Monday, July 25, 2011

The Mother-Friendly What?

When I got together with a couple other ladies from my community to start a chapter of BirthNetwork National a year-and-a-half ago, we only had an inkling of what it would involve.  We have grown to be the largest chapter in the country with nearly 100 members and have accomplished some amazing things in our community.  If you are in the Fort Worth area, I would like to invite you to be a part of this growing movement.

Our chapter is the Tarrant County Birth Network.  This spring, we published a book of birth stories called The Birth Next Door, which is available for sale, benefiting TCBN .  We hold free monthly meetings on a variety of topics based on the MFCI (we'll get to that in a minute).  Visit our website for topics and location.

We are currently in the process of gearing up for the 2nd year of BOLD Fort Worth 2011, consisting of a play, Birth, by Karen Brody and a Birth & Family Expo.  Mark your calendar for September 23-24.  If you have a Mother-Friendly business you'd like to advertise in TCBN's Resource Guide (distribution 10,000), there is still time!  Here is a link that will tell you everything you need to know.  Deadline is August 1st.

The foundation of the Birth Network is solid and this is really what I wanted to discuss in this post.  We throw a lot of terms around and people tend to glaze over.  For example, the 10 Steps of the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) written by CIMS, or the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, is the basis of everything we do, nationally and locally.  The 10 Steps are evidence-based and have shown that if followed, maternity care will be improved for the entire family.  I encourage you to read through these steps and check out the CIMS website.  There are useful downloads there as well, including topics such as breastfeeding, induction, and risks of cesarean section. 

Many people are aware of, or at least have heard of, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, written by WHO-UNICEF.  I have discovered most people don't really know what that means, but it sounds good, doesn't it?  There are 10 steps to being Baby-Friendly, and basically, it has to do with breastfeeding support -- not separating mom and baby, not offering bottles or pacifiers, and all around encouragement of breastfeeding.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a part of something much bigger -- it is the 10th Step to the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative.  I want to very briefly, in my own words, tell you what these steps are:

To be Mother-Friendly, a birth place must carry out these philosophical principles:

1.  Anyone can be with the mother at all times if she so chooses, including a doula.  She should have access to professional midwifery care.  (Hospitals who do not employ midwives are not Mother-Friendly.)

2.  Statistics are easy to come by.

3.  Is respectful of differing cultures, customs, and religions. 

4.  Mom has the freedom to move as she wishes and is not forced to be in any position she does not choose.

5.  If transfer of care becomes necessary, everyone is treated with respect and the mother receives respectful care throughout the process.

6.  Routine interventions are not used unless medically indicated.  Key statistics include:  induction rate of 10% or less, episiotomy rate of 20% or less with a goal of less than 5%, c-section rate of 10% or less and 15% or less in high-risk hospitals, VBAC rate of 60% or more with a goal of more than 75%.

7.  Staff is educated in non-drug methods of helping the laboring woman and does not encourage the use of drugs.

8.  Staff encourages family members to hold, touch, and care for their baby, including premature or sick infants.

9.  Discourages non-religious circumcision.

10.  Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative -- Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed!

I hope you will press your care provider and birth places on these steps and if they are following them.  The more we talk about Mother-Friendly Maternity care, the more common it will become.

If you are interested in finding a local chapter of BirthNetwork National, visit their website.  There may be one near you.  If not, start one! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Poo-la Post

I am on vacation -- just saw Tim McGraw for the 14th time tonight -- and I'm typing this on my iPhone in the dark. I'm working on a great post, but it's obviously not going to happen tonight! Just thought I'd share a funny little story from a few weeks ago...

My grandmother died at age 59 of colon cancer, so it has been suggested that our family members start colonoscopies at 40 years of age. I went in this April for my first one.

My husband went with me, of course. I've probably mentioned this before, but if I could only use one word to describe David, the word would be clever.

We were sitting in the waiting room, surrounded by people much older than us, and he starts quietly telling me that he thinks I should "go all natural," embracing the experience of the colonoscopy. He starts telling me that I don't need the drugs. He even says he'll be my poo-la.

By the time the nurse came back to get me I was laughing so hard I was crying. She thought I was afraid of the procedure.

Just so you know, it was a piece of cake, and because I know you are wondering, I don't have to go back until I'm 50! Woo-hoo!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chiropractic: Standard Care for ALL Pregnant Women

Y'all have heard me rave about how much my chiropractor has helped me when I wrote my Uterine Lift post.  I have sent many couples her way with amazing results and relief.  She has recently started attending my class explaining how chiropractic care benefits pregnant women.  It's been so beneficial for so many women, I invited her to write a blog post about it.  I truly believe that if all pregnant women saw a chiropractor, trained in the Webster Technique, and as knowledgeable as Dr. Kristen, we'd see more comfortable and shorter labors, not to mention less cesarean sections.  I hope you find this post incredibly informative.

Hi. My name is Kristen O’Reilly, aka Dr. Kristen, aka Mom. I have two wonderful children (when they are at someone else’s house lol). My daughter is 11 and my son is 8. I birthed the first in the hospital and the second at home only 3 weeks after moving half-way across the country. I am a Chiropractor and natural birth advocate.

Its 4am. I've had 2 hours sleep tonight. Once again I'm waiting for that incredible new life to be born. I watch as a strong mom endures a very painful back labor caused by a posteriorly positioned baby. I wish that she had been under good chiropractic care so as not to have to struggle so much. I think back to the birth of my son. I remember the pain of  “back labor” as his head pushed against my sacrum. I desperately wanted an adjustment to allow my sacrum and pelvis to spread open to allow my son to come through. Eventually he did in a military position (crowning with the top instead of with his head tucked). If only I knew then what I know now. If I had known the incredible benefits of a properly aligned spine and pelvis, the benefits of the nervous system working as it is designed, and the benefits of positional work I could have had a much easier pregnancy and labor.

You see I was under chiropractic care, well sort of. I got adjusted from time to time. Nothing very regular. I felt great, but looking back I can recognize that my body wasn't working properly. My periods were coming about once every 6 months with hormone fluctuations I’ll not go into ;) I'm surprised I got pregnant at all but a month after having a uterine lift I found myself looking at a plus sign.

The miracle of life. Two tiny cells came together to form a new life dividing and growing making the nervous system first then the circulatory system etc. I am in awe every time I think of the amazing way we are formed. How do those 2 cells know how to form us? Chiropractors call it “Innate Intelligence” – the intelligence that we all have within us that forms, regulates, and maintains each one of us, and which I believe was designed by God.

You might be asking yourself, “So what does Chiropractic back popping have to do with anything pregnancy related?”  My answer: “EVERYTHING”.  Chiropractic works to remove the interference in the nervous system by removing the stress on the spinal nerves thus restoring the communication lines between the brain and the body allowing the body to work as it was designed to work, allowing the Innate Intelligence of our bodies to flow unhindered.  In other words, a misaligned bone causes a stressed out nerve and acts like a phone with bad “cell coverage”.  The messages just aren’t getting through right.

Whenever a bone is out of place and interfering with the proper nerve flow, Chiropractors call it a “subluxation”. On a personal level, these are the places that can be painful (too much nerve flow), numb (not enough nerve flow), stuck, not moving properly, or anything in between. When Chiropractors adjust the body, they correct these subluxations to remove the nerve interference. I don’t know about you, but I want my body sending and receiving all of those signals, working the way it’s designed to work and at an optimal level, especially during pregnancy.

“So how does a subluxation affect pregnancy?” In order to regulate everything in the body, every cell in our body has 3-4 attachments to the nervous system. When our bodies become misaligned, the communication lines are disrupted to some degree or another. When subluxations in the low back and pelvis are removed, many couples struggling with infertility are finally able to conceive. This tells me that the subluxations may have been interfering with several things “down there” such as hormone balance, physical structures such as the uterus and ovaries, as well as the overall stress levels of the system, each of which can affect the overall health and well being of the mother in all of the related areas that are vital in pregnancy.

On a structural level, the alignment of the pelvis directly affects the position of the baby. Think of the uterus as a balloon being tethered down by 8 ligaments – 4 of which can greatly affect the position of the uterus because they attach to the pelvis, including the 2 Round Ligaments in front on each side of the uterus and the 2 Uterosacral Ligaments posterior to the uterus. When the pelvis and sacrum become misaligned or rotated, the ligaments are stretched or become lax depending on the pelvic rotation and can act to “twist” the bottom of the uterus. This twisting is called “intrauterine constraint” and can cause positional issues with the baby including breech, transverse, asynclitic head position (neck is flexed to side which can cause longer labors) and posterior babies (back labor). The ilio-psoas (pronounced “so-as” or as some of my patients call it, the “sore-ass” muscle) attaches to the front of the lumbar (low-back) spine and the inside of the hip and pelvic bones. (Awesome body images and psoas diagram here: ) This very important core muscle acts as a sling behind the uterus and if tight or spasming on one side due to pelvic misalignment, it can shift the baby out of optimal alignment. So keeping the pelvis aligned can help give a breech or transverse baby room to turn, help baby lay on the left side, and can help shorten labors by an average of 30%.

Now that I’ve explained the basics, on to my favorite work….baby positioning. Position can be sooooo important during labor. It can make for a quick easy labor or, with an amazingly persevering mom, a 70+ hour labor, as with one of my babies whose shoulders got stuck. I have worked with women whose labors start and stop for several days so they come to get adjusted. These babies are usually sitting on the right side, have an asynclitic head position or have a head stuck on the pubic bone, and once we work to reposition them using pelvic adjustments, ligament and muscle releases, and techniques (thank you Gail Tully), these women will often go into labor within several hours if not on their way out of the office. I had one patient who showed up with contractions (ctx) 10-12 minutes apart whose water had broken 14 hours before. I released her sacrum and pelvis and used one rotational technique. Within 10 minutes, her ctx were 2 minutes apart and the baby was born less than 2 hours later. So often have I seen this that the midwives I work with in Cleburne made me change my day to work out of their office to Tuesday instead of Friday because they were tired of all of their weekends being taken up by the births.

Why does the right lying baby have this issue you might ask? Because babies almost always turn in a clockwise direction from right to left. This means they have to turn 270 degrees to get out from the right but only 90 degrees from the left. While they are trying to turn, labor can start and stop as the baby’s head puts pressure on the cervix differently. And until the head is fully applied to the cervix, labor will often times come and go.

So looking back on the birth of my son…he started on the right, went posterior and finally swung to the left but never tucked his chin. And had I known of the pelvic releases and Spinning Babies techniques, I know my labor would have been so much easier because I would have had the tools to help him work his way through my pelvis. Better yet, if I’d been getting proper Chiropractic care, he probably would have started in a better position (unless my placenta was anterior). That’s why I get up at 4am to help so many women get their babies in optimal positions during their labors. I've been there and hope you don't have to be.

Dr. Kristen works in Burleson, TX, and you can get more information about her and her services here. Please, feel free to share your experiences with chiropractic care during your pregnancy and labor.