• July 2024

    Breastfeeding Support for All

    August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, with the theme, Closing the Gap: Breastfeeding Support for All. Mark your calendars now, to participate in upcoming activities next month. Recognition for Employers – Just thinking about leaving a little one to go back to work can be hard for many nursing mothers. Employers can play a critical role in easing the transition by encouraging breastfeeding through appropriate lactation accommodations. Knowing there are resources, as well as support for pumping at the workplace can help lessen the stress around returning to work. All California workers are entitled to breaktime and a designated space to express their milk…

  • May 2024

    Rhogam: The Miracle Shot

    A pregnant person might not know their exact blood type, but they’ll usually know if it’s the kind that needs “the shot.” Calling it “the shot” doesn’t really convey the amazing protection offered against Rh isoimmunization by the injection of Rho(D) Immune Globulin (RhIG), also known as RhoGAM Why is the Rhogam shot needed? Just a few generations ago, over 10,000 babies a year were lost to Rh incompatibility in the United States. Until 1968 there was nothing to prevent this disease and the many sad outcomes related to it: miscarriage or stillbirth, and extremely ill newborns. What is Rh isoimmunization or incompatibility? Everyone’s blood type, A, B, AB, or…

  • April 2024

    Support Families in Need by Donating Milk

    For 50 years the Mothers Milk Bank of San Jose has been providing human milk to babies in need, making it the longest running milk bank in the country. Milk banking has changed over time, with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) instituting processes to make banked milk safer and more accessible. All milk is tested and pasteurized before use. On May 2, from 10am-2pm, Watsonville Community Hospital will be hosting the Santa Cruz County Breastfeeding Coalition’s annual Milk Drive in celebration of Mother’s DayThis free event will include an opportunity to make Mother’s Day related crafts, win a door prize, or other gifts. The Mother’s Milk…

  • March 2024

    Postpartum Doulas Help New Families

    Sometimes there’s one miraculous moment of postpartum doula care that seems like a turning point in a new parent’s confidence. But more often it’s a series of small, almost imperceptible moments that together lighten the load; allowing everyone to take a breath, get their perspective back and continue learning how to be in tune with their new baby. Postpartum doulas are available to new families for a few hours, days, or weeks. Experienced with feeding support, they can offer encouragement through helpful tips and techniques that have been successful for many other families. They keep an eye out for situations that may seem beyond normal new baby transitions. While not…

  • December 2023

    Help, It’s the Holidays! 

    The holiday season is a busy time. Parties and events with friends and extended family can leave pregnant and new parents feeling frazzled. Here’s some help to navigate some potentially stressful holiday situations. It’s not uncommon to be exposed to potentially traumatic or frightening birth stories during social situations. While a pregnant person can simply excuse themselves from a group if the topic gets too intense, a one-on-one situation can be a little trickier. One idea is to physically reach out and touch the storyteller’s arm. Say clearly, “Oh, I’m trying not to hear any stories about (getting an epidural, having a cesarean, a baby in the intensive care unit,…

  • November 2023

    Ready or Not, Here They Come 

    There is so much to think about and do to prepare for a new baby. Nine months of pregnancy can seem like plenty of time, but it can go fast. Suddenly, the baby is here, and the to-do list goes out the window, exchanged for busy days filled with the many small demands of a tiny new person. Parents everywhere think, “What in the world did I do all day before this baby came?” So, while there is still time to sit and focus, here are a couple of tasks to move to the top of the to-do-BEFORE-baby-arrives list. One involves acquiring a skill you hope to never use, and…

  • October 2023

    Birth Network – 25 Years and Counting

    This year’s Pregnancy and Birth issue of Growing Up just happens to fall on Birth Network of Santa Cruz County’s 25th anniversary. Receiving their official nonprofit status in October of 1998, Birth Network’s mission to support parents and service providers with information, education, and advocacy for “Mother-Friendly” childbirth began. Birth Network promotes the goals and principles outlined in the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI), a blueprint for optimal maternity care that was hot off the press in 1996. A quarter of a century ago, Birth Network was the first non-profit to organize around the MFCI, a document ratified by a coalition of 31 individuals and 26 major childbirth related organizations. Childbirth…

  • September 2023

    Bellies, Birth and Babies is Back

    Birth Network of Santa Cruz County is excited to offer the first Bellies, Birth and Babies (BBB) event since 2019, on September 10, 2-4pm at the Circle Family Center in Aptos. This 2-hour community event offers expectant and new parents, as well as their support teams, education, skills and resources to enhance their childbirth and parenting journey. Birth Network will offer BBB events every two months with the next one planned for November 12, at the RC Fam/Raíces y Cariño in Watsonville. Next year’s schedule will see BBB events held in the Westside/Scotts Valley area, as well.Each Bellies, Birth & Babies will offer a panel of speakers and an activity…

  • August 2023

    Time to Celebrate Breastfeeding

    It’s clear that working parents are more successful with their breast/chestfeeding goals when they are given adequate support. Pressures to get back to earning a paycheck often compete with the ability to get breastfeeding firmly established Not enough parents qualify for paid maternity leave, with some back to work even before the typical six weeks given by state disability. While there are supportive employers out there, many workplaces ignore the needs of their breastfeeding employees, making pumping and storing milk at work difficult. While the California Breastfeeding Coalition works with parents who feel their employers are ignoring state and federal guidelines for lactation support at work, not every parent is…

  • Bellies, Birth, and Babies Birth Network
    July 2023

    Sharing Our Stories

    Giving birth is often considered a rite of passage. Feelings after giving birth can range from empowered, exhilarated, triumphant, in love with the baby, and “amazed at the power of my birthing body”; to violated, discouraged, shocked, traumatized, and “afraid of my baby.” Others fall somewhere in between. How is it that the same event can result in such a diversity of feelings? Surprisingly, it’s not the birth outcome alone that forms these feelings, but rather it’s often related to feelings of power and control, as well as access to accurate information, that can make the difference.Ideally, birth is attended by care providers who have an appreciation of the body’s…

  • June 2023

    Nurse-Family Partnership Provides Support

    By Laura Maxson Being pregnant with a first child comes with lots of changes. In the best of situations it can be a challenge for expectant families to find their way through the many decisions that need to be made. And when the situation isn’t optimal? It can feel like a wild ride, as new issues come up faster and faster. An expectant parent can quickly become overwhelmed with so much new information to absorb and situations to work out.Luckily, Santa Cruz County provides a wonderful program to help first-time mothers/pregnant people navigate the sometimes complicated new world a pregnancy can bring. The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is a free and…

  • May 2023

    Where Do Babies Come From?

    By Laura Maxson The stone goddess pictured here is open mouthed, likely emitting a full throated roar as she opens herself to give birth. This is the face of birth. It is uncommon now to see such instinctive and primal behavior. This archetypical birth goddess has at once been humbled and empowered. Her face, transformed by labor’s intensity, becomes the face of all birthing people. Features soften as they revert to a more primitive existence – based simply on survival. Breath by breath, and contraction by contraction, she goes so deep within her body’s power that she becomes one with it. Giving birth with all the power of the universe…

  • March 2023

    Nurture Your Parenting Skills

    By Laura Maxson Most parents are laser focused on birth, and the first few months postpartum, then they hit the ground running and things rarely slow down. The needs of a new baby are clear and insistent, but fast forward to toddler time. Suddenly the newborn is crawling about, dumping over the cat’s food, and chewing on the tv remote. This behavior might be seen as normal inquisitiveness by one parent, and defiance by another. Each parent brings their own history and family upbringing into a parenting partnership. Their own life experience can feel like the norm, especially if they have never really explored parenting issues. Two different parenting perspectives…

  • February 2023

    Breastfeeding Coalitions Offer Support

    By Laura Maxson Families and healthcare providers know that lactation support takes many forms. More than just an appointment with a lactation consultant, it’s also a call from a lactation peer-counselor, a helpful Facebook group, or supportive lactation legislation. How does all this come together? Breastfeeding coalitions are providing this strong foundation of support both locally, and statewide. The California Breastfeeding Coalition’s mission is: “To improve the health and well-being of Californians by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support lactation. We do this by cultivating collaborative relationships among state and local organizations, government agencies, hospitals and health care providers, employers and community-based chest/breastfeeding support organizations throughout California. Our vision…

  • January 2023

    Medi-Cal Coverage – Doulas & Donor Milk

    Doula care in California is a covered Medi-Cal service as of January 1, 2023Details are still being worked out, so it is unclear exactly when local doulas will be authorized to accept Medi-Cal payments. There is paperwork to be filed and hoops to be jumped through before the program is fully off and running, but the gears are turning. The Medi-Cal Doula care will include emotional and physical support, provided during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. These preventive services simply need to be recommended by a doctor, midwife or other licensed member of the healing arts. Once recommended, the doula would be authorized to provide:• one initial visit•…

  • December 2022

    After the Cesarean

    The first days and weeks after childbirth can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially when also recovering from major abdominal surgery. Most people don’t plan on a cesarean birth, but the reality is that about one in every three births nowadays is a c-section. How a person feels after surgery depends on many things. The type of anesthesia used and any reactions it might have caused (drugs to relieve nausea or itching often result in drowsiness). Was the cesarean performed before labor started or after many hours of hard labor? Are there other existing or developing illnesses impacting recovery? Does the baby need special care? All these factors contribute to…

  • November 2022

    Labor Pain, What’s Your Best Strategy?

    Imagine entering a Thai restaurant for the first time. Menu items in a foreign language may hint at ingredients, but guidance from an experienced diner could make all the difference. Someone to describe the dishes and make recommendations may save the day. This scenario comes to mind when reviewing Henci Goer’s newest book, Labor Pain – What’s Your Best Strategy? Many people skip the pain relief menu and jump straight to the epidural because, doesn’t everyone get the epidural? Parents may be led to believe that an epidural as plan A is always the best choice. Glossed over details, confusing statistics, or feeling rushed at prenatal visits can make it…

  • October 2022

    Roots and Love

    Roots and Love The RC Family Collective By Laura Maxson, LM Families in south Santa Cruz County are getting excited about a new center opening this month. Raíces y Cariño (Roots and Love), also called the RC Family Collective or RC Fam for short, will be providing services to families based on diversity, inclusivity and equity. This endeavor, headed by Nora Yerena and Juliana Reyes, is a labor of love. Both have deep ties to Watsonville. As a teen, Juliana immigrated to Watsonville from Mexico with her family. She worked for years in education and social service agencies in this community, which is dear to her heart. Her husband, a…

  • September 2022

    Birth Photos

    Picture Perfect By Laura Maxson, LM Birth photos can be very powerful and bring back intense memories. Some new parents will want to let their birth experience sink in for a few days before viewing their birth photos. The moment of birth can be intense. When the final push comes, mom’s face may be buried into her partner’s chest or perhaps her head thrown back in wild abandon, the baby is finally here. While the birth of a child is a once-in-a-lifetime event, is it also a photo op? For some, the answer is a resounding “no.” But, in increasing numbers, the answer is an enthusiastic “yes.” While anyone can…

  • August 2022

    Breastfeeding Month

    Lactation: Educate & Support by Laura Maxson, LM If it’s August, we must be talking about breastfeeding/chestfeeding/providing babies with human milk. National Breastfeeding Awareness Month includes:Week 1: World Breastfeeding WeekEducate & SupportWeek 2: Indigenous Milk Medicine WeekStrengthening Our Traditions from Birth and BeyondWeek 3: Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander WeekEducate & SupportWeek 4: Black Breastfeeding WeekBBW 2022: 10 Years, A New FoundationOn Thursday, August 4, from 10 am-1 pm, families in Santa Cruz County can swing by the Watsonville Hospital parking lot for a drive-through World Breastfeeding Week event. People will learn about breastfeeding and the local support provided by event co-sponsors: Salud Para La Gente, Community Bridges…