But, WHY not? Dietary Restrictions During Pregnancy. Part One: Contamination

photo credit: Dan Zen via photopin cc

photo credit: Dan Zen via photopin cc

As most of us are all too aware, pregnancy brings with it some pretty big lifestyle changes, especially in the realm of food and drink. Women are told to cut out alcohol and sushi, soft cheeses and coffee, but less often are they told the reasons behind those recommendations. You wind up following rules (or not) blindly, because no one ever bothers to answer the simple question, “why shouldn’t I eat _____ while I’m pregnant?”. As with all things birth, I feel that people are in the best position to make decisions for themselves when they have all of the relevant information available, rather than simply acquiescing or refusing based on what their friends did, what their doctor says or simply what feels right. Don’t get me wrong, friendly advice, medical recommendations and intuition are all super important, but they’re all also greatly improved by awareness of evidence gained from credible sources.

In this series of posts I will go over the main categories of food and drink restrictions and include common examples from each. First up: contamination.

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Birth Without Fear

'They felt comfortable knowing that they had two knowledgeable and experienced midwifes and a doula to support them,' explained Ms Dives

Photo credit: Jackie Dives

I came across a beautiful set of photographs this morning, in the UK Daily Mail and wanted to share them with all of you. Check out the full article and photo series here.

Taken by fellow doula, Jackie Dives, these pictures really capture the beauty of a home birth. There is a level of bliss that seems only attainable in birth when a woman is truly comfortable, cared for and respected. It’s a pretty hard thing to achieve in a hospital setting but I see it every single time at home.

Obviously, home birth is only right for those who really want it – in other words, if you’ve done your research and you feel you’d be more comfortable in a hospital, then that’s where you should be – but for those who prefer it and who work with their midwives and are deemed good candidates for home birth, let no one call their choice “wild or erratic” again.

To learn more about home birth and the studies that have been done to determine its safety, check out my post (Home)Birth. Is. Safe.

The AllTrials Campaign

If you aren’t already familiar with the AllTrials Campaign, I’d urge you to check out the website and learn more today. In a nutshell, this campaign is about ensuring that the results of all clinical drug trials are released. Currently, many results are being withheld, meaning that doctors and consumers are not able to properly make informed decisions about treatment options. Click the button below to sign the petition and get involved.

AllTrials logo

Late Spring Prenatal Classes

There are spaces available for my May/June Prenatal Class at the Centre for Social Innovation. This is a six week course designed to help you feel confident, calm and prepared as you approach your birth and new parenthood. It will also provide your partner with skills and knowledge that will aid them in supporting you during labour and birth, as well as postpartum.

Classes will be held on Monday evenings, from 6-8:30pm, beginning May 6th, 2013 at CSI Annex (720 Bathurst St.). This series is ideal for those expecting to give birth between late June and August.

**Please let me know if you are interested in the course but not available on week nights.

To register, email me at heather@socialinnovation.ca. The fee for the course is $240 per couple. Discounts are available for doula clients.

Topics for the course will include (but are not limited to):

-natural pain management and coping strategies for labour

-the physiology of labour and birth

-positions for labour and birth

-risks and benefits of common interventions (including pain medications)

-self-advocacy/informed decision-making skills

-breastfeeding

-postpartum care

-newborn care and characteristics

Wondering why you should take an independent class instead of one offered by your local hospital? 9 great reasons here.

Don’t Believe the Hype

This article from The Wall Street Journal provides some great historical information that connects meaningfully with my previous post (Home)Birth is Safe.

The author, Nathaniel Johnson notes that,

In 1923, Mary Breckinridge started the Frontier Nursing Service in rural Appalachia….Within a decade, the astonishing impact of that care was apparent. The women the Frontier Nursing Service cared for, who were desperately poor and usually gave birth at home, were 10 times less likely to die in childbirth than the average American at the time. The nation as a whole wouldn’t catch up until the 1950s, after the widespread acceptance of antiseptic and the discovery of antibiotics.

Given that antiseptic practices and the use of antibiotics are available and in use in midwife-attended home births today, it makes sense that, as Sheila Kitzinger has argued, it is not a high level of medicalization that makes birth safer – it is overall health: access to good pre-conception, prenatal and postpartum healthcare, good quality nutrition, access to clean water and access to skilled birth attendants. This has been borne out the world over, regardless of whether women are typically birthing at home or in hospitals. Access to medical interventions for the few women who actually need them is important, which is why midwives are thoroughly trained to detect possible complications before they become problematic and why they only support home births for women who are not at risk. Obstetricians are trained to deal with problems when they arise, but midwives are far more likely to be able to prevent them in the first place. Continue reading

Education is key! Next prenatal course begins March 5th.

I have another upcoming prenatal series starting at the Centre for Social Innovation, in the Annex, on March 5th. This course will run Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9 pm for six weeks.

If you are expecting a baby between late April and early June, this is the class for you! I cap my courses at six couples, so that my students can get to know one another and start building those new parent networks early. This course will give you and your partner the information and skills you need to cope with labour and birth; self-advocate effectively with your healthcare providers; know how breastfeeding should look and feel; know what to expect of a newborn; and make decisions about parenting that will work for you and your family.

The course is $240 per couple. Discounts are available for doula clients. Email me for more information, or to register.

Topics for the series include (but are not limited to):

-pain management and coping strategies for labour

-the physiology of labour and birth

-positioning for labour and birth

-risks and benefits of common interventions

-breastfeeding

-newborn care, characteristics and abilities

-parenting options

Education is the key to having a birth experience in which you feel confident, calm and in control.