Infections & Essential Oils

Book Review: Clinical Aromatherapy by Jane Buckle

Jane Buckle has offered a second version of the book, Clinical Aromatherapy. This is one of the few evidence-based books for clinicians, but sadly the copyright is more than a decade old without a newer version available. For those looking for more than a simple pocket guide with suggested essential oils for various ailments, this is still a helpful resource. Jane Buckle holds a PhD and that mindset is evident within her book.

UnknownThe first few chapters are an introduction to aromatherapy and basic plant taxonomy, chemistry, extraction, biosynthesis and analysis, with subsequent topics on toxicity and contraindications. However, chapters four through twenty-five review various body systems and apply aromatherapy principles to the treatment of ailments within each system.

Each chapter offers an introductory discussion regarding the system itself and a review of the standard of care offered as of a decade ago from the worldview of modern medicine. The remaining portion of each chapter explores the available evidence available on the system under discussion. The endocrine chapter for example, offers a basic discussion of the intricacies of the body’s hormonal system, then discusses medical management and available resources, and finally presents a discussion on aromatherapy as it relates to premenstrual syndrome, menopause and diabetes.

The author clearly identifies evidence from anecdotal information, and when discussing either, she is thorough in her discussion. Anecdotal information for example will offer a history and most often, trace the origin of such recommendation to its rightful owner. While reading the text, there were certainly times where it was evident that the information printed is no longer valid and on only rare occasion, information within is quite simply, inaccurate. For example, the author defines the sexually transmitted disease, trichomoniasis, as a bacteria; when in fact, this is parasite. Details that may seem insignificant, but nonetheless, remind the reader to avoid using this single text as a Bible for directing how they may recommend essential oils within their own practice.

As a nurse-midwife with a passion for essential oils, this book was a wonderful find in that it is one of a limited number that offers scientific rationale for its recommendations. An intelligent discussion is offered, with a plethora of resources. It is not a book that offers recipes or gives suggestions on application, but as an educational resource for the healthcare practitioner seeking to expand their essential oil knowledge-base, this text is a good resource. It would be a true treasure if it were updated and if that day presents, I’ll be on the waiting list for purchasing my own copy.

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Essential Oils for Hormone Balance

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the symptoms surrounding peri-menopause are directly related hormone to hormone balance, or lack thereof, and many of these discomforts can be ameliorated with certain essential oils. Fluctuation in estrogen alone, occurring after ovulation and during menopause, can lead to profound mental and physical symptoms.

Premenstrual Syndrome

While it can sometimes be hard to admit, women have known for generations that for a few days each month, just prior to menses, many can become irrational, irritable, weepy and occasionally, violent. While the phenomenon is somewhat of a mystery, it is understood that the woman’s brain actually changes during this time leading to reactions she can not control (Alexander, 2001). The area deep within the limbic system involved with mood control has more estrogen receptors than other parts of the brain, which makes it more vulnerable to changes in estrogen levels. Interestingly, Alexander (2001) discovered that depending on the side of the brain more significantly effected, symptoms can alter. The left side often produces symptoms of depression and irritability, while the right side is associated with anger and negative emotion.

At the onset of one’s monthly cycle, levels of estrogen and endorphin interact with neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine to keep mood fairly stable. When estrogen levels first begin to drop, immediately after ovulation, serotonin receptors are primed. Prior to menstruation, estrogen levels drop even further and the brain registers a withdraw of serotonin. During premenstrual syndrome, there is a fluctuation in the levels of endogenous opioids and serotonin which modern medicine treats with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Women have found chocolate to also be an effective remedy, which has also been found to increase serotonin.

Aromatherapy for PMS

clary sage vintageEssential oils for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome are usually those which are thought to have an estrogen-like property, such as fennel, sage, or clary sage. Scotch pine and myrrh are also thought to have hormone-like activity. An old remedy for female hormone balance included sage, thyme and geranium. Aniseed is another essential oil found helpful for treating PMS.

Hormone imbalance can take several months to remedy, so essential oils should be applied daily for several months. When additional issues arise, women may benefit from individualizing their blend by adding specific oils for specific complaints to those previously suggested. Bergamot for example, can improve symptoms of depression and weepiness or angelica can improve violent and irrational behavior. Either of these could be added to a blend of fennel, thyme and geranium.

A study by Tzeng et al in 1991, suggested that the aqueous extract of geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) can inhibit platelet aggregation and therefore reduce extensive clotting which is common to peri-menopausal women. Another study by Han et al (2003) indicated that clary sage applied to the abdomen can reduce dysmenorrhea (several menstrual cramping). Aromatherapists have anecdotally found success with tarragon for women who display aggressive PMS.

Aromatherapy and Menopause

Depression is a major symptom of menopause, motivating many to seek hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Others fear the sequela of osteoporosis, while others are optimistic HRT will treat their hot flashes. Hormone replacement therapy has its own set of consequences, some more severe than others, but weight gain, bloating and breakthrough bleeding are common reasons for discontinuation.

Cessation of estrogen and progesterone production does not happen overnight. The interim imbalance can be tumultuous. Essential oils such as rose, cypress, or clary sage can be helpful when used in a spritzer around the face, neck, and shoulders during a hot flash. A few drops of peppermint added to the mix is wonderfully cooling. Essential oils that could be used for estrogen support include fennel, sage, and aniseed. Cypress can be helpful for night sweats, and angelica or lavender for insomnia. Juniper can reduce breast tenderness and fluid retention. Red clover supplements and black cohosh can also help tremendously as these phytoestrogens can help balance wildly fluctuating hormones.

Similar to PMS, using essential oils for balancing hormones during the peri-menopausal transition is best when done daily. It is suggested that rotating calming and estrogen-supporting essential oils, simply to prevent a reduced response over time.

Nurse-Midwives and Women’s Health

Nurse-midwives adore catching babies, but our speciality isn’t so limited. We are primary care providers for women and can assist in managing hormonal imbalances common to the monthly cycle and assist women who are transitioning into menopause. Make an appointment with your local nurse-midwife to discover how her counsel may optimize your current health.

A Midwife’s View of Menopause

Following the birth of our fifth child, my husband and I were immediately aware that our little Simon would be our last child. I’ve adored every minute of mothering and have embraced the transformation pregnancy and breastfeeding have brought to my mind, body and spirit. Now that I look forward to my future, post-babies, I choose to again to embrace the transformation by body will soon endure in menopause. As a midwife who treasures pregnancy and birth as a physiologic event, I can’t imagine viewing menopause in any other way. It too is physiologic and should be equally empowering.

While medicine defines menopause as a linear event and one not diagnosed until after the twelfth month of an absent menses, in reality, it is not typically so succinct. Tremors of the change can begin years prior to the attainment of the medical diagnosis, and in some ways I already recognize this in myself (having not quiet yet reached 40 years of age). I am finding I am sleeping less, but still flowing with creative juices, yet at the end of the day, I am realizing a new fatigue – an exhaustion really, to my core. I am also seeing the world differently, and responding with new insight. My self-image is transforming, and I am feeling a pull towards greater solitude. I am also starting to appreciate the abuse I have placed on my body, my adrenals, my pancreas, and my heart. It is time to nourish my body so that I can enter menopause in the most optimal state.

Nourishing Your Changing Body with Herbs

Red raspberry leaf is an herb that I have recommended to pregnant women for toning their uterus and optimizing their pregnancy and birth. Women who have experienced a prior cesarean section or have birthed a number of children previously, can particularly benefit from this tonifying herb.  For those trying to become pregnant, I’ve encouraged red raspberry leaf for its ability to enhance ovulation and implantation. As an infusion, red raspberry leaf can also nourish the ovaries and uterus of a women enduring the change of menopause. It is the go-to herb for women experiencing heavy bleeding during perimenopause.

vitex

Chasteberry (vitex)

Chaste berry, otherwise known as vitex, is another botanical I have recommended to a number of women and is in fact, the herb that motivated me to establish the Red Raspberry Boutique. As our primary care clientele increased and I began seeing more women with menstrual irregularities and infertility, I began encouraging it as a tonic. The success of chaste berry was astonishing, not only in enhancing conception but in regulating menses and even eliminating cyclic vaginal infections. These same attributes can assist the menopausal woman. Vitex is a slow-acting tonic, so regular use is necessary. It can also decrease bleeding which occurs from a uterine fibroid.

Dong Quai is a tincture that is becoming increasingly popular among our clientele. It has helped many find restful sleep, and may offer relief to those who have irregular cycles prior to the change.

Black haw and cramp bark are excellent allies for painful cramping that may occur with menses. Each are antispasmodics and astringents. Garden sage can also relieve pain from menstrual cramping. Motherwort can decrease cramping, but may encourage flooding. Valerian may be another option, and can assist a woman to sleep.

Maintaining a Satisfying Sexual Relationship

Counseling clients in matters of sexual intimacy is an integral part of women’s health, especially during the transformation of pregnancy. I’ve certainly been known to write a prescription or two for sexual intercourse, every other day, during the last few weeks of pregnancy. This issue is one that is often discussed in primary care appointments, and not always do clients initially appreciate its impact on their emotional health and overall happiness. Once clients feel comfortable opening up on this matter, their questions and concerns can easily dominate our consultation. In fact, it became so apparent that our clientele struggled with sexual dysfunction that we created a sexuality series that has been a tremendous hit. This certainly doesn’t change as women advance towards menopause. Nothing tones up the pelvic area more than regular sexual stimulation, and an orgasm can do wonders for one’s emotional health!

Vitamin E oil is encouraged in pregnant ladies who have not experienced birth previously, for preparing their perineum to stretch without tearing. Again, vitamin E oil can assist the menopausal woman enhance her intimate relationship as they tend to experience decreased blood flow to the area.

Stimulating Herbs

We see clients with gestational diabetics on a regular basis, each of whom I recommend supplement with chromium, and sometimes cinnamon. Our clients who suffer with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome receive a lot of the same advice. We have yet to have a mother risk out of our practice for inability to manager her gestational diabetes with diet and exercise, even those who required insulin in previous pregnancies. As we cinnamon sticksage, our bodies become less sensitive to the compensatory mechanisms our body offers for blood sugar regulation and diabetes becomes more prevalent (as well as rounder abdomens). Up to a teaspoon a day of ground cinnamon has proven beneficial for regulating blood sugars and decreasing dependence on insulin. There are herbalist who claim cinnamon can also assist in regulating the menstrual cycle and keep flooding at a minimum.

Floradix is another supplement frequently recommended to pregnant women who suffer with low hemoglobin levels, or anemia. It is an herbal recipe that is the best method of improving anemia that I have ever witnessed. It could be useful as well, for menopausal women who are experiencing heavy menses or who are experiencing increasing fatigue. Dandelion is a popular herb used for increasing the iron count, as well as yellow dock root. These should be taken throughout the day preferably, rather than one single dose.

Long chain fatty acids are vital for the development of the fetal brain, and the most important supplement during pregnancy and lactation in my opinion. We have a number of options within the boutique, with the doTerra wild orange flavor IQMega being one of the most favored due to the ease of which one can ingest it. Udo’s oil is among my most favorite and has been one of the highest qualities for many, many years along with 7 Sources. Flax seed is another excellent source of bioflavonoids, and used by menopausal women to reduce flooding. These must be fresh and uncooked however, so our clients typically sprinkle them on their morning cereal and then drink with a large class of milk. Others steep in water overnight and then drink upon awakening, seeds and all. Borage, black currant, and evening primrose oils are alternative options. Be sure to store appropriately.

Wild yam is an active ingredient in many balancing herbal and essential oil recipes. It too, can assist in progesterone production and therefore decrease menstrual flooding. Uva ursi, raspberry leaves, chaste berry, garden sage, and black haw bark are also helpful in reducing profuse bleeding. These can be infused individually, or combined to make a blend. Consume to one’s desire, at room temperature or cooler.

Shepherd’s purse has long been used by midwives for reducing postpartum bleeding, and can be utilized as well for menopausal women who are experiencing excessive bleeding. While herbs can nudge one’s body into optimal health, they are not resources for acute emergencies. Use them in combination with medical modalities if one is facing a life-threatening hemorrhage. The seed pods and flowers of shepherds purse can be used in tea, drank freely, and results should be evident in a matter of hours. Daily use can decrease bleeding caused by fibroids.

Zinc, iodine and B6 supplementation may also help decrease flooding, while avoiding aspirin, ibuprofen, large doses of vitamin C and herbs that thin the blood are also important.

Self-Identifying as a Nurse-Midwife

How we identify ourselves as nurse-midwives “has a direct effect on our licensure, accreditation, certification, practice, education, legislation, reimbursement; indeed, our very being” (Burst, 2010, p 406).  Helen Varney Burst makes argument in her 2010 article, Nurse-Midwifery Self-Identification and Autonomy, that identifying ourselves as a subset of nursing might be detrimental to obtaining autonomy as nurse-midwives.  This was a necessity in the infancy of our profession, in effort to give midwifery credibility in an otherwise medically dominated culture. The price was the loss of autonomy for midwifery.

Nurse-midwives & Professional Nursing Organizations

I suspect many are unaware that the nurse anesthetists and nurse-midwives predated, by decades, the nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. Even I was unaware that the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) national certification program predated various American Nursing Association (ANA) certification programs. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the ANA, provides certification in speciality practice areas such as to nurse practitioners (NP) and clinical specialists (CNS); however, they have been careful not to list nurse-midwifery among the specialities that they certify (Burst, 2010).

Now we are in 2010 and carry with us ambivalence about who we are because of the legacy we inherited from the compromises made a century ago. ~Helen Varney Burst, CNM

Burst (2010) discusses the ambiguity within our profession in that we have identified as midwives, yet not all are nurses, and we have defined ourselves as “an individual educated in the two disciplines of nursing and midwifery,” yet this implies nursing is not midwifery and midwifery is not nursing. We allow ourselves to be licensed as advanced practice nurses, but admittedly, nursing has been a strong ally in our rally for full scope authority practice.

The Consensus Model

The American College of Nurse-Midwives recognizes our organization as a nursing organization and in 2009, the ACNM endorsed the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification & Education which clearly states CNMs are advance practice nurses. An important point I hadn’t considered is that in 2010, 38 states and the District of Columbia regulated nurse-midwives through their state board of nursing. Part of the intent of the Consensus Model was to eliminate barriers to practice when one moves out of state and must obtain a new license to practice; however, because nurse-midwives are regulated by boards of nursing in some states, boards of medicine or public health in others, and in still others, boards of midwifery, this isn’t a cure all for our profession’s dilemma. More importantly, “we have signed onto a document that in effects runs the risk of giving away what little autonomy we have achieved in licensure, accreditation, certification, and education” when states have freed themselves from the nursing profession (Burst, 2010, p 408).

“Until CNMs and CMs have separate midwifery licensure we are not autonomous and in control of our authority to practice midwifery.” ~Helen Varney Burst, CNM

The American Nurses Association is not of the same mindset of the American College of Nurse Midwives on all matters, or even of the same worldview. If we are to exist independently as a profession, Burst argues ardently, that we must also exist independently and autonomously as a profession.

Admittedly, as the Secretary of the Indiana ACNM Affiliate, I can testify to the fact that it is hard to have a voice as a midwife at the policy-making table except through the auspices of other professions which have louder voices simply through virtue of having greater numbers. Our profession is recognized as a subgroup of either nursing or medicine, and not appreciated as unique and independent in its own right. While working with other nursing groups, in our successes and failures, it is often discussed whether there is greater benefit or risk in joining the nursing troops or stepping out independently. In 1974, the ACNM Legislative Committee stated, “Separate statutory recognition is recommended as the basis for nurse-midwifery practice.”

One point made in the Burst (2010) article that testifies to the harm we’ve done in affiliating with nursing organizations is the ANA passing the resolution in 1984 requiring a master’s degree as the minimum qualification for entry to practice, yet those programs extending a graduate degree in public health or even midwifery would therefore not qualify. This may extend to the doctorate degree as well, with potential educational programs offering a doctorate in midwifery, rather than nursing, yet not being subsequently recognized in state legislature that may recognize only the DNP.

“We need to keep in mind our numbers are not a hindrance.” ~Helen Varney Burst, CNM

As a profession, it is important that we move forward as midwives, appreciating our own body of science, our own scope of practice, and working towards achieving our own goals. We certainly need to educate and collaborate with nursing and medicine, but the question Burst (2010) poses is, should we free ourselves from nursing to gain autonomy as midwives? Does proclaiming ourselves as advance practice nurses prevent us from attaining the goal of autonomous practice?

“I can and do subscribe to the concept that all health care professionals are interdependent in the provision of comprehensive health care. However, the concepts of interdependence, being a member of a team, and collaboration take on a very different meaning when one is a member of an autonomous profession.” ~Helen Varney Burst, CNM

Credentialing Confusion

I’ve been very proud to represent nursing and so this article is one that frankly, caught me a little off guard. There is great value in attaining the ability to extend care across the range of human conditions and I don’t know that our midwifery sisters always appreciate this concept. Nurse-midwifery in the United States followed the British model, as introduced by Mary Breckinridge, but in many countries, midwifery is entered directly. The United Kingdom has both nurse-midwives and direct entry midwives who meet the same midwifery competencies (Avery, Germano & Camune, 2010).

While proud to be a nurse, the unusual paradox of being educated in two professions and therefore regulated in a country that has a regulatory system that combines both federal and individual state laws, means not only are nurse-midwives regulated by various boards as mentioned previously, but we are given different authority based on the individual state and a plethora of credentials. One might be an “APN,” an “APRN,” or an “ARNP,” or the state may recognize the nurse midwife as a “CMW,” a “NW,” or a “CRNM,” and as I am told there is one particular state that credentials the nurse-midwife as a nurse-practitioner, an entirely different profession! Some states require both sets of credentials, such as APRN, CNM and if a midwife is licensed in two different states, she must change her credential based on which state she is working. The Consensus Model works to clarify licensure language and ease movement between states. Indiana sadly, is at the tail end of the group in advancing the Consensus Model recommendations (Avery et al., 2010).

ACNM offers professional resources to members on their website for addressing issues created by the Consensus Model and specifically how to prevent adoption of new laws or regulations that bring the regulation of midwifery under the board of nursing. Indiana currently regulates nurse-midwifery under the board of nursing, and regulates direct entry midwifery under the board of medicine.

References:

Avery, M. D., Germano, E., & Camune, B. (2010). Midwifery practice and nursing regulation: licensure, accreditation, certification, and education. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 55(5), 411-414.

Burst, H. V. (2010). Nurse-midwifery self-identification and autonomy. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 55(5), 406-407.

Williams, D. R. (2010). Consensus model for advanced practice registered nurse regulation: implications for midwives. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 55(5), 415-419.

Thirsties Modern Cloth Diapers

Thirsties Logo SquareWhen we began to look for a cloth diaper line to carry in the boutique, Dr. Lane stressed her desire to carry high quality diapers and specifically, a diapering system made in the USA. Luckily, having used Thirsties with her own boys, Dr. Lane knew that they fit the bill. Thirsties was founded in 2004 by a mom, Erin Kimmett, who wanted to create a better diaper cover. She began designing and creating Thirsties covers- patterning, cutting, and sewing at the dining room table with a second hand machine. It took her 18 months to come up with a design that would work. That original cover went on to become the best selling diaper cover on the market today! Thirsties was sold in 2010 to Sadler and Gina Merrill, who continue to grow the business, ethically.

Thirsties mission is clear

The mission of Thirsties, Inc. is to make it easy and affordable for every family to choose cloth while simultaneously investing in our local economy and sustainable business practices.
We are committed to building our business in a sustainable manner by focusing on the health of our babies and the environment. Only the best USA-sourced components are chosen for our products in order to reduce our carbon footprint, to help support domestic textile mills and our local economy, and to ensure that Thirsties diapers will last wash after wash. We are committed to creating only the highest quality products and dedicated to providing exceptional design and unparalleled performance while saving you money.

Thirsties are manufactured in Colorado, USA. Some of the work is done cottage industry style, allowing moms to work from the comfort of their own homes.  As a business, their commitment to thirsties-one-size-pocket-babies-vert-5the environment is clear:

  • Their warehouse is 100% powered by wind energy.
  • All carbon created in the transport of Thirsties products is 100% offset by Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
  • All fabric and components are sourced as locally as possible, thereby cutting down on unnecessary transportation (not from China).
  • All cutting and sewing is completed locally as well so as to keep transport fuel consumption to a minimum (not from China).
  • Retail product packaging is produced in the USA with wind energy from FSC-certified paperboard.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle! Packaging materials are reused and recycled. Any new packaging is made from the highest post-consumer content available. The new EcoEnclose Poly Mailers are 100% biodegradable and break down even in landfills!
  • All Thirsties in-house printing is done on recycled paper with 100% post-consumer content. Thirsties hang tags are printed in the USA on paper made with 35% post-consumer content.
  • Thirsties chooses fabrics and design diapers that dry quickly and remain soft even when hung to dry to encourage customers to retire their dryers.
  • Thirsties is proud to be a member of the Green America Green Business Network™, the oldest, largest, and most diverse network of socially and environmentally responsible businesses in the US.
  • The catalog is printed on FSC Certified 55/30% post-consumer content with soy inks which are VOC free.
  • All products are packed in boxes that are made of 100% recycled content
  • 100%of scrap fabric is recycled and re-purposed for insulation and other uses.

But What About the Diapers?

All this sounds great, right? But what about the diapers? Are they cute? Comfy? Easy to use? Will they stay that way? Answers to all these questions are a resounding YES. The high quality is evident. The warranty is one of the best.  The covers come in delightful colors and prints. And they offer everything- from All in Ones, which are most like a disposable diaper in terms of ease of use, to pocket diapers, to the trim Duo Wrap, to the Original gusseted cover that Erin Kimmett designed at her dining room table. Need more options?  They have them. Hemp prefolds offer 25% MORE absorbency than cotton and are made here in the USA rather than imported from dubious manufacturers India or China. The Fab Fitted diaper is the answer for those who do not want to bradlynn_clappingmess with fasteners under their Original covers. See their wipes, hemp inserts and doublers and more in our store.

Anyone who has googled cloth diapering has turned up thousands of “resources” and products which make cloth diapering sound complicated, daunting, maybe even impossible.  Thirsties, in our opinion, breaks down the most common barriers to cloth diapering success.

  • They offer an outstanding product at affordable prices, which allows moms and dads to buy enough diapers to make it work.
  • They offer a variety of products which mean you can customize for your needs (You might buy some “all in ones” for use at daycare or visits with Grandma, for instance).
  • They offer a the support you need, like clear prep and washing instructions, to take the guesswork out of establishing a wash routine.

 

Have you used Thirsties Diapers? Tell us what you liked best about the product you chose.

 

She’s Here! The Birth of Charlotte Sue

She’s here!  Charlotte Sue  joined the world on her due date just like her big sister Nora did…Monday, May 19th at 11:42am.  What are the chances of 2 due date babies?!  10Well Reuel and I like being punctual!  Charlotte was born safely at home all natural and med free with a wonderful midwife team from Believe Midwifery in a birth tub.  She was 7 lbs 8 oz, 20.25 inches long.  She was 1.5 lbs smaller than her big sister!

The previous two nights I had been feeling nauseous and sick to my stomach throughout the night.  I had been having contractions the past week or so, but nothing real regular or uncomfortable.  I woke up at 6AM on Monday (my due date) with crampy contractions 15 minutes apart.  Reuel went to work but I told him to stay close to his phone…I called my mom and told her the same thing as well as my sister who was taking Nora when I went into labor.  By 9AM I knew I was in labor.  I could no longer talk through the contractions, so I called for my midwife to head over as well as Reuel, Mom, and Missy.

birthI decided to get into the birth tub at 9:45AM…I had Reuel call to see where the midwife was because I was getting some pressure at that point.  She and her team showed up at 10AM and Missy got there at that time to pick up Nora.  I had my midwife, another observing midwife, an RN and a birth assistant present.  My mom showed up at 10:30AM as well.  We all were in the nursery where I was in the tub laboring…the contractions were getting very strong and intense but I was in my zone breathing and moaning through them.  I kept reminding myself to take it one contraction at a time…faith over fear…strong contractions will bring my baby into the world.

Around 10:20 I had a strong contraction and yelled “I’m pushing!” and felt my water break in the tub.  I continued to push for the next hour and 20 minutes.  I pushed while on my knees hanging over the side of the tub holding onto Reuel.  The contractions were very intense and I was having to be very vocal to make it through them and was even biting the side of the tub.  In the beginning it seemed like every other contraction was a “pushing” contraction.  It was nice to get the break though they were still very intense without the pushing!  Towards the end when the head was almost out, each contraction was very strong and I pushed very hard.  My throat was somewhat raw from grunting to push so hard when it was all done!  I felt like I was never going to get that head out!  Everyone was cheering me on as I was pushing…I had no concept of time between contractions or how long the contraction was.  I was in my own little world.  She was coming out with her head sort of turned which was making a wider part of her head emerge first making things more difficult.  Once I finally pushed the head through, the rest of her body slipped out effortlessly.  It was truly amazing…I delivered her completely by myself with the midwife team standing close by for if I needed assistance during the delivery.  I had my hands on her head throughout the pushing and pulled her up to me once she was born.  I believe that this helped me to better push her out because I was birth3more “in control.”  Once she was born, I held her close to me then my mom yelled “what is it?!” and I checked and found that she was a little girl!  I swore that she was going to be a boy but I was so excited to see that Nora had a sister because of the relationships I have with my sisters.

Unfortunately, Charlotte was pretty blue when she was born.  The midwife and nurse looked at her cord but it was loose at her belly button so they didn’t think it was wrapped around her neck at first glance.  I was still holding her close to me and I realized that the cord was also running up her back and was wrapped around her neck under her cute little rolls.  We freed the cord and she still was having a hard time breathing, though she was responsive and looking around.  Instead of keeping the cord intact like they would normally do until the cord stops pulsating, they chose to cut the cord so that they could get to her better to give her some oxygen.  She was very calm and looking around, but didn’t cry right away.  Later my midwife told me that she had never seen a cord so long which made it hard for them to realize that the cord was up her back and wrapped around her neck.  Charlotte’s numbers were great shortly afterwards and she pinked right up and nursed really well.  I really wasn’t worried because Penny and her team are so well trained and stayed calm but were working very effectively together during this “situation.”  They never took Charlotte away from my side throughout all of this either.

After Charlotte was born, the midwife team helped me out of the tub and to my room where I laid down to deliver the placenta.  I got to hold Charlotte the entire time which was wonderful.  I had image(1)pretty severe tearing with Nora, but very minimal with Charlotte since I was able to feel when to push and allowed myself time to stretch.  I was feeling great and smiling and just so happy after giving birth.  The empowerment and pride I felt was just amazing!  Once this part was all done, the midwife and her team went downstairs to eat and to give Reuel, myself, and Charlotte some time alone in our bedroom.  We chose the name Charlotte Sue at this time because we love the name Charlotte and Sue is my mom’s middle name.  The midwife team came to periodically check on me and Charlotte and make sure all was well.  They never once took Charlotte out of arm’s reach from me. They waited to weigh her and didn’t run off to give her a bath…we got lots of skin to skin time in her first hours of life.  The midwife and her team stayed until 4PM when they came up to see if we had any other questions and then they left us to be together as a family.  It was absolutely wonderful!

Penny and her team of Believe Midwifery out of Indianapolis were absolutely PHENOMENAL.  I cannot speak enough praises about them.  Despite having only joined their practice at 30 weeks pregnant so we only had a short 10 weeks to get to know each other, I felt completely comfortable with them.  I felt that I actually built a relationship with them.  More so than my previous provider and Nora’s even though I was with them for much longer.  Each appointment with Penny and her staff made me even more confident in their team because of their sincerity and all the training they go through.  They took time at each appointment to really get to know me and my pregnancy and remembered things from appointment to appointment.  I can tell that they genuinely care about me and my baby.  During the home birth I felt completely comfortable, confident, and cared for by the team.  I never doubted them one second, even when Charlotte was having a hard time breathing after birth.  One of the members of the team even prayed for me while I was in labor I am told.  How touching!  We had Christian music playing in the background and the room was kept low lit for my comfort.  Everyone was so respectful and quiet…it was the exact atmosphere I had dreamed of.  Penny’s team took amazing care of me and of our little Charlotte.  I felt genuinely loved during the whole process (as cheesy as that might sound!).  Everyone was so warm and caring and so attentive to me and Charlotte’s needs…and even my husband’s needs.  I cannot speak highly enough of this wonderful midwifery practice and the beautiful experience they can provide.  Even though natural, med free birth is tough, they make the entire experience wonderful and absolutely empowering.

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Introducing Standard Process at Red Raspberry Boutique

Recently Dr Lane and I met with a representative to discuss the addition of Standard Process supplements to our boutique. What an exciting opportunity to learn about a great company. Dr Lane chooses to only carry products that she herself has researched and approved, and this supplement company hits every mark for her high standards. Standard Process is a company with an excellent track record for product quality. Begun in 1929 by Dr Royal Lee, Standard Process was born out of his desire to create a whole food multivitamin.

Why Wholefood Supplements

Catalyn is still a top seller for Standard Process today, and the company has expanded their offerings since then to include many more targeted supplements. Unlike many supplement companies which rely on distributors for raw materials, Standard Process owns their own farm. This Wisconsin farmland produces the foods which are incorporated into Standard Process products. The certified organic farm, located in Palmyra, Wisconsin, is home to Standard Process operations and is a highly regarded employer and community partner. Dr Lane is excited to someday tour this farm for herself.

Seasons on the Farm

At their Palmyra, Wisconsin organic farm, Standard Process grows over 4 million pounds of food each year. All the unused organic materials are returned to the earth in an effort to practice eco friendly farming and reduce reliance on purchased agricultural nutrients. Strict adherence to organic weed control is a priority- cover crops, hand weeding, and a crop flamer are used instead of application of potentially dangerous chemicals. In 2011 Standard Process was honored by the Nutrition Business Journal for their commitment to Organic Excellence.

Even the shipping practices of Standard Process take into account stewardship of the earth! The shipments we receive from Standard Process will come packaged in 100% recyclable glass bottles and will be packed in starch based 100% biodegradable packing peanuts. Whenever possible, the inks used on labels are water based.

These supplements are available only to clients who consult directly with Dr Lane. Part of maintaining clinical excellence is recommending supplements based on the individual needs of the client.  Believe Midwifery Services and Red Raspberry Boutique are excited to begin this partnership with Standard Process and pleased to offer our clients the individual attention and recommendations they deserve!

My Birth Story

When my water broke at 3:45am on my due date, Friday, July 5th, I thought to myself, “Nothing’s happening. My husband’s asleep. My midwife’s asleep. I’m tired. I’m going back to bed.” I didn’t want to disturb anyone even though I really should have called the midwife, Dr. Lane. We had been up late the night before so we slept until about 11am. When we woke up, I told my husband that my water had broken and I was going to call Dr. Lane. Other than leaking amniotic fluid, nothing was happening so I headed to the health food store and went to enjoy the cool evening air at my parents’ house.

On Saturday morning Gretchen, Dr. Lane’s nurse, came over to do an assessment of the baby’s heartbeat and to check my vital signs, as she would do every 12 hours throughout my labor. At that time, everything was fine so she went home. Knowing the birth was near but not having contractions, I went about my daily routine, continuing to leak fluid. That evening, I broke down in tears in the restaurant parking lot just before walking in to have dinner with our friends. I had trouble getting comfortable during dinner because the cushion of amniotic fluid around my baby was lessening and I was beginning to have an occasional contraction.

Saturday night I went to bed hoping to sleep. I couldn’t get comfortable because the baby kept moving. After a few hours, I realized that what I thought were movements were actually contractions. I called Dr. Lane to tell her I was contracting and she asked me how often. “You told me not to time them,” I answered her. We agreed that I would count them for a little bit and then update her. I had 20 contractions in 2 hours so she sent Gretchen to my house. As SOON as my front door opened, my contractions tapered off. Gretchen sat downstairs for a while and then monitored my baby before leaving.

Sunday evening I called Dr. Lane and told her to send Gretchen over right away. I started having pains every few minutes again but this time they were quite intense and I was quickly getting tired. I finally got some relief in the birthing spa but my husband tattled on me by telling Gretchen I was trying to sleep in the water. She made me get out. Unfortunately, my labor had stalled again. I took some Benadryl per my midwife’s orders and tried to sleep. It didn’t work though. I laid in bed trying to relax between contractions but didn’t get much rest.

By Monday my nerves were getting the best of me. Labor seemed to start every evening, keep me awake all night, and would calm down by morning although I would continue to contract a few times an hour. I couldn’t sleep and was getting exhausted. Dr. Lane thought it would do me good to get out of the house so she had me go see her at the office. I cried on her couch during a non-stress test while she gave me my options, advice and words of encouragement. Dr. Lane and Gretchen kept saying, “Most women would have transferred by now. You’re so strong!” Dr. Lane asked if I wanted something to help me sleep and I said “Yes!” so she gave me a shot of Benadryl in the butt and some valerian root. I nearly fell asleep on the ride home. She also gave me a TENS unit to use when I had contractions. That afternoon I finally got some sleep, only waking up for contractions. My husband followed our midwife’s orders and got me out of the house again. He took me to get ice cream and see a funny movie. I wore my TENS all over town. My contractions continued throughout the night. As soon as I started to contract, I would wake up, crank up my TENS, moan, and then fall back to sleep, sometimes forgetting to turn down my TENS. That night, my husband slept on the love seat next to me while I slept sitting up on the couch.

Tuesday I decided to see my chiropractor. She tried a few things and told me I had a cervical lip without even doing a vaginal exam. That evening I went into a steady labor again after Dr. Lane had me try some homeopathic remedies for induction but yet again, it tapered off. I got another shot of Benadryl and some more valerian root from the birth team before they left that night.

As this pattern continued, I kept thinking, “I’m doing okay right now. Let’s just get to tonight (or tomorrow morning) and then we’ll reevaluate.” I knew I could throw in the towel at any time and transfer to a hospital to get an epidural. Just knowing that I had options gave me the strength and power to continue on at home.

Wednesday afternoon I was a total mess. I could not get comfortable. I started crying to my husband that I didn’t know what to do. I’d been having contractions for days with my water broken so every fetal movement was excruciatingly painful. I decided to go sit in the birthing spa alone in total silence and finally got some relief. When I got in the shower to rinse off, labor kicked in HARD. I instantly got clammy, nervous and very scared. I knew I was finally in transition but even knowing what was happening didn’t comfort me much.

Quiet time in the spa.

Quiet time in the spa.

Dr. Lane arrived and checked my cervix for the very first time. We pushed past my cervical lip. My chiropractor was right! I got back in the birthing spa and pushed and pushed and pushed. After a few hours, Dr. Lane had me try to feel the baby’s head in my birth canal. I reached down and felt the top of my baby’s head. It was only about a couple inches up. I’m a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and watch babies being born on a daily basis. Sometimes, I see wrinkly skin folds on baby’s heads as they’re being delivered so I thought that’s what I was feeling. I continued to push and was feeling the baby come down the birth canal.

After more pushing, I finally got out of the spa so Dr. Lane could check my cervix. When her fingers went all the way up, past where I THOUGHT I had felt the baby’s head, my heart, mind, body, and soul just sank! I was crushed. Devastated!! The baby had not descended at all. It was still above my cervix so all that time I spent pushing was in vain. When I thought I felt my baby’s head, I was actually just feeling my own swollen tissue.

My husband, Scott, supporting me when I felt pushy.

My husband, Scott, supporting me when I felt pushy.

At that point I started vomiting so Dr. Lane placed an IV for hydration. I tried to rest in bed with my husband for as long as possible without pushing but I kept vomiting, leaking amniotic fluid, and swelling by the minute. I finally told my husband to go get Dr. Lane who was resting downstairs. I wanted to tell her it was time to go to the hospital. She immediately agreed to the transfer. She told me she had to go call the hospital to inform them of my arrival. I can remember thinking, “Oh geez! I just want to go now!!! How long is that going to take?” When I reached this level of extreme exhaustion, I had no choice but to completely live in the moment. I was not worried about my baby, our outcome, or what I looked and smelled like. I wasn’t even thinking or analyzing at that point. The only concern I had was how I was going to walk down the stairs and out to the car to get to the hospital. I didn’t even think I had the energy for that!

Gretchen drove to the hospital while Dr. Lane held my hand in the back seat. When we arrived to the Labor and Delivery Unit, I had normal vital signs, clear amniotic fluid, and a happy baby. But after I had an epidural and Pitocin, I ran a fever and my baby had heart rate decelerations and meconium which are signs of fetal distress.

Soon the doctors came in to consent me for a c-section. I still had no emotion. If you had asked me before I went into labor if I would be afraid to have a c-section, I would have said, “Absolutely!” I would have been very nervous and anxious. But as I lay there in the hospital, I didn’t care about anything. Nothing bothered me. The anesthesiologist poked me repeatedly to get a second IV in case I needed a blood transfusion (they thought my uterus was very infected and may not clamp down) and I didn’t even flinch. With Dr. Lane now gone to attend another home birth, my baby worsening, and being faced with major surgery, it was like being out of body. I felt numb. It takes energy to have emotions and I had no energy.

Before taking me to surgery, they checked my cervix one last time. Their rationale was that if my cervical lip was gone, I should be able to push my baby out. I just thought to myself, “How? How can I push? They don’t even know what I’ve been through!” But it turned out that a vaginal birth wasn’t an option because I still had that stubborn cervical lip.

Not long after that, my baby was born through a surgical incision on my abdomen. They took the baby to the radiant warmer to intubate the airway for suctioning out meconium. I remember thinking that I knew my baby isn’t supposed to be crying right then because they were suctioning the lungs but I couldn’t help but worry, “Is my baby okay?” Finally, I heard a strong, lusty cry. Only a few minutes later, knowing that my husband wanted to announce the sex, the NICU team invited him over to see our new baby. I expected to hear “It’s a ____!” but instead he walked back over to me and said, “We have a sweet baby girl and she has red hair!” I was so afraid I wasn’t going to have any emotions when I saw her because we didn’t get the beautiful home birth with the oxytocin rush I had been imagining. They brought her over to see me and I cried! I was very relieved to have tears unintentionally running down my face.

Minolta DSCMy husband went with our baby to the NICU where she got an IV for antibiotics and I went to recovery to sleep for a while. An hour or so later they brought my baby to me. We finally got to welcome our daughter into the world and nurse her for the first time. We hadn’t previously chosen a name so we began discussing it together as a family. I was higher than a kite and I suggested that we wait a while. My husband disagreed and said we should name her now. He said, “I think we should name her Taylor.” I loved how he was so confident about it so I quickly agreed. We chose the name Taylor Mae because Taylor is my husband’s middle name and Mae is my middle name.

My baby girl, Taylor.

My baby girl, Taylor.

Even though I still cry when I think about my birth experience, I’m not mad about it. I’m not frustrated, bitter, or upset about the outcome. I’m just sad because I couldn’t give my baby a better start. I’m sad that I have a huge scar now. I’m sad that I couldn’t deliver vaginally. I’m sad I didn’t get that beautiful birth I pictured but I believe the universe was watching over me that day. Since the merger of IU Medical Center and Methodist Hospital’s NICUs, I now work in the Methodist NICU with the same nurses who attended my birth. After getting to know them, I know I would have handpicked them to take care of us. One nurse, Shelly, who worked at IU Medical Center with me but was working at Methodist that day, told me she watched over Taylor for me. She stood up to the other nurses who couldn’t believe I would try to give birth at home or wait so long to transfer. She talked with my husband and advocated for my family. I didn’t know about this until I came back to work after maternity leave. I cried so hard at work that afternoon. I didn’t say much to Shelly except I thanked her and told her I owed her a big hug although it would have to be an IOU. I couldn’t handle anymore crying that day.

All in all, I feel like we used medical intervention appropriately and I am grateful to have access to such good care. When I took my doula training, our instructor said that in Africa, where she volunteers her services, providers are often faced with the decision of whether or not to do a c-section because the surgery alone may cost a mother her life. They don’t have the resources we have here in the United States. Had I not known about that, I may have been bitter and upset about my c-section. Instead, I am grateful for having access to such life-saving medical care.

When I reflect on my birth, it’s easy to be sad about having surgery and not getting the home birth I spent so many hours researching and preparing for. My birth was not without its beautiful moments though. When I start thinking about the negative aspects, I redirect my thoughts to the positive memories. I think about how my husband helped me shower, apply lotion and dress after I came home from the hospital. It was one of the most intimate moments of our relationship. I recall how he slept next to me on the love seat all scrunched up while I slept sitting up on the couch. (I don’t know why we didn’t switch seats!) I remember how we named our daughter, how he walked over to tell me the sex of our baby, and how my friend/co-worker was there to watch over my baby when I couldn’t. Sometimes I even have to go hug my healthy, happy, sweet baby girl to help wash out the negative thoughts.

As a NICU nurse, I work with mothers every day who deliver preemies and sick babies with birth stories that trump mine, yet I can’t even tell most have just had major abdominal surgery. One mother told me, “You just have to do what you have to do!” I can attest that those women would have done anything to deliver a full-term, healthy baby, whether they had a c-section or not. I try to remind myself of that when I reflect on my own experience. Now that I’ve been through it myself, I have greater respect for those mothers and I don’t allow them lift a finger while on my watch. I don’t even let them plug in their own breast pumps. Because of my experience, I am, without a doubt, a better nurse. I’m more understanding and compassionate, a louder advocate, and a much better listener. They say that nurses make the worst patients but I say that being a patient makes you a better nurse!

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

"It is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has." Sir William Osler

Food for Thought

Happiness is underrated and critically important to health. Seriously! Unfortunately, many people just have no idea how to be happy. Aviva Romm

Food for Thought

Physicians simply do not have time to be what patients want them to be: open-minded, knowledgeable teachers and caregivers who can hear and understand their needs. Snyderman and Weil

Food for Thought #1

They say that time changes things. But you actually have to change them yourselves. Andy Warhol

Food for Thought

To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking. Johann Wolfgang von Goether

Food for Thought

"Birth isn’t about avoiding one set of realities in favor of another. It’s about embracing all facets of birth--contradictory, messy, or unpleasant as some might be--as vital to the whole." Rixa Freeze PhD

Food for Thought

Why I appreciate being a certified nurse-midwife, as opposed to choosing another route for midwifery: I feel learning the science is vital so the art of midwifery is safe and effective. Dr. Penny Lane, nurse-midwife

Food for Thought

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates

Food for Thought

To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. Anatole France

Food for Thought

"Science and uncertainty are inseparable companions. Beware of those who are very certain about things. There are no absolute truths in biological sciences - only hypotheses... 'We need to train medical students and residents more in the art of uncertainty and less in the spirit that everything can be known or that it even needs to be known.'" Grimes (1986)

Food for Thought

American physicians are rewarded for doing things to patients, not for keeping them well. Grimes, 1986

Food for Thought

The false idol of technology. "Having a widget screwed into one's scalp has become an American birthright." Grimes, 1986

Food for Thought

"Between 1985 and 1987, a hospital instituted a successful program to reduce its cesarean rate. The rate fell from 18% to 12%, losing the hospital $1 million in revenues - no small sum in those days." Goer & Romano, 2012, p 37

Food for Thought

"Obstetricians are much more likely to perform a cesarean when they wrongly believe the baby weighs 4000 g or more based on sonographic estimates than when the baby actually weighs this much but the obstetrician did not suspect it." Goer & Romaro, 2012, p 35

Food for Thought

"If you play God, you will be blamed for natural disasters." Marsden Wagner (2006)

Food for Thought

An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't. Anatole France

Food for Thought #3

"Birth is not only about making babies. Birth also is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers, who trust themselves and know their inner strength."

Barbara Katz Rothman PhD (1996)

Food for Thought #4

Believe there is always, always, always a way.

When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven't. THOMAS EDISON

Food for Thought #5

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Arthur Schopenhauer

Food for Thought #2

Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.

Psalm 22:9