Archive for the ‘cesarean prevention’ Category

Doulas and Home Birth

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Is there benefit to hiring a doula for a home birth? I say YES absolutely.


An oldie but a goodie, from Desirre, in honor of International Doula Month.

As a seasoned doula who has attended home births as labor support and now an  intern midwife who clinically supports the mother, I believe that many women can keenly benefit from a doula when having a home birth.

The most simple reasoning is that the doula is there physically, emotionally and educationally specifically for the mother and family just like at the hospital or a birth center. She (he) is an integral part of the birth team.

  • The doula will likely be laboring with the mother first, providing a continuous care support framework for when the midwifery team arrives.
  • As the midwifery team sets up and prepares the space clinically, the doula is right there maintaining the comfort, peace and encouragement of the mother. Often lessening any disruption that new people in the environment can cause.
  • The doula is there SOLELY for the mother and husband (partner), step by step, eye to eye while the midwifery team is there to first and primarily clinically assess, maintain safety and be unobtrusive as possible.
  • The doula offers guidance and suggestions for position changes, physical/emotional comforts and helping to ensure the mother eats, drinks, voids and rests.
  • The doula gives the husband (partner) the opportunity to rest, have less stress, do the very best he/she can do along with enjoying the process more.
  • A doula can be present specifically to help with the other children.
  • A doula’s presence offers reduction in any interventions and cesarean.
  • A doula’s presence offers increased satisfaction with birth, bonding and breastfeeding……….

Simply put. A doula being present at a home birth is effectively the same as at a hospital or birth center, with the general exceptions that she would have to help a mother and family self advocate or navigate  institutional policies,  protocols and staff.

I again say YES to doulas at home births.

 

 

Rethinking the nature of intervention in childbirth

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

There is much awareness and conversation of what the routine interventions are that can occur during the labor and birth process within the hospital environment.  These interventions can include induction, augmentation with Pitocin, epidural, or cesarean. In all my professional and personal roles, I am privy to a great amount of pregnancy and birth stories. Within these experiences there are many “silent” yet obvious interventions that are hidden in plain sight under the guise of protocol, practice and societal expectation.

My current list of hidden in plain sight interventions in no particular order that can make a difference on how a woman labors and ultimately delivers her baby is below.

  • The uniform -Asking and expecting the mother to give up her clothes for the hospital gown.
  • Who’s on first? – If care provider is part of a large practice or on-call group a woman may have never met or have any knowledge of the person who’s practice style and philosophy is helping to guide and steer her labor and delivery. On-call CP may or may not adhere to the birth plan the laboring woman worked out with her own CP.
  • On a short leash – Continuous monitoring even if she is not high risk, medicated, or being induced/augmented.
  • The big drag around – Requiring IV running with absence of medical need.
  • Staying put – Asking or requiring the laboring woman to stay in bed for ease of staff without medical need.
  • Ice chips and Jello – Disallowing snacks and sometimes even actual water even though labor is hard work.
  • The marketing tool – Disallowing the laboring woman to get into the touted tubs or showers since it isn’t convenient for staff and she will not want to get out.
  • One is enough – Limiting the amount or type of support persons a woman is allowed to have with her.
  • I know more than you – Treating the laboring woman as if she knows nothing or shouldn’t know anything.
  • If you don’t… – Instead of giving informed consent and refusal, telling only what bad could, maybe happen.
  • Attitude and atmosphere – Negative, non-listening, lacking compassion, leaving the door open, ignoring requests, and the like when a woman is laboring.
  • Only if you ask – Though some wonderful practices are in place, they are only offered if a laboring woman or postpartum mother ask/insist on it.
  • Bait and switch – The official tour of labor and delivery and the reality of labor and delivery don’t fit together.
  • New with bells and whistles – The pretty with all the fancy bells and whistles like wi-fi, flat screen tv’s, etc. have to be paid for somehow. Because of this investigate the intervention rates there.
  • Routine vaginal exams – By and large VE’s are very subjective and can vary greatly between one person to the next on how they score a VE. This variation can deeply affect the course of a woman’s labor and delivery.  Women birthing in the hospital really only “need” a VE upon entrance for assessment of where she is in labor, if she desires an epidural/IV narcotics, if she is having a very prolonged labor, or if she feels pushy.
  • Pushing the epidural – When a woman is moving, moaning, making noise or just doing her thing in labor and it causes the staff discomfort or worry.  It could even be that anesthesiologist is going in to surgery and it can only happen now.

Simply because a societal norm is birthing at the hospital, as well as, what routinely goes on there, doesn’t mean the hidden in plain sight interventions are wise or harmless.

My goal here is to give pause and broader thinking to what intervention means for labor and delivery as another tool in planning and preparing for childbirth with eyes wide open.

Sisterhood of the Scar Revisited

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Many years ago I wrote this piece after attending my very first ICAN conference in San Diego in 2005. I read this and part of me weeps for her, for the me I was and for the women who are becoming part of this sisterhood willingly, wittingly or not.  My pain has been transformed into outstretched hands and heart. It has given me a sensitivity and awareness of the birth world I would probably have never achieved on my own had my births been perfect, idyllic and without this trauma.

I love you dear sisters and my life would be far less without each of you.

Seems a long distance the ivory tower to the ground.  The surprise in finding the thorny bushes with burrs that dig deep and puncture again at will? Well meaning onlookers say “Well a hundred years ago you both would have died?”  And the farce begins.  Stuff it down because it is crazy not to be grateful for the surgeon’s hand.  Smile and pretend all the twisted darkness inside doesn’t really exist.  The oft daily chore mixed with joy of caring for a baby whom we are unsure is truly our own.   The continuing assault during lovemaking when a cringe comes from the depths when a loving and hungry hand brushes the incision site.  “How can he think I am beautiful?  How can he possibly want this?”  Another thing of beauty and perfection quashed underneath the burden of the surgeon’s handprint.  Oh no say it hasn’t already been a year.  The birthday.  THE birthday sounds so exciting but terror strikes.  Preparation to be happy, preparation to feel joy.  Preparation not to shortchange our amazing gift of a child under the pain of the surgeon’s knife print.

The anticipated day meant to birth us into motherhood and my child into my waiting hands to my craving breasts, I was birthed into the Sisterhood of the Scar forever.

Building Your Birth Support Team

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As practice through the ages and evidence shows, support during the birth process can be greatly beneficial to both mothers and babies. It is not about having an experience. It is about healthier emotional and physical outcomes for mothers and subsequently for babies as well.  Putting together a support team is not as simple as inviting a family member or friend along. There are many components to consider as this is the most intimate time to allow others to share in except for the conception of your baby.

Prior to putting together your Labor Support Team (LST):

You and your spouse/partner are generally the only persons who can speak on your and the baby’s behalf unless another individual has a medical power of attorney for the labor and postpartum time period. Learning how to be a self-advocate is an important piece of the support team puzzle.  Answering very specific questions prior to looking at who ultimately will be with you at your birth will be helpful to you in addressing specific needs, goals, philosophy, and expectations.

  • What education and self study are you doing during pregnancy?
  • Do you feel confident and equipped to birth your baby?
  • Are you confident and at ease with your provider?
  • Are you comfortable with his or her requirements and practice style?
  • Are you comfortable with the policies, requirements, and protocols of your birth location?
  • Do you have special circumstances or health concerns?
  • When you close your eyes who do you see being the most supportive of you and your choices?
  • Are you a single mother or is your spouse/partner deployed?
  • What type of help does your spouse/partner or your main support person need?
  • How involved does your spouse/partner or main support person need?
  • What type of physical support do you need (massage, positioning help, any chronic pain or health issues to contend with?)?
  • What type of emotional support do you require (affirmations, encouragement, quiet and positive, no questions asked, reminders…)?
  • What type of educational/informational support do you expect to need?
  • Are you comfortable discussing needs and desires with provider?
  • Do you feel confident in addressing the staff at a hospital or birth center?
  • Do you have a birth plan?
  • Planning a natural birth?
  • Planning an epidural in your birth?
  • Traveling a distance to your birth location?
  • Are there any specific cultural barriers or needs that ought be addressed?
  • What other considerations or needs might you have?

Now that you have answered the questions, it is likely a much more clear picture why being specific about your LST is so important.  This is an opportunity to look at and personalize what is needed in labor.  It is not for anyone else to decide what it will look like, who is going to be there, and who is not going to be there.

Putting together your LST

The birth of a baby is only less intimate than the act of making the baby. Inviting anyone into the area surrounding this event can affect the process positively or negatively. Privacy, comfort, safety, and honoring the birth of a baby are a must so choosing the person(s) to take the journey with you needs to be well thought out. Some candidates for a LST are on the below list.

  • Husband
  • Partner
  • Mother/Father (other family members)
  • Friend
  • Older Children
  • Doula (skilled and trained labor support)
  • Care Provider (OB, Midwife or Family Practice Doctor)

Many on the list are pretty obvious choice considerations. The best person(s) to have around you during labor and birth will aim to provide what you need physically, emotionally, and by way of information while supporting your decisions and desires without bringing in negativity, fear, bias against what you want, distrust for the process, anger, a sense of undermining, etc. Your support team can make or break the outcome of your labor and delivery simply by what he or she brings into your birth.  Your birth is not about any one elses satisfaction, background, needs, wants or the like. This is your birth, your baby’s birth.

The one person on the list you may or may not have heard of is the labor doula. The labor doula was born out of this need.  Essentially this is a woman of knowledge and skill in pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum (yes there are a few men in who are labor doulas as well) who comes alongside a pregnant woman (family) offering education, physical support and emotional support to both the mother and partner/husband/other support.  A doula does not take away from a husband or partner during the process.  Doulas are shown to decrease interventions, cesarean, epidural use, narcotics use, need for induction, and increase satisfaction, bonding, breastfeeding success, and more! For more information regarding labor doulas, click here  http://prepforbirth.com/2009/08/09/what-is-a-labor-doula-what-does-she-or-he-do/.

From the Birthing Front

Here is a sampling from women who have birthed, are pregnant or attend women in birth who answered the question “Why is having a supportive birth team important?

“I didn’t realize that I didn’t have the right kind of birth support until it was too late. This in no way is meant to say that my practitioner, or the staff, or my husband were not supportive . . . they were, but I didn’t have anyone on hand to advocate for my needs. Even though I prepared extensively for a natural birth and hired a CNM, I ended up having a cesarean. I firmly believe that the most important member of your hospital birth team is your doula.” Kimberly J.

“…because a woman in labor is in the most vulnerable state of her life. When I was in labor I needed someone holding my hand telling me I could do it… telling me all those incredibly intense sensations were, indeed, normal. I was vulnerable, and my support team protected me and supported me as I gave birth.  “For me, feeling “safe” didn’t just mean feeling safe physically… it meant feeling emotionally safe to welcome the vulnerability that labor brings and thus to be able to let go” Lily B.

“Because it means the difference between a baby and mom being healthy vs. the million of things that can go wrong if a mom is stressed, confronted, or generally ignored.  Support during birth, whatever that means for the mom, is more important in my hunble opinion than support during pregnancy. Giving birth in a hostile or unfriendly environment is dangerous.” Rachel A.

“Birth is one of the biggest events that define a woman’s life. When she is in labor her senses are heightened by the hormones going through her body. Her perception of those around her will make or break her birth experience. A trained experienced birth team knows how to keep the emotions of both professional and non professional people positive and empower the woman to birth not only her baby but a stronger more confident self into being.” Amber-joy T.

“A supportive birth team can mean the difference between a physically healthy birth and a birth that can take months to recover from. Regardless of the actual events at a woman’s birth (vaginal birth, cesarean, medicated, non-medicated, home, hosptial, birth center), a supportive birth team can also mean the difference between having a happy, rewarding, and empowering birth and a birth in which the birth is not owned by the mother emotionally. Mental health can be more important than physical health and more costly to treat down the road. Always take care of yourself emotionally.” Nora M.

“Birth is such a vulnerable and powerful experience. I remember that I had to tap into a side of myself that I had not yet known until birth. Every *vibe* from others around me affected my state of mind during the process. Without the complete support of my birth team, and husband, I would’ve when that point of surrender hit, given into the doubts and crumbled under the pressure; But becauseI did have a supportive team, I was empowered to press forward and experience the most amazing moment of my life uninhibited.” Julie W.

So now take a moment to think about who will offer you what you need and help you attain what you want in labor and delivery.  Having continuous support no matter the type of birth you want is important because you and your baby matter.  Your birth matters.

How real is active phase arrest of labor?

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Radio Interview on Whole Mother show – Cesareans, VBAC & Prevention

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Here is the radio interview I did with Debbie Hull of the Whole Mother Radio show.  We talked about the current percentage of cesareans, VBAC availability, where to obtain support, ways to prevent an unnecessary cesarean and much more!

http://archive.kpft.org/mp3/090803_063001wholemother.MP3

Increasing your opportunity for a vaginal birth in a cesarean stricken culture.

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Today the cesarean rate is an alarming 31.8% (CDC 2007 preliminary data).  Only a maximum of 15%  of birthing women should be having cesarean deliveries in order to keep mortality (death) and morbidity (poor outcomes) to the healthiest levels according to the World Health Organization. With the staggering discrepancy in what should be and what is, you NEED to care about this topic.  You could have a questionable cesarean like so many others.

It is important that you the childbearing woman understand how to have the healthiest birth for you and your baby which is most often a no-to-low intervention vaginal birth.

When a cesarean occurs for a truly medical and/or life saving reason it is necessary and the benefits far outweigh the consequences for mom and baby.  The cesareans that occur for other than truly medical and/or life saving reasons are often not necessary or became necessary due to external influence that skewed the labor and delivery outcome (routine induction, epidural,  impatience by provider, mal-position of baby, staying in bed during labor, routine continuous monitoring, pushing in one position, lack of food and water during labor, routine augmentation of labor, lack of support, etc.)

Below is a list of ways to promote having a vaginal birth even if you have already had a baby this information needs to be known.

  • Take the ICAN webinar on cesarean prevention.
  • Interview before choosing your care provider – you are doing the hiring! Know his or her statistics.  If you do not get a clear answer, that is a RED flag.  You need individualized care. ou and your baby deserve no less.
  • Interview both midwives and OB’s.
  • Research your chosen birth location well.  There are other options outside of the hospital – home and birth center.
  • Hire a doula who shares your philosophy and is comfortable with the type of birth you desire. Some searchable places for a doula are: www.cappa.net, www.dona.org, and www.alldoulas.com.
  • Without medical reason standing in the way, labor at home into active labor if traveling to a hospital or birth center.  Well established labor upon arrival to the hospital or birth center decreases the opportunity for interventions, medications, and cesareans.
  • Get educated! Take a childbirth class that promotes confidence, consumer awareness (knowing rights and responsibilities), and evidence-based practices. A “good patient” class is not what you want to take.  READ books that share positive stories and good information.  A few of the searchable sites are: www.cappa.net, www.independentchildbirth.com, www.lamaze.org, and www.ican-online.org.
  • Turn off your TV – stop watching the dramatic birth shows.  They are not real.
  • Use mobility in labor.
  • Drink and snack in labor.
  • Say NO to routine interventions – meaning interventions or medications without a true medical reason. These can include, IV with fluid running, artificial rupture of membranes, continuous monitoring, wearing of hospital gown, and vaginal exams.
  • Say no the the epidural completely or at the earliest at 6 cm’s dilated.
  • Push and deliver in positions other than the reclined or “C” position unless that feels good and baby is coming well that way.
  • Only have those around you who will support what you need and desire in labor and birth. When you close your eyes who is there with you in your labor “cave”? Who doesn’t fit well there?
  • Study yourself for what comforts, assures, and adds to your feeling of safety.
  • Eat healthy and exercise during pregnancy.
  • Read What Every Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Section – http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10164
  • For more information on Cesarean recovery and support, VBAC education and support, and Cesarean prevention go to www.ican-online.org.
  • Bottom line – take your money and walk if you are not being listened to and treated as a partner in your care.

Cesarean vs. VBAC: A dramatic Difference

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I have been invited to share with you an intimate and challenging (and graphic) journey of a mother from an unexpected primary cesarean, physician decided repeat cesarean and a home water birth after those two cesareans.

Before you watch it, take a deep breath and have an open mind. A box of tissues may be in order as well.

Cesarean vs. VBAC: A Dramatic Difference from Alexandra Orchard on Vimeo.

Watch how a baby is delivered in a cesarean birth and see the dramatic difference of what both the mother and baby experience in a home water birth after cesarean.


Thank you Alex for allowing me to share your story!  Many blessings to you and yours.

For more information on cesarean recovery, support, prevention and VBAC information go to www.ican-online.org.

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.