Preparing for Change

Excerpt From the: Peaceful Birth Workbook by Elizabeth MacKay.

Everyone knows that becoming a parent means that our lifestyle will entirely change, but many mothers and fathers to be don’t realize that they can take steps to prepare for this new life. We’re not talking about stocking up on diapers and taking mat-leave—we’re talking about preparing both mentally and emotionally for a new phase in life.

Preparing for change can also prevent postpartum depression, which has been shown to be caused by a feeling of being overwhelmed by the birth, not having enough help and a sense of isolation. Continue reading

The Best Birth Aid Recipe

The Best Labor Aid recipe. By midwife and childbirth educator Elizabeth MacKay, creator of the Peaceful Birth On-line Course found [here].

You will want to eat and drink light, healthy foods during labor. If you eat and drink during labor, then you don’t need an IV. Labor is work, calories are needed for your body to work effectively, and in order to have the energy you need to give birth.

Starving yourself and becoming dehydrated during childbirth can lead to complications. If you have to get an IV, It will keep you from moving freely during labor, but it is movement that helps you give birth faster and easier. The use of IVs can cause other complications, such as fluid overload and hyperglycemia for both mother and baby. And you can find yourself in the “cascade of interventions”, where one intervention leads to more interventions.

But don’t drink sports drinks or energy drinks as they can actually make things more difficult for you in labor.

The Ingredients used in these drinks can affect you and your baby’s heart rate and blood pressure. As these drinks contain very high levels of caffeine. Some brands have as much as 8x the amount of caffeine as 1 cup of coffee. Continue reading

Give Away & Interview with Worts + Cunning Apothecary

WORTS + CUNNING APOTHECARY is a purveyor of quality, handmade herbal products as well as natural products for moms. The Apothecary is currently in Mesa, Arizona and run by owner, founder, and herbologist Alexis J. Chapman.

Alexis chose the name for her apothecary by blending two words: Wort, meaning plant and Cunning meaning artfulness. In other words her focus is on working with plants in new artful ways, while retaining the ancient art of creating herbal remedies for health and healing.

We were so excited when Alexis agreed to offer a give away for our readers! She has chosen her Organic Bundle of Joy Postpartum Kit (featured in picture) which includes Herbal Sitz Bath, Sweet Nectar Milk Tea Blend, Blue Skies Postpartum Courage Blend, Labor & Postpartum Belly Balm and her Sassy Mama Tea Blend.

How does this give-away work? You must nominate a special pregnant woman in your life by sending us an e-mail or facebook message letting us know who you are nominating and why. It is as simple as telling us what you think is special about her and why you want her to win this special postpartum gift-set. We will be selecting our winner on Mother’s Day.

Want to win yourself? Get a friend or family member to nominate you! Once we announce our winner, Alexis will send out this amazing gift direct from Worts + Cunning Apothecary!

We also had the chance to chat with Alexis about her work and love of plants. Please read our amazing interview with her below.

Natural Mommy (NM): Alexis, how did you get started working with plants/herbs and what do you love about it?

Alexis: My story with plants begins with a koala – a real koala that I had the opportunity to hold and have my picture taken with when I was about 5 years old. For the next few years I knew that I was more than just a little girl, I was, in fact, a koala and set about exploring the world as I thought a koala would. I rode my tricycle around the city and in parks, picking leaves off trees and bushes and eating them. I figured out pretty quickly which plants tasted good, others that were not so palatable, and my parents (bless them) realized that they could not stop my koala-ness but began to educate me about poisonous and non-poisonous plants. We would move to a new place and my mom would take me around the yard, showing me what I could and could not eat. So it began, my lifelong journey with plants from koala girl to herbologist (though there is still a bit of koala left in me). Continue reading

Birthing Centers in Ontario Canada

New to Ontario, but not new to Quebec or Manitoba, is the opening of two birth centers – run by midwives and acting as a pilot project, which if successful will likely change how women give birth in Ontario.

“On Tuesday, Ontario women moved a step closer to having that third option when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced plans to launch the province’s first two birth centers.” (Toronto Star)

A birth center is a place where women can give birth with a midwife, aimed at expectant mothers who want to give birth naturally within a community setting. Many women do not want to be in a hospital, but are also not comfortable giving birth at home. A birthing center would offer another option for them to consider. Continue reading

Natural Remedies for Labour, Birth & Postpartum

By Jessica Carfagnini, ND of Thunder Bay Naturopathic Clinic

Botanical tincture
This is a botanical tincture that can be taken 6 weeks prior to delivery. Mother’s cordial
Caulophyllum, Mitchella repens, Chamaelerium luteum, Vibernum opulus (equal parts of individual botanical tincture, can be compounded – see Resources below). Dosage: 1 tsp 3 times/day, take in warm water. Continue until onset of delivery/labour. This tincture helps prepare the uterus for delivery, and also increases the effectiveness of contractions.

If you are past 36 weeks (i.e., 9 months), taking evening primrose oil 500 mg capsules up to 2-4 times a day with food can help initiate labour by increasing prostaglandins in your body.

Walking and light exercise can also encourage the baby to orient her/himself in mom’s pelvis. Continue reading

17 Century Midwives Were Women with Expert Knowledge

According to historians such as Doreen Evenden, research shows that “the seventeenth century [English] midwives were often women of considerable social status, both central figures in local women’s culture and representatives of the respectable part of the local population…the midwife was a ‘specialist’ whose expertise was concentrated in the area of child delivery.” (Evenden, 42, 170).”

Historical views of midwifery also illustrate a give-and-take relationship between a midwife and her community as well as a midwives’ expertise in the birthing realm. Whatever the midwives social status, all were trained through a system of apprenticeship under the supervision of an expert midwife. “A new archivally-based study of seventeenth-century London midwives has demonstrated that midwives were better trained through an ‘unofficial’ system of apprenticeship served under the supervision of senior midwives than has previously been assumed.” (Evenden, 9)

The midwife also had basic knowledge of common diseases and gynecological conditions (Evenden, 171) which, arguably, made them a threat to the economic prosperity of university trained medical men and experts in the contemporary medical profession. In addition to research from Doreen Evenden that supports midwives as experts in the medical field, the trial records themselves from seventeenth century London also demonstrate that midwives were medical experts who testified in court trails “about various forms of sexual impropriety,” (Evenden, 171), which points to the high level of respect that a community gave their midwives.

Midwifery manuals published by seventeenth century midwives themselves also act as primary sources on the subject of midwives’ involvement in birth and demonstrate seventeenth century midwives to be women with an expert knowledge in anatomy and birth during the seventeenth century.

Inuit Birthing Practices

Due to their location, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, research shows that Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic were seldom affected by colonization. For the most part they were free to practice their economic and cultural activities. (Babiuk, et al, 35)

Generally, Europeans traded with the Inuit and left. They did not attempt to settle the territory. (Babiuk, et al, 35) Inuit people lived unaffected until the 1950s, at which point they began to feel the impact of non-Aboriginal people and the Canadian government. (Babiuk, et al, 56) Once touched, many Inuit people were forced by the Canadian government to relocate to islands of the Artic with the promise of abundant land and modern amenities. Instead they found very little governmental support and barren, inhospitable lands. (Babiuk, et al, 56)

Their traditional migratory lifestyle was ruined and economic and cultural activities were terribly impacted. Inuit peoples of Canada have a history of traditional belief systems which believe that creation included the material world and the invisible (spiritual) world. “The entire universe had spirit, and the Creator was present in everything”. (Babiuk) In addition to their daily activities such as hunting, this belief system was embedded in their birthing practices.

From the earliest times, Inuit women viewed childbirth as a part of all other natural cycles of life. “Like death, birth was seen as part of a cycle of life that existed within the sacred realm, governed by ubiquitous spirituality that originated with the Creator.” (Carroll and Benoit, 265) In this regard, the arrival of a baby reminded everyone of the delicate cycle of life and death.

State of World’s Midwifery Doc

Many women who want a midwife cannot have one yet, women die in child birth everyday from a lack of adequate care. The below video “highlights the importance of the role of the midwife in reducing maternal and infant mortality as well as the issues and challenges they face.”

Sharing the Wealth – Thoughts on Global Sustainability in Maternity Care

Maternal mortality is mainly a tragedy of the “third world”. There are half a million deaths world-wide due to cause’s related to pregnancy and birth and [approximately] 99% of them occur in undeveloped countries. (Omran, 91) In saying this, it is not denying the fact that over-medicalized births can be a tragedy of the “developed world” or that maternal and infant death sadly happens in every country, it is just not the focus of this particular post. Instead the focus here is that in developing countries many women and babies are dieing from complications which could be avoided with adequate maternity & birth care. Arguably, in order to improve the maternity care for women in the under-developed parts of the world as well as lower the mortality rate among these women, a redistribution of the global wealth as well as equitable resource allocation based on the individual needs of particular communities is required. Furthermore, issues of race and class as well as patriarchy need to be addressed in order to solve the inequality experienced by women globally. Continue reading

Ontario Midwives Deserve A Raise

Natural Mommy was there yesterday when hundreds of women, babies and midwives descended on Queens Park in Toronto to rally for pay equity for the wonderful women who help birth our babies. As seen in this article from the Toronto Star [click here], Midwives have seen only two raises since becoming registered in 1994, while most other professions have seen more. Midwives save the medical system money yet “physicians make more than double” (Porter) what midwives do. Pointing this out is not to suggest that physicians should be paid less, but instead that midwives should clearly be paid more for their work and expertise.

On the facebook page which invited women to the event (hosted by Ontario Midwives) women wrote about how much they loved having a midwife because the support and quality of care they received was excellent. Other women wrote about how they were on waiting lists to get a midwife and in the end they were forced to have a hospital birth without the midwife they wanted. All women echoed their support for the event. Midwives not only assist women with a generosity of spirit and respect, they also have vast medical knowledge, training and education and are qualified to practice inside and outside of the hospital. Since 1994 they have been covered under OHIP. Midwives practice under the philosophy that women should be active in choosing the birth they want. It is about choice: be it a midwife assisted birth or not. Unfortunately, not all women can truly make a choice because of access to birthing options. So, in addition to paying our current midwives more and showing them a round of applause – Canada clearly needs more midwives!