What Is Vulvodynia?
Imagine having pain, tenderness, irritation, rawness and burning on the vulva.
Vulvodynia (vul-vo-DIN-ee-uh), which means chronic vulvar pain, is a difficult reality for women who experience this condition. It can affect their lives in a variety of ways. Sitting, having intercourse, wearing tight clothes, exercising, using tampons and bike riding all may pose challenges for a woman experiencing vulvodynia.
Frequently, this condition is undiagnosed and unacknowledged. With vulvodynia, usually the vulva looks healthy with no indication during an exam of physical symptoms. Often women suffering from this condition don’t talk about what they’re experiencing. It is estimated that between 8–15% of women experience vulvodynia. As women caring for women, awareness of vulvodynia provides us with information and understanding that may be of value to the women we attend.
Although there is no known cause or cure for vulvodynia, research is ongoing and there are treatments.
Here are a few informative Web sites:
— Harriette Hartigan
Research Assistant/Vulvodynia Research Study
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Special Educational Needs Linked to Early Term Birth
A retrospective study of more than 400,000 Scottish schoolchildren has found that children born too early—even one week too early—are more likely to have an increased need for special education.
Researchers noted that early term births (those between 37–39 weeks) are becoming more common as more mothers request (and practitioners agree) to deliver a baby early for nonmedical reasons.
“These findings, which are likely to be accurate because of the large size of the study and its design, have important implications for the timing of elective delivery,” researchers concluded.
“They suggest that deliveries should ideally wait until 40 weeks of gestation because even a baby born at 39 weeks—the normal timing for elective deliveries these days—has an increased risk of special educational needs compared with a baby born a week later.”
— MacKay, D.F., G.C.S. Smith, R. Dobbie and J.P. Pell. 2010. Gestational Age at Delivery and Special Educational Need: Retrospective Cohort Study of 407,503 Schoolchildren PLoS Med 7(6): e1000289. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000289.
Pathways Magazine: Your resource for family wellness
Pathways Magazine provides vital resources for family wellness. Our articles give parents the necessary information to actively participate in their families' natural health choices. Geared towards new parenting, there are always articles on birth and pregnancy from the vitalistic, midwifery perspective. A must have for holistic education in your practice.
Sore, swollen perinea, “skid marks,” tears, episiotomies and hemorrhoids all heal beautifully when aided by herbal remedies. Options for application include poultices, compresses, peri-washes and vaginal steams. Another convenient method of administering herbs is the sitz bath. In this case, the mother makes a strong herbal tea and then she sitz in it!
Soaking in the bath confers many benefits upon a postpartum woman, including: bringing warmth and circulation to her pelvis, healing sore tissues, relieving pain, decreasing the risk of infection and teaching a mother the important balance of making time for self-care while attending to her newborn. When an herbal bath is shared by mother and baby, this aids umbilical cord healing, as well.
Plastic sitz baths may be found at most pharmacies and are carried by some mail-order midwifery suppliers. However, mom may also use a large, shallow basin or her bathtub. Clean out the basin or tub and rinse well prior to each bath. Due to inclusion of antimicrobial herbs, it is not necessary to use bleach, povidone solution or other antiseptic agents when tub scrubbing.
Here is the basic recipe for one sitz bath: Combine two large handfuls of herbs [see original article for a list of appropriate herbs], which is approximately 2 oz, with 2 quarts (just under 2 liters) of water in a pot. Non-reactive glass or enamel pots are the best choices for making herbal preparations, but stainless steel will do fine. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Decoct at a low simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, then pour through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin. Be sure to strain all particulate matter well because mom’s sensitive, open tissues are going to be a-sitzing in this tea. Now stir in 2 tablespoons sea salt, dissolving well. Allow to cool slightly, and then pour into the basin. The fluid should be on the hotter side, but not scalding or uncomfortable.
Mom should sitz for at least 15 minutes, so if she happens to be alone at home, recommend she keep her baby close by. Ideally baby will have just fed and dozed off, so mom can really relax. If she is blessed enough to have a helper on hand, she can ask that person to prepare the herbs and watch the baby while she soaks.
To use a larger basin or a bathtub, first add about 8 inches (20 cm) of pleasantly warm tap water, or enough to cover the hips. If baby is joining mom in the tub, fill it as you would for a regular bath, but add half a cup of salt and keep the water temperature no higher than 100 F (37.8 C). Next, pour in the strained herbal tea and swoosh with your arm to mix. Provide ample support as mom lowers herself into the bath, and again upon rising.
— Adrienne Leeds,
Excerpted from "The Art of the Sitz Bath," Midwifery Today, Issue 65
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Read this review from Midwifery Today newly posted to our Web site:
- Orgasmic Birth—directed by Debra Pascali-Bonaro, reviewed by Jan Tritten
“This powerful film shows several lovely ecstatic births with happy and satisfied mothers, in both home and hospital situations. The great narration by well-known midwives, doctors and activists adds a tremendous amount of information to the film, which depicts the medicalization of childbirth in the hospital as well as the sweet intimacy between each of the couples.”
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