safe motherhood

Building a Global Team of Teachers for Healthy Pregnancy, Birth & Baby

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Danc­ing Thru Preg­nancy®, Inc.

Women’s Health & Fit­ness Pro­grams
found­ed 1979
MISSION STATEMENT
Many impor­tant health issues for girls and women involve mat­ters of repro­duc­tive
health, child­bear­ing, fer­til­ity and aging. Research informs us that an active, healthy
lifestyle pro­vides a num­ber of ben­e­fits through­out a woman’s life span:

  • reduced dis­com­forts from preg­nancy, labor, birth, recov­ery & menopause
  • reduced risk of hyper­ten­sive dis­or­ders of preg­nancy and pre­ma­ture birth
  • poten­tially short­er active labor and reduced risk of cesare­an deliv­ery
  • more rapid return to joy­ful activ­i­ties, less excess weight fol­low­ing birth
  • moth­er-infant inter­ac­tion, lead­ing to infant psy­chomo­tor enhance­ment
  • reduced rates of obe­sity, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and type 2 dia­betes
  • reduc­tion of some can­cers, osteo­poro­sis, falls and loss of mus­cle mass
  • improved social sup­port, net­work­ing and stress man­age­ment skills
  • greater belief in one’s abil­ity to be strong and capa­ble (self-effi­ca­cy)

About Pain and Birth

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This is excerpt­ed from our Danc­ing Thru Preg­nan­cy blog.

That Was Then…

As I became involved in the birthing field, one of the nurse-mid­wives with whom I was acquaint­ed intro­duced me to Jung’s quo­ta­tion: “There is no birth of con­scious­ness with­out pain.” (Alter­nate­ly, “There is no com­ing to con­scious­ness with­out pain.”) It struck a deep chord in me.

When I first saw the say­ing, “There is no birth of con­scious­ness with­out pain,” inter­twined with a draw­ing of a woman lit­er­al­ly giv­ing birth, the truth of the image seemed obvi­ous to me. It become hard-wired into my under­ly­ing assump­tions about giv­ing birth. The process itself com­bines intense nox­ious sen­sa­tions with mid brain emo­tion­al input into what neur­al sci­ence calls pain. For years, this real­iza­tion has dri­ven what and how I teach: Being fit and edu­cat­ed in body/mind are the tools of enlight­en­ment and self-empow­er­ment.

…And This Is Now

A lit­tle while ago I came across a NY Times arti­cle “Prof­it­ing From Pain.” While the arti­cle con­cerns the huge increase in the legit­i­mate opi­oid busi­ness – prod­ucts, sales, hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, legal expens­es and work­place cost – it restart­ed my think­ing about a top­ic fer­ment­ing in my brain between That Was Then And This Is Now: The sense of enti­tle­ment to a pain-free exis­tence. The idea that pain free is bet­ter than painful. And the sell­ing of this idea for prof­it.

Where does this come from? Try­ing to oblit­er­ate pain has led to increased addic­tion, death and oth­er adverse side effects. A new top­ic has shown up in women’s health dis­cus­sions: Increas­ing use and over­dose from pre­scrip­tion pain killers by women, includ­ing dur­ing preg­nan­cy.

Could it be that human fear of pain is being used to gen­er­ate finan­cial prof­it? (the opi­um-is-the-opi­ate-of-the-mass­es mod­el). Per­haps once the notion of pal­lia­tive care reached a cer­tain lev­el of accep­tance for the dying with­in the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty, it began to spill over into oth­er human con­di­tions (the slip­pery-slope mod­el). Or, per­haps we don’t want trans­paren­cy at all (the denial mod­el).

In the last few days, NPR has raised the ques­tion of whether the high cesare­an birth rate is tied to the pay­ment for pro­ce­dure rather than out­come mod­el? The recov­ery from cesare­an is more painful than the recov­ery from vagi­nal birth, has adverse side-effects for moth­er and baby, and was orig­i­nal­ly designed for use only for the 15% +/- of real com­pli­ca­tions that arise in nor­mal birth. So, how is it being sold to 35% of women in the U.S,? At one point, there was a seri­ous dis­cus­sion with­in the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty that if women were afraid of the pain of birth and want­ed a cesare­an, a care provider should do one. No dis­cus­sion of why it seems painful or how to deal with pain.

The Afford­able Care Act aims to improve some of the cost issues in med­ical care by shift­ing the pay­ment incen­tive away from pro­ce­dures and on to out­come assess­ment. As a result, the cesare­an rate and even such seem­ing­ly innocu­ous pro­ce­dures as fetal mon­i­tor­ing are com­ing under scruti­ny. If we tru­ly want to do a ser­vice to the moth­ers-to-be in the ACA tran­si­tion peri­od and beyond, I think we must dis­cuss the ques­tion of birth and pain.

I can think of many ques­tions that fall under this topic…Why do we call the intense phe­nom­e­non of birth “painful”? How do our genet­ics, behav­ior, train­ing and thought-process­es affect our expe­ri­ence of pain? What about the health care cul­ture – has it focused on reliev­ing pain at the expense of what we gain from work­ing with pain short of trau­ma or immi­nent death? How do we pre­pare women for work­ing with sen­sa­tion with­out auto­mat­i­cal­ly label­ing it pain? Is the “empow­er­ment” often attrib­uted to giv­ing birth what is learned by going through the cen­ter of the “there is no birth of con­scious­ness with­out pain” expe­ri­ence? These ques­tions are just a start.

In closing…

Let me address the child­birth edu­ca­tors and preg­nan­cy exer­cise instruc­tors. This is our present chal­lenge. In my work, I feel the neces­si­ty to make all pain man­age­ment strate­gies under­stand­able to my clients. I find that most of the women I see in class­es must deal first with self-dis­cov­ery before they can assess their com­mit­ment to the view of birth they car­ry in their minds. The images of birth we lay out for them to con­sid­er need to include an under­stand­ing that you can­not escape the work of birth. Being present – mind­ful­ness – can be scary and intense but it is the medi­um by which our con­scious­ness expands. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness and strength are the source of our endurance and pow­er.

Holiday Contributions That Make a Difference.

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This is the time of year many of us con­sid­er where to make our char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions. We have assem­bled a list of  groups to which you might want to con­sid­er giv­ing this year. By donat­ing to these orga­ni­za­tions you can help improve the lives of moth­ers, newborns,children and fam­i­lies around the world. Most will also send a card or email mes­sage to a mom in whose hon­or you give the gift.

UNICEF Inspired Gifts.  You can choose gifts that improve edu­ca­tion, water, health, nutri­tion, emer­gency care and oth­er fac­tors that affect the well-being of women and chil­dren.

White Rib­bon Alliance for Safe Moth­er­hood. You can advo­cate for every moth­er and every child in 152 nations when you give to this orga­ni­za­tion.

Inter­na­tion­al Con­fed­er­a­tion of Mid­wives. This group exists to raise aware­ness of the glob­al role of mid­wives in reduc­ing mater­nal and new­born child mor­tal­i­ty.

The Fis­tu­la Foun­da­tion. This group exists to raise aware­ness of and fund­ing for fis­tu­la treat­ment, pre­ven­tion and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams world­wide. Fis­tu­la is the dev­as­tat­ing injury cause by untreat­ed obstruct­ed labor.

The Preeclamp­sia Foun­da­tion. This orga­ni­za­tion sup­ports research to pre­vent and treat one of the most dan­ger­ous dis­or­ders of preg­nan­cy, one that accounts for a large per­cent­age of pre­ma­ture births and low birth weight infants. Hav­ing preeclamp­sia is also a risk fac­tor for lat­er heart dis­ease for the moth­er.

Clean Birth. Clean Birth Kits are designed to pro­vide birth atten­dants and/or expect­ing moms with the tools they need to ensure a clean birthing envi­ron­ment. The Kits ensure the WHO’s “6 Cleans”: clean hands, clean per­ineum, clean deliv­ery sur­face, clean cord cut­ting imple­ment, clean cord tying, and clean cord care.

March of Dimes. The “moth­er” of all char­i­ties for help­ing pre­vent and treat dis­or­ders and dis­eases that affect chil­dren.

Peace, Love and Joy to all.

Pregnancy Exercise Safety

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This post is adapt­ed from the 3/17/11 DTP Blog on Preg­nan­cy Exer­cise Safe­ty. For more evi­dence-based infor­ma­tion on Pre/postnatal Health & Fit­ness, check out the DTP Blog. The Blog includes infor­ma­tion start­ing pri­or to con­cep­tion and con­tin­u­ing through post­par­tum and mom-baby fit­ness.

There are three sec­tions to this post: 1) moms-to-be, 2) preg­nan­cy fit­ness teach­ers and per­son­al train­ers and 3) some spe­cif­ic con­traindi­cat­ed and adapt­ed exer­cis­es. All infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed is based on peer-review research and evi­dence col­lect­ed over a 30 year peri­od of work­ing with this pop­u­la­tion. More infor­ma­tion on safe­ty can be found on this site on the page Ben­e­fits, Safe­ty & Guide­lines.

1) Safety & Exercise Guidelines for Moms-To-Be

First and fore­most, be safe. Trust your body. Make sure your teacher or train­er is cer­ti­fied by an estab­lished orga­ni­za­tion that spe­cial­izes in pre/postnatal exer­cise, has worked under mas­ter teach­ers dur­ing her prepa­ra­tion, and can answer or get answers to your ques­tions.

These are the safe­ty prin­ci­ples that we sug­gest to our par­tic­i­pants:

  • get prop­er screen­ing from your health care provider
  • pro­tect your­self
  • do not over­reach your abil­i­ties
  • you are respon­si­ble for your body (and its con­tents)

Squat­ting is an exam­ple of a stan­dard preg­nan­cy exer­cise used for child­birth prepa­ra­tion that must be adapt­ed by each indi­vid­ual based on body pro­por­tions, flex­i­bil­i­ty, strength and com­fort.

Don’t assume that because your teacher and some par­tic­i­pants can do a cer­tain move­ment or posi­tion that you should be able to do it just like they do. If your teacher is well trained, she will be able to help you select vari­a­tions that are appro­pri­ate for your body.

When you are exer­cis­ing, make sure you are get­ting the most from your activ­i­ty. Keep these find­ings in mind when choos­ing your work­out rou­tine:

  • Aer­o­bics and strength train­ing pro­vide the great­est health ben­e­fits, reduce the risk for some inter­ven­tions in labor, help short­en labor, and reduce recov­ery time
  • Cen­ter­ing helps to pre­vent injury; relax­ation and deep breath­ing reduce stress; and mild stretch­ing can relieve some dis­com­forts
  • Avoid fatigue and over-train­ing; do reg­u­lar exer­cise 3 — 5 times a week
  • Eat small meals many times a day (200–300 calo­ries every 2–3 hours
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water every day
  • Avoid hot, humid places
  • Wear good shoes dur­ing aer­o­bic activ­i­ties
  • BE CAREFUL! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

If you expe­ri­ence any of the fol­low­ing symp­toms, stop exer­cis­ing and call your health care provider:

  • Sud­den pelvic or vagi­nal pain
  • Exces­sive fatigue
  • Dizzi­ness or short­ness of breath
  • Leak­ing flu­id or bleed­ing from the vagi­na
  • Reg­u­lar con­trac­tions, 4 or more per hour
  • Increased heart­beat while rest­ing
  • Sud­den abnor­mal decrease in fetal move­ment (note: it is com­plete­ly nor­mal for baby’s move­ments to decrease slight­ly dur­ing exer­cise)

2) Safety & Exercise Guidelines for Teachers & Trainers

A prin­ci­ple of prac­tice that increas­es in impor­tance for fit­ness pro­fes­sion­als work­ing with preg­nant women is hav­ing the knowl­edge and skills to artic­u­late the ratio­nale and safe­ty guide­lines for every move­ment she asks clients to per­form.

This goal requires adher­ence to safe­ty as the num­ber one pri­or­i­ty. Here is how we delin­eate safe­ty and the pro­ce­dures we require of our instruc­tors for achiev­ing safe­ty in prac­tice:

First priority: safety [First, do no harm]
  • some­times med­ical con­di­tions pre­clude exer­cise
  • find an appro­pri­ate start­ing point for each indi­vid­ual
  • indi­vid­ual tol­er­ances affect mod­i­fi­ca­tion
  • gen­er­al safe­ty guide­lines are phys­i­cal
  • preg­nant women also need psy­cho­log­i­cal safe­ty
Mind-Body Safety Procedures
  • Cen­ter­ing enhances move­ment effi­cien­cy and safe­ty.
  • Always begin with cen­ter­ing.
Strength Training Cautions
  • avoid Val­sal­va maneu­ver
  • avoid free weights after mid preg­nan­cy (open chain; con­trol issue)
  • avoid supine after 1st trimester
  • avoid semi-recum­bent 3rd trimester
  • keep in mind the com­mon joint dis­place­ments, and nerve and blood ves­sel entrap­ment when design­ing spe­cif­ic exer­cis­es
Aerobics or Cardiovascular Conditioning Procedures
  • Mon­i­tor for safe­ty
  • Instruc­tion­al style needs to be appro­pri­ate.
  • Walk­ing steps with nat­ur­al ges­tures can be done through­out preg­nan­cy
  • Vig­or­ous steps with large ges­tures are more intense, appro­pri­ate as fit­ness increas­es
  • The abil­i­ty to cre­ate move­ment that will be safe and work for var­i­ous lev­els of fit­ness and at dif­fer­ent points in preg­nan­cy is one of the most crit­i­cal skills for preg­nan­cy fit­ness instruc­tors.
Venue Safety
  • Set­ting should pro­vide phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al safe­ty
    Equip­ment must be well-main­tained

3) Contraindicated and adapted exercises

Exer­cis­es for which case stud­ies and research have shown that there are seri­ous med­ical issues include the “down dog” posi­tion, rest­ing on the back after the 4th month, and abdom­i­nal crunch­es and oblique exer­cis­es. Here is more infor­ma­tion and adap­ta­tion sug­ges­tions:

Con­traindi­cat­ed: “Down Dog” requires that the pelvic floor and vagi­nal area are quite stretched, bring­ing porous blood ves­sels at the sur­face of the vagi­na close to air. There are records of air enter­ing the vagi­nal blood ves­sels in this posi­tion and mov­ing to the heart as a fatal air embolism.

Adap­ta­tion: Use the child’s pose, with the seat down rest­ing on the heels and the elbows on the ground, hands one on top of the oth­er, and fore­head rest­ing on the hands. Keep the heart above the pelvis.

_________

Con­traindi­cat­ed: Rest­ing on the back dur­ing relax­ation.

Adap­ta­tion: Rest in the side-lying posi­tion. About 75% pre­fer the left side, 25% pre­fer the right side.

_________

Con­traindi­cat­ed: Abdom­i­nal crunch­es and oblique exer­cis­es can con­tribute to dias­ta­sis rec­ti in some women. The trans­verse abdom­i­nal mus­cle is not always able to main­tain ver­ti­cal integri­ty at the lin­ea alba, and thus there is tear­ing and/or plas­tic­i­ty of that cen­tral con­nec­tive tis­sue.

Adap­ta­tion: Splint­ing with curl-downs, see posi­tions below. By press­ing the sides of the abdomen toward the cen­ter, women can con­tin­ue to strength­en the trans­verse abdom­i­nals with­out the shear­ing forces that place lat­er­al pres­sure on the lin­ea alba.

Curl-downs are gen­er­al­ly the safest and most effec­tive abdom­i­nal stren­then­ing exer­cise.

Splint by cross­ing arms and pulling toward cen­ter (L)

Or, splint by plac­ing hands at sides and press­ing toward cen­ter ®

Safe Motherhood

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The chal­lenges to safe moth­er­hood vary depend­ing where in the world you live. In some areas the chal­lenge may be to get ade­quate nutri­tion or clean water; in oth­er areas, it may be to pre­vent infec­tion; and in still oth­er loca­tions it may be try­ing to avoid preg­nan­cy before your body is ready or get­ting access to pre­na­tal care. In the U.S., it may mean avoid­ing being seden­tary and mak­ing poor food choic­es, or hav­ing to deal with the high tech­nol­o­gy envi­ron­ment of med­ical birth that can sab­o­tage the innate phys­i­o­log­i­cal process of labor and birth.

Birth begins the bond­ing or unique love between moth­er and child.

The biol­o­gy of birth is a com­plex series of cause-effect process­es…baby’s brain releas­es chem­i­cal sig­nals to the moth­er and the pla­cen­ta begins to man­i­fest the mater­nal immune system’s rejec­tion of the fetus.

To help the ball get rolling, relax­ation (the trophotrop­ic response) helps pro­mote the release of oxy­tocin. With the help of grav­i­ty, the head press­es on the cervix, ampli­fy­ing the uter­ine con­trac­tions. After an ultra-dis­tance aer­o­bic endurance test, the cervix opens enough to let the baby move into the vagi­na and the mother’s dis­com­fort moves from sharp cramp­ing into the bony struc­ture as she tran­si­tions to the strength test of push­ing. She tran­si­tions. Relax­ation mod­u­lates into an ergotrop­ic — adren­al — response to gath­er her pow­er.

Push­ing is an inter­est­ing term…more mas­cu­line, I think, than the one I pre­fer:  Releas­ing. Releas­ing or let­ting go of the baby. It’s a cathar­sis. In this por­tion of the labor anoth­er set of impor­tant process­es help the baby clear its lungs of amni­ot­ic flu­id, stim­u­late its adren­al sys­tem and chal­lenge its immune sys­tem, as the con­trac­tions dri­ve the baby down­ward. The mother’s deep trans­verse abdom­i­nal mus­cles — if strong enough — squeeze the uterus like a tube of tooth paste, to aid this expul­sion. In the mean­time, the labor is help­ing set up the moth­er to fall in love and pro­duce milk. When the baby emerges and moves onto the mother’s chest, s/he smells and tastes the moth­er, rec­og­niz­ing her mother’s fla­vor and set­ting up the poten­tial for bond­ing.

Any way you slice it, there are two parts to safe moth­er­hood. One is a safe preg­nan­cy…healthy nutri­tion, phys­i­cal fit­ness, safe water, infec­tion pre­ven­tion, sup­port and a safe envi­ron­ment. The oth­er is a safe labor. In a safe labor, there is both an envi­ron­ment that pro­motes the nat­ur­al process of labor and the means nec­es­sary for med­ical assis­tance when need­ed. Women die at an alarm­ing rate from preg­nan­cy or birth-relat­ed prob­lems. Despite some progress made in recent years, women con­tin­ue to die every minute as a result of being preg­nant or giv­ing birth.

What keeps us from hav­ing a bet­ter record on moth­er­hood is often lack of care in the devel­op­ing world and too much inter­ven­tion in the U.S.. They are two sides of a coin. Moth­ers’ expe­ri­ence and health needs are not on equal foot­ing with oth­er cul­tur­al val­ues. In places where basic pre­na­tal care or fam­i­ly plan­ning are low pri­or­i­ties, at-risk women are vul­ner­a­ble to the phys­i­cal stress­es of preg­nan­cy and birth. In the U.S., machine-mea­sured data is para­mount, even if it pro­duces high rates of false pos­i­tives, unnec­es­sary inter­ven­tions or coun­ter­pro­duc­tive pro­ce­dures. We are learn­ing that obe­si­ty and seden­tary lifestyles have detri­men­tal effects, but few­er preg­nant women than their non-preg­nant coun­ter­parts exer­cise.

Despite the mon­ey spent to sup­port the tech­no­log­i­cal mod­el of preg­nan­cy and birth in the U.S., there are parts of the world with low­er rates of mater­nal deaths — espe­cial­ly Scan­di­navia, North­ern Europe and parts of the Mediter­ranean and Mid­dle East (Greece, the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Israel, Italy and Croa­t­ia). In fact, in the U.S., mater­nal deaths are on the rise.

It’s a tricky busi­ness. Clear­ly West­ern med­i­cine has a lot to offer the devel­op­ing world when there are med­ical con­cerns. On the oth­er hand, import­ing the U.S. mod­el could cre­ate more prob­lems than it solves. Instead, the micro-solu­tions now being devel­oped in many loca­tions will be observed and evi­dence col­lect­ed by orga­ni­za­tions such as the White Rib­bon Alliance and UNICEF.

There is an effec­tive inter­na­tion­al mid­wives mod­el adopt­ed by JHPIEGO, the Johns Hop­kins NGO work­ing toward improved birthing out­comes. It assess­es the local pow­er struc­ture, social con­nec­tions, poten­tial for trained birth assis­tants, and loca­tion of avail­able trans­porta­tion to cre­ate a net­work so that locals will know when a labor is in trou­ble and who can get the woman to the near­est hos­pi­tal.

In the U.S., there are in-hos­pi­tal birth cen­ters that allow low-risk moth­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to labor and birth in a set­ting designed to encour­age the innate process­es. Women are begin­ning to vote with their feet…staying home for birth. Women are going abroad to give birth. At the same time, women are com­ing to this coun­try to give birth, believ­ing it is safer than where they are. There are sev­er­al ways these scenes could play out.

But, I’ll wager, improv­ing out­comes will involve com­pro­mise:  Watch­ful­ness and sup­port in most births, plus bet­ter ways to assess dan­ger and pro­vide tech­nol­o­gy. No mat­ter where you live in the world, the solu­tion may be essen­tial­ly the same.

Safe Birth — Who’s in Charge?

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Who Controls Birth? Defining the Argument.

Peri­od­i­cal­ly, argu­ments arise in the birthing field over who con­trols the way we give birth. Often this hap­pens at times when birthing women change their behav­ior trends, putting finan­cial pres­sure on pro­fes­sion­als work­ing in this field. The major play­ers in this argu­ment are med­ical doc­tors (obste­tri­cians), cer­ti­fied nurse mid­wives and pro­fes­sion­al home birth mid­wives.

Cur­rent­ly we are see­ing women leave the tra­di­tion­al hos­pi­tal set­ting for birth in larg­er and larg­er numbers…and tak­ing their dol­lars with them in the process. While the ques­tion of home birth safe­ty aris­es every time this con­trol argu­ment comes around, the ques­tion of whether it is safe to inter­vene in a labor that is pro­gress­ing nor­mal­ly is a new com­po­nent of the dis­cus­sion. This time the argu­ment is: The safe­ty of home birth vs. the safe­ty of using hos­pi­tal tech­nol­o­gy to inter­vene in nor­mal birth.

How Money Affects this Issue

As with all com­mer­cial ven­tures, con­trol­ling access to safe birth requires con­trol­ling the infor­ma­tion in the mar­ket place. This infor­ma­tion needs to address the per­ceived wants of the tar­get audi­ence. For a long time the main mes­sage has been: Safe birth is only avail­able in a hos­pi­tal.

The finan­cial pres­sure of giv­ing women (con­sumers) what they want — a nor­mal expe­ri­ence of birth in a safe set­ting where med­ical help can be quick­ly avail­able — has pow­ered the birth-cen­ter indus­try. Free-stand­ing and in-hos­pi­tal birth cen­ters have grown in num­bers, and are large­ly enabled by cer­ti­fied nurse-mid­wives. Mean­while, pro­fes­sion­al home birth mid­wives have increased both their cre­den­tials and prac­tice stan­dards, as well as their vis­i­bil­i­ty.

Both of these options, birth cen­ters and home birth, threat­en the liveli­hood of tra­di­tion­al obstet­ri­cal prac­tices. Low risk births (about 70% of births) have the poten­tial to be nor­mal births, requir­ing lit­tle or no inter­ven­tion. But, giv­ing birth in the hos­pi­tal means par­tic­i­pat­ing in mea­sure­ment pro­ce­dures that inter­vene in the labor process.

So, to con­vince women they need to be in a hos­pi­tal to be safe, med­i­cine has main­tained the argu­ment that home birth or out of hos­pi­tal birth is not safe. How­ev­er, research does not indi­cate this is true. The nature of this ongo­ing argu­ment is dis­cussed in a 2002 arti­cle from Mid­wifery Today.

What’s New? The Counter Argument.

The phys­i­ol­o­gy of nor­mal labor is dom­i­nat­ed by parasym­pa­thet­ic, med­i­ta­tive, gonadal ener­gy sys­tems. Mea­sure­ment is a sym­pa­thet­ic, ratio­nal, adren­al ener­gy dynam­ic. Only when it is time to expel the baby does the under­ly­ing ener­gy sys­tem make a tran­si­tion (tran­si­tion, get it?) to an adren­al impe­tus for the strength activ­i­ty of push­ing. Imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing nor­mal birth, mater­nal phys­i­ol­o­gy is again dom­i­nat­ed by gonad-dri­ven ener­gy along with a rush of endor­phins.

Inter­vene enough and things will go awry. You can eas­i­ly end up being cut and/or sep­a­rat­ed from your baby at birth.” These ideas have gone viral. With the arrival of the inter­net, women have found a very quick way to do what we have always done: Share infor­ma­tion.

Thus, in my exer­cise pro­gram and in my child­birth prepa­ra­tion class­es, I have more and more fre­quent­ly been field­ing the fol­low­ing ques­tion from women who want a nor­mal birth and want to be safe: “How can I avoid inter­ven­tions while I am in the hos­pi­tal?”

So, I ask them what leads them to ask this ques­tion. And, they say: “I read on the inter­net and/or heard from my friends that inter­ven­tions make birth less nor­mal and less safe. I want to pro­tect myself.”

Women them­selves are enter­ing the argu­ment in a much more con­scious way than in the past. Some pro­fes­sion­als would like to keep women out of the argu­ment. But, like with many things in our 21st cen­tu­ry world, we have already past the point of no return. As they say, the horse has already left the barn!

Word has got­ten around. More and more, as a pre­na­tal fit­ness expert who strives to lis­ten to my clients, my job has become edu­cat­ing and phys­i­cal­ly train­ing women to cope with a stren­u­ous and prim­i­tive process in a tech­no­log­i­cal world.

Hope­ful­ly, we can all keep our eye on the ball here. Pre­vent­ing trau­ma should be one key goal. Just as we have learned to hold our new­borns skin to skin so they can smell and taste us, lis­ten to our heart beat and voice, and main­tain their core tem­per­a­ture, let us learn to com­fort and nur­ture our new moth­ers, while we steel them for the rig­ors of birth.

Worthy Global Human Endeavors

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There are only two tru­ly wor­thy glob­al human endeav­ors:

1. Humane Birthing. Find out more from the White Rib­bon Alliance for Safe Moth­er­hood.

2. Space Explo­ration. Find out more from the Augus­tine Com­mis­sion.

Pass it on.

If you are not yet con­vinced about the glob­al need for humane care for preg­nant and birthing women, google (or bing, or yahoo…) “fis­tu­la.” If you want more first world infor­ma­tion, com­pare med­ical birth with what’s on YouTube; while these two approach­es to birth are at odds in con­tem­po­rary med­i­cine, in a humane set­ting they are both nec­es­sary.

As for space, let me para­phrase Craig Nelson’s notion:  In time, the Earth will per­ish. This is noth­ing you need to lose sleep over. It will be a long, long time before this hap­pens. But, we need to start now to pre­pare. In time, the Earth will per­ish, and we will need to be some­where else when that hap­pens.

These two things will reap all the rewards that need be reaped. The enabling of safe moth­er­hood and our move­ment into space are the only things that ensure human sur­vival.