Archive for the ‘Midwifery’ Category

Unveiling Nassau University Medical Center’s New Birthing Center

October 14, 2013

How many hospitals do you know of that offer waterbirth or fully support the midwifery model of care?  How many L&D departments are run by a chairman convinced that mother-friendly care is the gold standard that all hospitals should strive to provide to birthing women? While the answer should be “many” if not “all, “ImageImageImage the opposite is the norm.

As an Ecstatic Birth advocate and Choices In Childbirth (CiC) board member, I am often asked “Where can I have the best birth experience?” The majority of women aren’t comfortable with the answer “home.”  Yet the alternatives, birthing centers or mother-friendly hospital programs are sorely lacking.

This week, I  had the pleasure of accompanying CIC’s Executive Director Elan McAllister to a community outreach forum at Nassau University Medical Center where they are unveiling a new birthing center this fall. We were thrilled to discover that NUMC is is a bright light of hope in an otherwise dark landscape of birthing options on Long Island.

The forum began by acknowledging each and every midwife present with a rose in honor of Midwifery Week. This touching gesture set the stage for an uplifting panel of presenters where we learned that NUMC has successfully been integrating midwives and mother-friendly care into their labor and delivery program for years. We witnessed an incredible air of collaboration and mutual respect between the doctors and the midwives that work at NUMC.

In an era where it feels challenging to find consistent mother-friendly care in a hospital setting, NUMC provides a great model for how it can and does work. Their outcome statistics fully back the program up. They boast the lowest c-section rate on Long Island by far- (at 28.1% in 2011, they were the only hospital in the county with a rate below 42%).

Elan was invited to share CIC’s work, a large part of which involves advocacy to make sure that women have access to a full range of evidence-based best practices when choosing where and how to birth.  The last decade has been heartbreaking in the NY area as many programs that delivered mother-friendly options to women have closed down- despite the fact that all the evidence shows that such models deliver better outcomes for moms, babies, AND our health care system. CIC is currently undergoing a huge initiative known as the NYC Report to better illuminate the birth landscape and pave the way for better options; NUMC’s program is a prime example of what works.


Sheila Kamara Hay is a writer, Ecstatic Birth advocate, CIC board member and super-mama to three little ones. She can be found writing about pleasure and childbirth at


Miles for Midwives, an Intern’s Perspective

August 14, 2013


Synthia Chowdhury, CiC’s Miles for Midwives Event Intern

They say that one of the best ways to learn and contribute to this world is by stepping out and making a difference. Not sure who said it; maybe it was just me talking to myself. But it’s one of the central thoughts that runs through my head on a daily basis. It’s as if my body is a wandering butterfly searching for a chance to show off its exuberance. I cannot explain the excitement and joy I received to be the Events/PR Intern for the 11th Annual Miles for Midwives!  I absolutely love the planning and organizing process of events. There is so much to look forward to, so much anticipation. I think the most exciting part of it all is the people involved. There is so much to learn from others, from watching the way they master their work to hearing about their personal experiences.  And there’s absolutely no hiding my feminist nature, so getting the opportunity to take part in an organization that empowers women and their families to make strong decisions about their childbirth experiences creates a competency within me, one that allows me to grow as an individual and less of a wanderer.

As a Public Relations and Advertising student at The City College of New York, I learned a lot about the communications aspect of an organization, from the history of communications, studying social media as if it were a religion, to gaining media attention through writing and interacting; but it really takes personal experiences to learn about the nuts and bolts of the work field. Interning for Miles for Midwives gave me the opportunity to grow as a professional by allowing me to utilize my knowledge and helping me gain valuable experience.

I never really thought there were so many choices when it came to childbirth. It’s such an important decision for families to make. From the options of having a midwife, doula, massage therapist, acupuncturist- these are only some of the many choices in the birth experience. Don’t even get me started on how amazed I was when I learned more about water birth! We all know the old saying, “you learn something new every day.” I strongly believe I do, and the opportunity to intern for Miles for Midwives makes each day exciting and dynamic.

I look forward to meeting all the midwives, families and supporters on Saturday, October 5th, for the 11th Annual Miles for Midwives! Best of luck to all the runners and let’s get our game faces on for a day full of fun and adventure! The countdown has already begun!

Find more information about the 2013 Miles for Midwives event and register to participate here!

Gotta move, gotta rock, gotta sing! Comfort Measures and Coping Techniques for Labor

March 28, 2013

By Milon Nagi

At a recent Healthy Birth Choices Workshop, we gathered to hear three new moms share the comfort measures and techniques they used to cope with labor. We were also joined by Zoe Kogan, licensed acupuncturist, who took us through some acupressure points and massage techniques which can encourage labor. It was striking to hear, coming through the unique and individual nature of each story, the common themes that emerged as each woman found her way through to the birth of her baby.

Milon Nagi and Laure Sinnhuber-Giles, members of CiC's Program Committee, practice a sacrum massage used to help women cope during labor

Milon Nagi and Laure Sinnhuber-Giles, members of CiC’s Program Committee, practice a double hip squeeze used to help women cope during labor

When Vicki began to feel the sensations that led to her baby’s birth, she didn’t at first recognize them as labor – she thought it was heartburn. Having known for over a week that her cervix was already 3cm dilated, she had learned through experience that “that effacement, that dilation doesn’t mean anything until labor really happens.” She went about her day, downloading songs from iTunes for her birth playlist and, as her contractions grew closer, checking in with her midwife, who told her it didn’t sound like labor yet. “She told me, ‘Call me when you can’t stand it anymore’,” Vicki recalls.

To ease the discomfort, Vicki got into her tub. And, when the sensations became more intense, she asked her doula to come over. She remembers feeling “huge relief” when her doula arrived, thinking “I can finally relax, I’m just going to do whatever she tells me to.” Her doula, realizing that Vicki was experiencing a back labor, recommended that she stand in the shower with the hot water raining down on her back. It felt good and there was a possibility it could encourage her baby to change positions. She stayed there for 45 minutes and, in the meantime, her doula encouraged her husband to take a nap. Emerging from the shower, Vicki followed her urge to lean forward onto the bed through contractions. She moved to laboring on the birth ball to help her baby come down. Eventually, her doula suggested now may be a good time to go to the hospital. “I don’t know how she knew,” Vicki says, “she recognized from my face or something that I was ready – I didn’t even know that.”

Her doula helped her dress and they moved to the hospital. During the car ride, especially, Vicki’s music helped her to stay present and cope with her labor. She remembers laboring without a room for a while, until a nurse noticed her squatting and “corkscrew walking” through contractions in the hallway and she was finally checked and put into a labor room. Vicki recalls noticing that it was dark when they arrived (around 6am) and seeing more light as time went on. Having arrived pushing, she expected to have her baby before breakfast. Her baby’s unusual position, however (his head was tilted to one side and he was “sunny side up”) meant that it took a while for him to make his way out. With her midwife’s and doula’s support, Vicki pushed for several hours in different positions, fending off threats of a cesarean section from the attending OB (who later returned with students to observe her, impressed with her progress!) and at one point accepting some Pitocin to keep her contractions strong. Her birth team encouraged her and reminded her how strong she was, her doula massaging and shaking her tired legs between contractions. With their “incredible” support, she gave triumphant birth to her baby son, River, just as she had hoped to.