Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Guest Post #2: Judgment, Fear, and Focus

Laureen is the technical editor and online community advocate for java.sun.com and developers.sun.com at Sun Microsystems, a freelance editor for Hunt Press, and a contributor to several peer-reviewed group blogs. She's a blogger, a podcaster, a website manager, and an enthusiastic geek enabler. She's the mother of two gorgeous children, and the wife of a man who understands her birth passion. She's had one iatrogenic unnecesarean, and one triumphant HBAC.

Judgment, Fear, and Focus

For only having two children, I have pretty much the range of birth experience; my first was a planned birth center birth turned hospital transfer with epidural turned cesarean. So there's the complete spectrum of medicalized birth. (At the time I was planning it, I thought my birth center birth was non-medicalized. I learned the hard way about medical midwifery.) My cesarean was brilliant, as these things go. The doctor was near retirement, had a 40% cesarean rate in his private practice, and knew what he was doing. I was too ignorant to even ask for things, but upon examination of my medical records, I got a Cadillac of a cesarean. Sheer dumb luck, that was. But despite that, due to hospital protocols, my baby spent the first four hours of his life with strangers; four hours we'll never get back.

For my second birth, I had an unassisted pregnancy, followed by a home birth with a midwife.

The move from home to hospital for birth in our culture involved a paradigm shift, whereby medical professionals convinced women that they were incompetent to birth without assistance, despite millennia of successful field testing to the contrary. The move to reclaim women's power by bringing birth back under their control is involving another paradigm shift, and that's going to be uncomfortable, and it's going to upset people. I think it matters that I know all kinds of women who've gone from hospital births to home births, but only two who've gone the other way, even if the home birthers ended up transferring ultimately. Because of my own experience, I am strongly biased towards home birth, and I admit that up front. On the other hand, because of the experiences of women I know personally, I would rather gnaw off my own arm than deny women the right to choose to birth in a hospital.

One of the things that really bothers me about the comment-foo on Rixa's blog is the complete abandonment of logic. Instead of classical logic, symbolic logic, the construction of actual arguments based on fact, we saw logical fallacies. Use of fallacy in argument invalidates the whole thing, in addition to bringing the entire discussion down to blows in short order. This does nothing to contribute to the betterment of women and babies; it sets us against each other for no purpose whatsoever. The thing about a good, solid, well-constructed argument is that invariably, both sides of the issue learn something and see further into their opponent's mindset. Everyone is bettered, perspective is gained, and we're that much closer to being a unified force...unified behind the true betterment of the situation here for mothers and babies.

I'd like to address a few of the real arguments brought up in the course of the commentary on Rixa's post...

Always be suspicious of motive when someone tries to make you do something that makes a lot of money for them

Maternity "care" is critical to the profitability of a hospital, and the more this can be managed, the more profit a hospital makes. The cesarean rate in the US is at levels so high (31.1% in 2006) that the World Health Organization considers it to be a "crisis." Scheduled cesareans are the epitome of optimally profitable managed birth. UnitedHealthcare sends maternity patients a brochure in late second trimester, offering them the option of a scheduled 39-week cesarean.

My cesarean, NICU stay, and hospital stay netted the hospital nearly $27,000, the anesthesiologists nearly $11,000, and a heap of other people other monies, and cost my insurance company a bundle.

My home birth cost my insurance company $3,000. Period.

So who stands to make money off my choice of birth? Hmm...

"You should be grateful you have a healthy baby/All that matters is a healthy baby"

Well, yeah, of course. But that's so not the whole story. Read Gretchen Humphries' brilliant essay "You Should Be Grateful."

There is room in this world for good experiences for both.

"Birth is about the baby, not the mother"

This letter, published in the ICAN eNews a little while back, says it all.
I am a lawyer who went to a top ten law school and then to a top tier firm. I used to be very mainstream in my views. I thought women who chose to give birth at home were reckless. When I got pregnant and was given the option of having a c-section, I readily agreed. I never went into labor and my c-section went flawlessly. I researched it, so I expected that my arms would be tied down, that I would likely shake from the anesthesia, and that I would not be able to hold my baby. That was ok, because I was ready for it. I handled the drugs well and, as a result, actually remember the first 24 hours. My recovery was uncomplicated.

My daughter, however, got the worst of it--which isn't even really that bad considering other stories I've heard. She was so sleepy and zoned out from the drugs that we had to put ice on her bare skin to wake her up enough to feed. She developed jaundice as a result of not eating enough. Because she couldn't feed properly (because she was so drugged), my milk never came in properly--which was a problem since it turned out she was allergic to all of the formulas they had. Given her allergies, breast milk would have really helped. She kept losing weight. She was diagnosed with failure to thrive. It was a very scary time, because we thought she might die.

On a long term basis, because she never came through the birth canal, her gut didn't get colonized with the right bacteria. That translates into the gut and immune system dysfunction she has today and the medicine that we give our 3.5 year old 5 to 6 times a day. She is also on a severely restricted diet--no wheat/gluten, dairy/casein, soy, citrus, etc. Bacteriologists say that the first germs that the baby is exposed to will set the tone for the baby's life. Those germs really need to come from the vagina.

The c-section went well for me, personally. I was very, very lucky as you will see from other stories you read. It did NOT go well for my daughter. I am now pregnant with a second child and plan to do all I can to deliver vaginally. A c-section still seems like an easy choice sometimes. Indeed, if I were giving birth to a tumor, not a baby, I might be inclined to do it, in spite of the crazy risks. But I will not put this baby at risk.

I'm a litigator and I love evidence. Crazily enough, the evidence is strongly in favor of vaginal birth. I believe that the cavalier attitude of OBs toward this major surgery is a result of a combination of factors (preference for control, fear of malpractice, higher payment, surgery is more "fun," lack of education on natural birth as opposed to how to manage an impending crisis, etc.). But carefully look at the evidence first, before you make up your mind. The evidence really does speak for itself and I'll let someone else who is better versed in the evidence point you in the right direction.

And with cesarean delivery, the baby itself is more likely to die. The US has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world, despite the fact that we spend more money on "medical care."

How is it that we forgot that babies and mothers are a dyad? You can't truly separate the well-being of the mother from the well-being of the baby, not even with a scalpel. Go ahead; tell me that a mother who lives and a baby who dies, or a baby who lives and a mother who dies, deserve to be a separate statistic. I don't know a mother or a child in either circumstance who doesn't have a little bit of them die too, even if the statistics don't neatly account for it.

"But women used to die in childbirth!"

Read the news; they're dying now. Ask the families of Tatia Oden French, Valerie Scythes, Melissa Farah, Caroline Wiren, how they feel about the safety of hospital birth. Ask Claudia Mejia. Ask Amber Marlowe. Ask Dennis Quaid how safe hospitals are for babies.

Disaster can strike anywhere. But the idea that hospitals are inherently safe is not valid, and demonstrably so. There is no choice you can make that's an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card. The reason most women default to hospital birth is because that choice is presented as being blameless. If something happens in the hospital, well, that's just bad luck, but if it happens at home, that's bad decision making, with the mother occupying the role of bad guy, all by herself. This is not fact, this is not logic; this is marketing spin.

On Judgment

I have been told that my cesarean was a personal failure. I have been told that having a midwife present for my second birth was a personal failure. I have seen fully-medicalized birthers rip midwifery advocates apart, both live and online. I have seen women spend an ungodly amount of energy and time shredding at each other.

For what? I deeply believe that women who choose hospital birth do so because they want the safest and best for their babies. I deeply believe the same thing of the home birth set. So why are we still attacking each other?

Fear. And Judgment.

In the final analysis, birthing carries risk. Living carries risk. There are no guarantees anywhere that if you make all the "right" choices, you and yours will be saved from tragedy. Lightning strikes, and all the planning and research and analysis in the world will not save you from that. It comes down, in the end, to supporting each other the best we possibly can, to making our choices from a place of confidence, not a place of fear. If you're birthing in a hospital, do so because that's what feels safest to you. If you're birthing unassisted at home, do so because it speaks to you and feels right to you. Fear has no place in any decision about birthing.

A friend of mine who just had what she calls her "victorious homebirth after two cesareans" says:
Since our life-changing home birth I've encountered so much more support than we imagined possible. I cannot believe how many friends and acquaintances have said, "I sure wish WE had seriously considered birthing our children at home." Obviously there is a slow shift being made in the birthing climate of America. But there are also many other comments we've heard like, "I'm glad it worked out for you," which I now see as such a pitiful way to view birth--like it's a matter of luck. But I know that's the reality for most people. If these critics knew the amount of time, prayer, and research we put into this decision and into the type of provider we selected, they might have to consider why EVERYONE doesn't invest that kind of time and prayer in their own birthing decisions. For us, the search was priceless and ultimately put us in far better control of our decisions. And beyond the stats and truths we uncovered during this journey, we discovered something far more valuable: faith. After asking for guidance, begging for deliverance, and recognizing our answer, I was overcome with a peace that I have to say I've never experienced after praying before--and as the preacher's daughter I've spent a good many years on my knees in prayer. It was amazing to simply ask and to find the undeniable peace we so desperately desired. So THIS is what answered prayer feels like. I understand that's not much of a factor in modern society, which makes me incredibly sad.

We've also had to endure a number of horrible birth stories where someone nearly died "even in a hospital birth" (the fetal and maternal monitors didn't discover there was a problem until it was too late). I'm never sure how to take this kind of response to the introduction of our new baby. If these tactics are in an effort to get me to debate the home vs. hospital issue, I'm not taking the bait. My decision isn't up for debate--especially with those who've invested little in the search for truth other than personal experience and hearsay. I can respect your birthing decision if you can respect mine.

Standing together, we can do so much more good for everyone, than we can by compartmentalizing each other and shredding on anyone who doesn't share our precise set of birth circumstances. Different does not have to equal wrong. But the way things are right now, fear is controlling the cards, and we need to put down our differences, and stand together for a set of choices in birth and baby care that puts the U.S. back up at least in the top 10, because when it all comes down...the choice between home and hospital is not the point. The point is that women and babies are dying in utterly unacceptable numbers, and they're dying because our social, medical, and economic systems are not supporting women.

And women are not supporting women either. So let's focus on what matters.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Guest Post #1

This first guest post comes from Sheridan Ripley, a proud VBAC mom of 3 busy boys, Loving Lactivist, Positive Birth Story Collector, Hypnobabies Instructor and Hypno-doula. She has several websites and blogs: Orange County Hypnobabies, Positive Birth Stories, and a Birth Blog.

I invited Sheridan to write a guest post because of some of the comments about LDS birth choices. At least one commenter asserted that TopHat and I were fanatical homebirthers and that we were not practicing what we preach when we chose unassisted births. I assert that, by following spiritual guidance and seeking Priesthood blessings for our pregnancies and births, we were definitely practicing what we preach. Sheridan's birth stories--as different as they are from my own--show how she also followed spiritual promptings.

Each birth is different and unique. Our views of birth change over time and with our experiences. Birth is unpredictable and that is part of its beauty. I have had 3 very different birth experiences. Each taught me something important and each changed me as a women and a mother. I learned that my intuition (or the promptings of the Holy Ghost) is one of my most powerful tools as a mother. This has proven to be true not just during my pregnancy and births, but also as I continue to raise my boys. The first part of my post focuses on my pregnancies and births.

My Births

Devon: I was hoping for a NCB (natural childbirth) with my first baby. I took a Bradley class and things were moving along nicely when suddenly I ended up on bedrest at 25 weeks for pre-term labor (PTL). I wasn’t able to finish my classes, but was still hoping to have a NCB. I ended up changing care providers at 27 weeks because I felt my OB was not listening to me and my concerns. I was in and out of the hospital 7 or 8 times. One day while driving, Rob and I started talking about why I this was happening, and we both felt there was a BIGGER reason than just the PTL. We might never know why, but it was important I was experiencing this. That brought me a lot of comfort, as it was pretty mind-numbing being on bedrest.

I woke up one morning at 34 weeks and noticed the baby wasn’t moving. I knew the importance of being aware of your baby’s movements from a TV show I had watched years ago. (I think this is the reason I was on bedrest; I doubt I would have noticed so fast the decrease in movement if I hadn’t been on bedrest.) I drank some juice and still nothing. I suddenly KNEW in my heart something was wrong with the baby. I really thought I had lost him. I called the OB who had me drink more juice and told me to call back an hour later.

I “obeyed” and after about 30 minutes with still no movement, I woke my husband up (he is a late sleeper) and was crying and told him something was wrong and we were going to the hospital no matter what they said when we called back. We got ready to go, called and they set up an appointment at 1:30 pm for a NST (non-stress test). I still wish I had truly followed my intuition and just gone in right then, but we waited.

My husband gave me a blessing to help calm me down. In it he blessed that Devon would be ok and that he would come when he was ready. As soon as he said he would be ok, I felt a large weight come off of my shoulders. I KNEW that the baby was going to be ok. The blessing brought me a lot of comfort.

We got to the NST place early but had to wait until they got back from lunch. They got me on the monitors; there was his heartbeat, and I thought everything was fine. They used a little noisy vibrator on my belly to try and wake him up. Devon kept on sleeping, but it made me have contractions, which made his heart rate drop. (I didn’t understand the significance of that at the time.) A new nurse came in and said we would be having our baby that day. I thought she was in the wrong room. Quickly it became apparent that there was a problem and it was safer for the baby to be out NOW.

We headed across the street to the hospital. Rob wanted to know if I wanted another blessing. I said I didn’t need one; the first one said he would come when he was ready, so I trusted that he was ready. My NCB dream was shattered. I was thrust into this emergency cesarean situation. I am grateful I was able to have a spinal so I was awake when Devon was born. He was 4 pounds 3 ounces. It was a very surreal and scary situation. I had been lying in bed for 9 weeks so the baby wouldn’t come early, and now I was having a surgery to get him out early.

I got to see him for a few minutes, and then Rob went to the NICU with him. I was left alone in the recovery room in a lot of pain and feeling so empty. It was not the birth I had hoped for, but the farthest thing from it. It took years to really get over it. But I knew it was a life-saving operation for Devon, so I was never angry. I always say that day was the scariest and happiest day of my life.

It is amazing what a mother will do for her child. If I said to you, “will you lie in bed for 9 weeks and then have a major surgery to help somebody you have never met?” odds are you would think I was crazy. But if it was for your baby of course you would.

So from this birth I learned that birth is unpredictable; we can plan for one thing and get something totally different. That there are moments in time that will be seared in our memory. That scary things can be happy things. That with sadness there can be joy. The most important thing I learned is that our intuition can save lives and we must listen to it and follow as we are led.

Carson: I had a lot of baggage from the first pregnancy and birth. I was scared, but I didn’t want fear to motivate me in my choices. My husband had seen a Dateline show on hypnosis and birth and suggested I look into it. I found a HypnoBirthing class an hour away and we took the class. I found it very healing, I was able to let go of my fears about carrying full term and about my ability to have a vaginal birth. I moved forward in this pregnancy with faith in my body. I think that had I not had these tools, I would have remained very fearful of pregnancy and birth, and that would have in turn affected my pregnancy and birth.

I was of course highly aware of Carson’s movements. I chose to have biweekly NSTs from 34 weeks on; they gave me a level of comfort that I needed. My goals for this birth were to go full term, to have a vaginal birth, and to double Devon’s birth weight, so I was shooting for an 8 pound 6 ounce baby. While I knew birth could be unpredictable and of course if an emergency arose I would do whatever needed to be done for my baby, I still wanted to focus on what I WANTED—my ideal birth.

I was pregnant for 42 weeks with Carson, 8 weeks longer than I had been with Devon. After Devon I had said, “I will never complain about getting big or going over.” Well, I had a lot of chances to prove it that was possible. I did get HUGE. I might have complained a bit, but overall I was content. I was hoping to go un-medicated for this birth. But after 14 hours of comfortable labor I lost focus and was having back labor, so at 17 hours I chose to get an epidural. This was the right choice for me at the time and I never regretted getting it.

After 21 hours of birthing time with almost 3 hours of pushing, my 9 pound 4 ounce baby boy was born vaginally. I felt exhausted but thrilled. I had done it! Carson was in my arms and I was so proud. It was a healing birth in so many ways.

Bryson’s pregnancy: I wanted to use hypnosis again, because I knew it could work, but I wanted more tools, so I found Hypnobabies. My main goal for this birth was an un-medicated vaginal birth. I knew I could do it.

At my 33 week appointment I said I wanted to get my NST scheduled. My OB said I didn’t need it; all was well. I wasn’t sure why, but I really insisted I get it scheduled. My intuition said I needed that. I pointed out a weird rash on my leg and my stomach was itchy. She brushed it off and said to go to my primary care physician. This led into the most challenging section of any of my pregnancies. Yes, it was even harder than bedrest!

I had PUPPS, a pregnancy-related rash, which care providers don’t seem informed about or really care about because there is “no medical effect” on mom or baby. Well, let me tell you it rocked my world and stressed me out to no end, and that surely had an effect on my baby. It took prayers, blessings and that NST to help me survive.

Labor Day weekend was coming up and that Friday I went to my first NST. I almost didn’t go because putting clothes on was painful. I knew the baby was ok, so I was tempted not to go. I really felt I should (intuition again). I got there and the nurses saw my belly, which by now was a red inflamed horrific sight. They quickly got the high risk OB, who diagnosed me with one of the worse case of PUPPS he had ever seen. I was thrilled that someone was finally listening to me and caring. He gave some prescriptions.

Now, I typically do not take even a Tylenol when pregnant. Each situation is different and I have learned not to judge others, because, let me tell you, I ran to the pharmacy and slathered that cream on my belly and popped a pill in my mouth. I was at the point where I would have signed up for a repeat cesarean at 37 weeks to make this rash end. Though I have since learned that birth does not always end PUPPS, I have also since learned of more natural remedies that can help PUPPS moms, including acupuncture, which I would certainly try first if I had it again. This is a great example of how limited information affects your choices. The medical establishment has one answer and that is drugs or intervention. When a woman is fearful or uncomfortable she makes that choice, because it seems to be the only one.

That night I had another blessing and continued with my prayers. The medicine helped, I still had PUPPS the rest of my pregnancy. I slept with socks on my hands, so I wouldn’t scratch myself to bleeding while sleeping. I was naked (well, loose PJs, no underwear) for the majority of the days, dressing only when I had to leave the house. But I was able to handle that compared to what it had been. I carried Bryson to 41.5 weeks. I only wish I had taken pictures. I still have scars on my legs. I can only imagine had I not gone to that NST I would have ended up in the ER over Labor Day weekend for a mental breakdown of some sort.

Bryson’s birth itself was the most amazing experience of my life. (You can read the complete story here or see the video here.) I had my husband, a doula, a good hospital with a supportive nurse, and my Hypnobabies tools. I had a completely unmedicated COMFORTABLE birth.

I woke up at 1 in the morning with pressure waves that would shock me out of sleep. I popped in a Hypnobabies CD and was able to “sleep” as long as a CD was on. It kept me aware enough that I could stay relaxed if a pressure wave came and I could stay comfortable. This allowed me to stay well rested. In the morning I just wanted to be left alone, so we got the boys off to school or with friends. I hung out, puttering around, wondering if this was really the day. (I had had days of prodromal labor.)

By 10:30 am I decided this was it. I was settled into my hospital room with my husband and doula by my side by 1 pm. I was comfortable and walking the halls, chatting between pressure waves. At 4:30 pm I choose to have my water broken, as I was still 5cm with a bulging bag of waters (which I had been at noon). Things quickly progressed and I was ready to start pushing around 6:45 pm.

I really loved pushing. I felt like a lion roaring my baby out. It was so powerful and amazing. I was still comfortable. The OB said, “You are going to feel the ring of fire now.” I remember thinking, “I haven’t felt any pain yet; no need to now.” And I bounced her comment right off my bubble of peace. (Hypnobabies tool.) I felt only pressure through the whole birth.

Bryson was in my arms at 6:59 pm, and he didn’t leave them for almost 2 hours. Here is what I wrote about it that night…
That was amazing, beautiful, a miracle. Everything I wanted and more. I feel so empowered that I gave birth, completely un-medicated to a healthy 9 pound baby boy. He came straight from inside me—onto my chest, where he stayed undisturbed for over an hour. The first 20 minutes or so his eyes stayed closed and he just hung out snuggled to my chest. Then he started rooting around. Someone helped me get him latched on—it is funny you forget how to do these things, he has a STRONG suck—he went to town—then slowly he started opening his eyes—looking around at the world—at me, his mom. It was honestly almost surprising to see a BABY laying on me. I actually have another baby of my own. I am so blessed. He looks like his own little person.
Bryson’s birth showed me the power of my mind and the power of my body. It was such an empowering experience. It has changed the way I think about myself and birth. I wish every mom could experience a birth like that.

My thoughts about birth as a spiritual event

Birth is a spiritual event in our lives. (At least it can be.) Pregnancy and Birth are an amazing time where a spirit is making this step of his journey into this mortal world. I know that the Holy Ghost can guide us as we plan our families, comfort us as we deal with losses, warn us if something is wrong, reassure us if all is well.

I think that it is a gift that not enough people use or trust. It can be a HUGE help as we plan our births, it can let us make the best choices for OUR family and THIS birth, even if it is different than what we planned or what we had chosen for our other births. We need to do our research, we need to make our choices, but the spirit can confirm if it is a good choice for us. It isn’t for me to judge what the best choice for others is. I am happy to share information and encouragement, but I will support them in what they chose is best for them. I can’t know what is best for their family, it isn’t my birth, it is their birth!

Birth is a learning event in our lives. (At least it can be) It has taken me 3 births and reading a lot of books to get to the point where I would feel comfortable having a homebirth. This comfort level also has a lot to do with what I have seen as a doula. Watching a birth as an observer rather than the birthing mom is very eye opening. It really shows how a mom in a hospital is just on a conveyor belt of institutionalized care, getting one size fits all care. It is sad and scary to me to see all that goes on in hospitals and how a lot of the routine interventions they do actually cause problems.

I also know that if I were planning a homebirth, but felt the need to switch to a hospital birth, I would follow that impression. I would trust that Heavenly Father would guide me in my next pregnancy and birth as He has guided me through my first three. I would trust that if I listen and respond to the impressions I receive, all would end like it was meant to.

It is important to respect others’ birth choices. The more I learn and have experiences the more I realize it is such an individual thing and all I can do is offer information and support. Three years ago if a friend told me she was planning an unassisted birth, I would have thought something along the lines of "that is crazy." I hope I would have been kind enough to say, "that is your choice and I wish you well." But today I can understand it and respect it. I would probably ask some questions and see what her motivation is. If she isn’t aware of supportive care providers, I would give her some names. Then I would support her in her choice. Since I have had fantasies of having an unplanned unassisted birth in my kitchen…I would probably share that with her. :)

Unassisted birth wouldn’t be my first choice for a future birth. But I know that if I were in a location where I couldn’t find a care provider to support me in a VBAC, I would choose an unassisted birth over a repeat cesarean. It would take a lot of prayer and blessings to be comfortable with that, but I personally couldn’t choose to have an elective cesarean if it was not medically necessary.

In the past I have had the same gut reaction of "that is crazy" to moms telling me they were planning cesareans. But today I ask questions and share information and then support them in their choices. It is such a hot topic and very emotionally charged. I have a whole series of posts on moms choosing cesareans on my blog.

So, this has been a very long post about birth choices and how each and every birth is different. We can learn from our own and from others’ choices. The most important part is that we can receive guidance from our intuition throughout our pregnancy and birth. If we trust birth, trust ourselves and make the best choices we can, the journey will be an empowering one.

Sheridan recommended a few birth stories that show the power of a mother's intuition:

Here is a GREAT birth story about a mom who was planning a home birth and early in her birthing time she knew she needed to go to the hospital.

Another great story, planned homebirth, but mom doesn’t feel right about it when things start, so she goes to the hospital. Turns out baby is breech, but she has a vaginal breech birth, with a doctor who keeps his cool and supports mom in her choice.

FAST planned homebirth story, midwife didn’t have time to get there. There is a scary moment of baby getting stuck, BUT mom listened to her intuition and it ended great.
Read more ...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's time for a lecture

The comments in the last post degenerated into one of the ugliest mud-slinging, epithet-hurling, and name-calling episodes I have ever seen on this blog. Even after I requested--not once but twice--to refrain from personal attacks and to keep the comments civil, rude and insulting comments kept coming.

And the logical fallacies. Oh, the logical fallacies... I saw character attacks, slippery slope arguments, emotional appeals, false dilemmas, begging the question, hasty generalizations, non sequiturs, red herrings, and straw man arguments.

If you don't know what these logical fallacies are, you had better refresh the skills you (should have) learned in freshman rhetoric or composition.

If you do know what they are, and used them anyway, shame on you!

As punishment, you are going to have to read several guest posts addressing some of the issues raised in the comments section. And you will be hearing from me, of course. And boy do I have some good things to say!
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Someone loves me (not)

Thought you'd get a chuckle out of this person who was grossed out by home birth and placenta prints. She left a few nice comments (sarcastic cough) on my choice to name Zari and then wrote a about how she finds placenta prints gross on her own blog.

Here's the infamous placenta print, framed and hung up in my bedroom. I found the frame at a garage sale for $1. I taped over the canvas and spray painted it satin black.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Frugal cloth diapering tips & links

Please send me your best frugal cloth diapering tips or links, and I'll repost them here!

Here are a few of mine:
  • Don't buy cloth wipes; just cut up old t-shirts or other cotton knits into squares. No need to hem or serge the edges if it's a knit rather than a woven.
  • Sew your own diapers if you have the skills, time, and equipment.
  • Use recycled materials for some or all of your diapers and wipes: you can use t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc for the absorbent parts (as long as they're a natural fabric or a microfiber) and wool sweaters for covers. Go crazy at the thrift store on their bargain days!
  • Here's a site from Fern and Faerie on frugal diaper sewing: how to make flatfolds, prefolds, and fitteds for a song. '
  • If you buy brand-name diapers to try out, resell the ones you don't want to keep at Diaperswappers. (Or buy yours there!)
From Rebecca:

My last baby was cloth diapered for practically free. We scored an entire stash of cloth diapers (unused!) on Freecycle so I recommend using Freecycle as a resource too! I made wool covers from sweaters. Any other diapers I added to our stash were made from recycled materials like you mentioned ;)

I prefer cloth wipes made from flannel. Flannel receiving blankets can be picked up in nice quantities at yard sales and make great wipes. I usually made mine double sided,with one side being flannel and the other soft terry towling (also used from towels picked up at yard sales).The towley side just makes messy diaper changes that much easier.

From Jill:

I used to Dumpster-dive religiously when I lived in Austin. I would stockpile boxes upon boxes of clothes dug from the trash, and I made an entire stash for my son and my niece for free (not counting cost of the sewing machine I bought, thread, elastic, and Velcro, which were bargains I bought on Ebay). It was a great way to recycle perfectly usable clothes that would have otherwise wound up in a landfill. People are so wasteful!

Sweatshirts/sweatpants make GREAT soaker material, as long as they are at least 50% cotton. You can use just about anything for inners/outers: sheets, flannel PJs, T-shirts, jeans, fleece jackets, pretty much any washable cotton article of clothing that you can cut into a diaper shape! Old ratty towels or holey bathrobes make good soaker material too. And of course don't forget wool sweaters for longies! You can use fleece jackets or blankets for wraps too.

Polyester blend shirts also make good swim diapers (think Hawaiian!), since they are similar to swimsuit material. You can use a thin towel for the inner, or anything cotton would be fine. I made an adorable bikini w/diaper for my niece out of a polyester dress.

The best part of using recycled clothes is that you can come up with cool and unique looks that you would never find on a rack at a fabric store. Well, okay, the best part is that they're FREE, but the coolness factor is the second best part for sure!

I learned how to sew diapers from this tutorial: http://mayna.livejournal.com/198548.html It took me about a year of practicing and tweaking to perfect my own pattern, which fits my son better than any diaper I've ever bought! That's another bonus of sewig your own dipes: total custom-ability. You can combine things you like or need from other diapers all into one and get the PERFECT fit.

From Julie:

Hi! We've got a great list going here with lots of free sewing and knitting patterns. :)
Read more ...

All about cloth diapers

I am reposting advice and reviews from the comments section here. Come back often, since I imagine I'll be updating this as more suggestions come in!

From moi:

I sewed my own all-in-one (AIO) diapers with a Chloe Toes pattern. I made 24 newborn, 24 small (10-20 lbs), and 18 medium (13-26 lbs). I have tried out the following fabrics: cotton terry, hemp terry, hemp fleece, and bamboo velour. My favorite is the bamboo velour. I loved the hemp fleece at first--it was marvelously soft and fluffy--but I found that it became hard and compacted after a lot of wear & washing. It still worked fine, though.

I modified the Chloe Toes pattern to close with hook & loop (velcro). I prefer velcro over snap closures--more adjustable and easier to do with one hand. I used Aplix for the loop side and Touch Tape for the hook side. For the NB and S sizes, I made a soaker flap that was sewn down to the front of the diaper, rather than sandwiching it inside. It did cut down slightly on drying time. I found that once Zari was active & mobile, especially walking, the flap would tend to get scrunched up a bit. So for the next size of diapers (M), I put the soaker back inside the inner layers of the diaper. I used 1 mil PUL for the waterproof layer.

I like the Chloe Toes pattern a lot. I had 3-4 layers of absorbent fabric total, including the soaker, so it doesn't hold a lot of liquid. But I kind of wanted it that way, since I change her as soon as she wets. Okay, within a few minutes that is! They do leak around the legs when she pees a lot if I don't change her right away, because the moisture wicks on the fold-over-elastic (FOE). I hear that can be remedied by spraying Camp Dry on the elastic, but I haven't tried that.

Washing: I dry pail with a large stainless steel flip-top trash can that has a plastic liner. It was around $35 at Wal-Mart. I don't use any odor eliminators or anything, just put the diapers right in the can. When her poop became more solid, I'd dump it into the toilet first (sometimes use a bit of toilet paper to wipe it off). I do two full wash cycles. The first one I put a little OxyClean and a little detergent (have used a variety, whatever is on hand) and a scoop of baking soda. If I remember, I'll put a little vinegar in the rinse cycle. Then I do second full wash cycle with nothing added, except perhaps a few drops of Tea Tree Oil.

I dry in the dryer. for 70-80 minutes on high. Too cold & wet most of the year to dry them outside.

From Märia:

Mothering magazine came out with like 3 articles about cloth diapering last month. I decided to switch then. I am using mostly all-in-ones Thristies brands. They work wonderfully, the best part about them are the leg gussets, no leaks. They are kinda expensive, $17 each. If you buy them at www.earthangelsdiaperco.com you can buy 6 and get 6 free inserts, which are not necessary, but why not. I'd suggest reading the article though to gegt a more comprehensive idea. Since I had no idea there were so many different kinds, and brands.

From Rebecca:

I was happiest with snap-to-fit fitted diapers (I had a stash given to me and then made more myself I loved them so much) and wool covers.I cloth diapered all 5 of my children and I probably have used everything out there and that's what worked the best for us. I always had a nice stash of thick prefolds on hand too and the Snappi fasteners were fabulous. Much better than the traditional diaper pins I used with my first born! Yikes.I don't miss those days...

From Annie:

I just put this together for a friend of mine.

Here are my recommendations for a budget conscious newborn diaper
stash, that will last you the first 4-5 months until he's 15lbs. Then
you need to get the next size up.
With this setup, you'll do laundry 3x/week.
I have put this together from 2 vendors I love, both of which do registries.
But browse around, there are many options!

From Wildflower Diapers:

Kissaluvs contours - 12
Inexpensive but work quite well.
Size NB/Small

Kissaluvs Fitted - 12
You will want to order the accompanying liners
Size 0

Chinese Prefolds - 12
These can be tricky to figure out at first, but they are definitely
the most economical.
Size Infant

BumGenius One-Size pockets - 6
These are great for night time & they will grow with the baby. I am
saving up to buy some for Bea.

2 Wahmies pail liners:
One will always be diner


Odor Remover:

Foaming pump bottle:

Microfleece doublers - 6
These will boost your pockets at night, or pad your prefolds for extra

Cotton Doublers - 10
Less absorbent/trimmer than microfleece. I have a combo & use both.

EcoBabies fitteds
These are a little pricy but I love them & wish I had more. They're a
good "luxury" item for your registry. The do need doublers.

From Natural Babies:

Bummis Super Brite covers - 3 NB, 3 S

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap - 3 NB, 3 S

Sugar Peas Wool Jersey cover - 1 S
Wool is absorbent & soft

Swaddlebees Wool Cover - 1 NB, 1 S
Great w/prefolds

Sugarpeas Fleece - 2 Small
Fleece acts like wool--I like both eqyally

If you get wool covers you'll need lanolin & wool wash:

More wipes:
I love these.

Bottom Cleaner & Baby Bits:

These keep your diapers closed

From Amy:

We used prefolds with covers and Kissaluv's fitted diapers. I tried Fuzzibunz and BumGenius, but I really didn't like the whole all-in-one thing. Rosie would pee out the top (like a boy!?!) and the legs would leak badly. The prefolds were perfect because they hardly ever leak, they are simple to wash and quick to dry, and we only had to buy two sets--the infant size, then the regular size. When we bought the regular size, we kept the infant size to use as tri-folded inserts for overnight. I used snappis instead of pins. I like Indian prefolds the best, but we also had some Chinese ones. Just be sure they don't buy those thin Gerber ones! I actually think used prefolds are better than new ones because quality prefolds get softer and more absorbent the more they are washed and used. (To a point, of course.) We bought three dozen tie dyed infant prefolds (for only $30, great deal), and we were the third family to have them. They are sooo fluffy! I've saved them all for the next baby. I can't wait to get them back out again.

For older babies, the Mother-ease covers are my favorite. The Kissaluv's were my favorite for the newborn days, along with covers that had leg gussets. The gussets are SO important, otherwise that poop can just flow right out when you least expect it. Prowraps are kind of ugly covers that work very, very well. No poop ever escaped from ours! I also liked Bumpy Day covers. I tried Thirsties covers, and they worked well for a couple months, then they started falling apart! All of the stuff came unsewed, and I wasn't rough on them or anything.

As far as numbers go, for the infant stage we got 12 Kissaluvs, plus three dozen prefolds, and about 10 covers. I would say start with two dozen diapers and 6 covers then see how fast they are used up and figure out how many more you need.

For washing the diapers, I use Purex free and clear, just a drop, in the cold soak. I've been looking for an affordable natural detergent, but I haven't settled on one yet. After soaking, I do a prewash or two with a splash of vinegar, then a hot wash with a teaspoon of baking soda and some Calgon because we have crazy hard water, then an extra hot rinse. I'm lazy, so I usually dry them in the dryer.

I think that's everything, hah.

From Doreen:

The most economical, and absorbant IMO, are chinese prefolds. I have two sizes, infant and premium. The infant size will last until 4-6 months, the premiums until potty training. I snappi them. For covers, I really like bummis super whisper wraps. They fit nicely, and are very durable. I do use fleece liners once baby starts solid foods. For wipes, I just use some cheap Gerber washcloths. I did get some bumgenius one size pocket diapers for Elly, and so far I absolutely LOVE them. I started using them when she was probably about 8.5 pounds, and they fit really well. I'll be interested to see how long they are going to fit her, and how they are going to hold up. So far, so good.

As for laundry, I do a load once a week. I dry pail the diapers (I have a bummis waterproof bag that I use as a pail liner). As long as baby is breastfed exclusively, all diapers go straight in the pail. Once I start solids, I use fleece liners, which make poop clean-ups really easy. On wash day, I put the diapers in the washer and soak them with some borax and some bac-out, in cold water, for at least an hour. On my washer, I use the extra rinse cycle for this. When done soaking, just turn on the washer and it'll finish the rinse cycle. Then I wash the diapers in hot water with some detergent (we use bio-kleen, and you need very little), and I also put some TTO in. Finish with two rinse cycles, and put some vinegar in the first rinse cycle (will help get out detergent build-up).

Line drying in the sun will get out stains quite nicely. Drying in the dryer gets the prefolds nice and fluffy. When I line dry, I'll often throw the diapers in the dryer afterwards for a few minutes to fluff them up a little, but that's just personal preference. :o) Anyway, I think that's all, tried to make it short. Funny you posted this, I'm actually going to teach a cloth diapering class in a couple of weeks. :p

A couple more reviews:

Fuzzi bunz - there was quite a hype about these when they came out. I like them pretty well, but I've decided I prefer diapers with velcro instead of snaps. I seem to get a better fit that way. I do still use the fuzzi bunz I have, though, and they work well especially with the joey bunz hemp inserts.

Kissaluvs fitted diapers. I like them okay, though I've found the elastic really wears out over time.

Crickett's fitted hemp diapers. These are nice, but hemp is prone to getting holes after a while, so they're not as durable as the prefolds I have.

Wool covers. Nice to have if baby has diaper rash, as they allow for better air circulation. They are thick, though, and you can't really put clothes on top. So if you're a freak about matching outfits and such, these may not work well for you. There are some really cute ones out there, though, that can be combined into an outfit with just a shirt. Wool covers also are a more "green" way to cloth diaper, since wool is a natural fiber (unlike PUL, haha). And some people love wool covers for nighttime diapering.

Imse Vimse covers. I have a couple, and like them a lot. They fit nicely. A little more expensive, though.

From Kate in Ottawa:

As a tiny newborn we used 24 infant prefolds with bummis super whisper wraps. They worked really well. I had 6 kissaluv fitted size 0's and disliked them - they got super soaking wet and leaked all the time. And I found the snaps finickety.

When he outgrew infant prefolds we bought some bigger prefolds and a size up in the super whisper wraps (6 wraps). By this time prefolds were getting harder to use since he got so wiggly (and I could never get a snappy to work well for me).

We bought 10 bumgenius pocket dipes and my husband and I LOVE these diapers. They hold quite a bit of liquid, dry quickly, the velcro is holding up well, etc...

We were having problems with nighttime leaks. We bought a jamtots hemp contour diaper - it's okay. What has ended up working really well are the TotBot Bamboozle bamboo diapers (with a bummis super whisper wrap). These are SUPER absorbant and DS usually wears one for 12+ hours overnight with ZERO leaks. It took a few washes to get them this absorbant, but they're now working really well.

I wash diapers every other day and my 10 bumgenius + 3 bamboozles + 1 or 2 prefolds get me by. I use bioliners flushable liners now that he's eating solids so I can just peel it off and flush the poop. I use Nelly's laundry soda (1/2 Tbsp per load). I just do a hot wash/cold rinse regular cycle unless they're really poopy and then I might do a cold rinse (no soap) first. My washing machine is super low-tech and my dipes seem nice and clean with no smells and no stains yet.

I use a dry "pail" - it's the Mother of Eden washable bag. It hangs on a door knob and is never completely closed. Apparently, because air circulates in it, the pee doesn't turn to ammonia and get all stinky. I can't believe it, but this actually seems to be true. The room with the dirty diaper smells fine. I just toss the bag in the wash every time I do diapers.

Have fun diaper shopping:)

From Birdie:

Another idea is using a diaper service until they can decide on what to actually buy. Sometimes they offer a few kinds of diapers, or they could be used as a good reference for the best kind to purchase in the long run.

As with so many parenting things, everybody will have his/her own ideas of what works best. For us, after three kids in cloth, here's my "must have/do" list:

* 2-3 dozen Chinese Prefolds
* Snappis (the modern alternative to pins)
* 1-2 dozen one-size cotton fitted diapers (i.e. Mother-Ease)
* PUL covers
* Wool covers
* Kissaluv size 0 for newborns (opposite of the previous poster, these are favorite diaper EVER for a newborn LOL. I had no leaks, great fit, and got almost 4 months out of them (my babies were all around 7 lb at birth)).
* Cloth wipes! Don't forget these. So many people I know still use those chemical-laden wipes when CDing. Cloth wipes work so much better, and you avoid all the nasty additives.
* Fuzzi Bunz. I have tried a few different all-in-ones (AIOs) and pocket diapers, and these are by far our favorites. The medium size have lasted a really long time - from about 4 months to potty training time! I did like having smalls, but to be cheap, just wait a little longer until baby is in a medium and you'll get so much more use out of them.
*A washable pail liner - so you can wash it with the diapers on wash day, and it serves as a glove to shove all the dirties into the washer
*a wet bag with a zipper closure for the diaper bag. Yes, you can use plastic too, but these are great to have for other things as well (wet swimsuits for example).
* Flushable liners (not the Kushies brand - Imse Vimse has good ones). These are great once baby is on solids and the poops get stinkier/stickier/messier. If it only gets wet, it goes in the pail with the diapers, and can be washed and reused. If poopy, you lift the whole thing out of the diaper and flush - voila! So much better than trying to scrape off the icky stuff LOL
* Not necessary, but my new favorite toy for CDing: a sprayer that hooks up to your toilet! Makes solid poops much easier to clean :)

I use a Target-bought, flip-top plastic trash can with the washable liner (I have 2, so when one is washing, the other is in use...I use the ones from Blue Penguin). Infant (breastmilk) poop does not need to be rinsed - diapers just go straight into the pail. Bigger baby poop I dump in the toilet first. I don't use anything for smell...occasionally with a bad batch (i.e. sick kid, nastier poop) I'll add some sprinkled baking powder in the pail).

My washing routine (top-loader or front loader - I've used both):

1. Prewash cycle with a tiny bit of detergent - about 1/3 what you would otherwise use. Sometimes I add some borax or baking soda as booster.
2. Hot wash with cold rinse, no additional detergent. Vinegar in the softener dispenser if you have it, or in the rinse cycle (not necessary every time)
3. Another cold rinse (nothing added unless you want to use vinegar and/or TTO or lavender oil drops (some say never use TTO with infants...).
4. Line dry the pockets, fluff the cottons in the dryer for ~20 minutes and line dry for the rest (of course, I live in AZ so this is extra easy)

Some of my favorite sites:

* Green Mountain Diapers (I think one of the best resources on fit/use...not the best prices however
* Wildflower Diapers (it's local :))
* Babyworks (the economy wipes from here are amazing - my favorite; I got my original diapers from here - the CPFs I still use now, 6 years and 3 babies later)

More random tips:
* Never use bleach - it destroys diapers

* Don't use regular commercial detergent - it has optical brighteners, fragrance and softeners added, all of which are bad for diapers...Free and Clear styles are OK in general; Charlie's Soap and Allen's Detergent come highly recommended.

*If your diapers start to smell or repel pee, you have detergent build-up and you'll need to strip them and be sure to use way less soap in the future.

There's my novel for the night. I'm sure I have more, but baby needs me :)

From womantowomancbe:

The most economical way to go (as far as I've found), is to get prefolds (clothdiaper.com), with nylon diaper pants (tlcare.com), and diaper pins. Do NOT get Gerber vinyl pants -- they tear after a few weeks, even laundering them carefully and air-drying. I've used the nylon pants for at least 2 years now (two different kids), and while I've had to throw 2-3 pairs away because the leak-proof stuff wore off of the inside, they've yet to tear -- and I've dried them in the dryer on high heat most of the time.

To be honest, I've not tried any of the other diapers; but am quite happy and content with mine--they're thick and absorbent, but not so thick that they take a lifetime to dry, y'know? Plus, once the kids outgrow them, they have a thousand other uses until they finally wear out even as dust-rags. :-)

From Judit:

Wow! So much advice, it's a weeklong project just to shift though it! I will make my post stand out by virtue of its brevity. Chinese prefolds, snappi, thirsties covers for the not-yet mobile newborn. AIOs thereafter. More $ does not necessarily = proportionate increase in performance.

From Laureen:

We did elimination communication with our sons. And I still have the 25 DSQ organic newborn prefolds I used with DS #1, and the 25 or so Poquito pants he grew into after that, for use with Baby #3, cause with EC, there's not much wear and tear on the diaper. And bonus, they're done so much faster. Kes was a graduate at 15 months, Rowan was a grad by 24. Sooooooo nice to have it done with fast!

We use prefolds and me-made fitteds with Motherease Airflow covers, and the occasional piece of wool. I plan on repeating this system with the new baby too, as it took a long time to figure out what worked best for us and this is by far the easiest and most pleasant method we've come up with. Motherease Airflow covers are awesome: bulletproof, indestructible, they last forever, and they fit even over the biggest bulkiest prefold. Plus I love that they come in sizes that can fit my almost 40-lb. toddler.

We do dry pail too. The thought of a big stinky pail of "diaper stew" turns my stomach (no offense to anyone who uses one). We use a regular trash can from Wal-Mart with a pop-open lid, and when it gets full it's about a full load of laundry. I just carry it to the washer and dump it in, washing with a regular amount of detergent on Warm/Cold. Normally we used the Gentle Cycle to help the diapers last longer, but I can't figure out how to use the Gentle Cycle on our new washer so I just use the regular cycle. And yes, the diapers always came clean on Gentle. ;)

I only machine-dry our prefolds and doublers. Covers and fitteds go on a folding clothes rack, which you can find anywhere for around $10. It does take the thick fitteds a long time to air-dry, but it's better than running 500 dryer cycles for one load! We also machine-dry our wipes, but I wait until the prefolds and doublers are done (after one 90-minute cycle) and then take them out and pop the wipes in for about 30 minutes. Putting them in with the prefolds winds up with shrunken wipes!

Cloth diapers are so friggin' easy that it baffles me when people say that they don't want to try them beacuse they're "too hard" or "too complicated." The only difference for us is that we dump the dirty diapers into the washer instead of the trash, and of course shake the poop into the toilet (which you're suppoesd to do with disposables too but no one does!). Oh yeah, and there's no running to the store for another pack of sposies, that's nice too. It's not hard or scary or gross, and it can be really enjoyable knowing that you are keeping chemicals off your baby's butt and keeping literal TONS of trash out of landfills!

Laura on using a dry pail:

It is so easy! I don't get it either when people thing it's hard, especially now that more people use a dry pail. We dry pail with a rubbermaid container, the lid keeps any odors from escaping. Sometimes it is lined with a bummies tote, that can just go right in the wash with the diapers which can keep the pail clean and cut back on odor.

Judit on dry pails:

Dry pail: like Kate, we hang our PUL sacks on a doorknob too. Those sacks are so sturdy, we've used the same set for almost a year, even though they can get really heavy when full of damp dipes. (The doorknobs also seems to be holding out just fine!) True, no stink. I do recommend washing every other day in the summer though, unless you like to crank the A/C till you shiver, LOL. In winter, I wash every 3 days. We quasi-EC so that might cut down on volume a little bit.

We use plain old Chinese Cotton Prefolds around here. I have tried pocket diapers but I don't like them nearly enough to use them all the time. Sure, they are convenient but they are also hard to clean those runny "baby had too much fruit yesterday" poops. They are also the most economical. We use Snappis to hold them together and use the reverse angel fold. For covers I have tried many. ProWraps, ProWraps Colors, Bummis Whisper Wrap, originals, and pants. But my favorites so far are Thirsties. I haven't tried fleece and wool is too expensive for my taste. I love the Thirsties because they don't hold the urine odors like I find the Bummis do. They come in so many great colors and look so cute on the baby's bum! They have leg gussets that are inconspicuous and don't add extra bulk to the diaper. I like the PUL covers the best because they go right in the wash with the diapers.

As for cleaning/washing goes... I use BioLiners when I am expecting baby to poop so it makes clean up easier. If the poop is out of control or I don't use a liner, I have a Diaper Duck. Its a neat little contraption that wrings out the diaper after you have shwooshed it around in the toilet to get the solid matter off. You put the diaper in the duck and squeeze out the excess water. I have a 13 gallon kitchen trash can that I line with a nylon wet bag. I use the dry pail method. I just stick the dirty diaper and cover (if needed) in there. Come washing day when its full or I run out of dipes I put it all in the washer (including the bag). I have switched to Charlie's Soap and it is hands down the BEST laundry soap to use for ALL your laundry! It rinses completely out and your clothes are so soft even when hung to dry in the sun! I put 1 scoop on oxyclean with 1 scoop of charlies in the wash and run a long cold cycle. When that is finished, I use 1 scoop of each again and sometimes if I am in the mood add a few drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil. I run it on the longest HOT cycle with an extra rinse. When it's finished I hang the dipes outside to bask in the sun.

It is so easy and I just love using cloth diapers! We have to use sposies at night because my daughter drinks so much water that she gets the cloth too soaked, but I wish I didn't have to. Overall, the money spent and the minimal amount of time spent caring for your diapers is well worth it!

From Kim:

I am a bit of a cloth-a-holic and found a brand that I love so much, I became a reseller for them and started up a website. We use side snapping pocket diapers from Green Acre Designs. LOL If you want to check it out, I have videos of how to use them, my own washing instructions, and tons more.

I wanted it to be a resource for those thinking about going cloth.


I would recommend starting cloth once the kiddo is about 12 pounds or so, they grow so quickly in the beginning they outgrow their first set of diapers in weeks.
Read more ...

Needed: cloth diaper advice & reviews!

I have several very pregnant friends & acquaintances who want to use cloth diapers and need advice and recommendations. The variety of diapers out there is overwhelming--even to me!--so I thought I'd solicit advice from my wonderful readers about your favorite types of cloth diapers. Please send in your reviews & recommendations: favorite brands and styles, how many of each size you'd recommend, how you wash/pail the diapers, etc.

My initial advice to them, since they haven't yet decided on which kind of cloth to use, is to buy disposables for the first several weeks and purchase one of many different brands & styles of cloth. They can see which kind of cloth diaper works best for them and for their baby, and then buy a whole set once they've done a test-run with at least a few wearings and washings.
Read more ...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ani DiFranco talks about her home birth

Thanks to Cognosco for posting an excerpt of a Q&A with Ani DiFranco, in which she discusses her home birth. You can read the full text here.

Two quick snippets to whet your appetite:
I believe the act of giving birth to be the single most miraculous thing a human being can do and it is surely the moment when a lot of women finally understand the depth of their power and connection to all of nature. You think it can’t possibly be done, you think you can’t possibly take the pain, and then you do — and afterward you look at yourself in a whole new way. If you can do that, you can do anything.
The memory of pain always recedes. The memory of triumph does not.
Sage Femme has also posted a video of Ani DiFranco, where she mentions the birth.
Read more ...

Pets and babies

I loved Aurelia Ann's post about The Latest in Baby Soothing Gear. The pictures are hilarious.
Read more ...

A hands-off breech birth

Lisa Barrett (a UK-trained midwife now living in Australia) recently wrote another post about breech birth, with an amazing video of a totally hands-off footling breech birth.
Read more ...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lactational Amenorrhea

A fancy name for something that has just come to an end for me: the suspension of menstruation due to breastfeeding. It's funny--Eric had a dream just a few days ago that my period came back. I was actually quite excited to discover today that my cycles have returned, 17 1/2 months after I gave birth. I would love for Zari to have many siblings, so the return of fertility is a very welcome change.

I was conceived when my mom was exclusively breastfeeding my 5-month old sister. The pregnancy came as a complete surprise since my mom had not yet had a period. I do know that most of us siblings slept through the night fairly early on, as evidenced by my mom's frequent asking "So is Zari sleeping through the night yet?" starting when she was about four months old. I suspect that the cessation of frequent night nursing explains why I was conceived when, stastically, I shouldn't have been!

Some information about Lactational Amenorrhea from Kellymom, much of which came from Jen O'Quinn's Natural Child Spacing and Breastfeeding:
The Exclusive Breastfeeding method of birth control is also called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method of birth control, or LAM. Lactational amenorrhea refers to the natural postpartum infertility that occurs when a woman is not menstruating due to breastfeeding...

Exclusive breastfeeding (by itself) is 98-99.5% effective in preventing pregnancy as long as all of the following conditions are met:
  1. Your baby is less than six months old
  2. Your menstrual periods have not yet returned
  3. Baby is breastfeeding on cue (both day & night), and gets nothing but breastmilk or only token amounts of other foods...
You can achieve higher effectiveness by practicing ecological breastfeeding:
  • keeping baby close
  • breastfeeding on cue (day and night)
  • using breastfeeding to comfort your baby
  • breastfeeding in a lying-down position for naps and at night
  • using no bottles or pacifiers
If you practice ecological breastfeeding:
  • Chance of pregnancy is practically zero during the first three months, less than 2% between 3 and 6 months, and about 6% after 6 months (assuming mom's menstrual periods have not yet returned).
  • The average time for the return of menstrual periods is 14.6 months.
  • Moms whose cycles return early tend to be infertile for the first few cycles. Moms whose cycles return later are more likely to ovulate before their first period.
Read more ...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Neonatal resuscitation (updated with illustration)

Lisa Barrett just posted about resuscitating the newborn. I love the photos at the end showing how to resuscitate and evaluate a newborn without cutting the cord or removing the baby from the mother. She shows pictures of a breech water-born baby receiving positive pressure ventilation via a bag and mask. The baby remains with the mother, who is still sitting in the birth pool.

Here is an illustration of a resuscitation from Anne Frye's Holistic Midwifery Vol. II.
Resuscitating a baby without removing it from its mother is certainly doable, although of course much less convenient for the birth attendants. (One might ask, of course, why convenience so often trumps what is best for the mother and baby.)

The one time I have resuscitated a baby was after a water birth. The midwife was still en route when the baby emerged. The baby was floppy and didn't respond to stimulation. The parents helped support the baby in the water while I positioned the airway and did mouth-to-mouth, which was all the baby needed to come into her body. (I was at the birth mainly in the role of a doula, although I had also begun an apprenticeship with the midwife. This experience spurred me to become certified in NNR. I took the course from Karen Strange, who I highly recommend if she is coming to your area.)

Home birth attendants have devised a nifty & portable contraption that substitutes for a warming table if the baby needs a warm, firm surface for resuscitation (for example, in the rare occasion that chest compressions are warranted). You put a large plastic cutting board or cookie sheet and some receiving blankets on top of an electric heating pad, then wrap everything in a pillowcase. You simply carry the "warming table" to the mother & baby, rather than remove the baby to a warming table. Midwives will often place folded towels on top of their "warming table" during a labor. This warms up the towels and keeps the cutting board warm.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

New house!

There's something to lift our spirits after Zeke's death--we found our new house! We made an offer yesterday, and it was accepted today. At just under $90K, it was a real steal. The house was built in 1880 and has a newer addition in the back. It has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and is around 2,000 square feet. There's a new 2-car detached garage in the back of the property with an attic room above the garage, perfect for a writing studio for Eric. It's in a nice neighborhood with mostly well-kept historic homes and--get this--is only 2 blocks from campus! It's just what we were looking for.

Barring any major flaws discovered in the home inspection, we'll close in mid-May. Since this new place is just 2 1/2 hours away, we'll take a carload of power tools, dishes, and clothes over when we purchase the house. Our plan is to renovate the house before we move all of our furniture later in the summer. What a novel idea! I wish we'd been able to do that with our other houses....We'd like to strip all the wallpaper, repaint the whole interior (walls & trim), pull up the carpet, and refinish the wood floors.

After we move in we have a few other bigger projects in mind: fencing in the back and side yard, putting in gardens and landscaping, and updating the bathrooms a bit. Some long-term possible projects include removing the vinyl siding and restoring/repainting the original wood siding.

The addition in the back does not at all match the architecture of the original house...sigh...but hopefully a privacy fence will hide the worst of it!

Although the inside does need some work, it has many beautiful features, including a spiral staircase, leaded glass windows, and built-in bookshelves.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008


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This is really sad to write. Last night, Eric took our dog Zeke for a walk before bed, and he didn't put him on the leash on the way home. Zeke darted into the street and was hit by a car, a police car actually. Eric came into the house (and I remember thinking the walk was taking a long time) sobbing incoherently, and I saw flashing lights reflecting off the garage wall. I guessed what happened, and I kept asking Eric if something had happened to Zeke since he couldn't talk.

We came outside and went out to Zeke. They had brought him to the front yard, and he was lying on his side, still somewhat warm but definitely not alive. It was so sad to stroke his ears and his side and his stomach. I am not ready for him to be gone. I am especially sad that Zari won't have him to grow up with. She loves playing with him.

She'll have to get used to playing without the real thing.

We carried him into the garage last night and stroked his body for a while before we went to bed. It was hard to get to sleep last night, and it still seems like it shouldn't have happened. This is the last picture I took of Zeke, in February.

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