Search This Blog

Aug 24, 2009

"I tweeted about my home birth between contractions." -Erykah Badu

This awesome interview with Erykah Badu sheds some light on her vegan lifestyle, her 3 home-births and her choice to homeschool her children.

Erykah Badu, thirty-eight, is the queen of hip-hop soul. But more than that, she's an innovator. Take the birth of her third child, Mars Merkaba: In February, when the little girl was born in Badu's Dallas home, she Tweeted between contractions. Her son and daughter were also in the room. Now little Mars is the first Twitter baby, Badu says, growing strong and healthy on "Twitty milk." Babble checked in with Badu in August while she was on a tour bus bound for Brooklyn (little Mars, who comes with Badu on all her tours, gurgled in the background throughout). — Tammy La Gorce

Erykah, you have a ton going on with your tour and a new album coming up (New Amerykah Part II comes out later this year), but first things first: You just home-delivered a daughter and Tweeted about it! Tell us about that.

Well, the home birth and the tweeting are two separate things. I had all my children at home, naturally. First my son [Seven Sirius] was born at home in 1997, because that's the natural environment, the old way. There's not a lot of fuss and moving around. I had a very wise doula and midwives giving me the freedom to continue living my life. I didn't have to uproot myself.

You had no fear, though? You weren't scared you'd need medical attention?
No. Maybe to some it's scary, but preparation is the whole key. When a mother has found out she's going to have a baby, her whole life — her diet, her mood, her energy — should kind of prepare her. After she prepares herself, fear is never a part of it. I expected success and health, so I made sure I surrounded myself with it. By the time I had my third baby, childbirth seemed a very natural part of life to me. And it's always been a part of my life since I've been in music — my first album [Baduizm] came out Feb. 11, 1997, right when I got pregnant. Then I had my first baby Nov. 19, 1997, the same day my live album came out. So I've never known a life in music outside of being a mom.

Got it. But what about the tweeting? What made you want to tweet while giving birth?

"Questlove said, 'I bet you won't Twitter while you're in labor.'"
I was dared to do it. Actually, Questlove of The Roots — he said, "I bet you won't Twitter while you're in labor." I said, "I bet I will." So I did. I tweeted about what was happening with the birth between contractions.

Wow. And your kids were in the room, too?

Yeah. They were a big part of it. A very big part, because it was very sacred. They helped me welcome this baby into the world.

In addition to your incredible baby deliveries, you are also an incredibly hands-on parent. For example, you home-school.

Yes. I wanted to give Seven Sirius [who is entering sixth grade in the fall] special attention academically, to give him an advantage. So by being home-schooled he learned how to learn — he learned how to solve problems in a nontraditional way. In doing that he developed an edge in his schoolwork. He enjoys challenges. He pushes himself. He does his homework voluntarily. He does not want to miss school or be late or be untidy or not have his things in order because that was a big part of how he was brought up [Seven was home-schooled until he entered second grade]. I don't have any idea what Seven is going to choose to do, but he knows how to be disciplined and how to learn, and because of that he's one of the top students in his school, and one of the top students in Dallas.

Did you home-school him yourself, or was there a teacher you hired? And what about the other kids?

I home-schooled him myself. And my daughter, Puma Sabti, she's five — she's home-schooled. And the new baby just started school this week, now that she's six months.

All with you?

Yes, all with me. Of course.

You're also vegan. Are the kids vegan too?

Of course they are. When Seven was born I was a vegetarian and his father [Andre 3000, of Outkast] was too, so it was a natural progression for him in life to eat the things we eat. Puma [whose father is the rapper The D.O.C; Mars' father is longtime boyfriend Jay Electronica] is the same way. It's just what's in the house. They also now have an understanding of how to read ingredients — it's Mommy's lifestyle so it's their lifestyle.

But don't they ever get curious about hot dogs? Or beef jerky? What do you do about that?

I don't in any way force them to have the same lifestyle, but I think they should know the benefits of having a healthy body. If they were to choose to do anything else after they become high school students, I would have full confidence that they know how to take care of their bodies and themselves. By making sure they use preventive medicine — getting plenty of water, plenty of chlorophyll and vegetable juices and good, healthy rest and activity — I know they'll be able to take good care of themselves.

But what about the hot dogs? They never ask?

They joke about it. And I'm sure as children they feel left out sometimes. But that's why we provide them with alternatives. We make sure we keep a school menu on hand, and we prepare the same foods the kids at school are eating but in a healthier manner. That's what this lifestyle provides us with. I work really hard the way I do so I can give them all the things they need without them feeling like they're being punished. So they can have a good understanding of what it means to be healthy.

"The more children you have, the more you get into health."
What do you think is the worst parenting practice going on in America today?

Parents not participating in kids' schooling. I don't think it matters what school you go to, but I think it's important for parents to be involved. And to know that when school stops, learning continues, and to continue teaching at home.

Back to Mars for a minute — how did the people who were reading about her birth react on Twitter? Did you get any criticism about tweeting while birthing?

I have no idea, actually. But the Twitter community was happy to welcome her into the world. They ask about her every month. She just turned six months, and I got a lot of "happy six months." She's the first Twitter baby, and she's breastfed on Twitty milk.

Ha! Is that vegan?

Actually, we're applying a macrobiotic diet with her — it's different from being a vegan, in that it goes a little bit deeper into the yin and yang of what a human being needs. I always wanted to do it, but I didn't really understand the dynamics. Then, the more children you have, the more you get into health and holistic living. Which goes so far beyond being a vegan.


With macrobiotics, each person is different. So it's critical what you give each individual. People have so many food allergies — Seven, when he was tested, he was allergic to some nuts, legumes, melons, and apples. And we would have never known that unless he was tested. So the macrobiotic diet affords us the chance to avoid some of those allergies.

You take this very seriously.

I do. I'm totally into my health — I've been a vegetarian for ten years and vegan for eleven. I'm also a holistic health practitioner. I see patients. And that helps my family in a lot of ways.

You see patients? In addition to your music and home-schooling? That's incredible. Are you exhausted?

I feel great. And I think I'm real smart.

Aug 19, 2009

A Holistic Approach to Childbirth

"This can be a turning point for mainstream consumption of safe birth options." (Sabrina McIntyre) I have not been this excited since the film "The business of Being Born." It seems that Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz are finding more interest in the home birthing scene.

For many women, the birthing process can be a profound, natural rite of passage rather than a painful medical event, says Pam England, a mother of two and certified nurse midwife. Dr. Oz talks with Pam, who answers some of the most common questions about the birthing process. Plus, Pam shares her recommendations for both moms- and dads-to-be for having the best birthing experience possible.


Aug 11, 2009

One Woman's Mission to Save Babies

This is an amazing story from The Oprah Magazine. It raises the awareness of human milk banks, their importance and why more mothers who can not breastfeed need to know about donated, screened, and pasteurized human milk!

Even when Lynn Page felt she'd lost everything, she still had something invaluable to give. Bonnie Rochman tells the story of a mother's devotion and the little-known network of medical miracle workers that's quietly helping the babies who need help most.

Lynn Page was 37, and a pediatric psychologist—old enough for things to go badly with her pregnancy and informed enough to know it. So during her first ultrasound, when the doctor's face suddenly fell and he told her she could get dressed, her heart was hammering as she asked, "What's wrong?" This was November 2006. Lynn was alone at the appointment. She and her husband, Chris, live in Norfolk, Virginia, but Chris, a 19-year navy man and chief petty officer on the submarine USS Boise, was underwater somewhere in the Pacific. When Lynn had learned she was expecting, she'd sent off a package to his next port, in Japan: licorice, M&M's, and a dad's guide to pregnancy called My Boys Can Swim!

Continue reading...

Aug 7, 2009

Orgasm During Childbirth

Imagine a drug-free, pain-free labour that comes with multiple orgasms - it really is possible!

"Orgasm and childbirth are not two words you expect to find in the same sentence. But, as implausible as it may sound, increasing numbers of mothers are signing up to the Orgasmic Birth movement. Childbirth, they claim, far from being a painful ordeal to endure, can be as ecstatic and pleasurable as the moment of conception itself. Now, with the release of two new documentary films in America depicting orgasmic births, and websites awash with first-hand accounts from women claiming similar experiences, are we about to lift the lid on this taboo?"

Read more

Aug 6, 2009

Mali Midwives

Mali Midwives facilitates continuing education opportunities for matrones in rural Mali. Matrones desperately want and need continuing education. Even though they deliver 60% of attended births in the country, they get little attention from Mali's under-resourced health care system.

Mali Midwives has been sponsoring a pilot continuing education project since January 2009. Do your part and - CHIP IN!

A Malian proverb says that a woman in labor has one foot on earth, and one foot in the grave. The proverb is all too true: a woman in Mali has a 1 in 15 lifetime chance of dying from childbearing complications. Many women die because there are no doctors, nurses, or highly trained midwives rural villages. In villages, where most Malians live, auxiliary midwives, or matrones, provide the vast majority of maternal health care. For most Malian women. matrones are first and only health care provider they will ever see.

Mali Midwives facilitates continuing education opportunities for rural matrones in Mali. Their goal is to raise $15,000 to sponsor thier pilot project. You can donate online at

Aug 5, 2009

President Obama's proposed budget for FY10 Federal Doula Appropriation Request

Doula Advocacy Update

FY10 Federal Doula Appropriation Request

President Obama's proposed budget for FY10 includes $1.504 million for the community-based doula program. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is requesting that the House Committee on Appropriation increase this funding to $3 million.

An increase in funding would allow for an additional 6 sites to be funded with grants. We need support in the House for increased funding, so contact your Representative today!

Health Reform
HealthConnect One is working with Senator Durbin's (D-IL) staff on community-based doula language to include in the Affordable Health Choices Act, sponsored by Senator Kennedy (D-MA). In particular, pages 540-545, Sec. 443: Grants to Promote the Community Health Workforce, provide an opportunity to address maternal and child health promotion. Our suggested additions include language on community-based doulas, breastfeeding peer counselors, and a focus on the critical months of pregnancy, birth and the immediate post-partum period. Click here to see our language for this bill.

In addition to working on the Affordable Health Choices Act, HC One is tracking three additional bills:

Early Support for Families Act, HR 2667
This bill intends to improve the well-being and development of children by enabling the establishment and expansion of quality programs providing voluntary home visitation for families with young children and families expecting children.

Education Begins at Home, S. 244
This bill will expand those programs of early childhood home visitation that increase school readiness, child abuse & neglect prevention, and early identification of developmental and health delays. The Act states that the home is the "first and most important learning environment for children"; "parents are their children's first and most influential teachers," and therefore parent education and family support will greatly benefit children's development. Parents "deserve and can benefit from" research-based information, enrichment opportunities and the prospect of connecting with their communities and the childrens' school.

Evidence-Based Home Visitation Act of 2009, S. 1267
This bill intends to improve the well-being and development of children by enabling the establishment and expansion of quality programs providing voluntary home visitation services to low-income pregnant women and low-income families with young children. The goal is to help break the cycle of poverty and improve the well-being of low-income children and their families. The striking difference from previous legislation is that this bill requires programs meet specific scientific standards to be established by the Centers for Disease Control.

As we continue to advocate for the inclusion of the community-based doula program in federal legislation, we encourage you to inform us of your activities and/or ideas. Please contact Advocacy Consultant Laura McAlpine with questions, comments, or suggestions:

Funding Updates

Doula Funding Guide
In an effort to track funds from the Stimulus Package and the pending FY10 federal budget, we have created a spreadsheet of federal funding sources that may be applicable to community-based doula programs. The guide is organized by the federal department that is overseeing the funding, and links to the full description and RFPs (as applicable) for each funding stream are provided for your convenience. We encourage you to download the document.

If you have any questions regarding the Doula Funding Guide, please contact Mairita Smiltars at

Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA)
Community-based Doula programs NOW eligible to apply for the CHIPRA outreach funds

- Applications due August 6, 2009

This act, signed into law by President Obama on February 4, 2009, includes $80 Million over 5 years for Outreach and Enrollment activities related to the state children's health insurance programs. Community-based doula programs and Community Health Worker programs were specifically named in the legislation as entities that are eligible to apply for outreach and enrollment monies through the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Early Head Start
The US Dept of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is soliciting applications from public or private non-profit organizations, including faith-based organizations, that wish to compete for $619 million in funds that are available to provide Early Head Start services to pregnant women, infants and toddlers and their families. The purpose of these grants is to expand enrollment of those served in Early Head Start by approximately 55,000. This grant opportunity is being made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Applications are due by July 7, 2009. For more information, please click here.

Strengthening Communities Fund
The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families announced the availability of capacity-building grants for nonprofit organizations. Through the Strengthening Communities Fund, HHS will make awards of up to $1 million for two years to lead organizations to provide technical assistance and training to support other nonprofit organizations. Grantees must provide at least 20 percent of the total approved cost of the project from non-federal funds. This grant opportunity is being made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Applications are due by July 7, 2009. Click here to read a press release and click here for application information.

Doula Advocacy Success
"In Chicago, we have seen how the community-doula model can improve the odds for those young moms and their babies. The Chicago Health Connection [now HealthConnect One] pioneered this model. The group trained mentors from the community to work with at-risk moms, many of whom had few ideas of where else to turn. I am eager to see the Chicago Health Connection model successfully replicated and to make that happen, it is important that new programs have guidance and help to not reinvent the wheel."

- Senator Durbin, October 23, 2007. Senate Colloquy- Congressional Record.

Federal Funding Established for Community-Based Doula Programs
The very first federal funding stream dedicated to community-based doula programs was established on December 26, 2007, when President Bush signed the 2008 omnibus appropriations bill in to law. This funding stream was established after years of tireless advocacy by HC One's National Doula Advocacy Network. HC One would also like to extend sincere thanks to Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) for their support of community-based doula programs, and to President Barack Obama, who demonstrated his support of the community-based doula model during his time as the junior Senator of Illinois.

HealthConnect One awarded HRSA Grant
Doula programs were able to apply for the $1.536 million of federal money via a competitive grants process through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

HRSA awarded HealthConnect One a 2-year grant to provide training, technical assistance, and cross-sited evaluation to a cohort of six HRSA-funded community-based doula programs across the country.

All six grantees and HC One received a second year of funding through September 30, 2010.

Doula Advocacy Continues
HealthConnect One is committed to advocating for the maintenance and expansion of federal funding for community-based doula programs through our National Doula Advocacy Network. The policy world is constantly changing, so check this site frequently for updates and action items.

See Also:
Doula Advocacy Resources
Community-Based Doula Leadership Institute
Community-Based Doula Program Overview
Community-Based Doula Program Replication

Pesticides & Breastfeeding

Lanolin comes from sheep. Sheep eat grass sprayed with pesticides. Pesticides are not good for breastfeeding babies.

This week is Breastfeeding Week—a celebration of motherhood and the baby she protects and loves. Breastfeeding is very good for your baby but sometimes nipples can become cracked and sore enough for the mother to become discouraged. Nipple gels can help greatly but I would like to inform you about the current state of most nipple gels on the market.

Currently, most breastfeeding women are given a lanolin based product to help relieve their sore, cracked nipples. As you may know already, lanolin is an animal based product—100% cholesterol— and lanolin can contains pesticides because lanolin is procured from sheep who graze on grass that may have been treated for pests.

Several studies from JAMA have demonstrated that there are residual pesticides in lanolin containing compounds in spite of purification by the manufacturing company. Lanolin is also dark, greasy, and is malodorous. It stains undergarments of breastfeeding women.

Another important warning—lanolin is not kosher because it is an animal product which should not be combined with breast feeding.

Beaute de Maman Nipple Gel contains no lanolin—and therefore no pesticides. Our Beaute de Maman product is an omega 3 fatty acid base derived from a plant. It is colorless and odorless gel. We have added a natural herb, calendula officinalis, which is antibacterial, anti-fungal, and helps in the prevention of mastitis. It seems to work well for vegetarian patients and also patients who are allergic to wool. All our products were pre-tested on hundreds of pregnant women and we are very pleased with the comments and results.

Developed by Dr. Michele Brown, OBGYN and founder of Beaute de Maman Caring Products for Pregnant Women this extraordinary gel uses a soothing blend of natural and herbal ingredients with a smooth, moisturizing castor oil base to aid in the healing of sore, cracked, dry nipples. Calendula officinalis is the essential component to this innovative product which promotes the healing of inflamed areas on the nipple.

Unlike other gels which are sticky, greasy and contain lanolin, Beaute de Maman's special formula contains NO LANOLIN, and it is easy to apply and remove. Nipple Gel does not have to be wiped off prior to feeding.

Please visit the product page for complete description.

Happy Breastfeeding Week to You All!

Thank you to Dr. Michele Brown for sharing.

Aug 4, 2009

WABA World Breastfeeding Week

WABA World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7 2009

• To draw attention to the vital role that breastfeeding plays in emergencies worldwide.
• To stress the need for active protection and support of breastfeeding before and during emergencies.
• To inform mothers, breastfeeding advocates, communities, healthprofessionals, governments, aid agencies, donors, and the media on how they can actively support breastfeeding before and during an emergency.
• To mobilise action and nurture networking and collaboration between those with breastfeeding skills and those involved in emergency response

Burundian refugees seek to rebuild lives

MUYINGA, Burundi, 5 December 2007 -- Chantal Nizigiyimana has been back in her home country of Burundi for only a few months, having lived in Tanzania since she was a young child. In 1993, her family was among hundreds of thousands of Burundians who fled across the border in order to avoid conflict.

Now, all Burundians are being asked to return home. Ms. Nizigiyimana is among approximately 9,000 people -- half of them youths -- who have been expelled from Tanzania just this year. Many women and children arrive at the border with nothing to their name.

To read the full story, visit: Challenges await Burundian refugees expelled from Tanzania

Hydration is Critical in Labor.

The following recipe has been shared by a fellow colleague of mine Dr. Tanya Smith of Lifecycles Wellness.

It has been shown that adequate hydration is necessary for optimal muscle performance during prolonged exercise. (Our blessed uterus is just one big muscle). Studies demonstrate that increasing the amount of fluid taken during active labor results in a lower incidence of prolonged labor and possibly less need for interventions. These findings suggest that inadequate hydration during labor may contribute to dysfunctional labor.

Gatorade is often suggested for birthing women as it also helps replace electrolytes. For clients who would rather not have the additives, white sugar and colorants in Gatorade, I offer up the Labor-Aide recipe.


1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 crushed 350mg calcium magnesium tablet (or ½ tsp liquid calcium)

6 cups of water

Mix together well. Try freezing some as ice cubes or popsicles. Put the remainder in easy to drink from containers. Empty water bottles work well.