Pregnant New Mexico Teenager Arrested and Deported

This is ridiculous and just proof that the administration’s haphazard immigration crackdown is ineffective and completely unjust.

U.S. immigration officials deported a pregnant Roswell High School senior after she was pulled from class Wednesday by a local police officer regarding a traffic ticket issued days before.

She was only 18, and who knows what happened to her when she was sent back to Mexico. Frequently these individuals no longer have ties in their country of origin, and this girl’s mother remains in New Mexico. This kind of thing isn’t going to strengthen “security” or immigration enforcement, and it is a blatant violation of human rights. The detention centers that people are sent to while in the process of being deported are often jails that have been “converted” into detention centers.

These kinds of stories just keep coming, along with ones about women who are separated from their infants, many times who suffer from dehydration and complications from the disruption of breastfeeding.

For more information about the immigration justice movement, http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/.

Suggestions for good pregnancy books please

When I was in college, I wrote a chapter of my thesis (entitled Managing Birth: Hospitals, Mothers and their Meaning in the United States about my work as a volunteer doula) on the best-selling pregnancy book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. In brief, I wrote about why it is terrible, and scares women, and should really be called What to Be Scared of When You’re Expecting. Not to mention that it is very much based on the doctors are better paradigm (my favorite quote, from the introduction, was something to the effect of how modern medicine had moved birth from the kitchen table to the hospital. wtf).

What I didn’t do when I wrote that chapter was recommend a good pregnancy book alternative. Now I’m looking for suggestions from you all, for good not scary midwife and doula friendly pregnancy books. Suggest away!

News Round Up

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but I’m taking advantage of a day off to catch up on the news. Enjoy!

Lower back tattoos interfere with epidurals? Doctors say no.

Story of a water birth in West Texas, and another article about water birth.

Midwife assisted births on the rise.

The Today Show online investigates alternative pain mediation techniques.

80% of people in the UK oppose a bill which would remove the legal requirement that a doctor consider the child’s need for a father when performing IVF procedures.

More love for midwives in Wisconsin.

Opinion piece about the financial waste caused by intervention and over-hospitalization of birthing women.

43% of women in California breastfeed exclusively.

One hospital in Houston considers outlawing VBACs (vaginal births after cesarean sections) completely.

Study says that curvy women live longer and have smarter children.

NYTimes article discusses the declining enrollments in childbirth classes.

What to eat when you’re eating for two

Some new research and tools from the Department of Agriculture just came out for pregnant women, to help them gauge what they should be eating, and what kind of weight gain they should shoot for. You can see the tool here, which asks for information like age, height, weight and due date to calculate what the caloric breakdown should be.

Pregnancy nutrition is not a new topic–doctors have been telling women how to eat, and particularly what not to eat during pregnancy for a really long time. The famous What to Expect When You’re Expecting book even has a counterpart, What to Eat When You’re Expecting.

What strikes me about a lot of this information is how much it focuses on what NOT to eat. Pregnant women have endless lists of forbidden foods. One site I found had a long list of things on its forbidden list:

  • Sushi, raw fish, undercooked foods, Swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and fresh (as well as canned albacore) tuna; raw sushi and raw shellfish; refrigerated smoked seafood such as lox, trout, and whitefish (unless cooked as an ingredient in another dish).
  • Raw milk and any dairy product (cheese, yogurt) made with raw milk; soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, feta, Danish blue, Roquefort, and Mexican-style queso blanco and queso fresco (unless clearly marked as pasteurized); uncooked foods made with raw eggs (such as salad dressings and protein shakes).
  • Teas made with goldenseal, black or blue cohosh, ephedra, dong quai, feverfew, juniper, pennyroyal, Saint-John’s-wort, rosemary, or thuja. Drinking lots of nutritionally void diet drinks instead of healthier ones like water or juice.
  • Then of course there is NO alcohol, nicotine or caffeine.

Many women even have to go off important medications that they take for their own well being. It’s a complicated issue, and pregnant women obviously have to take into account the well being of the fetus they are carrying. But how much is too much? Are we overreacting about the effect that small amounts of these foods can really have on pregnant women and their fetuses?

I have read some interesting things about alcohol and pregnancy, and how the research is really not conclusive that small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy actually have negative effects. Most of what we know comes from alcoholic pregnant women and the effects on their children. Part of the problem is that we can’t do good research on pregnant women–there are all sorts of rules governing the ethics of medical trials on pregnant women (maybe for some good reasons).

But it means that we don’t really know for sure what kind of impact certain foods, drugs and treatments have on women and their children. So doctors instead try to make recommendations based on anecdotal cases, what the research we do have says, and their best guess. The same thing goes for a lot of medicines and interventions used during childbirth. It’s kind of scary when you think about it.

Admiring post-pregnancy bodies

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I discovered this interesting site, The Shape of a Mother, which displays women’s pictures of themselves post-baby. Very cool–let’s help women not be ashamed of their pretty much unavoidable stretch marks, being a mother is a beautiful thing and so are their bodies, loose skin and all.

Thanks to Red Pomegranate for the link.

Free info session for expectant mothers in NYC

Choices in Childbirth invites you to the June free informational session for expectant parents.June Topic: The role of the birth partner: doula? partner? relative? friend? What is your winning team?

Date: Wednesday, June 27th, 6:30-8:30PM
Meeting location: 859 Broadway, Apt 3 (cross Street 17th Street, off Union Square), NYC

Guest speakers: Risa L Klein, CNM, Stephanie Watson-Campbell, birth & postpartum doula, and 3 mothers who will talk about their individual choice and experience.

If you know anyone else who might be interested, please pass on the word!

To print our flyer you may download it from: http://www.zen63326.zen.co.uk/CIC/

You can check out more information from this group on their website.

Update: Another perspective on the closing of NYC Pregnancy Schools

A few weeks ago, I posted about the news (reported by the NYTimes) that they were closing the last four schools for pregnant teen moms left in NYC. My post was pretty much in support of the closings, but I feel the need to bring this topic up again because of an email I received from Yomara Velez, an activist and teen mother herself. Here is some of what she said to me:

While we understand that the schools need much improvement, we must say that we are NOT in support of the school’s closing. Prior to taking a position on this issue, we must think very carefully of how teen mothers will be affected. Yes, some teen mothers are pushed out of high schools and we denounce that type of blatant discrimination! However, this is a very delicate time in a young women’s life and for some of the young women the P-Schools were a safe haven. A place where they did not risk being in the middle of a fight, where teachers understood morning sickness and their children were nearby. The closings of these schools was very poorly executed and communicated. There are students who were interviewed by the NEW YORK TIMES who didn’t know the purpose of the article and when they read it were upset to find out that not only was their school closing but their innocent words were twisted to support the decision. These young women don’t have transition plans, for some of them they don’t know how they’ll deal with child care and conveniently enough the Dept. of Education waited until June, a few weeks before the end of the school year to share their intention. How unfair!!! So, it breaks my heart to see all of these people giving their opinions on the matter yet not stopping to actually hear some of the student’s voices. We need a diverse set of educational option because what works for one sister may not work for another. How can a good advocate for teen mother’s not put teen mother’s needs in front and center of the issue? You hear the voice of professionals who will not be impacted by the changes but rarely do you hear the young women’s stories. If you’re site is about being radical, please reach out to us so you can understand the full picture. I’ve enclosed a bunch of information, including student’s testimonies (see attached). I hope you’ll take the time to read it! I thank you for your posting and I hope you’ll support teen mothers as they struggle to access a decent education.

I appreciate very much that she took the time to reach out to me and explain her position, as well as some of the complexities of the issue. I’m also going to include here some quotes from the student testimonies she sent as well.

I am very upset that the school is closing. I feel like the school has
opened many doors for me and given me many opportunities. I really think the Department of Education is not thinking about the choice they are making to close the schools. I feel like the DOE (Dept of Education) is a failure. They failed to educate us and now they will fail at trying to close the schools. The DOE failed us as young moms and young women of color

-Teen Mother from Martha Nielsen School, the Bronx P-School

The Superintendent made this decision and did not discuss it with us. She didn’t even let us know. It is not fair that we are not going to have a school next year. It is not fair for students and teachers to find out through a news article thatthey will not have a school in September. I am not only trying to keep the schools open for myself but for other teens who are currently pregnant and need somewhere to come back to in September. The school is safe and I like the one floor environment without stairs. You feel comfortable in the school with other teen moms. You don’t feel awkward or left out.

-Teen Mother from Martha Nielsen School, the Bronx P-School

It is surprising that this decision was made seemingly apart from the women attending the schools, and with little plan for their integration into the larger public school system. While I still feel that in the long run, pregnant teens should be provided with extra support within the traditional school system (childcare on site, as well as extra mentorship and tracking), I understand these girl’s concerns about how these decisions were made, and what this means for them in the near future.

If you want to support their campaign to keep the schools open, check out their website or call their office at (718) 991-6003 (ask for Sharim, Leslie, Andrea or Autumn).

Thanks again to Yomara for sharing her thoughts and opinions with me.

Bush supported health care plan costs moms more

An article in the Washington Post today shares the findings of a recent study which compared the out-of-pocket expenses between families with a high-deductible health insurance plan and the traditional employer-based health insurance.

They particularly highlighted how these plans affect the out of pocket costs of childbirth:

The study found that those enrolled in a traditional health plan for federal employees (with a $500 annual deductible and $20 co-payments for office visits) would likely pay $1,455 out of pocket for care during an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. That compared to $3,000 for families in a high-deductible plan for federal employees and $7,000 for a high-deductible plan offered through small businesses.

Bush and his administration have been pushing these new high-deductible plans (meaning some people have to pay upwards of $2000 before their insurance kicks in) as a way to reduce health care spending–but only by encouraging individuals to spend less.

The theory is that the plans, by making consumers more aware of the costs of care, give people an incentive to shop for the best prices and to forgo procedures they do not need. A Rand Corp. survey last year found that both employers and plan participants reported spending less on health care under the plans, but in some cases people were skipping necessary care.

This type of policy obviously disproportionately affects low-income people (who are much less likely to be able to afford the high deductibles) and also puts all the impetus for lowering health care costs on the individual rather than the other players in the health care crisis: providers and insurance companies.

With the outrageous rise in maternity care costs, the last thing we need are insurance policies which place the financial burden on the families–particularly when so many women are given interventions they don’t need or want in the hospital. How many women are told the cost of an epidural before they are given one?

Surprisingly positive article on FoxNews about birth options

Yesterday’s FOXNews article, Deciding How, Where to Give Birth does a surprisingly good job of laying out the obstetrician versus midwife options in a fair and even-handed way. No mention of doulas though! But good use of risk and choice language. Some particularly nice passages:

Expectant mothers may be confused by the many options available. And frequently, they don’t fully consider what their wishes are for the birth. But they should.

Also, Holzer said, midwives are educated to deal with deviations from the norm, if they arise, but generally strive not to intervene with the natural process. In contrast, an OB/GYN is taught to actively “manage” the birth process using routine intervention.

Giving birth should be a positive and empowering experience for every expecting mother. Ensuring this depends on being fully informed and finding a health care practitioner the woman trusts, whether that is an OB/GYN or a midwife. The goal is always to deliver the baby in a safe and healthy manner, but the method in which this happens is as personal a choice as the decision to become a parent.

Sadly no mention of doulas though.

Pregnancy schools close in NYC

From the NYTimes.

Signaling the end of an era, NYC Board of Education this week announced that they will be closing the last four high schools specifically for pregnant teens.

From the article it seems that despite the high amount of spending on pupils in these schools, the curricula are anything but academically rigorous, including lessons on things like quilting.

Benita Miller, an awesome advocate for teen mothers with the Brooklyn Childcare Collective (they even have a doula program!), is highlighted in the piece, quoted as saying, “It is a place that they send young women during their pregnancies, and I can’t think of any sound academic reason that they exist.”

These schools really are left over from an older time, when pregnant teens were forced out of traditional high schools, even sometimes sent away to have their children in secret. Integration into the public school system is important, both to reduce stigma against teen mothers and to give them the best opportunity to actually continue with their education and lives. Also, sending the mothers off to special schools leaves out a crucial part of the equation–the baby’s father. If we want men to share responsibility in these situations, sending the girls away is not the answer. Instead, high schools are beginning to have their own day care centers for teen parents.

My favorite quote from the article?

“Your brain does not die when you become pregnant.”