Improving your epidural birth

November 18, 2010 at 8:46 am

Back in August, a close friend from college specifically requested that I do some posts for women like her who plan to have epidurals. So I wrote the first in a supposed series of “Improving your epidural birth” posts, encouraging pregnant women to “hire wisely” when choosing a care provider.

This morning I got feeling bad that I haven’t written any more posts for that series, and I suddenly realized that I have! In fact, the vast majority of the posts I’ve written over the last six months are on topics that would be of interest to all women, not just those who choose to forgo pharmaceutical pain relief in childbirth. And scanning three+ years of posts on my old blog brought up many more.

So, with all of that in mind, I give you some of my best tips for improving your epidural birth (besides carefully choosing a care provider), gleaned from my blog (and other helpful sites) over the years.

1) Prepare your body for pregnancy.

The more I learn, the more I realize that the groundwork for a really wonderful birth experience must be laid long before labor begins. When you nourish and take care of yourself, your body will be stronger and better able to perform its vital functions in pregnancy and childbirth. A strong, healthy body is much less likely to suffer complications that can have a detrimental and traumatic impact on your birth experience.

Many of the same things that will best prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy will also improve your chances of conceiving—eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low on processed foods, maintaining a healthy weight, optimizing your body’s levels of key nutrients (vitamin d, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and folate).  Making these dietary and lifestyle changes habits before conception will make them much easier to maintain throughout the coming pregnancy and beyond. 

Preventing postpartum hemorrhage naturally

August 25, 2010 at 4:39 am

Childbirth involves blood loss. There’s no way around it. How much blood a woman loses is the potentially dangerous variable. Postpartum hemorrhage accounts for the majority of maternal deaths worldwide. Fortunately, in the United States where maternity care is more readily accessible, most postpartum hemorrhages are not fatal. But they do happen, regardless of where you give birth.

So what do we know about postpartum hemorrhage?

Who is most at risk of experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage soon after giving birth?

  • Women with pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Women who experience a prolonged second stage of labor
  • Women who are induced or have their labors augmented with Pitocin
  • Women whose babies are delivered via vacuum extraction
  • Women with “large for gestational age” infants

(Source: Obstetric risk factors and outcome of pregnancies complicated with early postpartum hemorrhage: A population-based study)

Pitocin’s untold impact

July 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Michel Odent, MD, founder of the Primal Health Research Centre, has spent decades studying the “primal period.” Odent defines the primal period—prenatal, birth, and the first year of life—as the time “when the basic adaptive systems—those involved in what we commonly call health—reach their maturity” (Source). Today’s Midwifery Today E-News shared a quote from Odent about synthetic oxytocin [Pitocin] and the potentially detrimental impact it can have on a fetus’s oxytocin receptors. Here’s an excerpt:

80% of the blood reaching the fetus via the umbilical vein goes directly to the inferior vena cava via the ductus venosus, bypassing the liver, and therefore immediately reaching the brain: it is all the more direct since the shunts (foramen ovale and ductus arteriosus) are not yet closed. . . . Furthermore, it appears that the permeability of the blood-brain barrier can increase in situations of oxidative stress—a situation that is common when drips of synthetic oxytocin are used during labor. We have, therefore, serious reasons to be concerned if we take into account the widely documented concept of “oxytocin-induced desensitization of the oxytocin receptors.” In other words, it is probable that, at a quasi-global level, we routinely interfere with the development of the oxytocin system of human beings at a critical phase for gene-environment interaction.

Oxytocin is the hormone of love and bonding and human connection. If the oxytocin system is damaged, or a child’s oxytocin receptors become desensitized, the ramifications are huge. As more and more scientists study oxytocin’s impact, we can see how crucial our body’s oxytocin systems can be for human life, love, and happiness.

Epidurals and scoliosis

July 18, 2010 at 10:15 pm

About two years ago I went to a chiropractor, hoping he could help me figure out why I had chronic pain in my right shoulder blade region.

Wow. That’s what I thought when I saw the x-rays of my spine. Wow. Holy cow. Good grief!

Back when I was a teenager I was diagnosed with scoliosis, but they watched it for a while and it never became more than “mild” scoliosis, so they sent us on our way and I sort of stopped thinking about it. Until the pain started several years later. When I was lying “flat” on my back, things just didn’t seem to be where they were supposed to be. I was definitely right! As we stood there looking at the x-rays, I thought to myself, hmmm… that doesn’t look like “mild” scoliosis to me! The chiropractor concurred. Mommyhood had taken its toll and made my curvy spine even curvier.

Little known facts about Pitocin and induction

July 1, 2010 at 8:26 am

This is an updated version one of the first blogposts I ever wrote, back on my old blog, in April of 2007.  It brought a lot of traffic to that blog, much the way my “Pitocin’s untold impact” post has brought a lot of traffic to this new website.  Apparently, lots of people want to find out more about Pitocin!  This is good.  I hope more and more research will give us further answers about the short and long-term effects of this powerful drug.  In the meantime, here are some of the things I’ve discovered in my own truth-seeking journey…

“Pitocin is the most abused drug in the world today.”
~Roberto Caldreyo-Barcia, MD
(former president of the International Federation of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists)

• Pitocin is not approved by the FDA for elective (patient or provider convenience) inductions or elective stimulation of labor (moving things along).

• Pitocin generally produces contractions that are much longer, more intense, and more painful than normal contractions.

• The intense contractions caused by Pitocin can abnormally restrict oxygen supply to the fetus. This decrease in oxygen can lead to fetal distress and, when prolonged, emergency C-section. Some providers even use this side effect to “Pit to distress” when they want a short-cut to a cesarean.

• Pitocin has the potential of causing tetanic contractions—contractions coming so frequently that they merge into one sustained contraction—which can result in premature separation of the placenta, uterine rupture, cervical tearing, excessive bleeding postpartum, as well as severely restricting oxygen supply to the fetus. Some of these complications are potentially fatal to mother and/or fetus.

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