Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A new c-section product

I received an interesting email from Digital Influence Group, a social media agency that actively engages in online conversations on behalf of their clients -- in this case, Genzyme, the biotech firm. Here's what the email said: "Digital Influence has been "raising awareness about c-sections; particularly c-section related adhesions, for Seprafilm, an adhesion barrier manufactured by Genzyme which helps minimize the risk of forming adhesions following abdominal surgery. As a result of our research, we’ve found that few women are aware of this potential complication, and that even fewer know there are preventative measures that can be taken. We’ve put together a quick list of links on this topic at to help spread awareness, and thought you might be interested in the content there as well."

Monday, May 26, 2008

The constant gardener

This is Harrison today, at 5 months, enjoying his first picnic in the park, after which we decided to go home and plant my placenta. I took it out of the freezer last night, as if it were a piece of steak, but somehow it just did not seem right sticking it in the ground frozen. This morning, I couldn't look at the plastic Ziploc bag anymore and made haste to buy a plant to go in the ground. I chose a climbing rose bush with fragrant peachy blooms. I dug a hole in the one spot in the garden where the rose bush would fit, hard by a tree stump. I couldn't dig quite so far because I kept hitting roots. So I eyeballed the depth and, with sweaty brow, unwrapped the placenta and its loooong cord, marveled at it, was thankful for it, and tried not to wretch. I put it in the ground, placed the bush on top and began back filling. Of course, the hole was not deep enough. The only other place to plant it was in a large whiskey barrel. I dug a hole there, yanked up the bush, and then kept digging looking for the placenta. Suddenly, I felt like I was living an episode of CSI. What was wrong with me? I glanced up to see if any neighbors were looking. I grabbed the earth-encrusted placenta, dangling from its cord, and placed it in the planter, dropped in the bush, and covered it all up quickly.

I can't wait to see -- and smell -- it bloom.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

ACNM's Annual Meeting

I gave a little talk and signed some books at the American College of Nurse Midwives' Annual Meeting in Boston today. And after the book signing, there was a screening of the "Business of Being Born," a documentary that every woman should see. Anyway, what really struck me was how transformative the film can be for lay people. After the show, a young couple who had wandered in off the street to see the film came up to me, clearly moved by what they had seen. "Where do I even begin to look for a midwife?" she asked. "To think that an hour ago I was making fun of the word 'doula,'" he said. "What a cute couple," I thought. Another person made the comment that home birth midwives are suddenly very, very busy. Music to my ears.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Placental palliative

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, and I finally pull my placenta out of the freezer and plant it (your suggestions have been fantastic, thank you!) I came across this news story on Indian MSN and it made me think even harder about what an interesting organ the placenta is.

Birth waste to heal wounds faster

The delicate and durable membrane that protects the baby in the mother's womb called amnion is normally discarded after the baby's birth. But now this membrane is being used here in eye surgery besides ulcers, burns, diabetic ulcers, bedsores et al

Eighteen-months old Raju (name changed) screamed with pain when boiling dal fell on him. His tender skin - half his body - had suffered second-degree burns. Panic-stricken parents rushed him to Mumbai's known plastic surgeon Dr Kalpesh Gajiwala.

After cleaning the wound and removing the dead skin, Dr Gajiwala placed the transparent biological dressing ‘Amnion' directly on the wound. The transparent thin dressing stuck easily to the oozing surface and sealed it completely . It automatically peeled off after the wound had healed. The child was saved from the trauma of daily dressing.

In the words of Dr Kalpesh who uses amnion quite extensively either in preparing the burn wounds for a skin graft or to help heal the sites from which a skin graft has been taken says, "It helps in faster healing and causes much less scarring."

Perhaps there can't be a better recycling of "after birth waste."

The delicate and durable membrane that protects the baby in the mother's womb called amnion is normally discarded after the baby's birth. But now this membrane is being used here in eye surgery besides ulcers, burns, diabetic ulcers, bedsores et al. And it is available in ‘ready to use' packs at India's only ISO 9001:2000 certified Tissue Bank of Tata Memorial Hospital.

As of now the hospital recovers this precious after birth waste from the two maternity hospitals in its vicinity to be processed; freeze dried, sterilised by gamma radiation and packaged. As amnion dressings are stored at room temperature, packets are easily mailed anywhere in the country .

Unfortunately this amazing membrane is going waste in the rest of the city and country. The solution lies in setting up a national bank. As its production is directly linked to the childbirth, the raw material availability will never be a problem in a country that is battling to arrest the birth rate. Only the donors will have to come forward as their consent is required even though it is a discarded tissue.

"The donor has to know its specific use and also give consent for the testing of the do- nated blood sample for HIV Hepatitis , etc," says Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, head of the Tissue Bank. As many as 5,00,000 patients are treated in United States every year with amnion.

The biological wound dressing can be used on any part of the body. The largest size available is 20X20cms and smallest is 4X4cms. It sticks like a stamp, seals off the wound and peels off as the wound heels. Its cheap, it's transparent, and is usually preferred as it mimics the skin. Analgesic use is also reduced, as there is almost immediate pain relief.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Placenta puzzle

OK, it's spring, and I am as behind on gardening as I have been on posting to this blog. I blame the mommy vortex for sucking up any free time. But anyway, I am realizing that I have a short window to take my placenta out of the freezer, bury it in the garden and perhaps plant something on top of it. Any recommendatins? We live in the city and have a very small backyard, already full with flowers and lilacs and forsythia. In other words, a maple tree won't work. Thoughts welcome!