Wednesday, July 23, 2008


by Corky Harvey MS, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder of The Pump Station

All three of my kids were born between 38 and 40 weeks gestation with only the influence of Mother Nature. I know that birth falls on a bell curve between 38 and 42 weeks with only 10% of babies born exactly on their due date. My daughter Colleen was one of that 10%, but now she awaits her own baby’s birth – she is 41 weeks today. I'm in Starnberg Germany (near Munich) waiting. I arrived at 38 5/7 weeks fearing I'd be too late, and wanting so much to be here to support her birth process, see my first grandbaby born, and mother Colleen during her early post partum days. After 25 plus years of helping countless women with birth and breastfeeding, how could I be anywhere else? But as the days tick by and my return date to the states is creeping closer, I'm getting panicky. The thought of leaving my girl here without my help is killing me. Now I know how all the Grandmas I've encountered through the years feel as they fly “back home.” I'm convinced this is not the intended way. Are we ever supposed to be so far from family? I'm trying to remain thankful for my many blessings but I’m truly torn apart by this…families belong together.

I'm not prejudiced, but I think Colleen is the cutest pregnant woman ever. Maybe it is because of all the walking she does here. She is fit, has only gained 21 lbs, has no complaints other than occasional heartburn and “keeps on trucking”. We've managed a little sightseeing between her now daily trips to the doctor or the Krankenhaus (hospital) where the baby’s heart rate is monitored and the amniotic fluid level checked. At the last Sonogram the baby had one finger up – yep, that finger. Maybe he/she is saying, “It's great in here-leave me be”. The doctor thought this view of the baby was so funny; he made a copy of the picture for his files. The Obstetric care in Germany is different from the states-it's free. Although monitoring for safety/health of infant and mother is done faithfully, the approach to birth is less invasive. “It will happen when it is supposed to.” However, yesterday Colleen was told by the hebamme (midwife) monitoring her at the Krankenhaus that she will be induced if she goes 12 days beyond her due date – not what she and her wonderful husband are hoping for. One day at a time has taken on new meaning for me.

I just got an email from my nephew with a recipe to induce labor. It seems there is a talk show host in Orlando that has come upon a food that he swears induces labor. He says it has worked for his wife twice... and there are several listeners who have called in over the years to say that, coincidence or not, his remedy worked like a charm. The recipe sounds weird, but not entirely unappetizing: Eat one box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with A-1 Steak sauce to taste (but don't skimp on the A-1). The expectant mother will go into labor within 24 hours. This only works on “past-due” situations and the woman must eat the entire box of mac and cheese (sans the box). Worth a try, but here's the big problem: No Kraft Macaroni or A-1 sauce in Deutschland. The midwives did suggest raspberry leaf tea, cervix softening suppositories and frequent squatting to get things rolling. But wait; there might be a more fun way to accomplish this: How about a big meal of delicious German Mac and Cheese, Kasespatzle, followed by a night of mad love making for the expectant parents. This ought to a get the ole' hormones flowing!