An Earthy Mother sharing her experiences in today's world....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The HBAC waterbirth of Archer- guest post

The HBAC waterbirth of Archer- guest post, Anonymous

My son was born into a birthing pool in the middle of the afternoon at the end of March. It was mostly silent; I could hear the sounds of the school kids walking past, the sound of my dogs barking at them as usual. Life was going on around us outside and here I was, about to give birth normally for the first time. My first birth was an emergency caesarean, I hadn’t experienced a normal vaginal birth before. I never wanted to feel a baby taken out of my stomach ever again and now here I was, a total opposite experience for my second birth. No hospitals, no doctors, no interventions, no hospital rules, no limitations. Just myself, my partner, my doula and the midwives.

My daughter's first moments after she was born via cesarean.

Here is the story of my labour and birth…
10.30am, after an unusually decent night sleep (you know how it is when you are in those final days!) I grabbed some breakfast and sat down on the couch and jumped online. I had a funny feeling like a cramp and I went to the toilet. I sent my partner Scott a text message telling him to stay close to the phone, I think something might happen today. After a few minutes I needed to go to the toilet again and I had a bloody show. I rang Scott and told him to come home. I have a contraction. Ouch ouch OUCH. I ring my Midwife Emma to let her know that something’s happening. The pain is so bad I drop the phone mid-conversation. I have this incredible urge to push. Emma tells me she is still on the other end of town but is on her way. I was scared she wouldn’t make it in time! I ring my doula Jodee and tell her what’s happening. I describe my contractions to her and she tells me she will get to me within 30 minutes. 

11am-11:45am - While I am waiting for everyone to come to my house, I labour away up in my bedroom. I don’t feel like there is much time between each contraction. Every one that surges through me is hard, intense, with the incredible urge to push. I am worried that I am pushing too early so I squat with my head on the floor and bottom in the air. I call Scott again and almost yell- you have to come home right now!

11:50am - Scott gets home, quickly comes into our room to check on me and says he is just going to start filling up the pool.

12pm - Jodee arrives. She puts soothing oils in the oil burner as soon as she arrives. She calms me down and starts helping me cope better with the pain. I feel more focused. I try to breathe through each contraction as they intensify. After 30 mins Jodee suggests I try the shower, so we move to the bathroom and I spend some time in there with the hot water on my back, leaning into Scott during each contraction.

12:38pm – Emma (Midwife) arrives and starts setting up. Someone suggests that I move back into the bedroom as we need use the hot water to fill up the rest of the pool (the joys of low water pressure). While the shower was helping, the urge to get into the birth pool is greater so we go back to the bedroom and I kneel over the bed for the next hour. Every 10 minutes or so Emma checks fetal heart rate with the Doppler- perfectly normal.

1340 - After labouring away in my bedroom (and after a mishap where the hose filling the pool flies out and sprays water all over our TV) the pool is announced full! I make my way down there and climb in and it feels wonderful. I decide it’s most comfortable to keep kneeling and to lean over the side of the pool, holding onto Scott or Jodee’s hands. Each contraction seems to be getting more intense and longer. I am getting longer breaks between them where I am able to breathe slowly and recoup. I find the flickering lights of the electrical equipment around the TV as something I can focus on. I ask out loud if this is real labour (I get a few laughs..) The labour seems to be settling down into a groove. I wonder what’s going on. Everyone is telling me I am doing really well. I requested no internals so I had no idea what my body is doing. I had been trying not to push, I asked if I could push now, I get told I can go with it. Looking back through my labour notes I find that I was having a contraction once every 2 to 3 minutes lasting 60 seconds long. It sure felt intense!

Top, I am breathing through a contraction. Below, a rest in between


14:30pm - I start to feel a little bit of stinging at the end of each contraction. WOW I thought calmly to myself...My baby is going to be arriving soon! So this is where I get back to the start of this story. I remember thinking my hair was all over the place. That I was glad it wasn’t too hot as my air conditioner doesn’t work that well when it’s hot and humid. I even wanted my dogs to stop barking. I never once thought about that scar on my uterus!

14:56pm - I keep getting longer feelings of stinging. Then I feel a pop and a stretching sensation and his head is out. Wow I remember feeling, that means the rest of him will follow! I can feel his head begin to rotate. It is the most awful feeling. Not painful, but it felt like someone was behind me pulling him around, and I ask if someone was pushing down on him, but no, the midwives tell me, that’s him turning all by himself. I am too scared to move and holding on I wait for the next contraction.

(Archer, head out- who is already looking at the world!)

15:03pm - I feel one last push and whoosh he slides out. Emma is behind me and tells me to get my hands down and she pushes him under my legs. I reach down and pull him up and out of the water. Oh my gosh, I stare down into his eyes, he stares up into my face and we gaze at each other. He is covered lightly in vernix, the rest floats around in the pool. He looks a little grey straight away but slowly starts changing colour. I think, yep, just birthed my baby, as you do. I thought straight away that yes, it hurt, but it felt...easy and normal. I sit down finally after 4.5 hours and hold him to my chest. I start to process what I have just done. I chat away with the Emma, Jodee and Scott while we wait for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating and the placenta to come away. I offer the breast to Archer but he’s not really interested!

16:00pm - I am experiencing mild cramps but no contractions. The backup midwife has a quick check and tells me the next time I have a contraction to push through it like I did during labour. When it finally happens I push, and then- whoosh- the placenta comes out intact. By now the cord has stopped pulsating so we clamp the cord and I ask Scott to cut it, which he does. 

-->The water is getting cold so I hand over Archer to Scott for his first cuddles while I head to the shower. Best shower ever. I remember standing in there thinking, I have just birthed a baby and I am walking around having a shower! I felt pretty invincible right then. I go back to the lounge and get checked for tearing. We find a 2nd degree labial tear as Archer came out with his hand over his face. I didn’t care though, I had an amazing empowering birth experience.

I am cradling my baby on my chest and I start to call my family. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to let anyone know until after the birth, so it was wonderful to be able to call them up and say “Hey mum, dad, I had my baby not long ago!” I move back up to the bedroom and get comfortable in bed. We weigh and measure Archer. 3.3kgs, born at 3:03pm and 54cms long. 

At 18:30 both Emma and Jodee have left. Scott’s parents bring our daughter back home to meet Archer. She sits on the bed next to us and reaches over to tickle his head and laughs. He fits seamlessly into our lives.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Living in a world where everything is toxic...

Almost every day, it becomes evident our world is toxic. Our water is polluted and has chemicals added to it which harm our organs, bones and gastro-intestinal tract. Our air is filled with chemicals, pesticides, airborne bacteria, viruses, mould spores and more.

“It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like.”

 Jackie Mason

The plastic toys made for children are rich with phthalates, known to cause cancer. Many of the sippy cups made for babies are made with plastics which contain Bisphenol A (BPA), another carcinogen. Our mattresses, clothing, carpets, paint and furniture leech toxins into our homes. Even our MDF furniture is releasing formaldehyde into our homes. The little toilet block which smells lovely is horribly toxic and poisoning us every time we use the bathroom. The dishwashing powder is making us ill, the dishwashing liquid is suppressing our immune systems, the pest treatment from 6 months ago is leeching into our organs. Every time we have a shower we are breathing in chloride and fluoride from the steamy water. Our shampoo and conditioner are nothing but lovely smelling chemicals, our soap is the same.

The fruit and vegetables we buy are sprayed with carbendazim and endosulfan- both known to cause infertility, genetic abnormalities, illness and poisoning. The tinned foods available in supermarkets are in cans lined with BPA rich plastics. The plastics our food are packaged in are also often BPA plastic. The cardboard boxes are treated with chemicals to deter pests. Our meats are gassed so they look pinker, or even flushed with ammonia to kill lethal bacteria which are a result of antibiotic use in animals.

From the moment our babies are born, they are exposed to toxins everywhere. If your baby is born at a hospital, in the moments after birth they are exposed to huge amounts of toxins. The gloves on the doctor or midwife's hands are exuding phthalates. The blanket or towel used to rub them down has been chemically treated to remove all bacteria, bodily waste and stains. The stethoscope used to check their heartbeat has been doused with antibacterial chemicals to ensure no cross-contamination. The floor has been mopped with chemicals, the air coming through the cooling system has passed through chemical treatment plants to ensure there is no bacteria. The staff are leaving chemical trails everywhere they go from the detergents they use in their washing machines and the fabric softeners which are designed to make us feel more comfortable. The waterproof mattress is giving off phthalates as you hold your baby close to you, waiting for it to latch on and have its first suckle at your breast- where it will receive an amazing dose of antibodies and the best food available- except your breastmilk contains chemicals too!

More and more people are developing allergies, sensitivities, illnesses. More and more adults are getting repeatedly sick from simple common viruses and developing cancers. More and more children are diagnosed with learning difficulties, Autism Spectrum disorders, suppressed immune systems, the inability to fight off a cold.

Is it a huge leap to consider that perhaps chemicals are negatively impacting on our health so dramatically? The evidence against chemicals is stacking up, and the companies selling them aren't going to withdraw their products or suggest you buy something less toxic. Our governments aren't doing anything about it. Saving energy is a worth-while goal, but nobody has started to take steps to save lives.

So how do you combat it? What difference can you make in your own home, and your own community?

Here are some simple steps to help you change the amount of chemicals in your home:
►Buy organic wherever possible. Some larger chains now sell organic items at prices similar to conventional items, but check they are certified by an organic certification body. Organic food not only means less pesticides going into the bodies in your home, it also reduces the chemicals used to produce your food. Look at farmer's markets and places with large amounts of organic produce so you aren't paying triple for organic items.
►Water filters which remove fluoride and chlorine will help improve your thyroid function and give your body a chance to detox. Fluoride is highly toxic and replaces iodine in the body which has helped create the generation of iodine-deficient people we see now. If you think fluoride is good for your teeth, brush well with a fluoride toothpaste all you like, but spit it out and rinse well. (Looking into the difference between sodium fluoride and calcium fluoride might change your mind on how useful fluoride toothpaste is.)
►buy environmentally friendly, greywater safe, biodegradable detergents for your dishes and clothing. Fabric softeners are highly toxic and release fumes which are carcinogenic. Lavender oil added to the rinse has the same nice smelling effect without the chemicals.
►Don't use soap or body care products on your baby unless it's necessary. Choose organic products with natural ingredients where possible. Baby products are often filled with petrochemicals and phthalates.
Body-care products containing phthalates are a source of exposure for infants. The authors of a 2008 study "observed that reported use of infant lotion, infant powder, and infant shampoo were associated with increased infant urine concentrations of [phthalate metabolites], and this association is strongest in younger infants. These findings suggest that dermal exposures may contribute significantly to phthalate body burden in this population."
►choose Sodium Laureth Sulphate free shampoos and conditioners, and look at the ingredients on every soap or wash you buy. If it isn't derived from nature or has a lot of hydroxy-sounding huge names on it, don't buy it. Consider using sodium bicarb to wash your hair and rinse with Apple Cider vinegar
►Save yourself money and use bicarbonate soda and vinegar to clean your home. Add some Lavender and Tea Tree oil on occasion if you like- they are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and they smell nice too.
 ►Don't use pesticides or insecticides in your home at all. Fly screens are more effective than fly spray, and those annoying flies that get in are easily dealt with using a rolled up newspaper, or two magazines slapped together.
►Throw out your disinfectants and use tea tree oil instead. Disinfectants kill the tiny germs which we need to help build our immune systems up.
►Air freshers are chemicals which mask odours, are toxic and have been proven to cause respiratory problems in children and adults. Essential oils are a much better option, mixed with water in a spritzer bottle.
►Choose toys made from natural materials for your children where possible. Wooden toys are also wonderful heirloom pieces to pass on to future generations.
►Look for BPA free plastics for cups, plates and bowls for children. Make sure your baby's cups and bottles aren't made from plastic containing Bisphenol A (#3,#6 and #7).
►Check how old the toys in your home are and throw out old toys which are releasing phthalates.

Even just eliminating some chemicals from your home will not only help your family, but it will have a long-term effect on the environment and the waterways. The chemical run-off from your home will be minimised and by using less chemicals you are decreasing the amount of carbon used to manufacture these chemicals and transport it to point of sale.

I know many people with multiple chemical sensitivity. I can only see this becoming more prevalent as we add more chemicals to our world and to our homes. What we often fail to see is how huge an impact we can make on our immediate environment, and in the long-term, the world. Every time you use a natural product you are reducing the need for chemicals and reducing the toxicity in our world. Each and every time you leave the supermarket without buying chemicals, you are making a statement to them and helping shape future buying habits. The more organic, natural products we choose, the more supplies stores will ship in for purchase, and the more people who might see them on the shelves and reach for them instead of the chemical cousin.

Whenever we practice a process which benefits people, we normalise it. When your friends and family see you using organic products, it encourages them to choose differently too. You can make a huge impact- not only on your health, but on the health of your family, your friends, your community, the community where these products are manufactured, and the world in general.

“Does wisdom perhaps appear on the earth as a raven which is inspired by the smell of carrion?”       ~Friedrich Nietzsche