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Oct 28, 2009

H1N1 Prevention

Historically, alternative preventative treatment has been utilized successfully in times of epidemic flu outbreak. Although there is an option to vaccinate oneself with this new H1N1 vaccine, I would argue that the current global situation warrants a more serious search for safe, non-invasive alternatives. The inherent risks of vaccinations can serve as a reminder for midwives to return to the basics, creating and maintaining a healthy immune system.

One alternative approach being considered in countries such as India and France is nationwide homeopathic vaccination. Homeopathy as we know it today was founded by Samuel Hahnemann, although the principle dates back as far as Hippocrates. In essence, homeopathy is based on the concept that a disease can be cured by infinitesimal doses of a substance that in larger quantities mimics disease symptoms. It is governed by the principle that "like cures like"—if a substance can cause symptoms in a healthy person, then it can cure similar symptoms in a sick person. In sections 100 and 102 of his "Organon," Hahnemann describes the use of homeopathics in relation to epidemic disease.

A "Times of India" article from August 2009 explores the link between homeopathy and epidemic outbreaks, historically and today.

"Well-known Delhi-based homeopath Mukesh Batra cited the instance of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 in which more than 50 million people were killed worldwide. He said the mortality rate of people given allopathic treatment was 28.2 percent, while [in] those given homeopathic treatment [it] was 1.05 percent at that time." In the case of the 1918 flu, the most common homeopathic remedies were Gelsenium and Bryonia, both 30C.

Oscillococcinum was first studied in France during the 1987 flu epidemic caused by an H1N1 virus similar to the swine flu of today. This multi-center study examined the effect of Oscillococcinum (200C) on the early symptoms of flu. Results were published in the peer-reviewed "British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology." More patients in the treatment group recovered completely in the first 48 hours than the control group (17% of patients with active treatment compared to 10% of controls). More patients in the treatment group also judged the treatment as better compared to the placebo, 61% versus 49%.

— Jeramie Peacock
Excerpted from "Pregnancy and the H1N1 Flu Virus." on the Midwifery Today Web site.

Mama Pumpkin Gives Birth To Baby!

Oct 27, 2009

Mama, Get a Grip!

Mama, Get a Grip! with Shawnda Chambers and Rhondda Smiley

at The Union Yoga Centre - 242 Carlton St (at Parliament)

Sat Nov 14 from 1:30-3:30pm

A stress management workshop for mothers. Leave this workshop with hands-on tools you can use immediately to combat the feelings of being overwhelmed by motherhood. Will include introductory meditation techniques and simple yet effective physical poses, from two mothers who have been there.

Shawnda Chambers is a single working mother of 4. She began an intense spiritual journey with the pregnancy of her last child. She is a certified Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki practitioner and inspired writer. As the founder of Bhavana Yoga, she offers emPOWerment workshops for women and teaches spiritual principals to children in her Storytime Yoga classes.

Rhondda Smiley is mum to a 7 year old daughter, and works full time in the arts & entertainment industry. She has been practicing yoga since 1999 and Tibetan Buddhism since 2007, and co-founded Clear Light Toronto in 2008. A retired La Leche League leader, Rhondda is co-moderator of the popular KoalaMamas online forum, as well as the Clear Light Toronto Families forum. Children welcome - parents will be responsible for attending to their children as child care will not be provided.

Suggested donation $10. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. All donations support UNICEF's Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS program, as part of the 2009 National Yoga Challenge.

Oct 20, 2009

Traditional birth attendants in Atiak Camp, Northern Uganda

Earth Birth

Taye Diggs Interview On Ellen Show 10/15/2009

"Actor Taye Diggs appeared on The Ellen Show on October 15, 2009, and discussed his wife Idina Menzel and the birth of their now six-week-old son. According to Diggs, Menzel labored in a tub with a midwife and gave birth unmedicated like “a warrior.”

Louis Vuitton Supports The White Ribbon Alliance on Special Request of Naomi Campbell

Louis Vuitton is pleased to support Naomi Campbell and the White Ribbon Alliance, donating a portion of sales from a Spring/Summer 2010 bag. Naomi Campbell, in her role as Global Ambassador of the charity, was at Louis Vuitton headquarters yesterday to choose the bag, made of khaki metallic monogram canvas stripes, embroidered on colored metallic leather with natural leather trim. The bag will be available in Louis Vuitton stores in March, coinciding with the 100th Anniversary of International Womens Day.

The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood is an international coalition of organisations and individuals dedicated to reducing maternal mortality worldwide (

Oct 9, 2009

15th October: Tweet-a-thon for Million Mums

The Million Mums Tweet-a-thon coming soon/ Tweet the World!

If you aren’t aware of the work that the Million Mums Campaign and its mother charity the White Ribbon Alliance do regarding reducing the maternal mortality rates across the world then now is the time to take note.

Next week MumsRock in partnership with the Million Mums Campaign are hosting their very first Tweet-a-thon. If you’re a member of Twitter all you need to do is tweet why you think mums rock to ‘@mumsrock because...’ Simple isn’t it?!

If you can then retweet the ones you like to your followers we’ll retweet yours too. The aim is to get a million mums around the globe to tweet together why they think mums rock. This could be what your mum has done for you, why you love her, or even why you think being a mum is cool too.

Don’t worry if you’re not on twitter - you can take part too by emailing us here at and we’ll tweet them for you. You just have to keep your tweet to under 140 characters.

Sarah Brown (wife of Gordon) is patron of the charity and has been very proactive at raising the issues. Other famous mums (and cool women) that are already part of the campaign include: Sarah Ferguson, Davina McCall, Claudia Winkleman, Naomi Campbell, Mariella Frostrup, Kirsty Young and Eve Pollard.

Sarah says, “...throughout the UK people are becoming one of a million mums. I know because every time I twitter about the campaign I get a fantastic response. Young people and not so young, mothers, men, grandparents - all seem to instantly recognize that it doesn’t make sense for a woman to die needlessly or only just survive giving birth when we could so easily do something about it and reap dividends,”

We’re asking you all to spread the word about our Tweet-a-thon which will last for just one day, midnight to midnight, next Thursday October 15th 2009. If you tweet, we'll add your name to the growing list of names around the world who are supporting the Million Mums campaign.

Sarah continues “ People are running marathons, climbing Mount Blanc, doing sponsored walks....whatever their special skill might be. It’s also possible to simply go to the MILLIONMUMS.ORG website, sign up, donate and hear more. “

“The Million Mums Campaign will take up all our voices and make sure they are heard far and wide. It will connect people north and south to raise awareness and to advocate for the trained health workers girls and women need so that they, and their babies, have the care they need, before, during and after birth.”

And some of the campaign’s star-mums are already warming up their tweeting muscles to sum up motherhood in those all important 140 characters: Lauren Laverne says, 'My mum is little, red-haired, funny and very kind. I think she should be President of the Earth because she is the most organized capable person I know.'

Naomi Campbell: My mum rocks because...
'She is my whole inspiration, the person I lean on, the person I confide in and I'm truly grateful to her...she is my best friend.'

So whatever you want to say about mums, mothers, mummy’s (yummy or otherwise) make sure you remember the date - October 15th 2009. If we can get a million mums tweeting on this it will make a great statement about what we believe women deserve during pregnancy and childbirth. And maybe the politicians and policy makers around the world will sit up and take notice. After all isn’t this what motherhood should be about?

Don’t forget to tweet @mumsrock because.....on October 15th 2009. Let’s show the world the power of mum.

Great Breastfeeding Cartoons by Neil

by Neil

Oct 7, 2009

If your baby is breech

Most breech babies will turn naturally before labour. You will probably be referred to an obstetrician as these days few midwives will undertake a breech birth, even though in the past most midwives considered this within their scope of practice. There are still some midwives who are happy to assist with this variation of a normal birth, so it may be worthwhile asking around in your local community to see if you can find a willing midwife.

Recent research, an internationally conducted randomised controlled trial, concluded that caesarean section was the preferred birth option, but this study has been heavily criticised because it has given conflicting results. In the countries and hospitals where vaginal breech births are a common occurrence, there were good results for vaginal breech births. In those hospitals where caesareans have been the norm for some time and where obstetricians are the primary care givers for labouring women, outcomes for vaginal breech births were not as good for the babies as caesarean births. Independent reviewers of this trial have suggested that the results of this trial prove that when the primary caregiver is a doctor, a caesarean section is preferable to a vaginal birth. In other words, where the caregiver has not learned or retained the skills of managing breech births vaginally, it may be safer for the baby to perform a caesarean.

The book Breech Birth Woman Wise by Maggie Banks (an experienced New Zealand midwife) is also worth reading. Intended as a manual for midwives and doctors, it contains considerable detail that will interest parents as well, and may be useful as a reference for your caregiver.

Your main problem will be the limited time you have in which to consider your options. Breech babies are usually only diagnosed in the last weeks of pregnancy and there is little time to organise consultations or second opinions. Your midwife is a useful source of information: she will know which obstetricians are supportive of vaginal births (probably not many) and which practitioners can perform an external cephalic version (ECV) for you.

Some midwives will also undertake vaginal breech births, as part of their home birth practice. In the UK, some women choose to stay at home because they believe they can give birth to their breech baby vaginally, and wish to avoid the pressures imposed by hospital environments. They are also protected by the law in the UK that requires a midwife to stay with a woman to chooses to birth at home, even of they have been advising against it. In other countries, midwives and women don't have this legal protection and this may be a limiting factor in finding a midwife who can assist with the birth, either within a hospital or in your home.

Options for managing the birth are described below. In the meantime, it is worthwhile encouraging the baby to turn head down, as this will solve the problem and a straightforward vaginal birth can be anticipated.

Helping the baby to turn


If the baby settles (engages) into the pelvis it will be difficult for the baby to turn. This exercise, done 3 times each day for 15 minutes discourages the baby from settling into the pelvis.

Lie on your back, with your bottom away from the wall. Place the feet high on the wall, and using it for support, lift your hips high. Have pillows or a firmly rolled towel ready to slip behind your back for support. Your hips need to be higher than your shoulders.
An alternative is to adopt a "knee-chest" position, with your bottom high in the air and your head and chest on the floor.

External cephalic version

Research indicates that manually massaging the baby into a better position is often successful for turning breech babies if done around 39 weeks. You will need to find a caregiver skilled in this procedure, and you may need to take a drug (Ventolin or Ritadrine are commonly used) to calm the painless contractions and reduce the sensitivity of the uterus while it is being done. As there is always a very slight risk that the cord will become entangled or the placenta starts to separate as the baby is turned, external cephalic version should always be done in a hospital, where a Caesarean section is available in the unlikely event of such an emergency.

Using moxibustion to encourage the baby to turn by itself

A very successful "do it yourself" technique with a proven high success rate is to use locally applied heat treatment.

The heat from burning moxa sticks can also be used to stimulate the baby's movements and encourage it to turn. These sticks, shaped like cigars, are available from herbalists, Chinese medicine stockists and some acupuncturists (who use moxa sticks for other purposes) and they contain tightly rolled dried leaves of the mugwort plant. They are very inexpensive and two sticks will be needed - they can be used several times.

Sit on a chair and place each foot on a book with your little toes hanging over the edge. Place each stick on another book with the tip in the gap.

Light the sticks (they burn with no flame but an intense heat and pungent smell) and position the hot tip as close as possible to the outside of each little toe, with the heat directed at the point just above the toe nail. Leave in place for 20 minutes. Be careful not to touch the skin as you will burn yourself. The heat should be as strong as you can tolerate, for the best effect.

After a few minutes, you will notice the baby begin to kick and move. The primary aim of the moxibustion treatment is to encourage the baby to move around and thus increase the effect of gravity which will help the heaviest part of the baby (its head) to turn over and enter into the pelvis.

This simple treatment is best done just before bed, starting at 34 - 36 weeks. It takes several hours for the baby to turn, and this will be easier if you are lying down, because the baby will not be sitting as firmly into the pelvis. Continue over several nights, or until the baby has turned itself.

A randomised controlled trial indicates that at approximately 70% of breech babies will turn using this method. If the baby does not turn from its breech position, external cephalic version should be attempted just before labour begins.

If, after trying the moxibustion and/or external cephalic version, the baby does not move into a head down position, there may be a good reason why the baby prefers to remain in the breech position -perhaps the placenta is positioned low down, limiting the space for the baby's head in the lower part of the uterus or the uterus itself is shaped unusually and is restricting the baby's movements. If the baby does not turn easily, then it must be assumed that the baby needs to stay where it is, and options for the birth (either by caesarean or vaginally) will need to be considered.

Giving birth to a breech baby

Today, most women will be advised to have a caesarean section for the birth of their breech baby, especially if it their first child. Although caesarean section carries its own risks and requires time to recover from the surgery afterwards, this may be the only option available, especially if your caregiver has little or no experience of vaginal breech birth.

Your chances of a safe vaginal birth will be increased if this is not your first baby, you have a small baby, you are carrying twins (twins are usually much smaller than singleton babies), you have given birth vaginally to a breech baby before, you labour without an epidural or an induction and you remain upright and mobile during the labour and birth. A caregiver who is familiar with breech birth and confident of their practice will also make this option much more successful.

If you decide to accept a caesarean birth, it is advisable to wait until labour begins before the surgery is performed, as this will eliminate the risk of prematurity and give the baby the benefits of the labour contractions, which are important for the final maturation of the baby's lungs in readiness for breathing on its own.

Shop around for a caregiver if your baby is breech. You may have little time, but it may prove worth the effort to get the birth you want for your baby.

by Andrea Robertson

Andrea Robertson is a Consultant in Childbirth Education from Sydney, Australia. Her books include Preparing for Birth, Making Birth Easier, Empowering Women, and The Midwife Companion. As the Principal of Associates in Childbirth Education, an independent training organisation, she oversees the world's first Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education, and presents highly acclaimed training workshops for midwives and educators on teaching and practical midwifery, within Australia, and in many overseas countries.

Oct 6, 2009

Juggling career & baby

Juggling career & baby was written by Janet Reid who introduced Megan Pedersen’s daughter, Millie, who was about 10 weeks old when Pedersen dropped her off at day care for the first time and then headed back to work.

“When I dropped her off, I left, and I cried the whole way to work,” Pedersen says. “It was just so traumatic, and she was crying when I left. I just thought it was the most awful thing.”

New moms in some countries have the luxury of one or more years of maternity leave, but American moms don't get that kind of reprieve.

Megan Pedersen, of Lawrence, picks up her daughter Millie from day care, Pederson met Millie’s caretaker, Melanie Gabel, while working at the Lawrence Family Dental Vision Clinic, 3111 W. Sixth St. Now that she has two children, Gabel operates a day care business, while Pedersen recently returned to work after a nine-week maternity leave.

Lawrence dentist Nealy Newkirk returned to work just two-and-a-half weeks after the birth of her third child, despite undergoing a C-section.

“If I don’t work, the bills don’t get paid, so that makes a big difference,” Newkirk says. “It does make a difference when you own or co-own the business.”

It’s something new moms everywhere struggle with: returning to work, usually less than three months after bringing a new little human being into this world.

In the United States, the Family Medical Leave Act guarantees new moms up to 12 weeks unpaid leave from work after the birth of a child. That’s in stark contrast to the benefits new mothers receive in places such as Canada, the United Kingdom and some countries in Europe, where moms have the luxury of spending the first year of their child’s life — or even longer — at home, before returning to their jobs.

“Ready or not, they know how much time they have,” says Melissa Hoffman, a community education specialist for pre-natal and parenting programs at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

But Hoffman does have some tips for making that transition from maternity leave back into the working world smoother.

“I always say take as much time as you can,” Hoffman says, “because until you’re there, you don’t know what you are going to feel like, and most times women are not feeling ready to go back to work because they’re going to want to stay home with the baby as long as they can.”

Pedersen, who has worked as the practice manager for Lawrence Family Vision for eight years, found herself surprised at how her feelings changed once Millie came along.

“I did not want to stay at home at all, absolutely not,” she says. “I thought that I would be a terrible stay-at-home mom, and I would just be miserable.”

But as the weeks went by and she continued to bond with her new baby girl, Pedersen dreaded the thought of being away from her daughter.

“It was awful,” she says. “For the first time in my life, I thought, maybe I do want to be a stay-at-home mom. And actually, the night before I went back to work, I got our bills out and tried to figure out, can we do it? Can we make it if I quit my job?”

“You just have to know that it’s hard for a lot of people,” says Hoffman, who leads a support group for new moms on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at LMH. “I don’t know that there’s a magic answer, as far as when you feel like you are ready emotionally. If you are feeling the sadness about leaving the baby or guilt about going back to work, you just kind of push through, and it does get easier as things fall into a routine.”

Hoffman says the best advice she can offer new mothers is easing back into work, perhaps returning part-time for a few weeks if your employer will allow it, or take the first few Wednesdays off. Hoffman says that way you only have to make it through a couple of days before having a break and then two more days of work before the weekend.

Pedersen actually shortened her maternity leave. Instead of taking the full 12 weeks, she went back a little earlier so that she could work part-time. She says that made all the difference.

“Definitely, I would recommend it if anybody can, because it was such a transition sending her to day care,” Pedersen says. “I didn’t realize what a difficult situation it would be. To be able to just go part-time for a little bit is letting her ease into it and me, so we’re just able to function a little bit better.”

For Newkirk, she found returning to work after the birth of her child easier than working while in the late stages of pregnancy. She also has help at home — a relative watches the newborn so she doesn’t have to drop the baby off at a day care center, but, she says, there are still some challenges.

“The hardest part is the breast feeding,” Newkirk says. “Pumping at work and figuring that all out.”

Hoffman says choosing when to return to work, or even if to return at all, is a personal decision, one that all new families have to make for themselves.

“You can’t let society’s ideas of what the perfect mom is influence you, you have to do what’s best for you,” Hoffman says. “There’s people who really thrive on the satisfaction of a job outside of the home and that’s what makes them a better parent and vice versa. There’s the moms and dads who really do thrive on being the parent inside the home, 24 hours a day, and that’s their job.”