Birthowl’s natural childbirth

The Birthing Instinct

The ability to birth is a primal one, innate in every single woman on Earth. All that a woman needs to give birth is herself. Everything else is just decoration/icing on a cake.


This ability to birth has a lot to do with the intuitive and instinctive nature of women. While not every woman might consciously know what to do, or even be inexperienced in birth being a first time mother, her body KNOWS. Her instinctual self KNOWS.

And because her body/instinctual self knows how to birth, she too will know when the time comes.

Being free to follow their own instincts and knowing that the natural flow of their labours won’t be interfered or hindered with by well-meaning care providers is one of the very basic reasons that freebirthers are drawn to unassisted childbirth.


The Obvious Instinct

Sometimes instinct can be as obvious and attention-grabbing as a loud, urgent alarm going off when confronted with something dangerous or risky.

It makes you stand up and fight, or it makes you flee for your life. This is the fight or flight response, and when it is activated, blood flow to non-essential organs is dramatically lessened. The blood flow increases to your vital fight/flee organs – your lungs, your arms, your legs.

When the uterus goes white and is drained of its blood in response to the stress hormones of fight/flight, it has nothing to provide energy to its muscles. Contractions become painful, sporadic or stop altogether.

The Subtle Instinct

Other times, the voice of instinct is very subtle and can be easily overlooked or ignored. The results are the same however, if instinct warns against going to hospital by a woman’s reluctance to get into the car while in labour, or by her reluctance to get out of the shower, or leave the home and she ignores it, things start going wrong with the natural flow of her labour.

Mothers – Real Birth Experts Due to Instinct

Childbirth is a very intuitive and primal process that the mother and baby undergo.

No one else has the information that the mother and baby do because it is not happening to them. This makes the mother the only true EXPERT AUTHORITY present at her birth. She has access to information that the care provider will never have access to.

That information may not be able to be communicated in logical, reasonable words and sentences. Maybe the mother’s body is pushing her baby out because it is TIME and she knows it and her baby knows it, but the care provider decides it can’t be time yet because she is only 9cms dilated, and that she must stop pushing..

The woman may not be able to explain that it is not her that is pushing, it is her body and that her body is doing so to further dilate the cervix and move the baby down into the birthing canal. She may not be able to explain that it is right and okay for her to do what she is doing and that to fight it would be to cause problems with birthing.

Because it is not easy to explain the reasons why a woman is doing what she is doing instinctively, because she herself may not consciously KNOW those reasons – it is easy for caregivers to exert authority over birthing women, and for women to submit to it.

Fear of Not Being An Instinctive Woman

Some women are afraid that they are not very connected to themselves, their pregnancy or their babies, and fear that they won’t have the guide of their instinct or intuitive nature during childbirth.

That fear is unfounded.

Birthing women, if left to their own devices will simply do what feels right to them – if they find themselves tired and needing a break from labour, they flop around til they find a position they can relax enough in to grab snatches of sleep.

This is instinctive – something that may not happen in institutional birth if the woman has sympathetic caregivers hovering around her offering her an escape in the form of drugs or assisted delivery when she is at her most vulnerable.

Happens to the best of them, even the most strong natural childbirth advocates.

The Whole Point!

The whole point is, a woman will find herself doing without conscious thought, things that aid and benefit labour and childbirth.

She does not NEED to have a reason, or be able to explain what she is doing. She doesn’t need to consciously know what she is doing and why she is doing it. She just needs to be able to do it because she is doing it or her body wants to do it.

In that thread, many childbirth problems are often avoided because the natural flow of that particular birth is being followed and honored.

In that same thread, should a variation or blip in the birthing process occur, the woman will do what is necessary to deal with it – like the woman who feels the urge to birth standing up with a foot propped on her bathtub…. and births a breech baby with no further complication or previous knowledge that her baby was breech and that the best birthing positions for breech are upright positions.

Most mothers will not instinctively reach to check for an umbilical cord unless the cord appears to be hindering descent of the baby. Mothers may consciously think to check for a cord because of the childbirth conditioning that once the head is born, the neck should be checked for a cord and “something” should be done to assist.

Touching the cord when it is wrapped around the neck is something most care providers can’t manage to stop themselves from doing – and in fiddling with the cord, they inadvertly interfere with the transition from cord dependance to lung dependance, or interfere with the stability of the placenta and start off a bleed that would never have occured if the cord had been left alone.

Childbirth is instinctive.

Birthing women have birthing instinct.

It is a physiological mechanism that protects and helps to bring babies Earthside safely and peacefully. It is also a mechanism that protects and safeguards mothers.

Photo by Sara Heinrichs


Lakshmi’s Story of 5 Waterbirths
February 28, 2008, 7:00 pm
Filed under: birthstories, waterbirth | Tags: , , , , , ,

When I became pregnant with my first child at the age of 19, I knew I wanted to have a natural birth. Nothing else made sense to me. Birth is such a sacred, holy event, with the coming in of a new soul, I couldn’t imagine exposing myself or my baby to the medical, very public birth experience found in the hospitals at the time. Because of this, our choice to have a waterbirth was easy to make and came solely from the determination to create a birth experience that was as gentle and easy as possible.

birth belly

When we first heard about water labor and delivery, one week before our first baby was due, we were enchanted by the prospect of such a gentle birth for the baby, and I was entranced by the idea of a natural birth with less pain. Home birth always made sense; waterbirth just became a positive extension of that ideal and after that first birth, I knew I would never do it any other way. Now, eleven years later, all five of our children have been born in water. Whenever I say that, I always have to pause for a moment to recognize how very, very fortunate we have been. It is amazing in itself to have five children, but to have been able to give birth to them all in a way that was empowering, peaceful, and infinitely kind, makes the miracle greater, still. All five of their births are memories I treasure as some of the most joyous, wonderful, and fulfilling experiences of my life.

The reduction of pain I felt during the contractions while in water cannot be stressed enough. There is no comparison between a contraction felt out of the water and one felt in it. Relaxation, which is a wonderful ideal when you are lying on a bed, trying not to hurt, becomes a natural reaction when you are floating weightlessly in a warm tub of water. I believe that’s a big part of the reason why the length of labor can be reduced. A relaxed body functions better in all situations. With the pushing stage, and the consequent stretching of the perineum, the warmth and moisture of the water allows the tissues to expand much more easily. With babies weighing 8 lbs 14 oz, 9 lbs, 8 lbs 4 oz, 8l bs 11 oz, and another 8 lbs 11 oz, I had two small tears. One with the first baby from pushing both his shoulders out at once and one with the fifth baby, due to one shoulder getting briefly stuck on her way out. The tears were small enough not to require stitching and have healed nicely without residual discomfort.

And, of course, there’s the benefit felt by the babies, all five of whom were born into warmth and familiarity, gentleness and kindness, surrounded by love and welcomed sweetly into the world. What greater beginning to life could be imagined than this? In 1998 the midwife who attended my first four births moved away. When I became pregnant again with baby #5, I was faced with the task of finding someone new. I soon discovered no one in my area would attend a home birth. But, even in this, I was fortunate. There was a birth center in a town 45 miles away, run by midwives, who had birthing tubs and fully supported water labor and waterbirth. It seemed I was to have a new experience of waterbirth – a birth center waterbirth rather than a home waterbirth.

There’s a difference between birthing at home and birthing in a center. After giving birth four times at home, I found it really difficult to relax in a place that was not my own home. I spent an entire night there, just settling in before my labor began to really do anything. Once it did get going, though, and the tub was filled, I felt the familiarity of it. I relaxed completely and our atest little one arrived only a few hours later, after only five minutes of pushing. Once I relaxed, this birth was exactly the same as if we had been home. The midwives were wonderful and supportive during labor and, after the baby was born, they allowed us as much time as we liked, both in the tub and out, to rest, relax, and to get to know our baby. We came home a couple of hours later and our baby has been happy and peaceful ever since.

I’m not sure every woman would choose to have a waterbirth, given the option, but many would, knowing that choice is there; and it is a beautiful choice.

Best to you all,

Lakshmi Bertrand
from Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc.

Routine Newborn Procedures

There are a number of routine newborn procedures that will be offered or recommended at the time of your baby’s birth. It is helpful to learn about these procedures beforehand so that you can gather as much information as you need to make educated choices for your baby. Remember that in your home you have the freedom to create your birth like you want it.
In the hospital, your midwife or obstetrician almost certainly will not provide care for your newborn baby; care will be provided by hospital staff according to the standard protocols of the hospital unless you request otherwise. In some very rare cases, your pediatrician may be present to provide this care. In most cases, there will be an attempt to obtain “informed consent”, but busy hospital staff may simply announce that they are about to perform a procedure and take your silence as consent.

If you choose to decline some of these procedures, you may be asked to sign waivers to satisfy a state requirement. In most cases, you do not have to give a reason for declining any particular treatment. However, in California, you will be asked to sign a religious waiver if you choose not to have a heelstick done on your baby for the newborn screen (aka PKU) within six days after the birth.

This handout contains some introductory information; be sure to ask your pediatrician if you have any questions about these procedures.

baby feet

Cutting the Umbilical Cord

Premature cutting of the umbilical cord deprives your baby of about 30% of your baby’s blood volume that nature intended to flow from the placenta and cord after birth. Although this “extra” blood usually isn’t necessary for survival, the iron in this blood is meant to help meet the baby’s iron needs during the first six months, since breastmilk is low in iron. In the days immediately after birth, your baby’s body breaks down this surplus blood and stores the iron in the liver. One of the byproducts of the breaking down of the surplus blood is bilirubin, which may cause a mild case of benign jaundice. Because many parents and health care professionals do not understand that this jaundice is normal and harmless, practices have evolved to cut the umbilical cord as soon as possible after the birth to prevent your baby from receiving the normal amount of blood and potentially experiencing jaundice, even though normal.

There is also some thinking that allowing your baby’s blood to flow back from the placenta reduces the size of the placenta, facilitates quicker and easier placental delivery and reduces postpartum hemorrhage.

In addition, cutting the umbilical cord before your baby’s breathing is well established may deprive your baby of life-sustaining oxygen that continues to flow from the placenta for several minutes after birth. Some people suggest waiting until after the umbilical cord has stopped pulsing before cutting the cord. In fact, this may still be too early. As part of the normal adaptation to breathing outside the womb, your baby’s body stops sending blood back to the placenta (which is what causes the pulse) some minutes before it stops receiving oxygenated blood from the placenta and umbilical cord, which doesn’t pulse.

Unfortunately, many institutions do not have personnel trained in resuscitating your baby while still receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord – their training is limited to working at the baby warming station across the room. This means that babies that most need to continue receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord (because they’re having trouble breathing or are in some other kind of distress) are the babies who are most likely to have their oxygen source – the placenta and umbilical cord – disconnected prematurely so they can be moved to the baby warming station.

Because this procedure is usually carried out without receiving parental permission, it is wise to discuss this with your care provider if the issue is important to you.

About cord blood collection – “Cord blood” is blood that would flow into your baby’s body if the cord weren’t cut to collect it. If you wouldn’t allow your baby’s blood to be drawn and 30% of the baby’s blood volume removed, then you probably don’t want to allow “cord blood collection”.

Suctioning the Baby’s Stomach

Many hospitals routinely suction or “pump” the baby’s stomach after birth, even if there was no evidence of meconium at birth. This procedure has no benefits – it can cause a sudden drop in the heart rate and can cause throat irritation that will interfere with breathing and breastfeeding.

Eye Antibiotics

The purpose of routine administration of antibiotic medication (erythromycin ointment) to your baby’s eyes about an hour after birth is to prevent infection from any germs that your baby may have been exposed to in passing through the birth canal. Some people object to this procedure on principle because of their objections to the routine use of antibiotics without proven benefit. Discomfort to the baby is minimal, and there is little disruption of the bonding procedure if the procedure is delayed until after the baby has fallen into the post-birth stupor. However, the benefits of routine administration are also minimal; if the baby does develop an eye infection, it will be very obvious to observant parents, and then there is plenty of time to administer antibiotics to prevent serious consequences.

Vitamin K Injection

Routine injection of vitamin K is controversial. It is generally accepted that administering vitamin K will increase clotting factors and reduce the incidence of Newborn Hemorrhagic Disease (NHD), a very rare situation in which a baby bleeds internally. NHD is seen much more commonly in babies who have experienced a traumatic birth, such as by forceps or vacuum extraction, or who are visibly bruised at birth. Although giving vitamin K to increase clotting factors does reduce the incidence of NHD, it also appears to increase the likelihood of death from bacterial meningitis. Nature obviously intended for newborns to have lowered clotting factors at birth, although science does not yet understand why.

Opposition to routine vitamin K administration centers around the injection itself, and many people who oppose the injection will accept an oral administration of the same formulation. (A study conducted at Children’s Hospital, University of Missouri, Columbia, found administration of oral vitamin K to be effective. [Journal of Pediatrics, vol. 127 #2, Aug., 1995, page 301, “Twenty-seven years of experience with oral vitamin K1 therapy in neonates” by Clark and James.] Oral doses of vitamin K should be twice the injected dose, and there are suggestions to repeat the dose at two, four and six weeks of age.

Colostrum contains high levels of vitamin K, and if your baby experiences a gentle birth and nurses readily at birth, your baby will probably receive exactly the dose intended by nature. If you choose to have your baby receive supplementary vitamin K, it might be worth discussing oral administration with your pediatrician in advance. Even if they don’t have a special oral preparation, they can use the preparation meant for injection.

Whether or not your baby receives vitamin K supplementation, it is best to contact your baby’s care provider if you notice that your baby seems to have a lot of bruises or an unusual amount of bleeding from the umbilical cord stump. This is a common precursor to more serious bleeding problems.

Hepatitis B Vaccine Injection

For the last few years, it has been the standard of care to vaccinate all newborns with a Hepatitis B Vaccine before they left the hospital. However, on July 7, 1999, it was reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that newborns not be vaccinated because the mercury used as a preservative in the vaccines has been implicated in mercury poisoning occurring in babies. Some hospitals may still be vaccinating newborns as they use up their store of vaccines. If you do not want your baby to receive the Hepatitis B vaccine, it is important that you be very clear about this with the neonatal team, the nursery staff and your pediatrician.

Photo by Sean Dreillinger

Healing sibling’s birth trauma
February 24, 2008, 7:00 pm
Filed under: baby care, birth | Tags: , , , ,

Ronnie Falcao, homebirth midwife, CA:

I’m often struck by how much VBAC moms insist on having their older siblings present at the birth, especially the ones born by cesarean. It finally struck me that this is yet another example of a mother’s wonderfully strong instinct about providing the best possible care for her children.

In my studies of the hormones of birth, I’ve learned that the stress of labor causes a woman’s body to release endorphins to ease the pain and to facilitate a primal bonding with her baby. In a natural labor, the levels of these hormones are significant, and they are passed through to the baby also to ease the stress on the baby. As a fun side effect, the endorphins seem to fill the air around the laboring woman so that her birth attendants also get to enjoy them. There’s a reason why birth attendants sometimes call themselves “natural birth junkies”. 🙂

sibling bonding

Endorphins are the “love hormones” released during childbirth and breastfeeding, and they really are like an aphrodisiac, causing people “under the influence” to fall in love with each other without any rational filtering. I try not to usurp the power of these hormones, and I work hard to keep the family focused on each other in that first hour after birth, because I want them bonding with each other instead of with me.

I have previously understood how these endorphins can have a wonderful healing effect for couples who have had a past traumatic birth, as the mom is under the influence of nature’s finest “narcotic”, and the dad absorbs them from the air around her. But it was this most recent discussion about siblings at VBAC that helped me realize that this also pertains to the older children who were born through a traumatic birth process. If they are present at the VBAC, these older children get to enjoy and absorb the endorphins and bond with their families in a way that they missed completely at their own birth. Nature heals.

Ronnie Falcao’s Midwifery Archives

Photo By Jennifer Schwalm

GMO’s in Infant Formula

Putting Infants and Children at Risk

Most infant formula sold in the US contains GE ingredients, either soy or milk from cows injected with GE hormones. Some also contain corn syrup. Cereals can contain ingredients like GE soy lecithin.

As globalization spreads, a number of issues arise which have the potential to affect infant nutrition. One such concerns is that of Genetically Engineered (GE) or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their use in infant formula and infant foods.

The process of genetic engineering is imprecise and random. Inserted genes can disrupt a plant’s natural growth and development or function differently than expected. As a consequence, genetically engineered foods can have unintended effects, with potentially harmful consequences for human health. The end result could be the bio-synthesis of food molecules that are toxic, allergenic, or carcinogenic – hardly the perfect food for babies.

Putting Infants and Children at Risk

The use of GMOs is of particular concern for infants and young children. Many authorities are concerned because GMOs in baby foods are not adequately tested for safety and should not be used in baby foods as artificially fed infants are dependent on formula as their sole source of food for month on end.

Infant formula is already a inferior food for babies, putting them at greater risk for variety of illnesses including ear and upper respiratory infections, asthma, diabetes and cancer. These risks may be increased when infant formula is genetically engineered. GMO ingredients can alter the nutritional value of baby foods, increase exposure to toxins, and elevate the risk of developing allergies and resistance to antibiotics.

According to Vyvyan Howard, a toxilogical pathologist at the Liverpool University Hospital: “Swapping genes between organisms can produce unknown toxic effects and allergies that are most likely to effect children.”

In the United States, foods for infants and young children containing GMO do not require labeling or testing. as a result, concerned parents can’t avoid feeding GE food to their children.

Some of the food safety concerns are:

1. Allergenicity:

Introducing unknown genes can increase food sensitivity that can lead to food allergies later in life. Unlike the contents of breastmilk that vary with the diet of the mother and stage of infancy, the composition of formula remains constant. Since food sensitivities increase with exposure, repeated feedings with the same formula further increases the risk of allergies.

Genetic engineering also has the potential to transfer allergies from one food source to another. For example, a nut gene inserted into soybeans produced soy that caused allergic reactions in people who were allergic to nuts. GE could also introduce new, unpredictable allergens from non-food genes inserted through the process of genetic engineering.


Genetic engineering could increase and/or introduce new food toxins.

3. Nutritional changes:

Genetic engineering could alter or decrease a food’s nutritional value.

4. Antibiotic resistance

Genetic engineering could contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Current transgenic plants may contain antibiotic resistant marker genes (a technique used to show weather gene transfers have been successfully completed).

5. Labelling:

Lax labelling laws in the United States encourage the use of GMOs, allowing companies to include these organisms in formula and other infant foods without the consent of the consumer.The fact that the US government refuses to require mandatory labelling of genetically engineered food makes it impossible to adequately conduct post-marketing, long-term surveillance of the effects of consuming GE foods – and who also refuses to label GE foods – could be compromising the well-being of newborn, babies and children.

The most effective way to voice your concerns about GMOs is to vote with your wallet. To ensure the food safety of you infants and young children:

* Follow the WHO recommendation of EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF LIFE and continued breastfeeding to two years and beyond.
* When introducing solid foods, make your own from organic fruits and vegetables or buy certified organic baby foods.
* If a baby food doesn’t specify weather or not a product is GE-free, use the toll-free number on most product packaging to call the manufacturer. If they don’t know – or won’t tell-you – if their product contains GE ingredients – DON’T BUY IT!

Does Vaccination Disable the Immune System?
February 20, 2008, 7:00 pm
Filed under: baby care | Tags: , , ,



Do vaccines disable the immune system?
Do Vaccines actually disable the immune systems they have been designed to protect? Read this compelling arguement by Dr Randall Neustaedter who presents evidence that this is so…
Parents watch with proud satisfaction as their infant, just a few months old, begins to reach out into the world–tiny hands grasping at toys and gently twirling locks of their mother’s hair. Just when they have begun to take a lively interest in the world, rolling-over, cooing, and smiling, the first illnesses strike.The baby’s runny nose develops into a fever, fussiness, and night-waking. Her previously placid demeanor suddenly changes to obvious discomfort–crying, clinging, refusing to leave her mother’s arms. The pediatrician sees red eardrums and prescribes antibiotics. That first infection starts a seemingly endless battle against viral and bacterial illnesses that persists despite repeated treatment with a barrage of different antibiotics. Something is dreadfully wrong. Frequent visits to the pediatrician do nothing to prevent the continuous pattern of illness-antibiotic-illness.

Why do these illnesses begin when babies are three or four months old? What event triggers this frustrating scenario? What happens to babies at two to four months that could initiate this relentless course of symptoms? Perhaps maternal antibodies are beginning to wear out, making babies susceptible to these environmental microbes. But why don’t these babies develop their own antibodies in response to the initial viral or bacterial infections? What prevents the immune system from mounting a vigorous response? And why does this pattern of illness with recurrent ear infections occur now, a pattern that seldom occurred prior to thirty years ago? What is weakening the immune function of today’s infants?

The Cause of Chronic Illness
Ear infections have become the most common reason for visits to pediatricians. The incidence of asthma has steadily increased in the modern era. During the period 1980 through 1989 the prevalence rate of self-reported asthma in the United States increased 38 percent, and the death rate for asthma increased 46 percent. In the five years from 1985 through 1990, projected estimates for asthma’s medical costs increased 53 percent. The total estimated cost of asthma rose from $4.5 billion to $6.2 billion, or 1 percent of all US health-care costs. This dramatic increase has been attributed to increased exposure to environmental pollutants, and to the toxic effect of asthma medications themselves. Could vaccines be weakening the immune system of our populations and causing recurrent infections and allergies at unprecedented levels?

The only event that all infants routinely encounter at two months of age is vaccination with at least five different vaccines (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis-Polio-Haemophilus). They are repeated at four months. Could this simple fact explain the onset of the recurrent illnesses that plague so many infants? If vaccines stimulate antibody production to fight diseases, why would they weaken the immune system? Is there any evidence that vaccines do cause illness and immune system dysfunction?

One answer came in a careful study of illness patterns observed in babies before and after vaccination, published in Clinical Pediatrics in 1988. If vaccines cause a weakened immune system, then we would expect to see a higher incidence of illness following vaccination. In that study conducted in Israel, the incidence of acute illnesses in the 30 day period following DTP vaccine was compared to the incidence in the same children for the 30 day period prior to vaccine. The three-day period immediately following vaccine was excluded because children frequently develop fever as a direct response to vaccine toxins. A total of 82 healthy infants received DTP, and their symptoms were reported by parents and observed by a pediatrician at weekly intervals. Those babies experienced a dramatic increase in fever, diarrhea, and cough in the month following DTP vaccine compared to their health before the shot.

How do researchers investigate immune system reactions to vaccines? First, they can observe the incidence of serious disease onset soon after vaccination. They can also study immune functions following vaccines given to children and adults. Two research models have been used to discover the possible adverse effect of vaccines on the immune system. Laboratory researchers observe whether vaccines have any negative effect on white blood cells, the body’s primary immune defense system. Clinical researchers study illness patterns preceding and following vaccination. All of these investigative channels have reached the same conclusions–vaccines can trigger immune system suppression.

Vaccines are destroying our immune systems.

Amazingly, the medical profession ignores the incriminating evidence against vaccines, and continues to inflict more unnecessary and harmful vaccines on our nation’s infants. A recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine of May 1996 revealed that tetanus vaccine disables the immune system in HIV patients. Tetanus vaccination produced a drop in T cells in 10 of 13 patients, a classic sign of immune deficiency. HIV viral replication increased dramatically in response to tetanus vaccine. Finally, white blood cells from 7 of 10 uninfected individuals became more susceptible to HIV infection following tetanus vaccination. Despite these findings, the authors made no comment about the immune depleting effect of the vaccine.

Why is the public unaware of these findings? Why has the medical profession kept these reports hidden from the public eye? With typical condescension, Dr. Martin Smith, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, explained in the Academy’s News that the inclusion of this type of information in vaccine brochures would confuse many parents and could even needlessly alarm them. An uninformed patient is compliant.

The cover-up of immune system failure following vaccination is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s continuous denial and misinformation campaign about the dangers of cigarettes. In both instances huge profits are at stake in multibillion-dollar industries. Vaccine manufacturers cannot afford to have their product maligned in a public forum.

Doctors have often stated that broadcasting adverse effects of vaccines to the public would hinder vaccine campaigns. This attitude emerged more than thirty years ago when Dr. Paul Meier testified before a congressional committee concerning the polio vaccine campaign of the 1960s. It is hard to convince the public that something is good. Consequently, the best way to push forward a new program is to decide on what you think the best decision is and not question it thereafter, and further, not to raise questions before the public or expose the public to open discussion of the issues.

The medical profession has been aware of the damaging effects of vaccines on the immune system since their introduction. For example, the ability of pertussis and DTP vaccines to stimulate the onset of paralytic polio was first noted in 1909. In every polio epidemic since then, DTP injections have caused the onset of polio disease. In 1950, two careful studies were conducted in the state of New York to evaluate the reports of an association between the onset of paralytic polio and recent injections. The findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health. Investigators contacted the families of all children who contracted polio during that year, a total of 1,300 cases in New York City and 2,137 cases in the remainder of New York State. A history of vaccinations received in the previous two months was obtained on each child and from a group of matched controls in the same population. Those studies discovered that children with polio were twice as likely to have received a DTP vaccination in the two months preceding the onset of polio than were the control children.

The association of vaccines with the onset of polio continues in the modern age. During a recent polio epidemic in the Arabian peninsula country of Oman, DTP vaccination again caused the onset of paralytic polio. In that epidemic, 70 children 5 to 24 months old contracted paralytic polio during the period 1988-1989. The report in the British medical journal Lancet confirmed that a significantly higher percentage of these children had received a DTP shot within 30 days of the onset of polio compared to a control group of children without polio, 43 percent of polio victims compared to 28 percent of controls. The DTP vaccine suppresses the body’s ability to fight off the polio virus.

The destructive effect of vaccines on the immune system can persist over an extended period of time. One study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases documented a long-term depressive effect on interferon production caused by the measles vaccine. Interferon is a chemical produced by lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) that renders the host resistant to infection. Interferon production is stimulated by infection with a virus to protect the body from superinfection by some other micro-organism. In this study, vaccination of one-year-old infants with measles vaccine caused a precipitous drop in the level of alpha-interferon produced by lymphocytes. This decline persisted for one year following vaccination, at which time the experiment was terminated. Thus, this study showed that measles vaccine produced a significant long-term immune suppression.

Autoimmune Reactions to Vaccines
An 11 year old girl received a routine tetanus booster dose and three days later developed blindness in the right eye and light perception only in the left eye. Her optic discs were swollen on exam. Two days later she had partial paralysis of her legs and loss of bladder control, then more widespread sensory loss including a lack of vibrational and positional senses. Seven weeks later she still had some vision loss and decreased muscle power. Within one year she recovered (Lancet, 1992).A 20 year old woman experienced pain and swelling of her right wrist and fingers 4 days after a hepatitis vaccination. The pain and swelling resolved, but returned again 6 months later with more severe swelling and pain, following a second hepatitis vaccination. Nine years later, X-ray of the hands showed destruction of the bones throughout her wrist joints (Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 1995).
A 4 year old girl developed progressive weakness of the legs, pain in the legs and feet, and gradual inability to walk 10 days after Hib vaccination. On the fifth day she had swallowing difficulties, facial weakness, and a monotonous voice. Her symptoms gradually improved, and within 3 weeks she could walk with help (Journal of Pediatrics, 1993).

A 42 year old man received tetanus toxoid on three separate occasions over a period of 13 years. Following each vaccination he developed acute nerve symptoms diagnosed as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease of the nervous system characterized by rapid onset of motor weakness and loss of sensation.. A nerve biopsy revealed destruction of the myelin nerve sheath. Following his last injection he continued to experience multiple recurrences, and continued to show abnormal findings on examination 15 years later (Journal of Neurological Science, 1978).
What is the effect of long-term immune suppression? Some investigators are concerned that vaccines could be disabling our body’s ability to react normally to disease, and creating the climate for autoimmune self-destruction. The many reports of autoimmune phenomena that occur as reactions to vaccination provide incontrovertible proof that tampering with the immune system causes devastating disease.

Federal legislation of 1986 commissioned the Institute of Medicine to establish a Vaccine Safety Committee. The purpose of that committee was to search the medical literature for reports of adverse events associated with the vaccines routinely administered to children, and report their findings. Computer searches revealed 1,800 relevant articles. However, the committee’s rigid criteria for establishing a causal relationship between vaccine and adverse event made it nearly impossible for a disease condition to make their short list. Without a case-controlled study proving a relationship, the hundreds of case reports of immune system destruction following vaccines were relegated to coincidence. Case-controlled studies are expensive. They must include tens or hundreds of thousands of children.

Even the Vaccine Safety Committee acknowledged the onset of several autoimmune diseases as a result of vaccination (Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that causes muscle weakness and paralysis, following tetanus and polio vaccines; thrombocytopenia, destruction of blood platelets responsible for blood clotting, following MMR; and chronic arthritis following rubella). These types of symptoms have occurred following every vaccine routinely given to children–the suppressed immune system begins to attack the body’s own cells, usually the nerves and joints. Thousands of autoimmune incidents following vaccines have been reported in the medical literature and adverse event reporting systems. These autoimmune responses to vaccines have resulted in permanent, chronic disease conditions–deforming arthritis and muscle wasting and paralysis.

In their attempt to explain the repeated occurrence of autoimmune diseases that attack and destroy the myelin sheaths of nerves as a direct result of vaccines, the committee members explain:
It is biologically plausible that injection of an inactivated virus, bacterium, or live attenuated virus might induce in the susceptible host an autoimmune response by deregulation of the immune response, by nonspecific activation of the T cells directed against myelin proteins, or by autoimmunity triggered by sequence similarities of proteins in the vaccine to host proteins such as those of myelin.
Since the committee’s report, a large ecological study in New Zealand revealed that an epidemic of diabetes followed a massive campaign to vaccinate children against hepatitis B. This report, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in 1996 revealed that a 60 percent increase in childhood diabetes occurred in the years following the 1989-1991 vaccination program of children aged 6 to 16. The widespread use of the new Haemophilus meningitis vaccine has similarly resulted in diabetes epidemics. Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that has been frequently observed to occur as a consequence of mumps vaccine. Three European studies reported 22 cases of diabetes that began within 30 days of mumps vaccination. The dramatic rise in vaccine-induced diabetes has led researchers to raise a warning flag. Immunologist Bart Classen has said, “We believe the effects of vaccines on diabetes are of tremendous clinical importance and that trials need to be started immediately to address the effect of vaccines on diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.”Vaccines have become a sacred cow of our culture, unassailable to criticism. Now that we know their devastating effects on the immune system, perhaps we need to take a more cautious approach to the vaccine campaigns.

New vaccines for children are being developed in an unprecedented effort to wipe out childhood diseases. In some cases this effort has strictly monetary goals. For example, the most frequently stated purpose of the chickenpox vaccine is not to protect children from this benign childhood illness, but to keep parents at their jobs rather than missing a few days of work to care for their sick child at home. According to Dr. Philip Brunell, a leading chickenpox vaccine researcher, it is clear that we can reduce the cost of chickenpox by routinely immunizing normal children, primarily by reducing the loss of parental income. Vaccination of the entire population would save an estimated $380 million dollars in lost income and wages. Economic interests have spurred the adoption of a chickenpox vaccine, not our concern for the well-being of children.

This callous disregard for the potential damage inflicted by vaccines characterizes the goals of vaccine manufacturers. The pharmaceutical giant Merck invested over $5 million in chickenpox vaccine development, according to The Wall Street Journal. Dr. Samuel Katz, Duke University’s pediatrics chairman and head of a vaccine panel at the National Academy of Sciences, expressed the manufacturer’s concerns: Merck isn’t going to make back its investment in that vaccine by just distributing it to kids with cancer. They’re going to be interested in pushing for use in the normal population.

Profit has always been the goal of vaccine manufacturers. When lawsuits leveled at drug companies began wiping out profits gleaned from the pertussis vaccine, the manufacturers simply stopped production of the vaccine. The United States government stepped in to pay these vaccine-damage claims. Only then did the drug companies agree to resume vaccine production. The formula was simple–no profits, no vaccines.

Now that drug companies are protected from legal action, the race to invent and distribute new vaccines has again switched into high gear. Vaccines for hepatitis, haemophilus, and chickenpox have all been pushed into the recommended schedule for children. This zealous rush to bring new vaccines to market, heedless of the damage inflicted in the name of prevention, could have far-reaching consequences. We may be setting the stage for the unwitting destruction of our population’s health, a result that may continue to remain a hidden cause of widespread immune system failure and autoimmune disease.

About the Author
Dr. Neustaedter has practiced homeopathic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine for over twenty years. His book, The Vaccine Guide: Making an Informed Choice (North Atlantic Books, 1996), has become a popular resource for parents. He is a licensed acupuncturist and received his Doctorate in Oriental Medicine in Hong Kong. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It can be helpful to have these items on hand for birth
  • Small bottle of almond, olive or other natural massage-type oil. (For lubrication of any body part, if desired)
  • Underpaddings. Large plastic drop cloths, shower curtains or even trash bags to protect surfaces, covered in old towels, sheets or blankets that can be washed (or thrown away). Some women prefer disposable “chux” pads, they can be purchased in the adult diapering section of your local shop.
  • A copy of the book Emergency Childbirth: A Manual by Dr.Gregory White
  • Some people like to have a stethoscope
  • A camera or video recorder (with film)
  • A pen and paper to jot down times and anything of interest
  • Foods, drinks, teas or tonics for the laboring mama and her support team
  • Videos, toys, art supplies, puzzles, etc. for anxious siblings to discover

An “emergence” kit can be constructed with items that could be grabbed in a hurry or not at all.

  • A pair of scissors, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and gauze swabs (or alcohol prep pads) for cleansing them.
  • 2 industrial strength cord clamps (for emergency use only) and a set of gentler cord ties for normal cord procedures. Umbilical tape or dental tape (not floss, the ribbon-like stuff) works well. Braided embroidery floss is a popular choice too.
  • Any bleed stopping remedy the mother has chosen. (Mango Mama posted: Shepherd’s Purse and/or Motherwort tinctures and Bayberry Bark, Cayenne, Shepherd’s Purse and Mistletoe herbs for teas as options)
  • Natural fiber hat for a newborn head (remembering that hir tiny head could be very sore from the molding, those tightly knit “hospital caps” made two of my babies scream in pain). Patterns for creating your own baby hat are here for knitting and crocheting and here for sewing
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rubber ball suction device as an “emergency item” but I think they are a bad idea for birth, personally. I’d probably stick one in a drawer so no one would think I was negligent for not having it. I can’t imagine ever using it though…
After birth items:

  • Warm towels, blankets, receiving blankets or robes. Some families put towels in a dryer, on a heater, folded around a warm heating pad or in a barely warm oven during labor so they’ll be cozy after birth.
  • A large pan, bowl or bucket for catching the placenta (those ice cream buckets work well).
  • Maxi pads (cloth ones or even towels can work well)
  • Arnica 30x for bruising or pain (mama and perhaps even baby)
  • Pain reliever for after-pains (herbal tinctures, teas or commercial)
  • Eldon card, vaccutainers and syringe for testing baby’s cord blood (once baby is done with it)
  • Calendula tincture, honey for tears or skid marks
  • Diapers and baby clothes
  • A tape measure
  • A scale (if desired. Some families rig up fish scales with a baby blanket or towel and subtract the towel’s weight, some subtract their weight from the reading on the bathroom scale while they hold their infant)
  • Celebratory foods, drinks or items for baby’s very first Birth-day party
Photo by Liz Leighton