How we birth has a lifetimes worth of impact on not only us, as mothers, but on our children. A cesarean section can save the lives of a mother, her child, or both and it is a useful tool for us to have perfected. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a place for this surgical procedure in birth such as placenta-previa, certain cases of Pre-eclampsia, vertex (side lying) position of the fetus at onset of labor, to name a few. Yet recently there is a lot of press and research going into Cesareans as well as a lot of discussions on issues of ethics in performing them electively.
Let us break down some basics in terms of birth. First we will start with the hormones involved. The main hormone of birth is Oxytocin. This hormone is also known as the love hormone. It helps to stimulate our uterus to contract and bring our child into the world with labor. It also is one of the hormones involved in orgasm. As labor progresses the levels increase and then peak shortly after our child is born. This drug is an important building block for bonding with our child, effective breastfeeding, and even for allowing us to gain more effective rest in the first few weeks with our newborn. In addition our body also releases endorphins during the birth process. Some women release more than others in response to their discomfort. It should be noted that fear and stress can cause an increase in discomfort and pain in labor. It can also cause you to produce adrenaline which can counteract the effects of oxytocin and lead to labor stalling. Luckily when the things causing the fear or stress are removed, and the mother is given enough time to relax, labor will start back up without any artificial drugs that use synthesized oxytocin, like Pitocin.
Pitocin is a synthetic drug that produces contractions in a laboring mother, but there is little information on if it really produces the same effects of bonding and breast milk production as our own natural variety. Pitocin is, according to many, one of the most abused drugs in America. During the 1980s, Dr. Roberto Caldreyo-Barcia, a former president of the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a renowned researcher into the effects of obstetrical interventions commented, “Pitocin is the most abused drug in the world today.” It is important to note that the FDA has no approved the use of Pitocin for elective induction. That is an induction of labor where there are no risks or needs that require delivery. In most other countries this includes going past your due date and up to 42 weeks. Here is an excerpt from the package: Antepartum: Pitocin is indicated for the initiation or improvement of uterine contractions,
where this is desirable and considered suitable for reasons of fetal or maternal concern, in order
to achieve vaginal delivery. It is indicated for (1) induction of labor in patients with a medical indication
for the initiation of labor, such as Rh problems, maternal diabetes, pre-eclampsia at or near
term, when delivery is in the best interests of mother and fetus or when membranes are prematurely
ruptured and delivery is indicated; (2) stimulation or reinforcement of labor, as in
selected cases of uterine inertia;
Cesarean section disrupts oxytocin or completely bypasses it which is why there is often increased difficulty with breastfeeding. Sometimes this is increased due to the separations, even of a short period of time, between mother and infant. In addition this disruption leads to a higher incidence of PPD and PPP (Postpartum Psychosis). Unfortunately just disrupting oxytocin isn’t the only thing this life saving procedure can do. There is a lot of evidence emerging on how severely this surgery can impact a woman and her child.
A recent, although small, study from Sweden took 36 infants and looked at DNA-Methylation in the white blood cells. DNA-Methylation is how a cell remembers where it has been, essentially, and is a vital part of our immune system. In the infants who were born via cesarean (16) had higher levels of DNA-Methylation compared to those born vaginally. The reason this study was done was because of the other research out there that shows a correlation between higher incidence of asthma, diabetes, and leukemia in those born via cesarean. These diseases are linked to the immune system and so any change beyond the norm could be the cause of these catastrophic problems, and vaginal birth is how we are supposed to normally give birth.
As the title of this post says, how we birth matters. Currently most of our society, and some others, view cesareans as an acceptable alternative to vaginal birth. For some they even welcome it as it allows them to escape the pain and/or fear associate with childbirth and for others it is viewed as easier. Unfortunately this mindset is harming our current and future generations. Mothers who have cesareans suffer more miscarriages and fertility problems and may be forced to endure another cesarean because there are no practitioners providing VBACs in her area. This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course, on the future problems for mothers undergoing surgical birth. But something for us to consider is that today over 1/3 of Americans are born by Cesarean Section. Cesarean Section is for when something goes wrong. Before Cesarean Sections became safe, and before births moved to medical establishments, our neonatal and maternal death rate was not near 1/3 of the population. Yes it was still higher than the home birth numbers of today, but as a species that many people are not broken and unable to function.
In the end it is about educating yourself about the risks in all that you do during your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It all effects us and our children now and in the future. You may find yourself in the space of having to have a cesarean section for a true need, but our choices leading up to labor can effects whether or not there truly was a need.
A woman sits in her doctors office at 40 weeks, anxiously waiting for her doctor to come in. After 15 minutes or more in she or he comes, glancing at the chart before greeting the woman by name. “Well, baby isn’t here yet. I doubt she/he will come on his own. Shall we go ahead and schedule an induction for next Wednesday?” There may have been some mild chatting of how she is feeling, taking babies heartbeat, a vaginal exam, etc before this whopper is laid out.
Perhaps the doctor and woman talk about the risks versus the benefits, perhaps not. I hear a lot of women talking about how their doctor’s say, “Going past 41 weeks is dangerous for the baby. The placenta can degenerate and your baby can die.” And while for some women this may hold true, we and our babies are not all created from the same mold. Our nutrition during pregnancy plays a roll as does our family history, ethnicity, and other personal factors. But when a doctor says these things, they routinely are referring to this study; Crowley P. Interventions for preventing or improving the outcome of delivery at or beyond term. (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library. Issue 2. Oxford: Update Software, 2002. (Abstract)
While this does look like a great study there are sadly flaws to be found. These flaws are pointed out in fairly easy to read language by Henci Goer. What if I were to tell you that the systematic review was flawed because the original studies themselves were flawed? That sort of puts a moot point on the study. Not to mention that if we look at Europe, where the maternal and fetal outcomes are much better than our own on average, we see they wait till 42 or 43 weeks to induce. So what commentary am I referring too by Henci Goer? Why this one.
Now comes the question of what to do with the information. Often times when the word, ‘Induction’ comes up it is at a time where women can’t even imagine changing providers. This is totally understandable! This is a person you have developed a relationship with over the pregnancy and had the expectation will be present at the birth. Thankfully if you have a truly trusting and good relationship you should be able to sit down with Henci Goer’s commentary printed out and discuss it. Hopefully the two of you can come to an understanding and you and your baby will get the time to finish developing.
“Breastfeeding should never be expendable. Only under extraordinary circumstances should breastfeeding be interrupted. It is too important to the physical and mental health of the child and the mother for them to give it up the way one might give up ice cream.” The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, Jack Newman M.D. & Teresa Pitman
Many people might disagree with this statement, but when you consider some research that came out last year there is even more power in it. Doctor Mark Cregan of the University of Western Australia is a molecular biologist who made this discovery. And it’s an exciting one for everyone, advocates of breastfeeding and those who just simply do it. What’s more is it may eventually help to explain why breastfed babies consistently have higher IQs than formula fed children. The full article was published in February of 2008 and has made the rounds since then.
While some might consider this old news, being a year old, it is something worth thinking about when you are considering formula versus breastfeeding. No formula has, or likely will have, stem cells. The fact that breastmilk -has- stem cells leads researchers to believe that it is meant to take over development after the placenta. When you consider that humans are one of the only species born still needing to develop significantly in terms of cognitive and motor skills this is an important consideration. These stem cells could be an important link in our ability to fully realize our mental capacity.
Carol Gray is a local Portland midwife and chiropractor who does Craniosacral training for a variety of professionals in the region. What is Craniosacral therapy is a common question. Here is an excellent answer from her site:
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, non-invasive, yet effective type of hands-on body treatment that is helpful for infants and children as well as adults. It is an assessment tool plus corrective and preventive treatment. A newborn CST session can minimize or eliminate the repercussions of difficult births and help ensure good health for well babies. All babies should receive newborn Craniosacral evaluations and treatments as soon as possible after birth. Children should continue to receive pediatric CST periodically throughout childhood as they adapt to the process of growing up.
I have personally had numerous treatments through my life and after each one have felt so much better, and so much calmer and more settled with myself. It is an amazing treatment opportunity and there is a free infant clinic coming up on November 3rd at Nurture PDX. If your child is less than 6 months old, and even if they didn’t suffer any special incidents in their birth it can make a huge difference. Some of the things I have heard as benefits is colic disappearing, better ability to sleep soundly, happier babies, breastfeeding issues related to suck or latch improving or completely resolving. Take advantage Portland mamas! You may be amazed at the wonderful changes a single treatment can make for your baby AND for you.
Today is a day that has been picked out nationally for us to remember the losses of the smallest ones in our life, be they before we held them or soon after. At 7pm across the US light a candle for an hour in remembrance of those who have gone before, and those who may come again.
This day remind me of something from Baby Catcher. About how her son comforted her through her own miscarriage, explaining to her that she now had a spirit baby. And it would come to her again, and was waiting to come to her again. Whenever I hear of an infant or pregnancy loss, this story shines brightly to me as a light in the dark.
I am happy to announce that I have recently put together a package for new moms. It is designed so that friends and family can buy something special for a new mom, making sure she gets some professional support and, hopefully, some sleep as well. Studies have shown that women who get one on one support post-partum suffer less from Post Partum Depression, breastfeed longer, and have an overall better sense of well-being around their birth and baby.
The Mama Care Package consists of an hour long pre-natal appointment where we will talk about any of mom’s fears, worries, or concerns about the birth and immediate post-partum. We will also focus on mom’s feeding plans, discuss strategies if there is excessive concern, and answer any general questions. If there are other children, this appointment is designed for me to meet them and them to meet me, so that if mom chooses too at her post-partum visit she can take a nap.
In addition to the pre-natal appointment and post-partum visit mom will get a handmade meal to stick in her freezer. Often new moms find they don’t have time to make a fully nutritious meal for their families or are too tired to want to think about standing and cooking. At the pre-natal appointment we will discuss what mom and family would like for their meal.
The post-partum visit is a three hour visit in which mom will have the opportunity to take a nap, shower, talk about questions and concerns involving baby and feeding, or just get out of the house for a little while. Breastfeeding help, guidance, and support will also be available if mom wishes to take advantage of these resources.
The cost for the package is $60. If the mom doesn’t want post-partum support, she can gift it to another person or use it for $60 off a Birth doula package with me. So tell your friends, hoard your pennies for expecting friends, and remember that we all deserve a little support with a new baby in the house.
Flu season always gets people worried. Those with asthma or other health risks especially so and, of course, pregnant women. However we have to really start looking more closely at the vaccines that are put out for the flu. For example there is the big misconception that the flu vaccine you get every year is for that year’s flu, but it isn’t! It’s for the last years flu, and usually it’s effectiveness isn’t very good. In fact many people find that once they get the flu vaccine, not too long later they develop the flu! Why is this? Well, by getting the vaccine you actually cause your body to go into an immune response. For many people this means that their normal immune system is weakened, making us susceptible to this years flu as well as other bugs.
Now of course many of us likely know that, but what we may not consider is the additives in the flu vaccines. There is thimersol (otherwise known as Mercury), formaldehyde, aluminum (a neuro toxin), and usually a variety of other questionable ingredients. Now while the amount of these in a vaccine may not be anything for a full grown adult to worry about (Though there have been -no- studies since the 1920s on Thimersol safety, and NONE on Aluminum)…what about our developing babies? When we take an adult dose of anything it is usually tens to hundreds of times more than an infant or even a fetus’ dose would be. What could these be doing to our unborn children? The controversy still rages about vaccines, but if you are in the group who is uncertain or definitely doesn’t want to take the vaccine then might I introduce you to the wonderful Gloria Lemay!
Gloria is a birth attendant in British Columbia who has been practicing for more than twenty years. She is an amazingly insightful and experienced woman, who does her research and truly believe in helping women. She has written a post on how to stay healthy in this flu season without shooting your body full of known and unknown toxins. You can read it here:
One of the things that we find ourselves getting very little education on during pregnancy is nutrition. Many times we have very brief meetings with our actual providers and most of what occurs is measuring our bellies, checking fetal heart tones, and usually a basic question on how we are feeling.
Unless you are seeing a more traditional Midwife or a doctor more on line with Naturopaths you’re likely to hear, “And how has your diet been?” So we are often left to go on with how we have been eating with maybe trying to make sure we eat more greens, cut out salt, and so on. We will hear a lot of suggestions from well meaning friends and families. Yet our nutrition in pregnancy can have a huge impact on how things turn out in the end.
In Portland we are lucky enough to have a lot of resources available for new moms and old hats to pregnancy. Upcoming this weekend is a workshop about nutrition both prenatally and while nursing. These are put on by Leah Shutcher who has a masters in Public Health.
Check out her website at http://www.naturalpregnancies.com/. Classes are $20 and this month if you bring a friend…it’s half price (or they get in free).
Coming up this month is another great event for parents that are expecting or already have children. It’s the great Pass It On children’s consignment event in Hillsboro, OR. It takes place October 16-18th at the Washington County Fairgrounds. You can find out more information here.
This month I am happy to announce that I will be at two different events in the Portland Metro area. These are both going to be great places to meet and greet with other moms and women, as well as professionals. The first is a Doula Meet and Greet at Nurture PDX.
October 5th, Nurture PDX, 4-6pm
Are you considering hiring a doula? Overwhelmed by the number of doula options in Portland? Would you like a chance to meet several doulas, face-to-face, to get a sense of compatability but don’t have time to attend several meet and greet appointments? Join us for a later afternoon mixed and meet several doulas all in one place!
- Meet local pregnancy, birth, and post-partum doulas
- Connect with other expecting parents
- Learn more about our services
- Enjoy light refreshments
Indulge Events PDX is hosting a Girl’s Night Out!
Please be aware, however, that this is a 21+ event, due to event location.
Join us for an afternoon of fun for Ladies only, promoting local female owned businesses. Taste a new wine or two, watch a Fashion show, get a mini massage, listen to Megan McMorris, a local Portland Author talk about her new girly book,
“P.S.: What I Didn’t Say. Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends”
Network with other women and female entrepreneurs or just enjoy the fun. Pick up a new girly toy and learn how they work, give your opinion on a new line of Lingerie hitting Portland this winter, best of all lounge around ALU Winebar that just reopened on the East side and taste the mouth passions they have created.
$10 gets you in to enjoy all the fun, a special drink of bartenders choice, plus yummy appetizers by ALU Winebar. It also gets you a raffle ticket for our big raffle; put together by our lady entrepreneurs over $2500 value. Bring a friend or Carpool and you and your friends all get an extra raffle ticket.
IT WILL BE A BLAST!
COME ONE,COME ALL!!!
October 25th 2009
DROP in between Noon and 3pm
(Event ends at 5:30)
For more information contact:
(857) 222-0671 Ellen Lewis
(503) 481-9550 Gwyn Johnson
We look forward to seeing you in October!