• February 2022

    Pillows more than fluff

    Pillows: More Than Fluff By Laura Maxson LM Pillows and relaxation go hand in hand; in fact, a pregnant couple arriving at their first childbirth class with pillows in hand is a classic image of pregnancy. Pillows can make the difference between a few hours of sleep, or tossing and turning all night. So, let’s see… turn on the left side, one pillow under the head, a small flat one under the belly, a nice fat one between the knees, and a firm one for the back – with any luck there’s even one left over for your bed partner. Many swear by a long snake-like body pillow instead of…

  • January 2022

    Love Birth Matters

    Love, the Best Drug of All By Laura Maxson LM Love – it’s something you want in big doses during labor. Feeling loved and being loving, both help release the hormone oxytocin – the fuel that runs the engine of labor. Pulsing into the bloodstream from the posterior pituitary gland, oxytocin goes directly into the brain, triggering the release of endorphins (nature’s opiates) as it also finds oxytocin receptors in the uterus, causing contractions. Oxytocin and endorphins go hand in hand in labor, resulting in a cycle of oxytocin release, answered by heightened endorphin levels. As labor progresses, the laboring person sinks further and further into their body, deepening their…

  • November 2021

    Circle Family Center

    The Circle Family Center Helping New Families Find Help by Laura Maxson, LM Many expectant parents look longingly at a prenatal yoga listing, an independent childbirth class, or parent/child art class and sigh with the realization that it is not within their budget. The Circle Family Center is trying to turn that sigh of resignation into a positive affirmation – “yes, you can!” Newly opened, the Circle is an idea that has been incubating for some time in the minds of Nora Yerena, Elisa HavensStokes, and Kim Guiley. As parents and birth workers, the cofounders of the Circle know firsthand about the support new families need and the difficulty in…

  • October 2021

    Birth Happens

    Birth Happens by Laura Maxson, LM Shared experiences help us understand our world. Local midwives have committed to sharing their combined wealth of knowledge and history around childbirth. “Our efforts are focused on highlighting midwifery and homebirth,” says midwife, Elizabeth Yznaga. She and Kate Bowland, both highly experienced certified nurse-midwives, are partners in the Birth Happens project. The influence of homebirth and midwifery changed obstetrics in the U.S. due in part to the courage of the women and families of the San Lorenzo Valley. They were pioneers in bringing birth back home, while reinventing childbirth education and attending births as midwives. Birth Happens puts a spotlight on local history with…

  • September 2021

    Optimal Cord Clamping

    Optimal Cord Clamping BY Laura Maxson, LM Mothers of animals born with intact cords are focused intently on their babies – sniffing, licking (kissing), and nuzzling – stimulating them to breathe and bond. Before birth the placenta does the baby’s breathing (gas exchange), so the lungs are resting and essentially bypassed by blood circulation. The lungs are made up of fluid-filled air sacs surrounded by tiny blood vessels that are tightly constricted due to lack of blood flow. After birth, as the baby begins to breathe, blood circulation changes dramatically and rushes to the lungs as these tiny vessels relax and swell with blood to begin working. This means that…

  • August 2021

    Protecting Breastfeeding

    Protecting Breastfeeding A Shared Responsibility By Laura Maxson, LM The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) joins with other organizations for 2021 World Breastfeeding Week: Protect Breastfeeding – A Shared Responsibility, August 1 – 7. Here in the USA, the entire month is dedicated to supporting breastfeeding. The remaining weeks have the following focuses: second week – Native Breastfeeding; third week – Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Breastfeeding week; and Black Breastfeeding week closes out the month.  Locally, the first week of August would usually include a Health Fair and Breastfeeding Walk hosted by WIC and the Santa Cruz County Breastfeeding Coalition, but not this year, as…

  • July 2021

    Doula

    Aiming High – Or a New Normal? by Laura Maxson, LM The birth community is breathing a sigh of relief as pandemic restrictions begin to lift. Getting back to normal sounds pretty good after the past year and a half, but why stop at normal? Families will be better served with higher goals – so let’s aim beyond normal. Consider vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) in Santa Cruz County.(Note: families travel to our county because we have better VBAC options than others.)  Studies show pregnancies following a cesarean should result in a vaginal birth about 70% of the time, with only 30% of attempted VBACs resulting in a repeat cesarean.…

  • June 2021

    Who Holds the Power?

    Who Holds the Power? Laura Maxson, LM It’s hard not to feel frustrated by the state of maternity care in the United States. We spend more than any other country on our health care, yet we have some of the worst outcomes for mothers and babies, with black and brown families bearing the brunt of maternal mortality and morbidity (childbirth-related death and illness). There are some glimmers of hope this year with the federal government’s response to Black Maternal Health week with some mandates in training and spending, but real change in our broken maternity system is going to take continued pressure on the powers that be. Much of that…

  • April 2021

    Growth Spurt & Milk Supply

    Growth Spurt? By Laura Maxson, LM Resolving an unexpected dip in an established milk supply includes recognizing frequency days, decreasing pacifier use, increasing nighttime nursing opportunities, and possibly temporary breast pump use to help build the supply.. Once breastfeeding is established, most parents breathe a big sigh of relief. Got this! Then one day, the baby is suddenly inconsolable and wants to nurse all day and all night, too. A quick check for anything obviously wrong most often finds no fever or symptoms other than a baby who wants to be at the breast constantly. Before hitting the panic button (is it colic, reflux?), it’s good to remember the supply…

  • A Tired Mother with Upset Baby Suffering with Post Natal Depression.
    February 2021

    Speak Up

    Speak Up! By Laura Maxson LM Many parents are facing more stress than ever with all that is going on in our world. Those who need help with postpartum depression or mood disorders are encouraged to speak up and get help. Want a peek into the complexities of life with a new baby? Just take a look at the greeting card aisle. You’ll see new baby cards that describe the birth of a child as a gift, a promise for the future, and nothing but snuggles, giggles, smiles and of course, love, love, and more love. Intermixed with the sweet new baby cards, however, are plenty with another message. These…