Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Three-Dimensional Self Expression During Pregnancy: Henna

The theme of the summer issue of the FoMM newsletter is "birth art" and in the print edition we feature an article about henna belly art during pregnancy. This blog post contains the full text of the print article with the addition of several lovely photos documenting the henna experience. Enjoy!

FoMM Newsletter editor

Three-Dimensional Self Expression During Pregnancy
By Angie Meara

In effort to preserve the special finite time of my growing body during pregnancy, I desired a way to capture it through self-expression. With my first pregnancy, I had a belly/breast cast done. I purchased a belly cast kit for a friend as a gift and she used it and re-gifted to me because there was enough for another application. My mom and sister came over and helped me apply this messy, cool, gauze at approximately 32 weeks gestation. This was also a good exercise for us, so I could get over any of my hang-ups with having my body exposed to them. My mom and sister were going to be participating as part of my homebirth team. My sister did most of gauze application and the results were fabulous. I proudly displayed this beautiful expression of our FIRST on the mantel through the remainder of the pregnancy and the birth of our dear Olive. After the fourth trimester, we moved the cast upstairs to a shelf in our bedroom amongst some wedding photos and there it sat until we were halfway through our next pregnancy.

So, here I was pregnant again and desiring to keep this one unique and fair. I stared at the cast and wondered what I should do. Then, I was attending the Healthy Planet Expo and observed a Henna artist and it all clicked. I picked up her business card and stashed it in my purse. Meanwhile, my longtime friend, Chris Liddle, was living in California and interested in treating me or the baby to a gift. So, I told her that I wanted henna applied to my belly. My friend Chris didn’t waste any time and contacted Priti Jain right away. The next thing I knew I was trading emails with Priti and scheduled an appointment at her home. My mom joined me (and a film maker friend to capture the experience on video) for the occasion. My mom took much joy in taking pictures and having this unique opportunity to share this part of pregnancy with me.
Priti’s home was warm and inviting in suburbs west of St. Louis with a gorgeous second story view from her living room. After introductions, I located a comfortable seat and pulled my camisole up to expose my Buddha belly (at the time I thought I was 7.5 months along, but I ended up carrying this baby for ten months).

Priti had printed out of a simple labyrinth that I had sent her as a foundation for her design on my belly. I desired a labyrinth because that’s how I perceived birth… a journey, a process that only I could do while others supported me from the outside. Apparently, Priti hadn’t applied henna to a pregnant belly until a few weeks before mine at St. Louis Earth Day. She combined eucalyptus oil and henna (a plant from India that is dried and crushed for topical use) creating a paste and then wrapped it in a clear, firm, thin plastic creating a 3” pencil with a fine tip. Priti’s henna artistry was smooth, relaxed and incredible. She didn’t shake and it didn’t tickle while the paste was drying. The eucalyptus added a cooling effect to the experience. I was sure that the baby was enjoying this in-utero. Henna is a common practice in India and is applied by many for joyous occasions, such as marriage and pregnancy.

The application took about 60-80 minutes with no breaks and that simple labyrinth was dressed with flowers, stars, vines and the “OM” symbolizing renewal. I spent another 20-30 minutes allowing the paste to dry before I sat in the car and pulled a seat belt across my waist.

The following morning I had a prenatal photo shoot scheduled, so I didn’t want to disturb the henna. Once removed, the henna left a light orange/brown stain that lasted 7-14 days. It’s usually safe to scrap the paste away after 24 hours, but a part of me was doubtful and I didn’t want to reschedule my photo shoot. A majority of the stain stayed intact for 10 days and then slowly faded. Once it was no longer on my belly, I felt naked or that I was missing something. Wearing henna gave me a sense of warrior power and confidence. I mostly walked around with my belly exposed to showcase this temporary artistry called henna. And, when the labyrinth was undercover it was fun to imagine I had this secret under my shirt – henna and a growing baby!
If you wish to contact Priti for you or someone you know, you will find her contact information on her website:

Angie Meara is an aspiring urban homemaker and mother of Olive (4) and Van (1). She is also the Advertising Manager for the FoMM newsletter.

Photos credits: belly cast photo Alicia Hottle. Arty henna shots: Abbie Rudolph

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cookie Day 2010

Wednesday, February 10 was our 6th annual Cookie Day at the Missouri State Capitol, when families from around the state bake and package cookies and deliver them to the legislators in Jefferson City.

A few of the over 3.500 cookies that were brought to the capitol:

"Our" alcove next to Rep. Davis's office.

Families came here to get their assignment sheets, then moved out all over the capitol to deliver cookies, cheer, and a message of, "We love having legal midwives in Missouri. Please don't let that change!" 3,550 homemade cookies were delivered this year by 150 midwifery supporters. Great work!

We moved to this area just off the rotunda for lunch.

Jesse and Emily arranged for pizza delivery and folks were able to order ahead of time - it worked great! Samanda brought lots of drinks, which were most welcome.

Many thanks to all who made Cookie Day another successful demonstration of how much Missouri's families love and appreciate their midwives!

And here's a link to some media coverage of the day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A 10 Step Cookie Day Cheat Sheet

1) Bake a few dozen cookies/valentines and divide them into packages of six or so. If you can’t make it to the Capitol on Cookie Day, find someone else to schlep them over and deliver them (we can help!).

2) Wrap your cookies in cellophane or put them in ziploc bags to keep them airtight (everyone prefers fresh cookies!), but don’t stop there. Use a pretty plate. Try nice tissue paper and a gift bag. Use a small box and wrapping paper. Add a bow or streamers. Do something memorable!

3) Write a card from your family to your state Senator and Representative, plus generic notes for the other legislators you’ll visit. This can be as simple as a card or as detailed as a letter. Handwritten is best (keep it legible!). Thank them for their service. Explain how important legal midwives are to you. Tell them your story (no more than one page total). If you know they’re supportive, thank them! If you know they’re not, you might include a few facts or studies that may change their mind (highlight crucial sentences or numbers). If you’re a constituent, say so, and include your address for a response. has tons of fact sheets, ideas, and studies available. Be candid, friendly, and informative.

4) Include a family photo. Do you know how much your legislator will enjoy this? Some legislators keep your pictures on bulletin boards in their offices. If they’re ever tempted to hurt midwives, there your family will be, a smiling reminder to do the right thing!

5) Let your kids write creative notes, too. If they were born at home, say so! Break out the stickers and stencils, the colored pencils and the preschool smiley faces. Nothing breaks through walls quite like a child!

6) On Cookie Day, if you can, bring the whole family! Dress sharp. Bring the kids’ red wagon and fill it with kids and cookies. ☺ Come ready for lots of friendly conversations with curious legislators.

7) Check in at the Friends of Missouri Midwives table set up in the northwest corner of the Capitol’s first floor (from the front, that’s the back left). We’ll take your coat, give you FOMM lapel pins, and get you started. We’ll also have a list of legislators for you to see when you’re done visiting your own legislators’ offices.

8) Head over to your Senator or Representative’s office! Hopefully he or she will be close by and available to visit, in which case you can deliver your goodies in person and have a chat. If your legislator is ‘on the floor,’ ask the staff person if they can call him or her off to meet with you. Be warm, friendly, informative, confident, and interesting. No need to be shy - remember, your legislator represents YOU! Your visit will probably make their day. If you only see the staff person, be just as friendly to them as you would be to the legislator. They’ll probably be interested and eager to talk, and they’ll pass on everything you say to the legislator.

9) Repeat! At noon, head over to the House alcove on the third floor for your pre-ordered pizza lunch (or, bring your own food and join the others). Jesse & Emily Lepich will be coordinating the lunch this year (thanks, Lepich family!). Look for an email coming soon with ordering details.

10) Afternoon: continue delivering cookies. Take time to see the beautiful dome or get a tour from your legislator or the official Capitol tour guide. Also, private rooms will be available for nursing moms, young kids, or just to catch your breath for a minute. Watch from the gallery for a few minutes as your legislators debate in the House or Senate. Stick around for the FOMM meeting if you can (details tba). If you have extra cookies, leave them with us, and we’ll deliver them on your behalf the next day (if we don’t eat them ourselves, that is! ☺ ).

Midwifery rights are safer because of you. Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Top 12 Reasons to Come to Cookie Day 2010

12) It’s fun (spreading goodwill always is).

11) Your legislator will never forget your delicious cookies. More importantly, though, he or she will never forget the positive message that came with them!

10) Because our opposition at the Capitol is as active as ever. They’ll be watching us closely. The more midwifery supporters in the building, the more they quake in their boots! (or their alligator-skin Gucci shoes, as Senator Crowell would say)

9) So the media will notice how many of us there are!

8) To educate new legislators about midwifery rights.

7) To thank the legislators who have supported us through thick and thin. If it weren’t for them, midwives would still be felons.

6) To remind the legislators who oppose us that we’re still here, and we’re not going away!

5) Because if you don’t, the Missouri legislature might make the mistake of thinking of that you have forgotten and aren’t watching them anymore.

4) Because your legislator won’t know how much you care until you take the time to drive to the Capitol and meet with them in their office.

3) Because the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Your visit might be the one thing that keeps a legislator on board!

2) To hang out and enjoy a pizza lunch with lots of cool homebirth families from around Missouri.

1) Because it’s only one day out of the whole year, and is that too much to ask? How much did your midwife risk to serve you?

See you there?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Annual Cookie Day at the Missouri Capitol!

Join Friends of Missouri Midwives
for our Annual Cookie Day at the
Missouri Capitol

Wednesday, February 10th

Cookie Deliveries between 9am-2pm
We have LOTS of Representatives and Senators to educate,
so your attendance is especially important this year.
Bring the whole family!

Bring your tastiest treats along with your family to share:
* Please package cookies in bags or sealed containers. Place 6 cookies in each bag. Brownies, bar cookies, and rice krispy treats are welcome as well! Paper plates are not a good idea as cookies slide off easily.
* Include a Valentine for legislators that identifies you as a homebirth family or supporter. Family pictures are great to include on the Valentines. Feel free to get creative and make your packages look special!
*Consider having supportive friends and family members make cookie bags as well. If you will be unable to attend cookie day, but would like to make cookies for the event, please contact your local Area Coordinator or Sarah Greek.
* Check in at the Friends of Missouri Midwives table set up in the northwest corner of the Capitol’s first floor (from the front, that’s the back left). We’ll get you started on your fun journey at the Capitol!
* At noon, head over to the House alcove on the third floor for your pre-ordered pizza lunch (or bring your own food and join us). Make sure to RSVP for more details and ordering information.

It’s important we know how many people (and cookies) to expect! For more information, to RSVP to the event (or to make cookie arrangements), contact your local Area Coordinator
or contact Sarah Greek at
cell 417-712-4688 home 417-261-2321
Also, find FoMM and this Event on Facebook!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another study with positive results concerning planned home birth with a professional midwife published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Here is the Abstract:

Background: Studies of planned home births attended by registered midwives have been limited by incomplete data, nonrepresentative sampling, inadequate statistical power and the inability to exclude unplanned home births. We compared the outcomes of planned home births attended by midwives with those of planned hospital births attended by midwives or physicians.

Methods: We included all planned home births attended by registered midwives from Jan. 1, 2000, to Dec. 31, 2004, in British Columbia, Canada (n = 2889), and all planned hospital births meeting the eligibility requirements for home birth that were attended by the same cohort of midwives (n = 4752). We also included a matched sample of physician-attended planned hospital births (n = 5331). The primary outcome measure was perinatal mortality; secondary outcomes were obstetric interventions and adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Results: The rate of perinatal death per 1000 births was 0.35 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.00–1.03) in the group of planned home births; the rate in the group of planned hospital births was 0.57 (95% CI 0.00–1.43) among women attended by a midwife and 0.64 (95% CI 0.00–1.56) among those attended by a physician. Wo men in the planned home-birth group were significantly less likely than those who planned a midwife-attended hospital birth to have obstetric interventions (e.g., electronic fetal monitoring, relative risk [RR] 0.32, 95% CI 0.29–0.36; assisted vaginal delivery, RR 0.41, 95% 0.33–0.52) or adverse maternal outcomes (e.g., third- or fourth-degree perineal tear, RR 0.41, 95% CI 0.28–0.59; postpartum hemorrhage, RR 0.62, 95% CI 0.49–0.77). The findings were similar in the comparison with physician-assisted hospital births. Newborns in the home-birth group were less likely than those in the midwife- attended hospital-birth group to require resuscitation at birth (RR 0.23, 95% CI 0.14–0.37) or oxygen therapy beyond 24 hours (RR 0.37, 95% CI 0.24–0.59). The findings were similar in the comparison with newborns in the physician-assisted hospital births; in addition, newborns in the home-birth group were less likely to have meconium aspiration (RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.21–0.93) and more likely to Abstract be admitted to hospital or readmitted if born in hospital (RR 1.39, 95% CI 1.09–1.85).

Interpretation: Planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.

Published online ahead of print August 31, 2009
CMAJ 10.1503/cmaj.081869
© 2009 Canadian Medical Association or its licensors

Click here for the pdf of the entire text.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cookie Day at the Capitol - 2009!

Midwife supporters started showing up bright and early laden with boxes, baskets, crates, backpacks, and even wheeled luggage crammed full of hundreds and hundreds of packages of cookies! We lost count of just how many home baked cookies were delivered on Cookie Day, but our estimate puts it around 800 packages, or 400 dozen cookies!

Jen Keifer, FoMM VP, arrived with a wagon load of cookies and children.
Her homeborn baby, David (above) appears ready to go charm the legislators!

By 1 pm, most people had visited dozens of offices with their children and cookies and were happy to sit and listen to special speakers at our rally in celebration of legal CPMs. Many people were especially excited to hear Jennifer Block from Brooklyn, New York and many brought copies of her book, "Pushed" to be autographed afterwards. A number of legislators and various lobbyists showed up to hear her as well.
Above, Halley Watson, Legislative Chair, welcomes everyone and thanks them for coming to celebrate with us.

After receiving an emotional standing ovation from a rotunda full of homebirth parents, children, and their midwives, Senator Loudon spoke about his motivation for legalizing Certified Professional Midwives. He added, "You wouldn't believe all the people I've met through this! I have so many Facebook friends because of this issue!"

Samanda Rossi, President of Friends of Missouri Midwives, surprised Mary and Debbie by coming to the front to recognize them for their years of service and present them with beautiful bouquets, thanking them for all that they have sacrificed over the past four years to make midwives legal in Missouri.

"In their time as unpaid, volunteer lobbyists, they [Debbie and Mary] gave up a great deal for the betterment of families in Missouri and the midwives who serve them. And they did without complaint or of asking for much beyond our presence at the Capitol. They dug deep into their pockets to pay for gas and meager dinners of canned beans and donated food.... After dinner, sleep was scarce and work hours were long as they strategized and planned for the daylight hours ahead...
The intensity and selflessness of Mary and Debbie's work may never be fully understood or appreciated. But the magnitute of their work will resonate each time a midwife takes her CPM exam, each time a mother-to-be locates a legal midwife to assist her patiently and lovingly through pregnancy, and each time a baby utters it's first sounds of greeting upon birth in the great state of Missouri." - Samanda Rossi

The crowd in the rotunda, listening to Debbie tell the story of how her midwife was arrested two weeks before her due date, leaving her with nothing to do but have her baby at home alone or go to the hospital. Debbie spoke of how that experience led her to spend years of her life working to make midwives legal for every other pregnant woman in Missouri.

Debbie Smithey, Jennifer Block, Mary Ueland, Sarah Greek listen to Elizabeth Allemann, MD. "We've hunted midwives down and thrown them in prison for 50 years in Missouri," she said. "Now, we've decided that they shouldn't be criminalized. But what should Missouri do with them now? I suggest that we integrate them into our maternity care system!"

Halley Watson, Debbie Smithey, Mary Ueland, Sarah Greek - the "old" lobbyists and the "new" midwifery lobbyists!

All together with their heroes - Senator John and Dr. Gina Loudon!

Sarah and Mary discuss the Supreme Court ruling with Steve Walsh, reporter for the MissouriNet news service at the Capitol.

An interview for KWMU news. Homebirth slideshow playing in the background.

After the rally, we spent some time in a basement hearing room with
Jennifer Block, discussing the state of our modern maternity care system
and how to reach women with information and options.

Members of Friends of Missouri Midwives and Missouri Midwives Association leadership went to dinner with Jennifer Block at Panera bread to continue our conversation. We are so grateful to Jennifer Block, author of "Pushed: The Painful Truth About Modern Maternity Care" for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak at our rally, and for coming to spend Cookie Day promoting midwives at the Missouri Capitol! Thank you, Jennifer!

And lastly, a picture of Sarah Greek and Halley Watson, the new faces of midwifery seen at the Capitol every day in place of Debbie and Mary's continual presence. Their job is to make sure that Certified Professional Midwives STAY legal!
Thank you so much Halley and Sarah!