Hospital Water Birthing in Syracuse, NY!

Check out Kristen Oganowski's VBAC, hypnobirthing, hospital water birth story. Hers was the first water birth at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, New York. Her birth from the perspective of her doula, Chris Goldman follows Kristen's account. This is a wonderful, inspirational birth story, but even more encouraging are the comments following both articles that indicate hospital waterbirth is on the rise in Central New York.

One of my favorite parts of the article follows. KUDOS to Dr. N, a shining example of what OB's can and should be to birthing women today:

"And then he [Dr. N, Kristen's OB] turned to my nurse and said, "Well, it looks like you aren't getting her out of the tub!" But then he took the time to tell her the following: "Look at how beautifully she's doing. Look at how natural and normal this is. She's pushing on her own, and no one is yelling 'PUSH' in her face; no one is counting for her." And you know what? My nurse started to get really excited about this birth."


Great news for the women of Santa Fe!

An email from Julie Gorwoda, CNM and Director of Nurse-Midwifery Education at the University of New Mexico. This triumph should inspire all of you who live in areas without Nurse Midwifery care as an option in your hospitals to sharpen your pencils and write letters. Make some waves and help the women in your community to have access to safer, more personalized care.

"After 63 years of clinical nurse-midwifery presence in Santa Fe New Mexico, we are happy to announce that women in Santa Fe may soon have a CNM-attended BIRTH at St. Vincent's Hospital! The vote from the Medical Executive Committee today was groundbreaking and paves the way for full-scope nurse-midwifery care in this city, one of the last hospital-holdouts against CNM intrapartum care in New Mexico. 2008 UNM graduate Maria Theresa (Maite) Redondo-Cladera will be the first nurse-midwife at this facility after strong support from Ob/Gyn Dr. Cindi Lewis and Maite's FP employers at La Familia Medical Center, especially Dr. Gary Giblin. The three of them worked long and hard to make this a reality.

Catholic Maternity Institute was founded in 1945 in Santa Fe by CNMs who were also Medical Mission Sisters. It was one of the earliest midwifery services and also the first university-affiliated nurse-midwifery education program in the US. Midwifery leaders from CMI also incorporated the American College of Nurse-Midwives in Santa Fe in 1955 but CNMs were excluded from the only hospital in town until today. This victory for women and midwives could not have come without years of support from consumers and the midwifery community's education of thoughtful physicians.

If you know anyone on the Medical Executive Committee or St. V's administrators, please thank them and send your letters of congratulation to Maite at amniotic22@yahoo.com. Her years of intelligent, extremely capable nursing care of laboring mothers at St. Vincent's made her the logical first CNM choice for this hospital. And tell your sisters, cousins and friends from Santa Fe they don't have to go to Albuquerque or Las Alamos for a hospital birth anymore! Blessings to Laurie Holmes, CNM who attended women at home in Santa Fe for several decades and the other Santa Fe CNMs who kept the porch light on in the "City Different" for over 63 years.

Please pass on the good news!"

Recommended Reading for Your Weekend

First, I strongly suggest that you check out Linda's take on the latest ACOG nonsense. As always, they want to make sure that women are "protected" from these outlaw midwives and their dark and dangerous ways.

One of their claims, that midwives are mostly self-educated, really chaps my hide because:
1) It's untrue -- even midwives who don't attend a formal school are still trained by other midwives. And hey, isn't an internship basically an apprenticeship for an MD?
2) The autodidactic spirit of the women I know who work in birth impress me so deeply. It's a passion for learning that I simply don't see in many other professions. It's condescending to imply that you have to go to medical school to get an education about birth.

The snobbery and sexism implicit in these ACOG statements always gets me down. I wish I could say that they have no impact on me, but that would be a lie. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I had for enrolling in midwifery school is the fact that I think my education will be more respected this way. It's not the only reason (others being that I like structure in my studies, and that one of my preceptors strongly encouraged it as a condition of taking me on), but it was certainly a big one.

That said, Pam's words on this still resonate with me:
[Midwifery education] has to be personally defined. We are not all the same, nor do we all learn the same. I cannot even begin to speculate what this would look like or have to encompass for it to be "ultimate". Each family, each community, has a different need. If we all are trained the same and think the same and practice the same, where is the midwife for people who want something different for their birth?

School is the beginning, not the end, of an education.

Anyway, I also recommend that you check out the CDC's latest report on breastfeedng practices in hospitals and birth centers around the country. It's predictably frustrating. One of my favorite bloggers, Rachel from Women's Health News, has a tidy summary of the report.

The thing that is so disheartening to me about it is the pervasiveness of giving healthy, full-term infants formula supplementation, even when their mothers indicated that they were breastfeeding. Just as these facilities don't trust women's bodies to birth their babies without interference, they don't trust women's bodies to nourish those babies after birth. Routine supplementation flies in the face of everything we know about breastfeeding and the nutritional needs of the newborn. But what really eats me up is that the systematic undermining of women's confidence in their bodies. It hurts the breastfeeding relationship, it hurts the mothering relationship, and it hurts other women's confidence before they've even conceived. When is the medical profession going to stop focusing on harassing midwives and direct its attention to actually keeping mothers and babies healthy? Good breastfeeding practices would be an excellent place to start.


First International Post!

I'm spending the summer in Costa Rica with my family. Despite roughing it in the jungle, we do have high speed internet service, so I shall continue to contribute.

First, I'm late to the table with this, but I have to point out two important headlines:
Premature Births Increase Along with Cesareans Our haste to get babies our before they're ready is being recognized (at last!) as not such a good thing.

After Cesareans, Some See Higher Insurance Costs Adding insult to injury, many women are finding it difficult to find insurance after their surgical deliveries. My only glimmer of hope in response to this is that it will spark some backlash against our c-section-happy status quo. Being uninsurable is a huge deal. Of course, the insurance industry is largely responsible for the high rates of cesareans we're seeing these days -- the fear of malpractice lawsuits, not to mention insurance companies refusing coverage to OBs who support VBAC, etc, etc, got us where we are today. Now, painfully ironic though it may be, insurance carriers are complaining about the higher costs of the situation they helped create.
What's the birth situation in Costa Rica? Almost all women have their babies in hospitals, and many have to travel to get there. There are midwives here, but they have to practice underground to avoid prosecution (as in some states in the US, having a b`aby at home is not illegal, but practicing midwifery is). In the Talamanca region, where I am, the local indiginous population, the Bri Bri, are facing persecution for birthing at home. The government is now threatening them with prosecution for any bad outcomes of a home birth. The result is that pregnant women are sleeping in the streets as they approach their due dates, rather than facing an 8-hour walk down the mountain and into the city while they're in labor. Birth Without Boundaries is here working to change that -- I'm hoping I can help.