Test your knowledge of the birth process and some of the many decisions you will be making when you have a baby. If you would like to learn how to increase the likelihood of having a healthy, happy pregnancy.
- What is the best way to educate myself about the childbearing journey?
- What is the advantage of using a midwife?
- How do my beliefs about birth affect me?
- What is the midwifery model?
- Why should I educate myself about typical hospital practices and procedures?
- What is undisturbed birth?
- What is immediate, uninterrupted infant bonding?
- How do I prepare for breastfeeding?
- What about labor pain?
- What about fertility challenges?
1. What is the best way to educate myself about the childbearing journey?
There is a great deal of conflicting information and it can become overwhelming. We suggest that you do your homework. Many people do more research when purchasing a car or computer than for the birth of their child. Being educated about all the options is what we advocate. There are many choices even within the context of a traditional hospital setting.
Birth used to be a family affair. When it came time to give birth, mothers had most likely participated in many births. This helped them to be informed and confident. You may want to consider a private consultation with Jo Anne Lindberg, president and founder. She can help you learn about all of your options based on what works best for you and your family.
2. What is the advantage of using a midwife?
Most midwives understand that birth is a normal physiological process. They know and understand that all practices and procedures have risk involved and should offer detailed risk vs potential benefit analysis for each and every proposed treatment. They support undisturbed birth, immediate uninterrupted bonding and breastfeeding (in varying degrees) as the best start for babies. Be sure to ask what they believe when interviewing them.
They also should offer a non intervention oriented philosophy for the health and well-being of the entire family. Offering the least intervention oriented form of treatment first. There can still be a wide range of practice philosophies within any modality or type of service.
3. How do my beliefs about birth influence my health care decisions?
It is very important to be in touch with how you formed your beliefs about birth and medical care in general. Family stories, friends and the media are probably the most prevalent influences. Many people have not been taught to question authority figures and have a difficult time asking questions. You may not even know what questions to ask until you begin to do your research.
If you believe that birth involves unmanageable pain, that belief may have a negative impact on your choices. As you proceed on your journey, ask yourself if you are making educated, informed decisions in a conscious way. You may just be following what everyone else is doing without deciding what is right for you. You have a much great chance of being a victim if you are uneducated.
4. What is the midwifery model?
Midwives can practice in hospitals and are fully trained to assist parents with birth and most gynolcological care. They also practice at free standing birth centers and attend home births. Ideally, you would have ample time during prenatal visits to establish a relationship, receive education and support, as well as important screenings. Knowing who will be at your birth is very rare as most practices have a call rotation. This issue can be dealt with by hiring your own private labor support doula. The doula and midwife are not the same person.
Most midwives are trained to view birth as a natural process that is best left alone unless there is a medical indication for intervention. There is a wide range of practice philosophies even among midwives. Again, it is best to ask many questions to determine if the practice you are considering is the best match for you. Learn more about the Midwife vs Medical Models of Care.
5. Why should I educate myself about typical hospital practices and procedures?
It is our view that here is a time and a place for medical intervention. It can be life saving and necessary but only after everything else has been tried. It is important to educate yourselves regarding all possible practices and procedures that may happen during any kind of treatment.
Birth is an area where technology has not been proven to be of benefit when used without a medical indication. Many of the things that are done are based on fear of law suits, efficiency, lack of understanding the birth process, demands from parents, and economic motivation. The recent trend toward more and more surgical births, including episiotomy, vacuum extraction, forceps and c-section all increase risks for mother and baby.
The best way to prevent these things from happening unnecessarily is to educate yourself by asking for the statistics from practitioners. They are required to keep them and they are public information. Individual practitioners, group practices, and hospitals will all have their own rates.
Most doctors, and some midwives, fear the birth process and give the message that women’s bodies are unable to give birth without medical assistance. Babies are born in spite of all that is done during birth. 80 – 90% of babies can be born without any kind of medical assistance. I go into detail about pain in number nine. Many hospitals in our area have c-section rates of 50% or higher. Just call the Labor and Delivery ward and ask for the hospital rates. Keep in mind that these are not the same as the practice rates.
6. What is undisturbed birth?
An undisturbed birth occurs when a mother is allowed to follow her body and her babies signs and signals labor progresses naturally.
There is a wide range in what can be considered “normal”. Undisturbed means the birth process would not be interrupted by anything unless there is a clear indication for either medical or alternative treatment of any kind. There are many reasons why true family-centered birth is difficult to obtain. In the US, in spite of spending more money than any other country, we have the highest infant and mother mortality rates of any industrialized nation. Education as to why this is happening is vital.
7. What is immediate, uninterrupted infant bonding?
Ideally, parents are allowed to spend the first few hours or even days getting to know their baby. If there is no reason for separation — the baby may be able to breastfeed very soon after birth. Some advocates even suggest that the baby be allowed to crawl to the breast itself as it is an important part of development. The baby should be in its parents arms and not removed or bathed.
Skin to skin bonding is wonderful for both parents. This is a precious and magical time. Once gone or interrupted it can not be recreated. If the baby nurses, the hormones of love initiate the bonding as well as the healing process for mother and baby.
Time should also be given for the cord to stop pulsing before being cut. Bonding is about establishing the strongest love based relationship possible. A parent’s body is the best warmer that was ever invented.
8. How do I prepare for breastfeeding?
While the majority of mothers plan to breastfeed, most don’t last beyond six months. The World Health Organization recommends two years. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommeds one year at a minimum.
Many factors impact our ability to establish a strong nursing relationship. What kind of birth you have can be a huge factor as pain medication can impact the baby’s ability to suck. It can also slow down your milk from coming in.
A supportive partner is also one of the most important influences. We are not a breastfeeding culture. You rarely see mothers breastfeeding in public or even private homes. many families do not have a history of breastfeeding. We suggest that you attend La Leche meetings before birth. You may also want to take a brestfeeding class or do some reading on your own.
If you have pain of any kind that is a signal that you need help. We recommend that you interview a private lactation consultant so that if the need arises you know who to call. Hospital resources are often spread too thin and may not have the experience of private consultants.
Breastfeeding is so much more than just feeding. It is a relationship with your child. Early nurturing has an impact for life.
9. What about labor pain?
Labor pain is manageable for the majority of mothers who have skilled continuous labor support. The fear of labor pain has historically lead women to subject themselves to all kinds of torture. In our opinion, this has not changed much over time.
There are many non-pharmacological methods of working with the pain to bring the baby out. Mother nature also gives rest breaks between contractions if there is no induction taking place. The mind has a great deal to do with how the body experiences labor.
Laboring in a familiar, safe place with people you know, love and trust, can make a huge difference. Having the emotional support of a skilled labor companion or birth doula can make a great deal of difference. Pain is an important part of the bonding process. There is a great deal of fear associated with childbirth. Most of this fear is not justified. Consider the risk versus possible benefits with any medical treatment.
10. What about fertility challenges?
Many factors impact fertility. Stress, toxins in our diets and environments, and the inability to relax all have an impact. There are many things that can be done to increase the health and well being of the parents so that your body, mind, and spirit are ready to bring a new human into our world. Conscious conception is a wonderful experience.
Many of the practices and procedures that treat fertility challenges are not proven safe. There is no way we can know what the long term effects of them may be. They can be very costly as well. Make sure that you have a healthy whole foods, organic, primarily plant-based diet.
Traditional Asian medicine has had great success in preparing parents for conception, pregnancy, birth and brestfeeding. Any modality that helps you relax is important for your health and well-being and the babies. Slowing down and reducing stress and anxiety is so important to being able to conceive. Making lifestyle changes can be challenging but the rewards can be great. As with any health challenge, try the least intervention oriented method first.