Birthowl’s natural childbirth


Advantages and Benefits of Breastfeeding
  1. Saves Lives. Currently there are 9 million infant deaths a year. Breastfeeding saves an estimated 6 million additional deaths from infectious disease alone.
  2. Provides Initial Immunization. Breastmilk, especially the first milk (colostrum), contains anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents that protect the infant against disease, especially diarrhoea. These are not present in animal milk or formula. Breastmilk also aids the development of the infant’s own immune system.
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  3. Prevents Diarrhoea / Diarrhea. Diarrhoea is the leading cause of death among infants in developing countries. Infants under two months of age who are not breastfed are 25 times as likely to die of diarrhea than infants exclusively breastfed. Continued breastfeeding during diarrhea reduces dehydration, severity, duration, and negative nutritional consequences of diarrhea.
  4. Provides Complete and Perfect Nutrition. Breastmilk is a perfect food that cannot be duplicated. It is more easily digested than any substitute, and it actually alters in composition to meet the changing nutritional needs of the growing infant. It provides all the nutrients and water needed by a healthy infant during the first 6 months of life. Formula or cow’s milk may be too dilute (which reduces its nutritional value) or too concentrated (so that it does not provide enough water), and the proportions of different nutrients are not ideal.
  5. Maximizes a Child’s Physical and Intellectual Potential. Malnutrition among infants up to six months of age can be virtually eradicated by the practice of exclusive breastfeeding. For young children beyond six months, breastmilk serves as the nutritional foundation to promote continued healthful growth. Premature infants fed breastmilk show higher developmental scores as toddlers and higher IQs as children than those not fed breastmilk.
  6. Promotes the Recovery of the Sick Child. Breastfeeding provides a nutritious, easily digestible food when a sick child loses appetite for other foods. When a child is ill or has diarrhea, breastfeeding helps prevent dehydration. Frequent breastfeeding also diminishes the risk of malnutrition and fosters catch-up growth following illness.
  7. Supports Food Security. Breastmilk provides total food security for an infant’s first six months. It maximizes food resources, both because it is naturally renewing, and because food that would otherwise be fed to an infant can be given to others. A mother’s milk supply adjusts to demand; only extremely malnourished mothers have a reduced capacity to breastfeed.
  8. Bonds Mother and Child. Breastfeeding immediately after delivery encourages the “bonding” of the mother to her infant, which has important emotional benefits for both and helps to secure the child’s place within the family. Breastfeeding provides physiological and psychological benefits for both mother and child. It creates emotional bonds, and has been known to reduce rates of infant abandonment.
  9. Helps Birth Spacing. In developing countries, exclusive breastfeeding reduces total potential fertility as much as all other modern contraceptive methods combined. Mothers who breastfeed usually have a longer period of infertility after giving birth than do mothers who do not breastfeed.
  10. Benefits Maternal Health. Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of fatal postpartum hemorrhage, the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and of anemia. By spacing births, breastfeeding allows the mother to recuperate before she conceives again.
  11. Saves Money. Breastfeeding is among the most cost-effective of child survival interventions. Households save money; and institutions economize by reducing the need for bottles and formulas. By shortening mothers’ hospital stay, nations save foreign exchange. There are none of the expenses associated with feeding breastmilk substitutes (e.g. the costs of fuel, utensils, and special formulas, and of the mother’s time in formula preparation).
  12. Is Environment-friendly. Breastfeeding does not waste scarce resources or create pollution. Breastmilk is a naturally-renewable resource that requires no packaging, shipping, or disposal.
  13. Breastfeeding is Clean. It does not require the use of bottles, nipples, water and formula which are easily contaminated with bacteria that can cause diarrhoea.
  14. Milk intolerance is very rare in infants who take only breastmilk.

http://www.rehydrate.org/breastfeed/index.html
Photo by Tony Ocado

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THE CRITICAL SENSITIVE PERIOD
November 10, 2008, 2:37 am
Filed under: birth | Tags: , , , ,

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.

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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.



Baby massage illustrations

Postnatal Stimulation
Baby Massage

From Make Way for Baby.com

Preparation

Choose a moment in which you and your child are relaxed and calm. A half hour after the baby has eaten is recommended.

Be sure that the room temperature is warm (78 degrees Fahrenheit). Undress the baby completely, if the weather is cold or humid cover the areas of the baby’s body that are not being massaged.

Put the baby on a soft surface so your baby will feel comfortable and secure. Keep some little pillows handy.

It is a good idea to put some cream on your hands and rub them together so they will be soft and warm.

Basically the massage flows from the head to the toes. With soft and gentle touches you will work on the head, face, shoulders, arms, chest, stomach and legs.

While you massage your baby look tenderly at him/her. Doing this you stimulate all the senses of the baby and establish a more intense visual and tactile communication. Feel free to speak to your baby, do not inhibit yourself.

Remember that your touches should be tender do not make mechanic motions. Try to be flexible by not keeping a rigid routine.

If the baby wants to change position let them do so. Do not force your baby to keep a position, you can go back to these areas later on.

Technique

Pressure to use:
Close your eyes and press your eyelids. The pressure you should use is the same as pressing your eyelids without any discomfort.
In the small areas use your fingertips. In bigger areas use the palm of your hand. “Little strokes” mean to touch your baby’s skin gently and “massage” is to softly move the muscles under the skin.

Step by Step Description

The head:
Touch the forehead, temples and the base of the cranium
Eyebrows and eyelids
Nose
Cheeks
The area around the mouth
Ears and surrounding area

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Jaws:
The frontal part of the neck
(Remember doing this very gently)
Make small strokes and massage the posterior part of the neck with slow movements down to the shoulders.
Softly put both hands on his/her shoulders. Caress the baby from the neck to the shoulders in the direction of his chest.

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Shoulders and arms:
Form a ring with your fingers and thumb around your child’s arm. Begin to caress around the armpit and then go down along the arm. Be very careful when you arrive at the elbow, it is a very sensitive region. In the wrist you can gently practice turning motions using. Remember to take great care with all these motions.
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Stomach:
Massage the stomach in a circular way (the genitalia area is excluded from the massage). Caress the abdomen moving your hands clockwise beginning below the ribs.

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Legs:
Caress each leg with your whole hand, press gently on the thighs.  Slightly flex the legs and knees pressing the thighs gently against the body.
Heels and feet:
A foot massage is very relaxing. Begin by putting a soft pressure on each toe, then the foot and return to the toes again. Sometimes a foot massage can help reduce stomach pain. Caress gently all the toes. Apply circular movements at the heels.
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Back:
Turn your baby around.
Begin with large and slow movements that include head, neck, back and legs always in one direction.
Give your baby soft strokes on the shoulders and back and massaging with your fingertips with circular movements. Do not massage the spinal cord, only put your hands over it and let the baby feel the warm sensation. You can even make small circular movements on your baby’s back.
Put your hands at the top of the legs and  begin gently caressing while working your way down towards the foot.

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When you arrive to the feet start again from the top.  With soft and slow movements finish the massage starting once again at the head and back to the toes.

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REMEMBER:

  • Repeat these exercises when you want to have a few special moments with your baby.
  • Do them when you have adequate time for you and your child.
  • Do not feel impatient if the baby does not cooperate…simply  try again later.

Finally: There are many ways to express your love, this is ONLY ONE of them…



Why is labour important?

Ina may Gaskin on “why is labour important?”

Labor is important, because during labor, both the mother’s and the baby’s body is prepared for birth. The levels of certain hormones rise and ebb during labor. For instance, the mother’s oxytocin levels rise markedly just before the baby is pushed out of her body. This protects her against postpartum hemorrhage. High oxytocin levels in the mother (which are accompanied by higher levels in the baby, too) prepare the nervous systems of both to be attuned to each other. This creates a special “sensitive” period during which these special hormones remain at high levels in undisturbed birth, and this period is best spent by mother and baby in skin-to-skin contact with each other as the baby begins to nuzzle and nick the mother’s breast or the two just look into each other’s eyes and adore each other. The euphoria that follows an unmedicated labor is a very special time for anyone who is privileged to witness it. It’s even better for those who get to experience it.

family

When the mother experiences labor, she also has higher levels than usual of beta endorphin. This hormone then triggers another hormone, prolactin, which prompts her body to get ready for milk production at the same time that it prepares the baby’s lungs for more efficient breathing.

Labor also gives the baby’s torso a good squeeze, which helps to dry out the lungs and make them ready for breathing air in the outside world. Cesarean-born babies typically have wetter lungs, which can mean a higher rate of needing breathing assistance at birth.

Photo by Ian

InaMay.com



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



Communicating with your unborn Child
February 14, 2008, 7:00 pm
Filed under: pregnancy | Tags: , , ,

 

Mother-Baby Bonding Before Birth

A Practitioner’s Story

by Penny Chang

My journey into the realm of pre-birth communication began when I was pregnant with my first child. I wanted, more than anything, to communicate with the being inside of me. That was almost more for me than for him. Though I became pregnant at age 36, I did not use ultrasound to check on my baby’s progress. I had all the usual fears and fantasies about what could be wrong with my baby. Yet, throughout my pregnancy, I had the strong feeling that all was well with my baby and his growth. How did I know that? Well, I asked him. And he answered.

The idea that a mother could talk to her unborn child and receive a response is at once a startling and yet completely natural idea to a pregnant woman in our mechanistic culture. Startling because it means using senses other than the usual physical senses to which we normally limit ourselves. Natural because almost all pregnant women feel that strong connection to their babies and what that connection could mean.

I have yet to meet a pregnant woman to whom the idea of dialogue with her unborn baby, once introduced, did not feel instinctively right. And I have yet to meet a woman pregnant or trying to conceive who, with practice and coaching, could not participate in this kind of dialogue.

Light-hearts.com



Baby Swimming

Focusing on the infant-toddler’s level of well-being and readiness, baby swimming is taken to a higher level beyond that of strictly acquisition of physical skills. Baby swimming has so much to offer when approached in a nurturing, child-paced, “baby friendly” environment: boundless joy, self confidence, personal development, as well as happy, healthy and well adjusted children.

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Raising a child will be the most important job a parent will ever have and growing up is never easy. That is why well informed, intelligent “child raising” choices by parents are necessary in order to provide their offspring a positive start in life.  We must remember that while we teach the children to respect the water, we must never lose our respect for the children during the learning process, where our foremost concern must be with the well-being of the child. Teaching a baby to swim is a subtle, long term process which requires interpersonal sensitivity, altruistic motivation, insight, skill and joy. Patient parents who are able to enjoy the moment and at the same time “stay the course” will rediscover the virtue of water and it’s ability to nourish their baby’s entire being. For the right people, in the right situation, baby swimming can foster a connectedness to family, community and to the outer world.  A cooperative partnership between parent, child and teacher is key to creating the kind of harmonious relationship necessary to gently and playfully guide our young Diaper Dolphins. 

 Baby Swimming – the Gentle Journey

Aqua-Midwife 

Photo by Theron Parlin