Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Circumcision Decision

It wasn't until recently that I became fully aware of exactly what circumcision entailed. I had every intention of circumcising my son in the event that we would have one some day. Now that I am involved with childbirth, I understand what all is involved.

I am a big believer of being educated and informed before making decisions. I hope this post on circumcision will help you make an informed decision.

The Origin
Circumcision has been around for thousands of years. It originated in Africa and the Middle East. It was brought to the United States in the mid 1800's. Circumcision was believed to help curb masturbation which was thought to cause insanity and physical ailments. It was also once believed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, but that theory has since been discredited.

What is circumcision?
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin that covers and protects the glans (or head) of the penis. It is performed by placing the baby securely on a table and injecting a local anesthetic into the penis. The foreskin is then separated from the glans with a medical instrument and held in place with a clamp while a vertical incision is made in the foreskin about one third of its length. To protect the glans, a metal or plastic bell is placed over the tip of the penis. The foreskin is placed back over the bell while the foreskin is removed. A protective lubricant is put on the area to promote the healing of the incision that takes approximately one week.

It should be known that there are no medical benefits to circumcision according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association. In fact, the AAP states "1) circumcision is not essential to a child's well-being, 2) it is an elective procedure, 3) doctors should not coerce parents into choosing circumcision, and 4) parents should make a fully informed decision."

Does it hurt the baby?
Yes, it does hurt. The foreskin is made of thousands of tiny nerve endings. Even with anesthetic, circumcision is very painful for the baby.

Proper Hygiene
It was once believed that circumcision improved male hygiene. Circumcision does not make the penis any cleaner or healthier. With proper care and cleaning, it is perfectly safe to leave the foreskin intact. Proper hygiene should be taught to young boys whether they are circumcised or not. By age 18, the foreskin will usually be retractable from the glans on its own. It is important to not force the skin away from the glans. Hygiene for an intact foreskin is easy using these steps:
  1. Without force, gently slip the foreskin back.
  2. With warm water, carefully clean the glans and the inside for the foreskin.
  3. Slip the foreskin back over the glans.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should my son look like his father?
Should brothers look the same?
Will my son be teased for not being circumcised?
What are the risks of being circumcised?
What are the risks of not being circumcised?
Does circumcision prevent disease?

I believe these are all good and important questions to ask before making the decision. Make yourself informed not matter what decision you make. If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know.

Additional Information

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Get Support - Hire a Doula

Yesterday I was very excited to learn that had picked up my previous blog on the home birth and posted it on their blog! I have recently become a registered member of their organization (at no cost). It is a great website and forum for all aspects of pregnancy and birth. What a great way to network with other professionals as well as expectant mothers. Get ideas and support from a wide variety of people. Check out the site.

It all goes along with my belief that women need support and encouragement in every stage of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Women have been helping other women for thousands of years. There is no shame in asking for help or support. I believe that more women would choose to have a natural birth if they could have an advocate, such as a doula, there to encourage and comfort them. The absence of support can lead to the presence of fear or thoughts of "I cannot do this anymore".

Think back to when you were a child. Remember when you would fall on the sidewalk while you were playing outside and cry like the world was ending? Who was there to comfort your boo boo? Most likely it was your mother. She would kiss it and instantly you would be out running and playing again or getting back up on that bicycle. Mom was there to assure you that it was okay and if it happened again she would be right there to pick you up. This is how I view my role as a doula. I am there to encourage you and support you in your birth when you think or feel as though you "can't go on", because you CAN!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Home Birth Story

Yesterday morning at about 2:00am I got the call. It was the call I had been waiting for for about two weeks. She said "Hannah, my water just broke and I am having really strong contractions." I said, "ok, I will be right over. She was having a home birth and lives about 25 minutes away. Surprisingly, I was not nervous or anxious despite the fact that this was only my second "natural birth" and the other one I had attended was not truly "natural" (that story is for another time). I had been praying a lot that I would have the instincts to know what to do for her when the time came. I had also been praying very specifically that I would be able to attend all of her birth and that the baby would not come at a time that I could not get to her immediately due to other obligations.

I arrived at their home at about 2:4oam. She was still in first stage labor and dealing very well with her contractions. We tried several different positions for her to be comfortable. I did some massaging on her back to ease her contractions as well. Ultimately she found the bathtub filled with warm water to be most comforting. She had prepared for this birth which The Bradley Method (taught by my friend Donna) and with hypnobirthing techniques. While in the tub, she became very peaceful and allowed her body to work for her not against her. So much so, that none of the midwives, nor I, could really tell when she was having contractions. Although extremely tired, she was very relaxed and trusted her body at that point. As she got close to second stage (pushing) she wanted to be out of the bathtub. As it was being drained for her to safely get out, she began to have the strong urge to push. It seemed as though she wasn't going to be getting out of the tub and that the birth was going to take place right there. With her husband and I at her head coaching her along, she had one midwife at her bottom and one midwife at her side. With several pushes a baby girl was born at 5:22am. Mother and baby bonded right away. After immediately nursing, mother and baby enjoyed an herbal bath together. Dad did an awesome job in his support roll for her. It isn't always easy to fully understand the needs of a laboring woman and, in my opinion, we worked together well to achieve the mothers needs. I stayed for about two hours postpartum to ensure mother, family and baby were doing well. The midwives were going to stay for a few hours as well. I will be visiting her at least one postpartum depending on her needs.

I feel very honored to have been a part of the birth. It is such an intimate experience for the family and to be asked to attend is such a wonderful feeling. I enjoy working along side women who desire to have an amazing and memorable birth experience. I know that having support and comfort during that time means a lot to moms..... and dads too!

And, I highly recommend the midwives at The Cleburne Birthing Center in Cleburne, TX. They were amazing!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book of the Week

Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize
This is an incredible book that speaks wisdom to women who desire to understand pregnancy and birth. God designed our bodies to do an amazing thing....create and birth baby! He has the power to give us our hearts desire. Reading this book will change the way you think and pray about a safe and absolutely wonderful pregnancy and birth of your baby. Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Safest Birth Place

I get asked this question a lot. "Where is the safest place to give birth?" I think that after my last post, many of you know where I think the safest place to give birth is. But, that is because I think that will be the safest place for me. My husband is comfortable with it and that is important for me as well. I believe that the safest place to give birth is wherever you feel the safest. Your environment the people you surround yourself with during your birth need to make you feel calm, comfortable, and at peace. If you are worried about your husband, your other kids, the dog, bright lights, cold air, phones ringing, medications, and so on, you will not be at peace. Try no to feel pressured to make a decision about your birth place because someone else believes it best for you. You know your needs and your body and what is most relaxing to you. As a doula, I support birth in the place of your choosing, whether that be in a hospital, a birthing center or in your home. It's your birth after all!

I want to hear from you. Take the poll on where you believe the safest place to give birth for you is.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Choose Your Birth Place Wisely

I have attended two hospital births in the past week and a half, both resulted in a cesarean birth. I believe this was due to the excessive amounts of interventions, medications, and clock watchers on the staff. I am saddened and concerned for the young ladies that had to go through this. It is difficult, as a doula, to believe that this is how it "had" to be because in my heart of hearts I believe otherwise.

Having not had children of my own, I don't necessarily have a validated biased opinion, however, I plan to give birth in my home when the time comes. Many people that I tell this to are appalled that I would consider such a "dangerous" way to give birth. A lack of education and information allows them to form such an opinion. My husband and I believe that for our birth, that our home if the safest place to be. I, myself, have only heard through the grapevine of one instance that a friend of a friend went to the hospital during her home birth. I have, on the other hand, heard of many successful and wonderful home birth stories. My sister has had two amazing home births that transpired incredibly well. She is quite an inspiration to those who have questions or fears about having a baby at home. She trusted her body and it did for her what she wanted and prayed for it to do.

My friend, Donna, has recently blogged about her take on home births. She has had two of them herself. Take a look at her blog for some more fascinating information! Click here for Donna's Blog!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Birth Bag

Babies are coming and I am packing a doula birth bag. From what I have read, this is what I have packed so far:
  • a rolling pen
  • a rice bag (for heating or cooling)
  • massage tools
  • unscented lotion
  • wash clothes
  • a timer
  • my notebook and a pen
  • snacks and beverages (for me)
I need suggestions.....anything that you think I should add that would have felt good to you in labor? I am new at this and haven't had the labor experience myself. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!