Home Birth Advocacy, Reviews

“Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives” Review

No Comments 09 December 2012

My eyes welled up more than a few times while watching Ina May Gaskin’s new documentary, Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives. I felt emotional throughout, for several reasons, which I’ll explain in this article and review of the film.

Last week, Birth Kalamazoo and Birth Alternatives Midwifery held a benefit screening of the film with proceeds to Friends of Michigan Midwives.

The women behind the scenes making the event happen were my friend and two-time doula, Jessica English, and midwife Linda Healey (who also happened to by my two-time midwife). As SW Regional Coordinator of FoMM, I helped out by gathering silent-auction items from local businesses.

That night, I was surrounded by the energy of 50+ local birth-advocate women and their families. I felt the full room. Safe to say this was an integral factor in my emotional state.

In the film, three natural home births were depicted beautifully, which were woven seamlessly within the story of how The Farm came to be.

Ina May Gaskin was of course a reocurring character. One the audience couldn’t get enough of. We felt lucky to be guests into her past through iconic photographs and film footage of the most famous midwife in the United States. Coming in and out were scenes was her husband, Stephen Gaskin.

And those two lovebirds are the next reason why Birth Story was a big tear-fest. When Stephen said, (paraphrasing) “I’m glad just to be her Sherpa. The Sherpa gets to join you on your way up the mountain.” ?? Enough. said. #meltmyheart

I learned plenty of lessons, some of which I was learning all over again, and some for the first time.

  • As always, natural birth is so stunning, it takes my breath away and fills my heart
  • Peace and love, and not just in that hippie cliche, (but also that) helps babies come out
  • Passion + a good cause + hard work = incredible, life and world-changing results (I want to be like the go-givers in this film!)
  • Birth is a normal and natural process
  • Women are so f*ing powerful!
  • I happen to work best in large groups when I have a task – that night, I sat at the greeting table, accepted donations and re-secured sharpie lids while welcoming each person into the room. I got to say hello to everyone without stumbling drunken-sailor style around the room. Score!
  • We need more positive films like this one. Rather than make me mad, I felt inspired and courageous

Make it to a screening of Birth Story or host your own. I highly recommend it. Watch the Birth Story trailer here.

Motherhood, Reviews

Your Amazing Newborn | Book Review

No Comments 12 October 2012

Your Amazing Newborn is the first book I’ve read of my DONA postpartum doula training reading list.

The book was short at 114 pages but is packed full of extremely useful and fun-to-know information.

Our education actually begins before baby is born with Chapter One, Before Birth: Dawning Awareness. I learned so much about how precious little beings can express themselves in the womb; can taste, suck their thumbs early in life and recognize the sound and smell of their mother.

There are several studies cited in Your Amazing Newborn.

Each fact is backed up by a study. For instance, newborns respond to their mother’s voice. Similarly, mothers can pick out their baby’s cry from a group within a few days of birth. This one blew my mind – newborns sometimes smell like a spice their mother ate days before giving birth. Amazing!

Another aspect I liked about the book is it’s gentle lean toward attachment parenting and mentions newborn bonding frequently.

Chapter Two, The First Minutes, has a beautiful photo sequence of a newborn crawling to the breast to self-latch. In fact, this book is peppered with great images of newborns and their families on nearly every page. I loved looking at the photos as much as reading the text.

Chapter Eight, Expressions and Emotions was one of my favorites – Newborns are very expressive indeed! They can mimick our faces at a very early age. But newborns tire out quickly, and the authors are good to remind us to let our babies rest and not to overstimulate.

I would recommend this book to any parent – whether they have children or are first time parents – because it’s easy to handle. The information presented isn’t overwhelming and has a nice balance between being scientific and thoughtful without boring us to death.

One down, three to go. Stay tuned for more book reviews in the coming weeks!

BBH TV, Motherhood, Reviews

Mama Natural Review

1 Comment 06 April 2012

Genevieve aka MamaNatural

I’m a big fan of Mama Natural!

Are you?

Chances are you may have seen one of Mama Natural’s videos making it’s way ’round the web.

Her crazy awesome video, Sh*t Crunchy Mamas Say, went viral with well over 450,000 views (the sequel, Sh*t Crunchy Mamas Say Part 2, was equally as brilliant).

The woman behind the curtain is Genevieve, woman and mother, new-ager and wellness uplifter.

One thing I love about Genevieve, even more than her tips for getting the stink of out cloth diapers and other natural home remedies, is her uncanny ability to infuse facts with humor.

She does a brilliant job in this hit video, Circumcision Facts & Myths, blending a bit of humor and clearing up a lot of misconceptions about this very personal topic.

The information she provides is unbiased – it’s evidence based and I love that.

One big thing we agree on: natural birth rocks, no matter where it takes place. But Genevieve is also a home birth advocate. Whoo!

We also see eye to eye on good nutrition, breastfeeding, saving the world, and much more.

Learn more about the dynamic duo in this short video Genevieve and her husband Mike, (her husband and “special sauce” behind the MamaNatural website) put together, 10 Facts about Genevieve & Mike.

Then take a gander at MamaNatural’s YouTube channel. Block off a good portion of your day, because I bet you’ll be watching for awhile. Genevieve puts out two videos per week! Here’s the link to her website as well: Mama Natural.

So why I am ranting and raving about MamaNatural?

Because Genevieve will be a guest on Bring Birth Home TV, this  May 30th at 9:30 PM EST.

Save the date!

That special hour long episode is going to rock.

BBH TV will be taking a hiatus until then.

Sad, I know. But I’m working on something BIGGER. It’s taking up all my focus.

To take it’s place, Bring Birth Home will be posting NEW home birth stories every Wednesday night, and adding a new HBAC section to the birth stories pages. Yipee!


Reviews, Uncategorized

Win A Copy Of “More Business Of Being Born” (Plus An Exclusive Interview With Abby Epstein)

222 Comments 01 November 2011

More Business of Being Born, from Executive Producer Ricki Lake and Filmmaker Abby Epstein, will be released on November 8th, 2011.

This four disc set follows their landmark
documentary, The Business of Being Born, continuing their provocative and entertaining exploration of the modern maternity care system.

More Business of Being Born offers a practical look at birthing options as well as poignant celebrity birth stories from stars including Alanis Morissette, Gisele Bundchen, Christy Turlington-Burns, Cindy Crawford, Molly Ringwald, Laila Ali, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Melissa Joan Hart.

About More Business of Being Born

DVD #1  Down on The Farm: Conversations with Legendary Midwife Ina May Gaskin

Follow Executive Producer Ricki Lake and Director Abby Epstein to The Farm Community in Summertown, Tennessee, where pioneer midwife Ina May Gaskin talks candidly about the latest birth trends and the art of midwifery. Gaskin, who was featured in the original The Business of Being Born, sparked Lake’s initial interest in natural birth and has continued to inspire the filmmaking duo’s advocacy efforts. Also on the journey is pregnant actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who has enlisted a midwife to attend the birth of her second child and joins the filmmakers in meeting The Farm’s famous midwives and touring the picturesque birth cabins in the woods. In the poignant final sequence, Gaskin exhibits her Safe Motherhood Quilt and calls for a deeper examination into the rising maternal mortality rate in the US.
(Running Time: 55 min)

DVD #2 Special Deliveries: Celebrity Mothers Talk Straight on Birth

Featuring celebrity moms Laila Ali, Gisele Bundchen, Cindy Crawford, Alyson Hannigan, Melissa Joan Hart, Kellie Martin, Alanis Morissette, Christy Turlington-Burns and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Special Deliveries is a collection of intimate birth stories from a diverse group of mothers. Whether they chose to deliver at a hospital, home or birthing center, these heartfelt and humorous testimonies speak to the lasting power of the birth experience. True inspiration for any mother-to-be, this group of women trusted their bodies and intuitions, taking responsibility for their birth decisions even when things didn’t go according to plan. None of these courageous women has ever spoken on the record in such compelling detail, and, on this DVD, the filmmakers weave together their passionate narratives as a celebration of the journey to motherhood that will leave viewers with a renewed sense of amazement about the power of women.
(Running Time: 74 min)

DVD # 3 Explore Your Options: Doulas, Birth Centers & C-Sections

The most comprehensive and educational DVD in the series, Explore Your Options offers birth-planning guidance around key topics such as the role of doulas (labor support specialists,) the advantages of birth centers and the alarming escalation of cesarean sections in the United States and Brazil. Epstein and Lake talk to doulas about why their profession is currently booming and uncover why having a good doula can make-or-break the entire birth experience. They look at the ever-growing rates of inductions and c-sections, which have reached 50% in many US hospitals and more than 99% in some private hospitals in Brazil. How “safe” are these cesarean surgeries, and what are the health implications for the mothers and babies? Explore Your Options examines the pros and cons of birth centers, described as a perfect middle ground between home and hospital. Special features include Alanis Morissette and Alyson Hannigan on the advantages of doulas, Christy Turlington Burns on her unexpected complications at a birth center, Molly Ringwald on how she avoided a cesarean birth with her twins and Gisele Bundchen and Michelle Alves on the cesarean epidemic in their native Brazil.
(Running Time: 102 min)

DVD #4 The VBAC Dilemma: What Your Options Really Are

The VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) has become a hot-button issue in the modern maternity care system, as one in three new mothers will give birth via cesarean section. Are all of these mothers then forced to undergo a repeat cesarean the next time around? Epstein and Lake posed that question to dozens of experts, determining the surprising truth about VBACs. They also follow several women’s stories – both those who succeed and fail at attempting a VBAC – including that of filmmaker Abby Epstein, whose first c-section delivery was depicted in the dramatic, final moments of The Business of Being Born.
(Running Time: 51 min)

Watch the More Business of Being Born trailer.

Enter to Win a Copy of More Business of Being Born

How to enter the giveaway:

Step 1: “like” The Business of Being Born on Facebook

Step 2: leave a comment below letting us know why you would like to win a copy of More Business of Being Born

The giveaway will run from Tuesday, November 1st – Wednesday, November 7th at midnight. One winner will be choosen at random and announced Thursday morning, November 8th at the Bring Birth Home Facebook page.


Exclusive interview with Abby Epstein

This past week I was lucky enough to speak with Abby about the upcoming release of More Business of Being Born. Listen below to our conversation!

In the coming week you’ll hear directly from seven guests as they describe how The Business of Being Born affect their lives by impacting their journey to childbirth.

Motherhood, Pregnancy, Reviews

Every Town Needs a Birth Kalamazoo

No Comments 26 June 2011

The United States would be a better place for women to give birth if every town had a Birth Kalamazoo.

As a natural birth advocate, how many times have you run into situations where you wish you could direct an expecting friend to a safe, informative place to gain knowledge about birth?

In Southwest Michigan, that place is Birth Kalamazoo.

Allow me to set the scene:

Say you’re in Ohio and your best friend lives in California. She asks for resources.

Such as How to find a doula.

You could tell her to look at bulletin boards and suggest books, movies and an independent childbirth class. But that would be the extent of your reach. She’s ultimately left to her own devises, the opinions of those who live closer, and her care provider.

That is why every town needs a Birth Kalamazoo.

Birth Kalamazoo is…

“Offers natural childbirth & breastfeeding classes, birth doulas, postpartum doulas and lactation consults. Birth and early parenting is such a precious time, we help make the journey as smooth and centered as possible.

Birth Kalamazoo connects families with birth doulas, natural childbirth and breastfeeding classes, post-partum doulas and lactation consultants.

We believe that birth is transformative, and that mothers and new families deserve caring, knowledgeable support for that journey. While we have a special love for natural birth, we honor the birthing process for every family, wherever it begins and ends.”

The doulas of Birth Kalamazoo have created a community for women in Kalamazoo, Michigan and surrounding areas.

Since early Spring of 2011, Birth Kalamazoo has been the host of a new monthly series of meetings called Birth Matters (click the link to learn more about the July meeting, “Whatza Doula?”).

“Birth Matters is a FREE group for pregnant moms, those with little ones and women who plan to soon begin a family. Come and gain insight and understanding of the amazing journey of pregnancy, labor, delivery and the postpartum period with other experienced moms in a fun and casual atmosphere! The group is sponsored by Birth Kalamazoo and co-led by doulas Beth Hawver, Jody Swank and Jessica English.”

Each month, as word spreads, the group gets larger. Women have driven as far as an hour to attend.

I am grateful for the information and support I have received from the Birth Kalamazoo doulas.

When I was pregnant and looking for a doula, I soon became familiar with post cards and business cards distributed by Birth Kalamazoo at local coffee shop and natural grocery store bulletin boards. It was a blessing being able to access the kind of information I was looking for so readily.

This kind of marketing has been key to Birth Kalamazoo’s success, along with word of mouth.

I picked up a post card and emailed Jessica English, birth doula, childbirth instructor and owner of Birth Kalamazoo.

She was so helpful and kind, suggesting events for Eric and I to attend and giving me information about her upcoming natural childbirth class, which we ended up taking. After a few classes, we decided to hire Jessica to be our birth doula for our home birth. She was terrific!

Our relationship has continued to blossom and I had the pleasure of interviewing her last July during Bring Birth Home’s webinar series featuring Birth Kalamazoo.

Eric and I have hired Jessica to be our birth doula again for our second (quickly approaching!) home birth. I honestly can’t imagine birthing without her!

Imagine if every town in the United States had a Birth Kalamazoo.

I could rest easy at night knowing that women all over our country had the same kind of access to natural birth information and support as I do in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

If you are a childbirth educator or doula who feels inspired by this blog post, follow suit! Make doing what you love a full-time job if it isn’t already, and start a Birth Denver, or Birth Cincinnati!

Gather other doulas in the area and create a safe place for women. It doesn’t have to be huge. Start small. You don’t even need your own building.

“Like” Birth Kalamazoo on Facebook today and learn from them!

And here is the official website of Birth Kalamazoo: http://birthkalamazoo.com/home.html

Breastfeeding, Guest Writers, Reviews

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding | Book Review

No Comments 03 May 2011

book review by Cindy Lerner

If there was one single book that I wish I had read before having my first child it would be The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Not only does this book cover
breastfeeding, it will guide expecting moms in how to prepare for breastfeeding, how to…

get the proper support, what role birth plays in your breastfeeding relationship, what to expect in each stage of the baby’s development, sleeping, weaning, solid foods, solutions for working moms, pumping, and special situations (multiples, preemies, etc).

Overall, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding can be described as:

a comprehensive guide to being a mother while supporting each mother’s individual choices and encouraging her to continue with breastfeeding in all circumstances.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International Book) is so much more than a book about how, when or why one should breastfeed.

It holds the encouraging words that every mother needs to read over and over again.

Whether you get ideas and information from our book, from research, or from talking to other mothers, you know yourself, your baby and your family better than anyone else. Just as mothers always have.


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