Saturday, December 16, 2006

The long and the short of it all...

Birth is just so amazing! After supporting two births this week I am in love with our bodies, our babies and the beauty of it all again! These two births could not have been more different while essentially they were identical.

Both couples trusted that birth is a natural process. Both women understood that their own body was capable and strong. Both couples planned for birth by going far beyond the tradition childbirth classes and truly became informed and confident particpants in all the decisions surrounding birth. ANd both couples were surprised when the journey began a little bit differently then they had envisioned.

Their births began, 5 days apart in much the same manner, before their paths took some different twists and turns...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Study: Epidurals may hamper breastfeeding

[New study from Australia, is generating lots of media stories, here's a couple, and the links to the actual research is at the bottom],20867,20905801-23289,00.html

Epidural babies can't get grip on what's breast

David King

December 11, 2006

WOMEN who give birth with the aid of pain-relieving epidurals find it harder to breastfeed than those who give birth naturally, an Australian study has found.

The research suggests some of the drugs used in epidurals make their way into babies' bloodstreams, subtly affecting their brains and development for weeks afterwards -- including making them less willing to breastfeed. The study by University of Sydney epidemiologist Siranda Torvaldsen adds to a growing body of knowledge that makes a link between the use of the pain-killing drug fentanyl in epidurals and problems with breastfeeding. During an epidural a catheter is inserted into the spine to allow the infusion of pain-killing drugs. These deaden the nerves that relay sensations of pain from the lower body.
(see link for full article)
Epidurals 'hamper breastfeeding'

Having an epidural to relieve labour pains is associated with problems breastfeeding, a study suggests.
Researchers said those who have the anaesthetic are more likely to have problems in the first week after birth and to stop breastfeeding early.
(see link for full article)

The research article on which the news articles are based can be found at:

Commentary on the research is at:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Voluntary C-sections result in more baby deaths

The c-section rate in Saskatoon is currently hovering at about 24%. While I do not have the statistics to say how many if any of these are planned and voluntary, I can say that this is well above the World Health Organization standards of c-section rates for developed countries, which is 12-15%. Please consider the following if you are thinking about your c-section birth options.

September 5, 2006 New York Times


**A recent study of nearly six million births has found that the risk of death to newborns delivered by voluntary Caesarean section is much higher than previously believed.

**Researchers have found that the neonatal mortality rate for Caesareandelivery among low-risk women is 1.77 deaths per 1,000 live births, whilethe rate for vaginal delivery is 0.62 deaths per 1,000. Their findings were published in this month's issue of Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care.

**The percentage of Caesarean births in the United States increased to29.1percent in 2004 from20.7 percent in 1996, according to background information in the report.

**Mortality in Caesarean deliveries has consistently been about 1½ times thatof vaginal delivery, but it had been assumed that the difference was due tothe higher risk profile of mothers who undergo the operation.

**This study, according to the authors, is the first to examine the risk of Caesarean delivery among low-risk mothers who have no known medical reasonfor the operation.

**Congenital malformations were the leading cause of neonatal death regardless of the type of delivery. But the risk in first Caesarean deliveries persisted even when deaths from congenital malformation were excluded from the calculation.

**Intrauterine hypoxia - lack of oxygen - can be both a reason for performinga Caesarean section and a cause of death, but even eliminating those deathsleft a neonatal mortality rate for Caesarean deliveries in the cases studied at more than twice that for vaginal births.

**"Neonatal deaths are rare for low-risk women - on the order of about onedeath per 1,000 live births - but even after we adjusted for socioeconomic and medical risk factors, the difference persisted," said Marian F.MacDorman, a statistician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the lead author of the study.

**"This is nothing to get people really alarmed, but it is of concern giventhat we're seeing a rapid increase in Caesarean births to women with norisks," Dr. MacDorman said.

**Part of the reason for the increased mortality may be that labor,unpleasant as it sometimes is for the mother, is beneficial to the baby inreleasing hormones that promote healthy lung function. The physical compression of the baby during labor is also useful in removing fluid fromthe lungs and helping the baby prepare to breathe air.

**The researchers suggest that other risks of Caesarean delivery, like possible cuts to the baby during the operation or delayed establishment of breast-feeding, may also contribute to the increased death rate.

**The study included 5,762,037 live births and 11,897 infant deaths inthe UnitedStates from 1998 through 2001, a sample large enough to draw statistically significant conclusions even though neonatal death is a rare event.

**There were 311,927 Caesarean deliveries among low-risk women in the analysis.

**The authors acknowledge that the study has certain limitations, including concerns about the accuracy of medical information reported on birth certificates.

**That data is highly reliable for information like method of delivery andbirth weight, but may under report individual medical risk factors.

**It is possible, though unlikely, that the Caesarean birth group was inherently at higher risk, the authors said.

*Dr. Michael H. Malloy, a co-author of the article and a professor ofpediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said that doctors might want to consider these findings in advising their patients.

*"Despite attempts to control for a number of factors that might have accounted for a greater risk in mortality associated with C-sections, we continued to observe enough risk to prompt concern," he said.

**"When obstetricians review this information, perhaps it will promote greater discussion within the obstetrical community about the pros and cons of offering C-sections for convenience and promote more research into understanding why this increased risk persists."*

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Canadian Midwife Minute


SynopsisUntil well into this century, most Canadians were born at home and theonly professional hand guiding their arrival into the world was themidwife'sThe first midwife began her practice, so the saying goes, nine monthsafter God placed two women and one man on the earth. The office ofmidwife, which literally means 'with wife,' is an ancient one.Throughout history, babies were delivered with the assistance of amidwife. At least until the 20th Century, women controlled the processof childbirth in all cultures.

Traditionally, women gave birth at home, attended by mothers, aunts, andother female relations. Sometimes, whole groups of women attended abirth, but central to the event was always a knowledgeable and experienced midwife. Not only did she aid the labouring mother and"catch the baby;" the midwife also offered essential support and comfortto the mother. In 19th Century Canada it was not unusual for a midwife to attend the birth, then stay on to clean the house, cook the food, and do the laundry. Cultural attitudes, religious beliefs, and notions of respectability kept men outside of the "mystery" of childbirth. Men had little knowledge of the birth process, or of female anatomy. Physicians in ancient societies considered midwifery beneath their dignity, and male midwives would be called upon only when surgery was needed.

Midwife, a Historica Minute, dramatizes the importance and stature ofthe midwife in Canadian history. In the televised mini-drama, a skilled midwife risks the hazards of a rural winter to deliver a child on an isolated farm. The mother and father depend upon the midwife's calm skill and training, she probably received from her own mother.The mini-drama's portrait of the midwife, who confidently takes charge of the home birth, is a marked contrast to the usual childbirth procedures that have predominated in our modern hospitals.

For most of this century, a labouring woman could expect to be rushed to a hospitaland wheeled immediately into a delivery-room, where the doctor,anaesthetist, and nurse waited in masks and sterilized gowns. With the efficiency of modern surgical practice, the doctor would deliver the baby under the bright lights of the operating table. When the mother awoke from the anaesthetic, she discovered that she had, somehow, given birth to a baby girl or boy.

How did this transformation in childbirth practice occur? How did a natural occurrence within a community of women become a clinical experience largely controlled by men? And in this modernizing process,what has happened to the traditional midwife? Like many cultural changes, the transformation in childbirth procedures was initiated by the introduction of a new technology. The invention ofthe forceps in the early seventeenth century meant that a child could be pulled from the womb when manual skills were not enough to do the job. In some circles, the power of the forceps reached mythical proportions. Women, believing that the instrument could shorten labour, wanted the benefit of this great invention. In fact, the inventors enhanced the mystique of the forceps by hiding them in elaborate wooden boxes and blindfolding the labouring mothers. So successful were they at concealing the design of their instrument that it remained a "familysecret" for almost a hundred years.

The use of forceps marked the beginning of the medical science ofchildbirth. Subsequent medical discoveries and advances in technologyhave eliminated many of the risks women faced when giving birth, but scientific interest also marked the decline of the role of the midwife.The new technology gave control of childbirth to men. In the eighteenth century both men and women generally believed in the intellectual superiority of men. It was felt that even if women were given then ecessary training, they would never be able to use medical instruments properly. Some said their hands were too small. Others claimed that their overly emotional characters would interfere with the cool exerciseof judgement necessary in surgical situations.

As one 19th Century doctor put it, a woman "has a head almost too small for intellect and just big enough for love." We may laugh at these notions now, but by the nineteenth century, most North American women came to believe that doctors provided more safety (and respectability) in childbirth. Such attitudes put practising midwives in a double bind. Midwives had noformal organization or licensing, yet women who wanted to becomelicensed doctors were denied access to medical schools.By the beginning of the 20th Century, midwifery was confined to poor or rural areas in Canada. As the century progressed, a further development saw childbirth move away from the home and into the hospitals. Beforethat time, hospitals had been overcrowded and dirty places, serving onlythe poor. But hospital conditions gradually improved because of a growing knowledge of sanitation.

By the 1920s women saw hospital birth as the "germ-free" alternative to the often messy home birth. As the trend continued, the vast majority of women chose to give birth inhospitals.In the late 1960s, however, attitudes again started to change. Women began to question the experiences they were having in hospitals. Was there not more to motherhood than the sterile, assembly-line routine that put the needs of the hospital before the needs of the woman?

A renewed interest in the process of birth developed, giving rise to the idea of "natural" childbirth. Hospitals began to allow fathers to participate in births in the warmer environment of "birthing rooms. "Finally, in this new climate, the home birth movement [re]emerged - awoman giving birth in her own bed, surrounded by her family, andassisted by a midwife. Progress has brought us full-circle in balancing the benefits of medical science and the values of old traditions.

Across Canada, the role of midwifery in the health care system is being considered and legislationis being revised. BC and Ontario have passed legislation regulating midwives and midwifery is fully publicly funded in these provinces. Midwifery training programs have been initiated in three Ontario universities. Despite these changes, midwives across canada are stillstruggling to be recognized as professionals who are integral to the health care system.

Provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan have regulated midwifery, but midwives do not receive any public funding. Although midwives are not fully integrated into the health care system across the country, the recent changes to the legal status of midwives in some provinces is returning midwives to the important and respected role they once held in Canada, and that they currently hold in many European countries.

For more information regarding the emergence of Midwifery in Saskatchewan visit There are plans to introduce funded midwifery in this province in 2007.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Labour Epidurals and Childbirth Education Classes

(Originally posted 6 September 2000 on About Anesthesiology)


As an anesthesiologist, much of my involvement with pregnant and laboring women involves the placement of epidurals for the relief of pain during labor. I believe that epidurals and other anesthetic techniques provide effective methods of pain control for labor and that they are relatively safe for most people. However, I also believe in two other important concepts:

1. Everyone is different: As a result, I don't think that everyone should have an epidural. There are many, many options for pain relief that exist. Each person will have to decide which of these is the one that will be best for them. Some of these methods involve medications, some do not. Some involve procedures such as an epidural placed by an anesthesiologist, some do not. As with anything, there are risks and benefits to every choice. There is certainly an appropriate role for epidurals in labor - but it is important to identify them as only one option.

2. Informed consent is important:

What this means is that a fully informed patient is better than an uninformed one. Someone who has had a chance to think about all the options, risks, benefits, etc. and to make an informed choice will be more satisfied with their situation and medical care than someone who has not gone through this process. In addition, I firmly believe that this is the proper way to practice medicine.


A direct result of my experience and my beliefs expressed above is that I feel Childbirth Education (CBE) Classes are of great value to every pregnant woman. I participate in teaching these classes at the hospital where I work because of how important I believe they are. I recommend that every woman who is pregnant take the opportunity to attend a CBE class.
There are many different types of classes with many different philosophies of teaching and focus. I'll leave the details of how to choose the right class to the people who do Childbirth Education professionally. However, for those of you that don't know what Childbirth Education is, let me briefly summarize common themes of what you'll learn:

You'll learn about the normal birth process including the physical changes that will occur to your body as well as what to expect during labor.

You'll learn coping mechanisms for discomfort, pain, etc. These might include breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, distraction techniques, and more.

You and your partner will learn about labor coaching.

You'll learn about nutrition and exercise during pregnancy.

You'll get answers to a lot of questions that you might never have even thought about!

In addition to these things, the process of childbirth education acknowledges and affirms that the mental, emotional and social aspects of pregnancy and birth are just as important as the physical aspects. It helps the father get more involved in the process of pregnancy, gives you a chance to meet other couples that are expecting and allows you a comfortable setting to ask questions that you might be too embarrassed to ask your doctor.

Now, let me address an important issue...
I want an epidural - not a class! >Page 1, 2, 3

email: © 2002-2005 by Paul H. Ting and

To register for Childbirth Classes in Saskatoon contact your local health region or see the Services and Workshops page of our website: and look for Labour Intensive Birth Support Skills Workshop for expectant families.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness and Exercise

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy and After Pregnancy

Scientific studies consistently confirm the numerous and outstanding benefits of exercise during pregnancy both for the mother and her developing baby. These benefits are now widely recognized throughout the medical, birthing, and fitness communities.
The majority of studies on exercise during pregnancy collected data from previously fit and healthy women who continued their already active and healthy lifestyles during their pregnancies.

Pregnancy Presents a Unique Motivation to Begin or Continue an Exercise Program

Pregnancy affords a unique window of opportunity for women to actively engage in health-enhancing activities. Maternal concern for her baby increases the mother’s motivation to form better health habits during pregnancy. Physically active women are more likely to adopt other healthy lifestyle choices. Good habits established at this time can last a lifetime and provide profound benefits for the mother, baby, and other family members.

During Labour and Delivery, Fit Women Experience:

Easier adaptation to the lower-intensity endurance activity of early labor.

Shorter first and second stages of labour.

Enhanced pain tolerance.

Increased stamina for labour and delivery, with less perceived exertion during labour.

Lower incidences of intervention during labour.

Substantially fewer caesarian births.

Good pelvic muscle tone—resulting in fewer episiotomies/tearing.

Adherence to Strength, Cardiovascular and Flexibility Programs during Pregnancy also:

Boosts maternal immune-system function which continues to benefit her baby after birth through breastfeeding.

More efficiently delivers blood and oxygen to the heart and brain, enhancing concentration and energy-levels.

Helps manage or prevent gestational diabetes.

More effectively controls weight gain, which – in addition to physical benefits – enhances body image, confidence, and self-awareness.

Improves posture and results in fewer aches and pains.

Aids in quicker postpartum recovery.

Decreases incidence of falls.

Reduces stress, anxiety, and insomnia, imparting an overall improvement in sleeping patterns, possibly lowering risk for depression.

A larger placenta develops, which increases the capacity to exchange oxygen and CO2, and nutrients and waste products.

Increases the cardiovascular capacity of the baby.

Healthy Moms Raise Healthy Children

Healthy, active women are positive role-models and are more likely to pass on healthy lifestyles to their children. They also give birth to leaner, stronger, healthier babies, who may even have better motor-functioning and cardiovascular capacity as adults.

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER - All of the above information assumes that the mother-to-be is in good physical and mental health, and that her pregnancy is without risk factors or complications. Web site content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice, or replace the recommendations of your doctor, midwife, or physical therapist. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Labour Pain?

Have you ever seen porcupine babies? Brings a whole new meaning to labour pains!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Estatic Birth: The Hormonal Blueprint of Labour

By Sarah J. Buckley
I am sharing this piece with you because I feel that the research presented is solid and challenges our preceptions of 'normal' birth. -Lisa

Giving birth in ecstasy: this is our birthright and our body's intent. Mother Nature, in her wisdom, prescribes birthing hormones that take us outside (ec) our usual state (stasis) so that we can be transformed on every level as we enter motherhood. This exquisite hormonal orchestration unfolds optimally when birth is undisturbed, enhancing safety for both mother and baby. Science is also increasingly discovering what we realize as mothers- that our way of birth affects us life-long, mother and child, and that an ecstatic birth, a birth that takes us beyond our Self, is the gift of a lifetime.

Four major hormonal systems are active during labor and birth. These involve oxytocin, the hormone of love; endorphins, hormones of pleasure and transcendence; epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones of excitement; and prolactin, the mothering hormone. These systems are common to all mammals and originate in our mammalian or middle brain, also known as the limbic system. For birth to proceed optimally, this part of the brain must take precedence over the neocortex, or rational brain. This shift can be helped by an atmosphere of quiet and privacy, with, for example, dim lighting and little conversation, and no expectation of rationality from the laboring woman. Under such conditions a woman intuitively will choose the movements, sounds, breathing, and positions that will birth her baby most easily. This is her genetic and hormonal blueprint.

All of these systems are adversely affected by current birth practices. Hospital environments and routines are not conducive to the shift in consciousness that giving birth naturally requires. A woman's hormonal physiology is further disturbed by practices such as induction, the use of painkillers and epidurals, caesarean surgery, and separation of mother and baby after birth.
Hormones in Birth

Perhaps the best-known birth hormone is oxytocin, the hormone of love, which is secreted during sexual activity, male and female orgasm, birth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin engenders feelings of love and altruism; as Michel Odent says, "Whatever the facet of Love we consider, oxytocin is involved."1
Oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, the "master gland" deep in our brains, and stored in the posterior pituitary, from where it is released in pulses. It is a crucial hormone in reproduction and mediates what have been called the ejection reflexes: the sperm ejection reflex with male orgasm (and the corresponding sperm introjection reflex with female orgasm); the fetal ejection reflex at birth (a phrase coined by Odent for the powerful contractions at the end of an undisturbed labor, which birth the baby quickly and easily);2 and, postpartum, the placental ejection reflex and the milk ejection, or let-down reflex, in breastfeeding.
As well as reaching peak levels in each of these situations, oxytocin is secreted in large amounts in pregnancy, when it acts to enhance nutrient absorption, reduce stress, and conserve energy by making us more sleepy.3 Oxytocin also causes the rhythmic uterine contractions of labor, and levels peak at birth through stimulation of stretch receptors in a woman's lower vagina as the baby descends.4 The high levels continue after birth, culminating with the birth of the placenta, and then gradually subside.5

The baby also produces oxytocin during labor, perhaps even initiating labor;6 so, in the minutes after birth, both mother and baby are bathed in an ecstatic cocktail of hormones. At this time ongoing oxytocin production is enhanced by skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact and by the baby's first suckling. Good levels of oxytocin also protect against postpartum hemorrhage by ensuring good uterine contractions.7 In breastfeeding, oxytocin mediates the let-down reflex and is released in pulses as the baby suckles. During the months and years of lactation, oxytocin continues to keep the mother relaxed and well nourished. One researcher calls it "a very efficient antistress situation which prevents a lot of disease later on." In her study, mothers who breastfed for more than seven weeks were calmer than mothers who did not.8 Outside its role in reproduction, oxytocin is secreted in other situations of love and altruism, for example, sharing a meal.9 Researchers have implicated malfunctions of the oxytocin system in conditions such as schizophrenia,10 autism,11 cardiovascular disease,12 and drug dependency,13 and have suggested that oxytocin may mediate the antidepressant effect of drugs such as Prozac.14

As a naturally occurring opiate, beta-endorphin has properties similar to meperidine (pethidine, Demerol), morphine, and heroin, and has been shown to work on the same receptors of the brain. Like oxytocin, beta-endorphin is secreted from the pituitary gland, and high levels are present during sex, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Beta-endorphin is also a stress hormone, released under conditions of duress and pain, when it acts as an analgesic and, like other stress hormones, suppresses the immune system. This effect may be important in preventing a pregnant mother's immune system from acting against her baby, whose genetic material is foreign to hers.
Like the addictive opiates, beta-endorphin induces feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and dependency or, with a partner, mutual dependency. Beta-endorphin levels are high in pregnancy and increase throughout labor,15 when levels of beta-endorphin and corticotrophin (another stress hormone) reach those found in male endurance athletes during maximal exercise on a treadmill.16 Such high levels help the laboring woman to transmute pain and enter the altered state of consciousness that characterizes an undisturbed birth.
Beta-endorphin has complex and incompletely understood relationships with other hormonal systems.17 In labor, high levels will inhibit oxytocin release. It makes sense that when pain or stress levels are very high, contractions will slow, thus "rationing labour according to both physiological and psychological stress."18 Beta-endorphin also facilitates the release of prolactin during labor,19 which prepares the mother's breasts for lactation and also aids in the final stages of lung maturation for the baby.20 Beta-endorphin is also important in breastfeeding. Levels peak in the mother at 20 minutes,21 and beta-endorphin is present as well in breastmilk,22 inducing pleasure and mutual dependency for both mother and baby in their ongoing relationship.
Fight-or-Flight Hormones
The hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline and noradrenaline) are also known as the fight-or-flight hormones or, collectively, as catecholamines (CAs). They are secreted from the adrenal gland, above the kidney, in response to stresses such as fright, anxiety, hunger, or cold, as well as excitement, when they activate the sympathetic nervous system for fight or flight.
In the first stage of labor, high CA levels inhibit oxytocin production, therefore slowing or inhibiting labor. CAs also act to reduce blood flow to the uterus and placenta, and therefore to the baby. This makes sense for mammals birthing in the wild, where the presence of danger would activate this sympathetic response, inhibiting labor and diverting blood to the major muscle groups so that the mother can flee to safety.
In humans, high levels of CAs have been associated with longer labor and adverse fetal heart rate patterns.23 After an undisturbed labor, however, when the moment of birth is imminent, these hormones act in a different way. There is a sudden increase in CA levels, especially noradrenaline, which activates the fetal ejection reflex. The mother experiences a sudden rush of energy; she will be upright and alert, with a dry mouth and shallow breathing and perhaps the urge to grasp something. She may express fear, anger, or excitement, and the CA rush will cause several very strong contractions, which will birth the baby quickly and easily.

Some birth attendants have made good use of this reflex when a woman is having difficulties in the second stage of labor. For example, an anthropologist working with an indigenous Canadian tribe recorded that when a woman was having difficulty in birth, the young people of the village would gather together to help. They would suddenly and unexpectedly shout out close to her, with the shock triggering her fetal ejection reflex and a quick birth.24

After the birth, CA levels drop steeply. The new mother may feel shaky or cold as a consequence. A warm atmosphere is important, as ongoing high CA levels will inhibit oxytocin and therefore increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.25

Noradrenaline, as part of the ecstatic cocktail, is also implicated in instinctive mothering behavior. Mice bred to be deficient in noradrenaline will not care for their young after birth unless noradrenaline is injected back into their system.26

For the baby also, birth is an exciting and stressful event, reflected in high CA levels.27 These assist the baby during birth by protecting against the effects of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and subsequent acidosis. High CA levels at birth ensure that the baby is wide-eyed and alert at first contact with the mother. The baby's CA levels also drop rapidly after an undisturbed birth, being soothed by contact with the mother.

Known as the mothering hormone, prolactin is the major hormone of breastmilk synthesis and breastfeeding. Traditionally it has been thought to produce aggressively protective behavior (the "mother tiger" effect) in lactating females.28 Levels of prolactin increase in pregnancy, although milk production is inhibited hormonally until the placenta is delivered. Levels further increase in labor and peak at birth. Prolactin is also a hormone of submission or surrender (in primate troops, the dominant male has the lowest prolactin level) and produces some degree of anxiety. In the breastfeeding relationship, these effects activate the mother's vigilance and help her to put her baby's needs first.29 The baby also produces prolactin while in the womb, and high levels are found in amniotic fluid, possibly of uterine or placental origin.30 The function of prolactin in the baby is unknown.

Undisturbed Birth Undisturbed birth is exceedingly rare in our culture, even in birth centers and homebirths. Two factors that disturb birth in all mammals are firstly being in an unfamiliar place and secondly the presence of an observer. Feelings of safety and privacy thus seem to be fundamental. Yet the entire system of Western obstetrics is devoted to observation of pregnant and birthing women, by both people and machines; when birth isn't going smoothly, obstetricians respond with yet more intense observation. It is indeed amazing that any woman can give birth under such conditions. Some writers have observed that, for a woman, having a baby has a lot of parallels with making a baby: same hormones, same parts of the body, same sounds, and the same needs for feelings of safety and privacy. How would it be to attempt to make love in the conditions under which we expect women to give birth?

For birthing Maia Rose, my fourth baby, I arranged a situation where I felt very safe and very private, and I had my shortest, easiest, and most ecstatic labor and birth--one and a half hours with an 8-pound, unexpectedly breech baby. I believe this birth proceeded optimally because I was totally free to follow my instincts, and because I felt safe and private. Each woman must labor where, and with whom, she feels safest, and my situation would not suit everyone. But it underscores the huge gap between what was ideal for me and my baby, physiologically and hormonally, and the standard care offered in most hospitals.

Impact of Drugs and Procedures
Induction and AugmentationIn Australia, approximately 20 percent of women have induced labor, and another 20 percent have an augmentation--stimulation or speeding up of labor--with synthetic oxytocin (Syntocinon, Pitocin).31 In the US, these rates are 19.8 percent and 17.9 percent,32 adding up in both countries to around 40 percent of birthing women being administered synthetic oxytocin by IV during labor.
Synthetic oxytocin administered in labor does not act like the body's own oxytocin. First, Syntocinon-induced contractions are different from natural contractions, and these differences can cause reduced blood flow to the baby. For example, waves can occur almost on top of each other when too high a dose of synthetic oxytocin is given, and it also causes the resting tone of the uterus to increase.33

Second, oxytocin, synthetic or not, cannot cross from the body to the brain through the blood-brain barrier. This means that Syntocinon, introduced into the body by injection or drip, does not act as the hormone of love. However, it does provide the hormonal system with negative feedback--that is, oxytocin receptors in the laboring woman's body detect high levels of oxytocin and signal the brain to reduce production. We know that women with Syntocinon infusions are at higher risk of bleeding after the birth, because their own oxytocin production has been shut down. But we do not know the psychological effects of giving birth without the peak levels of oxytocin that nature prescribes for all mammalian species.

As for the baby, "Many experts believe that through participating in this initiation of his own birth, the fetus may be training himself to secrete his own love hormone."34 Michel Odent speaks passionately about our society's deficits in our capacity to love self and others, and he traces these problems back to the time around birth, particularly to interference with the oxytocin system.

Opiate Painkillers
The most commonly used drug in Australian labor wards today is pethidine (meperidine, Demerol). In one state, 34 percent of laboring women in 1998 were given this drug.35 In the US, several opiate-like drugs have been traditionally used in labor, including meperidine nalbuphine (Nubain), butorphanol (Stadol), alphaprodine (Nisentil), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and fentanyl citrate (Sublimaze). The use of simple opiates in the labor room has declined in recent years, with most women now opting for epidurals, which may also contain these drugs (see below).36 As with oxytocin, use of opiate drugs will reduce a woman's own hormone production,37 which may be helpful if levels are excessive and inhibiting labor. The use of pethidine, however, has been shown to slow labor, more so with higher doses.38

Again we must ask: What are the psychological effects for mother and baby of laboring and birthing without peak levels of these hormones of pleasure and mutual dependency? Some researchers believe that endorphins are the reward we get for performing reproductive functions such as mating and birthing; that is, the endorphin fix keeps us having sex and having babies.39 It is interesting to note that most countries that have adopted Western obstetrics, which prizes drugs and interventions in birth above pleasure and empowerment, have experienced steeply declining birthrates in recent years.

Of greater concern is a study that looked at the birth records of 200 opiate addicts born in Stockholm from 1945 to 1966 and compared them with the birth records of their non-addicted siblings. When the mothers had received opiates, barbiturates, and/or nitrous oxide gas during labor, especially in multiple doses, the offspring were more likely to become drug addicted. For example, when a mother received three doses of opiates, her child was 4.7 times more likely to become addicted to opiate drugs in adulthood.40

This study was recently replicated with a US population, with very similar results.41 The authors of the first study suggest an imprinting mechanism, but I wonder whether it may be a matter of ecstasy: if we don't get it at birth, as we expect, we look for it later in life through drugs. Perhaps this also explains the popularity (and the name) of the drug Ecstasy.

Animal studies suggest a further possibility. It seems that drugs administered chronically in late pregnancy can cause effects in brain structure and function (e.g., chemical and hormonal imbalance) in offspring that may not be obvious until young adulthood.42-45 Whether such effects apply to human babies who are exposed for shorter periods around the time of birth is not known; but one researcher warns, "During this prenatal period of neuronal [brain cell] multiplication, migration and interconnection, the brain is most vulnerable to irreversible damage."46

Epidural Drugs
Epidural drugs are administered over several hours via a tube into the space around the spinal cord. Such drugs include local anaesthetics (all cocaine derivatives, e.g., bupivicaine/marcaine), more recently combined with low-dose opiates. Spinal pain relief involves a single dose of the same drugs injected through the coverings of the spinal cord and is usually short-acting unless given as a combined spinal-epidural (CSE). Epidural pain relief has major effects on all of the previously mentioned hormones of labor. Epidurals inhibit beta-endorphin production47 and therefore also inhibit the shift in consciousness that is part of a normal labor. (This may be one reason why epidurals are so acceptable to hospital birth attendants, who are not prepared, practically or professionally, to deal with the irrationality, directness, and physicality of a woman laboring on her own terms.) When an epidural is in place, the oxytocin peak that occurs at birth is also inhibited because the stretch receptors of a birthing woman's lower vagina, which trigger this peak, are numbed. This effect probably persists even when the epidural has worn off and sensation has returned, because the nerve fibers involved are smaller than the sensory nerves and therefore more sensitive to drug effects.48

A woman giving birth with an epidural will thus miss out on the fetal ejection reflex, with its strong final contractions designed to birth her baby quickly and safely. She must then use her own effort, often against gravity, to compensate. This explains the increased length of the second stage of labor and the extra need for forceps when an epidural is used.49 Use of epidurals also inhibits catecholamine release,50 which may be advantageous in the first stage of labor; close to the time of birth, however, a reduction in CA levels will, as with oxytocin, inhibit the fetal ejection reflex and prolong the second stage.

Another hormone also appears to be adversely affected by epidurals. Prostaglandin F2 alpha helps to make a laboring woman's uterus contractible, and levels increase when women labor without epidurals. In one study, women with epidurals experienced a decrease in PGF2 alpha, and average labor times were increased from 4.7 to 7.8 hours.51 Drugs administered by epidural enter the mother's bloodstream immediately and go straight to the baby at equal, and sometimes greater, levels.52,53 Some drugs will be preferentially taken up into the baby's brain,54 and almost all will take longer to be eliminated from the baby's immature system after the cord is cut. One researcher found bupivacaine and its breakdown products in the circulation of babies for the first three days.55

Another indication of the effects of epidurals on mother and baby comes from French researchers who gave epidurals to laboring sheep.56 The ewes failed to display their normal mothering behavior; this effect was especially marked for the ewes in their first lambing that were given epidurals early in labor. Seven out of eight of these mothers showed no interest in their offspring for at least 30 minutes.
Some studies indicate that this disturbance may apply to humans also. Mothers given epidurals in one study spent less time with their babies in hospital, in inverse proportion to the dose of drugs they received and the length of the second stage of labor.57

In another study, mothers who had epidurals described their babies as more difficult to care for one month later.58 Such subtle shifts in relationship and reciprocity may reflect hormonal dysfunctions and/or drug toxicity and/or the less-than-optimal circumstances that often accompany epidural births--long labors, forceps, and cesareans.

Incredibly, there have been no good studies of the effects of epidurals on breastfeeding, although there is evidence that babies born after epidural have a diminished suckling reflexes and capacity.59,60

Cesarean Surgery
Cesarean section involves major abdominal surgery and increases the risk of maternal death by about four times,61 as well as possibly affecting mother and baby's health in subsequent pregnancies.62 Cesarean rates are currently 21.1 percent in Australia63 and 22.9 percent--the highest level on record--in the US.64 Obviously there is a shorter or absent labor with cesarean birth, and the peaks of oxytocin, endorphins, catecholamines, and prolactin are absent. Furthermore, mothers and babies are usually separated for some hours after birth, so breastfeeding is usually delayed. Both will also be affected to some extent by the drugs used in the procedure (epidural, spinal, or general anaesthetic) and for postoperative pain relief.

The consequences of such radical departures from our hormonal blueprint are suggested in the work of Australian researchers who interviewed 242 women in late pregnancy and again after birth. The 50 percent of women who had given spontaneous vaginal birth experienced a marked improvement in mood and an elevation of self-esteem after delivery. By contrast, the 17 percent who had cesarean surgery were more likely to experience a decline in mood and self-esteem. The remaining women had forceps or vacuum assistance, and their mood and self-esteem were, on average, unaltered.65

Another study looked at the breastfeeding hormones prolactin and oxytocin on day two, comparing women who had given birth vaginally with women who had undergone emergency cesarean surgery. In the cesarean group, prolactin levels did not rise as expected with breastfeeding, and the oxytocin pulses were reduced or absent. In this study, first suckling had been at 240 minutes average for cesarean babies, and 75 minutes average for babies vaginally born. Duration of breastfeeding was not significantly different for the mothers, and the authors conclude that "other factors" can compensate for deficient hormonal release."66 Other research has shown that early and frequent suckling positively influences milk production and the duration of breastfeeding.67,68 The authors of the hormonal study above add, "These data indicate that early breastfeeding and physical closeness may be associated not only with more interaction between mother and child, but also with endocrine [hormonal] changes in the mother."69

These studies not only indicate important links between birth and breastfeeding but also show how an optimal birth experience can influence the long-term health of mother and baby. For example, successful breastfeeding confers advantages such as reduced risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis for the mother and reduced risk of diabetes and obesity long-term for the child. And enhanced self-esteem after a natural birth--a lifelong effect, in my experience--is a solid base from which to begin our mothering.

The connections between events at birth and long-term health certainly deserve more study. (See Michel Odent's Primal Health Database,, for a summary of current research.) But we cannot afford to wait for years for researchers to "prove" the benefits of an undisturbed birth. Perhaps the best we can do is trust our instincts and vote with our birthing bodies, choosing models of care that increase our chances of undisturbed--and ecstatic--birthing.

Early Separation
Even in non-interventionist settings, it is uncommon for a baby to remain in his mother's arms for the first one to two hours. And yet nature's blueprint for this time includes a specific and genetically encoded activation of the brain and nervous system for both mother and baby. For example, when the newborn baby is in skin-to-skin contact at the mother's left breast (which is where new mothers in all cultures instinctively cradle their babies) and in contact with her heart rhythm, "a cascade of supportive confirmative information activates every sense, instinct and intelligence needed for the radical change of environment…. Thus intelligent learning begins at birth."70

For the mother also, "A major block of dormant intelligences is activated" the mother then knows exactly what to do and can communicate with her baby on an intuitive level."71 This awakening of maternal capabilities is well known among animal researchers, who link it to the action of pregnancy and birth hormones on the brains of mothers who have recently delivered.72 Such intuitive capacities are sorely needed in our human culture, where we rely so heavily on outside advice from books and "experts" to tell us how to care for our babies.

According to Joseph Chilton Pearce (see Note 70), when these activations do not occur within about 45 minutes of birth, "cut off from his mother's nurturing and with none of the encoded expectancies met, the newborn's adrenals continue to release steroids in the face of maximum fear and abandonment. The infant screams for a short time and then silence falls." The damage caused by separation, Pearce writes, is "massive and past the point of repair." Like Odent, he believes that our current birth practices are psychologically crippling to babies, mothers, and society as a whole, and the evidence in his book Evolution's End: Reclaiming the Potential of Our Intelligence is compelling.

Optimizing the Ecstasy
The following suggestions will help a woman use her hormonal blueprint and so optimize the experience and safety for herself and her baby.
Take responsibility for your health, healing, and wholeness throughout the childbearing years.
Choose a model of care that enhances the chance of a natural and undisturbed birth (eg, homebirth, birth center, one-on-one midwifery care).
Arrange support according to an individual woman's needs; trust, a loving relationship, and continuity of care with support people are important.
Consider having an advocate at a hospital birth, e.g., a private midwife or doula.
Ensure an atmosphere where the laboring woman feels safe, unobserved, and free to follow her own instincts.
Reduce neocortical stimulation by keeping lighting soft and reducing words to a minimum.
Cover the clock and any other technical equipment.
Avoid drugs unless absolutely necessary.
Avoid procedures (including obvious observations) unless absolutely necessary.
Avoid cesarean surgery unless absolutely necessary.
Don't separate mother and baby for any reason, including resuscitation, which can be done with the cord still attached.
Breastfeed and enjoy it!

One way to ensure minimum interference in the third stage is to practice Lotus Birth, or nonseverance of the cord. This is only compatible with a physiological third stage, and also keeps mother and baby together and secluded in the hours and days after birth. It is the subject of a new book and, having had three Lotus-born babies myself, I highly recommend both the practice and the book.73.

Giving birth is an act of love, and each birth is unique to the mother and her baby. Yet we also share the same womanly physiology and the same exquisite orchestration of our birthing hormones. Our capacity for ecstasy in birth is also both unique and universal, a necessary blessing that is hard-wired into our bodies but that requires, especially in these times, that we each trust, honor, and protect the act of giving birth according to our own instincts and needs.

Dutch professor of obstetrics G. Kloosterman offers a succinct summary, which would be well placed on the door of every hospital birth room:
Spontaneous labour in a normal woman is an event marked by a number of processes so complicated and so perfectly attuned to each other that any interference will only detract from the optimal character. The only thing required from the bystanders is that they show respect for this awe-inspiring process by complying with the first rule of medicine--nil nocere [do no harm].74

Notes 1. M. Odent, The Scientification of Love (London: Free Association Press, 1999). 2. M. Odent, "The Fetus Ejection Reflex," in The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding (Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 1992). 3. K. Uvnas Moberg, quoted in report of Australian Lactation Consultant's Conference, Gold Coast, Australia 1998, published in Australian Doctor (July 8, 1998): 38. 4. M. Y. Dawood et al., "Oxytocin in Human Pregnancy and Parturition," Obstetrics and Gynecology 51 (1978): 138-143. 5. E. Nissen et al., "Elevation of Oxytocin Levels Early Post-partum in Women," Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandanavica 74, no. 7 (1998): 530-533. 6. T. Chard et al., "Release of Oxytocin and Vasopressin by the Human Fetus during Labour," Nature 234 (1971): 352-354. 7. M. Odent, "Don't Manage the Third Stage of Labour!" Practising Midwife 1, no. 9 (1998): 31-33. 8. See Note 3. 9. J. G. Verbalis et al., "Oxytocin Secretion in Response to Cholecystokinin and Food: Differentiation of Nausea from Satiety," Science 232 (1986): 1417-1419. 10. P. Feifal and T. Raza, "Oxytocin Modulates Psychomimetic-induced Deficits in Sensorimotor Gating," Psychopharmacology 141, no. 1 (1999): 93-98 11. T. R. Insel, "Vasopressin and Autism: Is There a Connection?" Biological Psychiatry 45, no. 2 (1999): 145-147. 12. S. Knox et al., "Social Isolation and Cardiovascular Disease: An Atherosclerotic Pathway," Psychoneuroendocrinology 23, no. 8 (1998): 877-890. 13. S. Sarnyai and G. L. Kovacs, "Role of Oxytocin in the Neuroadaptation to Drugs of Abuse," Psychoneuroendocrinology 19, no. 1 (1994): 85-117. 14. K. Uvnas Moberg et al., "Oxytocin as a Possible Mediator of SSRI-induced Antidepressant Effect," Psychopharmacology 142, no. 1 (1999): 954-1001. 15. M. Brinsmead et al., "Peripartum Concentrations of Beta Endorphin and Cortisol and Maternal Mood States," Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 25 (1985): 194-197. 16. R. S. Goland et al., "Biologically Active Corticotrophin-releasing Hormone in Maternal and Fetal Plasma during Pregnancy," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 159 (1984): 884-890. 17. T. Laatikainen, "Corticotrophin Releasing Hormone and Opioid Peptides in Reproduction and Stress," Annals of Medicine 23, no. 5 (1991): 489-496. 18. M. Jowitt, "Beta-endorphin and Stress in Pregnancy and Labour," Midwifery Matters 56 (1993): 3-4. 19. C. Rivier et al., "Stimulation in Vivo of the Secretion of Prolactin and Growth Hormone by Beta-endorphin," Endocrinology 100 (1976): 238-241. 20. C. R. Mendelsen, "Prolactin May Be Stimulus in Fetal Lung Development," Ob-Gyn News, July 1, 1978. 21. R. Franceschini et al., "Plasma Beta-endorphin Concentrations during Suckling in Lactating Women," British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 96, no. 6 (1989): 711-713. 22. V. Zanardo et al., "Beta Endorphin Concentrations in Human Milk," Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 33, no. 2 (2001): 160-164. 23. R. Lederman, E. Lederman et al., "Anxiety and Epinephrine in Multiparous Women in Labor: Relationship to Duration of Labor and Fetal Heart Rate Patterns," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 153, no. 8 (1985): 870-877. 24. This incident is described by Michel Odent in "The Fetus Ejection Reflex," in The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding (Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 1992). 25. Manabu Saito et al., "Plasma Catecholamines and Microvibration as Labour Progresses," Shinshin-Igaku 31, no. 3 (1991): 81-89 (abstract in English). 26. S. A. Thomas and R. D. Palnuter, "Impaired Maternal Behavior in Mice Lacking Norepinephrine and Epinephrine," Cell 91 (1997): 583-592. 27. H. Lagercrantz and H. Bistoletti, "Catecholamine Release in the Newborn Infant at Birth," Pediatric Research 11, no. 8 (1977): 889-893. 28. M. Odent, The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding (Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 1992). 29. Ibid. 30. G. Daniels and J. Martin, "Neuroendocrine Regulation and Diseases of the Anterior Pituitary and Hypothalamus," in Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 13th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994). 31. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Perinatal Data Statistics Unit,, retrieved October 2001. 32. National Center for Health Statistics,, retrieved November 2001. 33. See Note 15. 34. See Note 28. 35. Queensland Health Perinatal Statistics 1998,, retrieved November 2001. 36. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Obstetric Analgesia and Anesthesia, Technical Bulletin No. 225 (July 1996). 37. T. A. Thomas et al., "Influence of Medication, Pain and Progress in Labour on Plasma Beta-endorphin like Immunoreactivity," British Journal of Anaesthesia 54 (1982): 401-408. 38. A. M. Thomson, "A Re-evaluation of the Effect of Pethidine on the Length of Labour," Journal of Advanced Nursing 19, no. 3 (1994): 448-456. 39. C. D. Kimball, "Do Endorphin Residues of Beta Lipotrophin in Hormones Reinforce Reproductive Functions?," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 134, no. 2 (1979): 127-132. 40. B. Jacobsen et al., "Opiate Addiction in Adult Offspring through Possible Imprinting after Obstetric Treatment," British Medical Journal 301 (1990): 1067-1070. 41. K. Nyberg et al., "Perinatal Medication as a Potential Risk Factor for Adult Drug Abuse in a North American Cohort," Epidemiology 11, no. 6 (2000): 715-716. 42. B. J. Myerson, "Influence of Early B-endorphin Treatment on the Behavior and Reaction to B-endorphin in the Adult Male Rat," Psychoneuroendocrinology 10 (1985): 135-147. 43. C. K. Kellogg et al., "Sexually Dimorphic Influence of Prenatal Exposure to Diazepam on Behavioral Responses to Environmental Challenge and on Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)-Stimulated Chloride Uptake in the Brain," Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 256, no. 1 (1991): 259-265. 44. M. Mirmiran and D. F. Swaab, "Effects of Perinatal Medication on the Developing Brain," in Fetal Behaviour, J. G. Nijhuis, ed. (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1992). 45. G. T. Liversay et al., "Prenatal Exposure to Phenobarbital and Quantifiable Alterations in the Electroencephalogram of Adult Rat Offspring," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 167, no. 6 (1992): 1611-1615. 46. See Note 44. 47. See Note 15. 48. C. F. Goodfellow et al., "Oxytocin Deficiency at Delivery with Epidural Analgesia," British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 90 (1983): 214-219. 49. C. E. McRae-Bergeron et al., "The Effect of Epidural Analgesia on the Second Stage of Labour," Journal of the American Association of Anesthetic Nurses 66, no. 2 (1998): 177-182. 50. A. D. Falconer and A. B. Powles, "Plasma Noradrenaline Levels during Labour: Influence of Elective Lumbar Epidural Blockade," Anaesthesia 37 (1982): 416-420. 51. O. Behrens et al., "Effects of Lumbar Epidural Analgesia on Prostaglandin F2 Alpha Release and Oxytocin Secretion during Labour," Prostaglandins 45, no. 3 (1993): 285-296. 52. R. Fernando and E. Bonello, "Placental and Maternal Plasma Concentrations of Fentanyl and Bupivacaine after Ambulatory Combined Spinal Epidural (CSE) Analgesia during Labour," International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia 4 (1995): 178-179. 53. M. Brinsmead, "Fetal and Neonatal Effects of Drugs Administered in Labour," Medical Journal of Australia 146 (1987): 481-486. 54. T. Hale, "The Effects on Breastfeeding Women of Anaesthetic Medications Used during Labour," paper presented at Passage to Motherhood Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 1998. (Contact CAPERS bookshop, Brisbane, for abstracts or tape, 55. P. Belfrage et al., "Lumbar Epidural Analgesia with Bupivacaine in Labor," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 123 (1975): 839-844. 56. D. P. Krehbiel et al., "Peridural Anesthesia Disturbs Maternal Behavior in Primiparous and Multiparous Parturient Ewes," Physiology and Behavior 40 (1987): 463-472. 57. C. B. Sepkoski et al., "Effects of Maternal Epidural Anesthesia on Neonatal Behavior during the First Month," Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 34 (1992): 1072-1180. 58. A. D. Murray et al., "Effects of Epidural Anaesthesia on Newborns and Their Mothers," Child Development 52 (1981): 71-82. 59. J. Riordan et al., "Effect of Labor Pain Relief Medication on Neonatal Suckling and Breastfeeding Duration," Journal of Human Lactation 16, no. 1 (2000): 7-12. 60. A. B. Ransjo-Arvidson et al., "Maternal Analgesia during Labor Disturbs Newborn Behavior: Effects on Breastfeeding, Temperature, and Crying," Birth 28, no. 1 (2001): 20-21. 61. M. Enkin et al., A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth, 3rd ed. (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2000). 62. E. Hemminki and J. Merilainen, "Long-term Effects of Caesarean Sections: Ectopic Pregnancies and Placental Problems," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 174, no. 5 (1996): 1569-1574. 63. See Note 31. 64. See Note 32. 65. J. Fisher et al., "Adverse Psychological Impact of Operative Obstetric Interventions: A Prospective Longitudinal Study," Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 31 (1997): 728-738. 66. E. Nissen et al., "Different Patterns of Oxytocin, Prolactin but Not Cortisol Release during Breastfeeding in Women Delivered by Caesarean Section or by the Vaginal Route," Early Human Development 45 (1996): 103-118. 67. E. M. Salariya et al., "Duration of Breastfeeding after Early Initiation and Frequent Feeding," The Lancet 2, no.8100 (1978): 1141-1143. 68. P. De Chateau and B. Wiberg, "Long-term Effect on Mother-Infant Behaviour of Extra Contact during the First Hour Postpartum," Acta Paediatrica Scandanavia, 66 (1977): 145-151. 69. See Note 66. 70. J. C. Pearce, Evolution's End: Reclaiming the Potential of Our Intelligence (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995): 178-179. 71. Ibid. 72. J. A. Russell et al., "Brain Preparations for Maternity- Adaptive Changes in Behavioral and Neuroendocrine Systems during Pregnancy and Lactation," Progressive Brain Research 133 (2001): 1-38. 73. Shivam Rachana, ed., Lotus Birth (Melbourne, Australia: Greenwood Press, 2000), 74. G. J. Kloosterman, "Universal Aspects of Birth: Human Birth as a Socio-psychosomatic Paradigm," Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology 1, no. 1 (1982): 35-41.
(Note: A similar version of this article was presented at the Circle of Life Conference of the National Association of Childbirth Educators, Queensland, Australia, April 2001.) Issue 111/ march/April 2002

Sarah J. Buckley trained as a family MD and GP-obstetrician in New Zealand. Giving birth to her children Emma (11), Zoe (8), Jacob (6), and Maia Rose (1), all born ecstatically at home, has fueled her passion for birth and motherhood, and she is currently fully occupied in mothering, writing, and lecturing. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with Nicholas, the love of her life, and can be reached at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Welcome Avigail!

Hey Lisa,

I really don't think that Avigail's birth could have been more perfect. Yahweh is SO faithful! As I thought of her birth during my stay at the hospital this thought kept coming to me - "Yahweh will use Birth to push us to our limits - but not past them." I guess that I shouldn't be amazed how Yahweh uses birth to show us our weakness, our strengths, and how incredibly faithful He is.

It was strange because even though I was asking for pain relief some how I knew I wasn't going to get it. In my head, I kept thinking "just because you want something doesn't mean you're going to get it".

Thanks SO much for being there with us! Your calm spirit really made the labour and delivery so wonderful. I truly hope that every woman would have someone like you to share in their birth experience. Oh, how ideas of birth would change from the stereotypical ideas we have here in North America!

Avigail has been adjusting nicely. We had a rough first day home - but now she's into a nice routine. She is calm and content. She's sleeping beautifully - she gave me two 3-hour stretches of sleep last night. Another answer to prayer!!!

I guess the only thing that I may have changed was the attitudes of the medical staff during the delivery - and more "hands off" from the perineum from Dr. --- (OUCH!). I had absolutely no fears as I was pushing her out. I knew that her heartrate was fine. And, I probably could have avoided a few stiches if I'd been left to push her out on my own timing. But, I'd rather take the stiches than have them put the heart monitor on her little scalp.

Thanks again, Lisa! Our family has been so amazingly blessed by Yahweh through you. It's amazing how He brought you into our lives with such perfect timing!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Welcome Ayla!!!

Hi Kari and Lisa!
Some exciting news. We had a baby girl on Sunday! Her name is Ayla Madison Tarasoff and she is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. (I'm not biased or anything ;) )
I want to thank you guys for everything we learned in the classes we took. I know I would not have had the positive attitude that I had without the classes and I'm sure my birth experience would have been completely different without them.
My membranes ruptured on Sunday morning at around 11:00 a.m. and we decided to go to the hospital. When I got to the hospital they double checked my water had broken and because I wasn't having contractions decided not to do any further internal investigations, which was fine by me. They decided I needed to stay at the hospital and put us in a room in antepartum to wait. The doctor told me they would wait until morning and then we would discuss inducement. That upset me, although I knew she would say that, but she said "discuss" so that made me feel better.
Within 20 minutes of moving to the new room, by 1:30 p.m., my contractions started and I started to get uncomfortable. My contractions kept getting closer and closer and after 3 hours no one had been in to check on me. So, Brenden went to find a nurse and she came to see what was happening. She looked at me for about one minute and told me that I was just in pre-labour and nothing was really happening and that I was "scheduled" for an inducement in the morning. That made me so mad that for about half an hour after that my contractions got farther apart. She told us to tell her when the contractions were "regular".
So an hour later at about 4:30 we were certain they were "regular" and Brenden went to get her. She brought in the fetal monitor and made me lie in bed although I asked to sit. I felt her to be really rude and condescending and even at this point she made another comment about me being induced in the morning. I got upset and said but why would you induce me if I am already in labour and she told me basically that I was in such early labour that nothing was happening. I knew she was wrong. Brenden and I figured I was about 4 cm at this point as before he went to get her I had one of those break down "I can't do this" moments just like you said Kari. However, as she made the inducement comment once again and said other rude things I got upset again and my contractions reversed again so the strip didn't show anything that got the nurse excited.
So, then we decided to have a Jacuzzi and that was wonderful except for when I'm sure I hit the 6 cm mark as once again I had another breakdown but Brenden was amazing and helped me through everything. He was so wonderful I couldn't have done it without him.
At around 6:30 p.m. I was definitely in active labour. I kind of went in to a trance from that point on. I don't know why but the nurse at this point still continued to believe I was in early labour. I think she thought I wasn't making enough noise because I was doing so good with my breathing exercises. At somewhere closer to 8 p.m. I hit transition. Brenden said he knew exactly when it started but didn't want to say anything and kept calm and kept me calm. Brenden went and insisted that I needed to have a doctor check me. They finally came and I had my first cervical exam and lo and behold I was 9 cm.
Things were a rush from there. They hurriedly took me to labour and delivery and within 20 minutes of arriving in my new room I was holding my beautiful baby girl in my arms! The pushing stage was so painful but at the same time it was so wonderful. It was just so exciting and although it hurt like nothing I have ever felt it almost felt good at the same time! It was such an amazing experience and I am so glad I was able to cope as I did! I know those classes were the reason. I would have been begging for an epidural otherwise.
So, I just wanted to thank you again for everything!! You guys are great!
Are You at Risk for Postpartum Depression?The "baby blues" are usually just a temporary case of exhaustion and adjustment to the new needy being that can keep you up all night — but postpartum depression is more complicated than that. In most women it will pass without treatment, but it lingers in some women. Learn more about postpartum depression.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Breast Feeding Boosts Kids' Mental Health

Read this and then sign up for the next available breastfeeding classes offeredin your area. If you can't find them please contact us and we will help you.

Sunday October 29 2006 00:00 IST
Washington Post

WASHINGTON: Mothers who want their kids to have strong mental health, should make sure that they breastfeed them for longer than six months after their birth.Researcher Dr Wendy Oddy said there was growing evidence that bioactive factors in breast milk played an important role in the rapid early brain development that occurs in the first year of life.

The findings are based on data from the ground-breaking Raine Study at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, that has tracked the growth and development of more than 2500 West Australian children over the past 16 years.“Even when we adjust the results to take into account other factors such as the parents’ socio-economic situation, their education, their happiness and family functioning, we see that children that were breastfed for at least six months are at lower risk of mental health problems,” Dr Oddy said.

The study further found that children, who were breastfed for less than six months compared to six months or longer had a 52 percent increased risk of a mental health problem at 2 years of age. They are also more likely to be at a 55 per cent increased risk at age 6, and at age 8 the increased risk increases to 61 per cent, while at age 10 the increased risk was 37%.

Dr Oddy said that children that were breastfed had particularly lower rates of delinquent, aggressive and anti-social behaviour, and overall were less depressed, anxious or withdrawn.“These results are powerful evidence for more support to be given to mothers to help them breastfeed for longer,” she said.The analysis is based on a scientifically recognised checklist of child behaviour that assessed children’s behaviour at 2, 6, 8 and 10 years of age.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Labour Drug Assailed

Labor Drug Assailed

Article Challenges Mag Sulfate Use

By Sandra G. Boodman
Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 10, 2006; HE01

For the past 30 years or so, doctors have routinely given pregnant women intravenous infusions of magnesium sulfate to halt contractions that can lead to premature labor.Now a prominent physician-researcher is calling on his colleagues to stop using the drug for this purpose, saying that the treatment is unproven, ineffective and potentially deadly -- an artifact of an earlier era when the standard of care was based more on pronouncements than on clinical trials.

The drug, sold commercially as Epsom salts and known to doctors as mag sulfate, causes side effects that range from highly unpleasant to lethal: nausea, blurred vision, headache, profound lethargy, a burning sensation and, in rare cases, life-threatening pulmonary edema, in which the lungs fill with fluid."Why has it persisted? Tradition," said David Grimes, vice president of biomedical affairs for the nonprofit public health group Family Health International, who co-authored the provocative commentary "Time to Quit" in the current issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.Magnesium sulfate for preterm labor, Grimes said, is a "North American anomaly" confined to the United States and Canada whose continued use is predicated on "good hopes and good wishes rather than good data."

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology does not endorse use of the drug for this purpose, he noted.Four years ago a team of researchers from Australia reached similar conclusions in a report published by the Cochrane Collaboration, a respected international organization that evaluates scientific studies. The Australian team reviewed 23 clinical trials worldwide involving 2,000 women who had received the drug to quell contractions. They found that it did not reduce preterm labor and that more babies died when their mothers took the drug than in a control group where the mothers had not been given it.

Mag sulfate is typically administered between the 26th and 34th weeks of pregnancy for about 48 hours to stall contractions long enough to permit the injection of steroids, which speed fetal lung development.Grimes said he and Kavita Nanda wrote the commentary to promulgate the Cochrane findings among the nation's OB-GYNs. "The Cochrane review hasn't received wide visibility, so that's why we wanted to put this in a journal all OB-GYNs get."Continued use of the drug, Grimes and other critics of the practice say, exemplifies the slow pace of change in obstetrics, where it is hard to conduct clinical trials because the stakes are regarded as so high.

Doctors seeking to use a drug to stave off premature contractions that can trigger labor are better off using a calcium channel blocker such as nifedipine, which has been proven effective, Grimes said.Grimes and Nanda estimate that about 120,000 American women receive mag sulfate each year for premature contractions, and they say some evidence suggests it may be associated with 1,900 to 4,800 fetal deaths annually in the United States.

The latter figure is derived from a 1998 study in Obstetrics & Gynecology.But jettisoning a long-standing practice in obstetrics involves factors other than evidence, some doctors say.They note that the standard of care -- a benchmark of evidence in malpractice cases -- as well as patients' wishes and the desire to prevent a bad outcome such as premature birth -- all contribute to continued use of the drug.

"There is a current practice [to use the drug] that is the community standard," said Michael Gallagher, a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, or high-risk pregnancy, who practices at Shady Grove Adventist and Holy Cross hospitals. Gallagher said he regards mag sulfate as a viable and safe option in some cases -- and not as an ineffective and potentially dangerous drug."Suppose we don't use it and a patient delivers," Gallagher said, noting that might violate the prevailing standard among OB-GYNs. "You find yourself in lonely places."

"Medical practice," he added, "doesn't move overnight." Nor, Gallagher said, does he think the evidence is "as cut and dried as Grimes says. This is his opinion."But, Gallagher said, he and many of his colleagues are careful to present the option of using the drug with plenty of caveats."We do a lot of 'we think' and 'maybes' and let women decide whether to take it," he noted.Not surprisingly, few refuse -- fearing the possibility of a bad outcome, he added.

For doctors, "there is pressure to use it from patients, as well as peer pressure" from other physicians, said Dallas OB-GYN Gary Cunningham, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center who noted that doctors are desperate to find something that works to stop preterm labor and prevent a premature birth with possibly devastating results."This drug has a powerful constituency," he said, adding that he is not part of it. The drug, he added, is an effective treatment for preeclampsia or eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension that can be fatal to mothers and babies.

Before mag sulfate became widely used in the 1970s, Cunningham noted, doctors gave women intravenous alcohol to quiet contractions."All we got was a bunch of drunk patients who vomited and aspirated, and some died," he recalled. Before that, doctors used morphine, which was abandoned for similar reasons.Alessandro Ghidini said it took him years to persuade colleagues at Inova Alexandria Hospital to stop using mag sulfate after his arrival about a decade ago."This is a medicine that American doctors are very familiar with," said Ghidini, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. "It took a long time" to convince doctors the evidence was lacking, he said.In their commentary, Grimes and Nanda wrote that the popularity of the drug has been reinforced by "pronouncements in prestigious medical journals or from famous medical institutions.

" They cite a 1999 review article in the New England Journal of Medicine that stated "magnesium sulfate is safe and has become the first-line treatment for preterm labor in North America."" 'Overgrazing' of ineffective and harmful practices on the 'medical commons' is a stubborn problem in obstetrics," they wrote.

Cunningham said he still vividly recalls the time years ago that he took the drug to see what female patients experienced."It was scary," he said. "You feel like you're burning up."


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Reaching out

Take a look at the growth of a fetal hand in utero...

That's a wrap

I just had a wonderful time teaching tonight! We wrapped up another session of our Birth Rhythm Prenatal class and then went out for tea with all the moms- to-be.

It is so exciting to watch women start to realize that they are in control of their births in a way they did not realize before. It is so encouraging to hear the stories of women who begin to ask questions and search out answers. You ladies are like flowers in bloom, and I don't mean just around the middle. I see the strength in you as you wrap your minds and hearts around the prospect of a truly beautiful birth. The possibility is there for each of you and now you can see it. Which means now you can make the choices that bring dreams into reality. You now know where to look for answers and how to ask the questions that you previously may not have known to ask.

When I watched you dancing tonight it was so different from our first class. Strength, confidence, and calm were in the air as the veils were twirling about. The chatter mixed with the music and you allowed yourselves to move freely, and to be witnessed. It really was beautiful to watch.

I look forward to hearing from you all as your little ones are welcomed into the world. Please come back here and post your stories, good or bad. We all have so much to learn from each other!

Be intentional, be proactive, and TRUST BIRTH!

Nursery Rhymes Class for 0-36 month old children

Give your child a head start on language development and social interaction

Please join me in this interactive, family orientated and fun filled class of rhyming and story telling

Classes for children age birth to 18 months
and 18 – 36 months

¨ Learn new ways to interact with your child
¨ Meet other parents with children the same age
¨ Rhyming will give your child a head start on language development as well as a bit of motor skills through rhymes using actions
¨ A beginning stepping stone for your child to experience a semi structured environment
Tuesday, October 10 to December 5, 2006
Infant, Birth to 18 mo: 10:30-11:30 am
Classes begin monthly at Buttons’n’Bows Boutique 652-5437
This class uses rhymes, finger plays, songs and a few stories with explanations on how they can be used at home to help with dressing, bathing, feeding, bed time and in general how to calm a child or just play with them.
Given by an experienced instructor

Please call Tracy at 477-1097 for more information or to register. Or email

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An interesting article...

Hospital-Acquired Infections Turning birth into an illness

While not all of the sources are Canadian , I believe these are good questions to ask and that upon investigation we will see our hospitals have very similar problems.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Swayde Waters: The Story of Your Birth

The day you came to breathe your first breath came with stormy waters indeed. After months of caring for you perfectly, your mother’s labour began. Nice and slow, with only a back ache to let her know that she would see you soon. She was so focused and ready to open her body and let you come to greet the world…

Then there came the surprise… Sometime in the days or weeks before you had decided to greet the world feet first. Your little body was turned around in the womb so that your head was tucked quite neatly below your mother’s rib cage and your foot was trying to push through the opening below. I wonder if this is how you will greet all of life’s challenges. Feet first, without looking at what exactly you are getting yourself into.

Where we live there are very few people left who know how to help a determined soul like you get born that way. Sometimes too much science makes us forget the wisdom of ancient ways. You had grown into such a beautiful and healthy child that there was no room left in the womb to try to coax you to turn around. Your mother then asked for the help of good doctors who could help you come into the world safely, in the absence of the knowledge of the ancient ways to bring a strong spirit like you out safely.

Sometimes your mother was afraid; she wanted only the best for you. She is a very courageous woman. You see, courage only comes from walking through fear. She did it so well. Your father stood strongly at her side the entire time. I can see where your strength and determination come from Swayde. They will fight any battle for your safety.

You still managed to be born the way you wanted. Your little feet came first. You stepped into life with confidence.
When you took your first breathe there was a sense of pure joy in the room. The first words spoken over you were of love and greetings,
followed by the story of your Guardian Angel. You are never alone. The Creator of all things watches over his precious ones.

The journey for you has just begun. Continue to stand and walk tall Swadye Waters. You can overcome any obstacle.
You have been born into a legacy of love and courage.
Walk tall.

May love and blessings walk with you always.

With love,
Your birth guardian

L. V. W.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I want to share the following video with you: I took a series of photos every other day as my wife was pregnant with our first child. Watch the belly expanding fun! Visit the URL above for info on how to create a video like this or other ideas to digital scrapbook your life! Click the link below to view.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Quote of the month

"Having a highly trained obstetrical surgeon attend a normal birth is analogous to having a pediatric surgeon babysit a healthy 2-year-old." -M. Wagner

"The knowledge of how to give birth without outside interventions lies deep within each woman. Successful childbirth depends on an acceptance of the process." -Unknown

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Benjamin's Birth

Hi Lisa,

Wasn't sure how to blog straight to the site so I'll leave this for you to post. Apologies for the length, but really this is the short version. The full version would really have to start the day our daughter Abby was born as I've realized that that experience and all subsequent emotional, psychological and physical experiences have prepared me for this birth.

Can't thank you and Kari enough for the class. It really was the difference between a birth based in fear or trust. Luckily the latter prevailed.

With love and gratitude,
Jenn, Darren, Abby and Benjamin

journal entry, birth day, July 29, 2006

You are here little Benjamin! We are so in love with you! You are gold. Pure gold. 9 lbs. 1 oz. and a sturdy eater, beautiful color, such a golden pink.

The day leading to Benjamin's birth was the first cool day in weeks. We were already a week overdue and our regular doctor left for holidays. We met her replacement, Dr. Doig and I felt completely at ease with her. She reassured me we wouldn't have to induce at the 10 day mark and instantly I felt all pressures and expectations fall away. It was the first day in weeks that I felt calm and comfortable and trusting in my body and baby. I had felt so frustrated for days, even weeks leading up to this birth, but suddenly I didn't feel frustrated anymore. It was the first time I just let go of thinking about labour and how it would all turn out. 333At around 6:30 pm we were all in the backyard watching my 3 year old, Abby, go around and around on her tricycle saying "look at me, mommy, look at me!" I was feeling an incredible amount of joy and began to laugh like I hadn't laughed in so long. At that moment my water broke--not enormously, but enough to take my breath away. I kept it to myself and carried on with serving dinner. Every time I stood up from the table I would feel another gush so I decided to call Robyn, our doula, to let her know. When I was dialing her number I realized this was it and began to cry. I had been wanting to cry for days and it felt so good to have an emotional release. All my waters were finally flowing!

At around 7 pm I started to experience the most gentle contractions. I was so excited to feel them. I had been induced my first pregnancy and never knew what it was like to go into labour naturally. I greeted each rush with pleasure and excitement. I truly have never felt so calm and grounded in my life. I felt each contraction was a step toward meeting our son. But I wanted to walk. Slowly and rhythmically, so Darren, my mom, Abby and I headed to the neighbourhood park around 9 pm. My contractions were becoming more regular and frequent, lasting about one minute, five minutes apart. I would stand up and walk off alone through each contraction. I just walked through each contraction meditatively, listening to my footsteps in the grass, smelling the sweet bundle of clover Abby had picked for me, watching the sky. It was beautiful how much I was able not just to walk through the sensations, but to relax, breathe and find my own rhythm. I was actually feeling joy during each contraction. Darren would time and watch me from the park bench. I felt myself getting pulled deeper into myself, into the moment. I felt stronger and more centered through every contraction. At the same time, the world seemed to be narrowing. I was less aware of my surroundings and more connected to my own breath. It was very primal. Extraneous things seemed to fall away. I suddenly wanted to go inside.

At around 10 pm I suggested we walk home. By the time we got home I could no longer talk through contractions. I shuffled laps around my kitchen and living room through each contraction until it was no longer possible to walk. When I felt I was losing confidence, I got Darren to massage me between contractions. During contractions he squeezed my hips until I couldn't feel any pain. Truly his hip squeezing took away the contractions! It was so wonderful to discover this and we laboured like that for quite a while. I felt immense power between each contraction and really was convinced I could have a natural birth. Darren massaged me in between contractions so each contraction was met from the calmest possible place of strength within myself. Then suddenly the hip squeezes weren't helping as much and I began to feel restless. I didn't know what I needed and was frustrated not knowing what position to labour in. I started to panic a bit. We went into our dark bedroom and lay on the bed together, but laying down made me feel scared and I began to lose my ground. Suddenly the contractions were intensifying. I began to vocalize through them which really seemed to help not only with the sensation, but in staying grounded and connecting with myself and the baby. I was considering running a bath when Robyn calmly suggested we go to the hospital. Turns out I was in active labour then and about to go into transition. I was Robyn's second birth and she thought if we didn't get to the hospital soon she'd be delivering our baby in the tub!

Luckily I agreed to go to the hospital at that point as I wasn't comfortable at home anymore. At midnight we made our way to the RUH. Robyn set up the back of her van so Darren could still give me hip squeezes. Though they weren't helping as much anymore, it helped to feel the pressure and his physical support. The van windows were open and the heavy scent of rain flooded the air. My face was cooled in the wind and I sent my moans out the window. By the time we went through admissions, I was dropping on the floor and moaning "mooooore" through each contraction while Darren squeezed. At one point I thought how much my requests for "more" sounded like "mourn"! I was conscious about the tone of my moaning and kept bringing it lower. My voice really took over through each contraction. It was as if my voice was coming from within and outside of me all at once. It really helped to block everyone/everything out except for Robyn and Darren. Despite all the commotion of doctors and nurses who were worried I'd push the baby out right there in the hallway, I really felt as if it was just Darren and Robyn and I. The three of us had such a rhythm together and their attention was so tuned into me, that it was as if we were the only ones present. They were there for me whenever and wherever I needed them. As we made our ways through hallways and elevators and assessments all I had to do was say "NOW" and they would be there squeezing my hips, encouraging me and giving me love. During transition I really just concentrated on staying inside myself and getting through each contraction as Robyn and Lisa and Kari had all said. I felt alone in my pain, but never unsupported. I kept thinking about how close we were getting to meeting Ben. It was close to torture to go through assessment and to have an exam. I thought I'd die if I had to take a contraction on my back, but the doctor on duty wouldn't have it any other way. Luckily I was at 8 cm and feeling the urge to push so they sent me up to labour and delivery right away. As they wheeled me through the hallways I ordered them to stop at every contraction so I could rest on my hands and knees. At one point I yelled "I'm pushing!!" as I squatted in the hallway. My entire body wanted this baby to come out but Robyn helped me to breathe in a way that helped me not to push. My vocalizations began to take on words and phrases such as "come on baby" and "I'm puuuuushing! or "it's coooommmminggggg!" The words and my voice and the tone were key to my power. All at once I felt the most powerful and the most pain I have felt in all my life. But luckily the frequency of the contractions didn't leave any room to be overcome by fear. All other intentions beyond absolute necessities got squeezed out of consciousness. The room lost its detail. The hallways and rooms became spaces of horizontal and vertical objects. Every object was a potential support to lean on through a contraction. Objects lost their regular purpose and everything was centered around me and the baby and how we could get through this. I was able to zone in instantly on what might help us and simultaneously dismiss anything that didn't serve us any purpose.

When we got to the birthing room I scoped out the bed, ripped off my gown (which was so annoying) made a tower of pillows, and leaned over it as I bore down on my hands and knees. Darren and Robyn stood on either side of the bed and pressed my hips. The contractions were at their most intense and frequent and the pressure to push was in full force. I focused all my energy on my voice calling out and sent my energy down through my vagina. With each contraction I visualized opening up around the baby and the baby's head slipping out effortlessly as it had happened in all my birthing dreams. The pressure was tremendous and the contractions were radiating down my thighs. I didn't push with my breath but rather with my voice. I called out from as deep a place as I could. I kept waiting to feel the release that I hadn't felt the last time because I had had an epidural. Most surprising was the pleasure I was feeling. The pressure didn't hurt. In fact if it wasn't for the contractions in my thighs and hips I think with all my screaming it could have been orgasmic! I was getting so tired but I drew energy each time from a reserve that surprised me. It was really just me and the baby at this point. Dr. Doig had arrived just as Ben was crowning and I could feel her applying a tremendous amount of counterpressure which encouraged me that we were nearly there. The whole time I was pushing I was inside and outside of myself. So powerful inside and so proud about how I was doing this from the outside. The baby's head came through and there was that release! I was there, I was nearly there! The shoulders took one more push and at 12:53 am, just 50 minutes after arriving at the hospital, Benjamin was born. I was so exhausted and relieved I could hardly turn around and meet him. They put him in my arms immediately. He was absolutely perfect. And there we all sat, Darren, Benjamin, Robyn and I adoring him. We had done it (we had!) as naturally as we had planned.

It was such an empowering experience to birth Benjamin naturally. We couldn't have planned it better. If Dr. Doig hadn't arrived when she did I might have had a doctor who insisted I lay on my back. The nurses as it was seemed to be slightly freaked out that I opted not to have the cytocinon injection nor to have Benjamin bathed or weighed before we had held and breastfeed him and the cord had pulsed out. Unfortunately their reaction to our requests turned into a bit of a negative experience when they were convinced I was hemoraghing (though I was not) and instilled fear in me for hours after the birth that I translated in my overly-vulnerable state, that I might be dying. Luckily Robyn stayed and reassured me for 5 hours after, rubbing my thighs and serving up Rescue Remedy as needed. Her reassurance and support from the day we met until immediately after the birth was so important. I would never attempt to have a child without at least one doula. She really helped me overcome a lot of anxiety I was harbouring from the last birth and prepare me for a new experience--an experience that turned out to be the most empowering of my life.

I am so so blessed for this baby, this birth and all the wonderful and beautiful people who loved me and honoured pregnancy and the birth experience enough to make this all happen the way it did.

Thank you all!
I'm including a picture of our first moments with Benjamin.

"People spend more time shopping for a car or home than they put into their births." -- Kim Wildner from Mother's Intention

Blog Archive