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Birth Balance Blog

A series of topics related to preconception, pregnancy, labor, birth, bonding, and post partum issues. Feel free to make suggestions for future topics.

Archive for May, 2009

Patients Bill of Rights – Coerced Medical Interventions

Monday, May 18th, 2009


On the Birth Plan of all my clients, I suggest they write at the top of the page:  ‘Nothing can be done to myself or my baby without my knowledge and/or permission.’ All too often women are coerced into medical interventions or they are just ‘done to them’ without a discussion or explaination.  It’s time for we women to WAKE UP and STAND UP for our rights.  Please read and pass on to ANYONE who might listen:

Coerced medical interventions on pregnant women:

“Once a patient has been informed of the material risks and benefits
involved with a treatment, test or procedure, that patient has the right to
exercise full autonomy in deciding whether to undergo the treatment, test,
or procedure or whether to make a choice among a variety of treatments,
tests, or procedures. In the exercise of that autonomy, the informed patient
also has the right to refuse to undergo any of these treatments, tests, or
procedures. . . . Performing an operative procedure on a patient without the
patient’s permission can constitute ‘battery’ under common law. In most
circumstances this is a criminal act. . . . Such a refusal [of consent] may
be based on religious beliefs, personal preference, or comfort.” 
ACOG. Informed refusal. Committee Opinion No 237, June 2000.

These legal and medical ethical principles make sense for both women and
children. Doctors are not infallible and their advice is just that, advice.
In addition to the consensus of medical organizations, courts, too, have
long recognized a patient’s right to make health care decisions free from
governmental intrusion. However, in the case of a pregnant woman refusing
potentially beneficial medical treatment for the fetus, the principle has
been too easily set aside, and for dubious reasons.

Aromatherapy During Labor & Birth

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I have been a labor support doula predominantly in the New York, tri-state area since 1987. I have been flown internationally to attend births in Mexico, Germany, to name a few.  Body work has been in my blood and life since I was 3 years old.  My father remembers how I would run and jump into his arms at the end of a long day and hug, kiss and rub my little hands all over his neck and face and chest. He said it was one of the best parts of his days.

Now, many years later, I have discovered, beyond my own aromas, in labor and birth there are numerous scents to help enhance, soothe, uplift and support the mother, baby and her partner.  You may use aromatherapy by mixing with tracer oils or in a diffuser accompanied by low lights and music to enhance the aroma.  My favorites essences during labor, IF the woman is comfortable with the smell are moroccan rose and/or geranium together or separate, lavender and/or neroli, together or separate.  Clary sage is my all time favorite for stimulating the womb and encouraging the expansion and softening of the cervix.

Here is my research so far.  Enjoy the aromatic experience! 🙂



General tonic, can relieve nervous tension, flatulence and nausea and aids digestion. Credited with the power of relieving the pain of a woman in labor.


A “ray of sunshine.” This is said to uplifting, light and refreshing, helping relieve depression and anxiety. Helps to renew energy during the labor.


The “Matriarch” of oils, very gentle, soothing and calming to the mind and body. Helps calm the irritated, fretful or nervous person. Helps to renew energy and ease during the labor.


Generally quoted as having some degree of photo toxicity, which is of relevance in maternity care, for these are otherwise considered to be among the safest oil to use during pregnancy.


This essential oil must not be confused with sage. Don’t use sage for the baby’s sake – it leaves too high toxic residues in the body. Clary sage is a milder version, although still should be used with care. Helps respiratory, muscular, and uterine systems. Mild analgesic. Facilitates birth; uterine tonic. Euphoric. Helps breathing by calming the lower part of the spinal cord. Works on the uterus or that influence hormone balance, during the labor to stimulate contraction or after the birth of the baby to aid the mother’s recovery. This works well as a muscle relaxant, relieving stress and tension in the body. During the labor, it has a very special action of toning the muscles of the uterus and is particularly effective if the mother’s contraction is weak and irregular and progress towards the birth of the baby is slow. In this case, apply a little oil to the belly between contractions using the circular clockwise strokes, applying a firm but gentle pressure using the flat of the hands in the comfortable position. Concentrate on relaxing the muscles of the lower belly allowing the baby to move downward to press firmly on the neck of the uterus. Apply this massage for 10-15 min or until regular contractions is established. NOTE: Some practitioners advise that this be used during labor only. Before using this during pregnancy contact someone knowledgeable in essential oils.


Circulation-stimulating. One of the best circulatory oils – and if the circulation is good, breathing will be easier. Good for uterus and endometrium. Contractive effect – pulls together dilated tissues, so excellent for after the birth. Good for the whole female reproductive system. Antidepressant, known for its uplifting effects. Has a great benefit as it is used to massage the lower back.


Works on the uterus or that influence hormone balance, during the labor to stimulate contraction or after the birth of the baby to aid the mother’s recovery. Reassure and boost confidence during the labor. Because of its actions on the uterus, it is invaluable during childbirth. It can strengthen contractions, yet relieve pain and due to its anti-depressant quality, can help with post-natal depression. Has a great benefit for massaging the lower back with Jasmine.


Circulation stimulating. Slight analgesic effect. Calming. Antiseptic; antibiotic; disinfectant; slight antiviral properties; anti-inflammatory.Promotes healing of open wounds – can be used instead of antiseptics.Accepted by everyone. Good for headaches, fainting, and bringing around after shock. Restores unbalanced states to a more harmonious state, and has been said to strengthen contractions. Has a great benefit as it is used to massage the lower back.


Active phototoxic ingredients of lemon oil is mainly the furancoumarins bergapten and to some extent oxypeucedanin. However, some suggest that distilled lemon and lime oils, and expressed mandarin, tangerine and sweet orange oils are not phototoxic.


The effectiveness in stimulating stress related weakness has been shown to help in encouraging milk production and digestion.


Works on the nervous system and facilitates easy breathing, especially during panting (if this is used to stop pushing). Its calming effect increases the oxygen supply to the blood and brain and helps the woman to avoid hyperventilation.In low doses (1-2 drops per day on a diffuser) it has a sedative and calming effect; in higher doses, it is a stimulant. Has a great benefit as it is used to massage the lower back.


Analgesic. Calms the central nervous system; alleviates anxiety. Increases circulation – good for blood supply.


This oil may be one of the most effective anti-depressant oils; it is useful for insomnia, hysteria, anxiety and other stress-related condition.


Uterine relaxant. Helps ligaments to soften, enabling the pelvic bones to expand; and to regain elasticity after the birth. Natural antiseptic. Slight analgesic effect. Good cardiac tonic. Reassure and boost confidence during the labor. Works on the uterus or that influence hormone balance, during the labor to stimulate contraction or after the birth of the baby to aid the mother’s recovery. Has a great benefit as it is used to massage the lower back


May be used in late pregnancy with caution, but are thought to be toxic in early pregnancy. Do NOT use if the mother develop high blood pressure during the pregnancy or labor as it may unduly stimulate the circulation if high blood pressure develops.

The Hand From The Womb Photograph

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Please read before viewing picture – it’s worth it!

A picture began circulating in November. It should be ‘The Picture of the Year,’ or perhaps, ‘Picture of the Decade.’ It won’t be. In fact,unless you obtained a copy of the  US paper which published it, you probably  would never have seen it.

The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samue l Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by surgeon named Joseph Bruner.

The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother’s womb. Little Samuel’s mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in  Atlanta . She knew of Dr. Bruner’s remarkable  surgical procedure. Practicing at  Vanderbilt University  Medical  Center in  Nashville , he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb.

During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr.Bruner completed the surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision  and firmly grasped the surgeon’s finger. DrBruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile.

The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, ‘Hand of Hope.’ The text explaining the picture begins, ‘The tiny hand of 21-week- old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother’s uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life..’

Little Samuel’s mother said they ‘wept for days’ when they saw the picture. She said, ‘The photo reminds us pregnancy isn’t about disability or an illness, it’s about a little person.’Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful.  Now see the actual picture.                                      

Don’t tell me our God isn’t an awesome God!!!!!

How to Check Your Own Cervix

Friday, May 1st, 2009

“it’s not rocket science”  

By Gloria LeMay, Midwife, Vancouver, BC

“I think it’s a good and empowering thing for a woman to check her own cervix for dilation. This is not rocket science, and you hardly need a medical degree or years of training to do it. Your vagina is a lot like your nose- other people may do harm if they put fingers or instruments up there but you have a greater sensitivity and will not do yourself any harm. 

“The best way to do it when hugely pregnant is to sit on the toilet with one foot on the floor and one up on the seat of the toilet. Put two fingers in and go back towards your bum. The cervix in a pregnant woman feels like your lips puckered up into a kiss. On a non-pregnant woman it feels like the end of your nose. When it is dilating, one finger slips into the middle of the cervix easily (just like you could slide your finger into your mouth easily if you are puckered up for a kiss). As the dilation progresses the inside of that hole becomes more like a taught elastic band and by 5 cms dilated (5 fingerwidths) it is a perfect rubbery circle like one of those Mason jar rings that you use for canning, and about that thick. 


“What’s in the centre of that opening space is the membranes (bag of waters) that are covering the baby’s head and feel like a latex balloon filled with water. If you push on them a bit you’ll feel the baby’s head like a hard ball (as in baseball). If the waters have released you’ll feel the babe’s head directly. 

“It is time for women to take back ownership of their bodies.” 


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