What Is Homebirth, Anyway?

By Erin Kaspar-Frett, midwife

I’ll start by telling you what homebirth is not. It is not a substitute for a hospital when one is needed. It also is not a chanting hippy fest, nor “extreme birth,” nor many of the other labels assigned to it. It is just that; a birth that happens in the home instead of hospital. There are many myths surrounding homebirth, and I thought I would take time to discuss them.

► Myth 1: All homebirthers will stay home no matter what.Truth: We transport when need arises. In fact we monitor mom and baby and transport (during labor) or transfer care (prenatally) when there are signs to do so.

► Myth 2: Midwives are untrained. Truth: Midwives are usually fully trained care providers, training that takes years to complete. Many of us have degrees related to our schooling, and all of us have a protocol to follow. Be aware that not everyone that uses the title “midwife” has the same training or procedures. But trained midwives recognize when we need more help than we can provide at home. We are skilled in how to handle situations such as: shoulder dystocia, resuscitation, maternal bleeding, meconium in the amniotic fluid etc. More importantly, we monitor to make sure all vitals and signs of health are maintained, in order to avoid late emergencies.

► Myth 3: Homebirth is unsafe.Truth: Research says no. Research has shown planned home birth for low-risk pregnant people with a skilled and trained care provider is as safe for mothers as hospital birth but carries less interventions and their coinciding risks. Homebirth is also as safe for babies as hospital birth as long as the care provider is trained and certifie in neonatal resuscitation and carries equipment.

► Myth 4: Midwives do not bring anything with them to the birth.Truth: We bring a lot. For example, we bring many bags with us, including oxygen, anti-hemorrhagic medications, basic vital equipment, scale, resuscitation equipment, etc. In fact, we carry equipment and supplies to handle the most complications.

► Myth 5: Birth is messier at home.Truth: While birth does carry with it some fluids and ourbodies are involved, it is no messier at home than in the hospital. We provide a list of things to gather around your house and set up to minimize the “mess” but also clean up for you before we go. Our goal is to have your house the same or better than when we came.

► Myth 6: Homebirth is unsterile.Truth: With the exception of surgical birth (we don’t do that at home), birth is not sterile, no matter where birth occurs (think about where the baby comes out). Birth should not be sterile. Our bodies carry good bacteria all the time. We want to share that with babies so their immune systems can be as strong as possible. That said, midwives understand the need for cleanliness and hand-washing and keep the area as clean as possible.

What does homebirth look like?

First, let’s talk about the prenatal appointments. We hold appointments at the same schedule and testing (if parents want it) as the clinic. By the time baby is coming, they should have a good understanding of the midwife’s practice and expectations. When labor starts, the midwife is alerted. They may not come right away. Midwife and parents will decide that together. When it is time for the midwife to come, they will show up with the bags and set up inside. They will listen to baby intermittently as long as everything continues to look good. They will take the birthing person’s vitals every few hours and set up the area for birth. Mostly, the midwife will leave them to fin their own internal rhythm, although styles do differ, and we are there to help in the event that it’s needed.

The birthing family decides what the lighting will be, who will be at their birth, the amount of talking, and what they eat, even who catches the baby. Trained midwives will stay at the house long enough to do a newborn exam, check the birthing person’s bottom, make sure everyone has eaten and is stable and cleans up. This usually takes between four and six hours. And then we return for visits in the post-partum period, or families come back to the midwife office This relationship may last a year or a lifetime.

The thing is that we are human. That means we have a hormonal system that reacts when we are worried or afraid or something (or someone) unexpected walks into the room. That is never more obvious as when giving birth. Adrenaline (the hormone released when stress occurs) blocks the endorphines’ (nature’s pain reliever) receptor sites in the body. So if a birthing person is startled or afraid or is uncomfortable with the environment in which they’re birthing, the birth could be more painful. That isn’t to say that homebirth is painless, far from it. It is still childbirth, and everyone experiences that differently. However, it is able to function more efficiently and with more ease when the birthing person is relaxed and in an environment in which they are comfortable. That does not mean homebirth is for everyone! High-risk pregnancies are not candidates for home birth. For low-risk pregnancies, it is a personal choice, and a human right to choose.

Erin Kaspar-Frett is a licensed, certified Pofessional Midwife with a master’s of science in Midwifery from the Midwives College of Utah. She lives with her family in Knapp, Wisconsin, and serves a geographical area within a 1.5 hour radius of her home. She can be reached at 612-801-9967 or erin@earthmothermidwife.com. For more information about Erin and the safety of homebirth please visit www.earthmothermidwife.com. 

Great Uses for Lavender

By Dr. Lynn Thompson

Lifestyles today leave us under increased stress. Stress can be identified as physical (you may notice an increase in muscle tightness), chemical (increased intake of processed foods for example), or mental (occasional feelings of fatigue, frustration, or overwhelm).

When our body is under increased stress, regardless of source, we have an increase in cortisol (stress hormone) that can lead to increased LDL cholesterol (what is incorrectly identified as “bad” cholesterol). Natural remedies include lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).

Often we find nights when we are unable to calm the mind and get a full eight hours of rejuvenating sleep. When was the last time you were worried at bedtime and were able to get to sleep immediately? Or, did you toss and turn?

In these wonderful days of summer, we have a tendency to spend more time outdoors. While outdoors we are more susceptible to skin over-exposure, bee stings, and scrapes.

There is an essential oil available to assist our bodies in regaining balance.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) often considered a must-have oil to keep on hand at all times due to its versatile uses, including calming and relaxing properties that promote peaceful sleep and ease feelings of tension.*

Primary benefits of lavender include soothing occasional skin irritations. Taken internally, lavender reduces anxious feeling and promotes peaceful sleep* and helps ease feelings of tension.* Keep a bottle of lavender on hand to soothe occasional skin irritations. Take internally to reduce anxious feelings.* (Note: These statements are referring to CPTG® essential oils only.) You can use lavender in cooking (add after heating phase is complete and heating utensil is removed from heat to avoid breaking down the molecules in the oil reducing the therapeutic benefits of the oil) to soften citrus flavors and add a flavorful twist to marinades, baked goods, and desserts (lavender in vanilla ice cream is a lovely French treat). Statements with asterisks refer to internal use. I would not use any essential oil that is not CPTG® for internal use. All others refer to aromatic or topical use. Main constituents: linalool, linalyl acetate. Note: these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent, any disease.

Lavender has been used and cherished for centuries for its unmistakable aroma and myriad benefits. In ancient times, the Egyptians and Romans used lavender for bathing, relaxation, cooking, and as a perfume; it is widely used for its calming and relaxing qualities that continue to be lavender’s most notable qualities. Lavender is frequently used to reduce the appearance of skin imperfections. Add to bath water to soak away stress or apply to the temples and the back of the neck. Add a few drops of lavender to pillows, bedding, or bottoms of feet to promote a restful night’s sleep.

Whether the stress is physical, chemical, or mental, there are natural remedies available.

Dr. Lynn Thompson is a local chiropractor and also holds doctorates in Naturopathy, Homeopathy, and is currently a full candidate for doctorates in Integrative Medicine and Quantum Medicine. She is a Diamond with doTERRA International (the largest distribution company of essential oils in the world) and travels extensively throughout the United States and internationally teaching aromatherapy and using natural remedies to health and wellness.

Free classes on essential oils are held at Unity Christ Center 1808 Folsom Street, Eau Claire, WI 54703 on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m

Massage During Pregnancy? Great Idea!

By Katie Meyer, Sans Souci Massage

A relaxing massage can be a wonderful treat while you are pregnant. But if an expectant mother is thinking of receiving massage, there are some special considerations. I advise that if your pregnancy has been diagnosed as high-risk, you will need to have written release from your physician before getting a massage. Reasons your pregnancy might be considered high-risk would be: twin pregnancy, previous miscarriages, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia (toxemia), gestational diabetes, and deep vein thrombosis.

You also want to make sure you are seeing a therapist who knows appropriate and effective techniques to help the pregnant mother and baby stay safe. I am a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist. The average training for prenatal massage is 24 to 32 hours. Most massage schools incorporate this training into their curriculum.

For prenatal massage in the first trimester, the mother can be in the prone (face-down) position. No abdominal work. No deep low back work. No essential oils should be used.

For the second and third trimesters, the mother should be in side-lying and semi-reclined positions with the use of soft pillows for bolstering, to keep her comfortable and secure. Light abdominal work can be done if that is wanted by the mother. Essential oils can be added as long as they are safe for pregnancy. (Safe in second and third trimester: bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood, sweet orange, tea tree, ylang ylang.)

During all three trimesters, ligaments become loose due to the increased hormones (relaxin) secreted during pregnancy, which causes the muscles to tighten up. No percussion/tapotement will be done in the massage, no deep stroking on vasculatures or abdomen, no strenuous mobilizations, no specific work to the reflexive points/acupressure points that can stimulate contractions.

Prenatal massage, much like Swedish massage, assists the circulatory and lymphatic systems, eases sore muscles, calms the nervous system, can help a client learn relaxation skills to be used during labor, stimulates proprioception (a person’s sense of awareness of their position and movement)—the mother’s body is changing throughout the pregnancy especially during the third trimester when the baby is growing at an astounding rate and can make the mother clumsy and prone to injury—and promotes release of emotional and physical tension.

During the pregnancy, massage will help the mother better deal with what is happening with her body. Hormonal surges can create mood swings. Increased fatigue from the extra weight she is carrying and the many changes happening within her body can be helped by relaxing strokes and breathing exercises. Her heart will be working harder due to the increase of blood needed during pregnancy, so it’s important to keep her positioned correctly to keep pressure off the vena cava. Her pulmonary system is overloaded with the need for more oxygen consumption, and she will experience labored breathing with easy tasks. Massage helps release her intercostal muscles to help her breathe easier. Her digestive system will be crowded by the baby’s growth, causing heartburn, constipation, and nausea. Massage techniques can help with constipation and ease her discomfort. Her skeletal system is stressed by the increased weight located on the front of the body causing low back/hip discomfort. Massage can help reduce this discomfort.

Massage can help loosen the pelvis and rid the body of excess tension so that the birthing experience can be easier. Massage also can help with the mother’s mind/body awareness, bringing her focus to the task at hand.

The baby is directly affected by how the mother is feeling. The relaxed state will transfer to the baby.

Katie Meyer is one of seven therapists at Sans Souci Massage; all of which have had training in Prenatal Massage. Visit our website www.sanssoucimassage.com to learn more about what we have to offer you or to schedule your appointment with our online scheduler.

Prenatal Yoga: Filling Your Toolbox with Mind-Body Connection

By Amy Erickson, Latitude 44 Yoga Studio 4

Before you start: It is always advised to check with your care provider before participating in physical activity during pregnancy. Your care provider is most informed on your and your baby’s current state of health and is able to make the educated decision on what is best for you at this time. Generally speaking, though, prenatal yoga is encouraged by care givers during pregnancy due to its immense benefits. Prenatal yoga is gentle in nature and easy to welcome into your transitioning body.

Looking for an instructor: Prenatal yoga is a specialty and requires additional training to not only keep momma and baby safe, but to also structure an effective class. A 200-hour yoga teacher training (for general yoga practice) is required plus 90 additional hours for the prenatal yoga specialty. I have completed extensive training.

How is prenatal yoga different from regular yoga? There are many variations. The movements are tailored to meet the needs of the changing body and prepare momma for the labor and delivery process. There are also movements that need to be avoided (select forms of twisting for example) to keep momma and baby safe. An experienced practitioner/yogi is generally okay taking a regular yoga class after discussing modifications with a trained professional in regard to poses and sensations to avoid. Mom would need to be extra mindful of her movements if taking a regular class. If opting for regular yoga classes, you still get the great benefits of yoga but are excluding the great benefits that are specific to prenatal yoga.

The poses themselves can change slightly or more dramatically over the course of the pregnancy depending on the woman and the pregnancy. Various poses are more beneficial in specific trimesters, and various poses are to be avoided.

What are the benefits? In class, we focus intently on breathing, including its effect on feelings of stress and tension, ways to use breath to calm the mind and body in intense situations (labor!), bringing awareness and a sense of connection to the pelvic floor, strengthening and preparing parts of the body that are most affected by the beautiful changes caused by pregnancy, and learning ways to be mindful of your needs. We assist in filling your toolbox with the mind-body connection and strength that is helpful both on and off your mat, during your pregnancy, labor, and post-delivery.

Our classes range in size and ebb and flow as our mommas welcome their little ones. We then “meet them on the other side,” as we like to say, as we also offer postnatal yoga! Babies are welcome to postnatal yoga, so it’s nice to see the ladies and babies come full circle. Partners are welcome to participate in both prenatal and postnatal yoga!

Amy Erickson is certified through the Yandara Yoga Institute in Baja California Sur, Mexico (RYT200, in process of RYT500), 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle, Washington (Prenatal Yoga – RPYT), and Barre Bliss in Minneapolis.

What Can Be Done to Reduce the Likelihood of My Child Getting Tooth Decay?

There are only three areas that can be addressed to reduce the possibility of tooth decay: the teeth, the bacteria, and what feeds the bacteria.

1. The teeth can be made stronger by making the enamel stronger. Basically fluoride. It can be topical fluoride from toothpastes and fluoride rinses. Some people recommend “training toothpaste” for very young children. The key is to use smaller amounts of fluoridated toothpaste. If the child swallows some, they will not be affected by the small amount. The teeth are good at absorbing fluoride when they first erupt and that would be losing a prime opportunity to allow the enamel to get as hard as possible.

2. Getting bacteria off of the teeth starts with the moms having their teeth repaired and kept clean BEFORE the child is born. Dental decay is a bacterial disease and can be passed from person to person and the primary caregivers are the main source of inoculating the child with bad bacteria. If the caregiver has good teeth, the children have a much better chance to have good teeth. After that, brushing, flossing, and making it harder for the bacteria to stick to the teeth reduces the chance of decay. Brush the teeth as soon as they erupt into the mouth. Children will need help with this until the teeth start growing together. Making it harder for the bacteria to stick to the teeth can be done by xyletol-containing products. Gum, sprays, or candy are good sources. Xyletol makes it harder for the bacteria to stick to the teeth, and if they do, it interrupts the way they process sugars. As a bonus side effect, children have fewer ear infections.

3. Teeth can be assaulted by acids and sugars that increase the decay count. Several things can be done to change the odds in our favor. Limit things that have sugar or acid in between meals. That is soda, fruit juice, milk, or energy drinks. In between meals causes too much time that teeth are in the wrong environment. Water is the best in between meals.

Article submitted by All Family Dental in Eau Claire.