How did women give birth 100 years ago?

It’s Friday. I’m going to just link to some videos on the history of 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.

Don’t Google Your Birth!!!

google your birth

I’ll admit that I’m of a certain age that I remember life without internet. I didn’t get an email address until college. I didn’t get a computer until my Sophomore year. We used long-dead search engines to find things, and even then…it was iffy. And while I use social media regularly personally and professionally, There are some great things about the internet when it comes to birth, but there are some bad things, too.

One thing about the internet: It makes trying to find information completely overwhelming. Ask moms about researching everything from car seats, cloth diapers, strollers….you can research these things for months. No exaggerating. The same is true for birth. You try to search for anything, and you’ll find so many different opinions and varying pieces of information that I know it seems like all of it– ALL of it– is subjective. If you go on message boards, you know that moms are there asking questions and getting very few facts, just opinions and “well, I…..” And again, I may be showing my age, but there are some things that I ask opinions about when it comes to my life, and some things I don’t. I would never post on social media to ask others for their opinion on major medical decisions I have to make. Would I ask for their opinions on where I can find a good plumber? Sure!

Want an example of how the internet can go astray? I love using Pinterest to get info out to moms, but some of the pins I see are simply terrible, dangerous, or silly. Rather than let those pins be, I created a Bad Idea board complete with info on WHY those pins are a bad idea. And I sometimes even have BabyLove families send me pins for my bad idea board.

In classes, I teach guidelines. Guidelines aren’t rigid. Guidelines aren’t laws. They are things to help guide decision making. That’s all. Guidelines are pieces of framework by which we can look at a situation. And the guidelines I teach come from practice bulletins from maternity-care professional organizations like ACOG and ACNM and from public health groups like the CDC and WHO. And yes, when the guidelines get updated, as a professional, my job is to be aware of the changes and how best to help parents understand the new information.

The content of my classes is ever-evolving. And I’m proud of the work that I put into the level of expertise that I have. Even better than the internet? In classes, we can have an actual, interesting discussion. Something doesn’t make sense to you? You can ask your questions and I’ll never make you feel silly. You won’t have to dig through 5 pages of search results, either.

Want to use the internet? I’m saying this slightly tongue in cheek, but use the internet to sign up for classes with me. It’s better than spending the time trying to do all of the research and getting overwhelmed. Oh, and you’ll meet other families IRL (that’s social media speak for “in real life”) too.

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.

3 ways you can have a healthier pregnancy

Safe Birth 31 Days

As I mentioned yesterday, there are some things you can do at the beginning of your pregnancy to raise your chances of having a better birth. Now, I’m not talking about the crazy, overly alarming “stay away from everything and anything” advice you’d find in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I’m talking about some simple things that you can do in the early months to make a big difference later on.

1)Resist the urge to give in to all of the cravings- My theory (and it’s just mine) is that our bodies don’t know it’s 2014 when we get pregnant. It doesn’t know that there are things like supermarkets, refrigerators, and pantries all full of food. Your body thinks that food is scarce and limited (as it used to be), so it unapologetically gives moms the urge to eat as much as it can. But because it is 2014, you need to balance that huge desire to eat with smart choices. Avoid too much sugar, too many empty cards, and highly processed food as much as possible. While it’s true that if you only eat Big Macs every single day that your baby will be mostly healthy, you’ll feel like garbage, and that’s no good.

2) Start getting active- OK, so I know there’s always the warnings about starting exercise, but most moms are totally cleared to start gentle things, like walking or prenatal yoga. One thing I did when I was pregnant with my second child was take water yoga. There were no prenatal yoga classes in the area I live in, so I started doing what I lovingly called “yoga with the nanas.” It was gentle, but it still got me moving. If you were active before getting pregnant, it’s usually considered safe to keep doing the things you did before. So if you were an avid runner, it’s considered OK to keep running. But always listen to your body and touch base with your doctor or midwife on what you’re doing. Oh….and no riding bikes. Your center of gravity is shifting and it’s just not worth risking falling off the bike.

3) Drink lots of water!- This is one thing that I’ve tried to take to heart just in general, but make sure you’re getting enough water. Try to avoid things with sugar, even juice. (see above– it’s just empty calories!) If you’re thirsty, it means you’re starting to get dehydrated. And if you HATE plain water, work on finding a way to jazz it up. Get a water bottle you love and can keep with you throughout the day.

Because they are so dead simple, I feel like we forget to talk to moms about how important these things are. But they are the basic building blocks that, when started in early pregnancy, will leave you feeling better the more pregnant you are. And don’t forget– you’re growing a person! That’s important work your body is doing. Help it out by treating it well.

 

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.

When loss happens

when loss happens

I’ll get back to safe and healthy birth talk tomorrow, but I need to address something: Not all babies make it to term. I’ve read many different statistics, but one of the more common estimates is that 15-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. About 1 out of every 160 pregnancies end in a stillbirth. It affects more people that you think.

I used to volunteer to support moms who went to the ER with a suspected miscarriage.  One of the things I’d tell them that when it happens, most moms don’t talk about it. And while the feelings of grief, such as feeling alone, isolated, and in despair are completely normal, there are resources online and in their community to help them process the loss and to find healthy ways to take steps forward.

But.

I had a conversation last week with another Lamaze Educator and with my office mate Crystal about this, and I really do need to say this: The process of creating and growing a human from only a couple of cells is an amazing, complex, almost miraculous process. As we get more advances in science, it may not seem unreasonable to think that we can find a reason for every stillbirth and miscarriage. Except, it’s just not always possible. Sometimes, the instructions get all jumbled and baby doesn’t grow as needed. Sometimes, there are problems with the placenta, an organ we barely understand. And sometimes there are diseases or infections that can lead to loss. Often, though, nobody ever knows.

Every so often, I read pieces that are critical of the maternity care system in the US and elsewhere because stillbirths still happen. I know those criticisms come from a place of profound grief. I know they come from the desire to prevent others from having to experience the loss. However, those pieces miss a point: Not all pregnancies can make it to term. A handful of stillbirths may be preventable, but not as many as advocates claim. And really, only a tiny number of miscarriages can be prevented. Loss is a part of life. But to imply that miscarriages and stillbirths can be prevented heaps a huge load of responsibility on moms that I don’t think they deserve.

I do wish more moms got checkups prior to getting pregnant to make sure they are as healthy as possible before conception. I do wish we’d stop with the societal urging to let pregnant moms eat as much junk food as possible in the name of “eating for two”. And I do wish that all care providers were better at providing prenatal care that regularly checked for things like asymptomatic UTIs. Beyond that, we need to understand that all of the science and technology in the world will never eliminate stillbirths.

We can, however, fight for those moms to get more compassionate care and support during and after a loss. We can work to train more professionals to provide appropriate therapy and support groups. We can also hold those angel babies in our hearts.

Moms don’t need us to find someone to blame. They need us to hold them up when they need help to move, breathe, or make it to the next hour. Support and remembrance.

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.

My daughter’s not very healthy birth

image

Today is my daughter’s 9th birthday.

When she was born, she was by all measures a “healthy baby.”

I, on the other hand, sustained an injury to my right hip. 8 years later, I finally found a treatment that fixed the pain.

There were other things that took a few years to heal. The packs of med students who lined up to check my cervix. Being denied food during a 24+ hour labor. Having an IV line upon admission that I did not consent to. (Update 10/6/14– I elaborated on these things in a post you can find here.)

This, mind you, all happened at one the very best hospitals in the world. I simply did not take seriously enough the importance of choosing the place and care provider carefully.

This stuff matters.  Trust me.

 

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.

Questions to ask when choosing a place to give birth

Safe Birth 31 Days

This post is from March 2013, but it’s a very important post on safe and healthy birth, so I’m re-running it for #write31days.

I gave hospitals tours for 4 1/2 years when I taught childbirth education at those facilities.  On every single tour my goal was to knock the socks off of every family and make them really, really happy that they were going to give birth at my hospital.  It helped that the places I worked were pretty good, but I also understood that the tour is a part of the marketing package.  It would get to the point where I’d be able to give the tours in my sleep– same hand gestures, same lame jokes– but the smart parents would ask the right questions and notice just the right things that would bring me back into the tour.  There are also things that I always wanted people to ether notice or ignore.  So, here are things you NEED to ask about:

  1. Ask the tour person about routine interventions- - No matter what kind of birth you want, it’s important to find a place that doesn’t do conveyor belt births.  high intervention rates often mean that things are done for very little medical reason.  And, as Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #4 states, “Avoid unnecessary interventions”.  Does the tour guide not know?  Ask if one of the nurses would be able to tell you. They can.  They get those stats. And if they refuse, you might want to rethink that birth place.  Interventions to ask about: Cesarean rate, Epidural rate, Episiotomy rate, and if all moms need to get either a Heparin/Saline Lock or an IV.
  2. Ask where the birth balls, the birth stool, and the squat bars are–There should be lots of them.  Lots.  And the balls should be inflated.  Well, there only needs to one or two birth stools.  But the nurses should know where they are and should be MORE than happy to get them for you.  Nobody knows where they are? Again, you’ll have a cookie-cutter birth that might not be the healthiest or safest for you or your baby.
  3. Ask if babies end up spending a lot of time in the nursery– Better yet , check to see how many babies are in the nursery when you tour.  Lots of babies can indicate either that the hospital does a lot of cesareans. or that the nurses pressure moms to send baby to the nursery.  While it might seem that moms are better off sending babes away, nothing could be further from the truth. (See Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #6.)
  4. Ask if moms who are not on pain meds are allowed to walk the halls during labor– The answer should always be yes.  There should be no sighs.  There should be no eye-rolling.  Most importantly, there should be a way to continuously monitor mom, even if she’s out of her room. (Why is this important?  See Healthy Birth Practice #2)
  5. If there’s a waterbirth tub, ask how often it’s used, and by whom–Only  a few years ago, the number of places in the Twin Cities that offered waterbirth dwindled to a small handful.  Now, with only a couple of exceptions, most hospitals “allow” waterbirth, and most have a plumbed-in tub or two for moms to use.  That’s great, but some places aren’t actually doing any waterbirths whatsoever in those grand tubs, so they end up being a bait and switch.
  6. Ask what they do to get meals for moms who give birth at 2am– Baby comes out, and you’re HUNGRY (rightfully so).  What can the hospital do to feed you in the middle of the night?  Do they have box lunches?  Frozen dinners?  Can you order in from some place?  Or…..do you get crackers?
  7. And, finally, watch how the staff interacts– While you’re walking through the hallways between rooms, try to pay attention to how the staff treats the tour group and each other.  Is the desk full of chatting people (aka not paying any attention to moms)?  Do they seem happy? Tense?  Do they smile at you?  Or ignore you?  How they treat each other and the tours is a huge indicator of the overall atmosphere.  If they aren’t positive and welcoming from the first minute they see you,  then watch out.

Have you toured a hospital or birth center and noticed something that either gave you peace of mind or made you want to run away?  Share it in the comments below!

 

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.

Video: Birth By the Numbers

Dr. Declercq is one of my very favorite conference presenters. He looks at the facts, the hard numbers, every year, to see how the US is doing in maternity care. If you’ve ever seen The Business of Being Born, he’s interviewed in it.

In the last 2 weeks, he put out a video with the most up to date numbers. Watch it!

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.

Finding Quality Maternity Care is Up to You

Safe Birth 31 Days

One of the most common myths about maternity care is that all docs and midwives manage care similarly. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunately, we see wide, wide variations in policies, practice, and outcomes (Seriously, you NEED to read this linked article) from hospital to hospital, city to city, and state to state. My personal hero Jill Arnold used two neighboring hospitals to illustrate this point this summer in a post called “Three Miles/ Cinco Kilometros“. Future posts will go over how to find good care, but today I want to make the point that if you want the safest, healthiest outcome, it’s up to you to do the work to find the best care.

Lamaze_CesaraenInfographic

 

Finding good care requires some research, asking questions, educating yourself, and developing skills to negotiate the health care system. Asking questions isn’t just about asking friends if Dr. X was nice or Midwife Y took time with them. Tomorrow’s post will start talking about the questions you need to ask. As a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, I seem a little (or a lot) biased, but Lamaze is the ONLY childbirth education organization with the requirement that educators provide evidence based information, and we’re the only organization with the goal of promoting safe and healthy birth (versus unmedicated or “natural” birth).

So take a Lamaze class, OK? And keep reading. A pregnancy, as stated above, is 40 weeks. I’m just asking you for 29 more days.

Warmly,

Veronica

Find all of the #write31days posts on Safe and Healthy Birth here

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 is “safe and healthy birth”?

Safe Birth 31 Days

When we talk about birth, the emphasis is on a healthy baby. We forget about talking about healthy moms, healthy dads, and healthy partners. And when we talk about “safe”, forget it. Those of us who really dig into maternity care outcomes talk about safe all the time, but generally speaking, the concept of safe is rarely discussed during prenatal visits.

Safe means that no hurt or harm has been done. For birth, that means that actions taken were justifiable. And to me, that brings up the Hippocratic Oath of “First Do No Harm.” This does not mean that there’s aren’t negative outcomes, though. It doesn’t mean that mom or baby won’t have complications, like recovering from a cesarean. But it DOES mean that, in the case of the cesarean, the call to have mom give birth via cesarean was made using the most up to date, most evidence-based guidelines. Any actions taken that potentially could have risks to mom or baby are done to prevent additional harm is done to either of them.

For the term healthy, this means that neither mom nor baby are sick or injured. And the considerations for what makes a birth “healthy” needs to take into account that it’s not just about how mom and baby are doing in the hours right after birth, but takes into consideration how well mom and baby are doing both physically and emotionally in the first couple of weeks and months after birth.

Why is this even an issue? In the US, we aren’t doing safe or healthy very well. Our maternal mortality rate has actually been rising since 2000. We have some of the worst outcomes for infant mortality, too. And while there will never be a way to get perfect outcomes all of the time, there’s a lot to be said for doing what we can to give families the best start possible.

I’m excited to explore this issue more for the next 30 blog posts. Hang on–this could be an interesting month!

Warmly,

Veronica

See all of my 31 Days of Safe and Healthy Birth here

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.

Tongue Ties: PLEASE Listen!

tongue ties please listen

I have posts queued up for my #write31days, but I’m sitting in the dentist’s office while my kids have their teeth cleaned, and I have some things I need to say before I spend a whole month talking about safe and healthy birth.

As pretty much everyone knows, I’ve spent the last year working on increasing awareness of and finding resources for tongue tie and lip tie. I’ve blogged in frustration before about the insane amount of time I was spending this spring trying to find providers to send families to. But today, I’m not going to write this post from the point of view of an advocate, but rather, as a mother, speaking on behalf of other families, with the hopes that some providers will read this and take heed.

I started this journey as a mother with two kids who have tongue ties. And yes, they do have symptoms that cause issues that directly affect their quality of life. I’ve had ENTs, pediatricians, and numerous dentists all ignore and completely dismiss any notion that the kids have tongue ties. And while my daughter got her lip tie released, she still has a tongue tie that I’m trying to figure out how to get released.

So, yet again, on behalf of every parent who is facing the same issues and fight I am, be they for a newborn or an older child, I really want to know why, if you are a care provider,  you refuse to listen to the parents who come to you? I mean, I get that it may not be something you learned about in school, but so what? And don’t tell me that there isn’t any research to back up our assertions. There are a good amount of studies. And I get that they might not be the best quality of studies, but so what? Again, as a mom, I’m really sick and tired of the condescending attitude I get, and as an advocate, I’m really, really sick and tired of watching other moms and dads get ignored, too. It’s irritating, it’s frustrating, and it shows an immense lack of compassion and clinical skills every time you dismiss a desperate parent out of hand.

And don’t EVEN get me started on the insanely stupid turf wars. At a time when we have only a handful of providers to those, and a few various providers to address the after care needs, I’m seeing too many sharp elbows fly, with LCs and dentists and ENTs and chiros all working super hard to protect their piece of the action when they really don’t even have the capacity to work with all of the families that need it.

(Ok, so I will admit that I have my own preferred providers to refer families to, but it’s because I get burned when I refer to a provider that I’ve never met or even talked to before. So yes, I only have a tiny handful of providers I trust, which isn’t to say that there aren’t other good providers out there, but I need to talk to them, and then I can feel ok referring families to them.)

So my challenge to everyone, whether or not you are a care provider involved in ties, is to open your ears. Do more than just read one or two articles. Do your due diligence. Keep an open mind. LISTEN, for #*^% sake, when mothers come to you, having done their own research and figuring out their kids’ issues. Oh, and just STOP making it only about breastfeeding. That’s like saying tonsils only have to do with strep throat. Tongue ties and lip ties are physical abnormalities (albeit common abnormalities) that create a cascade of health issues, even once we’ve adapted to the limits the ties create.

Seriously. Keep an open mind. Go find the research. And stop talking and start listening to the moms.

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.