The Case Against Planned Inductions

The last few weeks of your pregnancy are not “optional.” They are an important time for your baby’s development which should not be cut short by an early induction. If there are valid medical reasons for labor induction, your health-care provider will help you decide on the best course of action. But if you just want to schedule an induction for the sake of convenience or any other non-medical reason, here are some things to consider:

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feature image: Baby Announcement Wording

1. Less than 10% of babies actually arrive on their “due date.” Experts agree that a normal pregnancy lasts between 38 and 42 weeks. About 7 out of 10 babies are born after their due date! There is NO way to predict with absolute accuracy what day your baby will be born, you will have to trust your body and your baby to let you know w hen it’s time!

2. Unless you have had a first-trimester ultrasound, gestational dating is largely inaccurate. Later ultrasounds can be off by 2-3 weeks, meaning an induction at 38 weeks might actually be taking place sooner than intended.

3. First time mothers are more often overdue than not! Even 42 weeks PLUS is “normal” and is not a reason to rush into an induction.

4. The last few weeks that a baby spends in utero are an important time for baby’s development, most importantly brain development. A surge of hormones in your baby’s body might play a part in initiating labor.  According to Lamaze, research indicates that once your baby’s lungs are fully mature, he releases a protein that tells his mother’s body that it’s time. A baby born even a few weeks early is at an increased risk for breathing problems, admission to special-care nurseries and breastfeeding difficulties.

5. Which brings us to our next point: Full-term babies (39-40 weeks) are healthier! According to Time: “It’s kind of surprising that insurance providers haven’t curtailed the practice of early elective deliveries entirely as babies born sooner tend to have more health complications and cost more. Even babies delivered at 37 to 38 weeks can end up costing 10 times as much as a full-term newborn, according to the March of Dimes. One study found that reducing early elective deliveries to under 2% could save close to $1 billion in health care each year.”

6. An induced labor is likely to be longer, more intense, and more invasive than a natural labor. You will need IV fluids and continuous electronic fetal monitoring. You will be more likely to use an epidural to deal with the intense contractions. Inductions don’t always work according to plan, often necessitating  forceps, vacuum assistance, and c-sections. Relative to c-section babies, babies who go through labor are born more alert and are better able to breathe and latch on at the breast. (Read this article in Time.com)

7. Better in than out! All of my babies were over-due, and 3 children later I have come to the conclusion that babies are much less trouble in the uterus than out! That is my own personal opinion, of course, and I do love my children dearly!

Bottom line: Be respectful of your baby and let him be a player in his own birth. The safest birthing option for you and your baby is to wait for labor to begin on its own, and in this way you’ll give him the best possible start as he enters our world.

Brachial Plexus Injuries: A Preventable Newborn Injury- Please Read!

Three out of every 1,000 babies born in the USA suffer from injuries that could have been prevented. More children are inflicted with Brachial Plexus injuries at birth than suffer from Down’s Syndrome, or Muscular Dystrophy, or Spina Bifida.  The terrifying reality is that Brachial Plexus injury is a doctor-cause damage, occurring when a baby’s head is tugged or twisted in order to pull him out of the mother, damaging the delicate nerves in a newborn’s neck.

Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist; and a lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand. The tragedy is that most of these birth-related injuries are preventable.  Like many of today’s problems, a little bit of education can go a long way.

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The problem is that a baby’s shoulders can become lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bones. Some practitioners panic and start pulling on the babies head. They call it “gentle traction” but it is hardly gentle.  In order to help shift the baby’s position, the mother needs to change positions, and this will help the baby to “slide out like a little fish.”

How? Laying flat on your back during labor is the WORST position for childbirth.  Although it is deemed most convenient for doctors, it narrows the birth canal by up to 30% and makes it much harder to push the baby out. Simply rolling over on your side, standing up, squatting, kneeling, or getting down on all fours will help. But never, never, never let anyone pull on your baby’s head.

C-section babies can also be injured.

Why aren’t more people aware of Brachial Plexus injuries?

The United Brachial Plexus Network explains that the reasons are complicated and include the following:

* Since there is no mandatory reporting or tracking of this injury, the widely stated assumption that the injury is usually transient cannot be validated.
* Misconceptions exist regarding the life-long implications and disabilities associated with this injury.
* Birthing practitioners do not want to take responsibility for enabling these injuries through medicinalized labor protocols.
* Medical providers are resistant to the idea that this injury is often preventable.
* Birthing practitioners have succumb to the belief that brachial plexus injuries are an unpreventable and acceptable risk of vaginal childbirth.
* Patient’s guardians often feel the injury is minimized by hospital personnel and are usually told the injury will go away after a few days or weeks.

Please watch this 5-minute video and visit the United Brachial Plexus Network website for more information. A full-length 25-minute video is available there.

Contractions: Are These the Real Thing?

During the third trimester, some women experience “false” contractions called Braxton-Hicks contractions. This is a normal occurrence, and like real labor contractions, they may increase in frequency and intensity, making you worry that you are going into premature labor. But unlike true labor, these contractions don’t grow consistently longer, stronger, and closer together.

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image from Women Health Tips

How to tell if it’s preterm labor: True labor contractions show a definite pattern. Employ the 1-5-1 formula: if your contractions last at least one minute, are five minutes (or less) apart, and continue for at least one hour you are, most likely, in labor. (This would mean you should alert your health-care provider immediately.) Braxton-Hicks contractions come and go and don’t settle into a regular pattern. Don’t forget to practice relaxing and breathing with these trial-run contractions. (Dr. Sears)

If you are within a few weeks of your due date, but the Braxton Hicks contractions are making you uncomfortable, try these measures:

  • Change your activity or position. If you’ve been sitting or laying down, try walking around. If you’re been  moving a lot, resting may provide relief. (On the other hand, true labor contractions will progress regardless of what you do.)
  • Take a warm bath to help your body relax.
  • Drink water; these contractions are sometimes brought on by dehydration.
  • Relaxation exercises and slow, deep breathing may help you cope with the discomfort.

Should I call the doctor?

If you haven’t reached 37 weeks yet, and are having more than four contractions in an hour, or contractions are becoming more frequent, rhythmic, or painful, call your caregiver immediately.  In this case, it’s better to play it safe and don’t try to make the diagnosis yourself. Preterm labor is not something to take chances with. Other possible signs of preterm labor:

  • Abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramping, or more than four contractions in an hour (even if they don’t hurt)
  • Any vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge — if it becomes watery, mucusy, or bloody (even if it’s only pink or blood-tinged)
  • Increased pelvic pressure (a feeling that your baby’s pushing down)
  • Low back pain, especially if it’s a new problem for you

Why More American Women Want to Give Birth at Home

When a pregnant woman decides that she wants a home birth, family and friends are usually shocked, and the first questions are often, “Is that safe? What if something goes wrong?”

In today’s age of medicine, pregnancy and childbirth are often as a disease or a problem that has to be “fixed” rather than the completely natural process it actually is, says Dr. Mercola.  For the 75 percent of women who have normal pregnancies, a knowledgeable and experienced midwife may be more qualified to attend birth than an obstetrician.  For some women, giving birth at home is preferable and possibly safer than doing so in a hospital.

“Safer than a hospital?” you may be asking suspiciously. The fact is thatobstetricians are trained to use surgical interventions that are often unnecessary in a normal pregnancy and delivery, and can cause more harm than good when used inappropriately. If you take a look at some statistics, you may start to see things differently.

99 percent of all U.S. births occur in a hospital, yet the United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates of any developed country (6.3 deaths per 1,000 babies born). In the Netherlands, one-third of deliveries occur in the home with the assistance of midwives, yet the infant death rate is  only 4.73 deaths per 1,000.

In terms of your own safety, maternal mortality rates rose more than 54 percent from 2000 to 2005 in the United States, while decreasing in other developed countries. One reason suggested for this scary fact may be the incredibly high rate of C-section in the United States, which accounts for nearly one-third of all births. It is actually the most commonly performed surgery in the US!

The World Health Organization states that no country is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than 15 percent, but the rate in the United States is nearly 32 percent, which even worries The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

A C-section should be used only as a last resort.  One study found that a woman’s risk of death during delivery is three to five times higher during cesarean than a natural delivery, her risk of hysterectomy four times higher, and her risk of being admitted to intensive care is two times higher.

Obviously, C-section rates are lower among home births, as well as midwife-attended births. Women who delivered at home also have fewer interventions and greater freedom in choosing their birthing style. As long as you have experienced a healthy pregnancy, a qualified midwife is a very safest birth attendant, and your home may very well be the best place for you to deliver.

If you are planning a home birth, it may be challenging to find a birth attendant you feel comfortable with. It is rare to find an obstetrician that will agree to a home birth in the United States. Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) can legally attend home births in any state, but most choose to practice in hospitals instead.  Only 27 states currently license or regulate direct-entry midwives– or certified professional midwives (CPMs)– who have undergone training and met national standards to attend homebirths. (Find the legal status of CPMs in your state here.)

In the other 23, midwife-attended births are illegal.  A campaign is currently underway to expand state licensing of CPMs so that women who want a home birth can choose from a qualified pool of applicants, but until that happens you have a few legal options for homebirth:

  • Find a certified nurse midwife (CNM) who attends homebirths in your state or in a nearby state (then travel to that state to give birth)
  • Find a CPM who is either licensed by your state or in a nearby state (then travel to that state to give birth)
  • Use a CNM but give birth in a hospital or birth center (a compromise)

To find a midwife in your area, try:

  • Midwives Alliance of North America
  • Mothers Naturally
  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • Midwifery Today
  • BirthLink (Chicago area)

For more information: Should American Women Learn to Give Birth at Home?

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Getting Kids Excited about a New Baby

Younger toddlers won’t have a clue about a baby “growing in your tummy.” Because they can’t see it, they won’t be able to understand much of the explanation. Even when you are in your ninth month, big as a house, your older baby won’t take much notice of the bulge, except to realize that it is harder for her to sit on your lap.

Being pregnant with young children in tow can be both challenging and exhausting. Involving your kids in your pregnancy makes things a bit easier and is often fun. Here are some ways to involve everyone in the “family pregnancy” and prepare them for life with a newborn.

Arrange Baby Time

Make to be around very young babies. This lets your children see what they look like, hear how they sound, observe you holding one now and then, notice that they need comforting, and learn about nursing.

Baby Talk

Small kids: Once your belly is really big, eight months maybe, talk about the new baby. Your toddler will feel more secure if you refer to it as “Suzy’s new baby.” Let her feel kicks, help her talk or sing to baby, and stroke your belly.

Bigger kids: Tell older toddlers and preschoolers about the baby early on in the pregnancy. The older the child, the sooner you can tell him; very young children may be confused or disappointed when the baby fails to arrive the next day. With an older toddler or preschooler, try all of the toddler suggestions above, and in addition, use the diagrams in books on birth to talk about how the baby is growing, month by month. You’ll be surprised by questions like “What part did baby grow today, mom?”

Read Books about Babies

Show her simple children’s books about new babies. Show pictures of when she was a tiny baby and tell her about all the things you did for her. Say things like “Mommies hold tiny babies a lot because they need that.”

Explain Your  Moods

Depending on the age and level of understanding, tell your child why you are feeling so tired, grouchy, short-fused, impatient, and whatever else you feel while pregnant: You might say, “Baby needs a lot of energy to grow, and that’s why mom is tired and sleeps a lot…” Or, “The hormones baby needs to grow make mommy feel funny…”

Talk about the  Future

For example, let them know babies cry (some cry a lot) and they like it when you talk to them and make funny faces. Explain to them “You can help me change the diaper, bathe baby and dress baby. Babies can’t do anything for themselves for a long time, and they can’t play games until they grow bigger. They need to be held a whole lot, just like I held you when you were little.”

Hands on Demo

Usually by the fifth or sixth month, older children can feel their baby brother or sister move. During the time of the day when your baby moves the most, sit down and invite your children to feel the show. Let them guess which body part they are feeling.

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image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

Baby Bonding

Invite your children to talk to and about the baby. If you already know the gender and have chosen a name, you can encourage them to use it when referring to the baby. Or you can welcome the baby nicknames your child invents. Babies can hear around 23 weeks of age, so this is a good time for the kids to start talking to the baby so he or she will get to know them. After about three months of this, their voices will be very familiar to the baby still in utero, and bonding will already be under way. Studies show that babies tend to turn toward voices they recognize right after birth.

Little Helping Hands

Realize that it’s impossible to give other family members the same degree of attention they are used to while you’re pregnant. Sooner or later the children will realize that they must share mom with another tiny taker in the family. Fortunately, pregnancy provides you with plenty of time to prepare your older children for what life will be like after the baby arrives. Getting them used to helping you while baby brother or sister is still inside is actually another good tool for bonding. The children will have invested their time and energy already even before baby comes, and the baby will have more personal value to them.

Adapted from 10 WAYS TO INVOLVE CHILDREN WITH YOUR PREGNANCY

feature image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

Reasons They Won’t Give You an Epidural

Many women out there love their epidural! Epidural anesthesia uses an injection of drugs into the epidural space in your lower spine.  An epidural works by blocking the transmission of nervous system signals to your brain, thereby limiting or suppressing your feelings of pain.

Epidural anesthesia has become the most common form of pain medication for labor and birth, but it’s not for everyone.  Here are some common reasons an epidural might not be right for you:

  1. Your Body Type: Sometimes, the doctor has no easy access to the epidural space. Factors that might make it difficult to find the right spot include obesity, scoliosis, scar tissue, unusual spinal archtecture or previous surgeries.
  2. Drug interactions: Some medications, such as blood thinners, can make an epidural risky or ineffective.
  3. Existing health issues: If you have a low platelet count, or other blood disorders, there is an increased risk of internal bleeding in the spine.
  4. Timing: In some hospitals, anesthesiologists are available only at certain hours of the day, or certain days of the week. They may simply be busy and unavailable. Also, if you come into the hospital in advanced labor, or with a very quick labor, there might not be time to get an epidural in place.
  5. Infection: If you have an infection on your back, you definitely don’t want your anesthesiologist putting a needle through that area.  It might cause the infection to spread to the spine and other areas of your body, which could lead to major problems.
  6. Heavy bleeding or shock: Often, having an epidural lowers blood pressure. Therefor, if you are bleeding heavily or are suffering from shock, your already lowered blood pressure can make the situation even more dangerous.
  7. Hospital restrictions: Some hospitals have policies about when you can have an epidural. Some stipulate that you must be at a certain point in labor (for example, four centimeters dilated) before an epidural can be given. Others may decide that epidural should not be given after a certain point of labor (for example when you’ve reached full dilation).

Source: About.com

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In the Nick of Time: Mom gives birth in hospital lobby

Many people treasure the videos of their child’s birth, but they’re usually taken by a proud dad… Not by a surveillance camera!  Last week a British woman gave birth to a baby girl just inside the hospital lobby! It was a very cold mid-night drive and Dad just wanted to get indoors so he wouldn’t have to deliver the baby by himself on the roadside… They got there with 10 minutes to spare, but Mom fell on her hands and knees and couldn’t go any further! Baby Alice was delivered shortly thereafter by Dad and two midwives.

You can watch the family’s CBS News interview here!


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Did you have a birth that progressed so quickly that you couldn’t make it to your planned destination? Tell us about it!

10 Ways to Relieve Labor Pains

Well, really in my opinion there is only one way, and it works like magic. It’s called an epidural. Ok, just kidding (but not really)!!  However, if you are looking for drug-free ways to relieve labor pains, there are many techniques out there, and many women have had exhilarating (if not completely pain-free–sorry!) natural births. Lamaze.org offers these 10 tips to staying within your “comfort zone.”

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1. Find a Soothing Environment

Your birth setting must feel safe to you. It should have space to walk and bathe, as well as a variety of options to enhance movement, comfort, and pain relief: a soft bed, CD player, rocking chair, birth ball, low stool, and/or squatting bar. It should also have policies that encourage you to try a variety of positions. Access to appropriate medical care is crucial if problems arise.

2. Choose Your Team Carefully

Knowledgeable, caring midwives, doctors, nurses, partners, loved ones and/or doulas create a supportive birth team. When you’re treated with respect and patience, stress and inhibitions decrease, and you can more easily find your best coping mechanisms.

3. Learn About Labor

The more knowledge you have, the fewer surprises you will experience. Find out everything you can about labor from books, magazines, Web sites, videos, classes, a hospital tour and discussions with your health-care provider, doula, family and friends. Familiarize yourself with the procedures and customs at your hospital or birth center. Such discussions are best had before labor.

4. Express Your Fears

Are you worried about pain and labor, needles, medicines or losing control? Speak with a knowledgeable and trusted friend, childbirth educator or doula. Voicing your concerns can bring relief as well as practical solutions to your concerns. Stating your preferences in a birth plan can also help calm fears.

5. Practice Rhythmic Breating

Breathe fully in a slow rhythm during contractions. Release tension with each exhalation and try moaning. Also try taking quick breaths, about one every 2 to 3 seconds (20 to 30 per minute). Your partner or birth coach may be able to help you keep your rhythm with eye contact, rhythmic hand or head movements, or by talking you through contractions.

6. Use Imagery and Visualization

Focusing on something that makes you happy (like your partner’s face, an inspirational picture or favorite object) engages your senses and decreases your awareness of pain. Listen to music, a soothing voice or a recording of ocean waves, and imagine yourself in a relaxing environment.

7. Take a Warm Shower or Bath

A warm shower is soothing, especially if you can sit on a stool and direct a handheld showerhead onto your abdomen or back. Bathing in warm water is relaxing, and it may even speed up labor.

8. Keep Moving

Move around as much as you can. Walk, lean, sway, rock and squat. Some positions will be more comfortable than others.

9. Seek Relief with Warm or Cool Compresses

Place a warm pack on your lower abdomen, groin, lower back or shoulders during labor. A cold pack or latex glove filled with ice chips can soothe painful areas. Cool cloths relieve a sweaty face, chest or neck.

10. Indulge in Gentle Touch or Massage

Have your partner or doula massage you in whatever way provides the most relief for you.  Whether it’s someone holding your hand, stroking your cheek or hair, or patting your hand or shoulder, touch conveys reassurance, caring and understanding.

What NOT to Do While Your Wife is in Labor

Hey Dads! Feeling a little nervous as the birth of your baby draws near? Wondering how to be a helpful and supportive partner during the labor and delivery? Well, what you DON’T do might be just as important as what you DO do!  Even things you might not see as being an issue… let’s just say that women are even more sensitive during labor than they normally are!

As the experts at theCradle point out, “Something you wouldn’t think twice about doing under ordinary circumstances will be remembered as appalling if you do it during labor. No one wants to be the guy that’s remembered for taking a call from his stockbroker while his wife was in labor.”

Here are some tips from the authors of Don’t Just Stand There: How to Be Helpful, Clued-In, Supportive, Engaged & Relevant in the Delivery Room (via theCradle).

  • Don’t chat on your cell phone with your friends.
  • Don’t return work calls.
  • No checking your stocks, surfing on the wireless, or checking your email.
  • Blowing bubbles and chewing gum is generally not a great idea.
  • You may have had a really long, hard day, but let her have the bed.
  • Don’t fight her for control of the remote – make sure you TiVo all important ballgames at least 48 hours in advance as you come down the stratch to the due date.
  • Reading a newspaper is a bad idea in general, even if you give her first choice of the sections.
  • Don’t flirt with the nurses.
  • Don’t take inappropriate photos – you’re not making a documentary for the National Geographic Channel. Remember, anything you shoot should have a “PG” rating.
  • Don’t let your mother or other relatives into the room or within earshot, unless your partner is totally fine with it.
  • Don’t socialize too much with the labor partner in the next delivery room.
  • Don’t mention the success of other laboring women on the floor – that’s not going to inspire her.
  • Don’t ask the doctor to bring you coffee.
  • Cool as it is to watch, don’t pay more attention to the contraction monitor than to her.
  • Avoid the subject of personal-injury law when conversing with the medical staff.
  • Don’t pass out and need to be taken down to the emergency room to get stitches.
  • Don’t scatter your stuff around the delivery room and then ask her if she’s seen your car keys.
  • Don’t discuss real estate or golf with the doctor while she’s having contractions.
  • Don’t eat onions, garlic, or other obnoxious food, like Doritos or Cheetos.
  • Don’t tell her to go back to sleep if she wakes you up with contractions.
  • Don’t tell her that you heard it doesn’t have to hurt.
  • And finally, whatever you do, don’t do what I did – lie in her bed the morning after, eating her breakfast, while she packs the bags. Unfortunately [my wife] has the photo to prove it.

Hypnosis during Pregnancy and Childbirth

Our minds are very powerful. Hypnosis is finally becoming recognized in the medical profession as an extremely valuable tool to assist in many areas of health.  “Hypnosis is a wonderful tool which allows access to your inner mind, allowing alignment of purpose and resolution of conflicts,” explains hypnotherapist Roseanna Jane Leaton (via American Chronicle). Hypnosis can help people with many things, from sports mind training, to weight loss, to helping people overcome fears and phobias.  So it should come as no surprise that hypnotism offers benefits to pregnant and birthing women as well!

Some benefits of Hypnotism during Pregnancy & Childbirth:

  • Increases fertility by reducing stress, which is known to be a barrier to getting pregnant
  • Overcoming morning sickness
  • Quitting smoking (benefiting you and your baby)
  • Increase energy levels
  • Maintaining a confident body image through pregnancy and after the birth
  • Reduces mood swings, anxiety, and tension, and fear
  • Helps relieve aches and pains, heartburn, flatulence, backaches, swollen feet and legs, high blood pressure, and other pregnancy-related discomforts
  • Enables a more relaxed, pleasant birthing experience
  • Reduces the length of labor
  • Reduces need for medical interventions and pain medications
  • Creates deeper levels of bonding with your baby
  • Avoiding the “baby blues” and overcoming post natal depression

How Hypnosis works during Pregnancy & Childbirth:

Ms. Leaton explains that learning hypnosis techniques enables your mind and body to relax, as your brain wave patterns change from the beta waves (normal waking consciousness) to alpha waves (drowsy relaxation) to theta wave patterns (associated with dreaming). Practicing during pregnancy helps relieve pregnancy-associated stress and discomfort, and prepairs you for a birth free of anxiety. The more you practice, the deeper the state of relaxation you will be able to achieve. This will allow you to more greatly numb your perception of pain at the time of the birth.

If you are curious what it feels to be hypnotized, HypBirth elaborates:

“Hypnosis is a natural process and is part of our daily lives though we may be unaware of it. For example, haven’t you driven several miles in your car and suddenly realized you couldn’t remember what you had just passed? There is no threat of danger in these situations, your conscious mind has simply left the driving to your subconscious, allowing yourself some time for a good daydream. This is a form of self-hypnosis…”

“It is worth remembering that before pharmaceuticals became available to assist in pain control, the only technique available was mind control,” says Ms. Leaton, “And you can learn to use your mind to put your natural opiates to work.”

For further reading:

How Does Hypnosis Make For Easy Pregnancy And Childbirth?

Hypnosis for Labor: Mind over Matter

Hypnosis for pregnancy and childbirth

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Meathod

HypBirth: Amazing Tools for Birth

image from smh.com.au

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