Birth and rebirth

Ro elfThis week my son turned 4 years old.  It seems like he has been here for a minute and at the same time that I have known him my entire life.  Of course this has me thinking about my pregnancy, what I was doing when I went into labor, my labor, my labor, my labor (that’s one ‘labor’ for each day), his birth, our first night all snuggled into bed together, and those postpartum weeks.  I have to say-  it was glorious.

It wasn’t glorious because I ‘did everything right’.  It was glorious because I was just able to be.  For the first time in years, I did not have a phone call, email, or page to return.  No one needed me or wanted anything from me except him.  What made those whole eight weeks I was home with him even better was the feeling of being held.

Imagine being a little newborn baby and being cradled tightly and warmly.  Imagine being a postpartum mom and being cared for tightly and warmly.  Would that make a big difference in how you saw those days and weeks at the time, and how you look back on them now? I am a midwife and I witness everyday how midwifery care holds women and families.  I experienced being held by my midwife, partner, family and friends.  I can still feel the feelings of warmth, safety, and weightlessness I had then even if the memories are already starting to become fuzzy.

Every family deserves a midwife. It’s not about having the perfect birth (whatever that means), being a medication-free warrior, or running wild in the country side with scissors.  It’s about being caught by strong, capable hands when you are dropped into parenthood with a new, fragile life without any guidance other than ‘don’t do (fill in the blank) or your baby will die’.  Your baby’s birth is your rebirth.  You are fresh, newborn parents.  Our society and health care system shouldn’t drop you.

Needless to say, I have some thoughts that all families can use to create their virtual midwife if it does not work out to have a real-life midwife.  I think of it as an alternative to the three-page birth registry of ‘must have’ items.  Stay tuned for those thoughts…

In the meantime, hold and be held.  Bask in it.  And happy birthday…Dr. S


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Love this story of a fit pregnant momma….

Check out the link to this story and pictures of how it is possible to stay active and fit while pregnant (albeit more active and fit than most of us!):

How Babies Learn Language

And one more…this article recently published in the NYT discusses how babies growing up in bilingual environments experience a different level of ‘neural commitment’ and even tools for future language development:

Strong Pelvic Floors and How to Get One

Hello! Today is my day to share the wisdom of other writers! I am passing along this link to an incredibly eye-opening interview regarding the true nature of a strong pelvic floor. Enjoy!


BPA Free Canned Goods

Hello!  Thought I would share this link to a listing of some BPA-free canned goods that are out there:

“We’ve talked extensively about BPA-based epoxy linings commonly used in aluminum cans, especially in regards to finding BPA-free tomatoes.  It was a difficult task because of their acidic nature, but we finally found Pomi.  Not even Eden Organics, the leader of the pack, has found a way to go BPA-free in the tomato category just yet.

During our tomato treasure hunt, we gathered a small list of all BPA-free canned foods currently available.  Hopefully this list will grow quickly with the possibility of new BPA-free lining alternatives like ones made from sugar.

BPA-free Canned Food Options

  • Eden of Organic Beans
  • Trader Joe’s (canned corn, beans, fish, poultry and beef; they wouldn’t go into detail on what their future plans for more BPA-free options are)
  • Vital Choice Seafood (salmon, albacore tuna, sardines and mackerel;  they test for all endocrine disruptors, not just BPA)

More Alternatives Confirmed by Tree Hugger

  • Oregon’s Choice (6oz lightly salted albacore and the company is working toward going BPA-free with their crab and shrimp too)
  • Wild Planet (5oz skipjack tuna and its 5oz albacore tuna)
  • Eco Fish Oregon’s Choice (albacore tuna is currently BPA-free and they’re looking for a suitable lining for their salmon too)
  • Native Forest/Native Factor (all canned foods, including the only canned coconut milk that uses a BPA-free can – which happens to the brand I’ve been using for years – yeah!)

Tree Hugger pointed out a great resource by Willy Street Coop on the BPA status of several other brands’ canned foods.  We’ll be anxious to see how their information changes as time goes on this year.

Fresh produce and dried beans are still your best bet.  Frozen produce is a good second choice because they’re usually harvested when ripe, heated for a shorter time and immediately frozen.

P.S.  Aseptic packaging (like Tetra Pak cartons/bricks) are also BPA-free.  These packages are made with layers of cardboard and aluminum, then lined with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) for the food contact surface.

UPDATE 1/20/11:  Eden Foods Finds a Better Solution to BPA-lined Cans for Tomatoes and Sauces

WANTED: Momma Naturopathic Midwife

Since I have had my little guy Rohan, my clients have had a lot of questions about my experience.  “How was the birth?”,  “how has nursing been going?”, or just “what does it feel like to be a mom now?”  I love that I have the kind of relationship with my families that they are comfortable being curious, and that I am comfortable sharing.  Probably the most common question I have been asked is whether being a mom has changed being a midwife and a family doctor.  

I have had some time to sit and think (mostly while sitting and nursing) about whether I think being a mom has changed me as a midwife and doctor, as it has certainly changed me as a person.  One of my beloved midwifery practice partners describes being a parent as deciding to walk around in the world with your heart on the outside of your body.  I absolutely agree, and would add that it’s not as painful as that might seem!  The love, vulnerability, and openness that comes from this way of being is scary sometimes, but mostly incredibly freeing.  It feels great to be this in love with my son and my life, and to hold space for that possibility for all the families I see.  Surely more love and more joy can’t be bad for our health,  community, or world, right?

The other feeling I have had is that I have finally entered a club.  In my pregnancy and even in labor, I thought about the millions and millions of women, my ancestors, and even my dear friends who have done what I was doing.  It felt like I had crossed the threshold of the clubhouse that I had been standing at the doorway of, escorting people into, and even getting them comfortably seated in for years.  It was a sweet feeling to be sitting at the table.  Pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding are immeasurably powerful experiences that continue to blow my mind, no matter how many mommas I work with.  I have always had an incredibly deep respect for what women do to become mothers.  To be connected to all who have come before me in a new way only deepens that respect. 

Luckily I haven’t yet come across that moment where I smacked my forehead and couldn’t believe I had said such a ridiculous thing to a laboring mom or a nervous parent.  So for all of you who B.R. clients (Before Rohan), don’t worry; I don’t think you were ill-advised!  If anything I feel as if the information, advice, compassion, and empathy I have had to offer is just more true. 

Honestly I am quite glad that I was a midwife and doctor for years before becoming a parent.  What I had to share was truly about giving my families objective counsel without judgement, rather than feeling compelled to compare to it my own experience.   I have had to opportunity to see nearly every type of pregnancy, every kind of birth experience, and practically every variation of postpartum and breastfeeding experience.   I am incredibly grateful for these experiences and the families that provided them because they have actually made me a better mother. 

I know how many ways it can go, and so I was prepared for pretty much anything.  I could let go and let life unfold as it would, and just follow my own advice.  I made sure I had help when I  needed it, and wasn’t afraid to ask.  I rested a lot, I ate a lot (and still do!), and am not afraid to take care of myself because what I am doing is hard work.  And I happen to be incredibly well-trained in sleep deprivation!  Having seen the wide variety in kids, parents, and experiences has allowed me to let go of the ‘right way’, pay more attention to Rohan’s way, and simply be in love. 

Quite frankly, I owe all of the families in my care a debt of gratitude for all that you have taught me about being a momma naturopathic midwife.  Thank you! 

Now, ask me how I do when he has his first fever or bout of diarrhea and vomiting…

Labor vs. Marathon

I spend a lot of time with women in visits talking about their overall health, nutrition, and exercise- and how important all three are in terms of healthy pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and lactation.  What I see is that women who keep their bodies healthy inside and out tend to have smoother, healthier pregnancies and postpartum recoveries. 

However, in terms of the labor, it’s hard to prepare for what it will be like.  Being healthier gives you more stamina and strength, but it doesn’t mean you will get an easier, faster, or more straightforward labor.  A lot of that depends on babies, their position and readiness to be born.  It also depends on your bones, your genetics, your mindset about pain and labor, how much support you have, or how safe you feel. 

Still, when it’s hard (and labor is generally hard work, hence the term ‘labor’), a fit and healthy person withstands that intensity biochemically, mentally, and emotionally quite beautifully.  In pregnancy, it doesn’t hurt to approach the preparation for labor a bit like preparing for an athletic event, as you will need the physical, mental, and emotional fortitude that it brings. 

So I thought I would share this link to a blog written by an elite marathoner, Kara Goucher, on her adventures as a new parent and her answer to the question: “Which one is harder- a marathon or labor?”: