Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Evidence Says: 10 Things to Unlearn About Pregnancy

As a veteran childbirth educator, I am still surprised by the beliefs of both maternity professionals and expectant parents...about birth!

There are certain beliefs that people have regarding birth.  The following is a list of the top 10 beliefs, written in the positive, rather than the negative.  The true belief is written in italics after the reference.

1) Pregnancy is a condition of health, not an illness. (World Health Organization Fortelezea Declaration, 1985)  Pregnancy and birth are crises waiting to happen.

2) Expectant mothers and their partners will be asked to make decisions regarding their birth; hence childbirth education classes and reading quality books is essential to making informed decisions. (Healthy People 2020)
You don't need childbirth classes; your doctor or nurse can tell you everything you need to know.

3) Labor should begin on its own; induction should be used carefully and judiciously. (See references at the end of this Care Practice)  Induction of labor is ok and eliminates that "fat" feeling during late pregnancy.

4) Interventions such as electronic fetal monitoring may not have positively impacted birth outcomes. (Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine).  Interventions such as monitoring can keep your baby safe. Medications do not cross the placenta and are safe to use during labor. 

5) Doula support does make a difference in labor and birth.  (20+ years of research and this Cochrane Data)
You don't need a doula.  Your doctor or nurse will be with you the whole time.

6) Upright and gravity positive positions facilitate labor and birth. (Multiple references

7) The position a woman assumes to give birth should be dictated by her and include gravity (Cochrane Data)
Lay back with your feet in these stirrups so the doctor has a better visual of the birth.

8) What happens during the birth process has a direct impact on breastfeeding. (Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding by Linda Smith)  Birth has nothing to do with breastfeeding.

9) Skin to skin truly helps the newborn adjust to the outside world and enhances breastfeeding. Almost all newborn tests and exams can be done while baby is on mother's chest. (Multiple references)  We have to take the baby to the nursery for tests and exams.

10)  Evidence-based maternity care is essential to better outcomes: maternal morbidity/mortality and infant morbidity/mortality.  (Evidence Based Maternity Care: Turning Aha Moments into Dynamic Practice; WHO booklet.)  We have always done it this way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Not-So-Silent Revolt: The "Push Back"

Has anyone noticed the Not So Silent Revolt in the news lately?  Standing eye to eye and nose to nose with those that tout a 71.2% cesarean rate or banning public breastfeeding are stories of women ~ world wide ~ searching for alternatives in childbirth and pushing back about their right to breastfeed.

From Czech news, comes reports in-hospital outpatient childbirth and home childbirth choices, this due to physicians leaving.  While "authorities" are concerned that there won't be enough beds for the newborns, have they considered the mothers' arms?  We are seeing more stories about Nurse-ins, in support of breastfeeding in public vs. taking a young baby to the restroom for their meal.

I have said for years (now probably decades) that policies will NOT change while health care professionals are advocating for that change.

The only time change will happen is when the consumer pushes back.  Just like in the 60's and 70's.

Here we go again!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Teaching Childbirth Education Seminars

If you are reading this blog on Facebook, you may not be able to see the embedded video.  Please go to to view.  Thanks!

One of the professional gifts I have been given is the opportunity to train individuals to become childbirth educators.  Having worked for several childbirth education organizations, and now finalizing the opportunity to work with Lamaze International, I have had the opportunity to update my curriculum. Part of that updating is adding new slants on certain topics.

The topic of "how to reach the learners in your class" is one that usually takes a lot of time as it is vital to understand the learning techniques of the vast majority of people attending.  Childbirth education is NOT cookie cutter education.  You simply cannot be handed a curriculum and be expected to teach effectively. Teaching is part education and part entertainment.  Simply sitting in a class won't make you educated, just like sitting in a garage will not make you a car.

So how does one reach the learners in your class.  First, a thorough understanding of how the brain works is essential.  Not for the squeamish, this video "How It Feels To Have A Stroke" by Jill Bolte Taylor demonstrates the vastness of the functionality of the brain.

Thanks to my friend/colleague, Amy Chavez LMT, STRP, BD, CCE, for showing this at a recent Red Tent Event (which she facilitated) and introducing it to me!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Aromatherapy Basics ~ Setting a Mood

When considering using aromatherapy for labor and birth...or even to talk about in childbirth education classes, it is best to take a class from an aromatherapist who knows specifically about the right aromatherapy to use during this special time!

Aromatherapy oils can not only be used as inhalants but they can also be massaged into the skin. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, or blossoms of plants. Each essential oil contains its own mix of active ingredients, and this mix determines the healing properties of the oil. Some oils promote physical healing-for example, some are able to relieve swelling. Others are used for their emotional value, such as lavender, as they may encourage relaxation or make a room smell nice. The essential oil derived from orange blossom, for example, contains a large amount of ester, an active ingredient thought to induce a calming effect. 

Single essential oils are often the best for early labor, however some blends can be beneficial too.  If you are wanting a relaxing mood for Early or (early) Active labor, try Lavender essential oil.  Please note that direct administration of Lavender on the skin is generally safe for most people, however, some may have an allergic reaction.  Lavender is one of the few oils that can be used directly on the skin.  You can also obtain a battery operated pocket diffuser or use a cotton ball for periodic whiffs.  If you are considering blends for early labor, you might explore any Lavender based blend ~ remember the desire is to promote relaxation!

Chamomile is also a very relaxing essential oil and may be preferred by expectant parents.  A blend of Chamomile and Lavender is very calming.  Bergamot can be added for a refreshing feeling.

Rosemary can be used either alone or in a blend for that time in labor where concentration is needed, such as mid-late active phase or transition.  During this time also, it may be time to pull the laboring mother from the relaxed and dreamy state of early labor to a more invigorated state - a blend of any essential oil that is citrus based (such as Neroli, Grapefruit, Tangerine or Sweet Orange) can achieve this.  Marry the citrus oils with Rosemary and you have a winning combination for Transition or even Stage 2.  After all, citrus oils are stimulating - that is why they are used in morning shower gels and lotions!

Blends can give you the benefit of distraction also - the expectant mother enjoys identifying the different scents in the blend.  Ideal carrier oils to mix blends with are Grapeseed and Apricot Oils!  Not sure how to blend essential oils?  Try these two brands ~ Cappriccio Aromatics and Aura Cacia!  From blends, to single essential oils to smelling salts, we have the perfect oils and blends for every laboring mother!