Posts Tagged ‘cesarean prevention’

Know Your Score – Before an Induction

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Knowing your Bishop’s score prior to agreeing to an induction when not medically necessary or setting the stage for a medically necessary induction can make a great difference in expectations, additional interventions and understanding for the process as a whole.  Knowing your score can help you determine the type of induction or whether or not to be induced at all.
Your score is based on a vaginal exam that takes into consideration the areas listed in the chart below.


Dilation, Effacement, Consistency and Position all have to do with your cervix. Station is telling where the presenting part of baby is in relation to the ischial spines. (sitz bones).

Are you a good candidate for induction based on your score? Do you need a ripener? Are you a VBAC mother?  What other factors are working in your favor or against success?
Induction is not an easy or guaranteed process. You can see the criteria toward success is telling even without discussing the additional risks leading to additional interventions, medications and/or cesarean.

Additional links and information on induction can be found in this previous post http://prepforbirth.com/2009/08/12/preparing-for-labor-induction/.

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.

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.

Preparing For Birth: 35+ and Pregnant

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Hourglass

The disturbing trend in treating ALL  “advanced maternal age”  mothers (over 35 at the time of impending birth) high risk continues to grow despite lack of evidence to do so.

My original post from 3.5 years ago still rings true today.

They are being subject to weekly Biophysical profiles or Fetal Non-stress tests tests that are normally reserved only for high-risk mothers and babies from as early as 32 weeks in pregnancy.  On top of the scans, these mothers are often pressured to agree to an early delivery of their babies by means of labor induction or cesarean even without other risk associations.  This is growing more and more prevalent especially for women over 35 who are first time mothers.

I have heard even from women that at their first OB appointment they are being told they will be induced at 39 weeks as a standard of practice and expectation for signing on with said provider.  The seed of fear and worry is being planted that their growing baby will die if the pregnancy goes to 40 weeks or longer.  What a way to start out a provider/mother relationship.  I would call that a red flag of immense proportion.

So what really is the big deal with “old” mothers?  This study Advanced Maternal Age Morbidity and Mortality correlates various medical issues with “AMA” mothers though the biggest hot button is an elevated yet unknown cause of perinatal death.  This statement alone has caused a huge shift in the way these mothers are viewed regardless of  overall pregnancy health and absence of any known risk associations. ACOG’s February 2009  Managing Stillbirths maintains there is a risk to older mothers with no explanation as to why there is a risk, what the percentage of  risk increase is or any prevention protocols.  Seems dodgy since the other groups noted in the bulletin have all the data included.

There are some serious problems with any practitioner taking this study and applying it across the board to “AMA” women.  The study even says so much, “It is important to note that the findings of this study may not be generalized to every advanced-maternal-age obstetric patient in the United States. Although the FASTER trial patient population was unselected, meaning that patients were not excluded based on any confounding factors such as race, parity, BMI, education, marital status, smoking, pre-existing medical conditions, previous adverse pregnancy outcomes, and use of assisted reproductive care, there may have been significant patient or provider self-selection.” So the population could have been skewed from the get go by provider or patient selection, along with the fact that it seems the only point of homogeneity is present in that most of the women were Caucasian.  Throw all these women in a pot and see what happens?  Next step is to make protocols and change practice style upon weak findings?

The study also shows an increased risk for cesarean by “AMA” mothers.  “As with prior literature, this study demonstrated that women aged 40 years and older are at increased risk for cesarean delivery. Older women may be at increased risk for abnormalities of the course of labor, perhaps secondary to the physiology of aging. It is possible that decreased myometrial efficiency occurs with aging. Nonetheless, maternal age alone may be a factor influencing physician decision making. It is uncertain whether the increased rates of cesarean delivery are due to a real increase in the prevalence of obstetric complications or whether there is a component of iatrogenic intervention secondary to both physician and patient attitudes toward pregnancy in this older patient population.” Very interesting. So “old” women are perceived as being unable or problematic so they have less successful vaginal birth outcomes. Now that is a self-fulfilling practice style with a huge dose of ageism thrown in.  I also wonder what the cesarean rate in this age grouping is going to be due to these protocols.

Let’s get to the perinatal and neonatal death risks.  The study says: “Studies regarding an increased risk for perinatal mortality in women of advanced maternal age have been controversial. In this study, the increased risk of perinatal mortality was not statistically significant for patients aged 35–39 years (adjOR 1.1). Age 40 years and older was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of perinatal loss (adjOR 2.2). There were only 119 stillbirths and 37 neonatal demises in total. As a result, we could not draw any meaningful conclusions about the etiology or timing of perinatal mortality in women of advancing maternal age. The reason that advanced-maternal-age patients may be at increased risk of perinatal mortality is unknown. The failure of uterine vasculature to adapt to the increased hemodynamic demands of pregnancy as women age is a proposed explanation. So in conclusion, we have no idea why this might occur and have no way of counseling “AMA” mothers to lower the risk especially those over 40. Another noteworthy thought is that this study had 79% under 34 year old women, 17% 35-39 year old women, and only 4% women over aged 40.  So with such a small grouping ALL women considered “AMA” are being put under very heavy handed protocols to delivery their babies in the 39th week of gestation.

In closing, I find it difficult to believe that anyone who reads this study would change practice style because of it and move pregnant patients who are otherwise maintaining a healthy pregnancy without risk associations to a high risk model of care. Amazingly the study itself says the same thing, “In summary, the majority of women of advanced maternal age deliver at term without maternal or perinatal adverse outcomes.” And, “The role of routine antenatal surveillance in women aged 40 years and older requires further investigation because these women seem to be at increased risk for perinatal mortality, including stillbirth. Although the likelihood of adverse outcomes increases along with maternal age, patients and obstetric care providers can be reassured that overall maternal and fetal outcomes are favorable in this patient population.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Since the original posting – – – instead of women being told they must be induced in the 39th week they are now being “offered” non-medical, cesareans as a first course of action.  This sort of pressure is not evidence-based or even medically ethical in my opinion.

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.

What might a cesarean get you? Often more than is bargained for.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

This is a  slight re-do from a popular blog post from early 2008. The information is vital and pertinent to the near 1.5 million women (based on previous CDC data) who will have a cesarean surgery this year.

Having a cesarean section will almost always  get you a baby.  Generally there is much more to it and anyone could bargain for or anticipate even in the best of recoveries.

Let me count the ways in no particular order:

  • A scar that in no way makes a bikini look better. Sometimes described as a shelf or a pouch.
  • The feeling of failure, guilt or less than deserving of motherhood.
  • The struggle of living with the huge dichotomy of loving your baby and perhaps hating the birth.
  • Higher probability of losing your ability to have more children either through physiologic secondary infertility, pregnancy complications, self-induced secondary infertility, hysterectomy or lack of sexual intimacy in relationship.
  • Higher probability of difficulty in breastfeeding.
  • Postpartum depression or PTSD, especially in an unwanted cesarean.
  • The feeling of failure as a wife or partner.
  • Having others discount your feelings and needs. After all you “just” had a baby. Really you just had MAJOR surgery, perhaps by coercion, a true medical indication, or completely from interventions and medications.
  • Living with the idea that you failed to pass induction, you failed to push out your baby, you failed because _________ (fill in the blank).
  • Obtaining your records to find what you were told and what was written are different. Could your trusted care provider have lied and cheated you?
  • Simply finding out that no one told you and you didn’t think it would happen to you. That being induced, getting the epidural, allowing AROM, not getting out of bed, etc. is why you had the cesarean. Is maternal ignorance and fear enough to quell what you feel and make it okay?
  • How can you trust yourself as a mother when you ignored your maternal intuition and kept saying yes, because the nurse, midwife or doctor told you to?
  • The way your marriage or partnership takes a turn toward hell or in the least a divided place.
  • Living with dread when a hungry hand sweeps over your scar. Being sexual can be extremely difficult physically and emotionally.
  • Having great fear of becoming pregnant again.
  • Having great fear of going for a VBAC and ending up in the OR at the end.
  • Not being understood and having others say to your face how lucky you are that you got to take the easy way out.
  • Pain.
  • Difficulty moving, walking, getting up, rolling over, coughing, laughing, tending to personal cleaning…. You get the idea. It is surgery.

Though not every woman will experience what is on the list, many do.  For all of these – there a stories layered and interwoven for too many women.

Every thirty seconds a woman is surgically having her baby delivered. Light her a candle. Offer her a meal. Let her speak. Listen to her intently. Don’t judge her. Send her to ICAN. http://www.ican-online.org/.