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Category Archives: Pregnancy

AnMed. Good grief.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization that focuses on hospital standards asked hospitals across the US to voluntarily report their rate of non-medical (elective) inductions and cesarean births before 39 weeks. 

Ok.  First let’s define why elective inductions/cesareans before 38 weeks are bad.  The biggest reason is that the babe isn’t finished cooking yet.  Her lungs and brain are still developing.  More of these babies go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and more are at risk for health problems.  An early induction also carries a high risk for cesarean birth which increases danger to mama and baby.  Leapfrog also factors the cost-saving benefit to avoiding early inductions here

These numbers do not reflect early inductions/cesareans for medical reasons.  Medical reasons include preeclampsia or premature rupture of membranes.  These are purely elective (convenience–for the parents or the OB, concerns of big baby, tired of being pregnant, etc). 

Would you like to check out your hospital?   

For the local families:

1)  I’m surprised AnMed was willing to admit their non-medical early induction/cesarean rate is a crazy high 67.3%!

2)  I understand St. Francis has a new policy for 2009 that disallows these early births prior to 39 weeks.  Good for them with their 2% rate!  Maybe they will also catch up on the evidence for other things soon too.  Like what?  Oh, maybe like uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact after birth or vertical positions for birth or…the list goes on. 

3)  Not specific to our hospitals but good to know, in general, the average length of gestation for a first time mom is 41 wks 1 day.  So if a baby is scheduled to be born at 38 weeks, that baby is premature.  Whether he meets the medical criteria for prematurity, he had potentially had several more weeks to grow and develop. 

4)  Finally, beware the back-door induction.  The what?  Nancy New-Mommy goes in for a 38 week visit.  Dr. Sneaky Sneakyscrubs checks her and exclaims, “you’re 2cm dilated and 75% effaced!  are you feeling any contractions?”  Nancy says, “well, I have been feeling some cramping.  I think.”  Dr. Sneakyscrubs:  Let’s go do a non-stress test to see what is happening.  Nancy is surprised that the monitor shows she is having some contractions and they seem to be coming every 7 or so minutes.  Dr. Sneakyscrubs returns to say, “Congratulations, you are in labor!  Let’s get you over to the hospital.  We’ll start you on a very low dose of pitocin to help things along.”  Fast forward:  Nancy’s membranes are artificially ruptured, she gets an epidural to help cope with the pain of the pitocin, antibiotics because her membranes are ruptured, more pitocin because the epidural slowed things down, oxygen because baby distressed from the pitocin, and a cesarean for failure to progress and prolonged rupture of membranes.  Was she ever in labor to begin with?

Ladies, if you’ve ever attended one of my childbirth classes, you know my mantra:  Keep your knickers on.  Keep your knickers on at your 38, 39, 41 week OB visits.  There is nothing your OB or midwife needs to know from your cervix unless you need to know your Bishop’s score for an induction decision.  (There is an app for that by the way).

Upcoming Free Events

Greenville Babywearing Group  meets Thursday night (Jan. 20) at 6pm.  We’re enjoying our new home at Natural Baby.  Come to learn, try out a new type of carrier, or teach someone else.  Bring your carrier(s) and bring your baby.  Or if you’re pregnant, you can practice with a stuffed animal.  Dads are always welcome to attend!

Cloth Diaper 101:  I can’t believe how many people came out for this class last month!  So we’re offering it again.  I’ll show you lots of options for cloth diapering.  We’ll talk about poop.  We’ll talk about money.  We’ll talk trash (or lack thereof).  Dads need to come, too!  1pm at Natural Baby. 

Blessingways:  A Gathering of New and Expectant Families:  Join us for our monthly gathering. We’re meeting in a new place for 2011. When you arrive at Natural Baby, head toward the back of the store where you’ll find a comfortable lounge. Our positive birth story this month is Noelle who had her first baby at home with a midwife.  Our speaker is Ady Orezzoli, the owner of Natural Baby.  She will share her expertise on “Saving Money While Going Green.”

Pregnant couples are encouraged to attend.  New mamas and papas as well as experienced families are welcome!  Bring your babies or older children.  We expect it to be a bit noisy.  Hope to see you there!

A note about Natural Baby.  I’ve moved many of our events to this store because the owners opened the store, in part, as a place of education.  And they sincerely love parents and children.  Parking is available around the corner in the garage on Richardson street (credit card payment accepted) if you can’t find a spot on the street.

Two Things to Do While Pregnant

Put these two items on your To-Do List.  You’re pregnant for 9 months.  You can fit it in.

1)  Learn about breastfeeding.  Yes it is natural.  Yes it is the biological norm for human feeding.  Yes we are mammals and thus defined by our mammary glands.  Here’s the problem:  we’ve become disconnected from this function.  We don’t witness it as part of normal life.  My sister told me of a young girl who had no idea how babies were fed without a bottle.  She even asked, “Do you drink the milk and then spit it in the baby’s mouth?  How cool!” 

And then you’re given this baby.  It is all you, mama.  And you are unfamiliar with the tangible signs that baby is “getting enough.”  And maybe you don’t know that her little stomach begins the size of a marble.  Did you know colostrum (the initial nourishment) is measured in tablespoons? 

Oh, and then you realize that it takes 15 hands to get the baby properly latched, held in place, arms out of the way, breasts compressed? 

I remember picking Norah up to nurse her in the middle of the night that first week postpartum.  I was so tired.  I tried to latch on her feet instead of her mouth.  And then Scott was asleep and dreaming he was nursing the baby while he held a tiny pillow to his chest.  Exhaustion.

Yes, it is natural.  No, it does not come naturally for many women.  So learn.  Take a class.  Don’t just read a book, buy it so you’ll have it to re-read at 3am.  Know where to go online for help.  My favorite resources are kellymom and Dr. Jack Newman.  And please stay away from books that try to put newborns on a schedule.  Every medical organization and breastfeeding organization says to feed baby on demand (when baby says it is time to eat). 

2)  Take an independent childbirth class.  Even if you’re planning to birth with an epidural.  Why?  Because sometimes you are not able to get an epidural (moving too quickly, no anesthesiologist available, low platelet count, etc).  And sometimes you get one and it doesn’t work.  A childbirth class will give you other tools in case your primary tool doesn’t work out.  You won’t panic.  You’ll have plan B.  Also, you probably won’t get an epidural before your first contraction.  Wouldn’t you like to have some ways to cope with those? 

A childbirth class will give you a realistic picture of birth.  Did you know that active labor for a first time mama is around 12 hours and that most labors do not begin with your water breaking?  You might decide to spend some time in the comfort of your home before rushing to the hospital.  A childbirth class will give you confidence to identify where you are in your labor and what to expect next.  It will give your birth partner confidence to support you.  It will show you options you didn’t know you had.   

Why independent?  Because the hospital class spends more time teaching you procedures, pain medication options, what to expect as a patient and less time on alternative pain coping options, stages of labors, etc.  Independent classes are usually longer and more in depth.

Don’t make excuses on this one!  If you cannot find a group class, take a private class in your home.  If you don’t have time, take a private class in your home around your schedule.  It is important. 

Things to consider when choosing a class. 

I don’t normally go authoritarian on expectant couples but I’ve heard one too many terrible birth story and sabotaged breastfeeding story this week.  Your birth experience matters because regardless of natural birth or medicated birth, knowing you are an active participant–making choices, getting informed consent–gives you confidence to do this difficult journey called parenting.  Birth is a small window in time but it is a giant door to becoming an informed and mindful parent.

Final Blessingway of the Year

This Saturday, Oct. 23, will be our last Blessingway before we break for the holidays.  Join us in the community room at Earth Fare at 2pm.

We’ll hear first time mama, Holly, share her homebirth experience.  And then our featured guest, licensed midwife Elizabeth Randolph, will discuss “Addicted to your Baby:  the role of hormones in birth.” 

Babies and children are welcome.  This event is dad-friendly.  It is usually a bit noisy with babes expressing their needs and wishes so expect an informal group.  Blessingways are open to the public and free.  Nobody is selling anything.  They were created for new and expectant parents but we welcome birth professionals, those thinking about becoming pregnant, or experienced parents.

Hope to see you there!

Mindful Birth Class Dates

The Mindful Birth Class will begin Nov. 7 and meet for six consecutive Sunday evenings.  We’ll meet at an OB office in Greer from 5pm-7pm. 

I need at least three couples to sign up in order to teach the class.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to register so I can order your materials.  

I think you’ll love this class and learn so much!  I know I love teaching it. 

Email to register j_byers (at) bellsouth (dot) net. 

Teaser of things you will learn:

  • Why the amazing uterus has two opposing muscle fibers
  • How beta-endorphins from labor pass into your colostrum
  • Three easy techniques for resolving back labor
  • How to map your belly so you know how your baby is positioned
  • How to write a birth plan that doesn’t look like you found it on the internet
  • And how to protect the emotional atmosphere of your birthing space
  • And the biggest question of all:  when to go to the hospital/birth center or call your midwife to come

And so much more!

Not all childbirth classes are equal; or, you get what you pay for

We have some amazing childbirth classes in my area.  Taught by seasoned birth workers.  These classes all fall in about the same price range.  Some classes, however, are underpriced and for couples looking only at the price tag, it can seem a steal.  Are they apples to apples?  How do you know which to pick? 

I’ve had a few couples who did not take my classes because they felt it was too expensive. 

Now, to me, there is a difference in the couple that tells me they can’t afford my class and the couple who says it is too expensive.  I lower the price, barter, or work out payment plans all the time for folks who can’t afford it. 

What are you paying for when you take a childbirth class? 

1)  You’re paying for the instructor’s credentials.  I spent ton o’ money to become certified as a Hypnobabies Instructor. 

2)  You’re paying for materials.  For example, Hypnobabies students receive 7 CDs, three books, a tote bag, and loads of handouts.

3)  You’re paying for class costs:  travel expenses, space rental, supplies, business expenses, etc.

Hospitals and some birth centers/childbirth businesses offer free or very low cost childbirth classes.  The hospitals do it because they want you to be a good patient and to understand your options (i.e. hospital policies and procedures).  The birth groups are perhaps trying to bring in business for other services. 

I’ll use hypnosis for childbirth as an example.  It is so hip and trendy to use hypnosis for birth these days.  There are several programs available:  Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Hypbirth.  These have been around for a while and have wonderful outcomes.     

But hypnosis for childbirth is more than simple relaxation and it is more than listening to a script.  It is a rather complex process.  For Hypnobabies, before I could even train as an instructor, I had to complete 50 hours of hypnosis training and be tested on the materials.  And let me tell you, that was some intimidating stuff.  Self-hypnosis is not something I could just teach one of my doula clients outside of a class.  It takes weeks of practice and compounding.

When you pay for a Bradley class, you expect it to be taught by a certified Bradley instructor.  Not someone who used Bradley for their birth or who read Husband-Coached Childbirth a few times.  By the way, we do have two amazing Bradley instructors in town:  Mary Kury and Kristin Abboud.   

So when you’re shopping for a childbirth class, ask some simple questions:

1)  What is the instructor’s background?  I don’t think everyone needs to be certified.  There are some wise women out there who are treasures and I could sit at their feet all day long.  I could care less if they are certified.  But listen to the instructor tell you her story.  You’ll know if she is someone you can trust.

2)  If it is a trademarked program (Bradley, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within), is the instructor currently credentialed?  You can usually check the parent website for instructor listings. 

3)  What is the cost?  If an instructor is teaching a 10 or more hour course and is charging less than 150.00, I would question it.  Most trademarked classes are 250.00 or more.  And if a class is less than 10 hours long, it is probably not a comprehensive class.

Bottom Line:  Do your homework.  Find the class that matches your birth expectations the best.  I don’t think hypnosis is for everyone and I regularly refer couples to my stellar Bradley friends.

Mindful Birth

Mindful Birth is a 6 week series that grew organically from the private classes I created for individuals.  It is appropriate for women choosing home, birth center, or hospital birth.  The defining philosophy behind this series is that attitude and expectation are key to having a positive birth experience.  The classes are 2 hours each and meet weekly in Greer.  The series breaks down like this:

Class 1:  Enjoying a low-risk pregnancy (nutrition, exercise, positive story, meditation)
Class 2:  Physiology of normal birth
Class 3:  Variations (labor dystocia, prodromal labor, interventions, informed consent)
Class 4:  Celebrating your birth (an overview and practice of many coping techniques)
Class 5:  Planning for your birthplace (understanding options of chosen birthplace, birth plans, packing a birth bag, creating a homebirth checklist)
Class 6:  Comprehensive birth rehearsal and postpartum

This class will begin the 2nd week of November and will meet in the evenings. 

I continue to teach Hypnobabies which is enjoying great outcomes.  My next series will begin January 2.  I have three spots remaining for this class.  While I love the student statistics and satisfaction from this class, hypnosis isn’t for everyone.  And honestly, Mindful Birth is loads of fun to teach!

Please email me if you’re interested in enrolling–j_byers (at) bellsouth (dot) net.

My Sister’s Blessingway

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You might remember that my sister was one of the fabulous four who threw a blessingway for me last summer. 

I wish every expectant woman was given a Mother Blessing or Blessingway.  We don’t have enough rituals surrounding the transitions in our lives.

For Noelle’s celebration, I chose a few special rituals to honor her. 

Each guest brought a bead to be made into a birth bracelet for Noelle during Asher’s birth.  Everyone had such amazing beads!  My mom made a pendant containing beads that belonged to her, her mother, and her grandmother.  Noelle’s mother-in-law found a fantastic bead featuring a babywearing mama.  One friend gave Noelle a bead from a necklace she bought during their first overseas mission trip.  Take a look at the gorgeous bracelet.

Each of us also wrapped an ankle or wrist in a Mothercord.  We’ll wear this cord until Asher is born; each woman using the cord to remind her to pray for Noelle’s birth. 

I had Noelle’s mom and her mother-in-law each braid a side of her hair.  In the back, I joined the two braids with a hydrangea flower from our grandmother’s garden.  Our grandmother is no longer living and I wish I’d asked her more about her own births.  I know that she had all her children at home except her last born, my mother. 


I set up a table for an art project.  Each guest was invited (ok, ordered) to participate.  They were to create a piece of art called “Becoming Mother” as a gift for Noelle. 

Finally, my talented friend, Katy, henna’d Noelle’s feet.  She also graciously gave each guest a small henna tattoo as a reminder of Noelle’s birth and transition into motherhood.  The henna work was my favorite part of the blessingway.  








   Now, we wait for sweet baby Asher. 


Update on the Young Pregnant Couple

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For those of you who’ve been following the pregnancy of my sister and brother-in-law, an update:

Noelle and Zach expect their wee lad in early August.  He seems a strong soul–making big solid movements in Noelle’s belly.  When I feel her belly, I think of an oak. 

They are planning a homebirth.  Noelle has a really relaxed attitude about birth.  She doesn’t seem to have much fear or many expectations about the way it should go.  She has surrounded herself with good tools and support and believes that her body will know what to do.  Zach is fantastic and will be a rockstar during her birth.  Plus she has an incredible doula (you’ve probably heard of her).  Her midwife team isn’t half-bad either.  🙂

They continue to prepare for Cambodia.  They will be moving there in the spring.  From your wonderful advice on which cloth diapers to use in a place without hot water, they’ve stashed prefolds and covers.  And they continue to work through the vaccination decisions–what vaccines are suggested for a baby in Cambodia, which can be skipped/delayed, which can be found in Cambodia, and will these contain mercury as many overseas vaccines still do?  If they followed the standard recommendations, baby Asher’s newly born system would be saturated with vaccines. 

If you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty excited about this tiny soul and the smart couple who will raise him.  

Hypnobabies for the Glucose Screening Test

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I received this email from one of my Hypnobabies students and she gave permission to blog it:

Just wanted to share with you my success story of the week. I had to have blood drawn for the blood sugar test.

I am terrified of needles. I always bruise and I am sore. I also have panic attacks and cry afterwards, feel nauseous and dizzy. So I put off going all day.

So I decided that I would use my Hypnobabies techniques before and during having my blood drawn. I used my middle switch as soon as I got back there and then I used my “Peace” word and ran the script of my blood sugar will be normal as they drew vials of blood.

To my amazement I felt nothing but pressure, not even a prick!!! It felt just like my husband applying pressure to my arm [something we practice in class].  I had no panic attack and I felt wonderful afterwards as if nothing had even happened. I didn’t have any bruising and NO soreness. My husband always worries over me when I come out and this time when I came out I was smiling and so happy. He was so proud of me and I was proud of myself.

It was just the boost of confidence I needed to know that I can control how my body interprets what I feel.

Isn’t that fantastic?  If you want to learn more about Hypnobabies, I have two spots remaining in my Greenville class.  It begins in a week so let me know!