Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Maternal Health is a Human Right

Last night, I had the honor of attending Amnesty International's evening focused on their recent report: Deadly Delivery- Maternal Health in the US. This report has made big waves in the birthing community, recently. Not that this information is particularly new -- but, I think fact that a large and well known human-rights organization dedicated the resources to an extensive report helped to bring it closer to the forefront of American thought and hopefully, going forward, to the forefront of American politics.

Just a few of the hard facts:
- The US is ranked 41st in the world in terms of our maternal mortality outcomes
- Maternal Mortality in the US has risen 42% since the 1980's
- African American women are 4 times as likely to die as white women in complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

One of the best parts of the evening was the multi-media that was highlighted. Ina May's beautiful "Remember the Mothers" quilt project was exhibited (Ina May was there, too!) and a spoken word group helped to celebrate the launch of the new www.mdg5.com.

I also thought that this would be a good opportunity to plug the upcoming documentary No Woman No Cry by Christy Turlington Burns. It will be showing at the Tribecca Film Festival in the coming weeks. Go see it!

I've missed blogging and I have lots to talk about - so, "see" you all soon!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bits and Peices

Happy Monday!

Just wanted to share with you a couple of wonderful events that are happening in the coming weeks:

Thursday, November 12 at 6pm, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center:
Lesbian Family Building
What women need to know about having babies: practical and emotional issues in family building for single women and lesbian couples. This informative workshop will cover the medical, emotional and legal elements important to women when pursuing parenthood. The following issues will be addressed: how to choose a reproductive clinic, using a clinic vs. a gynecologist, carrying each others’ eggs, how to find the right sperm donor, legal rights, second-parent adoption and more!

Wednesday, November 18 at 7pm, Book Court
A reading and Q&A with the author Michelle Goldberg, hosted by Planned Parenthood of New York City Activist Council.

Also, just to pass along a link: The New York Times discusses the closing of the Bellevue Birth Center.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Did any of you see the trailer for this amazing movie, Baby(ies), before Where the Wild Things Are? I couldn't find a trailer on-line (I guess others have had a similar problem). From the limited internet information and from what I could tell from the trailer, it seems to be a documentary portrait of four babies through the first year of their lives from four different countries. Pretty sweet- can't wait to see it.

On another note, yesterday I had the privilege of meeting two very wonderful new babies. A special congrats to a beautiful midwife mama and her darling new one.

Friday, October 30, 2009


In a way, every birth is full of "firsts" because no two births are ever exactly alike. There are certain "bigger", though not more important, firsts: my first water birth, my first transfer, etc. Last week, as I mentioned, seemed to be full of more these kinds of firsts that usual- trial by fire. But, this is how we learn and I feel more competent and confident than I did previous to this group of births. I also, more fully know now, how to expect the unexpected.

One instance that I did not expect was a retained placenta. It was a particular long, hard labor...it seemed like hours of transition, talking the mom through each contraction. Once the baby was out, we waited for the placenta. And waited. And nipple stimulated. And waited. And squatted. And waited. And gave some pitocin. And waited. And catheterized. And waited. The placenta clearly was not coming. One of the unique things about the birth center is that one of our doctors lives upstairs. As you can imagine, this is very convenient and can save us from a hospital transfer. In this case, she performed a manual removal.

I'm not sure why the placenta did not fully separate from the wall of this particular uterus. It is possible that, due to the long labor, the uterus was just not contracting well. A manual removal is exactly what it sounds like: Once pain medication is administered (a removal can be very uncomfortable), the attending doctor places her hand in the uterus and peels back the remaining stubborn membranes. One midwife said the analogy used in school was like "turning the pages of a book". The placenta came out in-tact and all was well!

I tried to find a YouTube video or instructional animation that could show me what this procedure looked like from the inside but, couldn't. The diagram from Moon Dragon's Retained Placenta Guidelines at the top of this post should give you some idea.

What are some of your more memorable "firsts"?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


OK, so Halloween has always been a conceptually important yet, anti-climatic holiday for me. I really like to think up (semi-obscure) Halloween costumes and tell everyone about them (and then usually end up doing nothing on Halloween)....Sometimes I am inspired by where I work. Case in point: when I worked at an auction house I dressed up like an ironic, ionic column. A few years ago while working at the Center for Reproductive Rights, I thought everyone should dress up like their favorite method of birth control (no one did). But last year, a good friend of mine from CRR opted for my idea of dressing up like "abstinence"- she looked amazing (all in white, with a halo and chastity belt).

Apparently, others in the reproductive rights fields have similar thoughts. Check out 'NYC Unrated and Unfiltered's list of pro-choice costumes. They're really good.

Just in case you're wondering, I'm not dressing up like a baby or a pregnant mom or a sperm this year. I was thinking more along the lines of a Moon Bear.

What will you be going as?

The break and back

Well, I'm back... and happy to be here.

My past week has looked like this:

Birth, class, class, sick, sick, class, class, birth, birth, apple picking, class, birth, birth, class, class. Punctuated with some long stretches of sleeping.

When it rains, it pours- recently this has been literal and figurative. The rainy October weather seems to have given me intense, double back-to-back births.

I feel like I earned most of my Birth Assistant "Badges" this past week. The last seven days have presented me with a few situations that helped me understand that I really will be able to handle being a midwife*. I am grateful to my wonderful families, my birth-assistants-in-training for being there and my incredible midwives who know how to beautifully take charge of a situation. I am also grateful to my sweet husband for putting up with phone calls in the middle of the night and listening to his semi- delirious wife unload all of her birth details in their full gory glory.

How has your past week been, friends?

I've got lots to share with you about what happened during my blog break.

* For example:
I can take fetal heart rates like a champ.
I can be surprisingly high functioning on little or no sleep.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Boy or Girl?

On a tip from a pregnant friend, I took a little field trip to the CVS in my neighborhood but, to no avail. Except that now this treasure hunt seems even more elusive and mysterious than when I first started.

The object of my desire is called "Pink or Blue: Early Gender Test Kit". This is a home blood test (with results sent into a lab) that can, supposedly, predict the gender of your baby after 7 weeks of pregnancy. Here's the thing: most "predictive" ultrasounds are done between 16-20 weeks and the most accurate testing to indicate gender, amniocentesis (sampling of the amniotic fluid which contains baby's DNA), is usually done within the same time frame. This test seems a little fishy to me (and a bit expensive) but, I don't know any one who has tried it- do you?

I prefer charming folk methods, such as the Chinese Gender Prediction Calendar, if you're looking to DIY your baby's gender (except I would strongly advise against the Draino method).

Here and here are two comprehensive lists about gender predicting lore and "methods".