Monday, April 05, 2010

Top 10 Myths about Birth & Breastfeeding

In no particular order, here they are:

1. You have to give birth unmedicated to have a healthy baby.

FALSE. While all medications do cross the placenta (the placenta is not a barrier and is not selective), judicious use of medication as a coping tool can lead to a wonderful birthing experience. Mothers do not have to have high thresholds of pain to give birth. Rather, education and some great coping tools can really help!

2. You have to have big breasts like Dolly Parton to breastfeed your baby.

FALSE. It is not about the size of the breasts but that you have ample and unobstructed milk ducts, a supportive environment, good nutrition and hydration, and the internal desire to breastfeed that is important!

3. It is my due date. This baby should come out NOW!

FALSE. Each woman gestates their babies at differing lengths of time. That is to say, one woman may be "at term" at 38 weeks and another be "at term" at 42 weeks. Both are normal for both women. So, if you gestate your babies to 42 weeks and that is term for you, an elective induction at 38 or 39 weeks might result in a 3-4 week premature baby. Remember that Due Dates are merely estimates!

4. I am scared to try a water labor or water birth. I am afraid the baby will drown.

FALSE. No need to worry here. The baby will not take a breath until air pressure changes are registered by the trigeminal nerves on the face. The baby will be oxygenated by the blood in the umbilical cord from the placenta. The baby cannot stay submerged for a long time, though. Once the baby has been born, a hormonal shift takes place and the placenta will begin to detach from the wall of the uterus, interfering with the blood flow.

5. I don't need to take childbirth education classes. My doctor and the nurses will be with me all of the time to coach and help me.

FALSE. Only in RARE situations will this occur. Physicians and even midwives have office hours with patients to see, plus other actively laboring patients. Nurses, given the nursing shortage and tight hospital budgets, often have 2-4 actively laboring patients to care for. Attending childbirth education classes should address the fear factor of labor and educate you so labor isn't as scary, give you comfort measures to reduce your tension and pain, and give you information so you can make informed decisions!

6. If I have a cesarean, I won't be in as much pain as if I had labor.

FALSE. Remember that a "cesarean" is really major abdominal surgery. You will have an incision not only on your outer skin but also on your uterus. Recovery with a cesarean is much, much slower than with a vaginal birth. Please research this thoroughly if you are considering an elective cesarean birth.

7. Home birth is dangerous and only fringey people do it. There are no emergency precautions!

FALSE. There is much literature showing the safety of home birth when an well-educated, low risk expectant couple and a qualified birth attendant (such as a Certified Professional Midwife) are working together. In fact, there is literature showing that homebirth, in certain situations, is safer than hospital birth. Again, this is a topic that deserves more research if you are considering it.

8. The hospital nurses know the latest in breastfeeding techniques.

Generally false. For continuing education, some nurses elect to take advance breastfeeding courses or become Certified Lactation Consultants. Many nurses do not, or opt for more technological courses for continuing education such as reading fetal heart monitoring. If you have questions about breastfeeding, it is generally best to consult a Lactation Consultant for the most up-to-date and accurate information about breastfeeding.

9. My grandmother doesn't think my breastmilk is enough to fill up the baby's belly. She wants me to use formula supplements.

FALSE. If the baby is gaining weight, producing wet and soiled diapers, and is content, the baby is getting enough to eat. Breastmilk might look thin and weak, but it packs a punch in the nutrition department! Formula has additives that the baby cannot digest and can contribute to childhood obesity.

10. My doctor (and my hospital) won't do a VBAC: they say it is unsafe.

FALSE. According to the recent (March 2010) National Institute of Health Consensus on VBAC, VBAC is a plausible option for most women with a previous cesarean with low transverse uterine incision.

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