Category Archives: Pregnancy & Birth

My thoughts, ideas, and commentary on various aspects of pregnancy and childbirth…

2nd Installation: Maternity Hospital / FGM


So wonderful to hear how Mama Nonkululeko is doing on her trip to Somaliland!

Originally posted on birthactionblog:

I am Nonkululeko, beginning my 3rd week here in Somaliland at the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.

I am here working as a nurse-midwife in a volunteer capacity.Part of my responsibility is to supervise nursing students in their clinical practice.There is another nurse-midwife who is from Australia and so far we ARE TRYING TO WORK TOGETHER. We have decided that I will cover the delivery room/maternity unit and she will cover the newborn intensive care unit and the medical unit.

Edna Adan Maternity hospital is a small private hospital founded by a nurse-midwife, Edna Adan who received her nurse-midwifery education as a scholarship student in Britain many years ago. Her background is very impressive. Born in Somaliland, she never lost her dream to one day build a hospital that would deal with the staggering infant and maternity mortality rates that plague Somaliland to this day. Since the hospital has opened in…

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I’m FREE to Breastfeed… are YOU??

Just yesterday I received the email below and i HAD to share it!!! I am so very proud and excited.  I remember hearing about this venture first via social media and then live and in person during late night chats at the 2012 ICTC Black Midwives and Healers Conference in Miami.  I waited with anticipation and now its almost here!! Oh… you’re not sure what I’m talking about….Its just the biggest thing to hit the black breastfeeding community since well… a long time… If you still don’t know what I’m talking about… read on. And when your’re done… reserve your copy.  I just did!

Congratulations Jeanine and Anayah!

Black Women DO Breastfeed and here is proof. As if WE really needed it!

“Dear Supporters-

After more than two years of developing the manuscript, spreading the word through social media, and now finally a book deal– Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers will soon be published and released publicly!! We are so excited and grateful for your contribution but we need one more thing before the book hits the press–we need your help in spreading the word. The anticipated release date is next week, April 1, 2014, but you can reserve your copy today.
We are now accepting pre-orders for Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers! Be the first in your networks to get this long-awaiting, one-of-a kind book. In addition, to celebrate the release, we are offering free shipping on all pre-orders through 3/31/2014. You can also reserve copies by clicking this link
Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers outpaces other books on the topic because it gives privilege to actual women. Facts about breastfeeding and statistics can be found in numerous pamphlets and with professional lactation consultants. However, there is no other book on the market that can give a new or expectant mother the experience of seeing her experience reflected in the stories and pictures of other women. While there is growing coverage to the disparities in breastfeeding rates, the actual thoughts and experiences of African-American nursing mothers are overlooked. It is precisely these first-hand experiences that breastfeeding mothers seek from other women.
We are also planning the launch with virtual and live celebrations in select locations and welcome relevant sponsors to collaborate on events. Just drop us a line! We will be in touch with more updates including details about the virtual book launch and upcoming webinars. Thanks for your continued support and for sharing this news with your extended networks.
Jeanine and Anayah”

Monday Musing… I am Sooooo EXCITED!!!

It’s Mardi Gras season here in New Orleans.  In fact Mardi Gras is tomorrow and I am sooooo EXCITED!! And its not because I will be participating in all the festivities.  I used to LOVE hanging out for Mardi Gras.  It was one of my favorite holidays. Yes… in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is an official holiday with three days of school closings and more.  Normally I would be getting geared up for some fun. Instead, this year, I am preparing for the launch of my newest webinar series The Birth Plan Myth Extended!  And I. Am. Sooooo EXCITED!

The vision for this series came to me almost two years ago and FINALLY it’s coming to fruition.  I give thanks and I invite you to join me as I launch this prenatal education series on March 6.

I have had over 19 years working in hospitals. I have worked as a nurse-midwife, a labor, antepartum and postpartum nurse and today I work as a clinical educator providing training to nurses nationwide on the use of the newest models of electronic fetal monitors.   In each of my roles, I have worked in small rural hospitals, large tertiary care centers and every type of facility in between.  I have seen and spoken with so many women who have gotten so close to the birth experience they wanted, but still no cigar.  (As an important aside… there should be no smoking during pregnancy 0_o)

I have seen woman after woman come to the hospital, seemingly educated and empowered, yet still uninformed about what happens during a hospital birth.  I’ve seen countless others come to the hospital completely uninformed, and subjected to mistreatment and manipulation.   These experiences motivated me to create The Birth Plan Myth; a missing ingredient in the gumbo pot of Mother Friendly Care.

The Birth Plan Myth was created as an alternative to the typical prenatal and childbirth education available to pregnant women and families.  It was created as a tool to be placed into the bag of childbirth educators and doulas. It was created to give women, families, birth workers and birth advocates a unique insider’s view to what happens on the labor and delivery unit during a hospital birth. It was developed to help you navigate the maze of modern day maternity care.

I have been given a lot of information over the years and I want to tell you what I know.  I want to give you what I have.  I want to share the TRUTH of hospital birth that I have inside of me so that women can be free to birth when/where/and how they want to.  When it comes to hospital birth, it seems like women are showing up to a formal event in a pair of shorts and flip flops.  I don’t have all the answers, but I believe women deserve to know what really goes on.  I have an intense passion and a genuine desire for women and birth workers to be armed with the skills they need.  It is this passion and desire that gave birth to The Birth Plan Myth Extended.

The BPM 6-part Series

The Birth Plan Myth Extended is a 6-part webinar series consisting of two calls each month beginning March 6, 2014.  If you can join us live you will have the opportunity to participate in the question and answer segment. If you have to miss a call, don’t worry; recordings will be provided after each part of this series.

I hope you will make plans to join me. You can learn more and register here.  Want to get a glimpse of what will be shared in the series? Join me Wednesday, March 5, for a FREE preview call. Just make sure you register BEFORE the series begins so you can receive a FREE Sista Midwife Productions signature Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt!  Now do you understand why I am so excited?!  :-)

Are you pregnant or planning a pregnancy?
Are you a Doula, Birth Advocate or Childbirth Educator?
Are you preparing to birth in the hospital?
Do you support women who birth in the hospital?
Are you fed up with stories of women having traumatic births?
Have you taken a childbirth education class and still have questions about what REALLY happens on a hospital labor and delivery unit?

If you answered yes to any of these questions
The Birth Plan Myth – Extended is for YOU!

During this series, we will:

*  Discuss the biggest myths about Birth Plans and what you need to do to be empowered with or without one.

*  Help you understand the importance of creating a personal birth philosophy and vision for your birth.

*  Teach you ways to communicate with providers that will diminish anxiety, and increase confidence while helping to get the information needed to make informed choices.

*  Discuss the difference between informed consent and informed refusal.

*  Give you a more in depth understanding of common medications and interventions, including what they are, when and why they are used and what you can do to minimize risks even if you don’t want a “natural birth.”

*  Explain the most common procedures performed on a newborn so you can make an informed decision about accepting or declining these routines.

I am VERY excited about this series and I really hope you will make plans to join me. This series will bring a perspective like none other before.  I have been planning this for a while and I am about to explode with excitement!   During this series I will be honest. I will hold nothing back.  I will provide evidence and give you details of what I know from working inside the hospital system for over 19 years.

Register BEFORE the series gets started on March 6th and receive an SMP signature Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt.

This series is separated into 3 parts.
Part I is called The Myth Explained.  These two calls are designed to give you more understanding about why birth plans don’t work. We will discuss in detail ways to communicate with providers and give you the questions to ask that will give you the answers you need.   We will talk about how to research providers and hospitals and give you examples of how to write a birth letter instead of a birth plan.

Part II is all about interventions. We will discuss the some of the most common interventions used in hospital birth including Induction medications, epidurals, internal and external fetal monitoring, and more.  We will discuss the risks and benefits of these interventions and help you understand how to minimize risks when an intervention becomes necessary.  We will cover informed consent and informed refusal and I will discuss the realities of hospital birth while giving you suggestions on how to “pick your battles” so that your birth space can remain sacred and you can avoid birthing in a battle field.

During the final part of this series My Baby and Me, we will discuss in detail the most common newborn procedures performed in the hospitals. I will provide you with information about why they are done, and tell you what the current research says about them.  I will give you a peek inside the newborn nursery and tell you what can happen when you decide not to “room in” with your newborn.  The series will end with a call that will give you the keys to creating an empowered birth.

Want to know more??
Get a sneak peek of the information I will be sharing during this series.  Join me Wednesday at 1PM OR 8PM CST for a FREE preview call as I give you a glimpse into this series.  During this preview call I will give you a few nuggets from each part of the series that you can put into action now!!

The Birth Plan Myth Extended is going to be a dynamic series.  I am proud and excited to be able to share this information. If you find this is not for you please forward this email to someone you know can benefit from the information I will be sharing.  I encourage you to get registered TODAY.  As an added incentive, if you register before the series begins, you will receive a signature Sista Midwife Productions, Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt.

I look forward to hearing you on the call!

In Birth and Love

Newborn Baby – ISO Vitamin K

Did you know that Vitamin K is a controlled substance? I don’t mean controlled in the way oxycodone or morphine is controlled.  But it is a controlled substance none the less.  Let me explain what I mean.

I’m working with a mom who is due to deliver any day now.   (She is having a hospital birth with a physician and I am working as her birth sister/doula.)  She decided a couple of weeks ago that she did not want the Vitamin K injection and would opt for the oral drops.  Great!  I say. “I will pick some up for you and bring it over during our next visit.”   Well… that’s what I thought.  I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Not the local Co-op, not Whole Foods, not The Vitamin Shoppe, the herb shop, or GNC, none of them had oral Vitamin K drops. Fortunately I was able to reach out to a local midwife who had just ordered a case and she had a couple of vials to share.

Vitamin K is routinely given to newborns as an injection within minutes of birth to prevent Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn, also called Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding.  The incidence of this disorder is low but it can definitely be severely damaging and even deadly for a newborn.   Because of this reality, in the 1960’s the American Academy of Pediatrics instituted a recommendation that all newborns get an injection of Vitamin K at birth.  We have been giving babies this injection, at birth, ever since.

I agree that this dose of Vitamin K is important. I don’t agree that the injection is the ONLY way to provide the necessary Vitamin K to a newborn.  And it pisses me off that families are not given more information about other options including prenatal maternal loads of Vitamin K and Oral Vitamin K drops for baby after birth.  And then once informed, a family may not realize Vitamin K drops are essentially controlled and they have to be ordered because you can’t get it a local store!! What’s up with that?  Is it because it’s too dangerous for the masses?

How dangerous is Vitamin K?  I did some searching to learn about the risk of overdosing on Vitamin K just to be sure I wasn’t trippin. Yea, I’m not. THEY are.  Why is information about Vitamin K and the oral option withheld from parents?!  It’s really ridiculous if you ask me.

Vitamin K

The good news is that you CAN order it online.  I was able to find K-Quinone, a brand of oral Vitamin K at Precious Arrows and Birth With Love If you need a vial, you can order it from them, just don’t wait until the last minute to place your order!

There is soooo much more to know and to learn about the Vitamin K injection and other routine newborn interventions. I hope you will make plans to join me for my 6-part webinar series The Birth Plan Myth Extended.  Call number 5, titled What About My Baby will be all about routine hospital procedures that are done to newborns sometimes without your knowledge or permission.  You can register today for the entire 6-part series for only $60!!! This pre-conception rate will not be around for much longer so be sure to take advantage of it today!

Did you opt out of the Vitamin K Shot?
Did you give oral drops or nothing at all?
Share your story!

If you want to go far go TOGETHER…

The Grass is Greener

In this world of Birth Work… particularly as a black birth worker… you can feel really ALONE sometimes.  We often feel like we are speaking to ourselves, our partners, or the choir.

Fortunately… things are slowly changing.  I truly believe social media has had an impact on what women know, share and believe re: childbirth.  I could be wrong but I believe when a picture of a beautiful couple and their newborn, immediately following a water birth, is shared over 200 times… somebody outside the choir has seen it.  After water birth

Clearly this does not come anywhere close to the almost two BILLION hits on “Gangnam Style”… but it does IMHO mean there are folks OUTSIDE  the choir seeing these positive images.

UN-fortunately, there are not enough images or opportunities to reach beyond the choir.  That’s why I am excited about an online event that I am a part of. Its called The Grass is Greener Virtual Health and Wellness Expo and I am one of the many vendors/healing practitioners participating in this event that will provide information, special offers, give-aways, and more.  We will be providing opportunities for you to learn about many healing practices and practitioners. While participating in this event will cost you NOTHING it will provide you with a wealth of information.

I’m excited because I know it will help me get beyond my choir. I’m also excited because it underscores the reality that a collective agenda will take us further than a personal agenda.  In this world of birth work, we are NOT alone and if we take advantage of opportunities outside our immediate circles, if we take a chance, if we move beyond our comfort zones, we can touch many more lives. We have to get creative. We have to embrace others  and we have to remember the Afrakan Proverb that tells us… if you want to go far… go TOGETHER.

I hope that you will consider joining us. Its going to be a GREAT ride.  This event will be held on-line and run February 11th – February 21st.  

Learn more and Sign Up to get reminders about the event so you  can take advantage of the give-aways. I will be doin some special give-aways myself! I am sure between all of the vendors you will definitely find something to help you #BirthSomethingBeautiful