Movement During Labor- Student Article 0

Movement During Labor

By Brittany St. John-Anderson

When I was in labor, I could not sit still during contractions. I noticed that as I would move around and get into different positions, the pain from the contraction wouldn’t be as intense. Not only that, but moving around helped my labor progress beautifully and added a distraction during the intense contractions.



Before I even started my induced labor, I knew that I wanted to be able to move around and not be confined to the bed on my back. By doing different movements, I felt like I was contributing to the journey my daughter had to take. I made sure that the movements and positions I used were in favor of gravity and created a good dive angle. Working with gravity, and not against, made contractions more comfortable for me to handle and allowed my daughter to push down more on my cervix, allowing for a good dilation progression.

Another benefit to movements during labor is that it can help correct baby’s position. Some babies need help to get into the correct position because they are facing your belly, facing one of your sides, or lying completely sideways. The following are all movements that help with labor pain, correct baby’s position, help baby descend, and increase your active participation:


  • Pelvic Rocking/ Pelvic Tilt – This is typically done in the first stage of labor, however you may do this whenever you feel like it. When you are on your hands and knees, you will want to arch your back while taking a deep breath in, then relax while releasing that breath. Doing this movement helps baby turn 180 degree’s and reduce back pain and pressure.
  • Lunge – This movement is primarily done in the first stage of labor, but can be done whenever you desire. Using a stable chair, prop one leg up and lean into that leg. You can use either leg, but it would be best to lean to the side your baby is facing. This helps open up your pelvis and allows baby to turn and descend.
  • Walking or Stair Climbing – Primarily done in the first stage of labor but is useful throughout all stages of labor. Walking and climbing stairs helps with baby’s descent into the birth canal and helps with rotating the baby.
  • Slow Dancing – While usually done in the first stage of labor, slow dancing is a great movement that can be done whenever you desire. Slow dancing with your partner can help reduce stress to you, which helps your uterus contract more freely. Just like walking, this movement uses gravity to help get baby lower. Slow dancing is a great substitute for walking and/or stair climbing.
  • Abdominal stroking – Primarily done in the first stage of labor, this movement helps turn baby by stroking in the direction you want baby to turn.  When on your hands and knees, your partner will stand at your side opposite where baby is. They will place one hand on your back and the other on your belly, stroking your belly by bringing that hand towards them. The stroking should be done in between contractions.
  • Abdominal lifting – Done during the first stage of labor but can be done whenever you please. While standing and during contractions, you will want to interlock your fingers, place them under your belly, and lift your belly up and out and tilt your pelvis by bending your knee. An alternative to this is using your partner. While your partner stands behind you, s/he can use a woven rebozo to lift your belly up and out. This type of movement is great at reducing back pain and provides a gravity advantage.
  • Pelvic Press – This type of movement is done during the second stage of labor if labor has been slowed by baby’s position. While you are standing, your partner, caregiver, or preferably both, will press against your hip joints very firmly. This will make the upper portion of your pelvis narrow and create more room for turning and descending in the lower pelvis. To have the greatest chance of opening up your pelvis, try squatting in place of standing for this movement. It is best to not do this movement while an epidural is in place. This is because the epidural may hinder you from feeling pain and could cause damage to the joints.


Moving during labor is very beneficial for both you and your baby. Moving helps to distract you during contractions and even reduce pain, depending on the movement you are doing. If baby isn’t in prime position for delivery, certain movements can help with rotating and bringing baby down further into the birth canal. I hope these movements can help you as much as they helped me during my hospital VBAC!




Simkin, P., & Ancheta, R. (2005). The labor progress handbook. (2nd ed., pp. 231-243). Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell.



Student Article- Eating Healthy for Baby

Eating Healthy for Baby

You are pregnant. Now what? Even before you go to the doctor for prenatal care, there are many important things that you can do to have a healthy happy pregnancy. Making sure you are getting adequate rest, reducing the stress in your life, and eating right are things that only you can do for yourself and your developing baby.  Eating right? What does that really mean?  Whether you are a drive thru junky or someone who eats pretty well, there are always areas that can be improved. After all, you aren’t eating just for you anymore. Another life is being built inside you and it’s your job to feed your body the right nutrients for the job.

Veggies and Fruit

Veggies and Fruit

Start by reevaluating what you are eating on a regular basis and eliminate as much of the harmful as possible.  Here is a list of the foods that the FDA says that pregnant women should not eat (click here to see full list):

  1. Soft Cheeses mad from unpasteurized milk, including Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco – may contain E coli or Listeria
  2. Raw cookie dough or cake batter – may contain Salmonella
  3. Large fish – shark, swordfish, king mackerel – may contain high levels of mercury
  4. Raw or undercooked fish- may contain parasites or bacteria
  5. Unpasteurized juice- may contain E. Coli
  6. Unpasteurized milk
  7. Salads made in a store such as chicken salad, seafood salad – may contain Listeria
  8. Raw Shellfish


We have all heard of the things on the list above but here are some things added to our food that also should be limited or avoided. While the FDA has approved these food additives for consumption in the USA many other countries have banned them due to health risks. READ the labels when you are shopping( if you don’t already)! Avoid or limit:

  1. MSGLinked to Brain damage in developing fetus
  2. Sugar Substitutes- Aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium,  and sucralose  have been linked to brain defects and bladder problems in unborn babies. While the FDA says they are safe may other countries have already banned the use of these products.
  3. Food dyes – Blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 3, yellow 6 and yellow tartrazine-  limit these to reduce chromosomal damage to developing baby. Food dyes have also been linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, and brain cancers.
  4. Azodicarbonamide- a petroleum product used in Yoga mats. Subway and many other places use it to condition their dough. This can’t be good for anyone! Read More.
  5. Trans Fats-  partially hydrogenated oils
  6. White Processed Foods- these foods have no nutrients and are empty calories. Instead opt for whole grains or wild or brown rice.
  7. High Fructose Corn Syrup- this drives people to over eat and gain weight.
  8. Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate- a known carcinogen linked with thyroid damage.
  9. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)- It’s an endocrine disruptor and can mess with your hormones.
  10. Sodium Nitrates and Sodium Nitrites- found in lunch meat, hot dogs. Linked to colon cancer and metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes.

While it may seem impossible to cut out all the bad out of your diet, making little changes here and there can make a difference. The sacrifices you make will be worth it for that tiny human whose body is growing from the nourishment you provide.

Eliminating the bad is a good first step. The next step is to make sure you are covering all the basics and adding in as many healthy options as possible. One of the most important things that you can do for your baby is drink lots of water. Skip the soda and the coffee and have water or an herbal tea. To help avoid preterm contractions, bleeding, and blood pressure issues you should be drinking:

  • 2 quarts of water in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • 3 quarts of water in the second trimester of pregnancy
  • 4 quarts (1 gallon) of water in the third trimester of pregnancy
  • Calories: Eat plentifully of healthy foods to ensure adequate calories daily – pregnancy is not a time to try to minimize calories.
  • Protein: 4 servings.  80-100 grams of protein per day – This can reduce risk of Pre-Eclamsia
  • Vitamin C foods: 2 servings
  • Calcium foods: 4 servings
  • Green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits and vegetables: 3 servings
  • Other veggies and fruits: 1 to 2 servings
  • Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates: 4 to 6 servings
  • Iron-rich foods: Some daily
  • High-fat foods: 2 servings
  • Salt: Daily in moderation to taste
  • Fluids: At least 6 to 8 glasses a day
  • Supplements: Nutritious herbs, highly concentrated food supplements such as
  • spirulina, and, when necessary, a vitamin/mineral supplement.

Now that you are building a new human there are plenty of things to think about and consider. What you eat is one of the easiest things you can do to give your baby a good healthy start to life!

For a more detailed No-NonSense Guide to Healthy Pregnancy and Baby go here.

Sources: Processed Food: 10 of the Worst Toxic Food Ingredients


Natalia Keenan

NK Doula Services


Student Article- Natural vs. Medicated 0

The Pregnancy Ramble

Natural vs. Medicated Birth: Do your Research- Dallas Robles

Just Born

Just Born

As many of you know, I had a natural childbirth. I did not use medicine of any kind, did not have the epidural, wasn’t induced with Pitocin or any labor inducing drugs, and birthed in a birthing center with a big bathtub for a water birth. It didn’t take me long to discover the pro’s of natural childbirth, but I needed to do research and speak with other women who had done it before I felt confident in my decision. I want to give my opinion and helpful pro’s and con’s about natural childbirth in the hopes that I can help in a woman’s decision much like other women did for me.

This is a very sensitive subject for a lot of women. Some people are very pro-epidural and others are very pro-natural childbirth. I realize that I may be biased because I am pro-natural, but I feel that too many people completely overlook this option. Most OBGYN’s are very similar, you show up for your appointment, meet with a nurse practitioner who weighs you and takes your vitals, the doctor comes in to hear the heartbeat and asks you for any questions, and then you both go along your merry way. He may talk to you about “options” aka, the epidural as soon as you get to the hospital or the epidural once he convinces you to get it when your contractions get intense. OBGYN’s are certified surgeons who are also trained in gynecology. They are trained to handle the worst case scenarios, emergency C-sections, and often push toward what they are specialized in to avoid maternal and infant complications. If you have an abnormal pregnancy with pre-existing problems, then I can understand the risk. But if you’re healthy, have a totally normal pregnancy, and aren’t at risk for complications, a C-section is rarely necessary. However, thanks to combinations of other modern medicines, it’s getting more and more popular.

America is now at 30% of all babies being born by C-section. At the Salem Hospital, it’s over 40%. This is from a number of very debilitating choices from both the mother and her doctors. Over 22% of all pregnancies are induced before 41 weeks gestation. The process of induction begins with a drug called Pitocin. Pitocin is pumped into your body from an IV drip, the amount of which is turned up every hour until you reach the contraction pattern that your doctors are looking for. It also will help dilate your cervix; once it reaches 10cm, it’s usually time to begin the pushing process of labor. Pitocin is a very hard drug on both the mother and the baby. It speeds contractions up, makes them significantly more intense and you’re unable to leave the hospital bed to get into a more comfortable position for contractions, such as squatting, bouncing on a medicine ball, lounging in a bath, or leaning over the hospital bed. Because it makes contractions so intense, many women decide to get the epidural. The epidural is an anesthetic that is supposed to numb your lower half to make contractions more bearable. It’s inserted via a needle into your spine. For some reason, epidurals and Pitocin don’t really get along. When you get the epidural, often times your cervix will retract and your contractions will lessen. Because doctors like to see quick progress, they’ll up the Pitocin even more. And so begins a downward spiral. Many babies do not react well to the extreme intensity of the Pitocin-induced contractions, causing heartrates to drop and fetal distress. And because the two drugs counteract each other, over 25% of all inductions will result in an emergency c-section.

Now, the con’s of epidurals don’t stop there. “Epidurals are associated with increased rates of operative vaginal delivery, prolonged labor, fetal malposition, and intrapartum fever–Evidence supports the claim that epidurals increase the duration of both the first and second stages of labor. (”   There is also talk that the aftereffects of the epidural for the mother can be anywhere from numbness at the injection site, to periodic back pain, to severe back pain or becoming paralyzed. While most OBGYN’s know the side effects, they very rarely tell mothers. Most OBGYN’s encourage the epidural for the immediate relief from contractions. The use of epidurals is over 50%, in some places it’s between 80-90%. Apart from the epidural side effects, I know from firsthand experience that it dramatically effects the ability to breastfeed.

Many women have a very hard time breastfeeding their babies: lack of production, bad latches, and tongue-ties to name a few. “As many women are induced with Pitocin, which must be given through an IV, the amount of fluids given to many mothers in labor increases. With a constantly running IV, fluid can accumulate in the mother and baby. This situation can set up several problems. If a mother is edematous (swollen with fluid) her nipples will be harder to latch onto. If a baby is edematous it can lose more than the standard 10% of it’s bodyweight, thus giving the doctor the indication that baby isn’t nursing enough, setting up for the supplementation cycle, when in reality the baby could be draining off excess fluid (” Your milk can take anywhere from a day to a week to come in, allowing babies to eat Colostrum, a milk produced with a very high fat content. All babies lose weight within the first 24 hours, but once they begin eating healthy amounts of Colostrum, they gain the weight back tenfold. When babies suck and pacify on mom’s nipples, it stimulates milk production, causing the milk to come in quicker. The amount of milk production differs from each woman, but with the right diet, calorie intake, and stimulation, breast feeding production should be easy to obtain. A month after my daughter was born, my midwife posted a video of something called the “breast crawl”. In short, the video was about the ability for newborn babies to crawl up the mother’s chest to latch on to her breast within the first 15 minutes after birth. The study showed less than 50% of the babies who were medicated and did not go to the mother’s chest within the first 15 minutes were unable to perform the crawl. It also showed that 50% of all women who had a medicated birth and had their baby on their chest within 15 minutes had babies who could not perform the breast crawl. Almost 100% of the babies who were not medicated and on the mother’s chest within the 15 minutes were able to breast crawl and latch on correctly. The effects from medicated births are very real and proven to make labor and newborns much more difficult for mother’s.

I know a lot of mom’s are easily convinced to use drugs because they’re afraid of labor and the pain of contractions. After reading books like Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirthand Orgasmic Birth, as well as watching documentaries such as Business of Being Bornand Pregnant in America, I’ve learned that, for myself and for my family, I will do whatever it takes to always have a natural childbirth. From personal experience, I went into labor with the mindset that it would be intense not painful. My Oma performed hypnosis and relaxation techniques of imagining a smooth, calm labor that was quick and successful. I achieved that 100%. My labor was 4 hours long, I was laughing and cracking jokes for the majority of my labor, and was very proud of myself for accomplishing a natural birth. To know that your body took control and you were able to birth with just your power alone is one of the most empowering things women can ever experience. To this day, I am so proud that I was able to do that at only 18 years old. And I honestly believe it was the best choice for both myself and my daughter. Not all women will agree with me, many women swear by the epidural and don’t understand why anyone would go through it without pain-relief. I wonder though, are they empowered by their birth? Did they feel the absolute rush of Oxytocin that I felt as soon as my baby was out of me and onto my chest? Were they able to get up only minutes after the birth and walk into the bathroom?

I want to inform, not judge. If you had the epidural, I don’t look down upon you. That was your choice, and your choice only. But if I can relay this information to just one woman and have her make up her own mind about the different options, then I am satisfied. Birth can be a very stressful, scary experience, but it can also be beautiful, empowering and life-changing. Research is everything, and sticking to what you want your birth to be. Having a strong support system with husbands, mothers, siblings, doulas or midwives will ensure that you are not easily pressured into making a decision you didn’t originally want. Stick to those guns, ladies, because the ride of raising a child will definitely test your decisions over and over again. Happy birthing!


Ps, a few other things that may be beneficial to research: vaccines (pro’s and con’s, delayed schedule), Vitamin K injections (pro’s and con’s), infant eye drops (pro’s and con’s—this one is especially unnecessary unless the mother has a sexually transmitted disease), cord clamping (the benefits of waiting for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it), saving the placenta (how dried capsules can help with postpartum depression and milk production), attachment parenting (thinking of the first weeks of life like the “4th trimester” of pregnancy), co-sleeping (the ease for breastfeeding mothers and the untruths told about dangers of bed-sharing), and wearing baby (baby bjorns, moby wraps, ergo’s, and the help they can be on new parents).


World Doula Week! 0

World Doula Week!

March 22-28


Mom and Baby


The purpose of World Doula Week is to enable doulas all over the world to improve the physiological, social, emotional, and psychological health of women, newborns and families. This work occurs during the birth and postpartum period, and supportive of the breastfeeding relationship. If you want to learn more about the  events that take place all over the world at this time period illustrating the benefits of the attendance of doulas in birth and the postpartum period.


These benefits include:

* Reduces the rate of c-sections
* May shorten the length of labor
* Reduces epidural and analgesic requests
* Increased breastfeeding initiation rates and longer term continuation
* Increases mother’s satisfaction of birth experience, and her emotional satisfaction in the birth and postpartum period.
* Can reduce the incidence of postpartum mood disorders
* Increases new parents’ confidence in the care of their newbornbreastfeeding

How Does a Doula Serve a Family?

The doula serves as an advocate, labor coach, and an informative resource for the mother and her partner the added comfort of additional support all through the entire labor. Certainly, having loved ones such as a spouse with the mother does provide some added comfort and support. However, as the published literature continues to show, it is the support of a trained and experienced woman that results in the greatest benefits. It is important for the doula to offer up to date current resources and information to the parents. Birth Arts Doulas can do this.

The doula also acts as a go between for mother and care staff, spouse or partner and family and visitors.

What Does a Doula Do?
The following is a basic description of what you might expect from a Birth Arts certified labor doula. Typically, doulas meet with the parents in the second or third trimester of the pregnancy to get acquainted and to learn about prior birth experiences and the history of this pregnancy. She may help you develop a birth plan, teach relaxation, visualization, and breathing skills useful for labor. Most importantly, the doula will provide comfort, support, and information about birth options.

A doula provides

  • Information to the parents that is current and evidence based.
  • Uninterrupted labor support for the mother during labor.
  • Emotional, physical and personal support.
  • Helps the mother to relax and rest in labor
  • Encourage proper nutrition and work with her to attain proper nutrition
  • Being a presence in the environment that assists the woman feels secure and confident.
  • Providing her with and information on birth options.

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.”
– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

To learn more about being a doula visit- Birth Arts International.



Student Article- Cannabis during pregnancy

Cannabis during pregnancy A basic overview and personal opinion

by Abigail Iovine Doula and Student Midwife  

(BAI does not endorse either way the use of marijuana in pregnancy, or life for that matter. This is a student article, based on her thoughts and ideas.)



Cannabis has been used for centuries in many cultures for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Cannabis was often  a common ingredient in many medications in the  early 1900′s until it’s prohibition began slowly state by state, finally being  classed as a schedule 1 drug  by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. Recently it has come in to the spotlight for effectively treating coming into the spotlight for treating seizures, stutters, pain, nausea,  anxiety, depression, addiction, shrinking tumors, and healing cancer. Mothers in the United States are questioning whether cannabis is a reasonable treatment option during pregnancy. Cannabis has been successful in treating severe nausea, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, as well as insomnia, pain, depression, and overall improves quality of life.

Unfortunately the topic is taboo, ingesting a ‘drug’ during pregnancy is not ideal. Many mom’s are afraid to ask about trying this, or are afraid to admit using it. And for good reason. Children are removed from homes, mothers and fathers sent to prison, and even with the legalization of medical cannabis throughout the country, the federal government has not changed its stance on marijuana being a drug, and illegal. It is a scary topic. The problem I found difficult, in researching for and writing this article, is the basics of understanding, on cannabis use and pregnancy. There is a surprising amount of research, but it is very hard to find. And specifically, studies on smoked cannabis is limited. So it is my goal here, is to present some basic evidence, which will hopefully allow mothers questioning the possible use of cannabis, to weigh their options thoroughly, with a better understanding of what we do know about cannabis.  


  • ·      it has the same affect on the mother, the pregnancy, the placenta, and the fetus as cigarettes
  • ·      it will cause pre-term birth
  • ·      it will cause low birth weight
  • ·      it will cause birth defects
  • ·      it will cause learning disabilities
  • ·      it is a dangerous drug
  • ·      cannabis use during pregnancy is directly related to socio-economic status, marital status, race, family class and income, and family/parenting lifestyle choices                 

(ie: “mothers who use are usually poor, single, using other drugs, or black”)

  These claims are based on so many things it would be impossible to cover them all. But few have studies or science to back. And if they do, they have often been disproven and discredited. Even when claims such as “cannabis during pregnancy increases cancer risk later in life” are completely debunked by science, these negative ideas stick. Basic knowledge of cannabis truth (the science, history, and politics) is very limited amongst both the general public, as well as most care providers, so it is very easy to believe most of what you hear. It is also very important to me as a birth professional, that mother’s searching for information are careful not to fall to deep into the word of mouth associated with pregnancy in general. Every mom has a story, every baby is different, and the most common thing I hear from mothers is “well my baby…”. These claims make it harder for moms to research and discover on their own.

Cannabis studies

Flaws, inconsistencies, and politics

The first problem I see, is the tests and studies that have been published on cannabis use, are often based on statistical information from birth/death certificates, often relying on the mother’s involved to give firsthand honest accounts about their cannabis use, and potentially, other illicit drug use. Many of these basic statistical observations, do not take into account the possibility of other factors that may have contributed to a the birth outcome. Factors such as socioeconomic status, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, abuse, etc. As a very thorough article in Mothering Magazine points out “When adverse outcomes are found, they are inconsistent from one study to another, always relatively minor, and appear to have no impact on infant health or mortality” See that article with citations here   According to a Journal review article published out of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, There are many discrepancies in testing for birth defects or negative outcomes. “Prospective studies that have examined women at regular and frequent intervals during pregnancy, in general, have not found a relationship between marijuana use and birth weight although some have reported a small effect of marijuana use on birth length.” “Other studies, some prospective and some retrospective, have reported correlations between marijuana use during pregnancy and smaller size at birth. Several of these studies, however, failed to control or screen adequately for other illicit drug use”. 1   There is also the political plight of cannabis and pregnancy studies. Researches are finding their work unpublished and unmentioned in articles and references, and being refused funding for more research, unless they comply with the bias preferences of the funding organization. Medical anthropologist Melanie Dreher, known for her Jamaican cannabis study, mentions this level of political influence on cannabis research in her conferences and presentations. Watch her speak here.   Doctors like Dr. William Courtney profess that- despite numerous “miracle patients” all over the world, who now have renewed lives and have been cured and treated like no pharmaceutical ever could-that because the industry chooses to suppress findings like his, and Melanie Dreher’s, these treatments and studies will never be taken seriously. With a money driven, political agenda from the government, the numerous ways cannabis treats illness is a serious threat to big money institutions. See his article here



               Dr. Melanie Dreher, the Dean of Nursing at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, famously studied the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy, in Jamaica. She studied moms and their babies through their pregnancies, and up to 5 years after birth, and found zero negative effects or outcomes for the children.  In fact, the children of heavy cannabis users, women who used between 21 and 70 joints (spliffs) daily, were superior to the children whose mothers did not.2 “The 30-day test showed that children of ganja-using mothers were superior to children of non-ganja mothers in two ways: the children had better organization and modulation of sleeping and waking, and they were less prone to stress-related anxiety.” The study compared women in each of 4 categories, based on the amount of cannabis used daily. (heavy, moderate, light, nonuser) The women matched in age, parity, and socioeconomic status. Researchers lived in the communities with these pregnant women during the study. The neonatal outcomes were studied on 24 exposed neonates, and 20 non-exposed, using the brazelton neonatal assessment scale, consisting of 28 behavioral test, and 18 reflex test, and showed NO difference between the two groups. The researches also found that the non users had a birth weight average of 6 lbs. 7.3 oz., and the heavy users had a birth weight average of 6 lbs. 15.5 oz. This completely contradicts any study claiming cannabis is linked to low birth weight. The children were revisited at age 4 and 5. Researches evaluated the children based on the McCarthy Scale which is similar to what we recognize as an IQ test. (called the GCI or general cognitive index) The children were also temperament tested using similar in-depth testing, observing things such as mood, adjustment, and social interaction. The final observations included home studies (standards of living and home experiences) and school attendance. IN BOTH THE 4 AND 5 YEAR OLDS THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NON EXPOSED CHILDREN, AND CHILDREN EXPOSED TO HEAVY CANNABIS USE IN UTERO.   For more information on Dr. Dreher’s study Beyond Melanie Dreher’s Jamaican study, the well executed and documented studies on pregnancy and cannabis are limited. However, there are more studies and insights into cannabis use in adults for treatment of disease, and the safety of cannabis overall. See the resources section for links.


               I would also like to include, briefly, some information on one particular thought on cannabis and pregnancy. The idea that smoking cannabis is similar to smoking cigarettes, is anecdotal, with limited evidence, and frankly, unfair. It is unfair, because parents who do not smoke cigarettes, but use cannabis, should not be grouped into the same category of “smokers”, and cannabis will not cause damage like inhaling nicotine, chemicals, and tobacco smoke. Cigarettes contain more than 4000 ingredients. Smoking the average cigarette is like smoking a chemical cocktail. Cigarettes also contain nicotine, which seems to promote cancer. On the other hand, while cannabis smoke contains some of the same toxins as does tobacco (this does not account for all those chemicals, just the tobacco) cannabis contains cannabinoids, that have proven anti cancer properties. There have not been any conclusive studies proving a connection between tobacco related cancers, and cannabis smoke. And there have been no cases of lung cancer in cannabis only smokers. NONE. 8 In fact, cannabis is a wonderful bronchio-dilator, which has been known and applied for many years. And recent studies have shown no correlation between cannabis only use, and COPD.9 It is possible, if you are concerned about smoke inhalation, to vaporize cannabis. You get the same instant effects, without burning the plant, so without the same toxins and tar as in the smoke.


“Were we meant to use cannabis?”

               The endocannabinoid system is a message system in the human body. The body makes endocannabinoids on demand, and the body contains 2 types of cannabinoid receptors, located in the brain, the muscles, fatty tissues, the liver and metabolic system, the stomach, and the immune system. The endocannabinoids and their receptors send messages to many areas of the body, regulating things like memory, energy, stress response, immune function, female reproduction, autonomic nervous system responses, thermoregulation, and sleep. Cannibinoids are considered neuromodulators, responsible for controlling large groups of neurons in the nervous system. The cannabis plant contains at least 85 identified cannabinoids. (phyto-cannabinoids)  Each of these have different functions and responses in the human body. For example, THC is the most commonly known cannibinoid, responsible for the ‘high’ associated with taking cannabis. Cannibidol is another, known for its treatment of convulsions, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation, and has neuroprotective properties.3 Each of the different cannabinoids are being isolated and used in medical research, and all have different responses in the human body. Babies are born with cannabinoid receptors, and human breastmilk contains cannabinoids. These help babies learn to eat and gain weight, and have the same response on the body as cancer patients using medical cannabis to treat appetite issues.4 The endocannabinoid system plays a very big role in female reproduction and pre and post natal development. Implantation, nervous system development, suckling response, and brain development and protection of the newborns neurological development, are some of the ways cannabinoids works to promote and maintain healthy reproduction.5 In fact, some studies are suggesting that these receptors, and the cannabinoids, have a direct correlation to preterm birth, with studies showing that a loss of the cannabinoid receptors (CB1) can induce preterm birth.6 It is thought than an imbalance of omegas can induce the death of cannabinoid receptors. Beyond the physiological contribution of cannabis, and cannabinoids, the nutritional value of cannabis deserves recognition. Raw Cannabis or hemp foods, contains all of the essential amino acids, protein, the ideal ratio of omega6 to omega3, flavanoids, and terpenes (organic compounds found in plants that have immunological, anti-microbial actions). In addition, hemp food contains the essential quantity of amino acids, responsible for supporting the manufacturing of serum albumin and serum globulin, which are essential to life. 7 Besides these, cannabis has fiber, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and b1, b2, b3, b6, and vitamins C, D, and A. “Our planet has over 3 million edible plants on it, yet there is no one plant that can equal the nutritional value of hemp.”  


               Cannabis is a personal choice. I have used cannabis during pregnancy to treat hyperemesis and insomnia, and when I’m not pregnant. Cannabis helps to manage my anxiety, and damage done by over prescribed psych-medications I was prescribed in my adolescence. I              believe wholeheartedly in the miracle that is cannabis and what it has to offer. I also use cannabis to treat my many ailments, from migraines, injuries, topically to treat burns, and as tea to treat upset stomach. I don’t condone the use for children, or for teenagers, their brains are rewiring and so fragile, or women trying to become pregnant -there is a small window right before implantation, where extra cannabinoids could affect the implantation, since they (cannabinoids) are already working so hard in the process, ingesting cannabis can cause a little overload in that tiny window of time. The benefits of cannabis during pregnancy are obvious. Quality of life for sick or struggling mothers, a simple ease into sleep, or management of pain without side effects (besides a good feeling), or being able to eat after weeks of severe hyperemesis, these are all legitimate reasons to consider using cannabis. In my opinion, cannabis is a plant that is so connected to humans, works so deeply in our physiology, has so many purposes in our lives, ( a perfect food, medicine, clothes, shelter) it must have been created specifically for us to use.

I hope the world will consider this plant for the miracle that it is, and the taboo and misinformation against the users and the plant will be abolished -along with the laws preventing us from harnessing the powers of such a miracle gift.

  *Personal note: “Just like anything, we can overindulge, and become addicted to things that make us feel good. Cannabis is no different.”       citations 1.;jsessionid=F5Hlnj7qmxLIsOdCr57J.10 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Hemp and the marijuana conspiracy- By Jack Herer 9.     LINKS for exploration


Doula, did you know?

Here are some new research outcomes on the benefits and effectiveness of doulas and continuous support from the Cochrane Database

Doula Support

Doula Support

Here are a few important findings from the study.

Numerous types of information to include illustrative materials are within the full Cochrane document, you  can compare all data that was available from all included studies for the specified outcomes. It was found that women who received continuous support were less likely than women who did not to:

  • use regional analgesia
  • utilize any analgesia/anesthesia 
  • vacuum extraction or forceps  used during the birth process
  • to have a cesarean birth
  • have a baby with a low 5-minute Apgar score
  • reported greater birth satisfaction.

Women receiving continuous support were more likely than those who did not to:

  • experience spontaneous birth, this means not forceps or vacuums were used in the birth process.
  • experience shorter labor times

It was found that continuous support did not seem to impact:

  • use of synthetic oxytocin during labor
  • newborn admission to special care nursery, NICU, etc..
  • prolonged newborn hospital stay
  • breastfeeding rates at 1 to 2 months
  • depression in the postpartum period
  • self-esteem in the postpartum period
  • severe perineal trauma
  • labor pain severity

This is a wonderful study to illustrate what supportive care in labor can do, and in addition by omission it shows what can be done with postpartum support to support healing and beastfeeding rates.


Introduction to Cradleboards- Student Article

Introduction to Cradleboards- Student Article
By: Susan Dlutkowski
cradleboardIn July of 2013 I attended a traditional arts gathering on Drummond Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There, I heard Earl Otchingwanigan speak about “The Language and Culture of the Cradleboard”. I knew that Earl was a respected Ojibwe elder and I was very interested to hear his presentation. I knew that cradleboards were used for holding infants, but I wondered:
Were they too confining?
Were they comfortable?
Are they still used?
Earl started by explaining the construction of a dikinaagan (cradleboard). He was also instructing another group at the gathering that was building cradleboards. He named several parts, such as the aagwiingwe’onaak -oon (the head protector) and the apizideyaakwa’igan -an (the foot brace). He held two beautiful black velvet bands, each beaded with traditional, colorful floral designs. Each of these miishiiginebizon -an were wrapped around the baby on the cradleboard, one covering the baby’s middle, the other around its legs and feet. With two bands, only the bottom one needed to be removed to change a diaper. These cloth bands were decorative since creating something beautiful for the baby was an important feature of the cradleboard. Infants and toddlers up to the age of three were put in cradleboards where they were kept safe, could sleep, or could observe the goings-on of their families.

Instead of spending time purposely stimulating their baby, families went about their activities; the baby was stimulated through quiet observation. Cradleboards could be hung by a strap so that babies were often at adult eye-level, receiving level eye-contact. This was considered important to a baby’s development and interaction with the group. At first, infants’ arms were swaddled by their sides. Later, arms were left outside of the wrapping. Mothers could sit with their legs outstretched, the cradleboard propped on their toes, so that the babies could see what their mothers were doing with their hands.

One man who attended the talk said that he and his wife used a cradleboard for their now seven-year-old daughter until she was three. She could be brought outside to safely watch wood-chopping and at the table she was at eye-level with her parents when the cradleboard was placed on a chair. The father said that his daughter would crawl to her cradleboard on the floor, for comfort. A woman at the presentation who was expecting her third child thought she would like to use a cradleboard for her new baby and was especially interested to hear of this father’s recent experiences.

I thoroughly enjoyed Earl’s presentation and was grateful for the opportunity to hear his first-hand knowledge of the cradleboard. I gained more of an understanding and a definite appreciation of the benefits of cradleboards. As an Ojibwe culture specialist, tradition bearer and scholar, Earl Otchingwanigan shares his knowledge, learned from family members in his childhood, and later from his own studies.


Birth Matters- Kara Figueroa 0


“Birth Matters”


baby Birth is one of the most amazing miracles of this world.  It breathes air into life.  Birth not only brings your baby into this world, it sets the tone for how you look at yourself as a person and a mother.  It greatly affects your life in ways you never imagined it would.  It can set you up for memories filled with love, hope, joy and empowerment or it can break you into pieces.  Birth Matters, you matter.

I began my journey of becoming a doula, a woman who serves, after a less than lovely birth experience with my second child.  I was uneducated, unmotivated to learn and completely trusting of the hospital, my doctor and the nurses I have never met.  I set out to have a baby with complete strangers and was treated as such.  It shook me to my core.  I birthed a beautiful baby boy vaginally after 10.5 hours of labor where threats and scare tactics were used on top of medical interventions that went terribly wrong.  I felt alone, unloved and just a statistic.  I didn’t feel like I mattered and my postpartum experience confirmed how I felt about myself, and my ability as a mother.

Experiencing a labor and birth that caused myself to doubt my abilities, lowered my self-esteem and caused unwanted postpartum depression, motivated me to change the way my clients would experience birth.   “Women’s perceptions about their bodies and their babies’ capabilities will be deeply influenced by the care they receive around the time of birth.” Ina May Gaskin, Birth Matters.  I set out to love on women and their partners, educate them on the labor and birth experience, challenge them to dig deeper and counsel them on their fears.  I want my clients to know they matter and to know that I care about them and their hearts.  I didn’t want them to hear “the baby is here and healthy and that is all that matters”.  It’s not all that matters, it’s a huge part, but that is not all that matters.

Why does birth matter?  Ask your mom about her birth experiences, better yet, ask your grandmother.  Do not be surprised if their birth stories are as detailed as a woman that just had her baby yesterday.  Birth leaves and imprint on your mind and soul.  For every mother, birth is an event that shakes and shapes her in one way or another.  Birth leaves lasting effects such as empowerment, euphoria, depression and disempowerment.  These effects all differ depending on how the women is treated and supported around the time she gives birth regardless of whether the birth is vaginal or a cesarean.

Birth matters because you matter.  Do not for a moment leave your birth in the hands of a stranger.  Take my word for it. Build a birth team that will support you, your desires, educate you and empower you to want better for your birth and yourself.  Choose wisely and seek out a practitioner whom you feel comfortable. You wan them to be encouraging, understanding and will freely educate you on the questions you ask.  Interview with doulas and choose the best fit for your family; one that you feel will serve, love and support you and your partner the best.  It is very important that you are comfortable with your birth team.  Love, support and service are a powerful thing.  It can take even the less than ideal circumstances and turn them into more joy than your heart can contain.  Take control of your birth and let someone love on you and treat you the way you deserve, because YOU MATTER!

Source:  “Birth Matters” by Ina May Gaskin


Kara Figueroa is wife, momma of 4 and a doula.  She has been trained by DONA and BAI and is seeking her certification through BAI.  Her passion is to serve, love and support.  She has been a practicing doula since 2008.



ACOG Recommends Doulas to Lower Primary Cesarean Rates- Angela Rooney 0

ACOG Recommends Doulas to Lower Primary Cesarean Rates



A new publication just released on February, 19, 2014  by the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) announces what a doula already knows!

The articles findings state that from 1996 to 2011 cesarean rates in the U.S. have increased rapidly without a decrease in maternal or fetal injuries or deaths.  This indicates that OB/GYNs have been over using the surgery on first time mothers in non-emergency instances.

In order to invoke change in the rising increase in primary cesareans, one must ask the reasons these surgeons are performing so many major surgeries to first time moms in the first place.

The top five reasons for a primary cesarean in order of greatest to least:

1.  Labor Dystocia

2.  Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate

3.  Malpresentation of the Fetus

4.  Multiple Gestation

5.  Fetal Macrosomia


The article then discusses safe measures that need to be taken to decrease the chance of resulting in a cesarean section.  These are not new techniques or guidelines, but we need to see them better implemented.

  1. Labor Dystocia:
    1.  Labor may be a slower process than previously defined and needs to be redefined.
    2. Defining active labor is strongly recommended to change from 4 to 6 centimeters.  Before 6 centimeters, actions for the active phase of labor should not apply.
    3. Physicians should be well trained in operative vaginal deliveries, such as vacuum and forcep delivery,  to utilize them as a safe alternative to cesareans.
  2. Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate:
    1. “Amnioinfusion for repetitive variable fetal heart rate decelerations may safely reduce the rate of cesarean delivery.”
    2. Scalp stimulation is an effective tool when the cervix is dilated to determine the fetal acid-base status.
  3. Malpresentation of the Fetus:
    1. Fetal presentation should be checked by 36 weeks in order to apply an external cephalic version.
  4. Multiple Gestation:
    1. Women with cephalic presenting twins or cephalic/ noncephalic  presented twins should be recommended to deliver vaginally.

5.  Fetal Macrosomia:

a. Ultrasounds are fairly inaccurate at estimating weight in later pregnancy.  Only mothers with estimated fetal weight over 5,000 g. without gestational diabetes or 4,500g. with gestational diabetes should be subject to a cesarean.

b. Women should be counseled on maternal weight gain, diet, and exercise guidelines.


The best part of the article comes at the end when it discusses the importance of continuous labor support.  Ahem ;)

“Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery (111). Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.”

It’s not exactly a new concept that elective cesareans have been overused with 1/3 of U.S. mothers walking around with c-section scars.   Finally research findings are becoming mainstream, and hopefully, new guidelines can be put into effect.  Yes, sometimes a Cesarean is crucial to prevent maternal or fetal morbidity.   We must come together as birth professionals, doulas, midwives, nurses, and OB/GYNs alike, and respect the guidelines for our common end goal– a healthy and happy mother and baby.


You can read the full article here:


About the Author:

Angela Rooney has a BA in Psychology, is a professional birth doula, and is a Certified Pre/Postnatal Fitness Specialist.  She’s passionate about helping pregnant women have a memorable childbirth experience. Read more about Angela and her work at []. Follow her at [] and [].


Preparing for Childbirth-Terri Lee-Johnson

Doula Support

Doula Support

Preparing for Childbirth


When most women consider childbirth preparation, thoughts are often limited to the method they’ll use such as Lamaze, Bradley, HypnoBirth, etc. Anyone planning to have a baby should, first, do just that: plan to have a baby. I know, I know, how many of us actually do that or even get the chance since many pregnancies are a surprise? Considering that more women are postponing motherhood until their 30s and 40s, taking a moment in the 20s to plan is a great idea. Also, this is a great addendum to the motherhood topic for those mother-daughter talks. While what method and, thus, what type of childbirth class to take is important, there are a few other things to consider.
1. Consider where you want to birth While birth centers and hospitals are covered by insurance, home births involving the services of a midwife are typically an out of pocket expense. As soon as you know that you want a midwife’s services, you should start saving for the fee. If you’re willing to move temporarily to another state where midwives are licensed because they aren’t in your area, include those expenses as well. A great way to get help with those expenses is to add them to your gift registry or turn one of your hobbies like jewelry making or knitting into a small business for which you’ll use the earnings to secure a midwife.
2. Consider the type of birth you want Two words: BIRTH PREFERENCES. No matter where you plan to birth, you should have one. Even someone wanting a home birth but, just cannot seem to acquire the funds to pay a midwife may have to have a hospital birth and home births that may turn into a hospital transfer should have a contingency plan so your wishes are clear. There are tons of examples online to help you map out your “please dos” and “please don’ts” for hospital staff. Your preferences can include everything from whether or not you desire to exclusively breastfeed to requesting no vaccines be administered to no circumcision if your newborn is a boy. Flexibility is just as important when setting birth preferences as birth can be unpredictable and certain things may conflict with your wishes. The goal is to be educated enough on your options to make informed decisions regarding how you give birth.
3. Consider who you want to assist you in birth OB? Midwife? Doula? In Tennessee, you have two options: a home birth with a midwife or a hospital birth with an OB. Midwives do not have hospital privileges here so, your setting determines your attendant. If that is the case where you live and you prefer to work with a midwife, consider having your well woman care being handled by one to begin cultivating that relationship. It is often forgotten that midwives do more than “catch babies.” Start taking advantage of their services before conception. Just remember it will likely not be covered by insurance but, you get what you pay for. *wink wink*
Now, doulas do not provide any medical services but can attend your birth as emotional and physical support. She will also provide tons of helpful information throughout the pregnancy and into the postpartum period. We are found to be most useful in hospital births where the environment is not as easy to control as your home. Doulas are another out of pocket expense for most though, insurance providers are beginning to recognize our value and provide coverage for our services. This is another item that can be added to a gift registry (great for a group of co-workers to give) if you need help with doula fees.
There are many things to consider when planning to start a family but these are the three questions I would answer first regarding prenatal care and the actual birth. Where you birth and who attends that birth will influence how you birth. If you want an out of hospital experience that will require a small investment, start saving now or solicit anxious grandparents-to-be for a donation. Even with unexpected pregnancies and birth being unpredictable, still give yourself the space to plan and create the birth you want.


Terri Lee-Johnson is a homeschool mom, wife, doula, and apprentice midwife in Memphis, TN. In her spare time, she reads voraciously, watches historical documentaries, and is artsy craftsy.