Category Archives: Homebirth

71% C-Section Rate at Hospital in Miami

When I spoke with Barbara Harper last week, she casually mentioned that one hospital in Miami-Dade County has a 73% overall caesaerean rate.  Uhmm, excuse me?

71% of Births are C-Sections at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami - Photo by Grendellion

I’m originally from Miami, and my partner and I flirt with the idea of moving our family back there one day.  So when I imagine being pregnant again, back home in the tropical circus that is South Florida, I keep getting a visual image of 73% flashing across my daydreams.  So I called Kendall Regional Medical Center.

The first nurse I spoke with was sincerely confused by my question about their caesarean rate.  She tried to explain to me what a c-section was, and eventually referred me to another nurse.

This second nurse explained that the hospital doesn’t actually have a caesarean rate, but rather the individual doctors do.  Absurd.  She also made sure to point out that, “Anywhere you go in Miami is going to be a high c-section rate.”  Awesome.

After persisting a bit about the hospital’s percentage of c-sections, nurse #2 admitted, “We know our doctors here who are quick to cut, and some who aren’t.”  She stated that some care providers at the hospital have individual rates of 5%, whereas some are 20%.  While I appreciated her effort to give me an answer, it didn’t jive at all with Barbara Harper’s mention of 73% or The Unnecessarean‘s published 2008 statistic of 71%. Continue reading


FDA Returns Birth Pools, Warns ‘We’ll be back’

The seized birthing tubs have now theoretically been returned to their owners, but this fight is far from over.  Barbara Harper, author of Gentle Birth Choices and founder of Waterbirth International, outlined the situation to me this morning.

Is this birth tub a piece of medical equipment? Photo by BirtherSage

Two of the four major U.S. distributors of birth tubs have recently received warning letters from the FDA, thus halting their sales and shipments.  A shipping container of birth tubs was temporarily held at U.S. Customs in Portland, OR earlier this week, and underwent FDA inspection before being released to the distributors.

But Barbara says the FDA made it clear that even though the distributors were allowed to take their shipments to their own warehouses, the FDA is still in control of the property.  She says their attitude was, ‘We own it.  You can’t sell it, you can’t ship it.’  They came in, inspected and counted the birth tubs, and left with a ‘We’ll be back.’

An Attack on Birth Choices?

The public response to this story seems to have been either along the lines of ‘This is one more battle in the government’s war on water birth and birth choices in general,’ or ‘The FDA is just doing their jobs trying to protect birthing women from harm.’  Perhaps the reality is somewhere in the middle.

“If there is an effort to take away water birth,” Barbara explains, “We have to enlist the hospital midwives and obstetricians.  It’s not just about home birth,” since many hospitals are allowing water births these days, with some even using portable, inflatable birthing tubs such as the ones seized in this FDA fiasco.

If this situation truly turns out to be about eliminating water birth as a choice for pregnant women, Barbara adds, “How long do you think it’s going to be before they put yellow caution tape on every hospital bathtub?” Continue reading

Birth Story: A Home Birth at the Hospital

Susannah and her husband spent months planning & preparing for a homebirth. they hired a homebirth midwife, hired me as their doula, took natural childbirth classes, ordered a birth kit, and got their house ready for the birth and the baby. then, in her third trimester, the almighty dollar sign reared its ugly head, and they realized that their homebirth would be financially impossible.

if they went to the hospital to give birth, Susannah’s health insurance would pay all of the $10,000+ bill, whereas a homebirth would be less expensive ($3,000) but they’d have to pay the entire bill themselves.  Susannah grieved the loss of her fantasy homebirth, but had to quickly move on and embrace a new fantasy of the perfect hospital birth with homebirth-style care.

when her baby’s birth-day finally came, Susannah’s fantasy came true.  she labored beautifully at home late into the night, until transition, often the most difficult part of labor. most women rush themselves frantically to the hospital long before this advanced stage of labor, but instead Susannah and her mother and i sat quietly in the darkness of her home, massaging and reassuring and hydrating and timing, for hours as her body prepared her to meet her baby.

it was beautiful to watch her disappear inside her mind with each surge of pressure & pain, and then re-awaken to our voices as the contraction passed.  Susannah’s mother held her tightly, loving being needed, and Susannah loving being cared for.  we created a quiet, calm, and safe space for the mother inside Susannah to begin to emerge, and we waited. Continue reading

‘Guerrilla Midwife’ Now Available for Purchase Online

Ask and you will receive!  After many months of folks wondering where they can purchase a copy of the Guerrilla Midwife documentary, it’s now available online at The Parenting Space for $24.99 USD.

Winner of over 25 film festivals worldwide, this film is a must see for anyone interested in birth culture and midwifery.

Back in March 2010 I blogged about the new film, and then in October I had the privilege of seeing it with Ibu Robin Lim at the 2010 MANA Conference.  Now you can see it for yourself!  Purchase your own copy, and consider holding a film screening as a fundraiser for Bumi Sehat!

Outlaw Midwives #2 is here!

Outlaw Midwives #2 is here!  Thanks to the work, vision, intention, manifestation, joy, and rage of Mai’a Williams and the swarm of incredible folks involved in this zine.  Read it online here, and read Maia’s intro here:

I love volume 2 of outlaw midwives.  I love it because it is full of personal stories from the frontlines of birth work and mothering.  As I printed out the articles and sat on the floor with glue stick and scissors, stapler and paper, I could hear the air crackle around me as the electric heater burnt slowly.  These pages are pointing to a path of liberation and magic.  To a place where justice = love.

These stories run the gamut, from supporting women’s access to abortion to discovering that breastfeeding can be painful and exhausting.  From questioning who homebirth is really for, to mamas discussing marginal identities in the natural birth community.  There are visions for what midwifery could be, should be, and what it should never have become.  Stories about death.  And yes, stories about birth.  Most of all, these are stories, our stories, that we need. Continue reading

Midwifery 101 Online with Gloria Lemay

Childbirth guru Gloria Lemay is offering an exciting new online series of courses she calls MIDWIFERY EDUCATION 101

Whether you’re an ambitious doula or an aspiring midwifery student, the 16 remaining classes (the series started November 25) will be jam-packed with info we can all use. 


Get together a study group or invite your birth junkie friends over to hear the lectures & see the Powerpoints.  Here’s the class schedule:

  • Dec 16 Prenatal Clinic visit
  • Jan 6 Palpation, Blood pressure
  • Jan 13 Rh negative blood type
  • Jan 20 Fetal circulation
  • Jan 27 Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
  • Feb 3 Cervix—effacement, dilation
  • Feb 10 Confident nutrition counseling
  • Feb 17 Gestational diabetes prevention, screening
  • Feb 24 Anemia and blood work
  • March 3 Water birth
  • March 10 Genetics for midwives
  • March 17 Perineum, preventing tears
  • March 24 Newborn exam
    March 31 Placenta (cut and clamp cord, examining)
  • April 7 Twins and breech presentations
  • April 14 Teaching childbirth education

Classes are $7.99 for 60 minute sessions and you can choose individual classes or the entire series.  Check out Gloria Lemay’s blog for details and to register.

Hathor the CowGoddess as The Perfect Radical Mama

Hathor the CowGoddess seems to be an outright representation of the perfect radical mama…and, of course, she’s a cartoon.


She uses attitude and wit to advocate for homebirth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and attachment parenting–all the things on the top of the to-do list for the mama who wants to ‘do things right.’  She’s egalitarian and compassionate; she likes to take deep breaths and “wallow around” with her children. But it’s important for the rest of us to remember that she’s only perfect BECAUSE she’s a cartoon. 

Hathor’s creator, Heather Cushman-Dowdee, explains that “a good portion of the time the comics are wishful thinking, how I want to behave.”  So she draws her ideal into the form of Hathor the CowGoddess.

“I think that there are tremendous advantages to homebirthing, breastfeeding and attachment parenting our babies….you can’t homebirth if you didn’t know it was an option. You won’t choose it if you didn’t know it was safe. You’ll have trouble breastfeeding if you don’t think of it as normal, do-able, watch it in action. That’s why I cartoon. To share.”

And before you start railing on me for even mentioning the idea of ‘the perfect radical mama,’ please back off.  She’s a two-dimensional cow.