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Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Birth Honor Roll

We honor the following women among us who have bravely labored and delivered this past year! These births include VBACs in the hospital and at home, cesareans, vaginal births, and even an unplanned home birth. Go mamas ~ welcome, babies!

Susan Lundquist, Laura & Beatrice, 12/27/07
Lisa Haugen, Oscar Sidney, 1/8/08
Jennifer Bluhm, Charlotte Mae, 3/1/08
Christy Balfanz-Rice, Kovyn Pauline, 3/11/08
Laura Leventhal, Samuel Sky, 4/25/08
Megan Gaffey, Moira Jules, 5/25/08
Sarah Shannon, Luke Alexander, 5/26/08
Lija Greenseid, Adam, 6/16/08
Nicole Shroeder, Logan Michael, 7/9/08
Amy Anderson, Violette Theresa, 7/20/08
Amy Hartman, Shiloh Grace, 8/7/08
Meg Repede, Collin Michael, 8/30/08
Jenelle Kaempf Davis, Anna Margarete, 8/31
Tasya Kelen, Tessie Rose, 9/23/08
Amy Weiss, Ellie, 11/10/08
Ann Clark, Grace Kathryn, 11/28/08

We also eagerly await the babies due to these mamas in late 2008 & 2009:

Megan Salmela, due 11/30/08
Laura Meerson, due 12/26/08
Jessie Bridgeford, 1/26/09
Lori King, due 2/09
Karri Bergren, due 3/09
Marla Cain, due 3/30/09
Ann Kirchner, due 4/09
Jessica Frantz, due 5/17/09
Wendi Frick, due 6/16/09

We are always looking for more birth stories of all kinds for our website to share with and inspire others. Email your birth story to us!

Well done!

Five years ago, a friend who visited me not long after my first son was born told me, "Well done, Sarah!" It meant a lot to me at the time, especially because I was struggling with the trauma and disappointment of my cesarean section. I now make a point of saying the same to all of the new mamas I know: Well done!

I've been thinking about all that has happened in 2008. Personally, it was a triumphant year for me, having given birth to my second son by HBAC (home birth after cesarean) on Memorial Day. As a chapter, we have also accomplished much to be proud of. Below is a review of our chapter's highlights this year. To all of us, I say, "Well done!"

It's been a great year...and there's much more to come in 2009!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Registration open for Real Women. Real Lives!

The International Cesarean Awareness Network's 2009 Conference is now open for registration! World class speakers include Sarah Buckley, Pam England, and Declercq. Registration is $219 early bird before February 1st. We'll be there....will you???

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blooma birth

We were delighted to see Sarah Longacre's "baby" - Blooma - featured in the Star Tribune yesterday. While many of us might dispute the amenities available in the hospitals described in the article given our cesarean experiences, overall the piece is a great testimony to what WE can do when we allow our bodies to birth.

Blooma is one of our Professional Members and a great friend to ICAN!

Read the article here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Minnesota gets a "C" on pre-term births

The March of Dimes released it's national Premature Birth Report Card today. While the U.S. as a whole is getting a "D," Minnesota is only doing slightly better with a "C." Grades were assigned by comparing the states' pre-term birth rates to the national Healthy People 2010 objective of 7.6 percent of all live births.

The report card calls for several actions, including a voluntary evaluation by hospital leaders of all cesareans and labor inductions
that occur before 39 weeks gestation. According to the report card, "about 1 in 13 live births in Minnesota is late preterm (34-36 weeks gestation). The rise in late preterm births has been linked to rising rates of early induction of labor and c-sections."

To view the report card, click here. To sign the related petition, click here.

ICAN and You Can Too: Choosing a Homebirth After Cesarean Section

Cross-post from the ICAN Blog...

From Bellies to BirthCast:

Have widespread hospital bans on VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) made a repeat c-section your only hospital birth option? Did lack of access to VBAC make you choose a homebirth after cesarean section (HBAC)?

Pamela Udy, President of ICAN, the International Cesarean Awareness Network (, and a HBA2C mother herself, discusses why more women are choosing homebirth after cesarean section (HBAC) due to widespread hospital bans on VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section).

Listen to Bellies to BirthCast Episode 1 or read the full interview transcript

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today's the day!

I was inspired to read this story of a very dedicated voter:

One woman had just given birth through Cesarean section at a nearby hospital. Instead of going home, her husband drove his wife and their new baby directly from the hospital to the Library, just so she could vote on the last day of early voting. She knew she couldn't come on Tuesday, so she stood in that line, just so that she could vote for Barack Obama. Her tiny, newborn baby stayed in the car with her husband; this woman was still wearing slippers from her hospital stay. She could barely walk in her condition, yet she waited stoically at the Model City Library to vote.

Now that's patriotism!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ICAN Responds to the Coalition for Childbirth Autonomy's Statement on the Cesarean Rate

A cross-post from the official ICAN blog:

The Coalition for Childbirth Autonomy (CCA) released a statement today questioning the World Health Organization’s recommended cesarean rate of 10 - 15%. CCA suggests that a woman should be able to request a cesarean without medical indication. While ICAN supports both updated research on this topic and an increase in patient education and autonomy, we maintain that many women who are choosing a cesarean are making that decision without full informed consent.

Research shows that cesareans introduce additional risk in dozens of areas when compared to a vaginal birth. For the mother, these increased risks include death, hysterectomy, bood clots, increased pain & recovery time, infection, and post-partum depression(1). For the infant, additional risks include respiratory problems, breastfeeding problems, asthma in childhood(1), and type 1 diabetes(2). In addition, there are increased risks in future pregnancies, such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, placenta abnormality, uterine rupture, preterm birth, and stillbirth(1).

ICAN does not believe that cesarean should be the typical solution for fear of childbirth. With appropriate counseling, most women who fear childbirth are comfortable attempting a vaginal birth (3, 4). Most show long-term satisfaction with their decision to change modes of delivery (4), and with intensive therapy, labor times were shorter (3).

ICAN will continue to work to improve maternal-child health and to protect a woman’s right to ethical and evidence-based care during pregnancy and childbirth.

(1) Maternity Center Association. 2004. What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know about Cesarean Section. New York: MCA.
(2) Cardwell, CR et al. Caesarean section is associated with an increased risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Diabetologia. 2008 May;51(5):726-35.
(3) Saisto, T et al. A randomized controlled trial of intervention in fear of childbirth. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Nov;98(5 Pt 1):820-6.
(4) Nerum, H et al. Maternal request for cesarean section due to fear of birth: can it be changed through crisis-oriented counseling? Birth. 2006 Sep;33(3):221-8.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pioneer Press: Can childbirth be orgasmic?

ICAN of the Twin Cities helped co-sponsor the recent local screening of Orgasmic Birth. The St. Paul Pioneer Press interviewed the filmmaker, Debra Pascali-Bonaro and local doula trainer and midwife Gail Tully who spearheaded our coalition of birth advocates sponsoring the screening. Here is the article:

Can childbirth be orgasmic? Filmmaker Debra Pascali-Bonaro thinks so

A lot of mothers might say their experience of childbirth was intense, maybe even satisfying. But orgasmic?

It can be, according to Debra Pascali-Bonaro, a birthing assistant-turned-filmmaker who was in the Twin Cities recently for a screening of her documentary 'Orgasmic Birth.'

With that provocative title, she is quick to elaborate that while some women do have a sexual experience during labor, she's using the term more broadly.

'How come, in our culture, the common perception is that birth is about pain and emergency and a terrible event to get through?' she said. 'A small percentage of people need emergency care, but for the vast majority, birth is a normal experience. I think we've lost sense of the sensualness of birth as we've moved it into this realm of technology. And I want us to reclaim it as a sensuous and sacred arena.'

Pascali-Bonaro has found a sympathetic audience in the Twin Cities, where a screening earlier this month at the Riverview Theatre in Minneapolis was organized by a coalition of natural childbirth activists, midwives and doulas.

It drew 500 people, a turnout boosted by the fact Minneapolis has the nation's highest percentage of births attended by a doula, someone trained to provide support to a mother during birth. Pascali-Bonaro is a doula.

Individual DVDs of the film go on sale this week, and the film is capturing national and international attention for the way it redefines childbirth.

"It gives us a metaphor for the joy of actual labor," says Gail Tully, a doula and one of organizers of the Twin Cities screening.

So what exactly does birth have to do with sex, other than the obvious fact that one follows from the other?

"The same hormone that we release in lovemaking is also released in childbirth and in breastfeeding — oxytocin," said doula Gail Tully. "It's a hormone that gives us a heightened perception, and it can take the edge off of pain."

The problem, according to Tully and others, is many things that happen during a typical birth in the United States may inhibit the natural release oxytocin, which is necessary to stimulate contractions and dilate the cervix so the baby can come out.

Research suggests oxytocin is released when a woman feels safe and secure, when lights are dim, when there are few disturbances and there is quiet and privacy — not exactly the conditions in most hospitals.

Even routine questions can knock a woman out of the zone, says Tully, such as "What's your maiden name?" or "Is the temperature comfortable for you?"

"We know that if you want an animal to give birth, you don't surround them with bright lights and with a lot of people," Pascali-Bonaro says. "You will disturbthem, and their labor will slow down or stop. The same is true for humans."

In other words, the same conditions that are necessary for making love are necessary for having a baby.

"If we gave couples instructions on how to have an orgasm while they are lovemaking, well, we laugh at the idea," Tully says. "We understand that it would disrupt them, and they wouldn't have that hormonal release. You don't have sex with a cheering crowd. But we accept that at birth because we think it's necessary for safety."

Some women will experience an actual orgasm during birth, Pascali-Bonaro says, though that's obviously not a goal.

"I'm getting e-mails like crazy from people saying thank you for talking about this," Pascali-Bonaro says. "There are women who are saying, 'I literally had the most incredible orgasm, and I never told anyone because I thought it was kind of unusual.' It's not the kind of thing that you tap your doctor on the shoulder and tell him about. Many women hadn't even told their partner."


Medical interventions have become commonplace at most births in the United States. Nearly one in three births is by Caesarean section, even though many researchers say the medically necessary rate is closer to 10 percent to 15 percent.

Inductions are also on the rise. For example, a study published last month in the journal Medical Care found one in four pregnant women had labor induced at a scheduled time rather than waiting for contractions to start on their own, a rate that has tripled since the 1990s. The use of the artificial hormone pitocin to start or intensify contractions is now nearly routine.

"There are times when all our medical technology has a benefit and is life-saving for the mother and the baby," says Pascali-Bonaro, who lives in New Jersey. "But I know some hospitals are using pitocin 80 percent of the time. We need to question why that is. Are we in a rush?"

Pascali-Bonaro interviews nurses, doctors and midwives in the film who point out possible negative consequences of these interventions — higher rates of postpartum depression for women who have Caesareans, for example, or research that suggests women who deliver vaginally respond differently to the cries of their newborn babies than women who have had a Caesarean.

But the real focus of the film is on the couples in the United States and abroad who gave permission for Pascali-Bonaro to film their births. The film opens with a woman who gives birth outside on the deck of her house with her husband close at hand.

Most of the subsequent births, which are edited tastefully and artistically, are also home births without pain medication or medical interventions. Whether you question epidurals or embrace them, it's difficult to walk away unmoved.

The point of the film, says Pascali-Bonaro, is to show women, especially young women who have not yet given birth, an empowering image of birth that may certainly include pain but isn't about suffering.

"I hope it touches people in an emotional level to open their heart to see that birth is not just a day to say OK, we've got to get through it," she says. "It's a day to really think about and to really make an informed decision about. I hope it's a day that people will begin to enjoy so we can welcome our babies with absolute joy, ecstasy and bliss."


Pascali-Bonaro, who has worked in childbirth education nationally and internationally for 26 years, says she literally woke up one morning from a dream and knew she had to make a film.

With no cinematography experience, she enrolled in filmmaking classes. At one point, she had the opportunity to pitch her idea, along with dozens of other aspiring filmmakers, in front of a panel of established producers and directors.

"It was sort of like the 'American Idol' of film," she said. "You got 10 minutes to stand up and explain your idea."

When her turn came, she told the panel she was working on a film called "Ordinary Miracle: Global Models of Care." A panel member brusquely told her to sit down and said, "What makes you think anyone would be interested in that?"

She was humiliated. A friend happened to be with her who had heard her speak at a workshop about birth and sexuality. The friend nudged her and told her to stand up again and say, "Orgasmic birth."

"I figured, well, this is my one opportunity, and so I jumped up and said, 'Orgasmic Birth,' and the entire auditorium laughed, and the panel said, 'Is that for real? Because if you can make that film, you've got something,' " recalled Pascali-Bonaro.

She knew she was on the right track after she met with a focus group of young men and women. She asked if they would watch a childbirth film. A third of the women said yes, and none of the men did. When she asked if they would watch a film called "Orgasmic Birth," everyone raised his hand.

Pascali-Bonaro and a few other doulas filmed the births themselves, but the finished product is anything but amateur.

One of the women filmed in labor is the wife of composer John McDowell, who wrote the soundtrack for "Born Into Brothels," which won the 2004 Academy Award for best documentary. His soundtrack for "Orgasmic Birth" is sung by Sabina Sciubba, lead singer for the Brazilian Girls. Producer Kris Liem, who has won three Emmys for film editing, signed on to edit after being wowed by the music and raw footage.


Stephanie Johnson and her husband Andre Fischer of Minneapolis were at the screening.

"I haven't been thinking about the nursery or names, things that other people ask me about," says Johnson, whose first child is due later this month.

"All I've been thinking of is that day of labor. I liked what someone said in the film, that pain of a contraction isn't a warning sign, something to get over. It's squeezing and embracing the baby."

Her husband, Andre Fischer, who has children from a previous relationship, was also moved by the film.

"I cried, because not all the other births of my children were like these," he said. "It was very emotional for me."

Maja Beckstrom can be reached at 651-228-5295.


Debra Pascali-Bonaro is collecting birth stories on her Web site for a companion book to the film. In that spirit, the Pioneer Press talked to Liz Abbene, 28, of Lakeville about the birth of her third child, Lucia, born this summer.

Abbene is a doula and agrees with Pascali-Bonaro that women need to share their positive birth stories so other women facing childbirth can go into the experience with less fear and more confidence.

Abbene's first two children were induced, the first because Abbene didn't know the exact due date and the second because doctors feared the baby was getting too large. She had an epidural for the second, pushed for three hours, and the baby had to be taken to neonatal intensive care. As she recalls, "It wasn't a good experience."

This summer, when she went to her midwife appointment, she was nearly two weeks overdue and knew the medical staff would want to induce her the next day. The midwife "swept her membranes," a simple technique that can release hormones and lead to contractions. She explains:

"It just kicked my contractions into high gear. I went into labor in the hospital at 4 p.m., and my husband and I were not prepared for it. We thought we were going to go home again. So, we called a friend to bring our stuff to the hospital.

"My husband and I were alone in the room for a while. And as soon as I could get out of bed, we just hung out in the bathroom. We had made a birth playlist on my iPod, and we played Ray Lamontagne's "Be Here Now," Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help From My Friends" and Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."

"I wanted to be really present for the birth. I wanted to feel exactly what was happening in my body.

"The contractions weren't painful. It was an intense feeling but nothing painful. I only felt it in my back. Within an hour, I was a couple of more centimeters dilated.

"Two hours into labor, my mom arrived. She used to be a labor and delivery nurse. She was using the shower head on my back, and I realized as I was standing in the shower that the feelings I was having were those feelings you have after you have an orgasm. I was like, 'Oh, this is kind of cool.' It wasn't ever painful, it was just intense.

"When I was about 7 centimeters, I got into birthing tub. Then, things picked up and got intense. Whenever I had contraction, I had my husband's hand touching my face. I felt very, very close to him. The midwife said, 'I can tell you're nearing the end of the labor.'

"I had one more contraction. I felt a pop. My husband put my hand down, and I don't think I even pushed. The head came out, and he received the baby and laid her right on my chest.

"We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl. It was incredible. Just so relaxing and such a moving experience. It was so completely different from my other two births. I could never give birth any other way now.

"I think so much about birth, being a doula. And I think so much of the experience is in your mind. I teach childbirth preparation classes, and we talk a lot about fear and about how fear is what creates pain. Any time you're afraid of something, the more tension you have, and the more tension you have, the more pain you have. It's a vicious circle.

"You have to decide to let go and not be afraid.

"I always tell women, 'The power to give birth is within you.' If you're fortunate enough to get pregnant, your body knows what to do to give birth."

-- Maja Beckstrom

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Consumer Reports: High tech birth = poor outcomes

Consumer Reports has published a summary of a study recently released by the Childbirth Connection on the overuse of high tech interventions in childbirth:

Back to basics for safer childbirth
Too many doctors and hospitals are overusing high-tech procedures

Mother and child
Noninvasive measures can mean better outcomes for baby and Mom.
When it's time to bring a new baby into the world, there's a lot to be said for letting nature take the lead. The normal, hormone-driven changes in the body that naturally occur during delivery can optimize infant health and encourage the easy establishment and continuation of breastfeeding and mother-baby attachment. Childbirth without technical intervention can succeed in leading to a good outcome for mother and child, according to a new report. (Take our maternity-care quiz to test your knowledge.)

"Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve," co-authored by Carol Sakala and Maureen P. Corry of the nonprofit Childbirth Connection analyzed hundreds of the most recent studies and systematic reviews of maternity care. The 70-page report was issued collaboratively by Childbirth Connection, the Reforming States Group (a voluntary association of state-level health policymakers), and Milbank Memorial Fund, and released on Oct. 8, 2008.

Overuse of high-tech measures

The report found that, in the U.S., too many healthy women with low-risk pregnancies are being routinely subjected to high-tech or invasive interventions that should be reserved for higher-risk pregnancies. Such measures include:

  • Inducing labor. The percentage of women whose labor was induced more than doubled between 1990 and 2005
  • Use of epidural painkillers, which might cause adverse effects, including rapid fetal heart rate and poor performance on newborn assessment tests
  • Delivery by Caesarean section, which is estimated to account for one-third of all U.S births in 2008, will far exceed the World Health Organization's recommended national rate of 5 to 10 percent
  • Electronic fetal monitoring, unnecessarily adding to delivery costs
  • Rupturing membranes ("breaking the waters"), intending to hasten onset of labor
  • Episiotomy, which is often unnecessary

In fact, the current style of maternity care is so procedure-intensive that 6 of the 15 most common hospital procedures used in the entire U.S. are related to childbirth. Although most childbearing women in this country are healthy and at low risk for childbirth complications, national surveys reveal that essentially all women who give birth in U.S. hospitals have high rates of use of complex interventions, with risks of adverse effects.

The reasons for this overuse might have more to do with profit and liability issues than with optimal care, the report points out. Hospitals and care providers can increase their insurance reimbursements by administering costly high-tech interventions rather than just watching, waiting, and shepherding the natural process of childbirth.

Convenience for health care workers and patients might be another factor. Naturally occurring labor is not limited to typical working hours. Evidence also shows that a disproportionate amount of tech-driven interventions like Caesarean sections occur during weekday "business hours," rather than at night, on weekends, or on holidays.

Underuse of high-touch, noninvasive measures

Many practices that have been proven effective and do little to no harm are underused in today's maternity care for healthy low-risk women. They include:

  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Use of midwife or family physician
  • Continuous presence of a companion for the mother during labor
  • Upright and side-lying positions during labor and delivery, which are associated with less severe pain than lying down on one's back
  • Vaginal birth (VBAC) for most women who have had a previous Caesarean section
  • Early mother-baby skin-to-skin contact

The study suggests that those and other low-cost, beneficial practices are not routinely practiced for several reasons, including limited scope for economic gain, lack of national standards to measure providers' performance, and a medical tradition that doesn't prioritize the measurement of adverse effects, or take them into account.

Thanks to Emily Ward for the link! Send us your blog ideas:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Birth Stories - Monday, October 13th

Birth Stories Night!

Four recent VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) mamas will share their stories at our upcoming support meeting.

Join us!
Monday, October 13th
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
1720 E Minnehaha Pkwy, Minneapolis

Each mama will share about her preparations for VBAC, how the labor and delivery went, and lessons she learned. Come to be inspired and encouraged!

There will also be time for general support and discussion. Childcare available with a $5 donation!!! Please email to RSVP for childcare:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Orgasmic Birth!!!

WOW—what an amazing night! It was an honor to work with the other groups in presenting Orgasmic Birth. Gail Tully from Spinning Babies, Emme Corbeil—midwife, Susan Lane—activist and doula, Donna Corbo—childbirth educator, and Monica Matos—founder of Ten Moons Rising. And there were many more, so I don’t mean to leave you off. But it was an amazing evening that left me energized and excited for the possibilities of birth. I left believing in my body’s ability to not only birth a baby (this is due to a successful VBAC), but to even enjoy it, to love it, to feel ecstasy from it—and why not? Isn’t that what it is all about? Making love, joyfully birthing our love and then raising them with unconditional love for the rest of their lives? Yes, it all comes together so perfectly.

So this is the beginning of organized birth/mama/baby/dad events in the Twin Cities. We are next going to work on a website, and a march in March, and a fundraising walk next summer and much much more. I will keep you all posted as things materialize. In the mean time, if you would like to order Orgasmic Birth, I have purchased 50 copies. Please email me at if you would like one. They are $40.

Everyone needs to see this film!

See you soon,

Newsflash! Orgasmic Birth will be featured on ABC's 20/20 on October 24th, barring any preempting news stories. Plan to tune in!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ICAN Forums

ICAN (International) now has forums! If you join, you can enter into discussions with others about various topics related to cesarean recovery, prevention and VBAC. It's great!

Click here to join the forums.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Orgasmic Birth Tomorrow- Don't miss out!!!

ICAN of the Twin Cities is proudly co-sponsoring

Thursday, September 25 - 7:00pm
Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, MN

(3CEUs/Contact Hours)


The theater has an event letting out immediately prior to ours. Advance online ticket purchases are


The film will be introduced by
Orgasmic Birth's producer, Debra Pascali-Bonaro.


Pleasure in Birth: Is it Possible?
Thursday, September 25, 1:30-3:00 pm
Woodwinds Health Campus, 1925 Woodwinds Dr., Woodbury, MN

1.5 CEUs/contact hours
Directions, with map, provided when you buy a ticket.

Price: $19


Becoming a Birth Activist (Lecture & Brunch)
Friday, September 26, 9:00am - 1:00 pm
Corondolet Center, 1890 Randolf Ave., St. Paul, MN

4 CEUs/contact hours

Directions, with map, provided when you buy a ticket.

Price: $50 (includes brunch)



MN State DONA Gathering/Annual Meeting

Wabun Park, Minneapolis

Thursday, September 25, 3:00 - 6:00pm

(1 contact hour for DONA certified doulas)


TRIPLE TREAT - Register for all 3 events for $69.

COUPLE SPECIAL (expectant or not) - Two for $30.


Up to 9 CEUS available for only $85! Visit for full details.

Receive a certificate of attendance for no extra fee.

About The Organizers

Spinning BabiesSpinning Babies:
Easier Childbirth with Fetal Positioning

Contact: Gail Tully


The mom's job is to dilate, the baby's job is to rotate. Spinning Babies is an educational website devoted to making birth easier with fetal positioning. When a woman's womb is symmetrical, her baby will settle into the ideal position to fit more easily through the pelvis. Come visit Spinning Babies.

3 SmilesTen Moons Rising:
Giving Birth to a More Peaceful World
Contact: Monica Matos, Founder

Ten Moons Rising Holistic Family Education is a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness about the profound impact that our earliest experiences - in the womb and at birth - have on one's self-image, perceptions of the world, health, behavior and relationship patterns.
The way a baby is born determines whether these foundational patterns are created from traumatic experiences (which can be healed) or gentle, loving ones. The way a mother gives birth impacts her confidence, fulfillment and overall sense of well-being. Birth matters!

3 SmilesThe Childbirth Collective:
A Minnesota Nonprofit Serving Birthing Families
Contact: Teri Pier, CD(DONA), CE

The Childbirth Collective is a nonprofit organization with chapters in the Twin Cities, Duluth, St. Croix River Valley, Winona/LaCrosse, and Fargo/Moorhead. The goal of "The Collective," through resources such as free weekly Parent Topic Nights, is to enhance the childbearing year for parents by promoting quality doula support, advocating evidence-based care, and providing accessible education based on the wellness model of maternity care. We are a collective of birth professionals inclusive of Doulas, Childbirth Educators, Midwives, Lactation Consultants, Psychological Counselors, Massage Therapists, and others within the birthing community, providing services to support families, and each other.

Ican LogoICAN of The Twin Cities
Contact: Sarah Shannon
Please check out our NEW website:
A local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network

ICAN of the Twin Cities is a local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). Free monthly meetings for support and education are held the second Monday of the month in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area of Minnesota. In addition, we have a library of birth-related books, articles and cesarean/VBAC related research, provide individual telephone or e-mail support, do presentations to any group interested in cesarean prevention or VBAC, attend birth-related events, and generate media coverage for group activities and cesarean issues in the news.

Dona LogoMN DONA
Contact: Susan Lane, DONA State Representative

MN DONA is the informal name to designate Minnesota members of DONA International. DONA international is the largest doula training and certifying organization in the world. Minnesota has largest state membership, per capita, of any state in the US. Minnesota comprises 5% of all DONA membership-- 268 members. Our state has more doula-attended births per capita than any other state! Join through the website.

When you join DONA you will automatically be joining MN DONA without any additional efforts.

Announcement! Our Dona state gathering will be held in conjunction with local Orgasmic Birth events. Watch for location in the next e-newsletter!


Orgasmic Birth is a phenomenal film, with a scientifically-validated
message: that birth is an intimate and innately ecstatic event, as evidenced by the laboring woman's release of ecstatic hormones... It is the perfect antidote to 21st century birth fright. Astonishing, thrilling, and transformative.
Dr .Sarah J Buckley,GP/ family physician, Queensland, Australia
I had the great honor of attending the initial screening with families
featured in the film. What an incredible experience and what a most moving and provocative film. It should be mandatory viewing for all families and practitioners involved in the birth process.
Dr. Larry Rosen, Pediatrician, Oradell, NJ

What a wonderful, empowering, hopeful film! My hope is that women, men, nurses, doctors, and pretty much everybody take the time to see this film. This could be life changing. Thank you so much!
Jennifer Steele, Doula, Portland OR

I loved the film. It's the best feature-length film about birth I have ever seen - and I have seen them all.
Carol Gray, Midwife, Portland OR

Orgasmic Birth is the perfect blend of evidence-based information and documentary film making. This blend helps the viewer to understand more thoroughly the normalcy of birth and why, 90% of the time, birth is an uncomplicated event. As a nurse with over 30 years of experience, I can say that every birth consumer and professional should see this documentary film and will come away with renewed faith and trust in the process!
Connie Livingston RN, BS, LCCE, CD(DONA)
President, Perinatal Education Associates, Inc.

Orgasmic Birth shows what is possible when healthy women feel loved, confident, secure, uninhibited, and cared for during pregnancy and birth. The moving beautiful images leave no room for fear or loneliness, and show birth as the deeply sexual experience that it can be. Thank you, Debra Pascali-Bonaro and your team, for your vision and courage in portraying the ecstatic, sexual, orgasmic potential that exists in birth!
Penny Simkin, Doula, childbirth educator, and birth counselor; Seattle WA

Finally, the truth about birth - some ecstasy, some agony, but beyond doubt a celebration! Women must know that birth is indeed the ultimate expression of their female power, in all its possibilities. Birds fly, fish swim, women do birth.
Elizabeth Noble, PT, Author, Founder of Women¹s Health Section of the American Physical Therapy Association

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mankato malpractice case: A dangerous verdict

This week, a jury in Mankato, MN brought back a verdict in a malpractice case that may very well fuel the already skyrocketing cesarean rate. The Mankato Free Press summarizes the verdict saying, "Jurors finished deliberating Friday afternoon and determined the clinic and obstetrician Carla Goerish were negligent by not recognizing the fetus was so large it should have been delivered by Caesarean section."

The situation is a sad one. No parent could help but sympathize with the couple who sued Dr. Goerish. Their beautiful baby daughter suffered nerve damage in the course of her birth. Who wouldn't want someone to be held responsible? We all do when something goes wrong, especially with our children.

However, this verdict sets a very dangerous precedent for birthing women everywhere. We just recently posted here about a recent study demonstrating a link between malpractice lawsuits and the rising cesarean rate. This case will no doubt contribute to more unnecessary cesareans being performed on the basis of a suspected macrosomic (large) fetus.

The plaintiff's lawyer argued that a radiologic report that "suggested a macrosomic fetus," combined with "
accepted, published medical standards (that) suggest a C-section be done with macrosomic fetuses" meant that the OB was negligent in this case. Apparently, the jury believed this evidence. Unfortunately, while some studies and standards my "suggest" a cesarean in such cases, there is far from a solid consensus in the medical literature regarding the use of cesarean for suspected large babies. The truth is, radiologic measurements are notoriously unreliable. Estimated weights can be off by more than a pound in either direction. As Dr. Goerish's lawyer argued, there is simply no way to know if a baby it "too large" based on such evidence. See Kmom's excellent discussion of the medical evidence here.

Not to mention that women's pelvises are made to flex and expand to allow babies to move through during birth; a process that is hindered by standard hospital practice of birthing while lying in bed (usually with an epidural). Babies heads are also made to mold, if given time and opportunity to do so, to fit through the pelvis. See ICAN's White Paper on Cephalopelvic Distortion (CPD) for more information. Gloria LeMay's Pelvises I Have Known and Loved is also instructive.

In reality, things can happen in birth. The temptation to say that a surgical procedure may have prevented a poor outcome is alway strong in hindsight. Perhaps it would have in this case. It seems we expect our doctors to be nearly omniscient when it comes to this. It's no wonder many OBs practice "defensive medicine" out of fear of being sued.

But performing cesareans for suspected large babies is NOT the answer, as this video from ICAN Voices illustrates so well. Women of all sizes CAN birth babies of all sizes. No technology to date can accurately predict this, as much as we might like it to.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In case you missed it...

Our own Heather D. was published a couple months back in the Minnesota Women's Press...

Fight for vaginal delivery

OnYourMind: Heather Deatrick: Stop unnecessary Caesarean sections!

I don't know how or why my feminist, questioning mind shut off the minute I found out I was pregnant.

by Heather Deatrick

It seems to me that although the issue of unnecessary Cesarean sections is hot in the natural childbirth and midwife circles, it is totally off the radar in the feminist and women's rights circles. I do not see how this is different from the abortion debate: Choosing how you deliver your baby is a question of women's reproductive choice.

There are hospitals and doctors that will "not allow" a woman, particularly one who has had a previous delivery via C-section, to choose a vaginal delivery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is at the helm of this, stating that hospitals should have 24-hour anesthesiologists on duty if they "allow" a woman with a previous Cesarean section to have a vaginal birth (VBAC). I have heard horror stories of rare instances of hospitals getting court orders for C-sections.

Most women accept this, assuming that there is a good reason. The fact is, there is not. This is about what is good and convenient for doctors and hospitals. I know because it happened to me. When I was pregnant with my first child I trusted my OB. I ended with a C-section due to "fetal distress"-the result of too many medical interventions after I went past my due date. I don't buy the "at least you have a healthy baby" line. A healthy baby does not dictate that hospitals and doctors decide how I can have it! Good heavens, women have been doing this since the beginning of time.

My guess is that "they" have finally figured out how to take that from us too-childbirth. Because a vaginal delivery cannot be forced, rushed or predictable. It has its own rhythm and timing and ebb and flow. I believe the provider should be there to catch the baby. In natural birth, very rarely is intervention by a doctor really needed. Most women can probably have an unassisted birth at home without a problem. Unfortunately, we are told and scared by the what-ifs, of course.

I don't know how or why my feminist, questioning mind shut off the minute I found out I was pregnant. Wow, was I misguided! I learned about normal, natural beautiful peaceful birth in my successful quest and fight to have a vaginal delivery for my second child.

My memories of the birth of my first child: epidural, Pitocin, fetal monitor, vaginal exams, breaking of the waters, doctors dictating everything (being in charge), episiotomy, time limits, progression, failure to progress, stalling of labor ... I could go on and on. I had a wonderful midwife-assisted birth in a hospital with my second child. And now that I proved the OB who said I couldn't have a vaginal birth wrong, I will have a homebirth next time, with women and my husband, and current children. And wait for the baby to come, for my midwife to catch, or maybe my husband, or maybe even me or my son. It will be my choice, my say, my birth.

Heather Deatrick of Minneapolis is a member of the International Cesarean Awareness Network.