Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Time in California, with the Ginko trees and sunshine provided a nice break from the New York tempo of things and a bit of time away to gain some perspective and inspiration.
I saw one of these Justine Kurland photos in an art book I was browsing through and remember a New York Times article form a couple of years ago and the images that so stirred me.

Much in my midwifery journey has been done fairly quickly in the past year, I think I overwhelmed my self a little bit. Just as in labor, patience and time are necessary and valuable components of any journey. Being too impatient can often lead to rushed conclusions or exhaustion. In attempting to take a step back, I've decided to go back to the very beginning- the images that I studied in Art History: images of pregnancy and nurturing, women in their domestic spaces, virgins and saints.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweet treats

2 sweet links for you all:
This portrait (from Soule Mama)
and these stamps!


Check it out! Home birth makes front page New York Times (well, on line at any rate). Several awesome members of the New York Birthing community are featured. Yes!
Read the article here and accompanying slide show here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

VIDEO Thursday

These videos speak for themselves... No introduction necessary except to say that they are AWESOME

from National Advocates for Pregnant Women

Please pass this video along to your friends and run it on your blog, website, or social networking profile!


(start watching about half way through...)

Poll on Birth Links

Participate in this poll from Independent Childbirth:
"Birth experiences were traditional forms of learning about birth. Who or what is your primary source for birth prep today?"

Link initially from Talk Birth.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What the rain brings...

Not too much to say today. I'm taking in the season.
Here is an artist who has touched and inspired me with her beautiful, simple images about motherhood: Nikki McClure.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Round up

I've been a bit negligent with this feature-- but there is so much smart thinking and passion out there it would be a shame not to share.

Maternal Mortality in Africa: What leads the women of our continent to their graves during pregnancy and childbirth? As I describe below, the reasons fall into six categories: nutrition, education, high fertility, female genital mutilation, improper care at delivery and inadequate health facilities.
-from RHreality check

Empowering Birth Blog
talks about
Cesareans and Oxytocin: What is the cumulative effect of cesarean birth followed by placing newborns in strollers and separate bedrooms coupled with short maternity leave?
Also, a lovely food list for how to build a Strong Amniotic Sac

introduces me to a new birth video: Birth into Being

The Business of Being Born has a post about a CNN video on Stress and Pregnancy and a post about how you can be a childbirth activist

Better Birth posts this quote from a physician-ugh!!

A C-Section Photo Essay from Fit Prenancy: If you, too, end up having a Cesarean section—and chances are you might, considering that more than 1 in 3 babies in the U.S. are now born this way—a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way toward demystifying the process and helping you feel more comfortable.

'NYC Unrated and Unfiltered talks about the NARAL campaign "How Much Time Should She DO?"

Since I'm catching up (there are LOTS and LOTS of amazing birth and advocacy related posts and news stories), I thought I'd let you digest these and I'll be back tomorrow with another long list.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Urinary tract wallpaper

A wonderful friend of mine just passed this along to me, and now I'll pass it along to you! (originally via BoingBoing)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


OK, now I'm on a roll. How could I not post these great sperm classics:

-Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex but were Afraid to Ask

-Every Sperm is Sacred

Also, check out some how strange this Wikipedia article on "semen" seems (note especially the images and the "Cultural Aspects")

Turkey basting

So, we all know I'm a bit of a nerd (yes, in general but, especially when it comes to topics of reproductive health). When a friend of mine decided to become an egg donor, I was there every step of the way with too many way questions. Being an egg donor is a pretty big commitment and is fairly involved and uncomfortable.
In a more recent conversation, I learned that two friends of mine will be on the opposite end of this "third party reproduction"- they're getting sperm! Of course, again, I was terribly curious about the whole process. They're using a lesbian-owned sperm bank called Pacific Reproductive Services.
It really does sort of work like a catalog, one may order a specimen of either fresh sperm or frozen sperm. Part of the preparation of the sperm involve "washing" them in order to remove their prostaglandin. From the research that I've encountered it is potentially dangerous to introduce prostaglandin directly into the uterus and would cause cramping. The other fact about prostaglandin is that it can ripen a cirvix durning pregnancy. I suppose in natural conception this would help to make the cirvix a bit softer as the sperm swim though.
Another interesting fact that i learned is that fresh sperm have a shelf life of 48- 72 hours while frozen sperm can be stored for as long as 50 years but are only potent for 24 hours.
Here is an article on a few different methods of artificial insemination.
Here is a great "This American Life" on relationships with sperm donors: Chapter One: better Left to the Imagination.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Speaking of calendars, here is a fantastic library of Pregnancy Ultrasound Photos Week by Week for Fetal Development.

This past week I learned about how gametes (sex cells- ovum and sperm) are formed in meiosis and in particular a process called
Gametogenesis. I know, pretty basic biology but I was so interested to learn that the one egg cell takes all of the cytoplasm from the cell divisions- creating one big fat egg that will then be able to begin to divide into a multi-cellular organism (eventually an embryo) once fertilized- and thee polar bodies that are nothing but pure genetic material (and eventually dissolve). Sperms too are almost pure genetic material with swimming tails.

Also fascinating, Oogenesis, is started in weeks 4-8 in embryonic development. A baby girl will be born with all of her lifetime eggs. Where as an adult male can produce over 100million sperm per day.

Here is a medical animation of an egg fertilization.


Something new for you and I to keep track of all of the fabulous birth and advocacy events happening both in New York and elsewhere. A calender! (It lives on my side bar and will be updated on a regular basis).

Please let me know if you would like to me add anything.


Practice and exercise. This seems like a good motto for a balanced lifestyle. So too should it be a mantra for our voting habits. Practice what you preach: spread the word and exercise your right to vote!
Here are two proactive ways you can help to make a difference in this monumental upcoming election.
Wear this shirt from Feministing.
Register voters: canvassing in Philadelphia with Planned Parenthood on October 4th, 18th and 25th.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


It's like telephone: I'll tell you something and then you pass it along to the next person. And we come up with a collective message: HOMEBIRTH! I'm so inspired (on the brink of tears, really) by this simple video about homebirth. Please share this with the women/ families in your life.

Two website that she mentions are:
& http://www.nyhomebirth.com/about.html

Pass those links along, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Belly Beautiful

One of my favorite questions to ask in my pre-natal doula visits is if the mom has taken any pregnancy photos. I usually tell the couple that these photographs are so easy and sexy to take- wrap a sheet partially around you, sit in the back yard and have your partner snap some shots. This DIY approach is fun and simple and certainly achieves the documentation goal.

BUT these photographs from
Jennifer Loomis (as seen initially at RealBirth) are SO incredibly beautifully, I had to share them...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Amnio Pro?

Amniocentesis is a pre-natal test that can detect chromosomal and genetic disorders. Because the test is invasive (a needle is inserted into the through the uterus into the amniotic sac in order to sample amniotic fluid) this procedure does carry with it risk of complication resulting in miscarriage. The statistics on this risk range from 1 in 200 to 1 in 400.
Lately, the media have addressed this as another strange inconsistency in Sarah Palin's management of her 5th pregnancy. Why risk a miscarriage if you have already decided against an abortion?

Andrew Sullivan from the Daily Dish does a wonderful job exploring thoughts around of amniocentesis in the Pro-life community.

What do you think?

Friday, September 5, 2008


I know that last post was a round-up and I know that Sarah Palin has been front and center on everyones radars for the past week but I can't resist...
Here are two big THANK YOUS:

"We hope that, as a proud mother of five beautiful children, you will recognize that the issue isn't abortion -- it is ensuring the lives, dignity and freedom of all pregnant women and their families".
Thank you, Lynn Paltrow and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women for your incredibly eloquent open letter to Sarah Palin. I so much appreciate your definition of choice: ranging in your examples from VBAC to home birth to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Thank you, John Stewart for being vigilant about this hypocrisy, nicely illustrated with side by side clips about Palin and Jamie Spears. Thanks also for pointing out to Newt Gingrich that policy about reproductive health will indeed inform our own personal decisions with in our families.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


As I've been buckling down, making anatomy flash cards and starting fall knitting, great things have been reported in the web world this past week:

- Here is an amazing New York Times article about dealing with cancer while pregnant.
- New blog: What to Expect when you're Aborting
- A smart post from Feministing on Sarah Palin and the meaning of choice
- PPNYC event:
Dance, Dance Pro-Choice Nation: A Benefit for Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund
- Support
Baby Catchers Making Change as posted on Empowering Birth Blog
Thoughts on Back to School and the NY Reproductive Health Act on 'NYC Unrated and Unfiltered
- New birth technology as reported by
Pushed Birth : Brits Pioneer Kinder, Gentler C-Section


Bumps in the Road

Image from Gawker.

Well, the media has certain uncovered a rabbit warren...

First off there is the mystery of Palin's 5th pregnancy. There are several obvious details to concern a birth professional from a medical standpoint. Red flags all over the place:
-the inability to tell the she was pregnant at 7 months- especially since she is multiparous. Women tend to show least in their first pregnancy.
-The strange story of her water breaking, giving a speech, getting on an airplane...When one's water breaks, it is fairly standard practice to only allow 24 hours after the rupture of membranes before labor is induced (to minimize risk of infection). It is even more curious since she was probably considered "high-risk" due to her age. Also, women in their 3rd trimester should not be allowed to fly- generally the airlines discourage obviously pregnant women from traveling.

And then there is this! from the NYT: "Ms. Palin’s special-needs child was three days old when she went back to work".

Who was her provider? and why didn't she take better care of her pregnancy and her newborn?
(oh, OK here is the answer from Anchorage Daily news).

Yup, and then there is her teenage daughter...

The Washington Post in this article says it best: "talking about abstinence turns out to be easier than abstaining."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

Celebrate Birth on Labor Day.

Or celebrate Sarah Palin by sending a condom to the RNC.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yes We Can

I know that I'm a bit behind the curve on this one but, I watched the Romanian Film "4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days" last night. It was profound and sad. I would recommends it to anyone who is a safe abortion advocate but even more to a pro- lifer. Women have always made decisions around unwanted pregnancies and will continue to seek abortions even if unsafe and illegal.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has a sobering report on the topic of "What if Roe Fell".

John McCain has a lifetime record of voting against women's health. Read more from Planned Parenthood here.

My vote is with Barak. Women for Obama.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Looking forward to...

Getting ready to settle into a lovely autumn!
Some notable birth happening around town in this next season:

* Ina May will be in NYC at the Open Center on November 9th. Here for more details and to register.

* Miles for Midwives on October 5th at Prospect Park.

*I'm also taking "Anatomy and Physiology of Pregnancy, Labor and Birth" at CEAMNY. Take a look at their calender for more fascinating workshops.

** Slightly off topic fact: the acorn is an ancient Celtic symbol of fertility.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I've known that the BirthSurvey is a terrific project. The theory behind this survey is marvelous: Bringing Transparency to Maternal Care. I've even previously blogged about it a few times. But honestly today is the first time that I've used it- and it's great (also, provided a very interesting link to New York birth demographic statistics...) Choices in Childbirth is another mighty resource for New York State Labor statistics.
My key questions was around episiotomy rates at a certain NYC hospital. A mom of mine said today that this was a big red flag with her provider. Naive me, I had sort of thought that they were a bit old fashioned...
- Here is what Mothering Magazine has to say about
- Here is a post about when
episomoties are really necessary from Belly Tales.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mama's Boy

My cat is an unabashed Mama's Boy. He has to sleep next to me, there are many kisses during the day, lots of talking and lap sitting.
The mother at my first birth had a similar thing. Once she had given birth to her sweet baby girl, she wanted to show me and the rest of the birth team pictures of her dog. She told stories about the dog as she was waiting to go home. The first born child, even with fur, holds a special place in a mother's heart.
I rather suspect when it is my turn for babies, my cat will throw a complete and utter hissy-fit (perhaps literally). So what is to be done with introducing pets and babies? Take a look at this nice
article- lots of practical tips and ideas.

Rip tides

This business of birth is still new to me... I've had these themes and notions knocking around in my head for a while but the actual hand-on experience is still so new. Sometimes, I feel like I'm in birth up to my eyeballs. Saturated and overwhelmed. But the intensity of the experiences and facts and emotions and energy ebb and a bait. And I'm ready to gear up again.

Here are some great things that have been happening 'round the blog world while I've been hunkering down to catch my breath.

- Riki Lake's new blog, chock full of beautiful birth stories.
- What a cervix looks like (!) on Better Birth.
- A news piece on Infant Mortality in Tennessee on 20/20 as posted on Women's Health News
- About the Birth Survey-- Giving Birth With Confidence
- NYC high abortion rate on the radio from RHrealitycheck.
- Birthfest 2008 in San Francisco posted by
Women in Charge

Friday, August 15, 2008

Full Sturgeon Moon

Tomorrow is a Full Sturgeon Moon. Did you know that each full moon of the year is named?
This is the story behind August:
"The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon."
Read more about moons of the year and their names here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Event: ICTC's 6th Black Midwives and Healers Conference

International Center for Traditional Childbirth is holding their conference in Harlem from October10-12. Topic for this year is:

"Renaissance, Resistance, Revolution,
Reclaiming the Wise Women Within"

Here for more details.

Homebirth and Dr. Phil

Here are the questions he poses:

"Pregnant? Wondering If You Should Have a Home Birth?

Are you pregnant, and exploring your birth plan options?

Are you hearing conflicting information about home births and hospital births?

Are you intrigued by both, but haven't made up your mind?

If you're pregnant, and undecided about how to have your baby, please share your story with us!

Our doctors and other birth experts will be exploring the options and answering all your burning questions to help you make the best decision for you!"

Think you might like to be on this show? (it's in Hollywood)

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Old-school birthing is back in style..."

Article in Time Magazine talks about home birth...the movement is gaining momentum...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Breast friends

Did you know last week was National Breastfeeding week? Let's celebrate! My sister-in-law has a tee-shirt that reads "Milk is my superpower, what's yours?" Superpower, indeed! Or certainly worthy of a merit badge (as pictured above).

Here are some interesting studies about the benefits of breastfeeding:
- Breast fed babies more receptive to flavors
- Breast fed babies have a higher IQ

Here are how some women participated and celebrated their boob-ly beauty:

- Video contest for World Breastfeeding week
Subway ride to support rights

Also, since I'm a sucker for the unconventional here are some more alternative (and lovely) breastfeeding practices:

-Cross nursing
-Breast milk recipes (!)

Friday, July 25, 2008


Short post about a tiny line, about a tiny egg and a tiny sperm and big consequences: the history of the home pregnancy test kit.
Thanks Abortion Clinic Days for the link.

Placenta Power

I had the distinct pleasure of Window Water Baby Moving by Stan Brakhage with some of my favorite (male) friends and my best doula friend. None of these men have children nor grew up on a farm (i.e. have never seen a birth). As you can well imagine, it was an amazing 12 minutes of much breath holding, eye covering, etc. (It really should be said that this video is pretty graphic as far as birth films go...)

One of the best moments for me was their reaction to the birth of the placenta: the placenta is huge! This was the very thing that most impressed both my doula friend and I in our first births. It makes logical sense that the placenta should be big- it sustains the growth of an entire baby but some how I was initially unprepared...I through it would maybe be like a kidney, about that size and "organ-looking". Instead, to me, the placenta seems more akin to something from the ocean like a dark red jelly fish or brain coral.

Placentas have long held their place in birth rituals saved for their nourishing and protective powers. Read about international placenta practices in this Mothering magazine article. Specific placenta rituals I've encountered include birth trees, encapsulation and placenta prints.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sharing is caring

One of my moms recently said to me that she wished that she knew more about this whole childbirth thing when she was first pregnant. She said that her mother and mother-in-law gave birth in Europe and so, couldn't offer much advice in the way of the American birth experience. She wished that she had done more research or asked more questions. I told her that her learning curve would help her friends to feel strong and empowered in their pregnancies and much later, her own daughter. That she could begin to build language around her birth experience that she could share -- this single point of feeling of inadequacy could grow a full tree of knowledge.

It is important to share birth knowledge- to talk about it too much- to ask too many personal questions- to get our girls (and boys) familiar with this process early on. Grass root change starting with us. (for example: take The Birth Survey or read some birth stories.)

It goes top down as well: celebrities often have loud voices- here are two recent examples:
Christy Turlington spreads the word about maternal mortality
Ani diFranco talks about her home birth experience.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Womb with a View

I know a doula who starts off every one of her introductory conversations with the question "have you ever seen a birth"?

How do we know about birth? From stories told by our sisters, grandmothers, and mothers. Told by our best friends and co-workers and random people in our yoga class and at the co-op and on the subway. Told by our douals and doctors. Stories on the internet, on the TV and in movies, on the radio, at the Natural History museum. This is alot of information; maybe even overload. But have you ever SEEN a real birth?

I knew I wanted to be in the birthing field before I had ever seen a birth, I was positive that this was the right career for me but still there was a bit of trepidation...what would it actually look like? Scary, gory and painful? Would I faint?

By the time I had my first birth, I had already missed two (those babies just came so fast!) and so had seen the blood, placenta and tear repairs. My first one was so breathtakingly natural and beautiful- it made me (almost) cry. I felt part of something that was strong and intuitive.

A new feature on my side-bar is a list of birth/ baby films- under "Birth Media"- that I love and think are terribly important as visual resources for all expectant parents and birth professionals alike.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Matriarchs

There is this scene in "I heart Huckabees" in which Jason Schwartzman is supposed to imagine people from his life sitting in a tree (in the movie it goes terribly wrong)...

In times of stress or fear, I conjure some of the smartest, strongest ladies I know sitting in a tree offering support and wisdom to me. I know it's a bit bizarre but the tree symbol is so powerful and reminds me that I am deeply rooted. I've already introduced you to one of my tree mavens, Ina May.

Here is another one: Dr. Christine Northup. She is deeply committed to bringing consciousness of mind/ body connection into our everyday lives. Her holistic wisdom eschews preventive health through an ideal of comprehensive wellness rather than the typical "knee-jerk reaction" medicine of much of our health care system today.

This is her "daily inspiration" from July 21st:
"Giving birth is a time of great opportunity for women to get in touch with their true power. We need to emerge from our labor beds with a renewed sense of strength and awareness that our bodies have just participated in a magnificent act of creation."

She will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming conference
"Women & Courage: Expressing Women's Wisdom in the 21st Century" September 12-14 at the Omega Institute.

* This drawing/photos is from a marvelous project by the artist Yeondoo Jung. He translates children's drawings into photographs.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

S.F. heart

You know you've become part of an obvious trend when the New York Times writes an article about it... in my case it is my passage
(“flowing in and out”, if you will)
between Brooklyn and the Bay Area: the two places [described] as the ultimate “idiosyncratic communities” in the United States.

I lived in San Francisco before I moved to New York. It is still the place that I most consider home (to the extent that I am loyal to my hairdresser and have a running grocery shopping list for things from Rainbow). I thought I'd share some SF resources for surely, as my demographic peers, you have a sister or friend or cousin that is going to have a No Cal baby.

Childbirth Classes:

Natural Resources is a lovely little shop/ resource center and offers many classes.

Resourceful Groups
San Francisco Doula group

Le Leche League of California
Bay Area Homebirth Collective

Sage Femme Midwifery and Wise Woman Childbirth Traditions

Birth Professionals:

Bitt Fohrman taught at my yoga studio and is also a doula and birth photographer.
Jane Austin, also a yoga teacher, is amazing (and featured in
the beautiful film It's My Body, My Baby, My Birth)

Social advocacy surrounding pregnancy in CA:
-an amazing and innovative Homeless Prenatal Program
-really great groundbreaking paid family leave policy

Friday, July 18, 2008

Become a doula

When people ask me why I have decided to become a midwife, my general response is "oh, long story...art history.. feminist notions..mind body..yoga...etc...etc...etc...intuition". Yes, most importantly intuition. I do feel that helping a woman thought this rite of passage, this liminal event is my calling.

But what really confirmed it for me was becoming a doula. It was in my training workshops, surrounded by brave, compassionate, smart peers, that I felt centered and inspired. And important. I made incredible friends, have a
wise community from which to draw and feel like I am serving women in a tangible and significant way.

If you're in New York and would like to become a doula, on of my doula teachers is offering a workshop series in the coming weeks. It will be taught at the
Open Center and Celeste is offering a free intro class on this Friday, July 25th.

Please see details


Summer, Sex and Spirits at the Museum of Sex on Tuesday, July 29th - a Planned Parenthood event.
You should go! See invite here.

* a personal aside: In college I had a professor that talked about the Museum of Sex, alot. I think it might have had to do with museum theory. Regardless, several friends and I became obsessed with this interactive feature:
Mapping Sex in America.

Makes me happy

In light of the recent disturbing women's heath news of the past few weeks. I thought I share some positive current event stories:

1) A House subcommittee passes bill to increase funds for international family planning programs and to overturn the 'global gag rule'.

Excerpt from article by the National Partnership for Women & Families:

The House measure, which passed the House-State Foreign Operations Subcommittee, would provide $600 million for foreign family planning programs, a 30%
increase from FY 2008, including $60 million for the United Nations Population Fund. The Senate measure, which passed the full Appropriations Committee by a 28-1 vote, would provide $520 million for family planning programs, including $45 million for UNFPA... The Senate measure also would overturn the so-called "Mexico City" policy, also known as the "global gag" rule, while the House measure does not address the issue (CQ Today, 7/17). The policy bars U.S. funding to foreign nongovernmental organizations that, with non-U.S. funds, provide or pay for abortion services or counseling, or engage in advocacy on abortion-related issues.
RH Reality Check's coverage of this news, too.

2) Jessica Alba touts her natural childbirth experience: "I didn't scream. It was really Zen. I wanted to do it naturally. The labor was more like meditation. I did yoga breathing. I was focused."


Have you heard: birth control= abortionl? Amazing logic...

The Department of Health and Human Services and George Bush want to restrict funding for the provision family planning services. Even more, this proposal enables any health-care worker or institution to easily refuse distribution of birth control. One of the scariest parts about the wording of this rule is their definition of abortion which could be interpreted to include hormonal birth control.

From the proposed HHS rule:
Abortion: An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are two commonly held views on the question of when a pregnancy begins. Some consider a pregnancy to begin at conception (that is, the fertilization of the egg by the sperm), while others consider it to begin with implantation (when the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus).17 A 2001 Zogby International American Values poll revealed that 49% of Americans believe that human life begins at conception. Presumably many who hold this belief think that any action that destroys human life after conception is the termination of a pregnancy, and so would be included in their definition of the term “abortion.” Those who believe pregnancy begins at implantation believe the term “abortion” only includes the destruction of a human being after it has implanted in the lining of the uterus.

“If the Administration goes through with this draft proposal, it will launch a dangerous assault on women’s health." Nancy Pelosi, California Congress Woman

“We worry that under the proposal, contraceptive services would become less available to low-income and uninsured women.” Mary June Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association

Join the fight. We need your help- any small action of advocacy is powerful and important. Write a few letters (electronic templates provided on the following links):
Planned Parenthood
Physicians for Reproductive Health

For more reading on this topic, please take a look at these resources:
New York Times
RH Reality Check
Huffington Post
more from Women's Health News

It's the little things...

Just wanted to share two things that made my week. Not babies this time (none came my way).

1) Feist on Sesame Street

2) Encounters at the End of the World

Moon Shell

"Solitude, says the moon shell. Center-down say the Quaker saints...Why have we been seduced into abandoning this timeless inner strength of women for the temporal out strength of man..."

Gift from the Sea, Ann Morrow Lindbergh

It seems to be frowned upon in our contemporary Western society: to take a bit of time to day- dream. Almost to the point where we have forgotten how. I find my "yang" energy rises with me to greet my New York City day and urges me on to do and do. But sometimes it feels too hard too keep pushing and taking a firm stance, like I'm not really listening to me. I hear pregnant women complain of their "pregnancy brain". Your baby is softening your thoughts for you-- allowing your body to create and complete its deep internal work. There is little else energy to be spent being totally productive or socially present. Enjoy these fuzzy, dreamy times.

Intention for this weekend, for you and I: to take a few moments alone, to dip down into silence and stillness, to feel open and nurtured in a small and gentle shift of mind.

It is a full moon tonight, too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Belly Telly

I don't have a TV. This is partly a conscious decision and partly laziness, really. While on one hand, it is probably good: so that I don't get sucked into watching Baby Borrowers or A Baby Story or The Secret Life of an American Teenager (not that this would be a terrible thing, except I probably would do little else). However, there are two things that I would very much like to see on the boob tube (how's that for a pun!):

1) Planned Parenthood's commercial against John McCain

Wide Angle: Birth of a Surgeon: Midwives in Mozambique

So, if you have a TV maybe you can tune in...or just enjoy the clips with me on the internet...

Thursday, June 26, 2008


(image from this lovely flickr photo set)

I'm a bit of an collector- it applies to my lifestyle: wrapping paper, tea cups, herb plants, etc. This tendency of mine also applies to information. I like to scout for interesting facts and then keep them for the perfect occasion. This habit does come in handy for a blogger who's job it is to take in details and images and words from as many different sources as possible , distill them and then disseminate. So while I'll spare you with my obsession for handmade goods and vegan recipes, I will share 2 good lists of information that may prove immediately useful or perhaps you can save some of these resources to impress your friends (and look like a know-it-all, like me!)



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

choose your own birth

If you are pregnant, chances are that you've envisioned your ideal birth. If you are a birth professional, chances are you've envisioned your ideal birth. One of my very favorite descriptions of an ideal birth comes from this Slate article:

"The ideal Berkeley birth has probably never actually happened, but if it has, it happened far from civilization, in the woods, without painkillers or doctors or any intervention whatsoever by modern medicine. Along one side of the birthing mother was a wall of doulas wailing a folk song; along the other, all the people she has ever known; at her feet, a full-length mirror, in which she watched her baby emerging; at her head, a mother wolf, licking and suckling. Incense-filled urns released meaningful, carbon-free odors. The placenta was saved and, if not grilled, recycled."

But imagine if you could try it out before hand... VIRTUAL LABOR ! Kind of like a choose your own adventure: It's fun!

Monday, June 23, 2008

are you my mother?

I love stories of unexpected nurturing and mothering under extreme circumstances. This is a very nice article about a police officer in China nursing orphan babies after the earthquake. She got a promotion for her good deed!

In a strange way it reminds me of this wonderful tiger who mothered little piglets...

everybody loves a midwife...

It's true (except for, as we all know, the AMA and ACOG). Be it at an opera in the park or a meeting of financial women, everyone seems pleased or fascinated to know that I am going to be a midwife. Every type of woman usually has questions and ultimately, usually shares some kind of birth story. Birth is fundamental and deep. Women (and men!) respond to it with a visceral-gut understanding and on intuitive level. Pre-modern midwives were pillars in their communities serving in powerful roles as an archetypal healer figure- possibly slightly magical. But a midwife also tends to a primal action, earthy and bodily- and so too does a midwife recall earth goddess figures, fertile mothering and nurturing. (Of course, as a disclaimer, this is not to say that a modern midwife is not totally and utterly well trained in the ways of modern medicine- our modern midwives are whip smart and passionate activists, as well). Here are a few small tokens of appreciation to midwifes, bits that seem lovely like valentines:

- this

- this

- this

Friday, June 20, 2008

the new IUD and you

Last night at an activist council training at Planned Parenthood, we were discussing the health center's birth control offerings including IUDs (inter uterine devices). The director of the health center said that more and more women had been coming for IUD insertions- she seemed almost giddy stating that this was a "very good thing". She then went on to innumerate the benefits of the new IUDs. I was initially sort of stunned and felt out of the loop. To me, IUD's have always seemed medieval- a scary metal device inserted into your uterus to act like barbed wire to sperm- harsh and dangerous. She reassured us anyone could have one inserted (not just women who had given birth) and that they are quite safe (unlike the 1970's models). There are two versions currently on the market: Mirena which releases progesterone and ParaGard which uses copper. The IUD works to prevent pregnancy in two ways- 1) a chemical change to uterus to create an inhospitable environment for sperm and 2) the "T" shape of the device disrupts egg implantation onto the uterine wall. Mirena is effective for five years during which the woman does not menstruate and ParaGard is good for 12 years (but still having a monthly period). The IUD is "as effective as sterilization" (which is not 100% effective) thus making it the most effective method of birth control available. Read more about IUDs here and here.

I was intrigued- mostly I liked the idea of a non-hormonal birth control that was determined by me and that I didn't have to think about on a regular basis. On the other hand the notion of a foreign object being inserted into my body by someone else still bothers me a little bit.

Fascinating! And how exciting that, in some ways, our world of reproductive health choices seems to be expanding!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

science: egg-citing!

Super cool video and pictures of human ovulation. via here

current events: ACOG aginst homebirths (and Riki fights back!)

This is troubling .
The American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists have issued a statement reiterating that they do not support home births- declaring them as "fashionable, trendy, or the latest cause célèbre", ultimately dangerous ("puts herself and her baby's health and life at unnecessary risk." ) and seemingly selfish ("Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby.") Read more here.
Riki Lake has been specifically targeted and offers this message in return:
"I was empowered, I was transformed and I would love for women to have had that opportunity — to be an active participant in their own birth choices and birth experience".

**Full response from Riki Lake, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block as posted by the Huffington Post: here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

birth event: orgasmic birth screening, 06/26

I've read wonderful things about this film (take a look at the terrific set of experts featured).

If you are interested in attending, more details are

Watch the trailer:

midwife to us all

Ina May.

When I was first starting to get my prickling intuition that I might want to be a midwife, a friend gave me Spiritual Midwifery. Truth be told, it scared me- there was just too much. Too much birth, too many hippies. I had to be ready for it.

I've stated carrying to to births with me as a reminder how simply beautiful and natural birth can be. The language of the book is amazing- powerful and positive and the images of the beautiful hippie moms and dads (full beards and long hair) are super cute.

I had the pleasure of hearing this amazing woman speak last Saturday at the Open Center. She was so smart, warm, funny and down to earth- a true inspiration both in terms of her advocacy and innovation in the field of natural childbirth and raising awareness of maternal mortality in America but also for her playful and respectful attitude that she seems to maintain regardless of situation or audience.

She could not recommend this book highly enough:

I love this clip of her talking about childbirth (and breast milk ice cream!):

quote for today:

"I think of midwifery as a seed full of potential - a seed that will grow into a lush, blossoming tree with green branches and plenty of ripe fruit for nurturing women, babies, and families."

Marina Alzugaray

via here

welcome, full moon

In birth there is no real, set due date. The "due date" of a baby is determined 280 days to the approximate first day of your last menstrual period or 266 days from conception. It is not a guess nor is it a perfect science-- it is personal, up to the mother and the baby to decide upon their special mix of hormones and development.

I had wanted to stat this blog on a number of important days: Mother's Day, Father's Day, my birthday- all for symbolically obvious reasons but the timing was not right. Perhaps I had too much anxious anticipation or perhaps the ideas and inspirations I hope to set forth in space had not yet matured and maybe I was not yet relaxed enough to allow them to come through me in a fluid way. But I am now ready to begin to share with you and hope that you will join the conversation and use this blog as a tool or resource or a jumping off point or maybe just as a bit of interest and entertainment.

One of my most important jobs as a doula is to protect the sacred space of a birth. I have learned to set down my own intentions for the birth, to embrace the intentions of the mother for the birth and then know to step back to respect the intension of the birth itself allowing it to unfurl as it may. I set forth his blog a safe space for all of those participating in birthing - it is a wise and deep community; I look forward to this new learning journey.

Tonight is a full moon. The full moon symbolizes motherhood, nurturing and fulfillment. It is a time of enhanced intuition and deepening of internal desires. It has been said that a full moon is a powerful trigger for the onset of labor- the mothers amniotic sac syncing with the rest of the planet’s water in oceans and rivers responding to the moon’s gravitational pull.

Welcome, new friends.