child birth support

Mamas on Bedrest: Additional Resources to Accompany “Hormonal Physiology of Pregnancy” Podcast

January 20th, 2015

Greetings Mamas!

CC.NPWF.HPoC.Report.thumbnailI hope that you have had a chance to listen to our podcast interview with Ms. Carol Sakala, Director of Chilbirth Connection Programs for the National Partnership for Women and Families. In this podcast, Ms. Sakala shares with us the latest comprehensive report put out by Childbirth Connection entitled Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care. This report outlines the hormonal physiology of pregnancy and childbirth and shows how many of the common interventions used during labor and delivery in the United States are not only detrimental to this delicate hormonal balance between mamas and babies, but potentially harmful to them both. They offer practice recommendations for clinicians as well as tips and tools for patients.

There are many documents that both patients and clinicians can download and print for free. These documents are available on the Childbirth Connection website. Below is a very informative infographic which shows the hormonal systems of pregnancy and how many of the common interventions used here in the United States are impairing those systems. It too is available for download and free for clinicians and patients to share. There is also an infographic with more detailed information for clinicians.

CC.NPWF.HPoC.Infographic.Women.2015

Mamas on Bedrest: Breastfeeding Cuts Breast Cancer Risks in Black Women

October 13th, 2014

Black Baby BreastfeedingHi Mamas,

We all know that “Breast is Best”! Yet in this country, many women are still unaware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Black community where the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that only 62% of African American mothers initiated breastfeeding as of 2010 data. By 6 months, only 32% of those mothers were still breastfeeding. So while lactation consultants and others will continue to promote breastfeeding citing the benefits to the baby, there is now an equally significant reason to promote breastfeeding in African American Mamas: Breastfeeding likely protects African American women against Estrogen Receptor negative breast cancer.

Estrogen Receptor negative breast cancer is a very aggressive form of breast cancer and African American women are affected at a disproportionately higher rate than white women. While breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, this has previously only been shown in Estrogen Receptor positive cancers. According to this current study, African American women who have given birth had a 33% higher risk for ER-negative breast cancer than those who had never given birth, and a 37% higher risk for triple-negative breast cancer. However, breast-feeding lowered the risk for both ER-negative and triple-negative disease. Christine Ambrosone, PhD, chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York summarizes the findings this way:

“These data might partially explain why black women are disproportionately affected by ER-negative breast cancer; although they typically have more children than white women, they have a lower prevalence of lactation. In addition, for every age category in the United States, the incidence of triple-negative breast cancer is higher in black women than in non-Hispanic white women.”

Some researchers are skeptical of the findings, stating that it has yet to be determined that pregnancy is causative of Estrogen Receptor Negative Breast Cancer and breastfeeding reduces risk. However, Dr. Ambrose and her colleagues hold firm that their data suggest that pregnancy and childbirth might actually increase the incidence, but that breast-feeding might lower the risk.

Personally, I feel that since such a simple act could have such a significant outcome, it only makes sense to increase awareness and increase the emphasis among African American women to breastfeed. To date, there is no compelling reason for black women NOT to breastfeed. Now, with the known potential benefits to the baby and the ever emerging benefits to black mamas-now a potential protection against an aggressive form of breast cancer-breastfeeding is becoming more of a necessity than ever!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Mamas, please share this vital information with other (black) mamas you may know who are either on the fence about breastfeeding or who are against breastfeeding. This data is too important not to share! The potential costs are too great and the solution too simple and readily available. Thank you. Let me know how you fared in the comments section below.

References: 

Medscape OB/GYN and Women’s Health

Julie R. Palmer, Emma Viscidi, Melissa A. Troester, Chi-Chen Hong, Pepper Schedin, Traci N. Bethea, Elisa V. Bandera, Virginia Borges, Craig McKinnon, Christopher A. Haiman, Kathryn Lunetta, Laurence N. Kolonel, Lynn Rosenberg, Andrew F. Olshan and Christine B. Ambrosone. “Parity, Lactation, and Breast Cancer Subtypes in African American Women: Results from the AMBER Consortium” Journal of the National Cancer institute (2014) 106 (10): dju237

Mamas: Support for Dads During Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery

June 13th, 2014

Greetings Mamas!

facebook29

This dad was all in for the birth of his child! Photo courtesy of Photographer Kelsi Scheel, Grace Ray Photography. See this photo and the story behind it in From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide To Surviving Bedrest

Father’s Day is upon us! Have you spoken with your partner about his feelings on being present at the birth of his child? On becoming a dad? I ask this question in light of this post on one of my birth providers chat lists: (Paraphrasing to protect privacy!)

Have any of you ever had this happen:  You connected wonderfully with the momma and the energy between you two was phenomenal, yet you weren’t able to click with their partner? I feel a very awkward energy with the dad, even though the momma said that he is pretty much on board with my presence and role in the birth and is glad I’ll be there. He doesn’t attend prenatal visits and hasn’t really seemed interested in the pregnancy or my services. I’m not sure if he is avoiding me or if there is something deeper. Thoughts?

Ladies, there are a few things to consider here.

First, let’s face it. Even those of us facing our first pregnancy, completely in the dark about what is going to happen, we are lightyears ahead of our male partners (unless they are obstetricians!)! We are “accustomed” to “the weirdness of womanhood” and all that entails (i.e. menstrual cycles, feminine products, bras, make up, concealers, body shapers, hair extensions, etc…) So yeah, a high risk pregnancy with bed rest is just one more adjustment we’ll make. We will do like we always do-make the necessary shifts and accommodations and make it happen! Men don’t accommodate as easily or as readily to change as we do. So we have to be patient as they “catch up” to us.

Second, the idea of actually being present during childbirth totally skeeves some men out! Oh yeah, they are all about “gettin’ with us in the moment” but getting down and dirty with something (actually someone) coming out of their “pleasure palace” really messes with some men’s minds. In hindsight, I really pushed for my then husband to be present at my daughter’s birth. And when she came out not breathing and then I hemorrhage, it nearly took him out! I should have listened when he told me he wasn’t up for being in the delivery room and chosen another, more capable childbirth support and advocate. Ladies, some men are not up for childbirth. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love us or support us, they just can’t be present at such a raw, visceral event. We must hear them and respect their limitations. (FYI I had my sister come in with me when I had my son. Much better experience!!!)

So Mamas, Find out where your man is on the spectrum. Is he all in, ready to be of utmost assistance? Is he totally freaked out and secretely signing up to become a merchant marine? Or is he somewhere in between and really just needs to process all that is happening and about to happen to someone he loves dearly, and is petrified that he has caused to have to go through unspeakable pain?

Ladies, do we ever really ask our guys what they think about what we are going through? In our book, From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest, One dad shared poignantly about his experience when his wife went on hospital bed rest saying, “It felt like she had died and suddenly I had all this responsibility heaped on me.” It is so easy to get caught up in what we are going through; after all, we are the ones who are growing and changing and we are the ones who are enduring the brunt of this experience. But you and your partner are a team and he is going through this experience, too. And many men don’t say anything because they feel like they have no right to “complain” given all that we are going through. I want to reiterate, you and your partner are a team! This pregnancy isn’t just happening to you, but also your partner and any children you already have. Everyone’s thoughts and feelings need to be considered and attended to so that everyone’s needs are met and the wee one you are carrying will come into a cohesive, loving family.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! We love you and thank you for your love and support! We’d love to hear from you. Share your experience regarding your wife’s pregnancy and bed rest, labor and deliver (if applicable) in our comments section below.

Get your copy of From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest Today!