Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Website

I'm very pleased to announce the launch of my website! Check it out here for more information about my birth and postpartum doula services in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm in Austin

I'm finally coming up for air and I thought I'd write a brief post to let folks know that I'm now in Austin and quickly meeting lots of childbirth and parenting professionals, which has been wonderful. I look forward to meeting mamas, dads, and babies, too!

If you're in Bangalore, please scroll down to see the next post. I'm still getting e-mail inquiries from expectant parents there, and sadly, I'm not able to help very much, being that I've moved back to the US. However, the Bangalore Birth Network is still going strong and getting stronger, so I encourage you to write to them at so that you can connect with other moms and birth professionals.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm No Longer in Bangalore

I have been meaning to post this for the last two weeks, but have been a bit sucked in to life here in New York and New Jersey. It's great to be back but was very hard to leave such a wonderful community of birth advocates and new and expectant moms in Bangalore! I'm still receiving e-mails from women who are interested in having a doula at their birth and/or taking Lamaze classes. Although I don't know of any other Lamaze-certified childbirth educators or doulas in Bangalore, I thought I'd refer those of you who are looking for support to the following links:

* Tehelka piece on alternatives to hospital birth

* Chillibreeze article on how to prepare for childbirth

* Another Chillibreeze article highlighting three expats' experiences giving birth in Bangalore

* Goa Birthing Center

* "Having a Baby? 10 Questions to Ask"

* Here are, in my opinion, the best links:

1. Childbirth Connection (up-to-date evidence-based information and resources on planning for pregnancy, labor and birth, and the postpartum period)
2. International Cesarean Awareness Network
3. Lamaze International
4. La Leche League International (breastfeeding information)

On the right side of this blog you'll find recommended reading and more links. I think in the absence of good quality childbirth classes, you will need to do a lot of research and self-advocacy. It's unfortunate, but hospitals are set up for one kind of birth (quick) and you will need to have a doctor you trust and communicate well with.

After some time traveling in the US, I'm moving to Austin, Texas. I'll still be working as much as I can on the Bangalore Birth Network, which will have a website up in the next few months. If you'd like to know more about the BBN or to become a member, please e-mail

I'm still reeling from my experience supporting new parents in Bangalore and setting up the Bangalore Birth Network!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Breastfeeding Protects Against Arthritis

As if there weren't enough health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child to convince women to breastfeed, here's another one. According to a Swedish study, breastfeeding reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis for the mother. Researchers found that women who breastfed for up to one year reduced their risk of arthritis by 25%, and that those who breastfed for more than a year reduced their risk by 50%. For more on this study, click here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chinese Cop Helps Quake Effort by Breastfeeding

This came across on one of my lists, but without a link:

CHENGDU, China - A Chinese policewoman is contributing to the country's massive earthquake relief effort in a very personal way -- by breastfeeding eight babies.

A newspaper in Chengdu, the capital of quake-hit Sichuan province, devoted a special page to the 29-year-old woman, calling her a "hero."

The woman from the quake-ravaged town of Jiangyou has just had a child herself, the Western Urban Daily said.

She is nursing the children of three women who were left homeless by the quake and are too traumatised to give milk, as well as five orphans, the report said.

The babies who lost their parents have been put in an orphanage which does not have powdered milk, it said.

An estimated 50,000 people were killed in the May 12 earthquake, China's worst natural disaster in a generation.

- Sapa-AFP

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fantastic Birth in Bangalore!

I want to share a little about a birth I attended a week ago. I'd been traveling up north and returned to have a prenatal visit with my clients . My client, who I will refer to as C, looked beautiful, felt good and was excited about the upcoming birth. As her due date was only three days away, she and her doctor had discussed her doc's induction protocol, which was that she would need to go in for induction six days after her due date. C had a feeling her baby would come late, as both she and her brother had been more than a week late. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has a guideline of 42 weeks, or two weeks after the estimated due date; given that due dates are often so uncertain and most first-time babies come late, allowing only six days before inducing isn't giving the baby much of a chance!) She very much wanted to avoid being induced, so during our prenatal visit we talked about natural induction methods: sexual intercourse (prostaglandins in semen help ripen the cervix), nipple stimulation, acupressure and herbs.

Her husband, D, called me at 12:30 that night and said she was having contractions that were four minutes apart! I said I'd meet them at the hospital, got dressed and was on my way. Luckily, we arrived at the same time, and by the intensity and frequency of C's contractions, I could tell that she was in transition. We went straight to the delivery room, where we met the on-call doctor and a few nurses. The doctor checked C: fully dilated and ready to push! Of course there was no time for pain medication, and my clients had come prepared with a birth plan, which stated clearly that the doctor and medical staff should avoid common and often unnecessary interventions such as shaving, enema, IV, episiotomy, oxytocin, immediate cord clamping, separation of mother and baby, etc. C was amazing, listening to her body and following its natural urges to push, while D supported her in the most gentle and loving way until their baby boy was born at 2:19 am. He was placed on C's chest immediately and kept there, skin to skin, for 40 minutes. (It's extremely unusual for doctors/hospitals to allow this much time to pass before they take the baby away, but as long as a newborn is pink and breathing, all newborn procedures can and should be delayed for at least an hour so that mom and baby can be skin to skin and establish breastfeeding.)

Unlike in most hospital birth settings I've been a part of in Bangalore, the doctors and medical staff were kind, quiet (for the most part), calm, and respectful of C's wishes as stated in her birth plan. (That said, it was a very short labor, so it's impossible to know how much pressure for interventions there would have been if labor had slowed or did not progress as quickly.) She was not given an IV (just a hep lock) nor did the doctor cut an episiotomy. She tore naturally, and was extremely pleased to have a natural tear instead of an episiotomy. Both parents are very satisfied with the whole experience, and I'm so honored to have been a part of it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tehelka Article on Alternatives to Hospital Births in Urban India

Here's an article in Tehelka -- an independent news magazine -- that I was interviewed for. The title, in my opinion, doesn't really reflect the content of the article, but oh well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Consumer First, Patient Second

One of our BBN members passed along this article, which talks about why it's important to find the right doctor for your birth. My experience in urban India is that women and couples have to do a great amount of self-advocacy in order to get accurate information, assert their birth preferences (assuming there are some!), and have some amount of control over their delivery. This is a crucial exercise for having a satisfying birth experience.

Here's an excerpt from the article, which speaks to what we in the Bangalore Birth Network have been discussing for awhile now:

If [physicians'] parameters of care include routine epidurals, episiotomies for all their patients, routines IVs, etc. then that is their place of comfort in giving care. If you don’t want any of those things, you’d be much better off finding a different physician than trying to convert this one to your way of thinking, because you’re asking them to take themselves out of their comfort zone to care for you. It’s important that as consumers of healthcare, women understand the pressures that come to bear upon care providers.

Click here to read the entire article.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Exercise During Pregnancy Benefits Babies

If anyone - your doctor, your mother-in-law, etc - tells you that it's not good to exercise while pregnant, think again! A new study found that moderate exercise - that is, moderate intensity aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, at least three times a week - has cardiovascular benefits for the baby as well as for the mother. Read more about it here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Delayed Cord Cutting Benefits Babies

In most hospital settings, doctors routinely clamp the umbilical cord as soon as the baby is born, cutting off blood and oxygen flow from the placenta to the baby. However, waiting until the cord has stopped pulsating (just a few minutes) allows the baby to get his or her maximum blood flow and iron stores, and makes the placenta less bulky and thus easier to detach from the uterine wall.

A new study out of Canada, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, challenges the common practice of immediate cord cutting. Read more about it here.

Dais in India, and I'd guess other Traditional Birth Attendants around the world, are quite puzzled and sometimes even appalled at immediate cord cutting. Here's an excerpt from Hearing Dais' Voices, a publication by Matrika:

"The practice of not cutting the cord until the placenta is delivered is common in all the areas we have studied. Doctors, health workers and anthropological literature report the custom throughout the country. Dais have the utmost respect for these parts of the female body usually considered as waste products by the bio-medical system or highly polluting by the Brahmanic religious texts. Dais consider the infant-cord-placenta as a package. They have been together for nine months with cord and placenta functioning to nurture the fetus -- why should they be severed too quickly? The placenta is considered 'another mother' to the baby. Sometimes this afterbirth is buried with rituals and prayers for the well being of the infant. It is believed that how the placenta-cord-sac is handled influences the child's health in later life."