What Are GMOs?

You may be seeing "Non-GMO" labels popping up in supermarkets all over and you may or may not have given much thought to what GMOs are and how they affect your diet. For More information click here.  GMOs are "genetically modified organisms" they are plants and animals that have been genetically altered by the introduction of bacteria, viruses, or other different species into their DNA, thus genetically modifying them.  Also, animals that eat GMO feed produce GMO meats and by-products when slaughtered . Most of the world do not consider genetically modified foods to be safe to consume and about 64 countries have bans or significant restrictions on the production and sales of GMOs. However, the United States and Canada have yet to restrict or ban these foods. I have no idea why we (as a nation) won't even put a label on GMO foods so that we can at least decide for ourselves if we want to eat them or not. Well, actually I do have an idea, but then again this is not a political blog so I'll keep that to myself...

Labeling GMO ingredients is not regulated in the United States, so Look for this label on foods to make sure they are really GMO free products.

Labeling GMO ingredients is not regulated in the United States, so Look for this label on foods to make sure they are really GMO free products.

 America's failure to restrict, ban or even label GMOs and other harmful food additives is why you may have heard things like, for example, some of Ben and Jerry's American markets use GMO ingredients for their ice cream here in the US, however, the ice-cream they make for European markets are GMO free. Or, you may have read recently in the news that Subway announced plans to eventually remove azodicarbonamide from their American markets, while they do not bake their bread with the chemical also found in yoga mats and synthetic leather in markets overseas ( by the way, if you can't pronounce it don't eat it azodicarbonamide has been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems).

Not only are GMOs bad for your health, but they are also bad for our economy, our environment, they have a negative affect on farmers (Monsanto, look it up) and the national food security of the United States because once these GMO crops are released into our environment, they can not be recalled. If you're as outraged about this as I am, hopefully we can inspire change because I'd like my children to have more choices of REAL food and it not cost them an arm or a leg in some cases literally.

I always encourage you to do more research and dig deeper. Since GMOs have been linked to a myriad of health problems, cancers and diseases. It's a good idea to try and eliminate as many GMOs from your diet as possible, and the first step is to recognize what they are: In the US about 80% of our foods are GMOs or contain GMO ingredients (goodness gracious, that's a lot).  Below are several that have the highest risk of being genetically modified. It looks like a pretty short list, but don't forget about all the products that are derived from these crops. Let's take corn for example, there are thousands products that have ingredients derived from corn such as soda, chewing gum, condiments, alcoholic beverages, baby food, cereals, peanut butter and the list goes on and on and on. If it's GMO corn think of all the products that are now also GMO products! Consider all the products that have canola oils in them, cottonseed oil, soy, sugar. Pretty overwhelming, huh?

  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres) 

Check out the rest of the list here.  I'm working on a post to help you identify and eliminate GMOs. For example, ingredients listed as "sugar" usually are GMO, you want to look for "pure cane sugar" or "organic sugar".  Also, make sure you support companies who support GMO labeling and not those who are lining their pockets at the expense of your health and spending lots of money to fight GMO labeling. Ask yourself why these companies don't want you to know that their products are GMO.

 

 

 

Hiring a Doula: The Do's and Don'ts

So, you're considering hiring on a doula to help you and your birth partner through labor, follow this helpful Do's and Don't guide to help you through the hiring process. This post is loaded with insider information and written from a doula's perspective, let's face it, you're inviting an outside person into your sacred birthing room and that's a pretty big deal!

First:

DO your research.  If you've already read a little about it or heard about doulas from a friend and want more information, you can learn more here and there's an amazing article here. You can also google information or visit your local library. 

DONT make a decision to hire a doula without truly understanding what doulas offer and make sure that what you are looking for in a birth doula falls within in our scope of practice. Doulas do not do battle with medical staff, intercept or perform procedures or speak on the mother's behalf.  I for one think EVERY laboring woman needs a doula, and research has shown births accompanied by a doula are shorter, there is a reduced rate of medical interventions, reduced requests for epidurals, higher success rates with breastfeeding and a reduction in the rate of cesarean births, so I'm pretty biased at this point. 

Next:

Do make a list of doulas to meet. Find a doula! at doulamatch.com. You can also find doulas on the Georgia Birth Network site, or checkout the newly launched site Atlanta Birth Pros or by googling, word of mouth or by going here. Look for doulas who you'd like to meet. Browse their websites and check out their social media accounts to see if you can discern a bit of her personality from those sites. Pay attention to her services: What does she offer? Are there any extra perks? Does she fit your vision of who you want in the room with you? 

DO look into meeting with doulas who are within your budget. If a doula does not list her prices on her website it may be because she uses a sliding scale fee type system and may be able to offer a discount, email her to find out more about her fees. Most doulas who are working towards their certification will offer a discount of some sort as well. 

DO spend quite a bit of time on her website, reading her information, blog posts, frequently asked questions, pictures, testimonials, etc. Print this worksheet from the baby center, it's a pretty comprehensive list of things you are going to want to know about your potential doula and fill it out using the information you get from her website.

DONT print the sheet or a list of questions and take it to your doula consultation/ interview to quiz her. Use the sheet and see how much of that information you can get from her website. If there are questions not covered on her website email her to find out more information. That way you've freed up a lot more time to talk during the interview and really get to know her and find out more of what she can offer you. It will also impress her that you've taken the time to check her out.

DO discuss your desire to hire a doula with your birth partner whomever that might be (partner, husband, mom, sister) before the two of you interview a doula. Let them know that hiring a doula will not be replacing the help that they can provide you but instead is offering an addition source to offer help for the both of you. A doula is an addition to your birth partner, not a replacement. 

DONT let your birth partner talk you out of having a doula. If the decision comes down to a matter of price, some doulas may reduce their fee for you. MOST will offer a payment plan of some sort. 

Finally: The Consultations (da da duuuuunnnn)

You've found a few you want to interview, now what?

DO meet at least 3 or more doulas. To get a feel for who is out there and what services they offer. Most doulas offer a free consultation. Some doulas will charge a fee of about 25 dollars for a sit-down interview. If you hire her, she will deduct that money from her total fee. If you decide not to hire her, well, then she's paid for gas, travel expenses and maybe that triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato she enjoyed while she waited for you to arrive. Most doulas will have a meeting spot that she will meet you at for that initial meeting that she uses for most potential clients, some are more flexible and will meet you closer to where you live, and if hired all prenatal appointments will usually be in your home.

DO bring your birth partner with you if at all possible so that they can observe and develop an opinion of her as well (and vise versa).

DONT argue or haggle her doula fees or ask her to convince you that her fee is "worth it". Let's consider a break down of a doula fee: Let's say she charges $600 (the lower end of the price range of a doula in the Atlanta area, in New York and California doulas charge thousandsssss of dollars per client).

Example of hours per client: 

  • Prep/ research: 3 hours
  • Prenatal appointments and phone calls: 6 hours
  • labor: 12 hours (of course I'm using an average here some labors are shorter, some longer)
  • Postpartum immediately after delivery: 3 hours
  • Postpartum visit (after you go home): 2 hours
  • Driving time: 6 hours (depending on hospitals in area and her service radius this could be much more!)

total of our above scenario which describes a pretty basic breakdown: 32 hours and that's looking at a hourly rate of about: $18.75 and I didn't even add in the hours that she will be on call for you 24 hours/day for a week or two before your due date until you've delivered (and that usually means missing and rescheduling a few of her personal functions), gas, parking, meals and snacks when she's in the hospital with you, arrangements for childcare if she has children, the hours of  text messages and emails exchanged and the extra little things that a lot of doulas do for their clients like little gifts (because we come to love you guys, really!) 

DONT treat your consultation as an actual "interview" but rather opening up a dialogue and having a conversation. Share some of your fears, issues or thoughts of how you envision your labor going and ask her how she plans to support you in that. Are you planning on having an epidural? Fine, ask her how she supports a medicated birth. You're going to try a VBAC, talk to her about it. Share your previous birth experiences. Get to know each other.

DO notice which doula you felt the most comfortable with, who was easiest to talk to? Did she ask you questions? Engage your birth partner? Was she warm and friendly?

DONT get caught up on how many births she's attended. (I know, right? you're like, that's the most important part, right?!) Well, not necessarily. Here's the way I see it. Whether she's done 2 births or 200 births, she's never supported you through your birth right? You're strangers and you will have to get to know each other. Each and every birth is basically a first birth because each birth is different (you follow?) Your doula will have to custom tailor her support to your specific needs, and will not know how to specifically help you until you're actually in labor and she can observe how you react to labor and how your baby is tolerating labor. If she's been trained by a reputable certifying agency such as DONACAPPA, and the like, and she respects you, your wishes and follows a scope of practice, then you should be in pretty good hands. 

DO check her credentials and read between the lines. There are good doulas and bad doulas just like there are good doctors and bad doctors and so on. Is she passionate about supporting women in childbirth? Why did she become a doula? If there's something that doesn't feel right, trust your gut, move on and look for someone else. 

DONT be afraid to be honest and talk openly about your expectations of a doula, and what you want her to do for you. Encourage your birth partner be open and honest about the role he or she would like to talk on during your birth.

ALSO, the "interview" is actually for the doulas to get a chance to size you up to! Doulas can only take so many clients a month, and you may be competing with other women for a spot who are due around the same date as you are. While you are deciding if you want to hire her as a doula. She is wondering if you'd be a good fit as her client as well.  It's that mutual comfort that makes the best birth team unions! Happy Doula Hunting! 

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all mother's and those who take on the role. Enjoy your day! This is how I spent mine: 


We took a hike in the North Georgia Mountains.

We took a hike in the North Georgia Mountains.

my little "C"

my little "C"

Picnic for lunch

Picnic for lunch

Last picture before we all got caught in the rain and soaked!

Last picture before we all got caught in the rain and soaked!

3 Apps to Help You Through Your Pregnancy and Beyond!

Smart phones offer a wealth of knowledge right in the palm of your hand! During your pregnancy you can run into pregnancy information overload! Here are a few apps that can simplify your pregnancy and life during your pregnancy, labor and beyond!

Baby Bump Pregnancy (free lite version / 2.99 full version / available on android and iPhone).

Almost all pregnancy planner apps that you will find in the app store will calculate due dates and give you tips and updates on your developing baby. This app will also allow you to track your weight, mood and energy level, provides a kick-counting tool, contraction timer and even has a fun baby name section. There is also a newborn item checklist and birth announcement template. There is a section that helps you with your birth plan, and while it does not have a very comprehensive list (a lot of choices are left out) it is a good place to start looking at some of the options you have during labor. There is also a community that you can connect with to talk to other moms who are due around the same time as you are. If you’re taking belly pictures of your baby bump each week, there’s even a place to enter those! This app is really comprehensive!

ipregnancy (3.99 available on iphone only)

This app has facebook and twitter integration, so if you are sharing updates with family and friends about your pregnancy this may be the app for you. This customizable app is a way to simplify your social media updates by sending your updates straight to your accounts. There are 2D and 3D photos for each gestational week you are pregnant to give you an idea of what baby looks like and updates on your baby’s development. I love this app because it allows you to track your OB or Midwife office visits, you can keep track of weight, blood pressure and mood. There is also a section for questions you have for your care provider. We’ve all experienced that moment when we've had questions and our mind goes blank as soon as our care provider walks in the room!

My Pregnancy Today (FREE / available on iphone and android)

This app is from the Baby Center a comprehensive website devoted to providing you with expert information that varies from preconception, and pregnancy to parenting and general infant information from day 1 to age twelve. It is a great resource to have bookmarked. So, back to their free app, it gives you updates on your baby’s development, has pregnancy checklists, great videos explaining everything from fetal development each trimester to the how an epidural is administered. There is a nutrition guide and you can also connect to other pregnancy moms and parents in their community by joining birth clubs. The baby center also offers My Baby Today to follow your baby’s development after delivery!

How The Baby Crew Helps You Before, During and After Labor

Before:
The Baby Crew offers you childbirth education, and helps you prepare for birth. You will learn everything from how to decide when it is "time" to what to pack in your bag to what to expect in the stages of labor. You will have access to the lending library if interested, and we will practice breathing and positions and help you to feel comfortable and confident with what lies ahead.

During:
You will be physically supported throughout your labor with various comfort measures, massage, and position changes. Most women find it helps to be able to move around during labor, change positions, or sit on birthing balls, we will find what works for you. Labor can be challenging but you will be well rewarded for your efforts when you meet your baby.

You will receive emotional support; you will be encouraged through those mental blocks that occur in labor by having continual emotional support to help you stay calm and focused. You will work on breathing and visualization techniques tailored to what works for you. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that birthing is a natural process that you do not have to fear.

You will receive informational support. Your doula will provide education throughout your labor. You will have access to explanations of procedures as well as the birthing process and what to expect as things move along. You will be reminded of your options and informed consent. Any questions or concerns will be addressed and you will have the tools to face each option presented.

Your Partner will receive support! Your partner will receive invaluable informational and emotional support as well.  Whether you are giving birth in a hospital setting or at home, there is no other event in life where a family member or friend will be asked to undertake such a major care taking role with minimum experience as that of the birth partner you have chosen to be present at your birth. Your partner will be shown ways to help you labor and find comfort at having someone else present to share the care-giving role.

Lastly, you will have someone who will advocate for you. As you labor through hospital shift changes, and as different personnel come and go you will have someone who can provide advocacy, when needed.

After:
The Baby Crew is available after you give birth to assist you with any information and referral information you may need. You will have access to help with breastfeeding if you choose to do so (highly recommend!) and information with newborn care if needed.