Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Musing on Elimination Communication

It's time to talk poop.

Elimination Communication, Infant Potty Training, Diaperless babies... the practice has a few terms, but my favorite is definitely EC, because that describes it very well. IPT implies that the baby is in some way being trained, which isn't accurate and we're not fully diaperless here by any means.

I first heard about this when my oldest was about five or six months old and mainly dismissed it as time-consuming. Well, when I realized that she was waking up dry every day, I thought I'd give it a go. I didn't 'catch' every day and I never caught a cue (only timed catches) with her, but there was never any fear of the toilet and she was ready for her first set of panties at 16 months and mostly potty learned at 18 months (we had a regression from illness around 21 months, though, so she didn't finish up until she was two).

I started earlier with my second, around five or six months, actually, and we caught more frequently. She was dry all day for the first time around 14 months, although she didn't fully potty learn until around the same age Lilly did. She had accidents longer, but largely because she seems to not notice she has to go until she's only got a few minutes to go. I can't tell how many times we've had this conversation:

Daddy or Me: "Naomi, do you need to potty?"
Naomi, "Nope!"
D or M: "Why don't you try?"
N: "Okay." A minute passes, she reemerges from the bathroom. "Daddy [or Mommy], you were right!"

She also, like me as a child, just doesn't like to go to the bathroom alone. She doesn't need any help, she just wants someone nearby. The funny thing is that she was my baby who wanted to be on her own the most, but now that she's older, she doesn't like to be alone at all.

With my third, we started even earlier.

She was a week shy of 2 months old when I first took her to potty. This was a post I made on my parenting forum:

She woke up pissed off and I checked her diaper, but it was dry, so I ran for the bathroom to see if I could catch and indeed, I did! Lilly was very excited to watch, lol. She kept yelling "Daddy! Katarina is using the potty like a BIG GIRL!" LOL
...it was interesting, seeing the process and how she struggled to get it to come out and then it just all came out and she relaxed with clear relief. Ahh, Mommy joy over poop!
After that, I noticed that she was getting upset at the same time every night, then she would poop and it would all get better. So, one night after I fed her, I felt that her tummy was hard and recalled that she hadn't pooped all day, so I took her to the potty and waited. After a few minutes, she started going and it took a couple minutes to get all of it out, but the whole time--no super straining, no fussing, no turning red, she was just relaxed in my arms and letting it out. It was a huge difference. She totally waited to be put in the EC position and eliminated. I always thought it would be kinda hard with a newborn, now I feel silly for never having done it before!

I don't catch every time or even every day, but I now have a couple little potties (both Bjorns) and she has even crawled over and rocked until she was put on so she could use it (she's 8 months old now).

This kid was made for EC

Kat does not like diapers, at all. She wants to be naked all the time and while I'm not quite ready for that (nor is she), she does love using the potty. Her sister loves to take her and her dad has even (on the third kid) finally joined in, because she's so easy and happy about it (and he hates how she cries if you even put her in the diaper position--she tries to flip onto her belly and freaks out if she can't).

I'd say the Bjorn little potty is the best, even though there is no inner to take out--it fits in even a small sink and washes out very easily. Elimination Communication doesn't have to be all or nothing, either, so don't be scared of it and since there's no training going on, don't be weirded out.You can start at any time and at the very least, we've never had any potty fear over here.

So, that's our EC story. Do you use EC or have you considered it?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Feminist Parenting: The Larger Picture

Because the original has disappeared except where it's been reposted, I'm borrowing a blog post that was wonderfully written and sadly, remains very relevant, by a bloggess from the California National Organization For Women website. The following is not my work.


Feminist Parenting: The Larger Picture

I have a suggestion for all the people out there who consider themselves progressives, and who are currently child free.

Before you decide to say that kids shouldn't be allowed on airplanes, in restaurants, in theaters, or basically out in public at all unless they're able to behave like miniature adults, take a moment to realize that you are spouting the exact same rationale that allows privileged groups to tell marginalized groups to sit down, shut up, and adapt to the world built for people of privilege rather than demanding that the world adapt to them by becoming more just.

When you say that kids need to act like adults to be acceptable in the public eye, you're in league with those who say the LGBT community should just "act straight" and not be out in public forcing people to acknowledge their existence.

When you get annoyed that kids being around impacts your ability to have the quiet adults-only experience you wanted, you are acting very similarly to those who complain that fat people walking around in bathing suits like they have the nerve to be ok with their bodies makes a day at the beach unpleasant.

The people who put up this sign had similar arguments to the 'no children' crowd.

Yes, the adult world is not designed for kids. Nor is the able-bodied world designed to accommodate disabled bodies, nor the cisgender world to facilitate the lives of trans people, nor the neurotypical world for NNT folks. The world we have is designed to make life easier for those at the top of the pyramid of kyriarchy. Let's pull no punches here, that means the world is designed for the comfort and convenience of white, able-bodied, straight, attractive, neurotypical, slim, educated, cisgender, high-income adult males (and there are undoubtedly some categories that I've forgotten here that also convey privilege).

Yet almost never do progressives just decide that, hey, those pyramid toppers really are the majority, so they deserve to have the world adapt to them. Folks who are in the minority, who find the world as it exists to help the pyramid toppers just doesn't accommodate or even acknowledge their needs? Well, those folks really just need to accept things as they are and do their best to fit into "normal" society. And if they can't do that? Well, then they need to at least get out of the public eye, instead of demanding that they be treated as human beings with equal rights. Because acknowledging their equal rights and changing society so that everyone can participate equally is a pain for the pyramid toppers.

And let's face it, most of us are somewhere further up on that pyramid than the bottom rung. Most of us have our areas of privilege, and it's damn easy to ignore the privilege we have in favor of complaining about the ones we don't have.

Here's one that pretty much everyone reading this has: adult privilege.

As an adult, the world is generally sized to fit me. I will probably be able to find a seat in public spaces that will allow me to sit comfortably and reach the floor. Light switches, windows, sinks and toilets are positioned for me to be able to reach easily. I can be fairly certain that I will be able to lock the door to my bathroom stall and reach the toilet paper once I'm sitting down. I will almost never find myself trapped somewhere that I cannot leave without assistance. When I am hungry, I can get the food that I want when I need it; when I am thirsty, I can get a drink when I need it. When eating out, or at a movie, the wait time will usually feel reasonable to me, and I can eat as I would at home without attracting stares and rude comments. Silverware, plates, and glasses will be sized to fit my hands. If my wait time for food or entertainment feels unreasonable, and I complain, people will generally be understanding and apologetic. I understand the unspoken rules of interacting in public spaces, they feel natural to me, and I am able to follow them without causing myself distress.

I can speak my native language with fluency and always be understood by other native speakers. I will almost never be laughed at by another speaker of my native language for my language choices, or inability to express myself. If I am routinely yelled at, criticized, and belittled in my own home, almost everyone will recognize that as abusive behavior. I cannot legally be physically disciplined in my place of education. If I am hit, even once, by a loved one, that can be legally considered abuse. I have legal standing to protect myself. My physical and emotional needs are treated as reasonable and important. I am not dependent on others for my economic support.

I could go on and on, but I think this helps to draw the picture. I recognize that each of the things I've listed can be negated by another form of marginalization, like disability, non-neurotypicalness, fatness, old age, poverty, etc., but my point stands. Children are marginalized daily by adult society, and, for the most part, even "progressive" adults will accept and support that marginalization, rather than asking adult society to make the adaptations necessary to treat children as full human beings, with different needs from adults.

Progressive parents, parents who are taking a long-term view of their child's development, and of society's development towards justice, are not going to play the "children should be seen and not heard" game. We're concerned not just with making things easy for the adults around our kids, but with growing our kids into the kind of adults who care about others, and respect those further down on that pyramid.

So no, I'm not going to let my four-year-old kick the back of your seat during a three-hour plane flight. But neither am I going to insist that she sit completely still and make no noise. I'm not going to take her to a 10 pm showing of Up, but I'm going to expect that it's ok if she asks me questions in her normal voice throughout the matinee showing. I'm going to take her out to real restaurants, and ignore the dirty looks when she drops her (adult-sized) fork for the third time and spills the (adult-sized) glass of milk. And yeah, I may choose to continue shopping while she throws her hissy fit, because maybe teaching her that the hissy fit doesn't earn a reaction is more important to me on a long-term basis than whether you have to hear her that one time. And if I choose to sit down and quietly talk to her about why she's upset rather than putting her in time out, or punishing her, maybe it's because I actually care about her feelings, and about taking care of them and of her.

Maybe that more just world we're all hoping, looking, and working for comes when we respect everyone's rights and needs, not just those that impact us, or whose struggles we can sympathize with, or who don't personally annoy us.  And maybe, just maybe, starting out a child's life by teaching them that they matter, and that they have the right to be treated as a full and equal human being regardless of their size or ability, is the start to changing the larger society so that it recognizes the needs of all its members, regardless of where they fall on that pyramid.

Posted by Elena Perez

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fascinating Slideshow on Infant Statistics and Attachment

 Original Post Dec 2, 2009 at 4:44 AM on Cafemom

A psychologist friend sent this slideshow to me because 1. she knew I'd enjoy it and 2. she knows I've been unhappy with the damage to the bond and relationship with my middle child due to the epidural hormone inhibition and ensuing postpartum depression and there's a bit in there that cites research regarding brain development in the infants of depressed mothers that shows that breastfeeding protects babies from damaging asymmetry causing negative emotion-related psychopathology. Which means it prevents attachment and developmental problems caused by maternal depression (however, there is clearly damage done by the depression, it simply doesn't fall into the negative, it just prevents baby from rising as high into the positive as non-depressed mother's infants).

It's pretty long, so you'll need 1. Adobe Acrobat or similar program and 2. time to go through it. I'm sure something is lost without the speaker presenting it, but it's still very informative and not too hard to follow for the most part. It does get technical in several parts.

Some quotes:

Separated infants cry much more
..........................KMC babies               ...Cot babies
Number of cries        ...4                              ...41
Seconds cried          ...70                           ...2839

I especially liked slides 225-230 in regards to Kangaroo Care:
Two hospitals in a town in Ecuador, the poorer using [skin to skin contact], compared to the richer using incubators, in a controlled clinical trial... “Enrolment was terminated early because a highly significant difference in severe morbidity at six months emerged, in favour of SSC” [sic]

Slide 234 shows that breastfeeding is improved with skin to skin contact as well as overall health (and that duration of breastfeeding improves healthy outcomes as well).

In all mammals, brain grows in utero until it reaches 80% of full adult size… then BIRTH… then the brain grows the last 20% to final full adult size. Homo sapiens also has a brain that grows along this pattern… the brain reaches 80% of final size at the age of 21 months

Actual birth takes place at 9 months… which makes the human birth one year too soon: Exceedingly Immature

Humans essentially complete gestation outside the womb

In the UTERINE HABITAT, the umbilical cord delivers all the basic biological needs to the fetus. In the NEWBORNS HABITAT, the mother’s breast delivers all the basic biological needs to the fetus.

“Crying, the highest behavioural state, is DETRIMENTAL. It impairs lung functioning, jeopardizes the closure of the foramen ovale, increases intra-cranial pressure, and initiates a cascade of stress reactions”.

“Crying depletes energy reserves and oxygenation, increases intracranial pressure, white blood count and base excess, reestablishes fetal circulation, and interferes with the infant’s ability to interact appropriately with caregivers.”

Mother and offspring live in a biological state that has much in common with addiction. When they are parted the infant does not just miss its mother; it experiences a physical and psychological withdrawal from a host of her sensory stimuli, not unlike the plight of a heroin addict who goes cold turkey.

“Society reaps what it sows in the way that infants and children are treated. Efforts to reduce exposure to stress and abuse [specifically MATERNAL INFANT SEPARATION --Bergman] in early life may have far-reaching impacts on medical and psychiatric health and may reduce aggression, suspicion and untoward stress in future generations.” Martin H Teicher

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hotel Of Lost Souls

In February of 2011, I conceived Katarina and had a dream, which I talked about in my pregnancy announcement in March, here. This turned into a book that I have the proud pleasure of announcing is now officially published!

I am a published author! That is so exciting and fulfilling to be able to say! My book is called Hotel of Lost Souls and I really enjoyed the process of writing it and even editing it. It hasn't become old to me, rereading it over and over to make sure to get all the tiny little errors that I and my editor missed the first, second, third, etc. time through, so I think this one is a keeper!

If you like vampires and Urban Fantasy (especially Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse), then you should like my book! My dream was very strange that night so long ago in that I was a male and had no memory of being my real self--I'm usually quite aware that I'm not normally a guy in my dreams. It was complex and so thorough that a little prompting from a friend encouraged me to bring it to life.

From the back cover:
News-media segments about modern slavery are short and quickly forgotten by the average Joe or Jane. But it's out there. So are vampires. They're known, legal citizens--and they aren't the only relic from the past still alive and well. Their victims certainly don't have the opportunity to forget that slavery is still a very real problem.

On a train to Florida's tourist traps, Zack Henderson, an EMT in training, meets college students Sarah Gallagher and Jamie Adams. They're just hoping for a break from the tedium of college tests and professors. They can never imagine what is in store for them when vampires show up to take over their lives. When the smoke clears, they are left wondering: Did they really survive?
You can read a sample chapter here. If you like it, you can purchase it from Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo or Amazon. All the links for purchase are available at my website.
You don't need an eReader to read my eBook, either! You can read the book now on your phone or computer using the Nook App or soon using the Amazon Kindle App (both of which are free!). If you're using an iPad or iPod, you can get Stanza, a free eReading app and read any format that you like!

If nothing can replace the feel and smell of a real book for you, head on over to Lulu and pick up a slightly-larger-than-average paperback! You'll get to experience it the way it was meant to be read! eBooks can't display the little artsy touches at the beginning of each chapter or the fonts that the handwritten notes in the story use. With a physical book, you get back cover art, too! 

See? Now with a spine and everything!
You can follow my author page on Facebook if you would like updates on future titles and to be able to connect with me personally as well as other readers. Snippets from the book and notes (such as the mouse-drawn floorplan for the hotel room) are also available on the page. Go and show your support for an independent author!

Thank you to all my readers who have supported and encouraged me, leading me to this point! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Story of a Cycle

The crying started as I walked out of the room. I fought my instinct to turn around. The cries rose as I left and I hurried my steps away.

Photo courtesy firehawk77 from stockxchng

I knew she needed to learn to sleep alone, but she just looked so fragile lying there, all alone. "This is for the best," I whispered, trying to down out the sound of her crying.

I was so tired and many of my friends had told me that this time was so short, I wouldn't regret being there for her. I could never get this time back. But that was true for me, too. I could never have this time back from my life, either.

My mother's words filled mind, "I let you cry as a baby. It was good for you. You needed to learn to self-soothe."

I rushed the rest of the way to my bed, desperate for my husband's arms. I clutched him and fought my tears as I took my mother's advice.

"It will be okay," he whispered, stroking my hair, like he always did when anxiety kept me awake. "She needs to learn to sleep alone. You cried it out and you're fine."

"I can hear her heart breaking," I whimpered. He made comforting sounds and helped me settle down.
 Bedroom Door Knob 2

"What if she's hungry?" I asked.

"She doesn't need food at night. The doctor said so."

"She's lonely," I said.

"She'll be okay," he assured me. "Listen." We listened quietly. "See? She's already asleep." I sighed with relief and feel asleep.

I heard her awake a few times and got up to make sure she was dry and safe, but didn't talk to her or give in to her. I had to have my husband remind me over and over that we were doing the right thing, but finally, I got to sleep for six whole hours--the longest I'd slept since she got here.

In the morning, I walked cheerfully into her room. She looked up at me and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

"Good morning!" I said, reaching down to help her up. She didn't smile. "Oh, don't look at me like that," I said. "Its good for us both. I need to sleep and you need to learn to sleep on your own," I told her.

"How could you ignore me crying for help like that?" she asked me, her voice quavering.

"The same way you ignored my cries for help when I was a baby," I answered. "I was just following your advice. I know you miss Dad, but he's fine now and you're alone. We can only keep you here for a few days until you're room is ready at the Home. You won't have anyone to sit with you at night there, so you just need to learn independence now."

With that, I left my mother to get herself out of bed and went to pick up my daughter as I heard her wake for the day back in my bed. I thanked heaven that I had never had to go through this with her and that I had ignored all of my mother's admonishments that holding her would spoil her.

I held my daughter close and thanked my friends who comforted me when I needed it, especially my husband. After all, if I couldn't self-soothe at 34 years old, how could I expect my baby to?

This was a work of fiction. None of the events in this story are true (for me). But it's food for thought. After all, what goes around, comes around.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reusing Tea Bottles

My husband came across a great sellout deal on Tazo teas and stocked up. This left us with several empty glass bottles after the yummy contents were consumed. I save baby food jars, so I figured I could do something with these since glass is so nice for storing.

Looking at my mostly empty French press gave me the idea. See, I've seen the Pinterest for the iced coffee. It looks great. I pinned it years ago. But I wanted easier. Specifically, I wanted something convenient that I didn't have to mix when I had a clingy, needy baby.

Adorable, yes. Productivity-encouraging? No.

Also, iced coffee just hits the spot in the summer. So, I grabbed a couple jars and with what would have made 2/3rds a cup of coffee made two bottles of Starbucks Frappuccino knockoffs. Better yet, I used my own creamer (The Heath variety that only seems to appear at Wal-Mart and the Almond Joy for my full-fat options and my store brand Hazelnut for my "I'm on a diet" option) so I had more custom flavors.

Now, I wasn't as happy with the fat-free creamer as I am when it's mixed with a piping hot cup, who knows why, but other than that, these are totally passable. I did 2/3rd coffee, 1/6th creamer, 1/6th skim milk, but the beauty of this is you can do it however you like your coffee (remember that cold dulls the taste buds a bit, so up the flavor you prefer).

The finished result.
From one pot, I can easily save up a week's worth of homemade 'iced' coffees just like I can snag in the freezer section at the store (with a better base considering that I use fresh ground Roasterie coffee in a press when the rest of the family is partaking... by myself, I use cheap, store brand Colombian roast because I drink so much we can't afford to always have the good stuff).

My girls and me at the Roasterie, after our tour--Homeschool Co-op baby!
So there you have it. An easy way to give yourself convenient, fast, on-the-go coffees and reuse glass bottles at the same time. And, I suppose, you could put tea in them, too, but I have yet to approach the deliciousness of Tazo Giant Peach in homemade brewed tea. Now, their passion tea bags...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Musing on Responding to Baby Owies

Courtesy stockxchng

It's inevitable. As part of healthy development, babies eventually become mobile. As parents, we meet this with anticipation, excitement, trepidation and a flurry of snatching tiny little objects away from the exploring baby that we were sure couldn't possibly have been where they were poking around.

With mobility comes trial and error. With trial and error comes tears. Frustration overwhelms our baby and we have to decide: do we help or do we leave her alone and let her try to figure out how to do it for herself. Our desire and instinct is to sooth her frustration, but we can't do everything for her if she's to figure it out (and boy do we piss her off if she wanted to do it herself!).

Katarina using me to stand

Regardless, there's one thing he has to do himself: pulling up. We can stabilize the first efforts and we're almost always the first grabbable to assist in this task, but as baby gets holder, he will start pulling up on things, crawling around, sitting up, etc. without us there to cushion him. As a result, he will bang his head. It's going to happen. He's going to bump it, bang it, whack it, whomp it and, in general, make you wonder if he doesn't need a helmet to just get around the room.

Our first reaction as a mother often depends on our level of attachment mixed with stress. A mom who is more tired, has been dealing with a clingy baby or has had difficulty bonding could get frustrated and possibly even angry at the poor creature while a mom who has a healthy attachment may worry and loudly exclaim.
Courtesy of nadmental on stockxchng

I had to swallow a lot of exclamations, but I found that the best way to respond--is to just look. Keep you face curious, but as neutral as you can (don't look worried!). A friendly, "Are you okay?" can yield either a smile (and a huge breath of relief!) or the tears that we saw coming. It's okay to respond after baby responds, but I'm personally careful not to teach her that every bump is a red alert. I wait for her to tell me how I should respond.

I've had people react to this in different ways. Some are amazed that I stayed so calm, some apologize for their sympathetic gasp and some laugh, understanding my tactic quite well. I'm sure there are people who would see my response as heartless and be angry at me and others who would judge me for comforting the baby who's upset (which is stupid, because my method means that my baby is only crying if they're actually hurt!).
courtesy stockxchng

This post was actually inspired because Kat was pulling herself up on the couch, slipped and bonked her head on my chair leg. I scooped her up (she was crying, but I'd have picked her up regardless, looking at me with those cute eyes) and said, "You bonked your head!" with surprise in my voice and on my face. She sighed at me as thought she was frustrated that she'd bonked, but clearly just fine other than the initial pain. I kissed her head and she was laughing a few seconds later. My middle child might have cried longer just because she had a harder time calming down from anything. My firstborn, we had a ritual where she would bang her head and I would greet her with, "Bonk!" or "Bonk?" and she would tell me just how she felt about it (a grin or a cry).

Part of the reason for this post is just a small snippet of a day in the life of an Attached Parent. Many people mistake that for someone who coddles or hovers over their child--that's simply not true. The other reason is just to give moms of babies another strategy to mull over if they're interested. I don't remember which mom friend taught me this or if I pulled it out of my ass, but it has worked pretty well on three different babies and two very different personality types (Lilly and Kat have similar personality types, but Naomi was very different).

Naomi using my hands to stand

How do/did you respond when your baby hurt themselves (not seriously)?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Musing on Robots in 2012

Most of my generation knows who Roise the maid is. Quite frankly, she's the dream of pretty much every housewife and guy who hates taking out the trash out there (enjoy my sexism). We've definitely made strides toward Rosie, though she, herself, is not a fixture in the average home... yet.

In case you don't know Rosie.

We have a smaller counterpart available in many households (that can afford to drop a couple hundred bucks for a fairly limited smart vacuum cleaner) and even have a choice. There's the Roomba, Mint, Neato and the HOM-BOT for top name brands. For floor washing, the Scooba, Mint Plus, Robomop and the 4-in-1 (what's its real name?) is available. Heck, there's even pool cleaners (too many to list) and gutter cleaner!

It ends up being more like the robotic teams from The Fifth Element more than Rosie.

One Roomba is more efficient, I think

In progress is an actual robot maid that can currently do laundry, use the microwave and most importantly: recognize tasks that need doing. Rosie is very close to being a reality. Many other domestic bots exist, from those that fold laundry to doing dishes to even grocery shopping.

There is also a short little helper robot who has a three-fingered hand on a flexible arm to allow it to pick up bottles to serve drinks. This robot response to voice and gestures:

The robotic age may be a little slower to advance than we'd expected in the 60's, but it might not be all that long before we actually get persocoms.

Especially when you look at how human robots have become with this android nurse:

She's a step up from this fella, huh?

I wouldn't have minded having him there to constantly wash my itchy legs after my cesarean
Some of the things that researchers are working on include dancing robots (because, clearly, we love the idea of robots dancing). It's somewhere between freaky and pants creaming awesome. Now, you would think that getting them to dance together would be pretty easy once they're programmed to dance, but apparently, synchronized dancing is not so simple. They ended up going with something called quorum sensing which allows living organisms to sense their own kind--where they are, what they're doing, etc. And they have succeeded.

In 2009, they came out with robots specifically designed to reason, think and be able to not only perform experiments, but perhaps come up with their own.

Medical robots make our lives more livable, from performing surgery to helping people with paralysis live a more normal life... using brainwaves to control them. They also help with rehab and getting back on your feet (or out of bed) (and may be available commercially as soon as 2013).

And the war where no one needs die (except the robots): Robotic soldiers are being improved all the time. Right now, we seem to be most interested in how many ways we can make them exercise, it's amazing (and terrifying, should the list of robots here be combined) how much these robots can do (and how complex such simple things as climbing stairs are to perform).

Personally, while there is a website devoted to cool robots (follow that link for a ton of awesome robots), my favorite is probably ASIMO. This adorable, child sized (and voiced) robot would be quite welcome in my house! I know he's old hat, but he reminds me of two of my favorite things from childhood: robot toys and astronauts. Also, despite having been around for a while (as far as robots go), he still demonstrates some of the biggest advancements in robotic mobility.

So, there you have it. Advancements from my humor post on hungry robots in 2009 and a small sampling of the awesome and terrifying ways robots are improving (and potentially threatening) our lives.

At least no one's built Skynet. Oh, wait, the UK did. F---

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Due Date For VBAC Not an Expiration Date

This was originally posted on truebirth.com but has disappeared and due to difficulty finding a copy, I'm reposting it here because it is good information. None of the following content is mine, though I certainly back the sentiments (and I inserted an asterisk for a footnote).

Due Date for VBAC: Not an Expiration Date
By Danell Swim April 27, 2008

Being a woman with a prior cesarean, I’ve become extremely supportive of women who choose a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC) like I did. It seems that my support is often falling on deaf ears, as time and again, women are coerced into repeat cesareans for ridiculous reasons. The latest of which, is women who are pregnant after the due date.

I just read of another woman who is “attempting a VBAC” with her doctor. She’s desperately hoping that she’ll go into labor before her Estimated Due Date (EDD), because if she goes even a day past, the caesarean will be scheduled immediately.

This is happening all too often, as doctors seem to believe that an EDD is actually an expiration date. To back up this ideology, they use ridiculous claims to coerce women to go along with these scheduled c-sections. They say that the stillbirth rate increases after 40 weeks, that the number of successful VBACs is lowered, and that the baby will get too big which will make a vaginal delivery too dangerous. There is no evidence to back up these claims, yet doctors continue to practice according to myth and rumor rather than clear medical information.

Despite evidence to the contrary, doctors are still insisting that women only be allowed to attempt a VBAC if labor occurs before the EDD. And, they sell this policy as an actual attempt is made to give the woman an opportunity to have a VBAC in this manner. But how likely is it that a pregnant woman will go into labor before her due date? For that, we have to look at the information regarding EDDs.

About your Due Date

The first piece to understanding your estimated due date (EDD) is the origins. No doubt when the due date calculators online, plus your doctor’s office and any wheel chart all calculated your due date, you assumed some scientific equation that averages out all births? You’d be wrong.

How would you feel knowing that the man who invented the 40 week pregnancy due date, was born… oh, about 230 years ago.* Other notable events in the year of 1778 were: Captain Cook’s discovery of the Hawaiian Islands, England’s declaration of war on France (again), the Revolutionary war raging on, and Franz Karl Naegele’s birth in Germany.

It is called Naegel’s Rule:

           The rule estimates the Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) from the first day of the woman’s Last Menstrual Period (LMP) by adding a year, subtracting three months and adding seven days to that date. This approximates to the average normal human pregnancy which lasts 40 weeks (280 days) from the LMP, or 38 weeks (266 days) from the date of fertilisation. Example, if LMP was 8 May 2007, then +1 year = 8 May 2008, -3 months = 8 February 2008, +7 days = 15 February 2008; whereas precisely 280 days would be 12 February 2008.
It is remarkable that in such an archaic time of obstetric knowledge, someone was able to come up with a method of dating gestation that is still used today. The only problem with that is that it’s terribly inaccurate, yet doctors continue to use it as gospel.

A study was published in 1990 that examined the average length of pregnancy for white women. Essentially, they found that if you take the date of the LMP + 1 year - 3 months + 15 days (if the woman has not had a prior vaginal birth). If the woman has had a vaginal birth, you add 10 days instead.

So if I were to have my LMP on May 8th 2007, I’d jump ahead to May 8th 2008, then subtract 3 months to February 8th 2008. If I’d already had one baby vaginally, my EDD would be February 18th 2008. If I’d not had any prior vaginal births, my EDD would be February 23rd.

That’s a far cry from February 15th, as Naegel’s Rule states.

Due Date Theories        Previous Vaginal Birth       No Previous Vaginal Birth
280 Day Rule                      February 12th                        February 12th
Naegel’s Rule                      February 15th                        February 15th
Avg White Women              February 18th                        February 23rd

Information is limited as to other ethnicities, but one study in England found that Black and Asian women had a gestation approximately 1 week less than white women. In addition, they found that “preterm” black and Asian infants were less likely to exhibit signs of being preterm, which gives more evidence that those babies are more developed than white babies. In layman’s terms: they’re fully cooked. However, previous deliveries, ethnicity and familial traits are never taken into account when estimating a due date. Which is what makes it so unfair that doctors are treating these estimates as scientific evidence.

What this means for VBAC Moms

Let’s assume that Jane Doe is planning her VBAC. Her doctor supports her, but says that she has to go into labor before her due date. Let’s suppose that Jane is white, and hasn’t had any children vaginally before. Her doctor uses that handy dandy chart to predict her due date as May 7th. But, odds are that she won’t go into labor until May 15th.

Poor Jane, has a doctor that was just humoring her with promises of a VBAC. When in reality, he could have predicted all along that she’d end up with another c-section. After all, these are the doctors, they’re the ones that are supposed to be reading the studies and keeping up to date on things as trivial as average gestation.

The VBAC rate is plummeting in this country to less than 9%. Part of this is due to the malpractice fears, and the (soon to be revised) American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations, but it’s also due to so many doctors refusing to treat VBAC women as anything but a ticking time-bomb. And, they know that with threats of shoulder dystocia, uterine rupture and placenta accreta, they can scare these women into repeat cesareans if they don’t meet the impossible deadline of their false estimated due date.

Unfortunately for women who desire a VBAC, there’s little you can do but to keep looking for another care provider. Keep looking until you find one that truly understands how the normal human body functions, and is most concerned with giving the patient the birth that they want and need.

Doctors just don’t seem to understand this. And that’s why they keep amusing themselves by allowing women to attempt a VBAC under these circumstances. It’s disturbing how many of them are insisting that VBAC patients deliver before 40 weeks, and it’s ridiculous that women are allowing them to make those decisions for them.

Because let’s face it: having a VBAC isn’t about proving anything, or becoming a “real woman” as so many would like to believe. Having a VBAC is about making the choice to have a healthier birth, a healthier mom and baby, and a healthier reproductive future. It’s about being able to hold your baby without pain.

That’s worth finding another doctor (or midwife).

Overdue? (more info for calculating your due date)
Wikipedia on Naegele’s Rule
The length of uncomplicated human gestation.
Does gestation vary by ethnic group?

Written by Danell Swim · Filed Under Editorials

article archived here

*The creator of the EDD was actually Harmanni Boerhaave, a botanist who used the Bible to create the due date system (he found evidence in there that human gestation is supposed to be 10 lunar months... and then he did the math wrong). So not only was his method created hundreds of years ago, but it was by a botanist... who messed up the math by 15 whole days. Naegele merely publicized the idea and got the "rule" name after himself.