Birthowl’s natural childbirth

November 10, 2008, 2:37 am
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Michel Odent on Mother & Baby separation:

Oxytocin is more than just the hormone responsible for uterine contractions. When it is injected into the brain of a mammal, even a male or virgin rat, it induces maternal behavior, i.e., the need to take care of pups. One of the greatest peaks of oxytocin a woman can have in her life is just after childbirth, if the birth has occurred without any intervention. It is also necessary for the “milk ejection reflex.” In fact, oxytocin is involved in any episode of sexual life, and both partners release oxytocin during intercourse. It is even involved in any aspect of love and friendship: when we share a meal with companions, we increase our levels of oxytocin.Morphine-like hormones, commonly called endorphins, also play important roles in the birth process. Up to the birth of the baby, both mother and fetus release their own endorphins, so that during the hour following birth they are still impregnated with opiates. It is well known that opiates induce a state of dependency. When mother and baby haven’t yet eliminated their endorphins and are close to each other, the beginning of a deep bond is created. In fact, when sexual partners are close to each other and impregnated with opiates, another kind of bonding may result that follows exactly the same model as the bonding between mother and baby.


It is not only the mother who is releasing hormones during labor and delivery. During the last contractions, the fetus is also releasing a high level of hormones of the adrenaline family. One of the effects of this is that the baby is alert at birth, with eyes wide open and pupils dilated. Mothers are fascinated by the gaze of their newborn babies. It seems that this eye-to-eye contact is an important feature of the beginning of the mother-baby relationship, which probably helps the release of the love hormone, oxytocin. Both mother and baby are in a complex hormonal balance that will not last long and will never happen again. Physiologists today can interpret what ethologists have known for half a century by studying the behavior of animals: where the development of the capacity to love is concerned, there is a critical, sensitive period just after the birth.


The Birthing Dance

Come to me, My Child
Secret longing of my inner heart
Breath of spirit
Wandering the cosmos
Choosing your next lifepath
Seeking sanctuary in my wonb
Visions of you stir my dreams
Your gentle essence drifting inward
Merging into matter
Coming into consciousness
Birthing into being
Your tender wisdom speaks
The ancient knowledge of a mother’s power
Our bodies grow together
Two as one
Turning round, in birthing dance
You lead me
Opening the circle corridor
Descending into unhindered ecstasy
Into my arms

Judie C. Rall

Picture by Carnaval King

Posterior Position and the Fetus Ejection Reflex

Two facts regarding posterior  position have been authoritatively confirmed by published prospective studies.

The first fact is that worrying pregnant women about the position of their baby in the womb is useless. A large Australian randomized controlled trial involving 2547 pregnant women has eloquently demonstrated that hands and knees exercise with pelvic rocking from 37 weeks’ gestation until the onset of labor does not reduce the incidence of persistent occiput posterior position at birth.

The second fact is that fetal position changes are common during labor, with the final position established close to birth. This is the conclusion of a prospective study of 1562 women to evaluate changes in fetal position during labor by using serial ultrasound examination. Among babies who were posterior late in labor, only 20.7% appeared to be posterior at birth.
Finally, when the mother had no epidural, the overall rate of posterior position at birth was only 3.3%, although this study was conducted in conventional departments of obstetrics, where the basic needs of birthing women could not easily be met. The rate was 12.9% in the epidural group.

When taking into account these two well-documented facts, focusing on the right question becomes easy: what factors can influence the rotation process during labor?

The answer is simple: The factors that can facilitate the rotation process are those that make a typical fetus ejection reflex possible.The passage toward the fetus ejection reflex is inhibited by any interference with the state of privacy. The ejection reflex does not occur in the presence of a birth attendant who behaves like a “coach,” an observer, a helper, a guide or a “support person.”

The fetus ejection reflex can be inhibited by a vaginal exam, by an eye-to-eye contact or by the imposition of a change of environment. It does not occur if the intellect of the laboring woman is stimulated by rational language (e.g., “Now you are at complete dilation; you must push”). It does not occur if the room is not warm enough or if the lights are bright. The best situation I know for a typical fetus ejection reflex is when no one is around but an experienced, low profile, silent, motherly midwife sitting in a corner and knitting.

The image of the “knitting midwife” should not be understood in a literal sense. Instead, it symbolizes the authentic midwife as a protective mother figure whose own level of adrenaline is maintained as low as possible.
Noticeably, when the conditions for an ejection reflex are met, most birthing women find spontaneously complex and asymmetrical bending-forward postures that probably play an important part in facilitating the rotation of the baby’s head.

Persistent posterior position at birth will become exceptionally rare on the day when the meaning of privacy is understood and authentic midwifery has been rediscovered.

– Michel Odent, MD, excerpted from “Occiput Posterior Position Should Be Exceptionally Rare at Birth”

Gracious births
May 5, 2008, 7:00 pm
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by Judy Edmunds

Midwives try to convey these simple truths: Birth is not a clinical exercise. It is not a medical procedure. In nearly every instance, it should not be major surgery. Nor should it even routinely include minor surgery. Rather than being a time of weakness with beds, shots, fasting, IVs and wheelchairs, it is a time of energy and strength. Raw power. Mightiness. Courage. Sometimes our victories are great: a beautiful home VBAC after doctors had convinced the woman her body was defective. Sometimes the victories are small: a routine hospital birth, yet no drugs were taken to dull the senses. Still, considering the tales of woe amassed in Nancy’s book, we see we have work to do, a long way to go. Birth abuse continues to take place. In fact, how many hospital birth horror stories have you heard? And yet, how many times have you been asked, “Just what, exactly, does a midwife do?” or “Mid-what?” Considering that only a small percentage of women choose to birth at home, we recognize that many women don’t even know what this choice could mean for them.

Three Births – Hospital, Birth Center, and Home

Martin Spielman Writes about Alex, Brandon and Grace Spielman’s Births

Our first son, Alexander, was born at a hospital and it was a horror story that fortunately my wife cannot remember a lot of to this day, which is better, since I can. It involved a disinterested staff and a doctor who had better things to do

We were sent home twice for not progressing and when Cherie finally started to progress the tiniest fraction hospital policy decreed that all and food and drink were to be withheld. It had been a long 2 days and we had had enough and so we signed ourselves out. Finally we returned and Cherie was progressing slowly, but after several hours the staff decided there was a problem being reported to them by the fetal monitor

We were told that since the baby’s heart rate was not climbing enough during contractions that an internal monitor was necessary. When we protested the doctor said, “You don’t want your baby to die do you?” So the doctor broke Cherie’s amniotic sac, attached the fetal monitor and put Cherie on Pitocin. Within 10 minutes (2 contractions) Cherie had gone from 3 cm to 10 not, I believe, because of the Pitocin but more along the lines of what her family history had going for her (Cherie was born on the way to the hospital.) The staff was shocked but said it was OK to go ahead and push, they were not prepared for the result.

Within 5 minutes of starting to push Alex’s head started to crown. The staff rushed Cherie to the delivery room, demanding she not push (as if.) I tried to take some pictures of Alex being born, but the nurses starting yelling at me for being at, The “Wrong” end of the table. The doctor was busy fiddling and did not notice Alexander emerging, and ended up lunging and catching him with one hand. As soon as Alex was born the doctor panicked and called for the pediatrician “Stat,” because Alex was not “Responding properly.” The less panic oriented pediatrician gave Alex the once over and declared, “He’s sleeping.” Obviously Doctor Dopey, had not considered that Cherie was not the only one having endured the 60 hour labor.

Our second son, Brandon, was born at the Familyborn birth center and we were very pleased. I even got to catch the baby. Cool, a must for all real fathers. I was shocked by the lack of poking and prodding this time around. The best part of Brandon Michael’s birth was when Cherie’s water broke. Cherie had not yet broken her amniotic sac by the time she was ready to push so she had to do it while pushing which was very uncomfortable for her, and a great relief once it did happen.

Cherie was in the middle of a full blown pushing contraction when her water was ready to break, and it was quite a show! The amniotic fluid sprayed 6 feet, past the end of the bed and on to the floor. Actually it looked like we were at the bottom of a log flume when the spray erupted. 10 minutes later Brandon was born with the most beautiful blond hair.

As we approached the midway point of our third pregnancy the center told us that they were closing down their on-site birth facilities and that we were out of luck. And so we decided on a home birth. Cherie’s labor actually started almost a full week before Grace was born. Cherie called me to come home at 8:30 am Saturday, 39.5 weeks into her pregnancy.

We were sure this baby was going to be special because she had stayed in so long, both her brothers had been born at 37 weeks and were 6lb 10oz and 7lb 1oz. Cherie had false labor twice before, so we were so worn down that we did not get our hopes up. By Sunday Cherie was still going steady, but not too strong so her midwife came by for a check/cheer up and found her to be 1 cm and 50% effaced. So we unfortunately prepared for the long haul since both of Cherie’s previous labor’s had lasted 60 hours. Sunday night and Monday passed without much fanfare, although Cherie’s labor began to take its toll on her sleep, so that by Tuesday, during her weekly appointment, Midwife Louise and trainee Martha were concerned, and we created a plan of action.

By Wednesday stress had taken its toll and the midwives rushed up to check on Cherie’s now stronger contractions early in the morning. After setting up and determining that Cherie was now 3cm 60% they stayed expecting a prompt arrival, they were to be disappointed. Cherie continued to putter along the rest of the day, but since she had progressed Louise and Martha thought it best to let nature take its course. The midwives agreed that since Cherie was tiring, an understatement, that unless something happened that, in accordance with our plan of action Friday morning she would take castor oil to stabilize and stimulate her labor. On Friday at 9:30 am Cherie took the castor oil “Milkshake” as prescribed, and boy did it ever work.

By 12:30 Cherie was into a strong, stable contraction pattern. Cherie became restless and it was nice to be able to waddle her around our own block. By 4:30pm Cherie’s water finally succumbed and things became intense. With the first push I could tell this baby was bigger than we had imagined just by how high Cherie’s belly rose. Louise and Martha gave a constant stream of direction and suggestion, including having Cherie change positions twice. Shortly before Grace was born Louise brought in Alex who sat by his mom’s head and was the official baby hat holder and coach. As the baby’s head started to crown I warned Martha and Louise to watch out in case I lost my balance since Cherie had a tendency to “blast” babies out.

Alex had to be caught with one hand by the doctor as he turned to get something and Brandon had gone from crowning directly to being exposed up to his elbows with one mighty push. I knew this had to be a big baby when it ended up taking Cherie two entire pushes to expel the head and another one to get out Grace’s body, which I happily caught without incident. Grace arrived at 5:19 pm and weighed in at 9lb 4 oz.

Homebirth slideshow
April 14, 2008, 7:00 pm
Filed under: birth, homebirth, slideshow | Tags: , ,

“After having four children in the hospital my wife wanted to try a homebirth. She talked me into it and this was our experience. We had three more at home after this experience.”

Home Birth

Beautiful Natural Home Birth of Hudson James attended by a midwife. Katie’s son was asynclitic and needed assistance coming through the birth canal

Midwifery Today published the article by Valerie a while ago that presents very clear instructions on how to turn the baby’s head. IT WORKS. She has taught me the difference between intervention and intercession. We also use visualization, relaxation, talking-to-the-baby, pulsatilla ( for assisting the turn) and gelsemium ( for lips and rings). At a hospital labor support birth this past week, when the doctor announced that it was time for the pit and epidural, to see if we could “get things rolling” – I spoke to my couple. I told them that they had hired me to assist them with a natural birth, and that I was absolutely convinced that they could do this – as long as the baby’s head was lined up well. I told them that in other cultures there is no pitocin or epidurals – women do not have these as options – and yet they have their babies!! I told them that we are mammals – and that mammals have their babies. I told them that I had unwavering faith in a woman’s body’s ability to give birth. We adjusted the baby’s head ( in private) and the baby was born soon after.

At a labor support birth this past week, the midwife who came on call had heard me speak at an MT conference in Oregon a few years ago. She was very warm and friendly, and told me that I could “do this birth” ( by the way, I do not “do” births – I attend them, or assist at them, or help to “receive” the baby with the parent’s permission). I told her that it seemed necessary to adjust the head – she said “By all means please try! I have never done that!” Within a few minutes of the adjustment, the woman began to push and birthed her baby. It had been fifteen years since she had had a baby – the last birth had been a horror show with a “stuck” baby and a resulting forceps delivery – and she was 43 years old.

One last note. One of the women whom I attended had been at 7 centimeters for about four hours when I was called to her birth. Her cervix was swollen and not very giving. She had been told to pant and blow – not to push as it would further swell her cervix. The baby’s head was asynclitic. I adjusted the head, and told her to push – much to the dismay of those around me. This did not come from new-midwife uppity-ness or arrogance – but from my intuition – ” Just push, Kate – just push and lets see what happens.” Within a few moments, she was fully dilated. In some situations, a cervix that has been at 7 for that long probably wants to “go” just as much as the mom wants it too! It just needed the baby’s head more well applied to assist it in its final act of “disappearance”!