Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wise Women of Birth

Photo from Natural Beginnings, V. Maddock

This weekend I went to a workshop to see what wisdom I could pick up from a room full of doulas and four guest speakers: birth workers with a combined 150 years of experience serving women.
Two of the guests were from Portland, OR and I was grateful for my blogging friend Snow who has educated me enough so that I felt as if I had some idea about their part of the world. (thank you!) One of these midwives recounted to me a little of what it was like to attend a birth in the aftermath of the Mt St Helens eruption which I found interesting.
As evidenced by the picture I was deep in thought for much of the day and although my readers here tend not to be a demographic who are particularly interested in the issues surrounding birth we can never underestimate the value of getting good information to anyone who belongs to humanity so here are the take home messages of the day (as I see it)

  • We might do well to think about putting more emphasis on the baby and less on pre-birth pedicures and brazilians.
  • We need to stop giving women the message that they need help to birth. Doulas are there to affirm the mother's own ability and bear witness to her process, not to fiddle about with evening primrose oil, rebozos, massage oils or "natural induction methods".
  • There is no good evidence for the current trend of placenta encapsulation and  no guarantee that it is not harmful.
  • Two enormously helpful things any mother can do which are proven to reduce the risk of pre-term birth are to gain enough weight (15-20kg) and to eat plain yoghurt at least once a week during the pregnancy. This improves gut health and produces a favourable vaginal flora, reducing infection risk to mother and baby.
The day was organised but Denise Love of Women's Health Cambodia and featured the owner of the organisation, Chong Nai Hy. Read about their work here.


  1. LOVE your first message. And your pensive self.

  2. You are right. I am not part of the right demographic, but I admire you for your commitment and perseverance.

  3. EC,
    it's rather mind blowing that anyone would actually need to say it, right?

    i havent actually met anyone as self obsessed as all that but i believe it to be "a thing"


  4. ramana,
    when something is important to me (or when i'm being stubborn) i can be like a dog with a bone.
    I genuinely appreciate your continued interest. I guess thats how you get to be so popular, eh?

  5. linda,
    it is popular with some new mothers to have their placenta cooked, dried and powdered then put in capsules to be taken as a kind of postpartum tonic.

    i am prepared to accept the anecdotal evidence that it is helpful but not convinced of the overall safety & efficacy enough to offer it as a service people pay me for

  6. what happened to making a casserole with one's placenta?

  7. You make some good points there, that the most useful things to do are the practical healthy things like putting on weight and eating yoghurt, and not the trendy fripperies like brazilians and evening primrose oil.

    Having been to Portland, I would say it's fairly similar to Sydney - just a typical cosmopolitan city.

    That's a lovely photo of you, by the way. Haven't seen your fabulous curly hair for a while....

  8. Nick,
    The impression i get is that Portland is possibly the most radical city in the US if you are looking for human rights, freedom of speech and religion, green policy etc
    but maybe thats because i have tuned in to news about Portland.

    I had my hair cut a while back, no more pony tails!

  9. Portland wasn't especially radical or green as far as we could see, but maybe we weren't looking in the right places....

  10. Kylie,
    Thanks. I knew about that process but did not know it had a name, or I forgot the name.


go on, leave a comment or four.