31 Days of Safe and Healthy Birth

 

Safe Birth 31 Days

Although I blog as regularly as I can muster, when my friend Anna posted about the #write31days challenge, where bloggers were pledging to post on one topic for 31 days, I was REALLY intrigued. And since I’m on a mission to promote safe and healthy birth, getting linked up and inspired to do lots of writing sounded like a perfect things to do. I’m not 100% sure if every post will be lots and lots of words, but I am excited to post every day. This will be the home page for links to every day’s post, with the first one on October 1st.
Stay tuned. I have a lot to say!

Day 1- What is “Safe and Healthy Birth”?

Day 2- Finding Quality Maternity Care is Up to You

Day 3- Video: Birth By the Numbers

Day 4- Questions to ask when choosing a place to give birth

Day 5- My daughter’s not very healthy birth

Day 6- How a birth can feel unsafe

Day 7- When loss happens

Day 8- 3 ways to have a healthier pregnancy

Day 9- Birth and the internet

Day 10- How did women give birth 100 years ago?

Days 11-13- I didn’t blog. =-/

Day 14- How car seats are like birth

 

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Birth Trauma and Partners: A discussion

shared.

One of the sessions I attended last week was, “Let’s Stop Trying to Turn Men into Women: Meeting the Real Needs of Pregnant and Laboring Fathers” presented by Amy Gilliland, PhD, BDT(DONA). I had a lot of really interesting thoughts after we got done, and I thought it would be fun to discuss the topic with my office-mate Crystal Clancy, MA, LMFT. We did it via email. Below is the discussion we had:

Hey Crystal,
So, I sat through some interesting sessions on trauma in childbirth at the Lamaze Conference last week. One of the most eye-opening sessions was on the expectations on fathers at births and how their perspective is one that can create a lot of anxiety and stress, which reads from the outside as being tired, and dads often only feel in control when mom has an epidural.

In classes, I always talk about doulas as part of the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices. But I still see moms and dads who aren’t having honest or realistic discussions of what the dads feel comfortable doing. I’m not sure how to get parents to start thinking and talking about these things. What would you suggest?

 

Good morning, Veronica!

My experience, learned the hard way sometimes, is that expectant parents do NOT want to think about what could go wrong in their birth experience. I think it might mean getting to the nitty gritty, offering some hypotheticals about what could happen, and sending the message that if we don’t need this info, great- but at least you felt prepared. PTSD occurs when people are in a situation where they felt their life/safety, or someone else’s life/safety was threatened, and that is all about perception. So if a partner is watching his/her partner give birth, and something scary happens, even if the outcome is good, they are walking away having witnessed a traumatic experience. A good start is defining that, and that knowing that even if there is a good outcome (which is great) that doesn’t mean all is well.

 

That was one discussion we had at the conference, though, that has almost no research; with lesbian partners, does the non-gestational mother have the same risks for trauma as a father? 

I hear this a lot– sometimes from the families in class, sometimes from other (not Lamaze Certified) childbirth educators, sometimes from doulas and midwives– that they think if they learn about cesareans or other outcomes they want to avoid, it will somehow cause that outcome to happen. In reality, I think it’s FAR too often the opposite; by not learning about something, when it’s a good idea, and how to avoid it being done unnecessarily, they are more likely to end up with those outcomes.

That’s my other huge concern in our current situation of families not getting information ahead of time from a good, reliable resource. There’s so much information out there parents either dig in and feel overwhelmed because it seems like there’s no such thing as best practice or guidelines to help determine how to get safe and healthy outcomes, or they throw their hands up in the air and just expect that the doctor or midwife will tell them what to do as things unfold. Personally, that second situation is the one that worries me the most. It doesn’t matter if a birth is planned for hospital, home, or birth center, if parents give up the responsibility for informed consent or refusal by not learning about birth and birth practices ahead of time, it sets them up for trauma.

Would you agree? Do you think doctors and midwives take that aspect of potential trauma seriously?

 

I agree that there is not enough research in that area. I would hypothesize that they have the same risk as a father, is there still witnessing the trauma that could be occurring with their partner and baby.

I do not think that medical providers in general take this area seriously enough. Focus is a healthy mom and healthy baby. They save the life of both parties, their job is done. Is not enough done to address the emotional downfall of not only the people having the baby but people observing the birth of the baby.

My Takeaway message would be that if there is any kind of trauma, and you experience the difficulty of moving past the birth experience, to get some help. That could be contacting the PPSM helpline for resources, or finding a therapist who specializes in trauma, ideally one who practices EMDR.

 

I’ve heard that term “EMDR”. What does that mean?

 

It’s a mouthful. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a type of therapy that has been shown over and over to be very helpful for the treatment of PTSD, and reduction of symptoms. In a nutshell, it alternately stimulates both hands of your brain through a series of techniques, that is supposed to reduce trauma symptoms, such as flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, and dissociation. It requires special training in order to perform, and you can find more information on EMDR.com, and locate providers in your area who are trained in this type of therapy.

 

Oh, ok. Thanks for that explanation. I’ve never had anyone break it down for me before. This was really good to talk about it via email; we should do it again soon!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Yeah, this was a good way to have a discussion. Thanks for asking me to do it!

Have a good day!

Crystal

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Lamaze Conference Inspirations

Lamaze Childbirth Classes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m back from the third conference that I’ve attended with DONA International and/or Lamaze International. Last year I was a speaker. This year neither one of my proposals was picked, but I did get the wonderful shock of finding out I was going to be inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators. Plus, I was just super excited to see some of the friends that I made at last year’s conference and had really gotten to know over social media. I pretty much only have a chance to see these ladies once a year, and they have all become very important to me personally and professionally.

The other inductees. Such amazing company!
The other inductees. Such amazing company!
Me actually getting inducted. That's Judith Lothian behind the podium!
Me actually getting inducted. That’s Judith Lothian behind the podium!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s conference was in Kansas City. I couldn’t really justify flying down when it was a 6-7 hour drive, but I didn’t want to put the miles on my own car. So I used my good ol’ AAA discount and rented a tiny car for just a few bucks a day. And since I was renting a tiny car, it would mean I’d get better gas mileage. In fact, I did get 40 MPG with the Chevy Spark my roommate dubbed a “rollerskate car”. (I kinda fell in love with the little guy by the end of the trip.)

Rollerskate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t get a huge chance to explore KC, but we did escape for lunch both days and wandered a bit. I will say, the buildings were often very, very pretty. The hotel the conference was in was a very old hotel that had been taken over by the Marriott next door, but had kept the original GORGEOUS lobby intact.  And yes, every time we passed a theater I had to sing a few lines of “Everything’s Up To Date in Kansas City” because I’m a dork like that.

In the next week or so, look for some blog posts inspired by some of the sessions I attended, including posts on birth trauma, social media and moms, some updates on best practices for maternity care, and a super-geeky post or two about the super-important Perinatal Core Measures. In the meantime, though, I have a few things I came home feeling SO passionate about, I want to put them on billboards all over 494.

First of all, in the membership meeting, a new, updated mission was overwhelmingly approved. Lamaze International’s new mission statement is:

The mission of Lamaze International is to advance safe and healthy pregnancy, birth and early parenting through evidence-based education and advocacy.

My only quibble is the lack of the Oxford comma. Otherwise, I seriously want to frame this and hang it in my office. It could not be more true to my own mission. I say this over and over in classes: I want every family to have a safe and healthy birth. Period. I don’t teach a method that has a “success” (and by extension, a “failure”) rate. I believe in evidence-based education so strongly that I got up more than once during the conference to point out that Lamaze Childbirth Educators are uniquely positioned and a critical piece to reverse our current trend of worsening maternity care outcomes.

Second, since the conference was aimed at both doulas and childbirth educators, not every session was about education. But it struck me at every session that was geared to doulas that I was in that the goals of having doula support almost completely depended on having high-quality childbirth education as outlined for the requirements in a Lamaze class. It also hit home that optimal maternity care needs to include BOTH doulas and childbirth educators, something I had written about last week.

Finally, as I drove home, one thing kept going through my head:
Lamaze isn’t a method any more. Lamaze is a mindset that carries all throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Lamaze is a mission to give families the information, confidence, and tools to be able to identify skilled, quality care and to be able to make decisions based off the best medical evidence.  

I am so proud to have been an LCCE for the last 7 years. I am humbled and honored to now be an FACCE. In fact, Lamaze International even quoted me in one of the final tweets from the conference:

 

I am motivated now more than EVER to be brave and to fight for changes that result in better outcomes for families in the Twin Cities, in Minnesota, and in the whole US. Ambitious, yes…but I like a good challenge.

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

5 Reasons Why Car Seats Are So Tricky

why are car seats hard to install

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week! YAY!

I get complaints all the time from families about how hard cars seats are to install and use correctly. Yes, they can require a few tries before figuring out how to get a seat installed correctly into a car. Yes, I often end up with cuts and scrapes while helping parents wrestlt with a seat. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all easier, but the reality is, things aren’t going to change any time soon. So if you’re wondering what the deal is, here are 4 reasons those car seats are so tricky to install.

1) Lack of universal requirements for LATCH in cars- While LATCH became standard on most cars starting in 2002, there aren’t set standards for HOW the LATCH system exists in a car. So, for example, in some sedans, you have 3 different positions that you can use lower anchors. That’s rare. More often, you can only use the outboard positions. Lack of universal standards mean that you need to consult the car;s owner manual and the car seat owner’s manual to make sure they will play nicely with each other.

2) Lack of universal requirements for car seat manufacturers- In the US, car seats are required to meet minimum crash test standards. You’ll also start to see more seats now that have “side crash protection,” but not all seats do. Some seats have “ease of use” features like lockoffs, variable angle settings, optional rear-facing tethers…you get the picture. And while those things can make a seat a great seat to use, I find that parents are more confused by the array of options than helped. The free market at it’s finest.

3) Parents don’t read the directions- I know those manuals seem like they are simply too thick to read and have too much information, but the grand secret of car seat checks? We read the manual for the car and your car seat with you and go from there. Just don’t tell anyone that’s what we do. (OK, so we also have some tricks up our sleeve and are more familiar with different seats, but still.)

4) That seat your friend lent you is broken- After a few years of use, some really messed up things can happen to car seats. Like what? Harnesses completely misthreaded, buckles missing, parts installed upside-down, key pieces broken off, lower anchor belts so coated with crumbs and goo that you can’t actually adjust the belt…yikes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The car seat is the ONE THING you should buy new. Car accidents are the #1 cause of death for kids under the age of 12. Why skimp on a vital piece of safety equipment?

5) Amazon reviews are just opinions- So, you get home that seat that has RAVE review from parents online, and then you realize….it’s not as easy to use as people say. Why? Well, again, the reviewers may have a different kind of car, may have a different number of kids, and who’s to say that they put the seat in correctly? Maybe it was “easy” to install because it’s wrong.

And know that if you’re struggling, help is out there. A CPST can help you understand your car, your car seat, and teach you how to install your seat in your car. We’re often happy to help advise on types of car seats, too. Car seat techs are special kinds of nerds. Let us help you keep your precious car as safe as can be.

Warmly,

Veronica

Related:

My suggestions for Convertible Car Seats

My suggestions for Combination Car Seats

 

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Is a Doula the same as a Childbirth Educator?

doula same as childbirth educator

This Thursday, I’ll be heading down to the Lamaze International/ DONA International joint annual conference. I’ve been to a Lamaze conference. I’ve been to a DONA conference. As far as I know, this is the first time they two organizations have had a joint conference. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when both groups are in the same room. You see, there is some doula/ childbirth educator crossover, but not as much as you’d think. One reason? It’s far easier to get trained and certified as a birth doula than to be trained and certified as a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, mostly because there are simply more doula trainings. One thing, though, that I feel very strongly about is making sure people realize that hiring a doula is not an acceptable substitute for childbirth education, and a childbirth educator isn’t a substitute for a doula. Both are necessary, and they have very, very different roles.

A childbirth educator, and thus, a childbirth class, is important to help you understand the birth process, various interventions, and help you set realistic expectations for the first few weeks after your baby is born. You need to know these things before you go into labor– once you’re in the midst of birth and postpartum, you just won’t have enough bandwidth to absorb any of that information. And as I wrote previously about the relevancy of childbirth education in 2014, the conversations that we can have in class can not be replicated through any other means.

As a childbirth educator, my certifying organization works very hard to make sure we are staying up to date on evidence-based care. In fact, I’d argue that since we aren’t contractually required to follow a set curriculum that is rarely updated, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators are the most likely to have the most up to date policies and guidelines included in the class content. The policies and standards of care are ever-evolving; usually with the goal of improving outcomes for moms and babies.

As a doula, I prefer if the parents I work with have developed their birth preferences separate of my input. That way when the doctor or midwife asks them about their preferences, I know that the family has fully thought through what they want and don’t want. Education allows them to sort through all of their options, and doula support seeks to help them achieve those goals. And really, to think that 2 or 3 prenatal visits can cover as much as is covered in a birth prep class is an insult to those of us who are childbirth educators.

BUT…as a doula, I offer in-person support at the time of birth. That’s obviously not something I do for the families who take classes at BabyLove (unless they contract with me and my doula partner for doula services).  As a doula, my role is to stay there, in the moment, to offer physical and emotional support to the birthing mother and her partner. The act of being a doula is fluid, sometimes intangible, and it’s hard to articulate exactly what I do. So much of what I do comes from instinct, from my experience with other births, and largely just following mom’s lead.

As doulas have become more mainstream, the role of childbirth education has diminished. And I am frustrated that the same women who are fighting so hard to promote paid doula care are also trying to say that what they do is a replacement for childbirth education. If they want respect, they should be respectful. We would all do a lot better if we could acknowledge that it takes interdisciplinary cooperation to best care for and support new families.

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

What your baby wants you to know…

what a baby needs

Dear parents of mine,

Thanks to brainwave to text technology, I’ve been give a chance to write down some of the things babies like myself really want you to know.

First of all, we have no idea what year it is or where we are. That comes later. To us, at the time of birth we only know a few things–we need mommy there or we could die, we need to stay warm, we need to start nursing really soon, and we can manage to find the breast on our own, if we have to.

Second, despite many years of people saying otherwise, we’re a lot like adults in many ways–only, we’re BETTER. We don’t lie. We don’t cheat. We can’t manipulate (no matter what anyone says). Our brains, for most of the first year, are designed to make sure we live. and as babies, survival means being around mom, it means being fed when we are hungry AND thirsty, and it means sleeping close to mom help us learn healthy sleep habits.

And you know all of those things you had people buy you before I was born? The ones that are still piled up in the living room? I really hate the ones meant to keep me away from you, my parents or other caregivers, for a really long time. I am a carry mammal. I need to be carried to make sure my brain develops correctly. I need to be carried because, unlike horse babies, I can’t walk right after birth.  So all those “must have” baby items are a scam. They aren’t for me. They make millions of dollars for multinational corporations. (Look at my awesome vocab. Ivy League, here I come!)

Then, we need to talk about eating. I mean, come ON! Do you like to have to swallow your entire cup of coffee while lying perfectly horizontal? Do YOU like it  if someone tickles your lips with a sandwich and then shoves it in to you mouth? Or, let’s say you’re thirsty, you ask for a drink of water, and you boss tells you to wait another two hours. Not cool, right? Then why are these things OK for me? I’m going to do the best when I’m comfortable. relaxed, and it’s on my own time. Hey, you get to eat or drink when you want! Just because I can’t walk to the fridge doesn’t mean I don’t have needs.

And, finally, some times I have bad days. Some times, when I just start to crawl, I may fall down. You’ll laugh, but my shoulder will stay sore for awhile. Or sometimes I have a headache, which can lead to sleeping and breastfeeding issues. I can feel pain, and it affects everything I do. Please, I need you to pay attention to me when I’m having an off day. Help me fix it. I promise, I’m not trying to piss you off.

You are good parents, really. There are a lot of people who have made millions and millions of dollars on manipulating parents and preying on their fear. But if you just think for a moment how YOU would react if you were in my onesie–my cries may make more sense.

I love you. <BURP>

-Your baby

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.