Posts Tagged ‘childbirth’

Should Dads Be in the Delivery Room?

Friday, August 19th, 2016

should dads be in the delivery room?A recent article in the Huffington Post brought up a question that many modern parents probably thought had already been put to rest in the 70s: Should dads be in the delivery room?

Trends surrounding childbirth tend to follow a pendulum swing. From the days when women endured natural childbirth because there was no other way, to knocking women out with ether while their baby was delivered, to natural childbirth, to the height of C-section popularity. Birth experiences even vary widely within one ¬†mother’s experience with multiple children. One thing is certain: there is no one right way to have a baby, for any couple.¬†For that reason, the trend of having dads in the delivery room may well be worth re-examining.¬†Many people also consider allowing siblings to be present during birth, and these are worthwhile considerations for that decision, too.

Here are a few points to consider when deciding how to wrap your head around how childbirth might go for you and your spouse:

  • Birth is a stressful situation, even when everything goes textbook perfect. It may be hard for your partner to see you in pain and not be able to help. Consider how you each react to the other’s stress, and what impact that might have on the labor process. Relaxation and oxytocin help speed labor up, while stress and cortisol slow labor down.
  • Would other people (in addition to your spouse) in the delivery room make the situation worse or better? A doula might be helpful for facilitating involvement. Other family, like adult siblings and parents may or may not help, too.
  • Does your spouse handle needles and/or blood OK? it’s possible that they may need to leave during certain parts, like administering an IV or epidural, and return when it’s over.
  • Consider where your spouse might stand during delivery that might allow them to offer support but not be overwhelmed.
  • Think about decisions like whether or not they want to help catch or cut the cord ahead of time.
  • Birthing classes can be helpful at giving your spouse helpful suggestions for how to assist during labor.

My husband passed out at the sight of needles and would shut down in a stressful situation, so we worked with a doula from early on in my pregnancy. She tagged him in on and off during labor, allowing him time to help and also get away during the process since it was long and overwhelming, and I felt safer knowing I would still have support if he needed medical attention. ¬†I also decided no one but us and the doula would be at the birth.¬†I had never really thought about this until I got pregnant, but once I did, there was no question. I knew additional family and the associated travel plans–on an unknown timeline, no less–would be stressful for me. It was disappointing for some, but I held my ground. It was one of the first times I felt a mother instinct.

In the end, only you as a couple can decide what’s best for your family. You may end up making some unconventional choices, or at the very least, not making the choices you imagined you would before you got pregnant. If you think family or friends will not be supportive of those choices, you can choose not to discuss the topic with them. Remember, it’s your body, and your birth. This is a time to be selfish and think about your health and what’s best for you.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

 

Closing the Gap: Diastasis Recti

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Abs are always the cover story any time a celebrity mom makes her first appearance after having a baby. Most non-celeb moms aren’t too overly concerned–bonding with baby trumps having a washboard stomach at six weeks post partum.

But in some cases, your abs should concern you. During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles actually separate to accommodate the growing uterus. You can tell this has happened because during braxton-hicks contractions your stomach comes to a point instead of remaining rounded.

After pregnancy, your abdominal wall will slowly come back together. In fact, it’s one of the reasons you need to go really easy on your body following childbirth. Overexerting yourself with exercise, housework or heavy lifting can cause further damage while this area is healing.

In some cases, the gap remains months after it should have closed. This is called diasasis recti. While some of these cases will eventually require surgery to completely close, many women can help ease the process along themselves with a simple set of exercises.

Make sure to talk to your doctor or midwife before you begin any exercises to help deal with diastasis recti.

Sarah Johnson is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer. 

Improving Birth National Rally for Change Overview

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

On Monday, September 3 I had the awesome opportunity to engage with¬†passionate women (and a few men) outside a local hospital in Phoenix, AZ. The commonality among us was that we are all unequivocally devoted to improving childbirth in the US. We were in fact joined by men and women in over 100 cities across the US all united together by our desire to provoke positive change within¬†our country’s maternal health care system. The rally was organized by the Improving Birth Organization. It¬†was¬†not a protest, but rather a¬†peaceful public awareness event intended to promote Evidence Based Maternal Health Care.

 

What exactly is Evidence Based Maternal Health Care?

The Improving Birth Organization defines it as “care that is provided that has been proven by reliable research to be beneficial to mothers and babies, reducing the incidences of complications, injury and death”(http://www.improvingbirth.org/the-evidence-shows/, 2012).¬† The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health states that “Evidence-based maternity care uses the best available research on the safety and effectiveness of specific practices to help guide maternity care decisions and to facilitate optimal outcomes in mothers and newborns”¬† (http://www.who.int/pmnch/topics/maternal/ebmaternitycare/en/index.html). In other words we want don’t want maternal health care decisions to be driven by cost, convenience, or fear. We want the needs of pregnant women and babies to be respected deeply and responded to with great integrity. We want¬†families to be well informed consumers of the health care system and be well support throughout their childbearing years.

So what exactly did we do?

We stood outside a hospital (although not because we were targeting that particular hospital; rather it was chosen because it was a central gathering place and had high traffic volume) holding up signs with different sayings on them about childbirth. The Improving Birth Organization provided rather specific guidelines on what the signs could say. The signs were intended to be positive, non-confrontational messages about birth. The five suggested slogans were:

Evidence Based Birth
Know Your Options
Birth Matters
Vaginal Birth After C-Section
Lower the C-Section Rate

There were also explicit instructions given on interacting with any members of the press, if given the opportunity to. Basically we were asked to avoid sharing negative personal opinions and stick to facts and personal experiences. The goal was to spread wisdom as opposed to fear of childbirth. Nor did we want to convey hatred of the medical community. We were also to be clear that we were NOT promoting home/natural birth per say; the focus was on evidence based maternal care (which includes home/natural birth).

 

All in all it was a great event that I am sooo glad I attended. To be honest the morning of the rally I kind of felt like bailing. I could think of a million and one excuses not to go. The day before the rally we had just gotten back from a 12 week trip. I was tired and had a bunch of unpacking to do, mountains of laundry, tons of mail to sort through, there was no food in the house, the kids were beyond cranky from disrupted sleep while traveling; it seriously tempting to think all of those things needed my attention more than the rally. But once I arrived at the rally site I knew it was exactly where I needed to be that morning. The women there were simply amazing; they were incredible, yet humble advocates! Some of them were there as professionals who work in the birth community. Others were there due to their own personal experience with birth. There were babies and children present serving as constant reminders as to the heart of our cause.

It was a hot and sunny day in Phoenix (as most days are), but we didn’t complain. We found shade where we could and remained devoted to the two hour time frame of the rally. Two security guards from the hospital approached us and¬†kindly requested we stay off the grass while holding signs, but other than that there were no confrontations to be had. Sometimes cars honked at us or passengers waved at us. A bus load of male college students shouted funny things to us from their open windows, but it was all in good spirits and made us laugh.

I was so honored to be a part of this movement and feel that even if ONE woman is impacted because of our efforts, then a BIG difference was made!

Anyone else attend the National Rally for Change on Monday? If so I would love to hear your experience!

-Sarah

How to Create a Birth Plan

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Creating a Birth Plan

Creating a birth plan can be a helpful way to communicate your desires for your birth experience. It can serve as an opportunity to make pro-active and conscious decisions regarding various aspects of childbirth. A birth plan can also help you prepare mentally and emotionally for the birth of your child. The process of creating a birth plan often helps clarify ideas about what you want as a mother and for your baby.

Sharing the birth plan with others allows you to effectively communicate your ideas about birth. Optimally this instills a sense of confidence and empowerment about the journey ahead. Occasionally I hear women become discouraged from writing a birth plan because it may attach them to a certain outcome. What happens if the birth goes differently than I ‚Äėplanned‚Äô? Perhaps a birth plan should more aptly be named a ‚Äústatement of birth desires.‚ÄĚ I believe a birth plan is simply a tool to cultivate your wishes and¬†desires for your birth. I encourage you, the pregnant woman, to create a birth plan and openly share it with anyone who will be involved in your birth experience.

In writing a birth plan, it may be helpful to organize using the four categories found below. Under each one I provide questions to provoke¬†thought on the topic, as well as, a few example statements that you might see included on a birth plan. Generally a birth plan that is shared with others would be no more than a page in length and written in concise, easy-to-read bullet points. Additionally, it is more helpful to state what you DO want versus what you DON‚ÄôT want. For example: ¬†Delay cord cutting until it has stopped pulsating instead of don‚Äôt immediately cut cord, but it is ok to state a few things you don’t want too. Your birth plan will be unique to you and reflect your thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and desires regarding your birth.

Especially if this is your first birth, know that this is just a very helpful guide to prepare you and those around you as you go through this experience. Labor is an amazing experience and in the process, things may change, your desires may change, and that is OK.

Labor

Forget about what you see on TV. Think about how you want YOUR labor experience to occur. This is YOUR body, and YOUR birth experience and who better than YOU to make a plan for it!

Who is with you? What is their role? What is happening in the environment? Are people talking to you, touching you, comforting you? Or are you quietly in your own mental space? What pain management tools are you using? What type of monitoring is being used and what is the frequency of it?

Example statements:

  • Allow labor to begin and proceed spontaneously without augmentation
  • Access to drink and food throughout labor as desired
  • Vaginal exams to be conducted by mother‚Äôs request only

Birth

What is the role of your care provider as you push? Are they coaching you? Are they observing you? What tools are used to support you during the pushing phase? Who is present? Is someone taking pictures and/or video?

Example statements:

  • Birthing location and position is determined by mother and baby
  • I want to be able to move around and change positions during birthing
  • Father catches baby and immediately places baby on mother‚Äôs chest
  • Allow the placenta to be birthed on its own accord without pictocin

Immediate Post-Partum

What do you imagine those first few minutes of baby’s life outside of the womb to be like? Who is handling baby? What is being done to you? What is being done to baby?

Example Statements

  • Perform APGAR test and any similar newborn screens while mother holds baby
  • Baby is first weighed upon request of mother
  • All fluids from birth remain on baby until mother request baby is wiped down

 Post- Partum Mother and Newborn Care

The hours following birth are a sacred bonding time for mother and baby. Regardless of birth circumstance, this bonding time should be well-supported by health care providers. Ideally care providers employ evidence based practices that promote successful breastfeeding.

Example Statements:

  • Baby remains with mother at all times
  • Baby is exclusively breastfed
  • Mother and baby skin- to-skin time is strongly encouraged

An important part of creating a birth plan is having care providers that will support and respect your birth plan. Give a copy of this plan to your care provider. If you are birthing in a hospital, make sure to pack 2 copies in your hospital bag. Give one to the nurse when you check-in and have another with you in your room so that you and your significant other can reference it easily.

Tomorrow’s post will discuss selecting maternal health care partners.

Did you write a birth plan? Was it helpful to your birth experience? What do you feel important to include in a birth plan?

-Sarah