Happy Birthday, Jordyn Duggar!

Update, Fri. Dec. 11, 2009 — Michelle Duggar gave birth by emergency C-section to Baby Josie, at 25 weeks gestation. Prayers to all involved, particularly the wee babe. More than 50% of babies born at this stage will survive, but many will have life-long problems related to their prematurity. I pray that Josie will be one of the lucky ones who has few or no long-term problems.

Many of you are probably aware of the now-famous Duggar family from Arkansas who have 17 — now 18 — children! While I feel like I’ve got my hands full with two children, they seem to be able to manage their large brood very well. I don’t know how Michelle, the mother, does it, but she always seems to be so sweet and in a perfect mood, and everything is just a blessing, and there is no stress in her life (while I feel a great deal of stress managing my two plus my home and husband). They homeschool the kids, and all of the children play the piano and violin. More power to ’em!

Anyway, if you don’t know about the Duggars, here is more information from their official website. (My 9-year-old niece is a Duggar expert, having seen all of the TV shows they’ve been in, and even knows most of the children by sight. So if I get any of this wrong, I’ll have to get her to correct me.) All of their children are their biological children; they have two sets of twins. I know she had had two previous C-sections (possibly both of her sets of twins were born via C-section; but I think that one of her babies — maybe #15 — was transverse or breech when her water broke or she went into labor, and that was one of her sections).

This baby was also born via C-section, and the reason was not stated in the article I read (I guess I can find out on Monday when the show about it will be aired). On the Duggars’ website, it is stated that the baby was due in January; the baby’s stats are 7 lb. 3 oz. and 20 inches long, so while she arrived ahead of her expected due date, she does not seem to be “preterm”, but was probably at 37-38 weeks.

I wonder why she was born by C-section. I probably shouldn’t speculate, but I wonder why. The Duggars do not believe in using birth control; instead they trust their fertility to God, planning on having as many children as He allows them to have. Unless they’ve changed in the past nine months, they may well have even more children. She is only 42, so possibly has a few more years of fertility before menopause sets in. The more C-sections a woman has, the more she and her future children are placed at risk of potential problems in subsequent pregnancies, including things like maternal hemorrhage and hysterectomy, and placental problems like placenta previa, percreta and acreta. Women who want large families are generally advised to avoid multiple C-sections — and Michelle Duggar definitely wants a large family!

One problem with a first C-section is the current VBAC ban in so many hospitals prevents women from ever having anything but a C-section. For women like Mrs. Duggar, if she has any unnecessary C-sections, it increases her risks in future pregnancies for no current benefit — and until she has a hysterectomy or goes into menopause, she will have future pregnancies. So, if this C-section was done “because she had had a previous C-section,” then she definitely increases her risk, as well as that of future babies. Now, if her C-section was necessary, that’s another story entirely. In a Duggar show a few years ago, I remember seeing her obstetrician, who talked somewhat (to the TV audience) about the risks of having so many children as well as having a vaginal birth after a Cesarean, but said that the Duggars understood what was going on, and it was her (the OB’s) job to make sure the woman had a safe and healthy birth; and in light of her desire to have so many children, that meant as few C-sections as possible. If they kept the same OB, I have a lot more trust that this C-section was indeed necessary.


Lawsuit: Frivolous or Justified?

I was horrified to read the allegations in the lawsuit by a woman who claims the obstetrician who attended the birth of her baby abused her. Click here to read the allegations and other information — it first appeared in the Chicago Tribune and, undoubtedly, has been blogged about quite extensively, so this may not be the first time you’ve read about it. I’ve read numerous stories of women who claim abuse or “birth rape” during labor or birth, but this is the first occurrence I’ve seen of a lawsuit about it. (If you haven’t read it yet, go read the blog post and then come back here.)

Unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot of people who say, “What’s the big deal? — mom and baby both lived, so why sue?” Is that all the matters? Are women supposed to be treated like that — have medicine witheld from them, told that they are going to hemorrhage so much that they will need a transfusion, and to start pushing prior to full dilation?

I don’t like the litigious society we have, but lawsuits get results. And attention. Had this woman not sued, her story probably wouldn’t have been told. And if it was told, it would probably have made the rounds in “crunchy” blogs, but not gotten into the mainstream. For that reason, I’m glad this woman has filed suit. I wish she could pursue criminal charges, and she may technically be able to, but can you imagine being the police officer who would have to work the case? “Um, let’s see, Mrs. Skol, you allege that when you went to the hospital, Dr. Pierce assaulted you. Did he hit you? [No.] Did he attack you with a medical instrument? [No.] Well, what did he do?… Oh, he performed a vaginal exam on you without your permission? Is that even assault?” Um, yeah, in my book — if anybody else stuck his hand in her vagina against her permission, it would be counted as assault or battery or rape or whatever the “correct” legal term is. But because he’s a doctor, his “white coat” gives him immunity in a lot of people’s minds from such “common” criminal terms as assault and battery.

At one point, the doctor had the woman’s husband hold her down while he stitched her tears (or possibly an episiotomy) closed without anesthetic. The husband didn’t know what else to do, so he complied with the doctor’s orders. Because he had on a white coat, he had to be doing the right thing, right? Probably Mr. Skol wanted it over as soon as possible, and his wife’s struggles to get away from the painful needle was making it take longer, so he probably thought he was doing what was in her best interests. Had the doctor been a stranger on the street hurting his wife like that, the husband probably would have seriously injured him. But because he had on a white coat, he did nothing.

I think the woman deserves compensation for what she experienced; and while money cannot make up for the pain and fear she underwent, it is better than nothing. I’d prefer to see the doctor (assuming these allegations are true) stripped of his medical license and sent to jail, but that’s probably not happening. This lawsuit will give this doctor a lot of negative attention, and will probably make a lot of people think twice before using him for his services. So, he may be out of work anyway (in obstetrics, at least).

Is being alive at the end of the day all that matters? What if this weren’t obstetrics? What if the woman had gone in for, say, a gall-bladder surgery, and the doctor wouldn’t allow her to ask any questions? What if (somehow) the anesthetic wore off before the end of surgery, and the patient complained that she could feel pain, and the doctor refused to inject a local anesthetic while he closed the incision? Would that be allowable, as long as the patient was still alive at the end of the surgery?

Legislative Alert: American Association of Birth Centers Announcement

Click here to go to a post that says it all. In short, there is legislation to be introduced next month in the U.S. Congress, to get Medicaid reimbursement for Birth Centers, and this legislation needs sponsors and supporters. The post has links, email addresses, phone numbers, etc., that you may need or want to contact your U.S. Senator or Representative.

“Like having a wise and loving grandmother show you exactly how to nurse your baby”

The title quote is from Dr. Christiane Northrup about the book Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy: A Photographic Guide for Mom and Those who Help Her. The author is Laura Keegan, mother of four and Family Nurse Practitioner.

She says, “My mission is to bring breastfeeding back to humanity with a new comfort zone to promote both peace and health.”


You can visit www.BreastfeedingwithComfortandJoy.com for reviews, excerpts, and orders; and also the Dec. 12th post at the Motherwear blog, for a review and the comments which follow.

Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy is not only extremely practical with a long history of successful use in its pre-published form since 1999, being circulated by patients and colleagues to women all over the US having significant breastfeeding problems; it is also beautiful.  The images of breastfeeding mothers and babies have been described as stunning and evocative.

This sounds like a wonderful gift to give a woman who is currently pregnant or has just given birth and may or may not have a circle of breastfeeding friends to help her should she need it.


Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my blog. I’m excited. 🙂 Just because.

It’s been a learning experience, and a growing experience. I’ve made a lot of new cyber-friends, and enjoy meeting with them from time to time on my blog or theirs, or through comments. By looking at the blog stats, I know I have lots of readers, but only get occasional comments — which I always enjoy. Since the start of this blog, one major change has been the addition of the poll feature, which I think is great because it allows more interaction and input from you, my readers. I learn from your experience, and get a general idea of where you’re coming from, although I don’t know who gives what answer in the polls, unless you tell me.

When I first started, there were times when I felt like I would never run out of subject material. But then there have been times when I’ve gone several days or even weeks without a post. I also learned about editing the publishing date of the post, so that I wouldn’t have so much “feast or famine” with the posts — looking back, I see that there are several different days that have two or three posts apiece, preceeded by and followed by many days without a post. Since I can’t always guarantee that I will have free time to write a post each day, I like to be able to write when I have the time, and post them regularly.

For those of my regular readers who have followed me from the beginning, thank you. And for those who haven’t, thank you for joining me, and I hope you enjoy looking back through the archives for the old posts. I don’t like being too repetitive, so if I talk about the same things, I try to come at it from a different angle — whether it’s a new study, article, blog post, birth story, etc. that sheds new light on the subject, or just something that I think bears repeating. So, here is my first post, Fast Food Birth. I remember writing this while we were having a discussion in the Independent Childbirth Educators email list I’m a member of. One of the educators had written an essay, Burger King Birth, that I think is just wonderful, which was the inspiration or “jumping-off place” for my post.

Now, for some stats (as of the time of this writing, about 10 hours before 12/17/08):

Total views: 68,688

Busiest day: 543 — Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Posts: 323

Comments: 477

Categories: 38

Tags: 1,094

Akismet has protected your site from 1,608 spam comments.

My blog has grown in popularity quite a bit since its inception a year ago — from an average of 10 hits per day to about 300! Yep, I’m excited and modestly proud.

I’m not totally sure how the blog stats work — if these are only unique hits or if any person who reads (even the same post multiple times) will be counted as a “hit” or “referrer”. Most of the referrers are through WordPress tags, and Google Reader is a big one too; but I want to take a moment and thank the other top referrers who are actual people:

I hope you enjoy my blog in the upcoming year as much as you have in this current one.

Scottish Women Urged to Give Birth in Their Homes

Read more about it here. My thanks to Empowering Birth for the original link.

But it makes me wonder — if home birth is so dangerous, as Dr. Amy likes to scream, why would this option be heavily promoted in Scotland, trying to more than double the current home-birth rate? Granted, they’re only trying to increase from the current 2% to a hopeful 5%, which is still only about 400 births per year, but the point is that in Scotland they are not trying to take away the right to a home birth, nor trying to decrease the number of home-births per year, but are trying to increase the number of home births per year.

Ok, if you’re Dr. Amy, right now you’re probably pointing out that (sigh) midwives in Europe are different from midwives in America. Let’s grant that statement for the sake of argument, although I think even you, Dr. Amy, agree that CNMs in America are at least as good as if not better than European midwives. So, why do you not promote CNM-attended home birth? Why is it that CNMs who would attend home births are privately warned that if they do so, they will lose their hospital privileges? (I keep up with one blog written by an L&D nurse who is in the middle of or has just completed her midwifery training, and has been told — or the silence has been deafening — that none of the obstetricians in her area want her in their practices. And she or other commenters has said that this is not an isolated event.) Why do European countries (or at least some of them — the United Kingdom and the Netherlands spring to mind) have midwives primarily in charge of births, and I know that at least England and now Scotland are deliberately trying to increase the numbers of home births, and about 1/3 of all births in the Netherlands take place at home, while here in the United States obstetricians are trying to block home births, regardless of birth attendant?

What is different about Europe? Why is it better, or easier, or safer in Europe to have a home birth — according to their health officials and even some/many (all?) of their obstetricians? Whatever factors come up is what needs to change in America, then. If you think that only CNMs should attend home births, then get outta the way of those that would! What factors prevent CNMs from attending home births? Probably the same ones that prevent them from attending hospital births — the U.S. has approximately a 90% obstetrician-attended birth rate, although certainly 90% of American women do not need a high-risk specialists in charge of their care — Stinkin’ sorry politics, Power struggles, and the like.

We deserve better.

Mothers International Lactation Campaign

This is a Facebook virtual event set for Dec. 27. Here is the info from the group:

i.e.: There is no reason to not attend! read on…

Facebook continues to classify breastfeeding photos as obscene content. They continue to arbitrarily remove these photos from member albums and profiles, accompanied by warnings of account termination. This is highly discriminatory and an affront to nursing mothers everywhere. In protest of this, Mothers International Lactation Campaign (M.I.L.C.) has planned a virtual day of protest.

Not only is human lactation responsible for the very survival of our species, it is in no way a sexually explicit, lewd or despicable act. It is also protected by law in most countries, including specifically the state where Facebook is headquartered in the USA.

In protest to the discriminatory and unjust policy of Facebook administration classifying breastfeeding images as obscene content, on December 27th, 2008 M.I.L.C. is asking all of you to change your profile picture for one day, to one which includes an image of a nursing mom.

This could be a picture of you or someone you know nursing a child, it could be a painting or image of a sculpture of a breastfeeding woman, it could also be a photo or image of any nursing mammal….We ask that you include the status line of “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!”

In addition to this ‘virtual nurse-in’, there will be other events planned around the globe. Please check this page often for regular updates and added information. We will also be including images that you can use for your profile picture on December 27th.

Babies everywhere thank you for your support!!!!!

I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with breastfeeding — even in private. I know a lot of people do not want to show pictures of themselves while nursing, or would not nurse with others (except very close friends or family) in attendance. Other women have no problem with it, and will nurse whenever their babies need it. Some are even a bit more… militant? “in your face”? and will deliberately nurse around people who are uncomfortable with it, “just because.”

I don’t totally agree with the aggressive breastfeeders, because even though it’s totally normal and natural, it can be a stumbling block or hindrance to men (I’m thinking of my husband and brother, and then all men by extension) — they can be made uncomfortable by it, or even have sexual, impure, lustful thoughts while seeing it, and just as I would no more put pornography out for men or women to be shocked by, so I wouldn’t put certain breastfeeding pictures out, simply for the purpose of shocking people. Still, I don’t see a reason why discreet breastfeeding pictures shouldn’t be seen, especially in a day in which breastfeeding is still not promoted as widely as it should be. [Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the people who are so shocked and horrified by pictures of women nursing their babies would not be shocked or horrified by either female or male nudity when seen in movies, pornography, or “works of art”, regardless of how tasteless, vulgar, and gratuitous the images were. In other words, it is not the pictures of the breast(s) that bother these people but the fact that there is a child at the breast, instead of them just being exposed for purely sexual or artistic reasons.]

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the values of people who would turn away from any display of nudity, and consider it vulgar for anyone but especially women to be seen and/or photographed half-dressed or completely naked; but I believe a lot of other people to be hypocritical in that they will most willingly look at half-dressed or completely naked women and not see a problem with it, while turning in disgust from a picture of a woman who is more modest, yet obviously breastfeeding. It’s the hypocrisy that bothers me, not the standards. Most people who are disturbed by “breastfeeding pictures” are probably disturbed by ones that almost seem calculated to shock. And some of these make me uncomfortable, too, but it depends on the circumstances — in a birth video or pictures of a birth, I expect to see some female nudity and it doesn’t bother me; if I’m not expecting to see it, or it seems to be gratuitous flesh, it becomes a bit more disturbing. While I read “Navelgazing Midwife”‘s blog, I was extremely shocked the first time I saw the picture that is the header for the blog. Now that I know it’s coming, I always make sure my husband is not paying attention when I read it — if he is, I’ll wait until he’s not before clicking over there; and I always scroll down as quickly as possible, because he doesn’t need to see that woman’s breasts. It does seem gratuitous, but to each her own.

For Facebook to say that no breastfeeding pictures are allowed because they are all “obscene” is ridiculous. There are certainly some obscene breastfeeding pictures out there, and I don’t mind them deleting those, just as they might any other pictures that are obscene or even pornographic in nature, because there are children who use facebook that shouldn’t be exposed (literally) to such pictures. But such pictures can be allowed to be visible only to certain people, so not everyone can see them.

I’ve gotten a lot of people who happened across my blog because they were searching for lewd or sexually explicit pictures — I check my “blog stats” and I see the search terms people use to find my blog, and there have been many who came to my blog because I use terms related to birth that can also be related to sexual material. But my blog is not in itself explicit. Same with breastfeeding pictures. There needs to be a little sense from these people. Just as the people who came across my blog by accident were disappointed when they saw that I didn’t have sexually explicit material and exercised discernment to realize that what they were looking for wasn’t on my blog, even so the people at Facebook can use a little common sense to realize that not all breastfeeding pictures are sexual in nature.

And here is an excellent video to go along with the post, by way of Birthing Your Baby:

(btw, if you are on facebook, I’m the Kathy Petersen in Tupelo, MS)