Tuesday, May 27, 2014

For a gentle, loving childbirth at home or in the hospital...

With 85% of US births considered traumatic for mother and child, how can we create the gentle, loving childbirth and postpartum WE ALL WANT?

Watch the New Mother video...

THE C-SECTION EPIDEMIC: Are WE Culpable & What Can We Do About It?

Microbirth - The New Film from One World Birth
There is a global c-section epidemic. Both mothers and babies are suffering trauma and health risks. New research is emerging indicating that the health of society at large is being compromised as a result.

While the reasons for the epidemic are varied and complex, awareness is growing (thanks in large part to mothers, birth workers, and advocates using social media). Earlier this year, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, jointly-issued the Obstetric Care Consensus, stating that allowing most women with low-risk pregnancies to spend more time in the first stage of labor may avoid unnecessary cesareans [1] (long understood in the world of midwifery). 

Despite the growing awareness, US C-section rates (approximately 1/3 of all births) remain far in excess of the WHO standard: “The estimated proportion of births by caesarean in the population is not less than 5% or more than 15%.”[2]  (Note that 15% is not the rate it “should be,” but the very high end of what could be expected.) 

Of course there are some hospitals and OBs with decreasing C-section rates, but the fact remains that, based on the WHO guideline, 55-85% of the C-sections performed in the US are in excess of what should be required.

Alarmingly, maternal mortality rate is higher in the US than in China[3] despite the fact that China has a dramatically higher C-section rate (47%).[4]  Worse, Abigail Higgins reports: “Eugene Declercq, of Boston University's School of Public Health, produced a short film named Birth by the Numbers discussing maternal mortality in the US. In a 2013 follow-up report, he noted that mortality rates in other industrialized nations had declined - while in the US, it increased by 30 percent in the first decade of the new millennium,”[5] partially due to C-sections. [6]

Not only are c-section rates climbing, but surgery is being forced on women against their will.  In April this year, a woman was “kidnapped” from her home by authorities in Brazil to make her comply with her doctor’s demand that she have a c-section.[7]
And just last week in what the Inquisitor said could be termed a violation of the most basic of feminine, or even human, rights, a woman in Staten Island was forced, against her will, to undergo a cesarean section.[8]

Are We Culpable in the C-Section Epidemic?
As the friends, family, and caretakers of the victims of C-section abuse, we are unwitting accomplices to the tolerance and acceptance as “normal” of C-section rates of 33% (US hospitals), and even of 90% (private hospital rates in Brazil) when, by contrast, the rate at The Farm from 1970-2000 was 1.4%[9] (lower than would be expected in any medical facility, but the statistic and their work (www.thefarmmidwives.org) merit consideration. See footnotes*)
 With one sentence—“At least you had a healthy baby”—we unconsciously endorse the system that has created the phenomenon of the “emergency birth,” and the perception that birth is dangerous enough to frequently require surgical intervention to “save” mom and/or baby.
There are dozens of reasons never to utter those words to a new mother after her C-section (all actually nuances of the single problem that it makes us accomplices). Here are the top seven. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gentle Methods to PREVENT & TURN a Breech Baby

Gentle Methods to PREVENT & TURN a Breech Baby

Interview with Dr. Daoshing Ni and Dr. Jessica Chen, by Allie Chee

 Just the word “breech” can strike fear in pregnant womenand rightfully so.

 In the U.S. hospital environment, a breech presentation would “almost certainly mean a cesarean section, considered major abdominal surgery that generally leads to longer hospital stays, longer recovery and, like all surgery, the risk of complications[1]—and loss of any hope of a natural childbirth experience.

In the case of home birth with a midwife, some midwives will deliver breech babies and some won’t. World-acclaimed midwife, birth educator and activist Ina May Gaskin said in one of her lectures, “At first, we brought breech pregnancies to the hospital, but we found after a while that we could deliver them here just fine. Footling breeches, which are thought to be the most difficult, in our experience, they often just slid right out.”[2]

However, today more than 90% of breech babies are born by Caesarean [2]. A woman will be hard-pressed to find a provider who will happily encourage a vaginal birth with a breech presentation and she will likely find herself in the OR on her big day.

But for any woman wanting to avoid that scenario—great news!

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers an extremely gentle, painless procedure with a high success rate for turning breech babies.  Further, TCM offers suggestions and ideas for how to avoid a breech presentation in the first place.

To find out more, I interviewed two doctors considered top in the field:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America, by Theresa Morris

If you're planning a natural childbirth in the hospital...

I read this new release immediately upon receiving it yesterday. Though I can see its great contribution to these fields, I did not read it from a childbirth provider's, scholar's, or politician's point of view. I read it as a mother who chose home birth at 42 years old---amongst other reasons--to avoid being caught in the "cascade of interventions"--or what I call the "birth template" prepared for us by committees. I read it as someone who writes and advocates for natural childbirth.

Cut It Out, written by Professor Theresa Morris, offers new insight to answer the question: "if most women do not want or choose c-section and most maternity providers claim not to prefer c-section over vaginal birth, why has there been an astronomical increase in the c-section rate in the United States?"

Monday, September 23, 2013

Is DAD the Ideal Postpartum Doula?

Is DAD the Ideal Postpartum Doula? 
 Is DAD the Ideal Doula? as published on The Birthing Site
by Allie Chee, with comments from Darren Mattock, Darla Burns, Elly Taylor, and Dr. Ning X. Fu, O.M.D., Ph.D

Postpartum care around the world has well elaborated traditions that support healing, bonding, and growth for the new family. They are respected and received by families in all financial strata. These traditions are considered essential not only to the mother’s immediate recovery, they’re believed to benefit her subsequent pregnancies, menopause, and golden years.

The postpartum time for women in the US historically involved at least periods of bed-rest, during which an experienced woman—usually one or several family members—supported the new family.

However, the concept of postpartum care for the family is currently the subject of debate in the United States where

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

YONI BLISS: Postpartum Care for Our Most Delicate & Tough Body Part

 Postpartum Care for Our Most   
 Delicate & Tough Body Part!
Our bodies were made to give birth. It’s natural, it’s miraculous, and when we allow it to…it just happens.

But that doesn’t mean that we emerge from the experience unscathed.  Let’s face it—though breastfeeding and childbirth are the major role of our nipples and yoni[1]—those delicate parts (and others) take a bit of a beating in childbirth and the early days postpartum!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Prenatal Glucose Test: Is it Necessary?

•50 grams of glucose •tap water •artificial flavor

     That's not what you'd expect to find on a “recommended” list for pregnant mothers, but those are the ingredients of the drink a pregnant woman must consume if she follows doctors orders for glucose tolerance screening.

    Women who are discerning with the things they consume during pregnancy--or at any time in their life--are not likely going to drink the glucose test beverage without, at least, asking: “Is this really necessary?”

    When pregnant,

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    The Secret to Calm & Confidence in Childbirth


    The Secret to 
    CALM & CONFIDENCE  in Childbirth

    With Excerpts from New Mother

    Throughout my thirties I watched not one or two, but almost all my friends enthusiastically enter the hospital in labor, having claimed for nine months that they would have a natural birth. Yet they came out two (or ten) days later having been induced, forced to labor on their back, drugged, cut, and observed by countless strangers. Their babies had been taken from them immediately after birth and they were having problems nursing.
    I wondered what had gone on behind the doors of the L&D that all of them were checking out with dramatically altered birth stories.
    In my third trimester I attended an all-day birthing class at a store for new moms and babies. The women in attendance were from around the world, highly educated in their fields of work, and well to do with all conveniences of life available to them.
    And yet... here are some things I heard during class:

    Saturday, April 20, 2013



    Postpartum Care for Mothers Experiencing Loss

    By Allie Chee

    People in the US are rediscovering the mind/body benefits of a 30-40 day postpartum recovery period for new moms during which they rest, are cared for, eat special foods for rejuvenation, and are supported by family and postpartum care providers. This, of course, leaves mom better able to care for and bond with her new baby, and to return to her old strength, if not even an increased vitality—quickly!

    In China the term for this time is called “sitting moon” (zuo yuezi in Mandarin—one month being “one moon”), but cultures throughout Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Far East have similar practices, each with their own special techniques and care providers. This postpartum care is not considered something only for

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    NO FEAR of BREECH - The New Mother Cover Story

     The New Mother book cover is based on the image of a woman approximately 32 weeks pregnant—me. When working on design ideas for the cover, the production team asked me to send a photo of myself pregnant, and that ended up being the inspiration for the cover.

    But that’s not where the inspiration stopped.  In other words, it’s not a literal image.

    New Mother Cover Design
    We don’t see an umbilical cord; there’s no placenta in sight; and the baby, rather than in the ideal position for birth, is “cradled” in the mother’s arm and looking straight at the reader—smiling!

    If the baby had been presented exactly as she was positioned at the time, she would have been head-down, nestled in the pelvic girdle, and the reader would have a lovely view of her back and bum, or maybe her curled legs and feet. That could be important for a medical journal, but the artist had an intention with her cover design.  She wanted the baby to interact with the reader—to say: I’m a participant, aware and involved.

    I loved the idea and the image, and the idea that the baby was “breech” never crossed my mind.  After a reader contacted me saying

    Friday, April 12, 2013

    Avoiding Exposure to Violence While Pregnant

    For a healthy, happy baby
    take... a love bath?

    •A Texas Twist on an
    Ancient Chinese Precept•

     Of all the unusual things I learned from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda about conception and pregnancy, this one caught people’s attention most. Probably because it was the one thing they’d never heard of...and because the effect on the baby is so profound.

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    A Midwife, Doula, and Postpartum Help for Healthier, Happier Mom, Dad & Baby

    Who uses a doula, midwife, and postpartum help?

    Barefoot hippies? Hollywood divas?

    Yes, and millions of everyday, hardworking people around the world who have decided either through their cultural heritage or personal research that for them, a natural childbirth and postpartum care with the support of a midwife, doula, and other services makes for the healthiest, safest, and happiest ways to give birth to and care for the new spirit in their lives.

    Natural childbirth in a hospital, home birth, and postpartum care have become so uncommon in the US (and increasingly in other countries) that they are now considered by many to be too difficult, unnecessary, or even frivolous.

    But, just a glance at the number of women in the US who fail to have a natural childbirth (when that’s what they intended), fail to breastfeed (even when they wanted to and tried), and who suffer from

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    BOOK REVIEW: Sacred Pregnancy by Anni Daulter


    A Book Can Be a Best Friend

    Sometimes our best friend is a person, sometimes an animal, and sometimes…it can be a book!

    If a book can inspire, guide, and offer simple direction to help a woman create more awareness, beauty, joy, and gratitude through each and every day of her pregnancy—that book is indeed a friend for a lifetime.  Sacred Pregnancy: A Loving Guide and Journal for Expectant Moms is such a book.

    My baby was already 2 years old when I started reading Sacred Pregnancy and I'm not planning on having more children—but that didn’t diminish my joy or the benefit I received. The first night I fell asleep reading it, I had a gorgeous, mind-blowing "pregnant dream."  That was the first sign that I wasn't reading just another day-by-day pregnancy guide/journal.  Over the next several days, I was reading it every free moment. It left me inspired, happy and feeling beautiful.

    THE TEXT AND GUIDANCE:  inspiring, reassuring, encouraging and full of joy (forget the “problem, test, or fear-of-the-week”—there’s none of that here).

    THE PHOTOS & ART: made me want to dive into the page, revel in those scenes, trade clothes and jewelry with those women, braid each other’s hair and swap stories, ideas, inspiration…to be a part of their sister circles. (Which we can be—more info below!)

    Monday, February 25, 2013

    Baby Sign Language is Cool! Easy, Fun Communication with Your Infant Using ASL

    After good morning hugs & tickles...signing time!

    Easy, Fun Communication With Your Infant Using ASL

    Several years ago I was friends with a deaf[*] woman and was always intrigued when watching her sign with her baby.

    When pregnant I heard about the trend of parents who weren’t deaf teaching their babies ASL (American Sign Language) or a modified “baby sign” as a way to create clear, two-way communication before a baby was able to speak. I knew that parents and babies had many ways to communicate and express without needing to use sign, but again I was intrigued.

    I read several books and websites to learn more. Many teachers and authors encouraged parents to begin signing with their children between 6-8 months, and advised that though babies would be learning—they’d usually remain unable to sign back until 9 months, 12 months, or older.

    Encouraging parents to sign with their children at any age seemed beneficial and fun, but the information I found was a little different from what I’d observed with my friend and discovered in the deaf community (and what with a little contemplation makes sense):  deaf parents use sign to communicate with their newborns from day one. Just like newborns learning to speak from day one with their parents, babies can learn sign from day one!

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    CANCER, CIRCUMCISION & C-SECTION...What Will People Say?

    “The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next.”
    -Sir William Osler

    It is now the year 3013, and in this report we will discuss briefly three rituals and behaviors of the tribes of people living in North America: the tribe of the United States collectively called “Americans,” and the tribe of Canada collectively called “Canadians”—during an era now called “Dark Age II”—1,000 years ago in the period between 1950-2050.  As we’ll see in this report, Dark Age II was marked by extraordinary aberrations of nature and a reign of fear, exemplified in these three rituals/behaviors:

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    CONCEIVING AFTER MISCARRIAGE: When to Try Again & Increasing Ability to Carry Full Term



    In Part 1 of this article, AFTER MISCARRIAGE: Postpartum Care for Mothers Experiencing Loss, we discussed the care a woman should receive in the first several weeks after a preterm loss (or stillbirth) to help her through the grieving process, to assure her return to vitality, and—according to the precepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine—to increase her chance of a successful pregnancy the next time she conceives.

    Here in Part 2, we’ll address the question: When should we try to conceive again? It would be nice if there were one, but the answer is that there is no one answer.  Conceiving life is a sacred event, and there is no single fact or consideration that can offer a single best answer for everyone.

    However, since there are biological and emotional ramifications of pregnancy and loss, there are factors we should consider when deciding when it’s best to try to conceive again.

    The western medical industry essentially considers one factor when making recommendations: What is the statistical likelihood of carrying the next pregnancy full-term when conception happened x amount of time after a miscarriage?” 

    That is indeed the ultimate question in any woman’s mind. However, the western medical industry offers studies with tremendously conflicting results to answer that question.

    For example,

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    BOOK REVIEW - Becoming Us: The Essential Relationship Guide

    Photo courtesy of Peace Love Birth
    BECOMING US, by Elly Taylor

    Reviewed by ALLIE CHEE

    From the very first moment, our children are looking to us for guidance—to learn how to be.

    That’s why I’m so glad my relationship with my husband was perfect every day of our pregnancy and postpartum.  We were never tired or cranky, we always shared in our duties equally, and we took turns making breakfast-in-bed for one another. (And speaking of bed…the ¡SEX! was a bit calmer during pregnancy but back to the Wild West immediately postpartum.)  Hmm…

     It was a sacred, wonderful time, but that’s not exactly…not all together…how it was.  Which is why I’m happy I discovered Becoming Us.

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    Natural Childbirth Exercies - Review

    Natural Childbirth Exercises

    If we want any performance or undertaking to turn out the way we envision, training and study are a must—even with natural childbirth. 

    The good news is: the more we study and train, the more we can release concerns, look forward with joy, and entrust the outcome to the Divine!

    With that in mind, check out this fantastic book by Rhondda Hartman, mother to 5, grandmother to 9, & trainer to 14,000+ pregnant women…

    There was an error in this gadget