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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.



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


Six is the New Four!

Birth Arts International Student Article- Alexa Weeks

Six is the New Four!

There has been a re-evaluation of the timing and progression of labor sort of going on behind the scenes for awhile now. While many have clung to the Friedman curve to measure progress in labor, others had started to investigate the wider range of variations to “normal labor.” These, now decades old studies, by Friedman and his colleagues created the notion of a normal progression of 1cm dilation per hour in the active phase of labor. The idea that active labor begins when a woman is dilated to 4cm has become a mainstay of modern obstetrical practice.

In LaborAsk most birth professionals and they’ll tell you that they’d already  figured that out, of course! Anyone who has been around enough women in labor knows that it is a process and not one that follows a neat little curve. In fact, as our society and the practice of medicine have tried to place time constraints on the progression of labor and micro-manage laboring women the more we have seen women fail to feel confident and successful in their birth experience. “Stalled labor,” “failure to progress,” “labor dystocia”- the notion that something was wrong with process if a woman didn’t progress 1cm/hr has had a significant impact on the rate of labor augmentation and c-sections.

More contemporary studies are now providing clear evidence that the reality of labor is much different, confirming what many have long suspected. The studies suggest that normal labor can progress at rates that are less than 1cm/hr, especially for women who have not previously given birth. Adding to that, the evidence indicates that many women progress quite slowly before reaching 7cm dilation.

The move to redefine active labor as beginning at 5cm for women who have previously given birth and 6cm for those who have not, is a step in the right direction to say the least. This evidence only adds to what many birth professionals have been telling women all along- TRUST the PROCESS! Believe in your body and your ability to give birth to your baby… not on neatly plotted curve… but rather, when your body and your baby are able to complete the process.

Of course there will always be women who experience difficulties with labor or unavoidable complications and the appropriate interventions can be essential to achieve the best outcome for both mother and baby. There is just no reason to go looking for problems where they do not exist, and this new concept of active labor can go a long way to reduce unnecessary pressure on laboring women.

For more information, check out this article!



Are you still nursing?

Student Article Birth Arts International Christina Szrama

Are You Still Nursing?

I guess I grew up knowing that the normal way women fed their babies was to nurse them.  My mom did it, my aunts did it, and it was enough of a non-issue for me that I don’t remember ever thinking more about it than that.  I thought bottle feeding was super-cool, because then I got to feed the babies and rock them and burp them and tote them on my hip… but I never really thought about what was in the bottles (expressed milk or formula or cow or goat milk).

When I found myself pregnant with Éowyn I set out with a general idea in mind of nursing “at least to a year and hopefully beyond.”  We got through a bit of a rocky start (we both were drowning in milk) but never looked back and were both very pleased with our nursing relationship when we weaned painlessly in the spring of 2011 (E was 21 months old).  I didn’t really keep nursing to prove a point or out of any conviction; I could just tell it was good for her, our pediatrician recommended it since we were following our own vaccination schedule, and it was convenient & simple (what can I say, laziness is a powerful motivator for me, hehe).  As I went I started noticing that more than one factor seemed to point towards a natural weaning age of two -three years instead of closer to the American mentality of 6 mos -1 year.  Liam is now 18 months old and I hope to nurse him at least 6 months more– with a summer birthday I have a feeling he’ll be glad to wean right around the 2 year mark (hot & muggy SC summers don’t encourage snuggling).

I have already gotten the “why are you still nursing?question, and I’m sure as he gets older I’ll get it even more.  So here are a few of the reasons I’ve catalogued for nursing on through the second year of life (and into the third if you both like!).  This is in no way a critique of moms who did not nurse until one, or two, or three, or any arbitrary age, rather by choice or circumstance.  Any breast milk is better than none! And I’m not arguing for an arbitrary “nurse until” date here; I’m trying to see what hints we get from our biology regarding when a “natural” weaning age range might be.  Basically, it boils down to this:  there seems to be way less of a difference between an 1 year old & and an 18 month old than there is between a 2 year old & a 2.5 year old.
1. molars--  most kids get their molars, needed for chewing grains and helpful in chewing meats– between 13 & 33 months old. This is a very simple indication that a constant, consistent source of carbs & fat would be helpful (breast milk is mostly just that:  carbs/sugar and saturated fat).
2. brain development- a baby’s brain grows incredibly rapidly through the second year of life, and by age 3 has reached 90% of its adult size.  The type of growth that particularly characterizes these years is synaptogenisis, or the formation of connections throughout the brain.  A toddler’s brain actually makes way more connections than he will use, and by adolescence will have “pruned” away about half of these connections.  Also ongoing in the infant & toddler years is myelination, which is the coating of brain cells with fat to allow proper transmission of information across the synapses.  What nutrient is essential to brain growth & development?  Fat.  Specifically, saturated fat.  Even more specifically, cholesterol.  Breast milk is an amazing source of saturated fat.  While cow’s milk (and this is an average which varies by breed) has about 8 g of fat, and 33 mg of cholesterol per cup, human breast milk has around 11.2 g of fat, and 43 mg of cholesterol per cup (this also can vary from mom to mom, and mom’s diet is a part of that)!  Also, the brain is a huge consumer of glucose, which is supplied in breast milk in the form of lactose (carbs make up about 40% of the calories in breast milk).   A toddler’s brain still needs lots of sugar and fat, and mom’s milk is still the perfect source of those through the second year of life.  In fact, the longer a mom nurses, the more fatty & energy-dense her milk gets, providing more calories & fat per ounce!  (isn’t that amazing!? breast milk really is designer custom-made food!)  Could this be why IQ scores go up the longer a child is breast-fed?
Most students of the brain note a difference between 2 & 3 years in terms of brain development, rather than between 1 & 2, whether one is studying Erickson’s “Psychosocial,” Piaget’s “Cognitive Development,”or physiological “brain development” stages, or critical periods in language acquisition.
3. immune factors- this is a complex subject that is still not wholly understood even by experts… so please excuse this extreme simplification of the topic: it seems that there are 3 “arms” to a mature immune system: cell-mediated (Th1), humoral (Th2), and regulator (Th3) immunities.  Th1 tends to respond to danger in our cells with inflammation (white blood cells), Th2 tends to respond to danger outside our cells with antibodies, and Th3 keeps the other two in check.  As Dr. Russell Blaylock (MD) explains:

“If a virus invades, it quickly switches to the Th1 phase, which allows immune cells to secrete a group of cytokines that kill viruses. [...]  At other times, the immune system needs a whole different set of immune signals and cells, which are supplied by the Th2 phase. The Th2 phase favors the production of antibodies, mainly supplied by B-cells, but in general they reduce immune reactions.”

If left alone, babies start to make antibodies on their own around 6 months (artificially-fed babies do get antibodies earlier) and the mature immune system develops by age 3.  However at birth babies depend largely on their humoral (Th2) system– this keeps them from being flagged as an invader by Mom’s immune system pre-birth, allows good bacteria to colonize their gut, and also helps keep their brains growing without any inflammation to endanger it.  (Think of how rare, and therefore how serious, it is when a young baby gets an infectious fever– babies just aren’t wired to get fevers, which are a form of inflammation.)  So, how can a baby fight infection if everything in its system is trying to avoid inflammation to allow his brain & nervous system to develop as much as it can?  Breast milk again.  A mother’s milk will be custom-made with antibodies for whatever germs she has been exposed to– and with as much kissing and snuggling as moms naturally do with their babies, by day’s end, she’s been exposed to whatever he’s been exposed to.  Continuing to supplement baby’s immune system with maternal antibodies as long as his brain is rapidly growing and his immune system is still largely in Th2 mode (to protect that brain) makes complete sense– that would mean breast-feeding for 2-3 years, not 1-2.
4. hints from other mammals- looking at the weaning ages in other mammals and adjusting them for various factors (like gestation, permanent tooth eruption, age of puberty, etc.) is a fascinating study, and indicates a “natural weaning age” for our species between 2 and 7 years.  Definitely not before 1 year.
5. child spacing- [[I'm not sure which is the "chicken" and which is the "egg:" if we naturally nurse 2-3 years and that helps us space our kids ideally, or if it's designed so that we generally have another child 2-3 years after the first, and thus wean around that time... either way God's system seems to have the two interrelated somehow.]] Much research indicates that the “ideal” spacing between pregnancies is 2 years, from a purely nutritional point of view.  In developing countries, breast feeding is an effective form of child spacing known as “LAM” (lactational amenorrhea), delaying the onset of ovulation for an average of 15 months, or even the duration of breast feeding in some women.  [Why doesn't this work in our own society?  My own theory is that it has to do with all the hormones we ingest constantly, from our food (especially milk, meat & soy, which is in most processed foods), water and even the plastics in our lives!]  While some women are able to “tandem nurse” (nurse through pregnancy and then nurse two children of different ages), many find pregnancy a natural weaning point, or choose to wean in order to “restock” before conceiving again.  It seems logical to expect 2-3 years of nursing one child before another child would naturally follow…
I want to restate that any breast milk is a gift.  To the moms who nursed to 1 year, awesome.  You gave your baby a tremendous start in life.  To moms who nursed to 6 months, yes!! You supplied your baby with antibodies until her body started making her own!  To moms who nursed 6 weeks; excellent.  Your baby got not only “liquid gold” (colostrum) but also got his metabolism correctly calibrated.  To the moms who nursed 3 days, you sealed your baby’s intestinal wall and gave her a mega-dose of probiotics…  kudos especially go to those moms who persevered through pain and/or difficulties to get to whatever milestone you reached!!!
My own “takeaway” as I’ve waded through so many aspects of this topic has been to aim to nurse well into toddlerhood --whether that means 18 or 24 or 36 months will vary by situation, and by child– just as each child learns to walk & talk at different ages, so they also get their molars at varying ages, their brains develop at different paces and their immune systems switch from Th2-dominant to a mature balanced system, all at different ages.  Follow your body, your child’s body, and your own gut… and pray.  How many of us have prayed about when to wean?  But God invented breast milk, just as He controls immunity and molar eruption. :)

(I have also posted this on my personal blog, at


Planning Childbirth

The following is a student blog post.
Sara Fernberg

Planning Childbirth

Why have a birth plan?

While no two births are identical, and your birth may not go as planned, it is important to have a document or outline of your wants and expectations for your birth journey. By distributing written copies of your birth plan to the members of your birth team everyone will be on the same page, thus making your birth go as smooth as possible. Having a birth plan allows you to look into different birth options to help you find what you want for your birthing experience, such as whether you would prefer an epidural or natural labor. A birth plan is also essential because it informs your birth team and care provider of which interventions you are and are not comfortable with. Also, a birth plan will cover your wishes if a Cesarean Section is necessary.

Just Born

Just Born

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a document or an outline that your birth team or care provider can follow throughout your birth. Your birth plan should be descriptive with your expectations, not your demands. As noted before, your birth plan should include which interventions you are and are not comfortable with.

It is suggested that your birth plan include objects from your home that will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed   during your childbirth. These items may include a pillow, fuzzy slippers, a stress ball. Also, a music player, music can bring comfort through contractions and help you focus on your birth. Things that you also may want to have present at your birthing cite are a birthing pool, shower, birthing ball, or birthing stool.  These may or may not be provided by your hospital or birthing center.

Your birth plan should include your wishes regarding a Cesarean birth if necessary. You can also state if you would prefer things such as using double mirrors to view your own birth, having your partner cut the umbilical cord, or videotaping the birth. Things that should also be included are who you want present at the birth and what type of anesthetic you would prefer.

Who will be attending your birth?

Will your partner or relative be attending your birth? Maybe both? Or perhaps a best friend?  Maybe you have a Doula or a Midwife. Regardless of what your circumstances are, it is very important to have a set plan as to who you want present at your birth. If you have another child that you don’t want present at your birth, arrangements you have made for them can be stated in your birth plan to avoid confusion.

Things to consider when writing a birth plan.

A birth plan is by no means a set in stone document and if some of your expectations due to hospital regulations or health concerns are not met, you have not failed. Your birth plan is simply something to work off of so your care providers can support you in the best way possible. Your birth plan should be extensively discussed with your care provider and all of your birth team. You should be open and honest with your provider while going over it and open to suggestions. Also, be sure to ask your care provider about the hospital or birth center’s fetal monitoring policies if an active birth is depicted in your birth plan.


Ford-Martin, Paula. The Everything Birthing Book: Know All Your Options and Choose the Method That Is Right for You. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2004. Print.

About Sara

I am 18 years old, I am currently studying to be a Doula and also a Preschool teacher. I am very excited about both and my journey throughout education and life. I hope you find my article on creating your own birth plan very helpful and easy to understand. 


Pregnancy Nutrition Shake

Pregnancy Nutrition Shake



1/2 cup coconut juice or water, the fresher the better
2 medjool dates- soaked.
1 cup soaked cashews or hazelnuts
1/2 cup of infusion of nettles, red raspberry leaves and milky oats, or you can make a cup of your favorite pregnancy tea.
1 handful of fresh raspberries, which are wonderful for pregnancy and full of vitamins and minerals.
1 ripe banana

Soak the nuts and dates for an hour. You can soak them together. The sugars in the dates will assist in breaking down the nuts. Strain and add to the blender.
In a blender add the ingredients rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
If you want a cold treat you can use frozen bananas and raspberries.

This will make enough for more than one serving. This recipe will also be featured in my upcoming book on herbs and pregnancy.

Instead of nuts you can use yogurt, or plain silken tofu.

Disclaimer: For educational use only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

You can get Demetria Clark’s book Herbal Healing for Children and 475 Herbal and Aromatherapy Recipes at Amazon.

Mountain Rose Herbs


BAI Student- Jenny L Jolley Bundt 0


Jenny L Jolley Bundt

What program are you enrolled in?

I am enrolled in doula, postpartum doula and breastfeeding educator.

Why did you choose Birth Arts International?
I chose BAI because I felt that it wanted to train me to be a doula and a better person. When it comes down to it yes being a doula is a career but its also a lifestyle and I like that BAI prepares you for and covers all angles of pregnancy and childbirth.

What services do you offer?
Right now I offer doula, postpartum doula, breastfeeding help and placenta encapsulation
Clients can find me in various ways. I have my website and also have a Facebook page. I’m also in various Facebook groups and talk to potential clients often.
My website

Tell us about yourself.
I have three beautiful children but all my births have been traumatic experiences and although I cherish the days they were born because I got my babies, the memories are painful. It became my mission to research and educate myself to help women have a beautiful experience and memory to reflect on for years. I didn’t realize I could be paid for it, so finding out about being a doula was a win-win for me :)


Nerve Pain Oil 0

The following is a recipe we have had floating around for students of Heart of Herbs Herbal School since 1998. Many students love it, and it has been modified and restructured by practitioners to suit the needs of their clients since. This recipe is also included in my upcoming book 475 Herbal and Aromatherapy Recipes- Coming Soon!

Nerve Pain Oil

10 drops German Chamomile EO (Essential Oil)
6 drops Marjoram EO
6 drops Helichrysum EO
10 drops Lavender EO
2 ounces infused St. John’s Wort oil
1 ounce Plantain infused oil

Knee Pain

Knee Pain

Combine well and apply liberally to the affected area. Store in an airtight glass container.
Some issues this oil is helpful for are sore muscles, sciatica, strained muscles, sore necks and backs and it is really helpful on sore knees.

In addition this remedy can be very helpful for back labor, sore legs and overall sore pregnancy muscles. You can replace the Marjoram EO with Lavender EO for pregnancy.

Disclaimer: For educational use only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

You can get Demetria Clark’s Herbal Healing for Children at Amazon.




Mountain Rose Herbs


Doula? Why? Is it for me?

Doula? Why? Is it for me?

This post is based on what BAI (Birth Arts International) teaches and trains. We cannot speak to other training organizations, but we know they all want to support and respect women, as we do. For more information about BAI please visit


1. You want additional support?

If you feel you need an additional support, education and understanding you may find a doula an excellent choice to assist you through the birth process. A doula can help you find answers, work with your specific needs, care plans and issues. Her work is to support you, not make you have a specific type of birth. At BAI we believe all women matter, and we train our students to react to all situations with dignity and understanding.


2. Can a doula really help me? How?

Yes, she can. Even if you have a supportive partner with you, and a caring care provider, you may still need additional education, support and someone who is only concerned with your needs and wishes. She can make suggestions to further the care and support your partner can provide and make the whole process easier for both parties.


Birth Arts International expects students to have completed hours of specialized education and client support. This education includes completing a 400 page workbook, reading 10 specialized books, 5 evaluated births, over 200 hours of specialized education and client care work, and much, much more. The education a BAI doula receives pinpoints how to be and practice as an effective doula working with woman in the birth they desire. BAI doulas receive the highest level of holistic doula education to include diversity, communication skills, client care, doula support, labor support, nutrition, holistic support techniques, business education, client care materials and resources and pregnancy care and support. Your doula will also have had education in pregnancy anatomy and physiology, breastfeeding care, interventions, C-sections, twins and other variations of birth and birth plans. Our doulas are trained to support mothers in all birth situations.


3. I am afraid of a natural birth, those are the only types of birth doulas work with, right?

No, a doula is trained to support you. If you are planning to be induced, use an epidural, etc.. you may find you have just as valid a need for a doula. With interventions come additional support needs. A doula can assist you with these needs, just as she supports a mother with a natural birth plan. She follows the mother’s direction. Doulas are trained to assist you with your birth needs. All women need support, and many find that by having a doula some of her planned ideas of needing an epidural, etc.. can be prevented by having the additional support a doula offers. Or on the other hand a doula can assist a mother who unexpectedly decides to have an intervention she was not planning on.


4. Why a doula?

History, love and support. Women from history from almost all cultures birth with the support of other women. These women offer support just by being in the room, women need to know they have support if needed. We are now so fractured as a culture, we have family potentially all over the world, and the women who historically could have supported us now are hundreds of miles away.


On the other hand you may have a family that is not able to be supportive in the way you need, and having a doula is a great alternative.


5. Are doulas costly?

They are worth every cent. Doulas charge between- $200-2000.00 dollars.

They have many costs associated with being your doula and are on call for you for two weeks before your due date, or until your child is born. They will stay at the hospital the whole time and birth can last an hour to 48 hours, and she is there, if you need her. She will stay through interventions, she will support you with postpartum care and questions and she will support you in your pregnancy. She is also available to parents throughout pregnancy for questions also.


If she charges $800 per birth, this is a simple breakdown to consider:

Time with parents – 6 hours (prenatal and phone calls)

Time at birth – 12 hours (sometimes much longer, sometimes much shorter, but 12 is a midline average).

Time in postpartum – 3 hours Postpartum visits if you offer 2 – 3 hours

Driving time – 3 hours average.

Prep and research time – 4 hours

$28.57 an hour is the rate.


Other expenses like websites, gas, childcare, business cards, etc.. She is running a business, and normal business overhead exists. The fee breakdown does not count time at birth.


Just a comparison to think about- a cleaning service is often $30-40 an hour, a plumber costs between $75-90 an hour., a mechanic is $45-60 an hour. A doula is a highly skilled professional and she deserves a living and fair wage for her work.

People do not think twice about paying monthly fees of $150.00 for smart phones, $200.00 a month for cable TV, $100 for a pair of shoes, or the newest must have tablet, smart device, etc.. These are all choices, like a doula is a choice. A doula can save thousands of dollars in hospital expenses, work to create a positive birth experience. A birth experience lasts a lifetime.


To save money you may be able to barter, find a doula with a lower fee than the amount I listed, or find a student doula. Student doulas often cost about $200.00

Tips for paying for a doula

  1. Put money away each week when you discover you are pregnancy. Even $10. a week gives you a good place to start.
  2. Ask family to contribute to your doula fund.
  3. Look at your budget and see how you can spend your money more wisely, brown-bag lunch, forgo a coffee drink, etc.. Saving for a goal is a wonderful way to also foster a positive relationship with money.

Having a doula can make your birth experience a more positive and life affirming experience.