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Food As Medicine Event

 

The Food As Medicine (FAM) event held in Cherry Hill, MJ was a tremendous success.

Kayla Gorrell led us in simple yoga stretches between lectures.  Michelle Aurich, cheerleader for the Eagles, described how the Plantbased diet and decreased stress helped her cure her skin disease.  A fabulous vegan breakfast and lunch were served.  Be on the lookout for our FAM event 2020 and plan to attend so you can be motivated to make changes in your life for a healthier YOU!

 

 

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The Rhombus of Michaelis

By Cathy Daub with extracts from midwife, Jean Sutton

“The Rhombus of Michaelis?” people ask, “What’s that??”  Most women giving birth have never heard of it before and yet it plays a key part in every birth.  I first heard about it from midwife Jean Sutton in New Zealand.  She went back and studied the old midwifery texts where it was described but now has been largely forgotten in our modern day technological society.

So what is the Rhombus of Michaelis and where is it?  It was identified in the literature as early as 1932 when a New Zealand obstetrician named Corkill discovered an increased space in the outlet of the pelvis during the second stage of labor.  Later, Michel Odent MD identified a possible link to the Rhombus of Michaelis when he described the fetus ejection reflex.  It might also be called the G-spot.

If you take your hand and place it vertically over the low sacrum so your fingers are pointing down towards the gluteal crease, then the flat palm of your hand is right over the Rhombus of Michaelis.  It is in the shape of a kite and includes the three lower lumbar vertebrae, the sacrum and the long ligament that reaches down from the base of the skull to the sacrum.  It is basically a plexus of nerves that serve an important function in labor.

When a pregnant woman is about to give birth, and if her baby is facing towards her spine, the baby’s head will press against the Rhombus of Michaelis nerves causing them to contract and “open her back”  slightly, with the result of hiking her left hip and angling her birth canal towards the back where babies are meant to be born.

Here is a description of the Rhombus of Michaelis as given by Jean:

This wedge-shaped area of bone moves backwards during the second stage of labor and as it moves back, it pushes the wings of the ilea out, increasing the diameters of the pelvis.  We know it’s happening when the woman’s hands reach upwards (to find something to hold onto) , her head goes back and her back arches.  It’s what Shelia Kitzinger was talking about when she recorded Jamaican midwives saying the baby will not be born ‘till the woman opens her back.’   

I’m sure that is what they mean by the ‘opening of the back.’   The reason that the woman’s arms go up is to find something to hold onto as her pelvis is going to become destabilized.  This happens as part of physiological second stage: it’s an integral part of an active normal birth.  If you’re going to have a normal birth, you need to allow the Rhombus of Michaelis to move backwards to give the baby the maximum amount of space to turn his shoulders in.  Although the Rhombus appears high in the pelvis and the lower lumbar spine when it moves backwards, it has the effect of opening the outlet as well.

When women are leaning forward, upright, or on their hands and knees, you will see a lump appear on their back, at and below waist level.  It’s much higher up than you might think; you don’t look for it near her buttocks, you look for it near her waist.  You can also feel it on the woman’s back.  It’s a curved area of tissue that moves up into your hand, or you may suddenly see the mother grasp both sides of the back of her pelvis as the ilea are pushed out and she is suddenly aware of those muscles that have never been stretched before.  Normally, the Rhombus is only out for a matter of minutes, it comes out just as second stage starts, and it’s gone back in again by the time that the baby’s feet are born, in fact, sometimes more quickly than that.

Positions that interfere with movement of the sacrum include:

  • Women lying on their backs with knees pulled up which presses their sacrum down, not allowing it to move.
  • Women with an epidural have their nerve supply interfered with so that the impulse for it to happen is obstructed.

Jean goes on to tell us what pregnant women need to know:

  • If they want a short second stage of labor and don’t want to spend a long time pushing, they need to make sure their pelvis will open to make enough space for the baby. This is perfectly safe so long as they have something to hold onto, and that the contraction of the nerve plexus (Rhombus of Michaelis) will relax as soon as their baby is born.
  • They shouldn’t allow anyone else to move their legs while they are in the second stage of labor because they can feel which way to move their body to give birth. Another person moving their legs may lower the leg in such a way that the pelvis goes back into the “wrong place” – and women in labor who are feeling their contractions will know what this means.
  • Movement of the sacrum has the effect of opening the diameters of the pelvis. Being upright the pelvis has more space in which the baby can move and a woman births with the help of gravity instead of against it.
  • Although epidurals are great for pain relief, they get in the way of a spontaneous second stage and vaginal birth. In many cases, the reason they’ve got an epidural is that the baby wasn’t in the best position when it started, and the baby in the less suitable positions needs all the space he can get to turn around in.
  • The OP (Occiput Posterior) baby needs the Rhombus of Michaelis to move backwards so he has room to turn around so he can come out as an OA (Occiput Anterior)
  • Many women fear damage to their pelvic floor but if they can be in an upright position with their weight forwards so the rhombus is free to move, very little damage is done to their internal anatomy.

Jean summarizes the importance of the Rhombus of Michaelis by saying that:

If midwives want to be assisting women to have as many normal births as possible…to be able to promise women that birth is quite manageable…that they don’t need to have the interventions…that it’s simple and it’s safe, as long as it follows the process, then having the back open is just part of that process.

References:

Sutton J (2000) Birth without active pushing and a physiological second stage of labour.  The Practicing Midwife, Vol 3, No 4. Pp 32-34.

Kitzinger S (1993) Ourselves as Mothers.  Bantam, London.

Corkill TF (1932).  Lectures on Midwifery and Infant Care.  Whitcombe-Toombs, New Zealand.

Oden M (1987) The fetus ejection reflex.  Birth, Vol 14, No 2, pp 104-5.

 

 

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The Media

by Tara Thompson,  Doula Student   BWI

I truly believe the media as a whole does a grave disservice to mothers-to-be when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. The majority of what we see on television inaccurately portrays birth in ways that leave women feeling fearful and having unrealistic expectations of their upcoming birth. It also misleads society which effects how women are treated in pregnancy and in childbirth. Overall, normal physiological birth in its rawness is very rarely even seen in the media. I believe this has impacted medical treatment in ways that have led to more interventions, as most providers have likely never seen normal birth and have a difficult time applying the lack of familiarity to their practice. Ignorance can lead to fear of the unknown.
Growing up, I loved watching The Learning Channel “TLC” and their shows that I thought depicted real life. They had shows such as “The Baby Story” or “Maternity Ward”. Many of the episodes portrayed birth as painful and I almost always felt as if it was an emergency in need of medical interventions.  This was my first glimpse into birth, and like me, it was likely many other’s first view into “real life” birth.  It was scary!  Fortunately, I have grown to learn, through education and personal experience, that birth is not often an emergency in need of such interventions, but I often wonder how many people still believe these older shows to be a true depiction of childbirth.  How many people lack trust in their body’s and in women.  The introduction and opening credits to the show says it all.  Here is an episode of Maternity Ward:  http://vimeo.com/12675921

An older movie, The Blue Lagoon, was able to allow viewers an opportunity to see an uninterrupted birth being acted out.  Because the plot of the movie was how a boy and a girl would behave naturally without any influence from society, it was able to show that birth could happen naturally.  The film came with its harsh criticism, and or course, it was acting.  I did appreciate the idea of the human capability of giving birth uninterrupted.

The Business of Being Born made huge strides in showing the world what birth could look like.  It was a great way for mass media to reach a larger crowd on the effects of society and medical intervention on birth and its consequences.  It allowed natural birth to have the spotlight without ignoring that emergencies can happen (though not with every birth) and that modern medicine can play a positive role in birth (when it is needed and necessary).  I had already given birth to my first son before I saw this film, but I am not exaggerating by saying it was this film, paired with my instincts that changed my perception on birth.  I gave little thought to the effects of something as simple as hearing a machine beep during labor to having pitocin.  I didn’t think of the impacts of lacking skin-to-skin immediately after birth, even if my gut was telling me I wanted it.  This film put the science and facts behind what has always been instinctual to mothers.  These include being private in labor, limiting stimulation of the frontal lobe, avoiding unnecessary interventions and encouraging the body’s natural hormones to foster labor, coping with labor, and the mother/baby bond that also affects breastfeeding.  While the Business of Being Born was impactful in many ways and arguably showed birth more truthfully, the audience tended to be those who already agreed with the message.  Here is a clip from Monty Python that was used in the film:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arCITMfxvEc.

I find that as a doula, I encourage women to look within for information on childbirth.  Birth is instinctive!  While the media may or may not get childbirth right, it is never beneficial to ignore one’s natural instincts and adhere to what we see on TV.  Trust your body, respect your body and listen to your body.  Most of preparing for childbirth is relearning what we already knew all along, but perhaps the media has led us astray from that.

 

 

 

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A Mothering/Fertility Slavic Textile Doll

by Yulia Welk, CCE, BWI

Crafts can serve a role of ritual, strength and healing through working with mental images, fabric and old handmade Russian tradition of making charm dolls.

I have been making Russian traditional fabric dolls for five years now, they are very numerous and unique (check my Instagram at yulia_welk).  I currently have an exhibit of 25 dolls at the local library (Drummond Public Library, Wisconsin).

A couple of them historically are devoted to the subject of fertility, pregnancy and mothering.  In the dolls, besides making the head, body and dress, we also make breasts as an important symbol of nourishment for future babies and having enough gut, energy, strength, responsibility and health for tackling those tasks.

These dolls serve as visual guides for girls’ passage into womanhood.  The dress represents the ancient way of dressing for girls and women, as a collector of feminine energy that comes from the earth, being a creator, materializer, and having grounding aspects of femininity.

The second doll is called Pregnancy Doll.  She is made with colorful fabrics (red shades are important as being the charm, protective color that also represents life, blood, and energy needed for carrying the baby in the womb.   The doll has a belly with a real baby doll wrapped inside.  A woman would make a little girl or boy fabric baby, wrap it in the pink fabric, cover with the roll of birth bark and wrap in in the belly of the pregnant doll.

This doll serves as charm, protection and concentration of positive vibes for women.  Making it, women would talk about fears, concerns, birth and mothering.  The doll is publicly displayed until the baby is born.  If the outcome is a healthy happy baby this doll becomes a family, a clan female harm, that is inherited and used for future generations.  If anyone is interested in learning how to make these useful charms (we can do it online, $25 per person), please contact me through my website:  www.yulias.net or my home number 1-715-798-3175.