Sunday, October 25, 2009

OBs Ban Doulas, Birth Plans, and The Bradley Method

In case you have a hard time reading it, it says: "Because the Physicians at Aspen's Women's Center care about the quality of their patients deliveries and are very concerned about the welfare and health of your unborn child, we will not participate in: a "Birth Contract", a Doulah Assisted, or Bradley Method delivery. For those patients who are interested in such methods, please notify the nurse so we may arrange transfer of your care."

You may have had the privilege of seeing this sign before now. I just saw it yesterday for the first time. Ironically, these OBs, Dr. Judd and Dr. Gordon, had both been recommended to me when I was pregnant with our first baby in Provo. The doctor I had, Dr. Brian Wolsey, I am certain, held the same opinion as these two doctors. In fact, when David saw the sign he even asked if that was hanging in Dr. Wolsey's office!

Well, as crazy as it seems, at least they are honest about the clients they want walking through their door. So often, I see doctors who feel this way, but are NOT honest. They tell women that, yes, they will do whatever they want, but have no intention of doing so.

Remember, birth is safe. These doctors are determined to save their clients, or "patients", from the "dangers" of a birth contract (plan), doula (they even spelled it wrong!), or the crazy Bradley teachers like myself!

If you have a doctor who ignores the evidence and/or your wishes, he is looking out for himself, not for you or your baby, despite making comments like this. This sign makes the reader feel as if these 3 things are unsafe and they are only looking out for your baby. Just the opposite! He or she wants to run the show. Waiting for your baby and body on your schedule is an inconvenience. They want you to have an epidural.

So, consumer beware. If you suspect, or know, that you have a doctor that holds these views, it's never too late to switch. You will only give birth to this baby one time. There are no second chances. Take control of your birth! Do not relinquish it to an ego-maniac doctor that tells you that you can't educate yourself, have a female companion to help you through labor, or have specific desires for this special day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Benefits & Stimulants of Oxytocin

This month I had the opportunity to attend the International Childbirth Educators Association (ICEA) Conference in Oklahoma City. I actually had to take a test for another certification (I passed!). The conference ran for three days and there are lots of things I'd like to share with you here.

In honor of all the women that I have due right now and in the next few weeks, I decided the first thing I wanted to write about is oxytocin - its benefits and how to make it flow!

Let's review for a moment: We hear so much about pitocin, but rarely oxytocin. Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin. Oxytocin is what causes the uterus to contract. Released are also endorphins that help mom to cope -- even feel good. In other words, when oxytocin is released naturally, it crosses a blood-brain barrier to release those endorphins. When labor is started artificially with pitocin, or "pit", the uterus contracts without all these extra benefits I'm about to share.

Benefits of Oxytocin that you may not be aware of:
Mom experiences lower blood pressure and fewer stress hormones.
Her pain threshold increases.
Her sleepiness, even laziness, increases, causing relaxation.
Her muscle tension will decrease.
She will feel more calm and even more curious.
She will become more trusting and possible more daring.
She is more open to touch and be touched.
Oxytocin facilitates learning.

Wow! Who knew! Oxytocin levels are at their highest in a woman right after she gives birth. If you have given birth without medication, think back to how you felt right afterwards.

And did you know that women being together will also produce high levels of oxytocin. In comes the doula. Why is it that women are more able to relax and have fewer interventions and medications with another woman by her side in labor? We often assume that it is because she is more sympathetic or has been through this experience before. While these are often true, it's more than that. Think of when you have a girls night out. Oxytocin is flowing! Men will often report that their wives are in the mood for sex they come home from a girls night out. Oxytocin is often called "the love hormone" and makes us feel good!

So how do we get it flowing? There are many different ways. I always talk about nipple stimulation and sex as the number one way. This weekend, another educator reported that some serious kissing can often get oxytocin flowing more than nipple stimulation. If you have read anything by Ina Mae Gaskin, she'll probably say the same thing. Following is a list of several contributing factors to the natural production of oxytocin:

Ways to get oxytocin stimulated:
Descent of the fetus
Good food
Low light
Positive thought
Pleasant smells

Adrenalin is the opposite of oxytocin. If a woman in labor, or one who is trying to start labor, is under too much stress (ie. the threat of induction!), the production of oxytocin is squelched. Too much stress can actually stop labor. We've heard of the "fight or flight" response. It applies to labor as well. You can sometimes tell if a woman is under too much stress by looking at her eyes. Her pupils will likely be dilated instead of her cervix. Her digestion will slow, while her heart rate and blood pressure will increase. When this occurs, not enough blood will get to her vital organs and muscles, including the uterus.

The mind is a powerful, powerful thing. I was talking with one of my moms-to-be this week who was due about a week-and-a-half ago. I found out she was still working because she feels great. Better than sitting around waiting for baby to get here, right?! Wrong! I told her, no matter how the baby comes out, she will be a mother by the weekend. Her brain knows, when she's still working, that she has someplace to be tomorrow. Her focus needs to be on getting oxytocin to flow.

Relax. Take some time for you. Gather your girlfriends for some plain ol' fun. Go see a movie. Take a warm bath. Close your eyes. Take some good deep breaths. Enjoy the end of your pregnancy. Burn a favorite candle. Get a pedicure or foot massage. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket and read a book. Nap. Make out with your hubby and have some great candlelit sex. Let the oxytocin flow. Don't fight it. I feel good just writing all this!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dr. Seuss Had a Way With Words

My son found this quote for his leadership class and I thought I'd share. I found it most appropriate for my blog:

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."