Pregnancy book births a movie

The recently released movie What To Expect When You're Expecting has plenty of stars (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Elizabeth Banks) and a storyline chockablock with pregnancy and, eventually, birth.

Critics hated it but viewers gave it a somewhat warmer reception.

What to expect movie 2

Elizabeth Banks and Brooklyn Decker in What To Expect: The Movie

The mere fact a movie called What to Expect...  got made reflects the strength of the brand of the 28-year-old self-help book that inspired it, What to Expect When You're Expecting.

And it is an awesome brand. WTE is in its fourth edition, with more than 15 million books in print.

The author of What to Expect When You're Expecting, Heidi Murkoff, wrote the first edition of the book with her late mother, Arlene Eisenberg, and her sister Sandee Hathaway, who is no longer involved with the series. Sharon Mazel co-authored the fourth edition.

The WTE franchise also includes books on babies and toddlers, plus a baby-sitter's handbook.

The WTE website now has a page about the movie, including the stars' thoughts about the book. It has all come full circle, which gets to be a little dizzying, if you ask me.

The mother of all birth stories

Jesus' nativity, the son of God born of a virgin mother, is one of the great mysteries of Christianity.

The story we can grasp more easily is of his humble beginnings in a manger. Most people who were hoping for the Messiah expected him to be born in power and sumptuousness, but Jesus' birth attendants were the animals whose home he shared in his first days.

One lesson for all of us in Jesus' birth is that we cannot judge the value of any human life, as weighed against another.

Every human being enters the world from the body of his mother in a moment of supreme vulnerability. Regardless of the circumstances, for mother and baby alike, it is one of the most fundamental human experiences any of us will ever have.

Every birth is a new beginning, for the child, for her family, and for the world, in a way. Every birth should be joyful, peaceful, transcendent.

Have a happy Christmas!

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Mikael Toppelius / Wikimedia Commons

Your Birth Plan, courtesy of The Bloggess

I always enjoy The Bloggess, a/k/a Jenny Lawson, and I surely do wish I could do those things she does with pictures.

With her permission, I offer a Christmas cookie from one of Lawson's recent posts, "Lesson 7: Your Birth Plan. Good Luck With That." As is so often true of The Bloggess, collateral damage aside, she has hit the nail on the head. Plus, it's seasonal:

The person making your actual birth plan decisions is your baby. Related: babies don’t give a shit about your plans. Making a plan for the birth of a child is like making a plan for decorating your Christmas tree in the middle of a house fire. Until you’re actually in the heat of battle, you have no idea whether you’re going to want drugs or whether you’ll have to have a c-section or whether you’ll be stuck in traffic and the baby will be delivered by a cab driver who will burn off the umbilical cord with his cigar. And that’s fine. Hell, the Virgin Mary had her baby in a damn barn and he turned out okay.

In the end, none of that matters. Whether you welcome your baby in a hut or in a hospital or in the orphanage where you adopt her, the same basic rule applies: If you’re lucky enough to end up with a baby, you win.

The end.

How hospitals can promote breast-feeding

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, an international program, has created a list of things birth facilities in the United States can do to optimize the chances that mothers will choose to breast-feed their babies.

Here are "The Ten Steps To Successful Breast-feeding," from BFHI USA:

    1. Have a written breast-feeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health-care staff.
    2. Train all health-care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
    3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breast-feeding.
    4. Help mothers initiate breast-feeding within one hour of birth.
    5. Show mothers how to breast-feed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
    6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
    7. Practice “rooming in” — allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
    8. Encourage breast-feeding on demand.
    9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breast-feeding infants.
    10. Foster the establishment of breast-feeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

The BFHI is underwritten by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).