Free Radio Program

July 22, 2010 - Leave a Response

Two free radio programs on women’s pelvic health are available through Hay House Radio.

Ending Pelvic Pain – Thousands of women suffer from pelvic pain. Physical therapist Isa Herrera has developed effective natural approaches to end pain and start flourishing. Join Dr. Northrup as she talks with Isa and they take your questions.

Adhesions and Your Health – Larry and Belinda Wurn have pioneered an amazingly effective treatment that “turns back the clock” in the body by breaking up old adhesions manually. When you free up connective tissues, you free the body. Tune in to find new hope for chronic pain problems.

If you’re looking for more information on healing pelvic pain, especially after a Cesarean birth, check out Isa Herrera’s book Ending Female Pain

“Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS, women’s health physiotherapist, has written the quintessential self-help book for women suffering from chronic pelvic and sexual pain. In this unique book, Ms. Herrera delivers the goods, sharing her trade secrets with you and putting you on the right track to a pain-free lifestyle and enjoyable sex life. The large selection of techniques in this book are based on Herrera’s real life experience in treating women at her NYC based healing center, Renew Physical Therapy, where she treats women who suffer from conditions such as vulvodynia, vaginismus, interstitial cystitis, vestibulitis, endometriosis, and pre and post-natal pain. Ms. Herrera has written a multi-layered book, fusing yoga, pilates, internal massage, scar therapy, visualizations, and vulva self-care, ensuring that there is something for every woman who has suffered long enough with sexual, pelvic, or scar pain. With this book Ms. Herrera shows you how she helped countless women get on a path to self-healing, ultimately breaking their cycle of pain. With this book Ms. Herrera is declaring a revolution, stating “I have given you the tools you need, don’t hesitate to get started, end your pain and be the heroine of your own story.””


AGOG updates VBAC Guidelines

July 22, 2010 - Leave a Response

Included in the update is a statement that VBAC should be an option for mothers including those with two previous lower transverse incisions (VBA2C), women carrying twins and those with an unknown type of uterine scar.  It also says that OBGYNs who do not offer VBAC should refer mothers who desire one to another care provider during the pregnancy, and women presenting in labor at a hospital that doesn’t provide VBACs should be allowed to continue with the birth and not be coerced into a repeat cesarean.

The new guidelines are now more in line with what research, mothers, and advocacy groups have been saying for years.  Hopefully this update will encourage more care providers and hospitals to offer VBAC to mothers as a real choice (currently close to 30% of hospitals ban VBACs and an additional 20% don’t have an official ban but have no OBGYNs willing to attend them).

You can read the statement from ACOG here:

If you are a mother considering a VBAC for current or future pregnancies the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) has many online resources and local support groups all over the country (including two here in Massachusetts).

Free Placenta Encapsulation Guide

July 7, 2010 - Leave a Response

I haven’t been blogging much lately – I’ve been working on this placenta encapsulation guide for mothers who want to do their own encapsulation. It is finally ready to share!

As I note in the guide, this tutorial is meant for mothers only and not professionals looking to offer encapsulation services. If you are a professional interested in learning placenta encapsulation please contact me and I will happily point you in the right direction for learning this wonderful service.

“Placentophagia may provide many advantages during the postpartum adjustment period.  Experiences and research show that placenta consumption:
– replenishes depleted nutrients like Iron & B vitamins
– balances hormones
– reduces or eliminates the ‘baby blues’
– provides increased energy
– increases breast milk production
– lessens postpartum bleeding
– speeds postpartum recovery
– helps uterine involution (shrinking)” – excerpted from the guide

This guide contains:
– What placenta encapsulation is and why someone might want to do it
– A tour of your placenta
– Complete list of supplies for encapsulation
– Thorough (with photographs) explanation of the steps to encapsulate your placenta
– Storage and consumption guidelines
– Users are welcome to contact me with their questions

I hope this guide enables many mothers to have a happier, healthier postpartum with placenta encapsulation!

You can download my free Placenta Encapsulation Guide HERE. (Please note there are actual photographic images of placentas in this document) You’ll need the ability to view Adobe PDF documents to access the guide.

If you enjoy this guide, please consider making a donation via Paypal so that I can continue to offer free guides for mothers and low/no cost placenta encapsulation services to those in need. Thank you!

Common Discomforts in Pregnancy: Swelling

May 5, 2010 - Leave a Response

Many (but not all) women experience swelling of the feet and ankles during late pregnancy.  Mild swelling that shows up after a long day on your feet is uncomfortable but not usually a sign of an underlying medical issue.  In fact it can be a sign that your body is working properly to increase your blood volume to ensure good circulation to your baby, to prepare for the blood loss that accompanies birth and to ensure good hydration of your body in the early breastfeeding days.  But, the weight of your uterus/baby/placenta/amniotic fluid can reduce return circulation from your legs and lead to foot and ankle swelling (and also varicose veins).

Normal water retention comes about in pregnancy chiefly from an impressive rise in the level of female hormones, principally estrogens, manufactured by the placenta. These hormones are the same ones which cause many women to have water build-up and swelling in the few days preceding their menstrual periods, or when they are taking birth control pills. During pregnancy these hormones influence connective tissue throughout the body to retain extra fluid. Hence, the pregnant women commonly experiences swelling of her face and hands (generalized edema) in addition to that of her feet and lower legs (dependent edema).

The retained fluid is of benefit to mother and baby. Like a reservoir, it provides a water storage system in the mother’s body. The stored fluid serves as a safeguard, a backup for the expanded blood volume we have learned is needed to nourish the placenta. At the time of the birth, when some blood loss is unavoidable, the extra fluid protects the mother from going into shock. Remaining tissue fluid is mobilized in the early breast-feeding period to insure the mother an adequate milk flow. ” – What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know, by Gail Sforza Brewer and Tom Brewer, M.D

However, if the swelling is severe, pitting (leaves an impression on your skin if you press for a few moments), occurs in face or hands, visible in the morning or all the time, or is accompanied by vision changes it could be a sign of a serious condition of pregnancy called preeclampsia.  If in doubt about the type of swelling you are experiencing discuss it with your care provider.

For normal mild swelling in pregnancy there are a few measures you can take to reduce or eliminate the discomfort.

  • Rest – Try to elevate above the level of your heart several times each day for at least 15 minutes.
  • Walk – If you spend much of your day sitting at a desk take frequent breaks to stand up, take a brief walk and stretch.
  • Sleep Position– Sleeping on your left side can improve circulation which may lessen swelling.
  • Exercise – Gentle exercise can enhance circulation.  Try pelvic rocking/tilts, leg lifts and prenatal yoga.
  • Your Diet – Adequate levels of protein and salt intake can prevent or eliminate swelling and may reduce chances of developing preeclampsia.  The Brewer Pregnancy Diet is a great place to start for information on nutrition during pregnancy.  Also, nettle and dandelion leaf tea can improve circulation and aid in your body’s natural detoxifying.  Herbalist and midwife Aviva Jill Romm suggests 1 to 2 cups daily of the tea/infusion or 1/2 teaspoon daily of each herb as a tincture.
  • Foot Soak – Relax, unwind and ease foot and ankle swelling with an epsom salt foot bath.  Add 1/2 cup of Epsom salts to a basin of warm water and soak your feet. 
  • Massage – Have your partner treat you to regular foot massages with a bit of oil or lotion.  Try arnica oil to relieve aching muscles and joints.  Caution – never massage varicose veins!
  • Shoes – Switch to comfortable, open shoes that won’t restrict your feet.
  • Support – Some women find relief in using a pregnancy support belt like this or this.


If you’re not already a fan of Birth Wise on Facebook you can find my page HERE.  ‘Like’ it and you’ll be kept up to date on news, blog posts, new services and products and interesting links.

Also, today, May 5th is not only Cinco de Mayo but also International Day of the Midwife.  A day to raise awareness of midwifery care and celebrate the women who have dedicated their lives and careers to keeping moms and babies healthy, happy and safe!

What’s your pain medication preference?

April 22, 2010 - Leave a Response

You might be sure you want an epidural or some form of pain medication or you may be set on having an unmedicated birth…or you might be somewhere inbetween.  For many moms it is not black and white – they don’t fall at the far end of either preference.  Part of making sure you have a great birth is clarifying for yourself, your partner and your caregivers what your preferences are.  Not sure?  Penny Simkin (doula, physical therapist, and author) created a Pain Medication Preference scale to help you figure out where you fall on the spectrum.

This document outlines some basic information on pain relief options (both medication and non-pharmacological), factors that influence a mom’s decision in choosing pain relief, how to use the scale and of course the scale itself.  I love that the scale offers tips for partners, doulas and nurses on how to help the mom depending on where she falls on the scale.  A great tool!

Download it here as a PDF from Childbirth Connection

Enjoy your Birth

April 16, 2010 - Leave a Response

No matter what type of birth you have planned, you can ENJOY the experience.  How? As I mentioned in my first post having a doula is one way to increase satisfaction with your birth and I’ve also found this free ebook on having a great birth.

I first came across Sheridan Ripley of Enjoy Birth when she commented on my youtube video of my Hypnobabies homebirth.  She is a doula, Hypnobabies Childbirth Education instructor and moderator of the Hypnobabies yahoo group.  This guide covers three tips for having a great birth experience including trusting your body and your baby, making wise choices, and preparing mental, physical and emotional tools.

Download her free guide HERE and don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter to get more tips for having an enjoyable birth!

Have a great weekend!

What is a doula?

April 15, 2010 - Leave a Response

I thought a great first post in a doula’s blog would be to explain what a doula is and what a doula does.

Many people are at least somewhat familiar with the term ‘doula’, or at least with the concept.

The concept of a doula has been around much, much longer than the present day incarnation of a doula.  For centuries women have been helping and supporting other women during childbirth.  They were mothers, sisters, and friends.  Today most doulas are professionals trained specifically to assist with the emotional and physical needs of childbearing women. 

The word doula to describe this position and profession is fairly new.  It comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning ‘female slave’.  Why slave?  While doulas are paid professionals we strive to be servants to birth and to mothers.  We are not the controllers or keepers of a woman’s birth, but rather an assistant to care for her needs.  Some doulas prefer to use the term birth worker, labor assistant or birth assistant. 

Whatever the word used doulas have a common goal: to assist mothers and their partners in having an informed, empowering and joyful birthing experience.  For some women this means choosing an unmedicated birth and for others medicated is their preference. Doulas respect a mother’s choices and support all types of birth equally.

So what are the specifics of what a doula does?  Each doula will have slightly different training, experience, tricks and methods but here are some commonalities:

– providing information and support during pregnancy

– providing continuous emotional, informational and physical support during labor, birth and early postpartum

– offering non-pharmaceutical comfort measures during labor

– helping parents to evaluate their options and choices

– empowering parents to advocate for themselves

– studies  show that the support of a doula may lead to a reduction in interventions and complications at birth and greater maternal satisfaction with the birth experience

Doulas do NOT:

– provide any medical, clinical or nursing services (this includes vaginal exams, checking fetal heart tones, blood pressure checks, prescribing medication, catching babies, etc)

– speak or make decisions on behalf of their clients

– encourage or participate in creating a confrontational environment with the primary caregivers (obstetrician, midwife, or nurse)

– take the place of a woman’s partner/husband (instead we help the partner to participate to his/her comfort level)

Here’s a great video about doulas. 

“…what impacted their feelings about their births was how powerful they felt… did they feel like they were in control…did they feel like they were in the drivers seat…did they feel like they were supported…did they feel like what they said mattered – those were the things that made their birth either positive or negative for them…” – Do You Doula