Tag Archives: Birth

The Mother’s Role in a Not-So-Perfect Birth

This is a follow up on my post about Rixa Freeze’s birth story, and my OB friend Megan’s comment on the post.  In that post, I quoted a midwife blogger who found Inga’s resuscitation to be less “jarring” and more gentle than a hospital resuscitation would have been.

I first have to stipulate a few things:

  1. As far as resuscitation goes, I don’t know anything about it.  A long, long time ago I was certified in infant CPR, but that’s where my knowledge stops.  I have no idea if Rixa did it “right” or just “well enough” to get her baby breathing.  (And to be honest, I’ve wondered if Inga would have started breathing on her own if she had been rubbed/dried with a towel after being pulled out of the water, which she was not, but that’s neither here nor there.)
  2. I would never try to argue that all resuscitation’s (or reasons for needing resuscitation) are the same and should be treated the same.
  3. I will agree that there are cases in which the resuscitation experience doesn’t matter; if the outcome is the loss of the baby otherwise, then obviously 5-10 minutes (or hours/days) of a less than ideal experience ( a “jarring” experience, even) is a welcome trade-off for a healthy baby.
  4. I will also never say that I think hospitals are awful, evil places; I don’t think that in the least — I think they can provide excellent and needed care in some pretty harrowing circumstances.

Source: John Giammatteo

That said, I find Tatiana’s point about the naturalness of it all (Rixa’s response, Inga being resuscitated in her mother’s arms by her mother, cord still attached) an interesting one, as far as how we view the first minutes after birth and the role of the mother.  I think we need to ask ourselves, is the mother a passive patient being delivered of the baby by the doctor/midwife, or is she actively birthing her baby with a doctor/midwife available if needed? This question is one of the great dividing lines in obstetric/midwifery care.

I fall in the latter group, which believes that women can happily and healthily birth babies with minimal intervention.  I think support is very important – I couldn’t imagine birthing alone or even with just my husband.  Doulas are incredibly wonderful birth support, and it would be great to have a care provider who is able/willing to play a support role as well (as opposed to just coming in and catching).  I would never intentionally have an unassisted birth, nor would I advocate for unassisted birth; I do believe it’s important to have an adequately trained person present in case of emergent situations.  I recognize that things do happen (rarely) and someone needs to be prepared for that possibility.  BUT I don’t think that always means resuscitation away from the mother. Continue reading

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Are Hospital Births Less Gentle Than Home Births?

First, a note: I received a great comment from my friend Megan on the last post and I started to write back to her, but as I typed, and typed, and typed, I realized my response would be better served as a blog post. As it turns out, this is going to be a two-parter, because I have so much to say.  I’d love to know what your thoughts on this are as well, so please leave me a comment!

I think, in general, there is a vast contrast between hospital and home birth as far as the first minutes and hours of the baby’s life.  There is also a contrast between in-hospital midwife deliveries and OB deliveries, but regardless of practitioner, in most, but certainly not all cases, babies born in hospitals spend more time away from their mothers at birth than do babies born at home.

Despite the importance of early contact for attachment and breastfeeding, most babies were not in their mothers’ arms during the first hour after birth, with a troubling proportion with staff for routine, nonurgent care (39%).  Listening to Mothers II: Report of the Second National U.S. Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences

A good example of this can be seen in almost every birth shown on the Lifetime TV show I referenced last week.  Several minutes pass and several procedures are done before baby is put skin to skin with mom, if baby even goes skin-to-skin at all — in many cases the babies are completely swaddled before being handed to mom for the first time.

This may look cute and cozy, but it does nothing for baby and mama.

That sort of birth practice is all too common in US hospitals.  According to the 2007 CDC National Survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care, only 40.4% of the facilities surveyed reported that “most” patients experience mother-infant skin-to-skin contact for at least 30 minutes within 1 hour of uncomplicated vaginal birth and only 29.3% reported skin-to-skin for at least 30 minutes within 2 hours of uncomplicated cesarean birth. Continue reading

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A birth story

I started pondering the art of sharing after reading the birth story of Dr. Rixa Freeze‘s third child, Inga. Inga was born at home on March 2nd in a surprise unassisted birth — the midwife arrived 5 minutes after she was born — and Rixa posted the birth story a few days after the birth.

I’ve admitted before to being a birth story junkie.  I love them; I love reading about birth and watching videos about birth.  It’s such an amazing and wonderful process, and one of the most beautiful experiences a woman can have; I often find myself tearing up reading about/seeing the experience.  I’m also amazed at how different every labor is…how different giving birth is for every woman, and yet they all have the same strength to get through it, to do what has to be done.

Rixa’s writing reflects the calm and peace with which she labors and delivers, and the video she provides is wonderful – more than 30 minutes, unedited, surrounding her daughter’s birth.  She is cool and collected, centered and managing her pain, laughing just minutes before the baby crowns, and narrating as she catches her own baby.  She is the perfect example of woman’s ability to work with the pain of childbirth and successfully deliver drug-free.

The first video, ends about 7 minutes before delivery:

But I hesitated to share, because it is not a birth that goes perfectly.  Continue reading

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Talking About Birth

As I begin to position myself as an information source, an expert of sorts, on pregnancy, birth, and parenting, I’ve had to spend time thinking about what type of information I want to relay.  Through Papoose’s website, Facebook page, and in-store customer interactions, I’ll be sharing news and information that may be of interest to new and expectant parents, because I believe that informed parents are better parents.  It’s important now, in the early stages, to decide what messages I want to send and to what degree I want to inject my own opinions.

As a certified lactation counselor, there are clear guidelines: use peer-reviewed, published studies, not anecdotal evidence; understand that the mother-baby relationship comes first; respect and support the mother’s goals for breastfeeding regardless of how they may or may not align with my own; never judge.  These guidelines are equally fitting outside of my lactation practice.  I need to stay true to Papoose’s mission, to support new and expectant families through the full circle of maternity and parenting in a way that encourages the natural process, informed decision making, and informed purchasing, but I also need to be aware that there are many acceptable ways to parent that differ from mine; I don’t want to alienate prospective customers or friends just because they chose an epidural or weaned at 6 months, for example.  There’s a fine line there, because I don’t want to ignore my principles, from which stems Papoose’s goal of encouraging the natural process, but I don’t want to invalidate others.  And I also need to remember that my beliefs are not yet mainstream in our country.

Case in point: childbirth. Continue reading

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