Archive for the ‘ACOG’ Category

VBAC: You’re The Number One Stakeholder

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Add headingIn this line of work, informed consent and refusal is paramount. There is not one factor more ethically important than accurate fully informed consent. Without it, a care provider is practicing unethically, and patients are deciding blindly. Without it, it is far too easy for doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to steamroll patients in their desire to protect the so-called “greater good.” The greater good argument is just a nicer way of saying “The end justifies the means.” An argument most people dismiss as childish at best and despotic at worst.

Nowhere is this more true than in making medical decisions. No government has the right or the jurisdiction to decide ahead of time what would be in anyone’s best interests to choose one course of action over another. The only exception to this is when one’s decision would interfere directly with the safety or life of another human being. Very few medical decisions will directly result in putting another human in mortal danger. Even smoking isn’t guaranteed to produce cancer in every individual. Rather, there are risk factors linked to smoking that make it far more likely. Yet, we don’t ban smoking entirely! We understand that each individual has a right to do with their lungs what they like.

“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come
when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict
the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to
others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a Special
privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.”
~Benjamin Rush
(one of our Founding Fathers)

Why does this change when it involves a uterus? Medical institutions seem to have the mindset that women give up their rights when they cross the threshold of the labor & delivery room. Up for discussion in Colorado are the midwifery regulations. Up until last week, everything was going smoothly, and midwives were going to be given some reasonable freedoms to better care for the women who choose home birth. At the last minute, ACOG tacked on an amendment to HB-1360 to remove the option for midwives to care for women desiring a VBAC at home. It passed the House, and is now on the Senate floor this week.

Rewinding a bit back to decisions that interfere directly with the safety or life of another human being. Doesn’t VBAC do that very thing?

No.

It does not.

Most medical decisions fall on a spectrum. They are not black and white, right or wrong. There are degrees of risk. And those degrees vary among different women. They even vary among different pregnancies in the same woman! How on earth can there be any government regulation that allows for every possible variation in these risks? How can any government regulation account for every arbitrary circumstance? Every irregularity?

They can’t.

And they should not.

Who then, is best equipped to balance the risks of VBAC against the risks of a repeat cesarean? The woman who is pregnant is the number one stakeholder. Period. End of story.

“But what about the baby?” Yes. What about the baby, indeed. That baby has a mother more intimately connected to him than anyone else. There is no one more fit to make decisions in regards to the risks baby may incur during any given birth than his or her fully and accurately informed mother. Not the doctor. Not the hospital. Not the insurance company. And certainly not the government.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Please — do your homework. Educate yourself. Speak up! Start here:

VBAC Facts
International Cesarean Awareness Network
Science & Sensibility: Too bad we can’t just ban accreta…

Want to do something about it? Visit the Colorado Midwives Association Facebook page, and follow their posts. They are posting updates regularly. They are sharing specifics like who to call, and what to say. Easy peasy.

When it comes to VBAC consent: You are the number one stakeholder.

Thank you!

Grace & Peace,
Tiff Miller, CCCE, Student Midwife

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What’s in the job?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

 

 

 

 

I wonder if most of us really know what the scopes of practice are for the providers we may choose  for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and for the baby.  Keep reading to see if you really know what the jobs encompass.

As you go through the list I would like you to think about the language used, descriptors, and purpose of each type of provider. When we are approaching health care decisions especially who will care for us from pregnancy through birth, postpartum and for our babies, we need to make sure we are choosing the appropriate care for our individual needs and situation.

If anything strikes you or you would like me to add any provider types, please leave me a comment!

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OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY (OB/GYN)

Obstetrics and gynecology is a discipline dedicated to the broad, integrated medical and surgical care of women’s health throughout their lifespan. The combined discipline of obstetrics and gynecology requires extensive study and understanding of reproductive physiology, including the physiologic, social, cultural, environmental and genetic factors that influence disease in women. This study and understanding of the reproductive physiology of women gives obstetricians and gynecologists a unique perspective in addressing gender-specific health care issues.

Preventive counseling and health education are essential and integral parts of the practice of obstetricians and gynecologists as they advance the individual and community-based health of women of all ages.

Obstetricians and gynecologists may choose a scope of practice ranging from primary ambulatory health care to concentration in a focused area of specialization.   – from ACOG

Certified Nurse-Midwife

Midwifery as practiced by Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Midwives (CMs) encompasses primary care for women across the lifespan from adolescence beyond menopause, with a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecologic and reproductive health. Midwives perform comprehensive physical exams, prescribe medications including contraceptive methods, order laboratory and other diagnostic tests, and provide health and wellness education and counseling. The scope of practice for CNMs and CMs also includes treatment of male partners for sexually transmitted infections, and care of the normal newborn during the first 28 days of life. -from ACNM

Certified Professional Midwife

Based on the MANA Core Competencies, the guiding principles of the practice of CPMs are to work with women to promote a healthy pregnancy, and provide education to help her make informed decisions about her own care. In partnership with their clients they carefully monitor the progress of the pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum period and recommend appropriate management if complications arise, collaborating with other health care providers when necessary. The key elements of this education, monitoring, and decision making process are based onEvidenced-Based Practice and Informed Consent. – from MANA

Direct Entry Midwife (including Licensed Midwife)

  • Not required to be nurses.
  • Multiple routes of education (apprenticeship, workshops, formal classes or programs, etc., usually a combination).
  • May or may not have a college degree.
  • May or may not be certified by a state or national organization.
  • Legal status varies according to state.
  • Licensed or regulated in 21 states.
  • In most states licensed midwives are not required to have any practice agreement with a doctor.
  • Educational background requirements and licensing requirements vary by state.
  • By and large maintain autonomous practices outside of institutions.
  • Train and practice most often in home or out-of-hospital birth center settings.

To learn more detail about all types of midwives go to Citizens For Midwifery

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who are prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. Today, NPs complete graduate-level education preparation that leads to a master’s degree. NPs take health histories and provide complete physical examinations; diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems; interpret laboratory results and X-rays; prescribe and manage medications and other therapies; provide health teaching and supportive counseling with an emphasis on prevention of illness and health maintenance; and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.

NPs are authorized to practice across the nation and have prescriptive privileges, of varying degrees, in 49 states. Nurse practitioners perform services as authorized by a state’s nurse practice act.  These nurse practice acts vary state-to-state, with some states having independent practice for NPs (not requiring any physician involvement), some with collaborative agreement required with a physician. -from ACNP

Family Practitioner

AAFP defines a family physician as, “a physician who is educated and trained in family medicine–a broadly encompassing medical specialty.”

Family physicians possess unique attitudes, skills, and knowledge which qualify them to provide continuing and comprehensive medical care, health maintenance and preventive services to each member of the family regardless of sex, age, or type of problem, be it biological, behavioral, or social. These specialists, because of their background and interactions with the family, are best qualified to serve as each patient’s advocate in all health-related matters, including the appropriate use of consultants, health services, and community resources. – from AAFP

Labor Doula

The labor doula assists the woman and her family before, during, and after birth by providing emotional, physical, and informational support. It is not within the labor doula’s scope of practice to offer medical advice or perform any medical or clinical procedure.

During pregnancy, the labor doula’s role is to assist families in preparing a birth plan, to provide information about birth options and resources, and to provide emotional support.

During labor and birth, the labor doula facilitates communication between the family and the caregivers. She supports the mother and her partner with the use of physical, emotional, and informational support.

During the postpartum period, the doula assists the mother in talking through her birth experience, answering questions about newborn care and breastfeeding within our scope of practice, and referring the family to appropriate resources as needed. – from CAPPA

Postpartum Doula

The postpartum doula provides informational and educational information to the family. Medical advice is not given; referrals to appropriate studies and published books are within the postpartum doula’s scope. The postpartum doula will determine ahead of time what duties she feels comfortable with performing for the postpartum family and she will share this information with the family prior to accepting a position with them.

CAPPA members do not perform clinical or medical care on mother or baby such as taking blood pressure or temperature, vaginal exams or postpartum clinical care. CAPPA standards and certification apply to emotional, physical and informational support only. CAPPA members who are also health care professionals may provide these services within the scope and standard of their professions but only after making it clear that they are not functioning as a labor doula, postpartum doula, or childbirth educator at the time of the care. For needs beyond the scope of the postpartum doula’s expertise, referrals are made to the appropriate resources.

CAPPA strongly recommends that members do not drive mother or baby unless there is a life-threatening emergency and an ambulance could not get to the family quick enough. – from CAPPA

Lactation Educator

Lactation educators fill an important function in educating and supporting families interested in learning about breastfeeding. This education may take place in the public, hospital, clinical or private setting. Lactation educators provide informational, emotional and practical support of breastfeeding. They may provide this service exclusively as breastfeeding educators, or may use their training to augment their support in other professions, in the cases of doulas, childbirth educators, nurses, dieticians, and postnatal or parenting educators. In addition to providing breastfeeding information, lactation educators offer encouragement, companionship, an experienced point of view, and foster confidence and a commitment to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding education is not restricted to new families, but applies to the general public and medical staff as well. Due to the limited breastfeeding information given in standard medical and nursing training, and the rampant misinformation about breastfeeding that is so prevalent in our society, the breastfeeding educator serves as a resource for accurate, evidence-based information to the public and health care providers, as well as to childbearing families.

CAPPA does not issue Certified Lactation Consultant status, nor does the lactation educator program qualify a member to dispense medical advice, diagnose or prescribe medication. However, lactation educators provide a wealth of information about how and why to breastfeed; establishing a breastfeeding-friendly environment; basic breastfeeding anatomy and physiology; the normal process of lactation; deviations from normal; physical, emotional and sociological barriers to breastfeeding; overcoming challenges; and resources available (including medical referrals) for the breastfeeding family. They can also be a source of vital support, guidance and encouragement throughout the duration of breastfeeding. -from CAPPA

IBCLC (Lactation Consultant)

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) have demonstrated specialized knowledge and clinical expertise in breastfeeding and human lactation and are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE).

This Scope of Practice encompasses the activities for which IBCLCs are educated and in which they are authorized to engage. The aim of this Scope of Practice is to protect the public by ensuring that all IBCLCs provide safe, competent and evidence-based care. As this is an international credential, this Scope of Practice is applicable in any country or setting where IBCLCs practice.

IBCLCs have the duty to uphold the standards of the IBCLC profession by:
• working within the framework defined by the IBLCE Code of Ethics, the Clinical Competencies for IBCLC Practice, and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Standards of Practice for IBCLCs
• integrating knowledge and evidence when providing care for breastfeeding families from the disciplines defined in the IBLCE Exam Blueprint
• working within the legal framework of the respective geopolitical regions or settings
• maintaining knowledge and skills through regular continuing education

IBCLCs have the duty to protect, promote and support breastfeeding by:
• educating women, families, health professionals and the community about breastfeeding and human lactation
• facilitating the development of policies which protect, promote and support breastfeeding
• acting as an advocate for breastfeeding as the child-feeding norm
• providing holistic, evidence-based breastfeeding support and care, from preconception to weaning, for women and their families
• using principles of adult education when teaching clients, health care providers and others in the community
• complying with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolution -from IBCLE

Pediatrician

A pediatrician is a child’s physician who provides:

  • preventive health maintenance for healthy children.
  • medical care for children who are acutely or chronically ill.

Pediatricians manage the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their patients, in every stage of development — in good health or in illness.

Generally, pediatricians focus on babies, children, adolescents, and young adults from birth to age 21 years to:

  • reduce infant and child mortality
  • control infectious disease
  • foster healthy lifestyles
  • ease the difficulties of children and adolescents with chronic conditions

Click here for more information about the Physicians and Staff at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

Pediatricians diagnose and treat:

  • infections
  • injuries
  • genetic defects
  • malignancies
  • organic diseases and dysfunctions

But, pediatricians are concerned with more than physical well-being. They also are involved with the prevention, early detection, and management of other problems that affect children and adolescents, including:

  • behavioral difficulties
  • developmental disorders
  • functional problems
  • social stresses
  • depression or anxiety disorders

Pediatrics is a collaborative specialty — pediatricians work with other medical specialists and healthcare professionals to provide for the health and emotional needs of children. – from UMM (I could find no concise scope of practice definition on the AAP website but here is their Scope of Practice Issues in the Delivery of Pediatric Health Care)

Doctors of Chiropractic

Defining Chiropractic Scope

Since human function is neurologically integrated, Doctors of Chiropractic evaluate and facilitate biomechanical and neuro-biological function and integrity through the use of appropriate conservative, diagnostic and chiropractic care procedures.

Therefore, direct access chiropractic care is integral to everyone’s health care regimen.

Defining Chiropractic Practice

A. DIAGNOSTIC

Doctors of Chiropractic, as primary contact health care providers, employ the education, knowledge, diagnostic skill, and clinical judgment necessary to determine appropriate chiropractic care and management.

Doctors of Chiropractic have access to diagnostic procedures and /or referral resources as required.

B. CASE MANAGEMENT

Doctors of Chiropractic establish a doctor/patient relationship and utilize adjustive and other clinical procedures unique to the chiropractic discipline. Doctors of Chiropractic may also use other conservative patient care procedures, and, when appropriate, collaborate with and/or refer to other health care providers.

C. HEALTH PROMOTION

Doctors of Chiropractic advise and educate patients and communities in structural and spinal hygiene and healthful living practices.

-from ACC

 

Wish List In 2011

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

A clean slate. A fresh start. Hope and dreams reactivated. Passions toward change are stirred. All of this by the calendar rolling over from one year to the next. It is not just  anew year though, it is a new DECADE to set precedent in. To make a mark. Oh the possibilities and opportunities that are ours to reach for and accomplish.

In the spirit of all of this, I decided to make an #in2011 wish list on New Year’s Eve 2010 and with some help from a few friends here is what flowed out.

#in2011 breasts will be viewed as nurturing, comforting, and beautiful.

#in2011 the majority of women will be served under the midwife model of care for the majority are low-risk and will remain so.

#in2011 Childbearing women will be greeted with open arms by providers with their questions, needs and knowledge.

#in2011 pioneering social media women will gain even more ground in their work liberating childbearing women.

#in2011 delayed cord clamping and physiologic third stage will become the norm.

#in2011 doulas will be respected as educated, knowledgeable birth professionals by staff and care providers.

#in2011 childbearing women will be given opportunity not limited

#in2011 Those striving to improve the maternity system at the ground floor as educators will be mutually respectful and supportive.

#in2011 Doulas from all backgrounds and organizational affiliation will be open to one another, supportive, sharing.

#in2011 a woman with needs and opinions with not be marked for a cesarean because of it.

#in2011 Homebirth transports will be treated with dignity and respect.

#in2011 Stigma of mental illness and motherhood will be adsressed by every childbirth care provider. RT @WalkerKarra

#in2011 Childbearing women will not have to live in fear of their providers.

#in2011 We CAN change the world together for childbearing women. Put your words intro action.

#in2011 More birthing women will have low-intervention births that lead to healthier outcomes.

#in2011 Childbearing women will be seen, heard, respected and offered a variety of care options.

#in2011 there will be less imbalance of power between maternity patient and provider.

#in2011 childbearing women will rightfully claim their health records as their own -RT @midwifeamy

#in2011 we will wake up to and address the shameful disparities in access to and outcomes of maternity care RT @midwifeamy

#in2011 Less pointing fingers among insurance companies, providers & orgs that continues to feed this ever medicalized maternity system.

#in2011 I would like to see an equal playing field with accessibility to all to maternity research, guidelines, statistics…

#in2011 I would like see accountability for providers and institutions in their maternity care practices.

#in2011 I would like to see hospitals treat only the patients they serve the very best – high-risk or in-need mothers and babies.

#in2011 I would hope more women stop blindly trusting and do their own research for pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

#in2011 I would like to see arrogance leave the treatment room. It is not a personal affront for a patient to have an opinion and needs.

#in2011 I hope women are treated as holistic beings especially in pregnancy.

#in2011 I hope for care providers to be transformed into partners with their patients instead of authorities.

#in2011, I want to see care providers and family members taking postpartum mood disorders seriously. RT@smola04

#in2011 I hope women stop being treated with hostility and looked down upon for wanting something more in pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

#in2011 I would like to see more women receiving comprehensive postpartum care from their OBs and hospital based midwives.

#in2011 I hope that women will openly mentor those coming up after them to better understanding and expectations in birth.

#in2011 I hope social media efforts have even more impact on unveiling the hidden and progressing healthy birth practices.

#in2011 I hope less mamas are unnecessarily cut open in pursuit of delivering a baby.

#in2011 I hope to see midwives working together no matter the track they came up on. Being respectful and open.

#in2011 I hope to see women who have experienced amazing births be loud and proud sharing the good news without fear.

#in2011 I hope that midwives of all types will be fearless in their pursuit of their model of care for women.

#in2011I hope that hospitals and providers realize they need to offer individualized care to women and babies for the health of it.

#in2011 I would like to see women openly breastfeeding their children without shame or discrimination.

#in2011 A drop in the cesarean rate would be progress toward healthier practices.

#in2011 I want to see women in droves having their eyes opened and being fierce about the care they receive. About their maternity options.

#in2011 I would like to see less care providers offering up defensive and fear based medicine to their maternity patients.

#in2011 I hope for more accessibility to home and birth center births for women and babies.

#in2011 I would like care providers to view women as a sum of all parts, not a uterus growing a baby more valuable than she is.

#in2011 I would like to see more women taking charge of their care, taking personal responsibility and being powerful pregnant women.

#in2011 I desire more respect and autonomy for maternity patients.

#in2011 For women who want a VBAC to easily find an accommodating provider.

Is all this attainable in one year? Perhaps not, but pushing toward the positive and never taking the eye of the reason for all of this, the childbearing women and families, I do believe we can change the world and make the maternity care system as a whole a safer, healthier  and more respectful place.

What is on your 2011 wish list? If you would like to have it added here, leave a comment.

Reader Additions:

Kay Miller:

I hope that we (doulas/educators) can stop alienating the providers, instead partnering with them to provide the best care possible for the mamas and babies that we work with.
I hope that doulas/educators and providers can have mutual respect for one another, and realize the value of the care and support that each provides.
I hope that while we work to change the negatives of health care for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, that we can remember to openly recognize and affirm the positives.
I hope that families will make decisions based on education and research, not on fear.
I hope that both “sides” stop using fear tactics to persuade families to make certain choices. A decision to home birth due to fear of hospital birth is still a decision based on fear.

Preparing For Birth – Labor Length and Progress

Monday, October 19th, 2009

There are always questions on what is the normal length for labor and what is not.  Women in labor are not static.  Though there may be averages, falling outside of those may not be reason to manage labor by augmentation or cesarean.   Patience and individualized care tend to be the biggest keys to better labor outcomes.   Of course, maternal emotions, fetal positioning, maternal movement in labor or lack thereof, use of epidural or other pain management, provider or staff attitudes, over use of vaginal exams, continuous monitoring without risk association, and other can influence the normal course of labor.  There is no one-size fits all time-line to put on a mom and baby.

Generally as long as a progressing labor doesn’t all of a sudden stall out, become unorganized, or stop without a reason (see above), dystocia may not be present at all.

Below is a compilation list of information relating to progression of labor and dystocia.

Dytocia Defined First time Mothers AAFP

diagnostics – reassessing the labor curve.pages

Varney’s Midwifery Book

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/260036-overview

Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery – AAFP

Labor Progress Handbook excerpt.

http://www.guideline.gov/algorithm/5587/NGC-5587_6.html

Helpful hints for keeping labor progressing:

  • If at all possible (lacking medical necessity),  do not arrive at the hospital or birth center prior to well established labor (contractions as close as 3 minutes apart and a minute or more long).
  • Eschew labor induction for any reason other than medical.   http://prepforbirth.com/?s=labor+induction
  • Decline pain management if at all possible.
  • Labor in the water.
  • Continue to eat and drink in labor.
  • Hire a labor doula.
  • Attend evidence-based childbirth classes – not good patient classes.
  • Attend meetings in your community who promote natural, healthy birth practices: ICAN, Birth Network, local doula organization, etc.
  • Read variety of books – http://prepforbirth.com/products-page/books-videos-and-more/
  • Surround yourself with those who believe in you.
  • Be confident that you can birth!

Remember, a mother and baby are a unique pairing.  Some labors are short and some are long. Progress is defined by much more than cervical dilation. There is a huge spectrum of normal. No mother and baby will fit into a box.

Lastly, prior to labor also make sure you understand what your provider’s expectations are and how dystocia is defined.  That alone can determine whether or not you will have a successful vaginal birth.

Shocking quotes regarding maternal choice to VBAC birth

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Joy Szabo has been in the news lately for desiring a second VBAC for her fourth baby (vaginal birth, emergency cesarean, and vaginal birth).  She has been denied locally in her area of Page, AZ to have a vaginal birth. Due to this situation, the International Cesarean Awareness Network has been assisting her in fighting the VBAC ban along with seeking out additional options.

After reading the latest article regarding Ms. Szabo, I am completely dumbfounded by the remarks made by other readers of her story.  I am stunned by how it seems the general populous regards a woman’s autonomy and medical rights.  I am also including positive comments as counterpoint. Where do you fall?  What do you believe? Many of these comments point me in the direction of what is so wrong with the system.  That of physician and hospital trumping patient.

You decide is the comment pro or con?

“…..it seems like many people do not grasp malpractice and insurance companies. This is not about the hospital, but about medical professionals and hospitals not wanting litigation. Can you blame them? After spending tens of thousands of dollars on an education before making a dime, I would do what I needed to to avoid a lawsuit, too! … we go to doctors because they DO know what is best for our health! Like another poster said, in health care, the customer is NOT always right.”

“My son was born by c-section, then my daughter vaginally, with no adverse affects. While I agree it’s the doctor’s decision to take the risk or not, it seems over-the-top conservative. Does the doctor’s insurance premium go up if this procedure is performed? Then charge more and give the patient the option.”

“C-sections are done in the US more routinely than in any other developed country but our infant mortality rate is not lower but higher. Doctors do not want to deliver on weekends, at night, if the mother is one week over her electronically determined due date. Yes complications can happen, more so if you are made to stay in a bed hooked up to monitors, a monitor screwed in to the baby’s head, your water broke prematurely, inducement before the baby or mother are physically ready to give birth. All of this leads to more injuries and deaths than needed. Doctors look upon birth as an illness, not the process that it is – an inexact human birth. I am not suggesting giving birth in a field alone, but a c-section has a greater risk than the V-Bac especially if she has had one already. C-sections for true emergencies yes, otherwise no.”

“Did anyone else notice that when they list the risks of a C-section, they failed to mention that the mother is 4-7 times more likely to DIE than with a vaginal birth.?!?!?! They also fail to mention all the potential complications to her health, the roughly 30% rate of problems following the surgery (some severe enough to require rehospitalization) and the challenges associated with caring for children while recovering from major abdominal surgery.  Good for this mom and I hope more mothers will take courage from her”

“This story is exaggeration. If the woman wants a vbac, she just has to show up at that hospital in labor and refuse a section. They can’t force her to have a c-section no matter what they would prefer she do. You can’t force a woman to have a c-section under any circumstances, so as long as the docs and nurses say she and the baby are tolerating labor, she has no reason to fear being forced into an operation.”

“I worked in the hospital for 5 years and then in a birth center for the last 4 years. I had to get out of the hospital because I started feeling guilty about my complicity in that system in which so much goes on behind closed doors of which the patient is never informed. I’ve had docs tell me in the lunch room that they are doing a c-section because they have an important golf game, fishing trip, or hot date. Then they go into the room, lie to the woman and say, ” oh your baby is too big, your progress is too slow, it’s never going to happen.” the woman believes them and thanks them so much for saving their babies lives. Over and over and over again. In Miami we have over 50% c-section rate, and it’s way more convenient for the docs. If VBACS are not allowed at more and more hospitals, the rest of the country will soon be like it is here…..”

“I find this decision by the hospital(s) to not do a VBAC as a little crazy. My older brother was born (in 1955) by C-section; both me (in 1958) and my younger brother (in 1962) were born vaginally. NO COMPLICATIONS. It could be done 50 years ago, but not now??”

“The risk of MAJOR complication from a second cesarean is TEN TIMES that of the risk of uterine rupture in a VBAC mother. Someone please explain to me how an “elective” repeat cesarean is safer than a VBAC? Especially since more than 75% of uterine ruptures occur PRIOR to the onset of labor. How is a scheduled cesarean at 39 weeks (which is the ACOG recommendation) going to save the mother who ruptures at the dinner table at 34 weeks? Using their logic, we should all go live at the hospital the moment we become pregnant after a previous cesarean, just in case our uterus blows up and we need an OB and an anesthesiologist “immediately available”.”

So what do you think?  It worries me that is seems the mother’s rights do not count for much. That in some of the comments the idea of  forcing a cesarean is no big deal if it makes the doctor’s position safer.

I think that most people are woefully under educated on childbirth and what safety really means.  A conservative physician errs on the side of evidence not defensive practice.  Do your own research. Be your own advocate.

Preparing for a medically necessary labor induction

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Labor induction is increasingly on the rise, however, even ACOG has a limited statement on what is a defines medically necessitated labor induction.  This is generally defined as gestation or chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, diabetes, premature rupture of membranes, severe fetal growth restriction, and postterm pregnancy (postterm dates are defined generally after 42 weeks gestation though protocols and practice style is often after 41 weeks).  There are varying opinions in the birth world of what is truly medically necessary so always research your options and need.

Induction is not a panacea, it only sometimes works, is more challenging than naturally occurring labor and is often long.  I hope my suggestions and information can help you be more well equipped when it is the best solution for you and your baby.

So you do need to be medically induced, how can you prepare?  Do you need cervical ripening prior to the induction as well ?

Start with the type of induction you need.

Ripening is for a cervix that is not ready for using pitocin for induction purposes (see Bishop’s score below). Ask your care provider what your score is.  If he or she does not use the Bishop scoring ask for the particulars of each of the five categories then you can use the table yourself.  The position category denotes the position of your cervix.

Are you a good candidate for induction? Do you need ripening too?

Are you a good candidate for induction? Do you need ripening too?

If you need a ripener prior to the induction, you have two common options (Cytotec or Foley Catheter) though there are more available (Cervidil or Prepadil), they are not widely used any longer.

Foley Catheter ripening is a mechanical ripening method that requires no medicine therefore has very little negative consequence related to the usage. The catheter is inserted in the cervix, then filled with saline to fill the end of the bulb and mechanically opens the cervix up to approximately 4 cm’s while the foley is in place. The mother will go home until the catheter falls out or will remain in the hospital overnight.  The pressure from the foley catheter promotes continual prostaglandin release that encourages the effacement and works in conjunction with the mechanical dilation to open the cervix.  When the catheter falls out, unless it prematurely dislodges the cervix is ripe and ready for induction (pitocin usage). Sometimes the mother is already in early labor and may not require pitocin or require less.   For more information and studies regarding foley cather ripening view my blog page http://prepforbirth.com/2009/07/20/foley-catheter-ripening-versus-medication-studies.html.

The most common yet riskier method of cervial ripening is the use of Cytotec (Misoprostol).  Cytotec is used in an off label manner for ripening the cervix. ACOG has this to say in the revised new guidelines that include seven recommendations based on “good and consistent scientific evidence” — considered the highest evidence level — including one that sanctions 25 mcg of misoprostol as “the initial dose for cervical ripening and labor induction.” The recommended frequency is “not more than every 3-6 hours.”  Though this drug has been shown to be successful for ripening it is not without concern, consequence, risk or controversy.  Please do your research ahead of time prior to allowing this drug to be used on you and your baby.

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060201/fpin.html

http://www.petitiononline.com/cytotec/petition.html

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/458959

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Making+an+informed+choice:+Cytotec%5BR%5D+for+induction-a0128063329

Your cervix is ripe for induction

The most common next step is the use of Pitocin to induce labor contractions. What to expect: an IV with fluids running, continuous monitoring, and limited mobility. The increased pain and stronger than usual contractions over a longer period of time associated with Pitocin use often leads women to ask for epidural anesthesia. There are varying protocols, but the low-dose protocol is most often used today.  Induction is not fail safe, you may or may not respond to “tricking” your body into labor.  Your baby also may not respond favorably.  In the event the induction fails or causes maternal or fetal distress or host of other complications, a cesarean delivery is the next step.

Here are some helpful links regarding Pitocin.

http://www.rxlist.com/pitocin-drug.htm

http://www.corninghospital.com/Educate/Pit.htm

http://pregnancy.about.com/od/induction/a/pitocindiffers.htm

http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?id=4975#section-4

Rethink how you pack your birth bag

Considering the length of time that you will be at the hospital  considering adding the following items to your birth bag.

  • Movies (make sure your hospital provides DVD players or you will want to bring one of your own)
  • Puzzles of all types
  • Cards
  • Games
  • Books
  • Laptop Computer
  • Extra changes of clothing
  • Extra food for husband, partner or labor support
  • Extra cash
  • Ear plugs and eye covering to make sleeping easier
  • More comforts from home to be soothing

Points to think about

  • You are having a baby and need to do the work of labor completely at the hospital. ONLY allow those who can help you keep the chaos and interruption to a minimum.  This is not a party.
  • Turn of cell phones.
  • Keep room comfortable, peaceful,  and stress-free.
  • Having your water broken artificially does not mimic it naturally breaking.
  • Use the space provided and get on the birth ball, stand near the bed and sway, use rocking chair, have equipment moved closer to bathroom so you may sit on the toilet, use as many positions as possible to help baby negotiate and to help dissuade a mal-position.
  • Induction increases the risk of a cesarean delivery becoming necessary whether from the induction failing (fooling a body into labor isn’t as easy as it sounds), maternal/fetal distress or another complication may arise.  Here is a sample cesarean delivery plan in the event it becomes necessary.  sample-cesarean-plan

My closing thought to you is take a deep breath and know when medically necessary an induction is a reasonable step.

My hope is for you to be well informed, be confident to ask questions, be strong to make your own decisions, and thrive to a successful birth even when Plan A isn’t an option anymore.

ACOG refines guidelines for fetal monitoring in labor

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

ACOG recently updated guidelines for fetal monitoring in labor.  They call it a refinement.  Very interesting.

Directly from the press release “Since 1980, the use of EFM has grown dramatically, from being used on 45% of pregnant women in labor to 85% in 2002,” says George A. Macones, MD, who headed the development of the ACOG document. “Although EFM is the most common obstetric procedure today, unfortunately it hasn’t reduced perinatal mortality or the risk of cerebral palsy. In fact, the rate of cerebral palsy has essentially remained the same since World War II despite fetal monitoring and all of our advancements in treatments and interventions.” That is an increase in use by 89% with what benefit to mothers and babies? More cesarean?  More interventions and managed labors? Perinatal mortality hasn’t decreased.  Shocking really.   So for the needs and most likely benefit of the truly high-risk moms and babies all women have been subjected to more and more electronic monitoring in labor resulting in more morbidity for mothers and babies.

Apparently a big issue is that there are huge discrepancies in interpretation when assessing the FHT strips by physicians. There was a group of 4 physicians who initially assessed 50 FHT tracings and only agreed 22% of the time. Then two months later the same 4 physicians were asked to re-assess the same 50 tracings and their own evaluations varied nearly 1 in 5.   I have heard this over and over anecdotally from labor and delivery nurses through the years.  That no one can agree.  That the variance is so great.  Better to treat just in case whether by interventions or a cesarean.  I have been told that even a 40 hour course on FHT assessment leaves one without any clear advancement of skill or knowledge. The training actually left one individual less inclined to trust assessment.  So how does this comfort the expecting woman? Knowing that the machine that rules so much of labor and delivery in combination with the human element is so fallible.  Now that is non-reassuring in real life application.

So what can be done?  Unless there is a real high-risk situation that needs to be addressed, ask for intermittent auscultation with a handheld doppler or even better with a fetascope.  When a nurse, midwife or doctor actually listens personally to a baby with a fetascope there is no machine interpreting sound. It is with their own ear and skill assessing your baby.

The other thing to remember is keeping away from routine use of  induction, narcotic use, and epidural use in labor can greatly improve the opportunity to remain low-risk and healthy.  Thus not requiring continuous fetal monitoring.

I only touched on a few aspects of the new guidelines.  For a more complete breakdown of the refined guidelines, the NY Times did a nice piece.

ACOG revises labor induction guidelines

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

uterobaby

(Originally posted July 2009. Information still relevant.)

ACOG released a press release today regarding a new practice bulletin revising labor induction guidelines.  Though the practice bulletin is not available on the ACOG site, a detailed review is available by Medpage today.  I hope to soon have the full copy to share.

Some high points I found in the explanation and review of the revision:

  • Misoprostol (Cytotec) should not be used to induce any woman with a previous uterine surgery or cesarean due to the increased risk of uterine rupture.
  • The Foley catheter is a reasonable and effective alternative for cervical ripening and inducing labor (as stated in my blog earlier this week).
  • The recommendation for fetal demise is for induction rather than cesarean unless unusual circumstances present as it is associated with maternal morbidity without fetal benefit.
  • ACOG also states that the assessment of “gestational age and consideration of any potential risks to the mother or fetus are of paramount importance for appropriate evaluation and counseling before initiating cervical ripening or labor induction.”
  • Admitting to this fact – At the same time, there have been a number of reports linking the induction of labor with increased risk of adverse events including uterine rupture and meconium-stained amniotic fluid.
  • “A physician capable of performing a cesarean should be readily available any time induction is used in the event that the induction isn’t successful in producing a vaginal delivery,” notes Dr. Ramin. Although rare, there are potential complications with some methods of labor induction. (perhaps less inductions that are for lack of medical reason will be done if a physician must induction sit?)
  • Post cervical ripening whether by medication or mechanical once the cervix is dilated, labor can be induced with oxytocin, membrane stripping, rupture of the amniotic membrane, or nipple stimulation. (using an alternative like nipple stim interesting)

 

 

Some low points I found in the explanation and review in the revision:

  • The new guidelines include seven recommendations based on “good and consistent scientific evidence” — considered the highest evidence level — including one that sanctions 25 mcg of misoprostol as “the initial dose for cervical ripening and labor induction.” The recommended frequency is “not more than every 3-6 hours.” (I want to see these studies)
  • ACOG said that the data on the safety of high-dose misoprostol (50 mcg every six hours) were “limited or inconsistent,” making its recommendation on high-dose misoprostol an evidence level “B” recommendation. (again studies please)
  • The practice of inducing labor has become more common. More than 22% of pregnant women undergo labor induction, ACOG says, and the overall rate doubled from 1999 to 2006. (once again – only 22% – this one I need to research)
  • Rapid delivery or lack of access to good care at home as a potential reason to induce labor in rural areas.

More possible low points:

  • Low- or high-dose oxytocin regimens are appropriate for women in whom induction of labor is indicated. (Pit to distress with high doses?)
 

 

So even ACOG says that induction needs to be taken seriously as there are risks and consequences associated.  Definitely I am in agreement with that. It IS a very big deal and the risks to not having your baby immediately must outweigh the benefits of baby staying put a little longer.


Pitocin – Be aware!

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

In recent days there has been much chatter in the birth and consumer worlds about the use or rather misuse of the synthetic oxytocin drug Pitocin (ICAN, unnecesarean, nursingbirth, daytondailynews).

Pitocin is used very commonly in the United States before labor to induce, during labor to augment the process and post birth for the purpose of eliminating or preventing  hemorrhage. Women are told that it is just like the oxytocin she produces, it is a way to mimic natural labor, it is no big deal, etc.  Clearly that is not the case.  Unfortunately women are rarely if at all informed of the manufacturer’s protocol’s for use or the documented risks and  consequences to her and her baby as seen here – pitocinKingPharmPamphlet.

For a drug this powerful to be used routinely for  non-medically indicated induction and unnecessary labor augmentation is frankly terrifying and unethical.  How many complications go unreported or under reported that are directly attributed to such liberal Pitocin use? The thought is staggering.  My heart aches and sobs as there are thousands of women and babies suffering needlessly every minute, every hour, every day and every year.  The advocate in me raises a fist and grabs a bullhorn. Please spread the truth.

The many women who come out of birth terrified and traumatized.  They say how painful, how out of control, how trapped in bed, how unable to cope without pain medication, how they fear for another labor, how they don’t ever want to go through that again and so on.  Next time you hear that ask her if she was induced or augmented with Pitocin.  I think you will be astounded by how many will say yes and how many will give an account of the cascade of interventions that came with it.

Women I believe overall say yes to induction and augmentation because they have no idea of the true risk involved, and of the deep held ideal that no care provider or staff would recommend or allow any procedure (yes it is a procedure) that could harm a woman and a baby unless the benefit greatly outweighed the risk.  I do not believe that a care provider or staff member is trying to do harm, but more the realistic function that there is another medication to fix it, a protocol to manage it or the go to cesarean option to handle the pit-to-distress syndrome.

Every pregnant woman must find out how her care provider uses Pitocin with his or her patients.  She needs to inquire with the birth facility as to normal protocols surrounding this medication.

Be aware.  Be informed.  A decision only can be made well when the playing field is leveled.

ICAN’s response to ACOG and AABC statements

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Redondo Beach, CA, February 7, 2008: The International Cesarean Awareness Network (www.ican-online.org) would like to publicly condemn both the AABC (American Association of Birth Centers) and the ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) for their statements* this week that limit not only women’s choices in birth but imply that birth is a fashion trend rather than a safety concern.

Since VBAC is the biological normal outcome of a pregnancy after cesarean, ICAN encourages women to get all of the facts about vaginal birth and elective cesarean before making a choice. This decision should not include weighing the choices of your doctor’s malpractice payments but only be a concern of the mother, her baby and their health and safety.

Since some mothers will make the choice to give birth outside of the hospital, we encourage the AABC to not cave into ACOG’s demands that all women give birth in a hospital facility with a surgical specialist, but instead allow women to make their own choices about care providers, birth settings and risk factors. ICAN respects the intelligence of modern women and accepts that the amount of information available about VBAC and elective repeat cesarean should serve as informed consent.

ICAN further encourages the governments of individual states to look closely at their cesarean rates (31.1% national cesarean rate as of 2006) and the informed consent laws that apply and help women to reach a standard of care that lowers the risks of major surgery and the risks of elective or coerced cesarean without medical indication. Women and children should not bear the brunt of malpractice risks being conveyed into physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health risks in order to protect their physicians.

Mission statement: ICAN is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean. There are more than 94 ICAN Chapters across North America, which hold educational and support meetings for people interested in cesarean prevention and recovery.

* AABC statement: http://www.birthcenters.org/files/file.php?id=2&file=file&file_type=file_type
ACOG statement: http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/press_releases/nr02-06-08-2.cfm