Do You Ever Wish You Could Wake Up . . .
In an alternate universe where the New York Times agrees that the flu vaccine is a PR job, traditional pediatricians wax eloquently on the benefits of a fever, and word is out that some sunscreens accelerate aging and cancer?
It’s not a perfect world, but thanks to a growing number of mainstream experts a conversation has begun. A conversation which asks questions like:
Why do American women pay more to give birth than British Royalty, yet have the WORST newborn and maternal outcomes of every industrialized nation? (4)
Yes, you read that right. Babies born in the U.S. have a 50 percent higher first-day mortality rate than all other industrialized countries included in its study COMBINED. And the mamas? Unfortunately, the U.S. has the worst maternal death rate of any industrialized nation, says Save The Children in it’s report on the best and worst places to be a mother. (5) Latvia and Estonia rank higher for maternal outcomes, as do 27 other developed countries. (6)
Want To Turn Those Statistics On Their Heads?
When I was pregnant with Levi, filmmaker Sarah Kamrath gifted me a copy of her new release, Happy Healthy Child. This DVD childbirth education course is full of good info for those that are seeking a natural, low-intervention birth. Whether or not that is the kind of birth you want is totally up to you, of course, but if it is this is seriously good stuff from REAL experts (see a partial list below). Here are three insights on improving birth outcomes that I want to pass along:
Pitocin Vs. Oxytocin: Critical Differences That Affect Labor
Please note, I do not believe that there is one “right” way to birth. I am presenting this info so that mama’s can make informed choices about their labor, whatever they decide that should look like.
#1: IV drips may dilute hormones that help to orchestrate labor
Something as simple as an IV can dilute oxytocin, a hormone that naturally occurs during labor. If a woman’s labor begins to slow after the introduction of an IV, care providers may recommend the use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin) to keep things going.
Though Pitocin is chemically equivalent to oxytocin, it works very differently in the body. Oxytocin is produced within the brain, so it has “psycho-emotional effects, it’s a hormone of calm and connection, a hormone of love, a hormone with natural pain-relieving properties. When we inject it into the mother’s body it doesn’t cross back into her brain and it doesn’t have these beneficial psycho-emotional effects.” (Happy Healthy Baby, emphasis mine)
#2: The use of Pitocin triples a mother’s chance of needing a casearean
Pitocin tends to create “jackhammer contractions” instead of the naturally ebbing/flowing contractions that are typical with oxytocin. These more intense contractions can stress the baby and require intervention. Also, mothers who have labored with and without Pitocin usually report that contractions augmented by Pitocin are much more painful.
#3: Skin-to-skin contact right after birth increases a mother’s oxytocin levels
Not only does this “love hormone” help with pain management and bonding, it reduces a mother’s chance of having a postpartum hemorrhage. Though Pitocin does not offer the former benefits, it is considered effective for the latter. Some midwives carry it in their birth kits for this reason.
Getting The Birth We Want Is Never A Guaranteed Thing
. . . but we can totally stack the odds in our favor. Happy Healthy Child: A Holistic Approach shares insights from over 30 world-renowned OB/GYNs, midwives, pediatricians, scientists, psychologists, childbirth educators, sleep experts and lactation specialists that can help improve the birth experience and overall outcome mama’s and their babies.
Ya’ll, we’re not just talking random experts here. If you read through this site much you’l find many of the same names mentioned – these are the people I turned to when I was researching things like routine ultrasounds, co-sleeping, natural birth and more. People like:
- Dr. Bob Sears, who received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto — the largest children’s hospital in the world. Dr. Sears is the author of over 30 books on childcare and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Royal College of Pediatricians.
- Ina May Gaskin, who has been called “the mother of authentic midwifery
- Dr. James McKenna, head of the University of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. This post and this post are based on his work.
- and Dr. Sarah Buckley, who was the first to make me dig deeper into routine ultrasounds
Topics covered include:
- Optimal nutrition for you and your developing fetus (see caveat #2 below)
- The best ways to prepare for your labor and birth
- Building your birth team
- Overcoming the intensity of labor
- Common interventions and how to avoid the unnecessary ones
- Taking care of your new baby (bonding, breastfeeding, infant sleep, etc.)
You will also learn:
- The #1 thing you can do during your pregnancy to improve your developing baby’s future intelligence
- What most women are encouraged to do in labor that triples their chances of having a cesarean section
- A scientifically proven way to decrease the length of your labor by 25%
- The widely touted parenting practice that science says can cause brain damage
If you want to be well-informed about pregnancy, natural birth and postpartum care
. . . But don’t want to read 25 or so books, I highly recommend this series with two caveats.
Caveat # 1: If you’re totally on board with a natural, intervention-free birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc. the research presented in this series will leave you feeling REALLY empowered. Like, really. However, if you happen to disagree on one of the points made – say, circumcision for example – some of the experts can come across as a bit judgy sometimes. Still, it’s really good info if you can look past that.
Caveat # 2: In my opinion, some of the info on nutrition was lacking and/or just a little off base. For example, some experts indicate a vegetarian diet can be optimal (I disagree), recommend keeping fish to a minimum (Chris Kresser has a great article on that, though I am doing some research on Fukushima that I hope to share with you soon)
Though it attempts to steer mamas away from the low-fat mentality, I don’t think this film goes far enough. It recommends high quality fats but not animal fats, says coconut oil is good but too much can be bad, etc. For nutritional guidance I recommend Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis, my ebook Nourished Baby, and Super Nutrition For Babies. They are all very easy reads that pretty much round out this course.
Watch The Preview
Where to buy Happy Healthy Child
If you’re looking for a natural childbirth class that provides empowering information and encouragement, I highly recommend this 4-part DVD set. Frankly, since I’d already given birth twice by the time I received this class I didn’t think I’d want to sit through it all, but I was riveted!