Labour Day Birth Rally – OTTAWA

by Chelsea Casson on September 25, 2013

 

Women's Memorial - Minto Park Ottawa - Birth Rally 2013 edit

 

On Labour Day (Sept. 2, 2013), National Capital Region (NCR) Chapter of Mothers of Change, which includes the Ottawa-area and western-Quebec, rallied to honour birthing women as decision-makers in their birthing care.  The NRC Chapter of Mothers of Change joined in spirit with several Alberta Mothers of Change Chapters, rallying in support of women’s autonomy in birth and access to evidence-based care.  In both provinces, women are feeling that maternity care providers are silencing their voices by limiting birthing-care options — options which lead to better health outcomes for mothers and babies, and which would be more cost-effective for the Provinces and tax-payers, than the status-quo.

In Ottawa, 25 people (including 13 children) rallied at the Women’s Monument in Minto Park, then marched to the Parliament buildings.  Despite the forecast of rain, the good weather held for morning walk and the downpour waited until the afternoon.  Demonstrators carried signs, had signs on children’s wagons and strollers, and one participant wore a shirt that read “My Body.  My Baby.  My Birth. My Choice.”, and “Empower Me.  Don’t Induce Me. Respect Me. Inform Me.”  This captured the many reasons that people came to demonstrate about birth:  because mothers matter, and their choices need to be heard and respected, and because interventions in labour and birth can have unintended negative consequences for both mothers and babies. Demonstrators displayed signs which read “Question your Induction”, “Birth Matters/Mothers Matter”, “Informed Consent is a Human Right”, “STOP: No means No! End obstetrical violence”, ”If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” and “Hands off the Breech”, among others.

 

T-Shirt

 

The issue of breech birth is an important one for several members of the NCR Chapter.  Among the 13 children in attendance, 5 were born breech at term, and one breech baby flipped to vertex in the 39th week and was born vaginally, spontaneously at 42+2 weeks.  Some of these babies were born by vaginal breech birth and others by coerced caesareans due to obstetrical fear of adverse outcomes.  Evidence shows that vaginal breech birth for healthy mothers and babies at term, has as good an outcome for the babies, as babies born breech by caesarean. However, women carrying a breech at term are still fighting an up-hill battle, before and during labour to protect themselves and their babies against an unwanted caesarean.  A woman who makes an informed choice to have a physiological birth with a breech and is then coerced by her doctor and other care providers to have surgery is shown to have worse outcomes for them and carries risks that will affect this child and will affect this woman for the rest of her child-bearing years.

The routine use of inductions is another example of the need for more evidence-based care, where mothers voices need to be heard.

Passers-by took interest in the rally; some taking photos, others stopping to talk about the rally.  One woman in her 70′s  spontaneously joined in part of the walk, while sharing her birth stories from decades ago.  This is proof that birth has a deep and lasting impact in our lives. Two young men commented “Well, that just makes sense! What is there to protest?” The positive energy of the rally was felt by all; one young child remarked that she liked the “celebration” of birth, walking with her friends, with signs.

In Ottawa, the Labour Day Rally marked the closing of the Mothers Matter Campaign, which was launched on Mother’s Day (May 12, 2013). Over the past several months, people were invited to share their stories of why birth and how birthing women are treated matters.  This information has been collected, and will be analysed over the coming months to determine the themes that were presented in the care that women received, and what women feel led to their having an empowered, disempowering, or abusive birth.  Where women gave their consent, this information will be shared with decision-makers in the maternity care system, in the hopes that women’s voices will be heard. Our hope is to bring about positive change, so that birthing women will receive compassionate care, have empowered births, and experience better outcomes to their physical, psychological, and spiritual health - for themselves and their babies. ’It’s not just the birth of a baby, it’s the birth of a family.

 

By: Céline Ouellette

Chapter Leader – Mothers of Change of the National Capital Region

(Edited by Wendy Jolliffe)

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The Birth Story of Zoë

by Chelsea Casson on September 23, 2013

I woke up with bad cramps, and I looked at the alarm clock beside the bed. It was 1:03 am on Friday, April 26, 2013, 15 days before my due date of May 11. I didn’t think much of it considering the day before, Thursday, I had been feeling “not right” and almost felt like I had eaten bad food or something, and I had been having very irregular contractions since the morning before. After waking twice more I looked at the clock again and it was 1:39 am. I got up to go to the bathroom both times, and when I got back in bed I decided if the cramps keep coming, I would start timing them. After climbing back in bed, my husband was awake and asked what was wrong. I said “nothing’s wrong, I just don’t feel well.” He asked flat out “are you in labour”? I said I don’t think so, but I was thinking it too. I woke up again at 1:53, 2:07, 2:21, 2:34 and finally at 2:47 I woke him up and said, ” I think I’m in real labour. I’m having cramps about every 12 to 13 minutes for almost 2 hours now.” I felt really excited.

We ended up staying in bed until around 4:30 am and then eventually got up, got dressed and brushed my teeth. The contractions were coming every 5-6 minutes apart, so I figured I’d wait a bit longer before calling my Midwife. Hubby figured he would blow up the birth pool and get it ready for filling, and I grabbed the home birth list off the fridge and realized we didn’t have anything we needed. At 5:21 am, the contractions were coming every 5 minutes and lasting about a minute, so I decided to call my Midwife. She told me to try and get as much rest as I could, and to call her back when they were 4 mins apart, lasting a minute long, for an hour. I had gotten the 4-1-1 rule mixed up with 5-1-1, she said it could still be a while yet. I told Hubby that and then we just laid on the couch and watched some TV, we decided he would go to Walmart at 8:00 am when it opens and grab all the stuff on the list, plus some fruit for me to munch on.

Upon Hubby’s return from Walmart, I was still labouring on the couch and the contractions were starting to get a bit more intense. They were not painful, but uncomfortable for sure. I wasn’t sure when we should fill the pool, but I felt like I needed some water therapy so I drew a bath in our tub thinking it would help. It was around 11:30 am by now, and the contractions were in between 4 and 5 mins apart and to my disappointment, the tub was too small for me to get in any comfortable position, so I got out and just paced the house or the next hour or so.

Finally after 11 hours, the contractions were steady at 4 minutes apart since noon, so at 12:58 pm, I told Hubby to call our Midwife as I was finding it hard to talk during the surges. When he got off the phone he told me she was at another birth, and she would call back. She told Him to call her back if there was an emergency, and asked if I was in the tub yet.

The next few hours went by fast for me even though the contractions seemed to be going by in slow motion. I remember when I first got in the birth pool, the feeling was instant relief. My big belly seemed to float, and the pressure wasn’t as bad during the contractions. At around 4:15 pm  our Midwife arrived and started setting up her equipment in the room. I remember Hubby had found some classical music playlist on YouTube and had it on in the back ground playing from the iPad. My Midwife sat beside the pool, periodically checking the baby’s heart rate with the Doppler, and quietly cheering me on. Hubby was sitting behind me rubbing my shoulders and telling me what a good job I was doing. Again the hours seemed to go by really fast, and at around 6:00 pm, the Midwife asked if the contractions were getting more intense, and I said I didn’t think so, I got out of the tub so she could check how dilated I was. I think we were all a bit shocked when she said  ”wow, you’re fully dilated and the baby’s head is coming down.” She asked if I was getting any urges to push and I said no, but I would try pushing to see what it felt like. She then went ahead and called the second Midwife, and I think we all thought our baby girl would be born in the next hour.

It was 6:45 pm when the second Midwife arrived, but I felt like it was longer. After trying to push a couple times with contractions, the urge to push started coming and the contractions started coming about every minute. After a while in the pool with no crowning, the Midwives suggested I get onto the toilet and try pushing there. I did that for a while with no luck so I went back in the pool. After a while longer in the pool, we went to the bed and tried pushing there. She checked me again and said the bag was bulging and suggested breaking my waters to see if it would make things easier. No sooner did she get the hook out, the waters broke on their own! At that point It seemed like I had been pushing forever. I tried laying down, standing up, squatting, on my side, and she checked again and said the baby’s head was right there, I just had to push it past the pelvic bone. She said the baby’s head was tilted sideways, and wasn’t cone shaped so that was probably why I was having trouble pushing her past the bone. After pushing a while longer I started getting this intense shooting pain starting in my right hip and shooting down my leg causing my leg to spasm. I would get 3 good pushes with every contraction, but on the third push, every time, the pain would shoot down and I had to stop because my leg would just give out. Ahhhh the sciatic nerve. Finally after 3+ hours of pushing, my Midwife suggested a transfer to hospital as there was nothing more we could do at home. She said a vacuum or forceps might be necessary to get her out. I remember thinking to myself that it was my worst nightmare coming true. I was so disappointed and felt like my body had failed me. I finally conceded and agreed to go, only because I knew our little baby could become distressed at any time having been pushing so long, and that was the first time I cried that day.

Getting ready to go to the hospital was a whirlwind of emotion. I was trying to breath through the contractions and not push, but that was easier said than done. The urge was so intense I couldn’t help it! It was like my body took over and just pushed on its own. I remember my Midwife telling me we could go to Sturgeon Hospital where the other Midwife had admitting rights, but that was a 30 minute drive away, and the Grey Nuns was only 5 minutes away. I couldn’t endure 30 minutes in a car, so I said we will go to Grey Nuns. Little did I know, that was the worst decision I could have made, and looking back, I would have gladly taken the 30 minute drive if I could do it over again. We left for the hospital at around 10:30 pm.

When we got to the hospital, I was in a daze. I remember thinking that no matter what, I was going to fight the doctors if I had to. I had all these horrible thoughts in my head about forceps and c-sections, and I knew deep down I COULD push our baby out with NO medical intervention. I made the decision on the drive over that I was going to do it naturally no matter how bad it hurt.

After getting admitted, Hubby, my Midwife, and I followed a nurse to my room. There was a lady in the next room over screaming her head off, and I remember thinking “what a wuss”. After the day I had, I felt proud to have gotten through the whole labour without making a sound. My nurse was really nice and tried her best to be supportive. She offered me gas and air but it did nothing to stop the nerve pain shooting down my leg. Finally the anaesthesiologist came in and offered me a weak epidural to help numb the leg. I made a point of saying that I did not want to be completely numb, I wanted to feel the birth. I was happy when he was done, I could still feel the contractions, but the nerve pain was gone. After pushing for another hour and a half  I finally felt “the ring of fire” and I stopped pushing to breath the baby’s head out because I didn’t want to tear. Then between contractions, my Midwife helped me get my gown off so the baby could be put on my chest.  One more push later, at 12:33 am on April 27 our little princess was born! The doctor put her on my chest and she looked up at me and it was the best feeling in the entire world! I was so happy at that moment, it was intoxicating, and the best few minutes of my life. I knew I could push her out!

Newborn

That’s where the happy story ends, and the “hospital” experience starts. The doctor ignored my request to delay the cord clamping until it stopped pulsating! And after  a couple minutes on me, they decided that she should be crying so they took her to a table beside my bed and called a code pink because she wasn’t “breathing right”.  All these people came in and then she started crying so they all left. That was the first of many over reactions to follow.

After that was over, they brought her back to me and I nursed her as the doctor delivered my placenta. I remember the look he gave me when I said ” wait, I want to keep that” after hearing him say he was sending my placenta to pathology. He asked why, and  I told him I was getting it encapsulated. They let me keep it, and my Midwife said she would bring it to the clinic to give to the encapsulator. After the doctor was satisfied I wasn’t bleeding too much and didn’t have a fever, he left, and I made a point to tell the nurse not to feed Zoë formula as they took her over to the nursery and told me when I’m settled in my room, they’ll bring her to me.

After waiting in my room wondering where Zoë was, a nurse came and said she wasn’t coming to my room because they’re giving her a dose of antibiotics because I was GBS positive. I was a little pissed, but she said its standard hospital policy to make sure the baby won’t get sick, because I didn’t have antibiotics in labour but that I could go to her for feeding’s, which I did. I was shocked to see her when I got there. She was in the NICU with all the sick babies and they had her on heart monitors, and an IV in her hand. I noticed a band-aid on her wrist and heel, and goopy stuff in her eyes. I was so upset I cried. And she cried. That was start of the worst week of my life.

The first night for obvious reasons was hard. I was exhausted from the last two days, and breastfeeding every two hours was harder than I thought. The nurses coming and taking Zoë’s vitals every shift was annoying as well, but it wasn’t until one nurse in particular came in that I knew it was going to be a tough couple days. She made it clear that Zoë was sick because I didn’t have proper prenatal care. Seriously?! I made it very clear that I DID have proper care and that GBS has nothing to do with that! I questioned her on Zoë being sick because her vitals had always been normal, and she showed no signs of GBS sickness at all. She was eating and pooping and kicking and alert. She told me the neonatologist had ordered 7 days  of antibiotics as a precaution to be sure the bacteria would not make her sick, hospital policy, and without even talking to me first, they had started her on the second round of treatment. She said Zoë WAS sick, because she was jaundice, and that was also my fault because my milk hadn’t come in yet. She tried to convince me to supplement with formula because it would be best for Zoë. I said no, my breast milk is best for Zoë, and newborns getting jaundice was normal in the first few days. She maintained that some babies get really sick from jaundice so she needed to test her bilirubin levels to make sure. They came back 194 which isn’t very high, but she ordered the light therapy as a ‘precaution’, and again, hospital policy. Twice she caught me wearing Zoë on a reclining chair while we both slept and she preceded to lecture me on “back to sleep” and how she can smother on me and MUST sleep in the cot on her back, and how I “better not do that at home” hospital policy blah, blah, precautions….Oh how I hate these words now!

The next week was basically more of the same. Most of the nurses were really nice, and very gentle with Zoë, and others were stale and indifferent, but they had to change her IV 4 times in total and she cried every time. I cried every time. I hated that she had to go through that in her first week of life. I blamed myself for everything, for making the wrong decision about hospitals,  and for not being able to birth her in the pool at home. It was my worse case scenario come true, and I was having a hard time dealing with it all. Thank goodness Hubby was there with me the first 5 days, and a visit from my Midwife on day two made me feel a lot better. Hubby and I were both there with Zoë from day one, and never left her alone. I hope she knows that we were with her during every procedure, and every time she cried in pain or discomfort, I cried with her. I thought after 6 days I was going to go crazy, I felt so depressed. Not baby blues or anything, but it was like I was useless and the nurses certainly didn’t help me feel any better. I was again blessed with a visit from our other Midwife who as always, knew just what to say to make me feel better, and that visit made the last couple days more tolerable.

Finally at the end of the week, and on day 8 after she was born, Zoë was discharged from hospital. It was only then did we actually meet the neonatologist, and he seemed very indifferent to it all. They were trying to convince me that I needed to take Zoë to a paediatrician as soon as we leave the hospital, but I told them we had Midwifery care for 6 weeks, so it wouldn’t be necessary. I really feel I was treated differently because I had Midwives, and because I tried to have my baby at home. I felt like the doctors and nurses didn’t take Midwifery seriously, and I practically had to beg to have Zoë’s medical files transferred to the Midwives clinic. In the end, the files were transferred, and we made it home. I don’t think Zoë has any residual effects from her experience, but I still think about it sometimes and cry.

This experience as a whole was tricky for me. The time I spent at home in labour in the pool was terrific. My husband and Midwives were so supportive and I was so relaxed. I felt no real pain, and was happy the whole time. I felt like I was in control of the situation, and had no negative thoughts. The time in the hospital was a nightmare. It was the complete opposite. I felt like I had no say in anything, and was made to feel like a failure. I NEVER want to go through that again, and the experience has only strengthened my belief in home birth with Midwives. I truly believe Zoë and I will both be stronger after this experience, and I look forward to having my home water birth with baby #2.

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How to Avoid Pregnancy App Overload

by Chelsea Casson on September 20, 2013

Lisa Baker is a childbirth educator and mother of two in Calgary, Alberta. You can reach her by email at lisabakerlcce@gmail.com.

Last night I sat down to conduct a search on what expectant moms can find in the app store. Holy smokes, Batman! A quick search of pregnancy apps yielded just shy of 500 applications in Google Play and frankly I lost count after 800 apps on iTunes.
The term ‘health app overload’ describes a situation that occurs when there are too many individual apps on a given topic (1). A person looking for information will have difficulty finding the right app. When information and features are fragmented over too many apps, their usefulness is limited. Given the vast number of apps I found during a quick scan of the term ‘pregnancy’, it is safe to say that expectant parents are suffering from pregnancy app overload.

In an effort to combat pregnancy app overload, consider asking yourself the following questions to help choose your app(s):

1. What do I want an app to do?
You can choose an app based on what it can do for you. There are apps to entertain you while waiting at an appointment, apps to count things (fetal movement, contractions), and apps to provide you with information. Some of the more robust apps provide a number of functions and offer much the same information as one would find on some of the more popular websites.

2. How much do I want to pay?
Although there are some high quality free apps, many more have a price attached to them. Decide if you truly need to download the app (at a price) or if can you obtain that information through an associated website (free). Consider spending your money on a multi-functional app if you really want to get the most for your dollar.

3. Is the information reliable?
If you are choosing an app to provide you with information, such as what your baby may look like this week, use the same criteria you would in analyzing content on websites. Consider the source. It also helps to remember these apps cannot diagnose the source of aches and pains. If you are looking for information on any specific concerns you are dealing with, be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife.

4. What are others saying about the app?
If there are several apps providing the same functions, take a look at what other parents and professionals are saying. Apps are rated on iTunes and Google play and you can also find several “best pregnancy app” lists online. Below you will find some of the top rated apps on the market today.

Good luck on your search for a pregnancy and birth related app! We’d love to hear which apps you and your friends are using. Please consider leaving your favourite apps in our comments section below.

Informative and multi-functional apps

1. iBirth – Designed for both android and ios users, the iBirth pregnancy app is a multi-functional tool that includes labour position videos, a contraction timer, prenatal nutrition information, and ‘birth secrets’ labour tips. With a focus on preparing you for a positive birth experience, iBirth receives nods from midwives, physicians, and expectant parents (moms and dads). It is also a finalist in the 2013 about.com reader’s choice awards. iBirth will run you $3.99 for iphone users or $2.99 for android users. Read more about the app at http://www.ibirthapp.com.

2. Sprout – Sprout consistently makes the ‘best app’ lists and has a 5 star rating on iTunes. Sprout is a multi-functional app, allowing you to track fetal development with great images, track weight, list questions for your upcoming doctors appointments, and read up on recommendations for a healthy pregnancy. The lite version of this app is free, however the fully functional version will cost you $3.99. Sorry android users, Sprout is only available for iPhone. You can check the app out before you download at http://www.sprout-app.com.

3. My Pregnancy Today – If you enjoy tracking daily development of your little one on babycenter.com, then this free iPhone and android app may be a nice fit for you. The app has over 90,000 downloads and ratings of 4.5 stars on both iTunes and Google play. It appears the main role of this app is to provide an alternative form of accessing the information that you can find on the website babycenter.com. You will receive daily information, tracker and list tools, and social networking capabilities. Check it out at http://www.babycenter.com/my-pregnancy-today-app.

4. BabyBump – Available in lite and pro versions, this app is a very popular download in iTunes and Google play and can be found on many ‘top app’ lists. BabyBump offers daily development information, tracker tools, and ways to connect with other expectant parents. In this way, My Pregnancy Today and BabyBump are quite similar. It has less downloads than My Pregnancy Today, but has a nice user interface and may be your top pick. Consider checking out both My Pregnancy Today and BabyBump and compare the two for yourself. Read more at http://babybumpapp.com.

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Brienna’s Birth Story – An Unplanned, Unassisted Birth

by Chelsea Casson on September 16, 2013

Lisa Baker is a childbirth educator and mother of two in Calgary, Alberta. You can reach her by email at lisabakerlcce@gmail.com.

 Written by: Kirsten S, Calgary Alberta

When I was pregnant with my third child, Brienna, we faced some challenges in picking a caregiver and birth setting.  We were living in a community in the California desert, about 2 hours drive from San Diego.  My first two birth experiences had been, despite my best intentions, somewhat traumatic and even though I was attended by midwives, I had received more interventions than I had hoped for.  My first was born after an induced labour in a hospital and my second was born in a free standing birth centre after a “natural, supervised induction” with acupuncture, herbs and nipple stimulation with a breast pump.  He was 11 pounds, we experienced shoulder dystocia and he gave us the scare of our lives when he didn’t take his first breath for several minutes!

Despite that experience, I still did not feel that I needed to be in a hospital where I would be more likely to have lots of interventions and I knew in my heart that I wanted to try for a homebirth. I also felt strongly that I was not going to submit to being induced unless there was a clear reason, not just because I was 42 weeks.  The only problem with my homebirth plan was the fact that there was not a single midwife in the whole county and what I had heard was that every one who had tried to practice there had been rejected by the local OB-GYNs.

I had been employed for a time at the local hospital and I knew their Cesarean rate was a whopping 48%…so it was definitely not the environment I would consider birthing in, not by choice anyway!

Eventually, I found a midwife who was willing to accept me as a client.  She was in San Diego and she agreed to travel to my home for one prenatal visit, the birth and one postpartum visit, if I agreed to come to her for the rest of my appointments.  I happily obliged!  Over the course of my care with her, I came to realize what an amazing midwife she truly was.  With my first two births, I was in two different states which each had laws forbidding midwives to continue to care for clients who were past 42 weeks.  However, in California this was not the case, and this midwife told me that she had some women who had gone as long as 43 ½ weeks!  It was a huge relief to me to know that I would not be pressured to have an induction just because I had reached some magic date.

On the evening that I was 41 weeks + 5 days, I began having some semi-regular contractions that were still fairly mild.  My husband Justin and I decided to try and see if sex would get things going…I’m not sure if that helped but I did continue to have contractions through the night which I tried to ignore and slept through as much as I could.  I awoke at a little after 6 am and decided to call my midwife to let her know that today was probably the day but that I did not need her to come yet.  With my first two, I had been in active labour for 7 hours followed by 1 hour of pushing, and I still very much felt like I was in early labour so I thought I had plenty of time.  Turns out I was very wrong!

I went upstairs to wake Justin to let him know that I had just called the midwife, and then I had a sudden, extremely intense contraction that caused me to fall to my knees on the bedroom floor.  He took one look at me and said “Oh shit, is the midwife on her way?”

I told him that I had just told her not to come yet and he ran to get the phone to call her.

Meanwhile, I went into the bathroom and started to fill the tub since I thought getting in the water might feel good.  I sat in the tub for awhile without another contraction and then I had another crazy intense contraction that caused me to jump into a standing position in the tub!  I sat back down in the water for awhile after that contraction ended and it seemed like several minutes passed before I had another super intense contraction that caused me to jump right out of the tub and I ended up sitting on the toilet.

I never really timed my contractions but it seemed like they were shorter than a minute, but intense and there were often long breaks in between them.  I found a ritual of pressing my feet against the open door of the bathroom while still sitting on the toilet during contractions and I found that helped me cope quite well.  I also remember sucking my thumb at times, a habit I had from infancy up until the age of 6 or 7, and in labour it was very comforting, although I knew that was only because I was alone in the bathroom.  I don’t think I would have ever done it in front of anyone!

Periodically, Justin would come to check on me but every time I pretty much shooed him out of the bathroom because I just wanted to be alone.  I remember him telling me that the midwife was on her way and that she was checking in with him by phone every once in awhile.  We knew that the cell service was quite spotty between our home and San Diego and we also knew that her assistant was also on her way and that she lived a bit closer to us, so she would likely arrive first.  The midwife told us to call 911 at any time if we felt unsafe so I remember Justin asking me if I wanted him to call and I shouted, “NO!” because all I could envision was a couple of firefighters rushing in and forcing me to get off my comfortable toilet and onto a gurney and then taking me to that dreadful hospital!  At that point, I truly felt that I would rather die than do that!

Not that I wasn’t a bit freaked out by what was happening and I remember praying to God to give me a sign and show me what I was supposed to do!  I distinctly remember feeling like I was probably going to die and my baby was probably going to die but in my state of mind, calling 911 was simply not an option.

I had made pre-arrangements with a friend to possibly babysit my boys if my labour got to a point where we didn’t think it was good for them to be there.  Justin called her to come and get them so he could focus on helping me.  She arrived and he went outside to help her put their car seats into her van.  At this exact moment is when I had a series of uncontrollable urges to push.  I was trying to stop the pushing but I just couldn’t and I even crossed my legs to try to stop it, but that didn’t work.  The next thing I knew, I reached down and felt a head full of hair crowning as I felt an incredible burning sensation.  I tried to gently push my own tissue around her head and the next thing I knew, she was falling into the toilet so I grabbed her and pulled her up to my lap!

I am not sure how long I sat there in shock holding my baby but I don’t think it was very long before I heard Justin coming up the stairs and I started calling to him, “She’s here, she’s here!”  I will never forget the look on his face when he appeared at the bathroom door and saw me holding our baby.  When I said she was here, he thought I meant the midwife was there and he was really confused as to how she would have got past him and into the house without him seeing her.

Brienna latched onto my breast easily and it wasn’t long before I felt and heard the placenta plop into the toilet.  Justin got the midwife assistant on her cell phone and she began instructing us on what to look for and we realized that the cord was loosely around her neck so we untangled it.  Then she asked us if we had her wrapped in a blanket, which we didn’t so Justin grabbed a towel that was close by and we covered her with it while she was breastfeeding and skin to skin.  We were both so shocked that we just weren’t even thinking clearly!

The midwife assistant arrived about 10 minutes later and she helped me off the toilet and fished the still attached placenta out of it, and I was able to get into bed with my baby.  I remember the feelings of elation that came soon after that, when it started to hit me just exactly what I had accomplished!  My midwife arrived about 10 minutes after her and when she walked into my bedroom and saw me and my baby happily resting, she smiled, shook her head and said, “Boy am I feeling so unneeded right now!”

Nevertheless, I was happy they were there to check on both of us!  We eventually clamped and cut the cord and guesstimated her birth time based on the time of the cell calls since neither Justin nor I thought to look at the time when she was born!  She weighed 8 lbs and was 21 inches long.  She had a mop of red hair, which the midwives said was very unusual since most babies who will eventually become redheads are usually born with dark hair.

I consider this experience to be the most amazing and profound of my life!  I did go on to have a fourth baby a few years later which was not an unassisted birth and I hired the same midwife again.  This experience really made me understand what Dr. Michel Odent means when he talks about the “(maternal) fetal ejection reflex” that often occurs in undisturbed births.  I feel like I experienced a textbook case of what he describes as the typical course of events that leads up to the birth.  From the time I had that first intense contraction to the time of her birth was less than 2 hours and after having an episiotomy and a 2nd degree tear with my first and then another 2nd degree tear with my second, it was so surprising to me that I did not even tear with her, in spite of the fact that she came out so fast and forcefully!  It is amazing what can happen when those lovely birth hormones are highly present.  For me, it was a perfect birth and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!

 

 

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Kaden and Logan’s Births

by Chelsea Casson on September 10, 2013

 

Lisa Baker is a childbirth educator and mother of two in Calgary, Alberta. You can reach her by email at lisabakerlcce@gmail.com.

The following story is about the births of my two children. I had two very different pregnancies and I am thankful they happened in the order that they did because I would have felt less confident in my body had they occurred in the reverse!

 

Kaden’s Birth

I had the type of pregnancy that makes other ladies roll their eyes: no morning sickness, minimal discomfort. I remained active throughout my entire pregnancy and felt fantastic! At around 37 weeks, I had a feeling that I needed to get everything clued up ‘just in case’. It was Thursday, November 10, and I just finished showing my colleague all the important files when it was time to clue up for the day. On the way I home I noticed my coat was feeling a little more tight than usual. Odd, but nothing that would make me stop and think. I got home, walked my dog, and started preparing supper when I began to notice some mild cramping that went away….and came back…..and went away. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, this was something. My husband called me to say he would meet me at our prenatal class and I told him to come on home instead. Then I called my friend, who happened to be an ER nurse, and explained the situation. Yep, sounded like early labour, but I was still not too worried. I decided to get a bath and all the contractions stopped. Oh well, time to go to sleep. About four hours later the tell tale cramps were back…a little more regular and a little stronger. Might as well get up and get going! My mother had a history of short labours, so I didn’t want to play around the house longer than I needed to. I called up a close friend who was serving as our doula for the big event and off we went to labour and delivery!  I was still in early labour when I got to the hospital, so they told me to go home. I decided to pace the halls of the hospital instead. Sure enough, one hour later, I was admitted! I arrived in the delivery suite at about 7:30-8:00am. The doctor checked, everything looked fine, and decided to do an amniotomy just to ‘speed things up a little’. Speed it up it did. In twenty minutes I went from 5cm to fully dilated and ready to push. You can imagine how intense those twenty minutes were. I was hoping to get through labour with no epidural or narcotics. When my confidence began to waver during transition my fabulous nurse encouraged me to keep on going and sure enough I made it through the first part of labour with no epidural and I was feeling very proud of myself! Now came the pushing stage and after 45 minutes I was holding a healthy, happy little boy! I was disappointed that I needed to have an episiotomy but OVERJOYED with the beautiful baby in my arms. We did it together; it was such a surreal moment! I entered the room as a woman. I left the room as a mother. It was a transformative, spiritual, powerful, primal, and empowering event.

 

 

Logan’s Birth

After enjoying such a pleasant first pregnancy and labour, I was very much looking forward to my second pregnancy. Wowzers, was I in for some surprises the second time around! The biggest issue was my ‘irritable uterus’, which meant I started having contractions at 25 weeks. Although sticking to a ‘modified bed rest’ routine helped me continue the pregnancy to 39 weeks (yeah!), I spent the final two weeks of pregnancy in a ‘labour limbo’. I was having contractions on and off for 14 days or more before I actually delivered. I was at the hospital so many times I think the nurses rolled their eyes when they saw me coming. I would be up at 3am with contractions every 3-5 minutes for an hour, getting ready to go to the hospital, when they would just stop. Grrr. Finally, on my husband’s birthday, while I was walking around Calgary zoo with my mother and eldest son, baby Logan decided it was finally time to get the show on the road! I left the zoo and arrived at the hospital at noon. My husband, who was on his way to play golf at the time, met me there. Things moved rather quickly and I was again able to make it through the first stage of labour with comfort techniques and a small amount of entonox (laughing gas). I found back massage and leaning forward over a stool particularly comfortable during active labour. By 3:33pm I was holding our youngest bouncing boy! The most special moment was when I looked into his eyes and noticed how much they looked like my grandfather’s eyes. My grandfather, who passed away several years before, shared the same birthday. Three generations sharing the same birthday, that is pretty spectacular. Despite the irritable uterus, Logan was healthy and happy and after one night stay in the hospital, we returned home to settle in with our newest family member!

 

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Nurture-Elle Review and Giveaway

by Chelsea Casson on July 25, 2013

Every mother knows, when baby needs to eat, baby needs to eat. It doesn’t matter where you are or what time it is, if they are hungry we need to feed them. As a breastfeeding mother, breastfeeding in public can sometimes seem like a daunting task.

I am not the type of nursing mom who uses a nursing cover; don’t get me wrong, nursing covers are great for moms who want to use them, but for myself I am happy and mostly comfortable nursing my infant and toddler without a cover. Sometimes though, my shirts are not as accommodating as I would like them to be and I feel a bit self-conscious when my back or belly is showing because I had to lift the shirt to nurse.

1_butterfly_sleeve_nursing_topThe shirt I chose to review, from Nurture-Elle, is the butterfly sleeve breastfeeding top. The reason I chose this shirt is because it’s something I could dress up or dress down, depending on where I am going. One of my favouite things about my new nursing top is when I nurse in public I don’t feel so exposed and yet I don’t have to use a cover either. I like that the fabric has a discreet opening, is easy to use and it is so comfortable. Actually the softness of the fabric is one of the first things I noticed when I opened up my new nursing shirt. It is incredibly soft!

These shirts are not only comfortable, but they are stylish. As a mom to three, my wardrobe has taken a bit of a hit in recent years. Instead of buying nice shirts, I go for whatever is functional. I have a lot of shirts that are a bit too big on me, because I want the ease of access it provides to nurse. With Nurture-Elle’s shirts, I don’t have to buy a shirt that is too big; I can buy the shirt that is a good fit with the added bonus that it is stylish.

Nurture-Elle apparel is as functional as it is fashionable. The fabric of the shirt is soft and breathable making it perfect for the warm summer weather. It’s easy to use and can be as discreet as you want it to be.

Check out Nurture-Elle’s commercial here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzbNcYVytG4&noredirect=1

Nurture-Elle gave us the opportunity to give one lucky follower a $50.00 gift certificate. To win you must;

1)      Visit Nurture-Elle’s website, http://www.nurture-elle.com/, choose your favourite shirt, copy and paste the link of the shirt into a comment below. Please leave your email address for us to contact you in case you win.

2)      For extra entries do the following;

-        Like Nurture-Elle on Facebook (1 extra entry)

-        Follow Nurture-Elle on Twitter (1 extra entry)

-        Like Mothers of Change on Facebook (1  extra entry)

-        Follow Mothers of Change on Twitter (1 extra entry)

-        *~* For us to verify that you have done the above, please leave your Facebook name AND Twitter @name in a comment below.*~*

3)      Nurture-Elle has also given all our fans/followers a $10.00 discount for their online store: Use code: mochange.

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Mothers of Change Rallies

by Chelsea Casson on July 24, 2013

Mothers of Change ~ National Capital Region Chapter

Marching for Maternity Care.

Join us, on Labour Day (Sept. 2)

to draw attention to the need for mother-baby friendly maternity care practices locally and throughout Canada.

What: Birth Rally (Join this event on Facebook.)
Date: Mon., Sept. 2, 2013
Time:  Gathering at 10:00am, March begins at 10:15am
Where:  Ottawa: starting at the Women’s Monument at Minto Place Park (intersection of Elgin and Gilmour), and walking to Parliament Hill (~1.3km).
Who: hosted by the National Capital Region Mothers of Change Chapter; mothers, fathers, birth-care providers, birth advocates, and children are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Mothers of Change ~ Alberta Chapter

Rallying for Midwifery.

Join us, on Labour Day (Sept. 2)

to draw attention to the recent contract signing between Alberta Health Services and Alberta Association of Midwives. This funding model is flawed and prevents many women from having a choice in care provider. This contract essentially states, “only x number of women are allowed a choice in care provider and birth place”.

What: Rally for Midwifery in Alberta
Date: Mon., Sept. 2, 2013
Time:  Gathering at 11:00am
Where:  Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer (Join events here.)
Who: Hosted by Mothers of Change ~ Alberta Chapter; mothers, fathers, birth-care providers, birth advocates, and children are welcome and encouraged to attend.

 

 

 

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Summer Stories Part 1: Listen

by Asheya on July 16, 2013

Listen to your body. Listen to your baby. You know how to give birth.

Lisa Baker is a childbirth educator and mother of two in Calgary, Alberta. You can reach her by email at lisabakerlcce@gmail.com.

Do you remember the last time something you heard gave you goose bumps? I do. It happened today while I was listening to a friend tell me her inspirational birth story. Her story, as you will see in the brief narrative below, teaches us that listening to your body and your baby can change the path of your labour and birth when trouble arises. Medical intervention has an important role to play in labour complications. However, by listening to your body and trusting your inner wisdom you have the power to influence the outcome of your childbirth experience as well.

Once my friend had reached 42 completed weeks of pregnancy, her doctors decided it was time for an induction. Her body, however, was not responding well to the induction attempts. Over the next two days she endured induction, an array of pain medication, a marathon labour.  The intense contractions brought on by the induction were proving to be too much too fast for her little one. Her little babe was pressing on his umbilical cord during descent, and his heart rate was showing signs of trouble. A flurry of activity erupted in the labour room as doctors and nurses were trying to whisk her to the OR for an emergency caesarean birth.  Amidst all the chaos around her no one stopped to explain what was going on. Finally one supportive nurse told her that her baby seemed to be pressing on the umbilical cord and this was the reason for the non-reassuring heart rate. Remembering something her yoga instructor said about using gravity, she immediately got down on all fours and pressed her chest to the floor. With the pressure off of the umbilical cord, her little one’s heart rate settled into a normal pattern. Next, this wise mama began talking to her little one and asking what he needed to help him through this birth. How I wish I was in the room to experience the magic of this moment! Doctors and nurses all around her stopped in their tracks and watched how this woman listened to her body and her baby and found the things she needed to help with her labour.

Please remember this story. Listen to your body. Listen to your baby. Give yourself some credit, because you know how to give birth.  There are people to help you along, especially if trouble arises, but if you just take the time to focus on what your body is telling you, you can often do what you need to do for yourself and your baby!

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Volunteer Positions

by Chelsea Casson on July 3, 2013

Mothers of Change is looking to expand and grow our organization. We have a list (see below) of volunteer positions that are currently available. Don’t see anything on the list that interests you? No problem, let us know where your interests are and we can find a position for you.

All volunteer positions require you to become a voting member of Mothers of Change and to sign an agreement. Director positions need to be voted in.

If you are interested in volunteering please email us at info@mothersofchange.com.

Volunteer positions available:

  • Meeting Coordinator ~ Responsible for planning monthly meet-ups on Google Hangout’s & promoting monthly meet-ups. Assisting the Executive Director with a list of task’s needed to be accomplished on a bi-weekly basis.
  • Blog Writers ~ evidence based posts on relevant topics regarding pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum. We are also looking for birth stories and breastfeeding stories.
  • Chapter Leaders ~ We currently have 2 chapters in Canada. As a leader, you would be responsible for promoting Mothers of Change in your community, hosting meetings at a donated space, organizing activities to support women in navigating the maternity care system. Work closely with our Executive Director and Chapter Director.
  • Social Media Volunteers ~ We have many Facebook Pages that we need help operating. Responsible for posting relevant topics regarding pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum AND posting links to new blog posts from our blog.
  • Event/Activities Director ~ Responsible for organizing rallies, letter writing campaigns and other events that drive for change within the maternity care system.
  • Technical Director ~ Responsible for  technical aspects of our website. We are looking for someone experienced in working with websites and website design. We would like to update our website, but need help. If you have experience and willing to donate your time and expertise, please email us.
  • Media/PR Director ~ Responsible for contacting the media for events, press releases, statements etc.

 

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Depression during pregnancy has been brought into the limelight thanks to a lengthy article in Maclean’s magazine entitled “The Controversy surrounding antidepressants and pregnancy.”  Today we will break down the article to summarize research and insights into a specific class of antidepressant drugs used by pregnant women called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). We will also look at depression in pregnancy: what it is, associated risks, and treatment and support options.

Summary of Maclean’s Controversy Surrounding Antidepressants and Pregnancy

Although there are several types of SSRI’s used to treat depression in pregnant women, this article focuses on the SSRI known as Paxil (generic name paroxetine).
Paxil use in pregnant women has made headlines for years, but has recently been in the news because of a precedent-setting class action lawsuit in Canada against the makers of Paxil for causing birth defects.

A brief timeline of Paxil use in pregnancy is as follows:

  • 1992: Paroxetine was first marketed by maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
  • 1993-2009: Almost six million Paxil prescriptions were written to Canadian women of child-bearing age
  • 2004: Health Canada announces that SSRI drugs may be linked to neonatal withdrawal
  • 2005: Population – based studies (one sponsored by GSK) indicate an increase in heart defects when pregnant mothers had taken paroxetine in the first trimester
  • 2005: Health Canada and GSK publish an alert that Paxil taken in the first trimester of pregnancy can double the risk of heart defects
  • 2005:  The FDA downgrades the classification of Paxil from class C to class D, recognizing the potential risk of birth defects
  • 2006: A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) finds an association between Paxil use and an increased risk of newborns suffering from persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • 2006: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study found that women who stopped taking SSRIs when pregnant were far more likely to relapse into depression (it was later revealed all of the 13 authors had failed to disclose drug-company funding of research)
  • 2007: Meta-anaylsis indicates an increase in heart defects in children born to women who used paroxetine. They also note that detection bias cannot be ruled out (i.e. – women who take Paxil have more ultrasounds so they are more likely to detect a heart defect in their unborn children). The corresponding author and head of Motherisk, Dr. Gideon Koren, went on to produce further papers stating that Paxil does not increase the rate of heart defects at birth, especially when taken in second and third trimesters and that many cardiac defects detected in early pregnancy correct themselves before birth
  • 2009: Non-systematic review asserts the association of paroxetine and cardiovascular heart defects is still not proven and urges for more research (this review was funded in part by GSK)
  • 2010: Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggest paroxedine use associated with increased risk of miscarriage
  • Currently: More than 2,500 lawsuits linking birth defects to use of SSRIs have been launched in the U.S. and Canada has launched a class-action lawsuit against GSK for the association of Paxil and heart-related birth defects

If this timeline seems a little confusing, that’s because it is! There are a myriad of studies on Paxil use in pregnancy, and some of these show conflicting results. To further complicate matters, research funding from pharmaceutical companies such as Paxil-maker GSK can possibly lead to biased results as mentioned in the timeline.

One thing that most can agree on is that more high-quality research is needed on the topic of antidepressants and pregnancy. Unfortunately there is a lack of randomized controlled trials involving Paxil use in pregnant women. Randomized controlled trials (RCT’s) are considered the most informative types of studies, as they directly compare a random group of women taking a medication against a similar random group of women who are not taking the medication. It is rare to find an RCT involving medications and pregnant women because there are too many ethical issues involved when offering a pregnant woman a medication that can have potential negative effects on her developing fetus.  Therefore we have to rely on other forms of research to make decisions about the safety of medication use in pregnancy.

Although there is research to suggest Paxil use in pregnancy can increase the risk of negative outcomes, it is not simply a black and white case. Based on research available, the likelihood of a heart defect in a baby born to a mother who has taken Paxil rises from 1% to 2%. Although this risk is double the normal population, it is still a rare occurrence. There is also evidence to suggest women with severe depression that stop taking their medication increase their risk of negative outcomes on mother and baby.  The risks and benefits of Paxil use need to be balanced with the risks and benefits of stopping antidepressant medication. This should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a mental health professional to determine the best course of action for mother and child. A pregnant woman should not stop taking antidepressant medication without speaking to her healthcare providers first.

Depression in Pregnancy: The Facts

It can be difficult to properly diagnose depression in pregnancy because many of the symptoms of depression can be caused by other pregnancy-related changes. The best way to determine if someone is experiencing depression is to seek help from a team of health care providers, specifically the physician monitoring care during pregnancy and a mental health professional. Shockingly, according to the Maclean’s article, less than one third of people on antidepressants have been seen by a mental health specialist for a clinical diagnosis. A mental health professional is the person most qualified to properly assess your specific case and should be consulted whenever possible.

Risks Associated with Untreated Depression

Those experiencing symptoms of depression are encouraged to seek treatment as soon as possible to reduce the risks of untreated depression in pregnancy. Risks may include:

 

It is important to remember that not all women with depression will experience the items in the above list. It does mean that pregnant women with depression will have a higher risk of experiencing them compared to pregnant women without symptoms of depression.

Treatment Options for Depression in Pregnancy

There are a number of treatment options for those experiencing symptoms of depression. The type of treatment offered will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Milder forms are often treated with nutrition and exercise changes, individual or group counseling, peer support groups, and/or light therapy. More severe cases may also require an antidepressant, a type of medication that reduces the symptoms of depression. There are two types of antidepressant medication prescribed to pregnant mothers: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA).

SSRI drugs include:

  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)

TCA drugs include:

 

  • Elavil (amitriptyline)
  • Tofranil (imipramine)
  • Pamelor (Aventyl, nortriptyline)

 

 

Ideally, a pregnant woman will work with her physician and a mental health specialist to determine a treatment plan. If a woman is on antidepressants before she gets pregnant, it is important to talk with her health care team about a plan to continue or change treatment to reduce the risk of negative outcomes.

Online Resources and Support

Online, telephone, and local support groups for mothers and their families experiencing depression before or after the birth of their child can be found at:

Postpartum Support International

Families Matter

The Online PPD Support Group

Postpartum Dads

High quality websites that house information on depression before and after the birth of a child include:

March of Dimes

Caring for Kids

Public Health Agency of Canada

 

Lisa Baker is a childbirth educator and mother of two in Calgary, Alberta. You can reach her by email at lisabakerlcce@gmail.com

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