Where Are Your Local Sex Offenders?

When I was a child, I would leave the house when I got up in the morning, and not be heard from again until dark. Riding my bike, visiting friends, walking around the block- the only rule was that I needed to call home and let them know if I changed locations. Now as a parent, I couldn’t imagine letting my kids roam the town and go wherever they wanted. Times have changed. My 10 year old isn’t even allowed to walk around the block on her own, and my six year old can’t play on the front sidewalk without first letting me know where she is. I feel like I can’t let them out of my sight because a sex offender lives two streets over.

I check the state sex offender registry once a month. I feel it is important for me to know where these offenders live, and keep my kids from going down those streets. I know that six sex offenders live in my village, five level 2, and one level 3 (Level 3 being the most likely to repeat their crime). I know where these people live, what they look like, where they work, and what kind of vehicles they drive.

I realize that there were sex offenders around when I was a kid. I have no idea who they were or where they lived, and I’m sure my parents didn’t know either. My freedom was not dictated by a level 3 who lived four blocks away, like it is for my kids. Aside from the occasional fight, or fall from a tree or bike, my friends and I were safe and were never confronted by the “bad people” that I so frequently find myself warning my kids about. I knew not to talk to strangers, but it was ok to ask the guy from down the street permission before we played with his dog.

Awareness of sex offenders in society has greatly increased in my lifetime. I can find out every detail about an offender, ranging from details of the original crime, to the license plate number by checking the national registry.

I was thrilled when Megan’s Law ensured I’d be better able to protect my children. I am even more thrilled now at the recent e-Stop legislation (The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act, took effect on April 28, 2008). This law states it “enables New York to combat misuse of the internet by convicted sex offenders by requiring sex offenders to register their internet identifiers with law enforcement, permitting social networking websites to access the internet identifiers of convicted sexual predators in order to prescreen or remove them from services used by children and notify law enforcement of potential violations of law, and prohibiting certain high risk sex offenders from using the internet to victimize children.” (Assembly s6875a)

I still have to keep NetNanny on to keep the porn and violence away from my kids, but this law, along with properly teaching my kids how to use the internet safely, gives me more peace of mind. At least there is one area of their lives I can let them roam without fear of the "bad guys."

To check for level 2 or 3 offenders near you, go here and enter your zip code.


Homebirth Gives Mothers Freedom to Create Their Own Birth Experience

Picture two different mothers in labor. One is confined to a hospital bed, forced to be checked internally on a regular basis, hooked up to IV’s and monitors, an oxygen mask on her face, and kept from family and friends. The second mother is sitting at her kitchen table, playing cards with her family, pausing to breathe through contractions, and eating a ham sandwich. Which woman would you rather be?

More mothers are making the choice to birth their children in the comfort of their own home.

Lauren Cooper, (Syracuse chapter of ICAN International Cesarean Awareness Network), gave birth to her third child, Brayden, at home. This birth was a miracle for the family, after Lauren was forced to have c-sections with her first two children, and was deceived by the hospital staff leading up to the second surgery. Lauren was told that her body was not capable of delivering a baby vaginally. Brayden was born with his hands by his face, to a mom who had something to prove. Lauren attributes her ability to safely birth her son to the homebirth environment. Think about it- In the hospital, they don’t ever give you a chance to relax and let your body do its thing. They poke and prod and force you to lay in certain positions even if you are not comfortable. They increase the risk of infections with numerous internal exams. They expect you to have the energy to push a baby out after 20 hours of labor when all you’ve ingested the whole time is a few tablespoons of water in the form of ice chips.

Later, Lauren told the story of Brayden’s birth. She reflected that being in a comfortable environment and having the freedom to move around wherever she wanted, and even spending time in the shower, helped her to relax and allow the contractions to move her son through the birth canal. It's amazing the difference when a mother is made to feel like she has control over her birth experience- eating what she wants, setting lights and music to her liking. Lauren did not have any of these luxuries, or any sense of control, in her previous hospital labors.

Homebirth gives mothers the ability to ensure that their labor, and the birth of their child, happens in the most natural way possible. Homebirth does not negate the need for good prenatal care. It also does not mean that parents should deliver their own babies. Unassisted deliveries, called freebirthing, are different from most homebirth in that there is no doctor or midwife present to assist in the delivery. This process can be much riskier and requires a much higher level of training and education for the parents.

For mothers who chose to have a homebirth, there are a few of Lauren's tips to help make the process the most enjoyable, satisfying, and safe experience possible:
• Become educated as much as possible about the natural process. The more you know, the more comfortable you'll be with what's to come, and the more confident you'll be in your body's abilities.
• Surround yourself with nothing but positive support. Wave away the nay-sayers, and dismiss anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable. Birth is a private process, and too many people involved, and unfamiliar settings with excess noise and bright lights can impair our abilities and disrupt the natural process.
• Choose the setting that is most likely to ensure that your wishes will be respected and that you and your baby will be given the safe, evidence based care you deserve. 'You can go to McDonalds and order steak, but it's just not on the menu!' meaning: if you choose a doctor and a hospital with high intervention rates, you can go in there and ask for support for a natural birth until you're blue in the face, but it's just not on going to happen.
• Learn your care provider's intervention statistics, and shop around. Interview a number of care providers and keep your options open until you find the support team and care providers that truly fit you.
• Hire a doula. A doula can be wonderful support, encouragement, and reassurance during labor for both mom and dad.
• Have a variety of coping techniques in mind. Different things may or may not work for you during labor, and you won't know what will work for you until the time comes. Be armed and prepared with lots of different ideas and techniques for coping. Some ways to work through contractions are (but not limited to): Tub/Shower, Breathing, Focusing, Massage, Accupressure, Music, Birth Ball, Birth Stool, Walking, Squatting, Swaying "Slow Dancing", Sitting on the toilet, Affirmations, Prayer, Hypnobirthing, Moaning or vocalizing, and/or Visualizations.
• Don't make pain relief an option. Don't say, "I'm going to try, but we'll see if it gets too bad." Simply say "I will have a natural birth, this is what I was made to do." Believe it, because you can do it, and you will!
• Journal. Write down your fears. Research those fears: how often do they truly occur, how to avoid them/minimize the risk, how to handle the situation if that problem occurs. . . While sometimes things that happen in labor have no cause or cannot be prevented, being prepared for the possibility and knowing what to expect, how to handle it, and how to minimize the chances of it will help you maintain a sense of some control should it happen, which can be comforting leading up to birth as well.

Remember, woman’s bodies are designed to give birth. Women have been doing this for all of existence. We don't need anyone to teach us how to do this, we need to simply follow our instincts. Modern medicine can save lives, but these interventions are extremely overused. It is best to have a supportive care provider who will intervene only if absolutely necessary, and someone who will discuss with you what your choices are and what the risks and benefits are to each risk, and who will respect your decisions. We all deserve a beautiful birth, and our babies deserve to be born in a safe, positive environment without being drugged or put in danger's way unnecessarily.
(Thank you Lauren!!!!!!!!)

Expectant mothers who are interested in homebirth should begin educating themselves about the process. Don’t be discouraged if friends and family, or even your obstetrician, are not supportive right away. Contact a local midwife and ask questions. In NY, the local HONEY (Homebirthers of New York) chapter is a great place to get information about local midwives and homebirth.

Slideshow with permission from of ICAN of Syracuse, and Lauren Cooper (That's Lauren and Brayden below :D )

Birth On Demand: Elective cesareans are a growing trend

Waking at 3 am with painful contractions, endless hours of labor, decisions about pain control- these aspects of childbirth are now avoidable through a cooperating Obstetrician near you.

Victoria Beckham did it. So did Britney Spears, Elizabeth Hurley, Claudia Schiffer, Madonna, and many other celebrity mothers. These women gave birth via elective cesareans, enhancing a trend recently dubbed “too posh to push,” and the popularity is spreading among the not so rich and famous.

Cesarean rates have skyrocketed in recent years. The rapidly increasing statistics can partially be attributed to doctors who now deliver babies via c-section without any medical necessity. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that cesarean rates above 10-15% negatively impact maternal and fetal outcomes. The last cesarean section rates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from 2006 show the cesarean rate for the US was 31.3% (new numbers due at the end of November). The statistics are not clear on how many of the procedures are performed at the request of the mother, but it is estimated that 14% of the c-section births in the US are not medically necessary.

Facts and opinions both for and against this procedure have created a complicated situation and a question of ethics for some doctors.

One cause of the increasing rates is the controversy over VBACs, or vaginal birth after cesarean, deliveries. There are risks associated with VBAC deliveries, however, research has shown that the risks are minimal in most cases and do not justify mandatory c-sections for future deliveries. In fact, WHO has determined that multiple c-sections increase the risk of complications for mother and baby well beyond the likelihood of a uterine rupture in a VBAC.

Another concern is that it is not always clear who it is that is doing the “electing.” The trend is also on the rise of doctors encouraging moms to have cesarean deliveries. ChildbirthConenction.org’s national “Listening to Mother’s Survey” (March 2006) concluded that "Despite some professional and mass media discourse about 'maternal request' or 'patient demand' Caesarean … just one woman (0.08 percent) among 1,315 survey participants who might have initiated a planned primary cesarean … did so." In other words, it is more often the case that elective c-sections are more often than not done at the request and convenience of the doctor.

In March 2006, the National Institutes of Health held a conference entitled "Caesarean Delivery on Maternal Request" to address the rapidly increasing C-section rates. Studies discussed were not able to conclusively relate the rising rates on mothers, nor were they able to come to any recommendations either against or in support of elective cesarean deliveries.
So what is the problem with this birth on demand? Experts say that not only do c-section moms have a longer hospital stay, and a much longer recovery time, but up to a third of mothers who deliver by c-section have abdominal pain for about two months and 1 in 5 continue to have pain issues for six months. Also, mothers who have had c-sections are at increased risk for placenta previa in the future, making vaginal delivery impossible, or uterine rupture during vaginal delivery which can be deadly to both mother and child. Not to mention the risks associated with any major surgery including problems with anesthesia, blood clots, scar tissue and infections.

In contrast, planned c-sections are convenient and allow the mother control over childbirth. The risks of incontinence and hemorrhage that go along with vaginal birth are eliminated. Some experts claim that there is also a reduced risk of stillbirth, tears or trauma to the mother, or fetal injury during birth.

There is also debate over the timing of a planned cesarean. The Hollywood trend involves delivering the baby up to a month early, to avoid the time of the most abdominal stretching, reducing the chance of stretch marks, and making it easier for the mother to get back in shape after the pregnancy. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology says that births should not be forced prior to 39 weeks unless there is a valid medical reason, and to do so takes away critical time the baby needs to develop and prepare for birth.

Mikayla Dressing had an elective c-section with the birth of her third child. When asked what led her to this decision, she stated “I asked my doctor if he would take the baby through a planned c-section because I was scared of what would happen if I went into labor naturally.” Mikayla lives over an hour from the hospital, and has two other children whom she often cares for alone while her husband works. She tried to convince her doctor to do the procedure by expressing her fear that she would go into labor while home alone with her kids, and not have the support or time to make it to the hospital. Her doctor refused, since the operation was not medically necessary, so she sought out a different doctor who was willing to do the procedure. Mikayla claims, “It was so easy! Get a sitter, go to the hospital, and have the baby. No more fear of the unknown.”

Jennifer Sutliffe had her second child in September. She had an emergency c-section to deliver her daughter as a result of fetal distress. Jennifer wanted to have a VBAC delivery with her second child, but when she told her doctor her wish, he immediately listed off to her all of the risks that come with having a VBAC. He also told her that her hospital does not allow VBAC deliveries due to the potential complications and the liability involved. Jennifer was intimidated by the risks because she was not told that although the complications are possible, their occurrence is vary rare. Jennifer now feels she requested to have this child delivered by scheduled c-section because she was not fully informed.

In short, there is not yet any solid evidence to support or discourage the use of c-sections without medical necessity. The National Institute of Health states that it is important that mothers be informed of the risks associated with both methods of childbirth, and be warned of the increased risks of multiple cesarean deliveries to mother and child. It is still the case that individual hospital policies, and doctors, vary greatly in their position on the matter.