Picture this… A mother sits holding her newborn son on a postnatal ward during visiting time. One of her visitors reaches forward, grasps the baby by the head and pulls him out of his mothers arms leaving him dangling by his neck. Can you imagine the reaction of the mother and those around? Yet no one raises an eyebrow when this occurs during birth.
If we accept that human babies are people and have feelings (both physical and emotional) why do we accept how many babies are treated during birth? What is the experience of birth like from the perspective of the baby? I realise that the following are extreme examples, but this approach is common place worldwide.
A medical approach to welcoming a baby to the world
Once the baby has been ‘removed’ their first minutes are spent away from their mother being subjected to assessments (abuse):
This interference with the mother-baby unit can result in long term implications for bonding, breastfeeding, maternal bleeding, baby’s skin colonisation with maternal bacteria (ie. infection, gut health).
A humane approach to welcoming a baby to the world
Whilst in some cases it is not possible, I believe that we should aim for all babies to have the opportunity to:
- Make their own way through their mother’s body and into the world (ie. no unnecessary pulling).
- For their first touch to be from the hands of a person who loves them (mother, father, family member, friend).
- To be held immediately by their mother skin-to-skin.
- To be sustained by their placenta until the placenta stops functioning (ie. leaving the cord intact).
- To be left in peace to find their mother’s nipple and latch on.
- To be treated gently and with dignity and respect during any ‘checks’ that their mother chooses to have done.
Babies are people too.
Note: see the video on my post re. shoulder dystocia for more information about why pulling babies out is not only unkind but also dangerous.
Here is a baby being born without being pulled out or separated from her mother:
Note the mother un-loops the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck. See this post for more information about cords around the neck at birth.
So true Rachel! Great post. Did you notice that the good doc was ‘chinning’ that little baby in the first video too! Hands on alright!
Thank you….this is SO important!!!!
I just shared this on the Facebook group Leaving A Baby´s Umbilical Cord To Stop Pulsating (Delayed Cord Clamping)
Wow! Great post and thank you for sharing the picture….I find that people just don’t get why hospital birth is so traumatic for babies, until they actually see with their very own eyes what we Doula and Midwives see happening there on a regular basis.
if a doctor touched my yoni like that I would have slapped his hands or kicked him. that was very difficult to watch.
I was cringing watching this. I cannot even IMAGINE someone treating me or my babies this way. It’s truly horrific what Americans allow the obstetricians do to their babies! And checking reflexes can be done more gently, and a few minutes after the baby cuddles w/mama. Give me a great! Don’t forget to scrub them with antiseptic soap! You can go on youtube and see some very rough hospital first baths. I’m surprised our kids even survive!
I find it hard to watch too. Checking reflexes etc. can be done a lot later. I usually do the ‘baby check’ the following day if the birth happens at night. You can see the important things without disturbing the baby – colour, breathing, heart rate. It’s more important that mum and baby have some un-interrupted hours together. Weight, reflexes etc can wait. Also mother’s are better at checking out their new baby than anyone else – they notice everything.
Awesome to hear that others are doing the newborn exam later too! 🙂
Also can be done via infant massage by the parents with the midwife looking for reflex/response and touching/listening only when necessary. You are so right that mamas notice it all!
I had a hospital birth (never again!) and I made sure I got the baby delivered onto my chest and they were happy to do so. They left him fo a very long time with me while I was sewn up and delivered the placenta. Then after all that they weighed him and measured him. The reflexes were checked later that day when I was moved to the ward or maybe the next morning, I cant remember fully. I am american so i have seen/heard all the “normal” american practises but I live in the UK and they dont even use that suction thing to clear the babies nose. Although all that doesn’t change the fact that i will be hoping for a homebirth next time x
Babies can clear their own airways perfectly well. I really don’t understand the US fixation with shoving a plastic nozzle into the baby’s nose and mouth as a welcome. It even happens at homebirth. Weird. Enjoy your future homebirth.
I do wonder why Americans allow this kind of practice to their own children. This is not standard in the UK, and while things are far from perfect and there are many things still to improve, I am truly glad that I will never have to give birth in the USA. You need strong birth partners who are able to say “We discussed this and we declined this practice” very calmly and assertively
thank my mother, you have to struggle to make myself born into the world
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I didn’t even watch these because I knew I would be distressed. It’s so hard to even read things like this because my son was dragged out of me (C sect) held up for me to see while he was still grey, then dumped on a table under bright lights with silence all around while someone waited for him to breathe. My darling independent midwife went over and at least started talking to him. And what is desperate is that the entire operating theatre thought she was mad.
Today is my son’s 4th birthday and it hurts me to my core to think of his entry to the world. His birthday is his celebration but not mine.
Helen that is so sad. Remember children are resilient – more so than their parents. How you have cared for your son after his birth is far more important than what others did during his birth. How lovely that your midwife talked to him when you couldn’t x
Helen, Like you I also couldn’t watch the clips knowing they would upset me. Reading your comment brought tears to my eyes because I too suffered 2 c-sections and the memories of these still hurt. It’s a violent and cold entry into the world. When my first daughter was born she was taken from me immediately and was brought back to me in a bundle of white blankets – she did not feel my skin, she was not given to me to feed, she did not hear my voice, she had no contact with me at all. It was almost 2 hours before I was reunited with her, in the meantime I listened to the doctors talk about their weekend while they stitched me up. To this day it still feel upset and angry that my baby was ripped from me and taken away for no reason – she was pink and crying when she was born and should have been brought to me immediately. I am very lucky to have two healthy little girls but the pain of that day still haunts me.
Same happened to me, exactly the same,I only got a glimpse of my baby girl (5th and first caesarean) and same happened with my other 4, short period with me then yanked off for assessments
Wow these images are very scary! As an evil labor and delivery nurse I have never actually seen a baby pulled out that way but if I did I would definately be reporting the doc. Many of you will be pleased to hear that ob’s are starting to catch on the natural birthing and at my particular hospital our standard practice is baby touched first by mom while cord is clamped, skin to skin immediately, initiation of breatfeeding within 15 min of life, and many more great things to help moms and babies celebrate birth in a gentle, natural way.
Welcome Eva! I’m sure you’re not ‘evil’ ; ). I did warn that I’d used extreme examples. I am so pleased to hear there is a change in hospital practice happening. I’m not sure what country you work in and I am unfamiliar with practice outside of the UK or Australia – except what I see in the media/online. I think one of the problems is that once you have intervened, you need to continue to intervene to ensure safety. For example, once you have synt (or pitocin) running, or an epidural you have overridden the physiology of birth and need to manage it ie, monitor baby, provide instructions to the woman etc. In Australia more than half the women who experience labour have their labour induced or augmented (usually with synt). Is this the same in your country? Also, I’d be interested to know from your observations whether directed pushing is used and how a nuchal cord is managed where you work.
Wow, what hospital are you at, Eva? That sounds like a great exception to the norm.!
I’m a bit behind the times since this is an old post – but I did want to say that our hospital is making drastic strides in being more birth-friendly. It of course depends on the OB just HOW friendly, but our L&D works very hard to accommodate anything the mom asks for (immediate skin to skin, early initiation of breast feeding, baby never, ever leaves the room unless mom sends it away, etc.). Of course it would be nice for the norm to be doing all the everywhere, but it’s nice to see some advances being made.
I’m in the US, by the way….west Texas…
I just want to say that not all hospitals and Dr.s use these techniques. i had two hospital births one was frightening and the second was ideal. My second birth was completely natural in the water with a mid wife standing by. They did not even check me but just told me to go with my body and when it was time there was no stopping it. I had a9 lb. 1 oz. baby in the water and I immediately held my baby skin to skin for the first hour and then they took for for a short period of time, but he never left my side. I just had to post because I have had a very positive experience birthing in the hospital. I do know that this is the exception, but if you have the opportunity to go to a hospital that supports natural birth and breastfeeding you will not be disappointed. GO Sutter Davis…
Stephanie, Vacaville CA
Sutter Roseville has similar practices, but unfortunately they don’t offer water births. Baby is allowed to go directly to mama’s chest, they encourage early breast feeding, and they will wait an hour to check the baby out. They are going to be completely “Baby-Friendly” this year. Even the warmer is right next to mama’s bed, instead of across the room like many hospitals. I’m planning a VBAC this time, and look forward to a much more natural experience.
I think hospitals are changing to meet the demands of consumers ie. not interrupting the mother-baby bond by unnecessary intervention. Jillian – the mama IS the warmer. Research shows that the best way to warm a baby up is to put him/her skin to skin with the mother’s chest. In fact mothers chest skin alters its temp according to baby – so higher if baby is cold and cooler if baby is hot. Aren’t women amazing 🙂
Good luck with your VBAC.
God is amazing that he made a woman’s body to do exactly what it needs to for birth and afterwards.
It’s gives me lot of hope to know that a hospital such as yours exist. I have seen the opposite more frequently. Would you mind sharing which hospital this is, and which country? There are several hospital in New York City where am I who advertises as being baby friendly, and I wonder if they do the same.
Eva, I’m glad to hear that you hospital is making strides. Definitely show them the research on not clamping the cord, but rather leaving it until it finishes pulsating. Studies are showing that early cord clamping or cutting can cause immediate and long term harm to the baby, e.g. iron deficiency in the first year and brain injury.
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I have three vaginal births at hospitals that were worse that these one. My fourth birth was the most wonderful experience I ever had in my entire life. It was here at my home with my husband, my older girls and my mom and dad. I was treated like a human, I catch my baby and she spent her first 24 hours in my arms, nursing. Her cord was clamp 20 minutes later when he stop functioning. Every woman and baby deserves to have a humunize birth. I still remember this last birth with joyfulness.
While I totally agree with your post – the first video is WAY MORE GENTLE than anything I witnessed at the hospital I work at (at least since they kicked the midwives out). I WISH our residents gave the baby that much time without shouting PUSH, PUSH, PUSH, and “get the vaccumn!”
Actually, I was expecting worse after seeing the comments. That’s pretty much how my daughter was delivered, pulled out by her head, even though I asked whether I should be pushing the doc said, “No, I got it.” My son was born at home. She had more difficulty with breastfeeding and sleeping while he has always been a more relaxed baby. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a coincidence or a result of her birth.
i hate reading things like this. . although so true .. it just makes me more sad/guilty/depressed etc about my birth and the way it didnt happen .. but the way i wanted it to. ended in a c-section (blah) . i wish i would have known about the possibilities of a ‘natural
Cesarean ‘birth’ possibility and fought for it.. so many regrets!
I think you need to read my post Judging Birth: http://midwifethinking.com/2011/04/09/judging-birth/
We can’t go back and change the past but we can help to change the experience of birth for others by sharing information.
Here in Australia if ur baby is breech like my 5th one was other 4 were natural, they push u into having a caesarean without a say from u. They don’t give u a chance to think about it or enough time to chat to Ur husband! I had my 5th baby at Blacktown hospital nsw and never again
I hate seeing the extraction of babies and the abuse of them. Give me a gentle birth any day!
This just about made me cry, and the videos don’t show up on my phone. My dr was excited to witness a crunchy natural birth with me and I labored and birthed my son’s head beautifully and peacefully but then his cord tore and he had to be pulled out ASAP. He had lost a lot of blood and was technically dead for two minutes. Then his heart started and they whisked him away to get him intubated. It was in the plans for his cord to be intact until it stopped pulsating and I was really looking forward to that because my daughter also had her cord severed before her body was born. I didn’t get to see either of them until they were 2+ hours old and they both had a very (necessary) medicalized, motherless start to life. At least my husband was with them the whole time, advocating and comforting them. I HATE that we didn’t get to have skin-to-skin or immediate nursing or “delayed” cord clamping and peaceful starts to their lives. I know they both *needed* their early interventions but it SUCKS that they BOTH had that.
This just confirms to me that I am so grateful for how my little girl came into the world. My first two children were both born in a hospital after being induced for no good reason. It was so hard with them both physically and emotionally. My little girl was born 7 weeks ago, at home. Though she was born at home, it was a surprise. I did have a midwife and doula but could not find an at home midwife that my insurance would cover. But I never made it to the hospital. I had my daughter on my own bed in my own room after only 45 minutes of active labor. I didn’t even have time to take off my pj pants so she gently entered the world into a nice little hammock of my soft pants. LOL! I got to spend her first few minutes just admiring her. All the things we wanted to avoid were avoided just by being at home. It was wonderful. Now she and I have such a stronger connection and bond than I ever did with my boys. She is so very healthy and everyone is so surprised with how well she is doing. I will never again have a baby in a hospital! It’s not worth it!
*HUG* AMEN! I fully agree. I am so happy you got to experience the beauty of home birth!
I had a wonderful natural birth experience at the hospital with my amazing OB. My son was born with a brow presentation (ouch) and he was not pulled or helped at all. I did all the pushing and luckily my Dr was there with advice and support and to catch him, because after his head made it out the rest came flying out. He was then put directly on to my chest and checked out while I held him. I nursed him while I was being stitched up then with a full tummy, he was taken to be weighed and all that stuff and given right back. About an hour later they did take him for a quick bath and to see the ped all of this took less then 20 min I think, and he was back in my arms. It was perfect. I would do that part over and over again. It was the best day of my life.
I was also aloud to eat and drink while in labor (something I’m told lots of people are not aloud to do) I only drank. I was throwing up the for a good part of it and encouraged to drink by the RN and my Dr. So… Not all hospital delivories are bad some are wonderful and supported. I’m glad I was in the hospital if something had gone wrong my Dr was right there to deal with it and had everything she needed at her finger tips. 🙂
From the mouth of babes… Well, a toddler. She came up behind me and said ‘ouch ouch’ when the nurse was flinging the babies arms. So simple. Ugh. I gagged when they rammed the suction up the nose and down the throat… Ouch ouch ouch.
I had a homebirth with baby #4 and though we had planned on a CNM in attendance, I woke up with transition one night and he was born just 38 minutes later! Because of this, instead of our midwife with us, I delivered my son in the water as planned with our midwife on the phone. In her absence and in case of emergency, she had EMS come and it was interesting the contrast. They were asking her via speaker phone, “Do we suction the nose or the mouth first?” She said, “Neither!” They asked, “How close do we cut the cord to the baby?” She said, “You don’t! Just let them be – you’re just there in case of an emergency!” 🙂 Having her on the phone was such a comfort and I got to deliver the baby, in a sense, by myself in the fullest sense. I led him out and brought him up to the surface to snuggle. He did great, there were no issues, and EMS left, quite confused as to why they were leaving us, shortly after.
There are SO many medical interventions that are just so unnecessary. I’m so thankful for finally deciding to birth at home (although this last time we wouldn’t have time to get to a hospital even if that WAS the plan) and won’t ever deliver in a hospital again unless ABSOLUTELY “necessary.”
Love this, I had a homebirth with my #2, and what a contrast to hospital! No panicking, no anxiety, just popped out into the water. We even had the sun set about 15minutes later on us, it was just divine! Why can’t everyone have such an experience without the fear being drilled in by the Dr’s?!
Ugh… The videos are the WORST I kept waiting to see her perineum split.
With the reflexes, all I can think of is that cruel game we played as children where you hold a friends arm back then release it o they smack them selves followed by taunting ‘ stop hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself’. Yuck.
So thankful for my peaceful home birth. Over 9 lbs (to a waist size 25 mama) and no tear… I joke all the time that I would not have been able to do that in a hospital… There is proof.
Why won’t anybody take responsibility for picking their caregivers?! My 5 children were delivered by an OB/GYN in hosptials, and she did not pull my babies like illustrated above. She also placed the baby directly on my naked skin and the cord was not cut immediately. I cleaned off my own babies and their vitals were taken on my chests. Weights and measurements were taken when I was ready. Not all hospital births are bad with unnecessary intervention and I hate that ALL of them are being painted this way.
1. With some insurance plans, you do not HAVE an option to pick your provider.
2. Even if you are able to pick your own care provider, asking questions during prenatal visits does not always ensure you are going to get the kind of care you want. As a doula that has attended over 80 births, I’ve seen the whole “bait and switch” thing happen. The doctor or midwife seems very supportive of mom’s choices during prenatal visits but during the labor and birth everything changes and the doctor suddenly becomes the exact opposite of what they painted themselves to be.
It’s great that you had a good birth in a hospital, but not all women do. And, NO ONE is painting all births a certain way. But, if you’ve attended both home births and hospital births (and several of each to have an accurate comparison), the treatment of the mother and baby at a home birth far exceeds the treatment at a hospital birth. That doesn’t mean all hospital births are bad and that all home births are good, but it does mean that the midwifery model of care is GENERALLY more mother and baby friendly.
I was almost SICK after seeing this. Could not watch it to the end. This is absolutely APPALLING! What is he thinking shoving that tube up there? and as for pulling the skin back around the vagina! OH MY GOD!! Owch! LEAVE NATURE ALONE!!! I’m shocked. (but not surprised this is happening) We’ve got to do something to make these (yes, I am generalising) barbaric OB’s, mostly MEN with the empathy of a bear, step out, let alone, BACK OFF!!
Yes let’s spit in the face of centuries of evidence-based medical knowledge because being pregnant makes you know everything. Revel in your own ignorance and do it yourself then, probably harming your baby in the process. Hippie idiots.
Evidenced based, huh? Think again. More than half of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology teaching text is based on standards of practice, not evidenced based in science. That is the very issue. There is a time and place for intervention but a woman’s body has it’s own intelligent design which has served our species just fine if you haven’t noticed our overwhelming population problem. Now day. the inventions of the technocratic model are actually causing more harm than good so don’t be so damn gullible and judgmental!
Centuries? Doctors only recently started doing maternity and neonatal care, lol The basics of the care that they give are actually NOT based on evidence or even founded medical knowledge. They certainly have their place in antenatal care and some doctors are amazing!
That said, a lot of their practice is based off of information gathered from cadavers during the 19th and 20th century. Cadavers who obviously do not possess the same abilities that a live pregnant woman or baby have. For a while there, they were ignorant to the fact that our pelvis opens up to allow the baby through. Hippie idiots? Aw.. Shame on yourself for being judgmental about something you know nothing about 🙂
What if the baby is breached like me? Is the doctor just supposed to leave the baby gasping for air struggling to get out? I understand avoiding unnecessary pulling but in some situations that could mean life or death. What if the doctor doesn’t interfere only to find out if he would of pulled 2 minutes earlier he could of made a baby start breathing again? To each their own, but I will be in a hospital to deliver my children. What if there is an unseen aliment, like a heart murmur/defect? And your child needs immediate open heart surgery and you cannot get to a hospital fast enough. All my mom’s kids looked healthy via sonogram, but come delivery time I had a heart defect and was breached, and had stomach issues. My brother was very sick and the illness could of been fatal,and had the same stomach issue I did, we were told we already lost my sister in utero, but was delivered at a hospital perfectly fine.Im sorry if I offended any one or feel like I have insulted some ones life choice I mean no intended insult/injury to each their own.I am sorry for sounding me and uncaring, I am simply stating my own opinion. I want what is best for my children, but I feel much safer in a hospital, I am willing to wait a few minutes to hold my angel so I know for the most part he/she is safe and healthy. Because after that I have my child’s whole life to hold and nurture them.
Aw, that must have been very stressful for your poor mom!
Breach babies don’t need to be pulled or tugged… Usually. There is always, always an exception to everything. It depends what kind of breach it is, because some will have their cord intact the whole way without being compressed, while others will have their cords compressed and need a little help coming out. It’s common for two itty bitty episiotomies to happen for a breach delivery as well, which usually goes against a more centered approach to delivery.
For heart problems, midwives where I am are trained extensively in emergencies like that and have all necessary equipment to sustain baby until they get to the hospital. ORs take time to prep and surgeons take time to page, so assuming you’re not out in the boonies, the time difference from delivery to an unplanned surgery isn’t very much.
I think Jocelyn answered your question well (thanks). I would just like to add that in midwifery and obs training there is a phrase to describe the first line approach to breech birth “hands off the breech”. If a woman is in the best physiological position for breech birth – upright and leaning forward – the baby with negotiate the pelvis well in most cases. If not of course you help. If the woman has an epidural and/or is on her back the baby is unable to do this because of the shape of the pelvis. Therefore they usually need to be assisted gently. BUT pulling on a breech baby can be dangerous because it can trigger the startle reflex (where the baby throws arms up and out aka the morrow reflex). This can cause their shoulders to get stuck.
Check out Maggie Banks – she is an expert on breech physiological birth and how best to support it.
What a difference in the two methods! Watching the hospital interaction caused my body to tighten. Watching the home birth caused my body to relax and joy and love to fill me up! Just think of what each does to the mother and baby!
I couldn’t watch the videos. My daughter gave birth to my granddaughter less than a month ago, so I don’t have room in my head for distressing birth videos right now. I just want to remember the real life one.
Her birth was in a hospital with more intervention than I would have chosen, but I was glad I was there (for so many reasons). I made sure the baby went skin to skin with my daughter immediately. She latched on and nursed within 5 minutes and stayed on the breast for 15. The constant medical tests were intrusive and distressing for the baby, but I attended every one and held the her arms and body close with my hands to lessen her distress….and it did. I hope the nurses and aids learned something too. Sometimes we do the best we can in a situation we wouldn’t have chosen. Thank you for this powerful post. All OB professionals should see it.
A great post as usual. I had to stop the first video. I’m pretty sure the nose tube doesn’t happen in the UK and it was too awful to watch. I’ve put a link to this on my Facebook page.
I am in the process of getting my postpartum Doula certification and I am so glad that you are ppacing these sorts of videos. I really learn so much from the video, commenst and posts.
As a post partum Doula, if you are not informed about genital cutting of infant boys, I hope you will gather some videos and information for your clients so you can encourage them to respect the body rights of their child. You will be assisting them after the birth of their baby and this is a crucial time to save the baby from having a functional part of his body amputated and experience an unnecessary trauma. Here are some sites for information: DrMomma.org Peaceful Parenting; The Whole Network.com; Saving our Sons; Intact America; NotJustSkin.org; Parents for Genital Integrity
Amazing- what a great post- well done!
May I disagree?
The objective of birth is not to cuddle, not to have a “peaceful experience”.
The objective of birth is to survive it.
If the cost of survival is a couple of stressful moves and some quick and unpleasant examinations, so be it.
Stress won’t kill anyone – it’s only a good way to prepare the baby for the rest of his life, don’t you think? 🙂
Of course you may disagree.
Birth is ‘stressful’ – even a ‘peaceful’ uninterrupted birth involves the release of adrenalin and a reduction in oxygenation for baby. This prepares them physiologically for extra-uterine life. To survive birth alive and unharmed is of course important, and the aim of most women birthing, and those assisting. Therefore why do things that decrease the change of a safe birth such as pulling which can cause damage to baby, to the perineum and lead to shoulder dystocia (emergency). Why cut the umbilical cord and cut off the baby’s oxygen supply and reduce his/her blood volume. Why take baby away from mother when there is a wealth of research demostrating the benefits of skin-to-skin (cuddles) in supporting the physiological transition to external life and breathing.
Birth is stressful enough without creating more stress and danger. Stress won’t kill a baby… A shoulder dystocia and/or cutting off placental circulation too early can. Safe, evidence based practice should be the standard 🙂
human birth is kind of hard no matter how it is done
We should all be grateful to the people that help us and also look for ways to increase everyone’s safety and satisfaction
Not everyone actually wants a baby put right on their chest, mom’s are exhasted & sometimes scared.
Find out what works, what has high success rates, what do patients want and realize no one knows everything. Also: baby’s are very resilient!
I have had 6 myself, and there were times when it was fully medically necessary for me to to give birth in a hospital. One of my little ones would not have survived the labor process if not. My babies were ALWAYS given to me straight away, cord was cut pretty quickly afterward, yes, but only after they knew it would be fully safe to do so. On one occasion, he was taken away quickly, but only because his body needed oxygen, as his cord ended up tied in the labor process, and wasn’t getting enough to begin with. Otherwise, babies stayed with me until they had a chance to nurse and bond. The doctors always had me do the work, and they only assisted as needed, gently helping the babies’ shoulders out in order to prevent me from tearing. The worst experience I had was with a couple of residents working under a regular licensed OB, when they kept me from pushing, and I had to hold baby’s head in place for 15 minutes. Otherwise, I have never had experiences that were that traumatic for baby. Give some of the hospital doctors their due, they aren’t all terrible and uncaring.
If you’re a boy born in a American hospital it doesn’t get any better as you will probably be whisked away to have your foreskin ripped away from your fully conscious body.
I live in the Uk, and although my first birth was quite traumatic, (as in DS1 had no known heartbeat at that time) NOBODY dragged him from my body like that! That is entirely horrific way to enter this world! With DS2, he was a 100% natural hospital birth, he was 26 days late, i fought tooth and nail to let him come in his own time, he did, 1hr 18 mins a full 26 days AFTER their silly EDD, he was a relativity small 8lb 11oz (considering his timely cook length LOL) and he was born into MY arms, and offered boob, where he camped for 5 days solid!
My DD was a homebirth, again, MY rules, MY body! She had passed meconium, and it wasn’t even mentioned to me until she had been skin side a while. My waters went and the midwife just said gently ‘I need you to push for me’ and was born a minute later, into MY arms, and was left ALONE, we knew she was a girl, she was born, i picked her up and placed her on my own chest, with Daddy stroking her, we then asked for a towel (all my babies tend to get quite cold post birth, quite quick) and the first words she heard was me and Daddy saying ‘Hello Princess Moo’ (something she is called to this day!) again, i offered her boob and she took to it!
I am planning on training to be a doula soon, and will NOT let my clients children be born into a strangers cold hands who treat them worse then…well i don’t know what, even puppies are given a better, gentler birth!
I completely agree. The treatment of infants in the hospital setting can be abusive, but until attention is brought to it like you have done, no one understands the problem. The same is true for infant male circumcision……now that we have established the respect that should be shown to the birthing infant, can we also stop the practice of cutting the genitals of infant males that is in almost ALL cases completely unnecessary and a violation of the body rights of infants???? the birth experience MUST include protecting the whole body of the infant, at birth and after. Why is there no mention of this??????
The post is about ‘birth’ – if I headed into all the ways babies are ‘abused’ in the postnatal period I would have to write a book! Also, luckily in Australia circumcision is not a routine practice within the maternity system. There are lots of great posts and resources online (you link to some above) about circumcision for those that are living in parts of the world where they need to make an informed decision about the issue.
I’m in the U.S. Lucky that you live in Australia where there is more logical thinking when it comes to circumcision. We are still living in the dark ages where this barbaric practice is concerned, but things are changing, although too slowly. Since most babies here who are born in a hospital setting, whose parents choose to circumcise them, are actually done in the hospital, for the U.S. it is also tied to birth trauma and disrespect of an infant. To assault their little bodies by cutting off a part of their anatomy for no valid medical reason, is unnecessary trauma. I would like to see it more readily addressed in child birth education so parents are actually informed. Hospitals like to hand out consent forms and then do not fully inform as they should, but then again why would they? The hospital makes money on those little baby foreskins by selling them to the highest bidder. Even Oprah Winfrey’s favorite anti aging cream uses baby foreskins in it! It’s all so unethical.
I had 5 hospital births and while one was a horrible experience (I got a blood clot–another story), the others were great. I think that too many women don’t talk to their doctor about what they want or even look into what is allowed/not allowed at the hospital they will give birth at. So many hospitals (I gave birth in UT, VA, and CA) will make accommodations, too. Not ALL doctors are inhumane–just talk to them and find a Dr. that fits you and what you want the experience to be like. We can’t really blame a Dr. for our “bad experience” when we never talked to him/her about our expectations or did our own research. Btw, I live in Brazil and it’s hard to find a Dr. who can/will even deliver vaginally! Everyone here schedules a c-section and that is that–both convenient for the Dr. and the woman. The Dr’s don’t even know HOW to deliver naturally! Crazy. Unless you’ve lived outside the US and have had to deliver (or have been seriously injured), I wouldn’t criticize. Our country isn’t perfect, but we are so blessed in so many ways–like having beautiful hospitals with top-notch equipment, not having to wait 3 hours before being seen with an emergency,–AND choices with our care! Okay, now I’m off my soap box. 🙂
Wow, that’s crazy about Brazil! I had no idea. I am surprised that women would be that crazy about scars there, with so many plastic surgery places there. I can’t imagine having surgery instead of wanting to go natural, but let’s face it, some women HATE labor (well no one loves it), but maybe that is another reason that c sections are the option most chosen?
According to some studies in Brazil, the national caesarean rate is 40%. Some hospitals actually have a 99% caesarean rate! (US caesarean rate is at 31% WHO says that more than 15% is too many – 5-15% is best).
I have interviewed several woman in Brazil, and these are my findings. If I were in Brazil I would go for a caesarean. I wouldn’t be able to trust a Doctor in that situation. Of course being that I live 4 hours from a reputable birth center here in Canada, that’s the way I’m going. But in Brazil, its a pretty crazy birth experience for woman. Before I write this, I should say that I recognise that there is a time and a place for every intervention. In Brazil, your typical Doctor is generally going to treat most vaginal births in this manner: When mother arrives at hospital, regardless of how far along they are in labour they must be hooked up to Pitocin/Oxytocin. (a couple mothers held off arriving until the last minutes of labour, one even arrived and was 9cm but still was hooked up to Pitocin.). The mother is then shaved. Epidural is standard (of course its the same in Canada for that). From what was explained to me, they pump the mother’s belly on each side. (I have seen this maneuver once in Canada. That was to work with mother/doctor to extract a stillborn baby with shoulder dystocia – Dr. was great!). Episiotomy is standard. Baby is either vacuumed or forceps are used. Baby is taken to warmer immediately, then a hair/makeup stylist ‘fixes’ mother. Father goes to onsite bar, buys everyone drinks. Father returns and photos with mother/father/baby are taken.
Please bear in mind that this does not apply to all Brazilian Doctors, I’m sure many are amazing and work accordingly.
Forgot to say that the reason I would drive 4 hours to a birth center is because there are absolutely no midwives less than 4 hours away.
Thankyou so much for this brilliant blog! As a Professional Rebirth Practictioner I am VERY keen to see more & more discussion and awareness about Birth from Babys’ perspective – As we recognise and heal our own Birth Trauma we are more likely (as a society) to stop the interference occuring on so many levels during Birth .. .. with your permission I would love to reblog this if possible?
No worries – spread the information 🙂
Reblogged this on yaninayoga and commented:
The images and information in this article are fantastic = a MUST SEE for all future parents and those of us aware that we all have Birth Trauma burried within our cellular and emotional memory.
Sadly, I’ve seen a LOT worse treatment of both mama and baby (though the suctioning of the yet unborn child was really horrific). Doctors always feel that they need to be DOING something. They can’t just sit by and be guardians, they must be active participants. A physician has NO place in the birthing space unless there is dire emergency going on.
It’s all very well to criticize medical interventions in the birth process however I think some of you have sadly forgotten that for many women a natural birth is not a possibility. In my own experience without an emergency caesarian for my first daughter and a scheduled one for my second, I’d be dead – and my babies wouldn’t have survived either. Having said that though, my experiences in hospital were less than positive and there is a dire need for the hospital system to look at how new mothers and infants are treated. My first birth was a cold, unrelenting, frightening and sorely disappointing experience and yet I’m grateful to have my life and my baby. My second c-section (scheduled) was a much more positive experience and I’m really glad that I didn’t have to suffer through an another long and unproductive labour which would have led to another emergency surgery.
I was just curious as to how you knew you would have a long and unproductive labor the second time around?
To answer your question Mary, I have a severely tilted uterus which is also well above average in size coupled with a very small pelvis. During my first labour there was no change in my cervix after 24 hours of labour – including after my waters were broken manually, and an induction. My mother and grandmother also suffer from the same conditions and had similar birth experiences (my mother also suffered from pre-eclampsia which, in itself gave cause for concern). On top of all of that, both of my babies presented transverse breech (sideways) for the entirety of the pregnancies making labour very painful and a natural birth extremely difficult.
I’m just curious if you ever consulted anyone aside from your primary obstetrician for a second opinion. Were the babies ever given time, or a chance to turn? Did you go into labor naturally, and when your baby was ready, or were you induced with your first? Did you get a chance to labor in any position aside from lying in a bed on your back? All of those things make quite a difference. Giving birth lying on your back is hard enough, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be with uteran and pelvic abnormalities.
I was lucky enough to have a chance to research the kind of birth that I wanted to have for years and I got it. I would have loved for it to be in the water, but a few of my contractions were just too much to bear any place aside from the toilet. I was able to labor in water though. I had a wonderful home birth, and the only people to touch my son were his father and I, and a close cousin of mine, for three days. Guess what?! He was fine! We didn’t suction, I birthed the placenta before cutting his umbilical cord, and being born on my bathroom floor rather than in a hospital didn’t cause him any damage. My boyfriend said that the difference between the birth of his daughter with his ex, and the birth of our son were drastically different. Mine was the easier one, and I didn’t even have medication or anything.
I couldn’t imagine watching someone do those things to my son, unless it is a true emergency I will never birth in a hospital, and if I have to, and my child or I are mistreated, I’ll be kicking someone in the face.
Thank you so much for sharing! My exact sentiments. I wrote a small log post about the very same thing but with my birth experiences.
I had a c section as I had to have a second medical procedure done after my baby was born. She went with her father for weighing and checks. I didn’t beast feed her and have skin to skin until I was in recovery about half an hour later. I just have to say that I had no bonding problems, no breast feeding problems, my daughter was and still is perfectly healthy (she is now 10 months old). She has been an amazing sleeper, no reflux or colic… in fact the dream baby. I love her with every part of my being. Having a baby is not all about the birth and I get upset when people say how horrific c section births are for the baby. To each his/her own… just saying.
I agree Louise. C-section is not always an awful experience for the baby or mother. And human mothers and babies can compensate for missing the hormonally facilitated bonding that occurs following a physiological birth. If they couldn’t we’d be in big trouble! Other mammals reject their babies if they do not have the ‘cocktail’ of birth hormones. But human women can intellectually know and love their baby, and by skin to skin and breastfeeding they can release oxytocin in the postnatal period. Personally I had one baby without a physiological labour/birth and one with a physiological labour/birth. The difference was the primal and physical overwhelming bond I experienced immediately after birth with the later. I loved them both as babies and now… it was just that initial experience – which I actually found a little overwhelming. Having a baby is not all about the birth 🙂
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHMcXLCr_Ks …….I was interested to see that although not “perfect”, this video was surprisingly peaceful and with least intervention of most hospital these days.
Very interesting. Lots of dodgey stuff ie. maternal position, hands on perineum and suctioning but other stuff that practitioners today could learn from ie. be nice to the mother, tell her she can do it and don’t pull the baby and leave the cord until it has finished placental transfer. Thanks for finding and posting this 🙂
I think that medical birth was tame compared to most medical births I’ve seen online! She didn’t even tear thanks to the doctor’s advice to take it slowly. Hated the nasal tube though.
Well everything else about the birth increased her chance of tearing… I think her not tearing was more ‘luck’ and possibly because she was a multip. http://midwifethinking.com/2010/08/07/perineal-protectors/
Thanks, this was an important and fantastic read! I shared it on my facebook page (I am Sacred Woman) and then to a South African midwife group. Someone complained and facebook removed it and banned me for 24 hours. Such a silly thing to do! This is the exact prejudice and hierarchical materialism and loss of connection to soul and spirit that needs to be redirected towards more humane maternal care.
So thank you again for an excellent site and info.
Interesting that someone complained on FB??? I wish more people would complain to hospitals on behalf of the babies subjected to this.
I wish I could have an unassisted birth next time… Unfortunately with my first I ended up having a cesarean section. And I’ve spoken with my doctor and he doesn’t feel comfortable with me trying for a VBAC next time… Might have to find another doctor.
I would love to give birth without drugs and calmly like the last video. I went into labor with my first with the intention of doing it without drugs. It was so horrifically painful and I couldn’t do it. I got an epidural and it was so much more peaceful and calm after that. I feel guilty for using drugs, but I don’t know how on earth I could have done it. So incredibly unbearable. I’m pregnant now with my second and I know that I will end up getting an epidural. I just know it. The last video would be amazing, but it just seems so impossible to me. Now that I know how much pain I was in the first time I could never agree to a home birth either. It would be so traumatic for me. So I guess for me it’s either major pain and panic or using drugs and having a peaceful birth. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. :/
Pain medication does not necessarily prevent your baby from having a gentle and respectful birth. You should not feel guilty about how you choose to birth: http://midwifethinking.com/2011/04/09/judging-birth/
And fear and freaking out is normal 😉 http://midwifethinking.com/2013/03/27/feel-the-fear-and-birth-anyway/
You could just as easily have shown a video of a more pleasant, peaceful hospital birth, along with a video of a messy, chaotic home-birth-gone-wrong, perhaps one where the baby needed medical help to survive and the ambulance could not transport the mother and baby quickly enough. I speak from experience.
Although my hospital birth was ultimately stressful, it was in retrospect completely necessary. I was below AMA (advanced maternal age), I had every indication that my delivery would be completely typical, and I might easily have chosen to birth at home. If I had gone that route, both my son and I might have died.
This was my first, and so far only, child. I attempted to have an intervention-free experience, and almost succeeded. I did not receive any pain meds or pitocin. I walked throughout most of my labor, up and down the hospital halls, and labor progressed very quickly: three and a half hours total. My contractions were moderately painful but easily manageable. My water didn’t break until just before I had to push. To my own surprise, I felt calm and in control.
I wasn’t happy that they had to put an IV in me, which they explained was important in the event of an emergency c-section. I was especially not happy, because they really struggled with getting the IV into me. My small, twisty veins kept rolling, and my blood kept clotting up. Three different nurses stuck my arms in six different places, and it took them over an hour and finally the use of a special X-ray machine to guide the needle into me, all amidst contractions. But I managed to keep my calm throughout.
It was when the pushing began that serious intervention — frightening, yes, and life-saving — became necessary. The doctor discovered that each time I pushed, my baby was being sucked back in by his umbilical cord, which, it turned out, was too short!! She performed an episiotomy, had me wear an oxygen mask, and helped me time my pushes to match her vacuum suction. I was lucky that she knew exactly what to do in this situation, AND lucky that I somehow found within myself the strength and capacity for the violently rough pushing required. We were pretty speedy, and my boy was out within 20 minutes of active labor.
If I hadn’t managed to push so well; if my doctor hadn’t been so quick-thinking and sure-handed; if my pushes handed coordinated with that vacuum: I would have required a c-section.
If I’d been at home at the pushing stage, would a midwife have recognized what sort of problem I had? Let’s say she did. Would she also have called an ambulance in, right away? Let’s say yes. Let’s say the ambulance arrived inhumanly fast, and that I was on a hospital table within 10 minutes. Would we have the time needed to get an IV in me?
No. We would not have the luxury of an hour of time in which to struggle with my uncooperative veins and get an IV in. And without an IV bringing me the necessary fluids, I probably would not have survived a c-section. And after all the time wasted on ambulance drive and attempted IV insertion and knocking me out and prepping for surgery, would my baby have survived? No, I think probably not.
But I was at the hospital for my birth, and we all survived. Gio was placed on my breast immediately upon birth. He wasn’t doing well, so they took him back pretty quickly, but I was okay with that. I was still delivering the placenta and getting sewn up, and feeling like a truck had hit me, and stunned by our near-death experience.
Within the hour, Gio was back on my body, and I was shown how to breastfeed him. My hospital had a policy of letting the mom keep the baby with her in her hospital room at all times except for quick periods of testing (of his hearing, etc.). All of the nurses were very supportive and helpful, including a continuous supply of lactation consultants.
Anyway, that is my story. I will stick with hospitals.
“It was when the pushing began that serious intervention — frightening, yes, and life-saving — became necessary. The doctor discovered that each time I pushed, my baby was being sucked back in by his umbilical cord, which, it turned out, was too short!! She performed an episiotomy, had me wear an oxygen mask, and helped me time my pushes to match her vacuum suction. I was lucky that she knew exactly what to do in this situation…”
This makes no sense it terms of physiology. If your baby was able to be born vaginally the cord cannot have been pulling the baby back. The uterus, placenta, cord and baby all move down as a ‘package’ no extra cord length needed (this post may help to explain it better:
http://midwifethinking.com/2010/07/29/nuchal-cords/). Short cords are not a problem during birth but can stop the baby being brought to mother’s chest afterwards… I’m guessing the cord was long enough for baby to reach your breast as he was put there immediately (hopefully before cutting his cord otherwise premature cord clamping may explain why he wasn’t ‘doing well’ (http://midwifethinking.com/2010/08/26/the-placenta-essential-resuscitation-equipment/). My guess is that your baby was have heart rate decelerations when you were pushing. Were you being directed in your pushing? Directed pushing can result in fetal hypoxia which is often resolved with a rushed delivery… rather than stopping the direction and letting the woman breath and re-oxygenate the baby (info in this post: http://midwifethinking.com/2010/07/30/pushing-leave-it-to-the-experts/)
“If I’d been at home at the pushing stage, would a midwife have recognized what sort of problem I had?”
I would hope that at a homebirth you would not be directed in your pushing efforts. Decelerations are normal during pushing as long as the baby’s vagal nerve is stimulated during head compression (more info in this post: http://midwifethinking.com/2010/07/29/listening-to-baby-during-labour/). Directed pushing can prevent the baby from recovering between these ‘head squeezes’.
“…and getting sewn up, and feeling like a truck had hit me, and stunned by our near-death experience.” This makes me sad. I saw so many ’emergency situations’ created by poor management of a normal birth, and the subsequent disturbance of the initial mother-baby interactions. I hope you are able to process your experience and realise that your body is not broken and you did an amazing job of birthing in a difficult situation.
Reblogged this on Dr Susan Crowther and commented:
This is another reminder about how brutish the moment of birth can be. How those there when a new person arrives can turn from the wonder of Kairos at birth. Thank you for this blog that I share again here
Thankfully this was one part of my birth experience that felt perfect – even though I was on the main delivery ward.
I had an episiotomy (which I think I might have been able to avoid in different circumstances). My babies head was delivered in the next contraction and her shoulders in the following one (I had no idea how painful birthing the shoulders would be – I remember shouting that it wasn’t fair). I was very shaky and lying on my left side for birth with my knees bent up high and supported by the second midwife. The moment she was out she was laid on my tummy.
After all the fuss of pushing it was so blissfully quiet. She was laid on her front and gave a few cries and then quietly breathed and got pink. My notes say that her APGAR scores were 9 and 10 but I have no memory of them being assessed. She passed her meconium on my tummy (We were both naked. I really didn’t care). After about 15 minutes she was rooting around for milk and I felt quite shaky and tired still and the midwife asked if I was happy and I said I’d like help and then she helped me latch her on. She fed for about 45 minutes. We chatted. I ate a piece of toast (I was SO hungry – I laboured through dinner and breakfast and was sick in the early hours of the morning and hadn’t wanted food at all).
When she was finished feeding my episiotomy was stitched and my baby stayed lying on my tummy. After that, she was weighed and her head circumference recorded, as ther was no signs of bruising we opted for oral vitamin K which was given at that point. Then she was wrapped in a towel and passed to my partner. I was helped into the shower. When I came back they were discussing clothes and nappies and things and I said I just wanted to cuddle her. I had a big loose maternity dress on so we tucked her up under it with her head up near my chin and just a nappy on. Then we were wheeled upstairs and slept like that for about 4 hours.
We woke up in the early evening and then she spent about 8 hours feeding and dozing more or less continually (with short breaks to be cuddled by my mum and my partner). Several midwives bought helped me position her for feeding when I asked and checked that I was feeling ok. They provided me with a cot. But I didn’t want her that far away. No one commented that we spent the night with her sleeping next to me. And they let us sleep past their morning ward rounds. She woke up after sleeping for about 6 hours in a row and then we went back to feeding/looking at things/dozing for the day. She didn’t have any clothes on until we went home that afternoon, she spent nearly all her time skin to skin with me. A specialist nurse did her newborn exam when she was about 24 hours old whilst I was in the shower. According to my partner she didn’t like it very much but the nurse seemed very gentle and kind with her.
I hadn’t wanted to give birth in hospital, I had wanted to be at home. But I thought my post birth care was really excellent. I was allowed to be close and together with my baby and offered regular help with feeding. We got so much sleep curled up together I think it really helped me get starting with gaining back some energy and with feeding.
Suzanne Arms here. Between 1973 and 2000 I was able to be present – yet have no medical/midwifery/nursing responsibly for over 100 births in hospitals across the U.S. and some in Ethiopia and England, Holland, Denmark, France, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia as well and 40 births outside the hospital (in birth centers and homes) in a handful of those countries, as an advocate for the mother, baby and family and a journalist. I’ve interviewed thousands of mothers, midwives, physicians, nurses and listened to their stories.
I’ve drawn conclusions that come from personal observations, my own direct experiences (including in my birth of my daughter and her birth grandson’s birth), doing lots and lots of research in medical and other journals. I’ve seen humane care and inhumane care given to mothers and to babies, including births that required intervention and babies who required special help afterward. My own comprehensive of the many facets of birth has grown so much in the past 40+ years and still have much to learn. I am part of a not-well-organized, but nevertheless growing, international movement that is expanding in consciousness and political savvy as well as number. This is a local AND global movement to achieve the following:
1) all babies conceived consciously, with parents who have had education in sexuality, family planning, brain development of babies, and have access to a full range of reasonably safe contraception (and abortion too, until that is no longer necessary);
2) ALL maternity care and birth and postpartum practices support the sound biological principles of this complex natural process as the norm – because the process is designed for full brain, gut, immune and attachment and healthy development of the baby, mother, father/partner and family;
3) have everyone understand that birth is a sexual, social, psychological AND spiritual process for the woman, the baby, the mother-baby as one “system”, the father and family that is harmed by busy, brightly-lit, noisy environments and any interventions – as well as by fear – EVEN when that intervention is warranted!;
4) broaden the definition of birth to include the entire direct “primal” period, which is a “continuum” of interlinking and inter-dependent processes that start in the weeks BEFORE conception and continues through full breastfeeding, (because breastfeeding and the “in-arms” 9 month period is inherently part of birth);
5) understand that racism, poverty and classism are hugely shaping conditions result in the huge disparities we see in outcomes and see that those disparities are eliminated;
6) understand that babies – from conception and prior to there being a brain – are aware, sensitive and vulnerable to trauma and cannot be thought of or treated as separate from the mother, because the circumstances of her life, the treatment she gets by society and individuals, what she is exposed to or takes directly into her body that is nourishing verses toxic, including her very thoughts and feelings about herself literally SHAPE her baby’s brain and body;
7) understanding the the human male is innately more vulnerable than is the female, right from conception, including more vulnerable to trauma of any kind, and that traumatic (and lasting damaging) experiences for a baby include immediate cutting of the umbilical cord and male newborn circumcision (mostly done in the USA), as well as any the separation of that baby (male or female) from it’s mother or primary care person FOR ANY REASON during the immediate hours and days after birth cause harm to that baby, the mother and the family;
8) grappling with the inherent complexity of an issue (birth) that involves 2 HUMAN BEINGS, not just a baby, not just a mother…not just the intimate relationship of the woman and her partner, but also the family “system”, which demands that we STOP thinking in black and white terms and focusing on one small piece or another and take the Big Picture and long-term impacts into account.
Oh dear, I’ve gotten on my soap box.
For weeks now I’ve been all-but-consumed with writing and rewriting a piece intended to get folks everywhere to understand birth practices and cultural beliefs about birth AS AN INHERENT PART OF THE #MeToo movement, because of the inherent sexuality of birth, the inherent hyper-sensitivity of childbearing women, and the fact that the process involves a hell of a lot of discomfort or pain, which makes them/us inherently more vulnerable to outside authority and to any kind of trauma…And it’s a culture (system) we’ve allowed men to create – way back when and still today, even though the authority figures may today have a woman’s body – that is steeped ignorance, arrogance, “power over” and, in the USA, in profit and greed.
I’m not going to list here ALL the things that must change, but rather will say this: at the root, any and all of the abuses in birth, and to women, babies and families lie in a way of thinking and a social system called “Patriarchy” (a word we’d better start understand, because it’s the very air we breathe and the water in which we swim!).
Can I have your attention for one more minute? Mostly, in hospitals, I have seen NOT a culture based in bringing women to birth in fine health (mentally, physically, spiritually and deeply connected to their body and their baby), BUT ONE ROOTED IN fear and mistrust of the female body, of the birthing process and the innate capacity of babies to be active in their birth and afterwards AND generational and historical TRAUMA.
Unfortunately the culture of hospitals around the world is based in creating systems that can “handle” one birth after another, with environments and staffing rules that create more interventions and even more complications in birth than they claim to solve. It’s the system, not the individual, that is the problem. And that system has one overarching name: Patriarchy. And implicit in male-domination is the effort to control and manage all living processes and all forms of life – and the environment.
I’m sure I’ve said enough to cause lots of ripples. That’s my intention. I want/insist up/work toward nothing less than a “seed” change in human consciousness around birth, in a “New Story”. And I’m wondering who’s out there who will envision and plan and work with me.
Thank you to all of you who were patient enough to read this and take the time from your already overly busy lives.
Yours in peace, Suzanne Arms, Bayfield, Colorado, USA – Founder of http://www.birthingthefuture.org and my email, if you want to contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org