Behold the Lilies of the Field

This is something that I posted to Facebook for a 9 day period while I enjoyed this bouquet and thought about how birthing women bloom when the time is right. I promised a long time ago to make the photos into a blog post, so here it is. Gloria

A bouquet of tightly closed lilies was purchased in the morning. The birth attendant left them alone for the day. No checks, no blood pressures, no heart tones were taken. One over-achiever dilated to fully with no coaching or support. A few of the others are dilated a fingertip (failure to progress after 12 hours), some are “unfavorable” and may never dilate. They certainly aren’t following the normal curve. We’ll wring our hands and wait to see how things look in the morning. 🙂

First day, one fully dilated

First day, one fully dilated

DAY 2 Two more have gone into the blooming process and have now dilated to 5 cms. Some signs of early ripening and an improved Bishop’s score for some of the others.

Day 2, slight progress

Day 2, slight progress

DAY 3 Stragglers and over achievers, all hanging out together.

Each in her own time

Each in her own time

DAY 4 I noticed on this day that the water level in the vase had gone down. . these flowers know how to self-hydrate

Day 4 of the blooming process

Day 4 of the blooming process

DAY 5 There are 5 closed buds amongst all the exuberant fully opened flowers. They stand straight and unconcerned, knowing the Universe will open them when the time is right.

There are 5 closed buds

There are 5 closed buds

DAY 6
Only two remain undilated. The other ones that were closed yesterday are 5 cms, 3 cms, and fully dilated.

 Only two remain undilated.


Only two remain undilated.

DAY 7 Another one opened overnight, only one left to dilate. The very first one that opened immediately on Day 1 is at the bottom of the bouquet and she’s looking a bit depressed now.
It was all I could do to hold myself back from interfering. . . I wanted to trim the stems, add clear cold water, fluff them up, trim off the stamens. Every time I went to do it, I could hear the women on Facebook, who were following the daily progress reports, shouting “Hands off!”
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DAY 8 One lily remains closed but there is an almost imperceptible change going on if you compare to yesterday’s photo.

One lily remains closed

One lily remains closed

DAY 9 WooHoooo! The very last one is dilated to 7 cms! Can you see the last one at the very top of the bouquet?

They've all dilated!

They’ve all dilated!

She’s opening up in her own way and her own time. Every one of them knew when, how and with whom to do it.
Yes, they had an unassisted birth . . .even though they were cut off from their roots and photographed with a flash camera every day. . . . despite that, they dilated without fuss, muss or shenanigans.

lilycollage

The Herbal Bath

This is something I have had in my files for many years. I’m posting it for those who are interested. The only time I have prepared all these herbs, we had them “cooking” while the woman was in the birth process. She didn’t like the smell so we had to interrupt the process, take the big pot outside and get the house cleared of the smell. So, lesson learned, don’t do this during the birth. I’m not in agreement about the idea of getting a woman into a bath to stop excessive bleeding or the idea of opening the labia and swooshing bath water into a post partum vulva. Actually, there are lots of ideas in here that I don’t go along with but I thought you might like to read this handout from around 1985.

I’m sorry I don’t know the source of this to credit the author. Gloria Lemay

Beginning of the quote:

THE HERBAL BATH
This bath mixture should be prepared, strained and put together in a large container ready for the bath. Remember, this bath is also used as treatment for heavy bleeding, and must be ready for immediate use if necessary. A quart or two of strong shepherd’s purse and extra comfrey (fresh if possible) should be set aside for internal use and for adding to the bath if needed.

¼ C sea salt
1 ounce Uva Ursi
1-2 ounces Comfrey
½ – 1 ounce Shepherd’s Purse
1 large bulb fresh garlic

Have ready for emergency use:
2 quarts strong shepherd’s purse tea
2 quarts strong comfrey (fresh if possible)
1 qt. alum root tea, or alum crystals

Simmer the tea and let set for some time before straining. Simmer the tea leaves again to get their full benefit. If you have garden fresh comfrey, do not simmer—use raw. Whiz it in the blender, strain and add to the tea mixture in a large container. Whiz the fresh garlic, add this and the sea salt to the mixture. Cover, label and set aside. Add to the warm bath water when needed.

This herbal bath is highly recommended for every woman following childbirth. There is absolutely no danger of introducing an infection, if the baths are done correctly. The garlic and sea salt make the bath solution aseptic. Uva Ursi is a specific for healing a woman’s reproductive organs. Comfrey contains alantoin, a cell proliferant, which causes the edges of wounds to grow together. It is very healing and soothing. Shepherd’s purse is excellent for preventing and controlling excessive bleeding.

The bath should be taken shortly after the birth. If the placenta has not been expelled, and you would like to get in the bath, you may do so. When you feel a contraction coming on –squat over a bowl and push it out.

A warm bath to soothe after the birth.

A warm bath to soothe after the birth.


The water should be comfortably warm, but not hot. The water should be about hip level. Lie back, spread your legs and swoosh the healing waters up inside the birth canal. Thirty minutes should be the minimum time in the bath. You will find the bath very soothing, relaxing and rejuvenating.
The baby should be put in this bath with you. The herb bath will start the healing process of the cord stump, and it may drop off as early as 3 days. In this bath, your baby will become mellow, and may even smile. He will unfold, stretch and float in the lovely weightless, warmness of the water. It’s wonderful to watch his pure joy at finding something so familiar and enjoyable in this new world. Caress and speak softly to him. He will love this communication, and will respond by total eye contact and facial expressions. When the infant is taken out of the bath, he should be patted dry, not rubbed. Dress him in soft, warm things. Put him to bed with you and let him cuddle up next to your warm body.

End of quoted material.

Low tech, non invasive ultrasound alternative

The original Baby Egg Pregnancy Countdown Calendar

The original Baby Egg Pregnancy Countdown Calendar

This is a photo of my friend, Kelly, at a prenatal clinic visit. We took her picture so she could show her friends “See, even though I’m really big, I only have one baby in here!”

I bought this Baby Egg at a Midwifery Today Conference that I attended in Eugene, Oregon. I had to own it when I saw it. I discourage routine ultrasound and recommend that dopplers and imaging devices be kept well away from the developing fetus. I like to kid around with my clients and say “Okay, today we’re going to take a picture of the baby.” They look shocked because they’ve already heard me go on and on about NOT using ultrasound. Then, I bring out the Baby Egg and they get to see their baby actual size and there’s a cute caption on the back that describes what the baby is doing at that week of gestation. I take a photo of them with the egg, like this one, so they can send it to the grandparents or post to Facebook.

The Baby Egg retails for about $16 (U.S.) through Amazon. You can see some sample illustrations on their website at http://babyeggcalendar.com/

Courage

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, courage is a noun meaning ‘ability to overcome fear or despair” The fear has to be present in order for courage to exist. The English word “courage” is derived from the French word for the heart, “cour”. When someone finds the heart to continue on doing the right thing in the face of great fear, everyone around her is inspired to become a nobler human being. This is the source of courage for many midwives. In ourwork, we see women and men facing their fears in birth, we ask them to have faith in the face of no evidence, we demand that they be bigger than the circumstances and, when they conquer, we get a renewed vision of how life can look when our fears don’t stop us.

The paths of parenting and midwifery push me up against my fears and despairing attitude on a daily basis. Luckily, I have found teachers and teachings that have inspired me to keep going despite a rapidly beating hummingbird heart. When my daughters were very young and I was juggling my heart’s desire to be a good parent and make a difference in childbirth, one of my friends told me to use the affirmation “My vulnerability is my strength.” I thought she was insane and argued that if I lived by that slogan my children would surely perish. I was pretty sure that my strength was my strength—and by strength I meant my ability to force and push life to suit my will. I now know that true strength is an elusive quality of being able to strengthen others. At that time, I trusted my friend and, on faith in her alone, began toying with sharing my vulnerability. I tiptoed into revealing my fears and apprehensions to a few “safe” people and slowly began to realize that what my friend had given me as an affirmation worked a lot better than my stoic, stubborn, brave warrior act.

After a few harsh lessons, I began to realize that it wasn’t up to me to conceal information that was worrying me at a birth from the parents. In fact, if I am afraid at a birth, the best thing I can do is name the fear boldly and even ask everyone else present to say what his or her fears are. One of my dear clients released her membranes at 36 weeks in her second pregnancy. Her first birth had been a beautiful, straightforward home birth and I was deeply invested in her second birth being just as great. After four days of leaking, she began having regular, intense birthing sensations and we drove to the hospital for the birth. I drove and the parents were in the back seat of my car. As we approached the hospital, my hands on the wheel were clutched into white knuckles and a ball of fear formed in my gut. I started picturing the cord being whacked off immediately and the baby being taken away from Mom. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the father with his eyes looking terrified. I said to him “What’s your biggest fear right now, Brian?” He replied, “I am afraid we’re going to have a Cesarean.” I never imagined this would be his fear. A cesarean was not even a possibility, I explained, “Your wife is in strong birthing, she has already had one vaginal birth, the baby is small—for sure it will be born vaginally”. He asked me, then, “What are you afraid of?” I told him honestly “ I’m afraid that the baby’s cord will be cut too quickly and the baby will be taken away from Karen.” This had not occurred to him but he knew that my experience was a better barometer of things to come. He asked me what we could do to prevent this. I was able to tell him that it was very important to take the doctor aside out in the hall and tell him “It means everything to my wife and I that the cord be left to pulse and that the baby be placed on her skin until the placenta comes out.” We did a couple of “dress rehearsals” of what had to be said and then went in. The staff at the hospital respected the parents’ wishes to have the cord left intact. The birth went beautifully. I would have wished that the baby didn’t have as heavy doses of antibiotics as he was given (with resulting colic for months) but having a birth that involved no induction or anesthetics was a big accomplishment in these circumstances.

Nancy Wainer, author, midwife

Nancy Wainer, author, midwife


There was a period in my career when I was unable to divest myself of fear and dread. I wanted to have a breakthrough and so I decided to “import” some courage into my city. I thought about my heroes in the midwifery movement and asked myself “Whose the bravest person I know?” The answer was, of course, Nancy Wainer Cohen. Her book “Silent Knife” had kept my feet in the room at VBAC births where every cell in my body had been screaming “What the h— are you doing here?!!” I was pretty sure that if Nancy came and lived at my house for a few days, I could get some courage. My husband picked Nancy up at the airport and she came into my house and hugged me wracking with sobs. She cried her way through several boxes of Kleenex at the workshop she taught for my students. Her visit was four days of snot, tears and intense passion for healing birth. I learned so much about the vulnerability and strength connection. Nancy is still my hero in the courage department and she continues to live her life with her heart pinned right on her sleeve.

The sharing other midwives have done about their fears has strengthened me to face my fears of birth One midwife wrote in Midwifery Today that “the drive to the birth with all the “what ifs” running through my head is the hard part, when I walk through the door and see the woman, all that disappears”. Another midwife told me “The scariest thing for me is the first prenatal class of a series. Meeting new people who have so much riding on my teaching is enough to give me an ulcer.” An acronym for fear is:

F= false
E= evidence
A= appearing
R= real

When I am most afraid, it is because I have forgotten the truth about how loved and blessed I am. The fear can dominate and stop me or it can be used to alert me to something to which I am deeply committed. Using a journal to write out fears in the morning helps to clear the mind. Once the fears are on paper, somehow they seem less foreboding. Being in action is another antidote to the paralysis that accompanies fear. Any action—cleaning your desk, organizing a drawer, making a phone call—will bring a new perspective and lessen the dread.

My favorite philosopher about fear and courage is the Wizard of Oz speaking to the cowardly lion “Courage is doing what’s right even though you’re afraid.” I have learned courage from birthing women and other midwives. We are there to inspire and raise the bar for each other on what’s possible in the domain of courageous action.
This article by Gloria Lemay was written in 2003 and first published in Midwifery Today, Issue 67, Autumn 2003

Questionnaire for Birth Professionals

Questionnaire for birth professionals (self awareness)

Ask yourself the question and then write down the answer(s) that pop into your head. Don’t figure it out. There are no right or wrong answers. What pops into your head may open up some awareness of your subconscious fear of birth.

1. With regard to having babies, what my mother said is_______________________________
2. With regard to having babies, what my father said is_________________________________
3. With regard to having babies, what I learned in school is _____________________________
4. With regard to my clients, what I have done that doesn’t meet my standards is ____________________________________________________________________
5. With regard to my birth practice, what I would be willing to forgive myself for is _____________________________________________________________________
6. With regard to pregnancy/birth, my biggest fear is________________________________________________________
7. How I feel when I’m standing in the lobby of a hospital is ______________________________
8. What I know about my own birth is_______________________________________________
9. If I could go back to the womb and re-create my own birth experience, I would: (write out all the elements of your fantasy ideal birth)
10. If I had beautiful, ecstatic births happening in my practice, who might be wrong? Who might be upset?
11. Some ways that I could be nicer to myself are _________________________________________

Birthing the Placenta in the early days of Canada

I’m a little hesitant to post the following because of the undertones of colonial disdain but I’m going to go ahead because this is the source of my conviction about the 30 Minute Third Stage. If this story can be used as a cautionary tale for midwives and physicians, I think it’s important to share it. Please read it with a sympathetic view to the time and place.

From CBC Radio “Ideas” program “Doctoring the Family
By David Cayley and Jutta Mason

(beginning of excerpt) David Cayley (announcer): It is clear that pre-medical birth cultures, both Native and non-Native, had many resources to deal with difficulties, but the picture is naturally not without its shadows and isolated cases of shocking cases of incompetence are easy enough to find. Rita Dobois, for example, recalls that although native midwives were usually very cautious about manual extraction of the placenta, she did encounter one very striking exception.

Rita Dobois: The placenta, they didn’t like to pull on it. Now, there was another case here in Manitoba that one of my friends went to and they did a terrible job there. Now, that midwife was known in the community as not being a very good midwife, and she did a delivery on a young woman, a woman who was about 19-20 years old and it was her first baby, and the placenta did not come away fast enough for her liking, and she went in after the placenta. It was very strange, I was quite surprised that she apparently took the placenta and whatever she got and put it into a cloth and put it on the lady’s abdomen and sent the patient in to Norway House, to the doctor, because she was still bleeding. When the doctor opened the cloth, he almost died of shock because there was the uterus, the cervix, the bladder and part of the bowel. She had taken everything out. She had yanked it all out—everything. And that was something that we could not understand, because we had never seen this happen.

So, this nurse said that she was sent in there for the next period. It was freeze up in the fall. She said there were two babies delivered and this midwife insisted that she do the delivery. So she thought well, I’m going to be there, I’m going to see this thing. And so she was there for the delivery and she said it was really an amazing thing because she had never heard a midwife or seen a midwife do this. As soon as the baby was born, I mean just as fast as a wink, her hand was going in to pull out the placenta because the woman was going to die if the placenta wasn’t out. And at one point, the nurse said to her, if you don’t take your hands away from there I’m going to hit you over the head right now and knock you out, because you’re going to kill this lady. And this woman got really upset because she thought that what she was doing was really the right thing to do. And so they got a clock and they sat there and watched the clock. And this nurse kept saying to her, take your hands away, it’s not 30 minutes yet, it’s not 30 minutes. And so finally in 30 minutes, the placenta separated and delivered by itself, and this woman was absolutely amazed.

So, when the nurse asked around the community, you know, how much experience this woman had, they said not a lot, but they thought that she wasn’t that bad. So then when they had the second delivery, Lenore said to this woman, well, you’re going to do the delivery, but there’s the clock and I’m telling you, if you touch that woman before 30 minutes I’m going to really sock you a good one. And so she said the woman just sat there and waited and watched the clock and watched the nurse for fear that she was going to get a clobbering. And in 30 minutes, the placenta separated and came away nicely, and this woman was amazed. She said, you’ve got magical powers. She said no, but she said I bought this clock and it’s yours, and you watch it. And she said, the next time there’s a delivery, even if I’m not here, you expect me to clobber you if you touch her before 30 minutes. And this woman was really amazed, she just couldn’t believe that 30 minutes was like a magic number. Because to her, as soon as the feet were out, you had to go in there and pull out the placenta, right away, quick. . . There was this terrible fear of losing the patient to hemorrhage. We’ve never seen that anywhere else. (end of excerpt)

Related link: 30 Minute Third Stage

Language for a Woman’s body

Ever wondered where terms that describe a woman’s reproductive organs came from? I do. Most of this information came from searching dictionary.com

Pelvis –Nice simple etymology: Pelvis is the Latin word for a basin , which the anatomic pelvis resembles – somewhat.

sacral
1767, in anatomy, from Mod.L. sacralis, from sacrum, the bone (see sacrum). In anthropology, from 1882, from L. sacrum “sacred thing, rite” (see sacred).

Vulva – Vulva is the Latin word for a wrapper. It was also used to mean the uterus, a kind of wrapper for an embryo or fetus. Subsequently it came to have its present meaning, the female external genitalia.

Vagina – The basic meaning of the Latin word vagina was a sheath – or scabbard for a sword. By association, Gladius (sword) was a common term for the penis.

Clitoris – is borrowed directly from kleitoris, a Greek word for both a door-tender and the female organ. This is thought to relate to kleis, a key, by which one gains entrance through a door.

Cervix 1741, from L. cervix, lit. “the neck, nape of the neck.” Applied to various neck-like structures of the body, especially that of the uterus. Cervical is attested from 1680s, from Fr. cervical, from L. cervix.

fornix

1680s, from L. fornix “arch, vaulted chamber” (see fornication).

fundus
from L. fundus “bottom” (see fund (n.)).

endometrium
1882, medical Latin, from endo- + Gk. metra “uterus,” related to meter (see mother).

menses
“monthly discharge of blood from the uterus,” 1590s, from L. menses, pl. of mensis “month” (see moon).

Uterus 1610s, from L. uterus “womb, belly” (pl. uteri)

New Midwifery 101 classes begin Oct 11, 2012

Quote of the day from Gwen Posey , Florida: “Have you ever thought about starting a career as a midwife? OR, are you a midwifery student? THIS IS THE SERIES of Classes you need. Gloria Lemay is a down to Earth, shoot from the hip, EXTREMELY knowledgeable midwifery teacher. She shares her knowledge and life experience WITH you. She treats you with honor and respect, while guiding you to the core of becoming a midwife.

I took her classes. I found a way to afford the few dollars per class. I have great respect in myself for taking this step! It was the right choice for me! It will be the right choice for you too…”
http://onlinemidwiferyed.blogspot.ca/2011/09/midwifery-101-live-online-classes-on.html

LABOUR-AIDE DRINK RECIPE

Electrolyte balanced drink for the birth process

Electrolyte balanced drink for the birth process


Recipe for an electrolyte drink in the birth process:
Labour-Aide

– 1 qt. (or litre) water
– 1/3 c. honey or nice, Canadian Maple Syrup 🙂
– 1/3 c. juice from real lemons
– 1/2 t. sea salt
– 2 crushed calcium tablets
– pinch of cayenne

Put a little hot water on the calcium to make it crush easier. It’s ok to use cal/mag/VitD tablets if that’s what you have on hand. Stir all together and dilute to the woman’s taste as she goes through her birth. It’s nice warmed up for a post birth drink, too.
Gloria Lemay