Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Right Childbirth Class for You

When I was pregnant with my oldest child 20+ years ago, my husband and I attended a series of 5 prepared childbirth classes at our hospital. In our group of about 15 couples, only 1 couple was planning a non-medicated birth. Quite frankly, I thought they were crazy! Why in the world would anybody want all that pain when you could have an epidural and not feel a thing??

I didn't really know that I was in labor when I went in for my checkup on June 22, but my doctor said I was, so we headed on over to the adjacent hospital to have a baby! The doctor came in and broke my water so labor would progress, then a little bit later the anesthesiologist arrived with the biggest needle I had ever seen to give me my epidural. Unfortunately, my husband had run home to grab a few last minute things since (as noted earlier) I wasn't really planning to have a baby that day.

The nurse said that it would feel kind of like a little bee sting when I got my epidural. Since I'm allergic to bee stings, that kind of scared me just a bit. Let me just say it didn't feel like any bee sting I've ever had. It HURT!!!!! Several hours later, the nurse said I was fully dilated and could start pushing. I couldn't feel anything, so I tried to push when they told me I was having a contraction, but I didn't do a very good job of it. After over 2 hours of that, they used a vacuum extractor to get her out and whisked her off to the nursery because she had swallowed a lot of blood from being stuck in the birth canal so long.

I decided that I would never again give birth that way. I began to educate myself, found a wonderful midwife who worked with an OB/GYN group, and nearly three years later had my second child after just a few pushes following a labor that progressed on its own under Midwife Katie's watchful eye. I was still in a hospital setting, but everything was radically different. Babies 3 and 4 were born in similarly natural, relaxed settings.

I have since become a huge advocate for a mother's right to have the birth she desires. If you know you want a medicated birth, then prepare yourself for it by attending a class at the hospital. Huntsville Hospital offers a 2 week or 4 week class for $50. Crestwood Medical Center offers a free 4 week series or a 1 day Saturday class. If you already know you will have a C-Section, it's still a good idea to take a class designed for you.

However, if you are leaning toward an unmedicated birth, you would be very wise to look for more extensive preparation. Jennifer Berry is a Bradley Childbirth Instructor who offers an in-depth 10 week series that will prepare you for any eventuality you may face during your labor. Her students range from couples giving birth in the hospital setting to those who are planning a midwife-assisted delivery. The time and money you spend preparing your mind and your body for birth will be well worth the end result! He class size is limited to just 5 couples, so it is imperative that you make your plans to attend one of her classes early.

If you haven't really given much thought to this matter, spend some time talking with your partner about what's important to you in your baby's birth. Then together you can choose the class that is best suited for your needs.

If you've already had your baby, please leave a comment about your childbirth class and what you most liked or didn't like about it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Donor Milk: What You Need to Know

Many people know that the first choice for infant feeding according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is breast milk from a baby's own mother. They also assume that if mom isn't breastfeeding, the only other option is infant formula. However, according to the AAP, infant formula is actually the third option and last resort.

Picture of an at-risk newborn from the HMBANA website.
In the AAP policy statement, "Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk," they make this recommendation:
"Banked human milk may be a suitable feeding alternative for infants whose mothers are unable or unwilling to provide their    own milk. Human milk banks in North America adhere to national guidelines for quality control of screening and testing of donors and pasteurize all milk before distribution. Fresh human milk from unscreened donors is not recommended because of the risk of transmission of infectious agents."

 Last week our IBCLC Melissa Florence spoke with a reporter from WAFF Channel 48 who wanted to do a story on human milk sharing. Many moms have extra milk that they want to make available to other moms and babies. Sometimes they will post on forums and make arrangements among themselves to share that milk. Some mothers have even resorted to buying milk from on Craig's List. The danger here is that you really can't be certain that the milk you're getting is free from toxins and viral agents that could adversely affect your baby either immediately or even later on down the road.

Melissa did her master's thesis on donor human milk banking and is endeavoring to see a milk bank established in Alabama. Why is this important? It provides the healthiest possible feeding option for Alabama's preemies and at-risk infants. It also offers a certifiably safe option for the mother who simply can't produce the milk her baby needs.

There are amazing stories about mothers who have provided milk for a close friend's baby. I know some of our readers have even helped other mothers. So this topic hits very close to home. However, as IBCLC's we have an obligation to support the highest, most professional standards. The bottom line is really safety. Careful donor screening combined with the pasteurization process ensures that the milk from a Donor Milk Bank that a mother is giving her baby is 100% safe.

There are so many things to consider when sharing breast milk. What if the mom giving you her breast milk  is a health-care worker who has unwittingly been exposed to Hepatitis? What if a mother has an active herpes lesion on her nipple as she is pumping? What if she has a diet high in dairy and your baby is allergic to the milk protein? Proper screening and pasteurization will take care of each of these scenarios.

The bottom line is this: we want the most fragile preemies and at-risk infants to receive breast milk whenever possible. And we want to make sure that breast milk is as safe as it can possibly be. Take a look at the excellent story WAFF did, and let us know what you think about this topic.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Important Safety Tip for Moms

Did you know that that online predators can track you via the pictures you take with your Smart Phone and post on Facebook or anywhere else. This video is an eye-opening report from a news station in Kansas City.

What mother doesn't love taking pictures of her baby? It's wonderful to let grandparents who don't live nearby keep up with baby's milestones. How about those first steps? Or your daughter's first dance recital? Or your son's T-ball game? Unfortunately, free software will allow anybody to find out exactly where those pictures were taken unless you know how to protect your pictures!

It' really simple to go into your Smart Phone location settings and disable the geocoding on photos. It just takes a moment to do it, and it will provide you a layer of protection. Simply follow the instructions in this video, and you will have one less worry. Of course, it's also a really good idea to make sure that only people you know have access to your photos on-line.

So take just a minute right now to make sure that those precious pictures you're snapping won't end up leading a predator to your little one. Better safe than sorry!