Editor’s pick: A moment of silence for the “mother” of doula work

free images com - agastechegI hired a doula for my third child’s birth. After an early preterm birth with my first and a medically necessary Cesarean with my second, my third baby was on track to be my first, and only, normal childbirth experience. I was pulling out all the stops, too — aiming for an unmedicated labor and a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). I knew in my heart of hearts that having a doula was the best chance I had to reach my goals, what with the Cesarean surgical team waiting outside my hospital room’s doors “just in case,” as the VBAC agreement with the hospital read.

When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, mothers-to-be should consider supplementing with whole food vitamins. These types of vitamins are extracted from natural sources rather than chemically engineered, and the result is better pregnancy nutrition before conception, during fetal development and after childbirth.

Why Do Expectant Mothers Need Vitamin Supplements for Pregnancy Nutrition?

The human body is an amazing machine with a remarkable ability to get what it needs from the resources offered by nature. By eating a healthy diet, we are able to extract the necessary balance of vitamins, minerals, fats, and energy sources needed to keep our bodies running the way they were intended to work. Pregnancy nutrition requires us to be even more vigilant in getting the nutrients required so that the fetus is able to develop into a physically and mentally healthy baby.

The unfortunate truth is that many of us don’t eat a properly balanced diet any more, and the need for specialized pregnancy nutrition makes this even more evident. There are numerous factors that play into this change in the way we eat, including the availability, convenience, and low cost of processed foods. Adding supplements like whole food vitamins allows us access to regain some of those essential compounds that are missing from the processed foods we eat on a daily basis.

Why Are Whole Food Vitamins Better?

Whole food vitamins utilize sources found in nature, rather than synthesized compounds. The advantage, whether as a part of pregnancy nutrition or not, is that they are more easily absorbed and utilized by the human body. Most of us know that the best places to find health-sustaining nutrients is through a diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, for example, but few of us actually get enough of these foods in our day-to-day regimens. Whole food vitamins are extracted from these fruits and vegetables, as well as a variety of other naturally occurring sources. Because the body recognize these compounds-as opposed to synthetic or isolated vitamins-it knows how to put them to use. In the case of vitamins that have been isolated from their whole food sources or even created in the lab, as much as 90% of them pass directly through our bodies with no actual benefit.

A pregnancy nutrition plan usually includes a need for extra vitamins. It is nearly unreasonable to add these healthy components to a diet only to extract 10% of the actual benefits. Instead, making whole food vitamins a part of an overall pregnancy nutrition regimen helps ensure that the nutrients are actually being absorbed and used for the health of both the baby and the mother.

Where Do Whole Food Vitamins Come From?

The whole food vitamins and Sunergetic Products used for pregnancy nutrition come from a variety of natural sources. Some are extracted from beets, alfalfa, and bee pollen, for example. Rather than simply isolating these nutrients, they remain attached to their whole food ingredients to allow the body to recognize and readily utilize them. Other sources range from herbs like parsley and to less obvious candidates like fossilized coral. Coral provides the calcium that is such an important part of pregnancy nutrition.

Because the whole food vitamins recommended for pregnancy nutrition also include live enzymes, they allow even greater access by the body. These enzymes help to break down the nutrients, which include antioxidants, in order to be absorbed by the cells that use them for proper functioning. By processing the whole food vitamins at low temperatures, manufacturers are able to preserve these live enzymes and create the most powerful supplements that science and nature can team up to make.

My doula made all the difference. Not only did I reach my birthing goals, but I also got to hold the only one of my 3 babies for the first time after birth. He was delivered and placed immediately upon my chest, and I was finally able to call the shots with one of my newborns, such as when he would be removed for weighing and bathing. I had no say with either of my first two babies, and I credit my doula for giving back control of my birth experience to me.

Dana, 90, passed away Feb. 2 at her home in Fairfield, Connecticut, USA. She was a medical anthropologist who studied under cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead. The women cofounded the Human Lactation Center in Westport, Connecticut, USA, in the 1970s.

Dana was more than a student, being among the first scientists to challenge formula companies on the link among formula use and high infant mortality in developing countries. She went on to successfully pressure formula companies to educate women in third-world countries that formula should be used as a supplement to, not a replacement of, breastfeeding.

Dana also promoted breastfeeding here at home in the United States, seeking a way to restore the intuitive breastfeeding support lost to mothers of her generation. She summed it up well in an interview with The New York Times Magazine in 1970:

“When Grandmother walked out of the nursery and took up painting and golf, out with her went the whole cultural tradition of pampering mother along with baby. No one is there to tell her how to hold the nursing infant, how long to keep him suckling or how to care for uncomfortably full breasts or irritated nipples. We prefer to leave the responsibility to medical authorities, usually males who are uninformed about the nonmedical aspects of breastfeeding.”

Perhaps her most pivotal contribution to breastfeeding support came in 1969 when her research gave her the idea of the “doula” — a term that Dana is credited with coining and which is derived from the Greek word for “female servant.” From then on, Dana advocated for the use of doulas to guide mothers during and after childbirth with the goal of more successful breastfeeding.

So it is because of Dana’s efforts half a continent away, 40 years before, that my doula was able to give me a truly healing and transformative birth experience — not to mention, doulas around the world now doing the same for countless other women, giving them and their babies the best start in bonding and breastfeeding and a secure attachment relationship.

We all owe Dana Raphael a moment of gratitude for helping to change the landscape of childbirth and breastfeeding support and continue to push the Attachment Parenting movement forward to where it is today.


**Photo source: Free Images.com/agastecheg

The House of Timothy, an Attachment Parenting Inspiration

karen bradleyAs a mother of seven, and former therapeutic foster parent to 51 children, attachment and Attachment Parenting have been a constant in my life for the last 28 years. My children range in age from 7 to 28. Three of my children were adopted at the age of 4 years, 2 years and 7 months. I am now a proud grandmother to an incredibly wonderful 7 month old.

In February 2013, Service Star, where I had been Director of Client Relations, closed their doors. I found myself unemployed, for the first time in my life; a single mother, with five children still at home. After the initial panic wore off, I realized that if I was going to have to start over, at the age of 50, it would have to be doing something I was passionate about.

While I loved my job — especially the steady paycheck! — it was certainly not something I set out to spend my life doing.

Having spent nine years as a therapeutic foster parent, I knew I wanted to work with mothers, while they were still pregnant, to encourage them to form a strong bond with their babies. I had worked — and lived with — too many children who suffered from attachment disorders and saw very few who had been helped by interventions such as counseling and medications.

I wanted to do something to prevent the crisis and not just offer crisis management. And so, The House of Timothy was founded in San Tan Valley, Arizona, USA, to provide support to families, starting with pregnancy, through labor and into early childhood.

house of timothyThe House of Timothy is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, offering all of our services at no cost to those families in need.

I became a certified labor and postpartum doula, bereavement doula, childbirth and parenting educator, and breastfeeding counselor.

Since February 2013, 27 babies have been born to mothers who have received our services. We have not had a single preterm or low birth-weight baby born to our moms.

We bring childbirth education to them, provide a doula for labor and delivery, and stay connected through a prolonged postpartum period. Our mothers are all given a baby carrier/wrap, and we encourage them to wear their babies. We also provide ongoing breastfeeding support. Our goal has been to make life as stress free as possible for our mothers, many of whom are young, single and without support.

It brings a smile on my face when I walk into a facility housing young mothers and see baby after baby sitting in a car seat and then I spot “my” mom, wearing her baby!

Often, I am the only person in the room while a mother labors and delivers her baby. There is no spouse, no partner around, no grandmother — she is alone. Having a baby can be an overwhelming experience, even when you have support. Imagine life for a young mother who is doing this on her own. By nurturing the nurturer, we enable her to better form a secure attachment with her newborn.

Our mission at The House of Timothy is to continue to empower women, encourage secure attachment and educate families.

Should We Wait to Cut the Umbilical Cord?

Anatomy of the Umbilical Cord

I came across a very interesting article via Science Daily that delves into whether or not one should wait to cut the umbilical cord immediately after birth.

According to the article’s research “In pre-term infants, delaying clamping the cord for at least 30 seconds reduced incidences of intraventricular hemorrhage, late on-set sepsis, anemia, and decreased the need for blood transfusions.”

In another article on ScienceDaily.com concerning cutting of cords, studies suggest that delaying the cutting simply by two minutes, decreases the infant’s risk for iron anemia and boosts its reserves.

For more research and references on cord cutting please see below:

Cord Issues at GentleBirth.org

“Umbilical Cords Clamped Too Soon, Researchers Say” at Yahoo News

“Natural Childbirth: Delayed Cord Clamping” at Eco Child’s Play

– Danielle Buffardi is a freelance writer and editor. Visit her on the web at  http://www.PenPointEditorial.com

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