it's different from being a vegan, in that it goes a little bit deeper into the yin and yang of what a human being needs. I always wanted to do it, but I didn't really understand the dynamics. Then, the more children you have, the more you get into health and holistic living. Which goes so far beyond being a vegan.


With macrobiotics, each person is different. So it's critical what you give each individual. People have so many food allergies — Seven, when he was tested, he was allergic to some nuts, legumes, melons, and apples. And we would have never known that unless he was tested. So the macrobiotic diet affords us the chance to avoid some of those allergies.

You take this very seriously.

I do. I'm totally into my health — I've been a vegetarian for ten years and vegan for eleven. I'm also a holistic health practitioner. I see patients. And that helps my family in a lot of ways.

You see patients? In addition to your music and home-schooling? That's incredible. Are you exhausted?

I feel great. And I think I'm real smart.

Aug 19, 2009

A Holistic Approach to Childbirth

"This can be a turning point for mainstream consumption of safe birth options." (Sabrina McIntyre) I have not been this excited since the film "The business of Being Born." It seems that Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz are finding more interest in the home birthing scene.

For many women, the birthing process can be a profound, natural rite of passage rather than a painful medical event, says Pam England, a mother of two and certified nurse midwife. Dr. Oz talks with Pam, who answers some of the most common questions about the birthing process. Plus, Pam shares her recommendations for both moms- and dads-to-be for having the best birthing experience possible.


Aug 11, 2009

One Woman's Mission to Save Babies

This is an amazing story from The Oprah Magazine. It raises the awareness of human milk banks, their importance and why more mothers who can not breastfeed need to know about donated, screened, and pasteurized human milk!

Even when Lynn Page felt she'd lost everything, she still had something invaluable to give. Bonnie Rochman tells the story of a mother's devotion and the little-known network of medical miracle workers that's quietly helping the babies who need help most.

Lynn Page was 37, and a pediatric psychologist—old enough for things to go badly with her pregnancy and informed enough to know it. So during her first ultrasound, when the doctor's face suddenly fell and he told her she could get dressed, her heart was hammering as she asked, "What's wrong?" This was November 2006. Lynn was alone at the appointment. She and her husband, Chris, live in Norfolk, Virginia, but Chris, a 19-year navy man and chief petty officer on the submarine USS Boise, was underwater somewhere in the Pacific. When Lynn had learned she was expecting, she'd sent off a package to his next port, in Japan: licorice, M&M's, and a dad's guide to pregnancy called My Boys Can Swim!

Continue reading...

Aug 7, 2009

Orgasm During Childbirth

Imagine a drug-free, pain-free labour that comes with multiple orgasms - it really is possible!

"Orgasm and childbirth are not two words you expect to find in the same sentence. But, as implausible as it may sound, increasing numbers of mothers are signing up to the Orgasmic Birth movement. Childbirth, they claim, far from being a painful ordeal to endure, can be as ecstatic and pleasurable as the moment of conception itself. Now, with the release of two new documentary films in America depicting orgasmic births, and websites awash with first-hand accounts from women claiming similar experiences, are we about to lift the lid on this taboo?"

Read more

Aug 6, 2009

Mali Midwives

Mali Midwives facilitates continuing education opportunities for matrones in rural Mali. Matrones desperately want and need continuing education. Even though they deliver 60% of attended births in the country, they get little attention from Mali's under-resourced health care system.

Mali Midwives has been sponsoring a pilot continuing education project since January 2009. Do your part and - CHIP IN!

A Malian proverb says that a woman in labor has one foot on earth, and one foot in the grave. The proverb is all too true: a woman in Mali has a 1 in 15 lifetime chance of dying from childbearing complications. Many women die because there are no doctors, nurses, or highly trained midwives rural villages. In villages, where most Malians live, auxiliary midwives, or matrones, provide the vast majority of maternal health care. For most Malian women. matrones are first and only health care provider they will ever see.

Mali Midwives facilitates continuing education opportunities for rural matrones in Mali. Their goal is to raise $15,000 to sponsor thier pilot project. You can donate online at

Aug 5, 2009

President Obama's proposed budget for FY10 Federal Doula Appropriation Request

Doula Advocacy Update

FY10 Federal Doula Appropriation Request

President Obama's proposed budget for FY10 includes $1.504 million for the community-based doula program. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is requesting that the House Committee on Appropriation increase this funding to $3 million.

An increase in funding would allow for an additional 6 sites to be funded with grants. We need support in the House for increased funding, so contact your Representative today!

Health Reform
HealthConnect One is working with Senator Durbin's (D-IL) staff on community-based doula language to include in the Affordable Health Choices Act, sponsored by Senator Kennedy (D-MA). In particular, pages 540-545, Sec. 443: Grants to Promote the Community Health Workforce, provide an opportunity to address maternal and child health promotion. Our suggested additions include language on community-based doulas, breastfeeding peer counselors, and a focus on the critical months of pregnancy, birth and the immediate post-partum period. Click here to see our language for this bill.

In addition to working on the Affordable Health Choices Act, HC One is tracking three additional bills:

Early Support for Families Act, HR 2667
This bill intends to improve the well-being and development of children by enabling the establishment and expansion of quality programs providing voluntary home visitation for families with young children and families expecting children.

Education Begins at Home, S. 244
This bill will expand those programs of early childhood home visitation that increase school readiness, child abuse & neglect prevention, and early identification of developmental and health delays. The Act states that the home is the "first and most important learning environment for children"; "parents are their children's first and most influential teachers," and therefore parent education and family support will greatly benefit children's development. Parents "deserve and can benefit from" research-based information, enrichment opportunities and the prospect of connecting with their communities and the childrens' school.

Evidence-Based Home Visitation Act of 2009, S. 1267
This bill intends to improve the well-being and development of children by enabling the establishment and expansion of quality programs providing voluntary home visitation services to low-income pregnant women and low-income families with young children. The goal is to help break the cycle of poverty and improve the well-being of low-income children and their families. The striking difference from previous legislation is that this bill requires programs meet specific scientific standards to be established by the Centers for Disease Control.

As we continue to advocate for the inclusion of the community-based doula program in federal legislation, we encourage you to inform us of your activities and/or ideas. Please contact Advocacy Consultant Laura McAlpine with questions, comments, or suggestions:

Funding Updates

Doula Funding Guide
In an effort to track funds from the Stimulus Package and the pending FY10 federal budget, we have created a spreadsheet of federal funding sources that may be applicable to community-based doula programs. The guide is organized by the federal department that is overseeing the funding, and links to the full description and RFPs (as applicable) for each funding stream are provided for your convenience. We encourage you to download the document.

If you have any questions regarding the Doula Funding Guide, please contact Mairita Smiltars at

Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA)
Community-based Doula programs NOW eligible to apply for the CHIPRA outreach funds

- Applications due August 6, 2009

This act, signed into law by President Obama on February 4, 2009, includes $80 Million over 5 years for Outreach and Enrollment activities related to the state children's health insurance programs. Community-based doula programs and Community Health Worker programs were specifically named in the legislation as entities that are eligible to apply for outreach and enrollment monies through the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Early Head Start
The US Dept of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is soliciting applications from public or private non-profit organizations, including faith-based organizations, that wish to compete for $619 million in funds that are available to provide Early Head Start services to pregnant women, infants and toddlers and their families. The purpose of these grants is to expand enrollment of those served in Early Head Start by approximately 55,000. This grant opportunity is being made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Applications are due by July 7, 2009. For more information, please click here.

Strengthening Communities Fund
The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families announced the availability of capacity-building grants for nonprofit organizations. Through the Strengthening Communities Fund, HHS will make awards of up to $1 million for two years to lead organizations to provide technical assistance and training to support other nonprofit organizations. Grantees must provide at least 20 percent of the total approved cost of the project from non-federal funds. This grant opportunity is being made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Applications are due by July 7, 2009. Click here to read a press release and click here for application information.

Doula Advocacy Success
"In Chicago, we have seen how the community-doula model can improve the odds for those young moms and their babies. The Chicago Health Connection [now HealthConnect One] pioneered this model. The group trained mentors from the community to work with at-risk moms, many of whom had few ideas of where else to turn. I am eager to see the Chicago Health Connection model successfully replicated and to make that happen, it is important that new programs have guidance and help to not reinvent the wheel."

- Senator Durbin, October 23, 2007. Senate Colloquy- Congressional Record.

Federal Funding Established for Community-Based Doula Programs
The very first federal funding stream dedicated to community-based doula programs was established on December 26, 2007, when President Bush signed the 2008 omnibus appropriations bill in to law. This funding stream was established after years of tireless advocacy by HC One's National Doula Advocacy Network. HC One would also like to extend sincere thanks to Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) for their support of community-based doula programs, and to President Barack Obama, who demonstrated his support of the community-based doula model during his time as the junior Senator of Illinois.

HealthConnect One awarded HRSA Grant
Doula programs were able to apply for the $1.536 million of federal money via a competitive grants process through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

HRSA awarded HealthConnect One a 2-year grant to provide training, technical assistance, and cross-sited evaluation to a cohort of six HRSA-funded community-based doula programs across the country.

All six grantees and HC One received a second year of funding through September 30, 2010.

Doula Advocacy Continues
HealthConnect One is committed to advocating for the maintenance and expansion of federal funding for community-based doula programs through our National Doula Advocacy Network. The policy world is constantly changing, so check this site frequently for updates and action items.

See Also:
Doula Advocacy Resources
Community-Based Doula Leadership Institute
Community-Based Doula Program Overview
Community-Based Doula Program Replication

Pesticides & Breastfeeding

Lanolin comes from sheep. Sheep eat grass sprayed with pesticides. Pesticides are not good for breastfeeding babies.

This week is Breastfeeding Week—a celebration of motherhood and the baby she protects and loves. Breastfeeding is very good for your baby but sometimes nipples can become cracked and sore enough for the mother to become discouraged. Nipple gels can help greatly but I would like to inform you about the current state of most nipple gels on the market.

Currently, most breastfeeding women are given a lanolin based product to help relieve their sore, cracked nipples. As you may know already, lanolin is an animal based product—100% cholesterol— and lanolin can contains pesticides because lanolin is procured from sheep who graze on grass that may have been treated for pests.

Several studies from JAMA have demonstrated that there are residual pesticides in lanolin containing compounds in spite of purification by the manufacturing company. Lanolin is also dark, greasy, and is malodorous. It stains undergarments of breastfeeding women.

Another important warning—lanolin is not kosher because it is an animal product which should not be combined with breast feeding.

Beaute de Maman Nipple Gel contains no lanolin—and therefore no pesticides. Our Beaute de Maman product is an omega 3 fatty acid base derived from a plant. It is colorless and odorless gel. We have added a natural herb, calendula officinalis, which is antibacterial, anti-fungal, and helps in the prevention of mastitis. It seems to work well for vegetarian patients and also patients who are allergic to wool. All our products were pre-tested on hundreds of pregnant women and we are very pleased with the comments and results.

Developed by Dr. Michele Brown, OBGYN and founder of Beaute de Maman Caring Products for Pregnant Women this extraordinary gel uses a soothing blend of natural and herbal ingredients with a smooth, moisturizing castor oil base to aid in the healing of sore, cracked, dry nipples. Calendula officinalis is the essential component to this innovative product which promotes the healing of inflamed areas on the nipple.

Unlike other gels which are sticky, greasy and contain lanolin, Beaute de Maman's special formula contains NO LANOLIN, and it is easy to apply and remove. Nipple Gel does not have to be wiped off prior to feeding.

Please visit the product page for complete description.

Happy Breastfeeding Week to You All!

Thank you to Dr. Michele Brown for sharing.