Be Your Own Publisher Author Interview Series

BYOPInterviewSeriesFall2015I’m excited to be a part of the author interview series leading up to the next session of Lucy Pearce’s Be Your Own Publisher e-course. We signed up for this course last year and it is a treasure trove of information (so much that I haven’t finished it yet!). My interview will air on October 1.

Everyone who signs up for the free author interview series will have access to it as well as Module 1 of the Course FREE as a thank you.

I love the opportunity to connect with people around the world thanks to the internet. Lucy and I chatted away via Skype like old friends even though she is in Ireland and I am here in Missouri!

Disclosure: affiliate link included.

Women of Color Can Push for Better Outcomes: What Every Mother-to-Be Should Know About Birth

Guest post by Tara Owens-ShulerImage

As an African American Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, I have observed over my 18 years of teaching that childbirth education class participants are less likely to be women of color. My desire for more women of color to attend childbirth education classes is rooted deeper than just their presence in a classroom – it is rooted in my desire for more women of color to understand the disparities that exist in maternal and birth outcomes.

In a recent Science and Sensibility blog post by Christine Morton on maternal health disparities, she reviewed the work of several well-known public health researchers – Dr. Eugene Declercq, Dr. Mary Barger and Dr. Judith Weiss. Their findings point to the fact that African American women have higher rates of cesarean births at nearly every age group and across every level of education.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that one of every five non-Hispanic,black births are pre-term, African American mothers experience an infant mortality rate twice that of non-Hispanic, white mothers, and breastfeeding rates among African American mothers are 16 percent lower than white mothers.

Given the disparities that exist in maternal and birth outcomes for women of color, I think April as Minority Health Awareness Month is a great opportunity to talk about a few other factors that minority moms or mothers-to-be can control or influence. It’s a hard reality that mothers face real challenges in getting the childbirth care they want and deserve. Even though medical evidence may tell us certain practices are good for mothers and babies, the “system” is not always geared to deliver that care. Health care providers are rushed, spread thin, or incentivized for practices that are not most beneficial to the mother.

Let’s go back to the fact that African American women have higher rates of cesarean births than non-Hispanic,white women. Is it because African American women are sicker and need to have a cesarean birth? Researchers report that this is untrue. They conclude that higher rates of cesarean births among African American women are a result of a shift in obstetric practices to focus more heavily on use of childbirth interventions. And, when we bring in an induction to the equation, there is a correlation between the increased rates of induction to the increased rates of cesarean births!

Research shows that babies pay a steep price for these early births caused by inductions or a failed induction, which led to a cesarean. Babies have greater difficulties breathing, breastfeeding, and maintaining their temperature, which usually means being separated from moms and spending time in the Intensive Care Unit. While an increasing number of hospitals and health care professionals are shying away from unnecessary cesarean birth and induction, it’s one of many care practices that just aren’t supported by good medical evidence.

So how can women of color push for better care?

  • Become an active partner with your care provider. While doctors or midwives have professional knowledge and skills, they may not know everything about your personal background and preferences. Finding a provider who will also act as your partner can help you push for the care that’s best for you and your baby.
  • Ask questions – lots of them! Labor and birth in particular can be unpredictable. That’s why it’s a smart idea to prepare a list of rolling questions throughout your pregnancy to help you determine if the right care is being recommended during labor, birth and after birth.
  • Do your research. Understand your available care options before, during and after labor at the hospital or birth center. If you know that during labor you’d like the ability to walk around, eat and drink – choose a birth facility that will be more aligned with your birth preferences or wishes.
  • Participate in a childbirth education class. Taking a Lamaze class will help you understand maternity care best practices and be better prepared to navigate your labor and birth. A childbirth educator will help you identify the right questions to ask when making decisions about your care.

I encourage all women – particularly African American women – to learn more about getting the right care in pregnancy and childbirth by attending a childbirth education class. Skipping out on childbirth education is a lost opportunity to stack the deck in your favor and become a well-informed consumer of evidence-based practices! As a consumer, it is your right to be a partner in your health care decisions.

Tara Owens Shuler, MEd, LCCE, FACCE is the president of Lamaze International. She has practiced as a childbirth educator since 1995. In 2005, she became the Director of the Duke AHEC Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program. In addition to training individuals to become childbirth educators and preparing expectant women and their partners for a safe and healthy birth experience, Tara provides labor support services. Along with coordinating the Lamaze program in the Duke AHEC office, Tara works with her statewide AHEC partners in developing continuing education programs and/or resources for healthcare providers in North Carolina and assists with the Duke AHEC PATHWAYS Health Careers program for K-12 students. When not working, Tara and her husband enjoy playing with their dog, Gramps, and traveling.

Visit Lamaze International for great resources to help mothers and mothers-to-be learn their options.

Guest post: working/parenting interview

In late 2011, I participated in a working/parenting series at the blog First the Egg (authored by another Molly!) As I continue to balance my working/parenting life (and as I take a computer-off retreat during this week), I decided to revisit my guest post and reprint it here. I’m not changing or editing anything about it, so in this universe, I still had an infant, rather than a busy toddler girl!

working/parenting interview: Molly Remer

Balancing working and parenting... ;)

Balancing working and parenting… 😉

By Molly | Published: 18 October 2011

An interview with Molly Remer of Talk Birth, & part of working/parenting series that’s ongoing here. The first three of us were Mollys, but I swear I’m done and will give you guest post authors with other first names soon!

What activities in your life do you consider “work”? Do you think of parenting–or some component of parenting–as “work”?

I do not think of parenting as my “job.” Being a mother is a *relationship* to me, not a role or a job. However, it is an extremely consuming relationship! And, perhaps paradoxically, some elements of mothering do feel like hard work. Like Adrienne Rich, I feel like one’s feelings about motherhood as a relationship and motherhood as an institution are two separate things–I can find motherhood as institution oppressive, while still finding the relationship with my children fulfilling. So, I guess what I’m saying is that there are parenting tasks that are work to me, but that the relationship dimension–which I place primary value on–is not a job or work.

A mothering moment that I’m not proud of came up for me immediately upon reading this question. My son was about three and something challenging had happened that I’ve since forgotten–I believe it was something to do with kitchen mess–and I said to my son with a sigh, “wow! Sometimes you are really hard to take care of” (like I indicated, not the best moment from me) and he replied, “I’m not hard, I’m soft! Just feel my little body!” He rubbed his hands all around his chest and stomach as he shared this–demonstrating his genuine softness. ::sob::

Has your relationship with work changed as a result of your experiences parenting?

Yes, I desperately snatch at free moments, packing one million tasks into my solo hours, like a starving person who is unsure where the next time-meal is coming from. I feel greedy for time alone to work in silence. I continue to require silence for my best work–I hate listening to music while writing, etc. This isn’t new for me, but the advent of motherhood layered on many challenges to experiencing what for me is an ideal work environment (silent and distractionless).

Do you do any non-parenting activities, for pay or without pay, that you consider “work”? If so, how do you juggle these roles and activities with parenting?

An example: I typed this whole response on my phone while nursing my sleeping baby.

Yes, I teach in-seat and online college classes. I write. I am a breastfeeding counselor. I edit a newsletter. I am a D.Min student. I facilitate groups. I teach birth classes. I consider all of these things work activities. I do not distinguish between paid and unpaid activities.

Something I feel is important to mention and is likely a feature of socioeconomic factors, is that to me my work equals passion, commitment, vibrancy, and aliveness. The place where the world’s great hunger and my own gifts meet. It is my “music.” The things I am “called” to do on this planet. The wild and precious life I have to offer to the world. Work to me does not connote drudgery or burden (except when I make it so, by expecting inhuman quantities of productivity from myself).

Is there work that you want to do but can’t right now? What does that look like for you?

Yes, I have three books in partial stages of development and just have to let them rest right now.

Do you ever feel misunderstood or judged because of how work happens in your family, or because of your relationship with work? What does that look like for you?

Yes, but I don’t feel like I have time to explore my answer right now. Women have always worked-–in motherhood capacities and in other capacities (usually simultaneously). I feel like we do all women a disservice by setting up or assuming either-or scenarios. I feel like people who think of me as a WOHM imagine I’m gone all the time and missing milestones, when really I’m out of the house ten hours per week and spend 99% of my waking and sleeping moments in the company of my baby, not to mention the fact that I homeschool my boys. I feel like those who look at me as a SAHM consider my teaching and writing to be my casual little “hobbies” that I dabble with in my free time, rather than career activities for me.

I could go on for ages, but both work and motherhood call to me now and I’m going to have to be okay with this being what I have to offer to the dialog in this moment.

For more on Molly’s relationship with working/parenting, please click through to her lovely post “I just want to grind my corn!” and her follow-up “Surrender?

The Gift of Giving Life: Interview with Sheridan Ripley

This interview with Sheridan Ripley is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.

Q1: Many people liken the writing of a book to giving birth to a baby? Did you find this an apt analogy?

YES! We (the co-authors) brought this up a lot. It was like we were gestating together and ideas were growing and growing. The first trimester I actually felt like I missed as I joined the group at the beginning of the 2nd year. It was a 3 year process so the trimester analogy works well.

The 2nd trimester we had plenty of energy and got a lot done and things moved forward quickly. We had that happy, easy 2nd trimester.

That 3rd trimester felt SO SLOW!!! It was the editing, book layout, more editing. Details and more details and felt so long. I know I felt so heavy and weighed down by the process. Luckily we had each other for support and we made a great team.

Finally we were pushing the baby out and while there were little hold ups along the way, it was so exciting. The triumph we felt as we finally held our book in our hands was pretty amazing!

Q2: I’m fascinated by the concept of Heavenly Mother and really enjoyed the sections of The Gift of Giving Life that touched on the relationship with Her. Can you explore more about how LDS women might find strength and connection in this image of the Feminine Divine and how she might aid in giving life?

I believe I am a literal child of a Heavenly Father and knowing that he is a partner with a Heavenly Mother and together they are able to love billions of children, helps me to have faith in my ability to love and raise my boys.

Knowing that our bodies are patterned after their bodies also gives me faith that my body can grow and birth babies! We are mortal and there are instances when medical intervention is needed, but the majority of the time birth is safe. Our bodies are created to create!

As we connect with other women in a supportive loving way we can feel connected to Her because we are each created in Her image. Maybe that is why when women gather around women in childbirth we feel so uplifted, powerful and humbled at the same time.

Some women really feel a need for a connection of a mother figure, especially while pregnant. I have an earthly mom who I am very connected to and she was very helpful during my pregnancy, so I didn’t personally have a desire for a connection with a Feminine Divine at that point.

However there are women who may be missing that mother figure in their life and we all have a deep desire for such a connection. Knowing that there is a Heavenly Mother who stands beside Heavenly Father to help guide us and protect us especially during this time of pregnancy and birth is powerful.

Meditating and pondering on the idea of a Heavenly Mother and how that can help us as we give the gift of life and then raise our children is the best way for me to connect to her. I actually just took time to do this as I hadn’t really thought of this question until you asked it.

That is the great thing about our book and having so many contributors is it will speak to different women, because so many view points are included.

Q3: Do you have any specific tips for women wishing to incorporate more spiritual practices into their pregnancies?

We actually have a newsletter that moms can sign up for where they get a free 20 minute meditation MP3 as well as 5 tips to have a more spiritual pregnancy/birth. I think for each mom it may look different. Prayer and meditation are great places to start, as you will often get inspiration on where to go from there. I also love Mother’s Blessings as a way to have the strength of other women buoy up the pregnant mom. She can benefit from feeling their love and spiritual support

Q4: When women in the birth stories say they asked their husband for a blessing or that their husband gave them a blessing, what does that mean?

A blessing is similar to a prayer. All male members of the Church who are prepared receive the priesthood, which is the authority to act in God’s name. One of the ways they can serve others with the priesthood is by giving blessings by the laying on of hands. They can give blessings of healing or for comfort and guidance. In some cases a wife might ask her husband (or other priesthood holder) for a blessing before or during birth.

I know for me in my first birth, it was so comforting because with my first birth my husband gave me a blessing when I was concerned about the Thing 1’s lack of movement. In the blessing he said he would be born when he was ready. When we discovered that he needed to be born by emergency cesarean immediately even though I was only 34 weeks, I had peace knowing that my husband had just blessed me that “he would be born when he was ready.” I knew everything would be OK.


Thanks for the interesting interview and the review copy of The Gift of Giving Life, Sheridan!

Visit The Gift of Giving Life site to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth.

For my readers I have a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life. Click here and after you add the book to your cart use this coupon code. GWFWXR3F This code is good until Father’s Day 2012.

Interview with Elizabeth Stein, CNM

Recently I had the opportunity to interview certified-nurse midwife, Elizabeth Stein, CNM, MSN, MPH. Elizabeth practices in New York and has experience with high-risk populations. Visit her at her website: Ask Your Midwife.

1. Please tell me a little bit about your services as a midwife:

My private practice provides obstetrical care, which includes prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum and breast feeding. After delivery, women are seen 6 weeks postpartum. Alternatively, women who had a cesarean delivery are seen for an incision site check at 10-14 days post partum and once again at 6 weeks.

GYN care includes an annual GYN exam, which includes a Pap smear, STD testing and treatment, breast exam, urine test and blood work. I also address common GYN complaints, such as family planning/birth control, basic infertility, and pre/ postmenopausal care. I provide primary care and stress the importance of being proactive.

2. How long have you practiced?

I have been a certified nurse midwife 25 years and have delivered more than 2600 babies.

3. What inspired you to become a CNM?

I was an EMT before I was a nurse. On one occasion, I was working in the emergency room when the director told me to go upstairs to L & D to learn how to do a delivery, since that would be helpful while working in the ER. The female doctor I worked with was so beautiful, calm and relaxed, yet very attentive. She calmly and gently delivered the baby. Instantly, I knew this was what I should be doing!

4. What are the top questions you are asked by expectant mothers?

Is my baby ok? Is it a girl or boy? Where will I deliver? When can I have a sonogram? When is my next appointment? How much weight should I gain? Do I have to take prenatal vitamins? How will I know if the water breaks? How will I know when labor starts?

5. What are your thoughts on current bioethical issues in maternity care? (particularly elective cesarean section)

  • Elective cesarean delivery (maternal request)
  • TOL/VBAC (trial of labor-vaginal birth after cesarean) versus repeat cesarean delivery
  • Home births
  • Circumcisions
  • Cord blood collection (fetal stem cells)
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis
  • Oocyte and embryo storage (prepregnancy)
  • 6. Any tips for women planning a natural hospital birth?

    The hardest yet most rewarding day of your life! Natural means vaginal versus abdominal (surgical).

  • Baby’s going to come, when the baby’s going to come (doesn’t read the sonogram report or prenatal chart). Baby is in charge.
  • Stay home as long as possible (exceptions: rupture of membranes, group b strep positive, vaginal bleeding, other medical or obstetrical reason to come right in)
  • Your birth plan is a wish list, not a guarantee!
  • Don’t start labor exhausted! Rest!
  • Eat and drink (you may vomit later)
  • Know who will deliver you
  • Know  when to go to labor and delivery
  • Beware of unrealistic expectations. Go with the flow of your body. Be flexible and open minded.
  • Know how you may labor… bed, on the ball, walking, on the fetal monitor, in the shower
  • You may have to bail out……and have a cesarean delivery….it’s not a failure, just another route of delivery
  • It’s your baby……everyone wants the baby in the first 5 minutes! Bonding is ongoing and forever
  • Breast feeding is not as easy as it sounds but everyone will help you
  • Nobody is judging you! Once you are a mom, you wear the badge MOM.
  • Whatever pregnancy and birth experiences it took to make you MOM should remain a memory and should not haunt you.

    Enjoy your baby!

    Thank you for sharing your expertise with my readers, Elizabeth!