Thursday, April 28, 2011

10 Simple Truths About Childbirth ~ #3

I have begun the series "10 Simple Truths About Birth".  You can respond on Facebook, or directly on my blog at  

Truth #3:    Many of today’s expectant women are passive, uninformed and fearful

In a discussion several days ago with another seasoned birth professional, we came upon the theory that the reason why so many women present in childbirth class passive, uninformed and fearful is because they may not have had the same type of role models as in the past.  

Rather than strong family members giving birth and being empowered parents, expectant mothers of today are influenced by the media, and the half truths, misinformation and sometimes, out right lies that are told.

When it comes to books, many women are familiar with the main stream books that are trendy and hip but contain, again, misinformation and half truths.  Rather than look for the evidence-based information, they are relying on celebrities and even some of my own maternity/obstetrical colleagues to provide a non-biased view of birth.  Unfortunately, expectant women who rely on these sources lose in the long run.

Likewise, if expectant parents rely on television, they will also lose.  Few if any televised shows about childbirth/breastfeeding present unbiased and/or evidence-based information.  Case in point:  

Please also view this:

And finally, this opinion:

Thank you to American Baby and "Better" for helping to promote the importance of childbirth education classes.   Where do the majority of the expectant parents you know get their information?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

10 Simple Truths About Childbirth ~ #2

 Today I begin the series "10 Simple Truths About Birth".  You can respond on Facebook, or directly on my blog at

Truth #2:  US maternity care does not practice evidence based care.

The US Maternity Health Care system does, in fact, not practice evidence based care.  A close look at the statistical data on maternal morbidity and mortality/infant morbidity and mortality shows a very bleak picture of our outcomes based on an interventive based care plan.  In fact, in their new initiative, Childbirth Connection states that “the largely healthy and low-risk population of childbearing women and newborns experiences 6 of the 10 most common hospital procedures. One out of three babies is born via cesarean section, the most common operating room procedure in the United States. Best evidence supports more judicious, restrictive use of maternity care procedures, and suggests that overuse is contributing to significant excess harm and costs.´

There is obviously a disparity between evidence based care and the care practices in the US.  But, as Childbirth Connection also asks, how can you make a change if you don’t know what you are aiming for?”  Exactly!

The scope of change will never happen with birth professionals standing at the hospital doors, banging, and yelling “You must change because we say so and because it is right”.  As stated in another “Truth”, hospitals are indeed companies or businesses wanting to make a profit.  Change will not happen necessarily because the literature says that is the thing to do….especially if “what we’ve always done” is working….mirroring the old adage: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

It is broken.  Research is beginning to come to the surface about our broken system.  A report issued by the California Pregnancy-Related and Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review shows that deaths from pregnancy-related causes, usually occurring at the time of birth, have risen dramatically in the U.S., in spite of the increased use of technology and the increase in cesarean section rates.  In fact, the study that was released on April 26, 2011 stated that the increase in cesarean sections were a major contributor to the increase in deaths from pregnancy-related causes.

But again, what does evidence based maternity care look like?  What is staffing, what services?  Is there a comprehensive childbirth education program and if so, what do those classes look like, certification?  What about a hospital based doula program?  Again, the Childbirth Connection asks for an essential package to answer these questions and many more.

I especially like Childbirth Connection’s call for a revival and broaden reach of childbirth education through expanded models and innovative teaching modalities.  

This in turn, will foster and promote a true cultural shift in attitudes toward childbearing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

10 Simple Truths About Childbirth ~ #1

    Today I begin the series "10 Simple Truths About Birth".  You can respond on Facebook, or directly on my blog at

Truth #1:  Birth is healthy and normal, complications are the exception.

Mother nature says it.  The World Health Organization says it. Many maternity health care professionals such as physicians, midwives, nurses, childbirth educators and doulas say it.

Birth is healthy and normal. 

Anyone can find proof.  See abstracts of journal articles at the website for the US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health or the Cochrane Database.  Read about it in books such as The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth With Confidence, 2nd Edition.

Interfering with the normal physiological process of labor and birth in the absence of medical necessity increases the risk of complications for mother and baby. So why is nature seen as abnormal and interventions seen as “normal”?  One educator shared on Facebook that it was the media and cultural brainwashing.  Some believe it is the process of accustomization – where we are slowly and methodically lead to believe that intervention is beneficial and good – see my previous blog and video spot from the US television show, "The Doctors".  Sadness was the emotion that came to me as I viewed this.  This was not an instance of misinformation or omit evidence.  What they did on that show was lie about the risks of the use of epidural anesthesia.  How sad.

It is vital that we continue (and in some cases, begin) to teach from a risk/benefit view…evidence-based information…best practice. The Joint Commission requests this practice.

How to do that?  Lamaze has established the Six Health Birth Practices: avoiding medically unnecessary induction of labor, allowing freedom of movement for the laboring woman, providing continuous labor support, avoiding routine interventions and restrictions, encouraging spontaneous pushing in nonsupine positions, and keeping mothers and babies together after birth without restrictions on breastfeeding ~ skin to skin.  Well established documentation of the evidence accompanies these Birth Practices.  Lamaze has partnered with Injoy Video Productions to make professional quality handouts and free videos available to everyone.

Many birth professionals who receive formal training such as physicians and nurses may have never thought of birth as anything else than a crisis waiting to happen. That concept is not taught in the medical schools and nursing schools of the U.S.

Do not be afraid of speaking the truth.  The paradigm shift needs another a kick start.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Questions to Ponder

These are questions I've been wondering about for a while....actually quite a while.

If birth is natural and normal, then why isn't intervention of any kind (with the exception of emergent cesarean) seen as the non-norm?

Why are those who seek natural, healthy, normal birth seen as "odd" or labeled with everything from "crazy" to "granola crunchers"?

If, as the research demonstrates, all medication crosses the placenta and affects the baby, then why are women more fearful of THAT than the few minutes of pain/hour of labor?

The female breasts are put there to nourish a newborn.  Why is these seen as the non-norm?

Why are those who breastfeed their babies seen as "odd" or labeled with everything from "crazy" to "granola crunchers"?

If, as the research demonstrates, breastmilk is THE perfect source of nutrition for babies, then why are women more fearful of THAT than the additives in formula?

Mmm, I see a pattern here.  Do you?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

View this...then read that.

View this segment from U.S. television:

Then read this: 

Thanks to Kimmelin Hull for a brilliant rebuttal.  Also read some of the comments if you would like to write the Doctor's TV Show.