Dad feels blessed

Another fast and easy birth!

Dad delivers baby in bathroom
Dad delivers baby in bathroom

Resources were wasted in rushing emergency personnel to the scene when babies just come out. The mother and baby were fine. Dad didn't need to tell her to push. Mom's body was doing what it needed to do, what it was built to do. That poor dad had no reason to panic! All he needed to do was get those dry towels and receive his little girl.

I love that he feels blessed to be the first one to touch her!


The Business of Being Born

The Business of Being Born was amazing!

Before I even begin to talk about the movie though, I have to thank Toshia Parker and Stacey Feiner for inviting me. I also want to say, if you are anywhere near SW/S Central Wisconsin, please attend any event these women are hosting! They are exceptional women bringing great things. They inspire me.

Stacey runs Harmony (a non-profit group promoting natural birth) with two equally phenomenal women; her sisters Renata and Nicole. They are three moms with three different birthing stories who bring a wealth of experience to their endeavors to help women create their own best births. I'm honored to know them. Toshia, like me, is a HypnoBirthing educator and hypnotist. Her business is Wellness from Within.

Anyway, the movie is a must see! If it is showing locally, please go see it whether you are pregnant or not! We are all either mothers, or children of mothers. As such, this topic does impact all of us, even if it doesn't seem to at first.

What did I like about it? Finally a voice for sane birth that more people will listen to! Good or not, people tend to listen to celebrities. One thing the film pointed out was that the celebrities that have been vocal about their elective cesareans are impacting choices right now. We need homebirth celebrities to be as vocal! Joely Fisher and Thandie Newton have been, as has Cindy Crawford and obviously Ricki Lake, but did you know that Demi Moore & Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep, Micheal Landon's wife, Noah Wylie's wife, Carrie Ann Moss, Laura Dern, Patricia Arquette, Stephen & Tabitha King, Lucy Lawless, Pamela Anderson & Tommy Lee (also HypnoBirthers!), John Leguiziamo's wife, Lisa Bonet & Lenny Kravitz, Kelly Preston & John Travolta, , Charlotte Church and Julianne Moore all had homebirths?

Therefor, I love that this movie will get people talking.

I have heard complaints that the movie is 'biased' because it didn't show that people have 'good' births in the hospital too. I guess my question there would be, "Does your OB tell you that the midwives down the street might be a better fit for your low risk situation?" Do hospitals have pictures of wonderful homebirths in their waiting rooms? Of course not. It's a business. Why would they send you to their competitors? The Business of Being Born is an expose' of a broken system, and as such it is as even-handed as it can be and still provide the facts. It shows, through Abby's birth, that technology is lifesaving when used appropriately. However, it also gives evidence showing that it is NOT used appropriately, nor is current practice based on science, and what's more, it shows what the consequences of this mix are. It advocates for a system of choice between viable options, nothing more.

Having said that, I also didn't find it perfect. I realize that subject is enormous in scope and it isn't possible to to address every issue. However, I was disappointed that that every birth was such agony. Because most women believe that is what birth must be, maybe they didn't want to challenge too many core beliefs at one time. Maybe because that was their experience of birth, they also hold that belief, and what they wanted to convey was that there is empowerment in beating the pain. In fact, Robbie Davis-Floyd says something to the effect that there can be no empowerment without the pain. Now, don't get me wrong; I love Robbie Davis-Floyd. I just disagree with her on this point. That is why I was disappointed to see all of the births playing into the fear that most women have already: That birth is so excruciating they feel like they are going to die. The reason women say they want their epidural at the door is because they are sure that's what they will face, and they really don't care about empowerment.

Make no mistake, some will experience that, but not all. Knowing what creates pain birth (and it's not always the birth process itself) means we can avoid the pain, or at least control intensity if we can control the variables that create pain. HypnoBirthing mothers do it all the time. Sometimes homebirth mothers encounter painless birthing accidentally just by controlling some of the variables. Again, not all. I had a homebirth, and I did experience pain. (Long before HypnoBirthing.) I did find empowerment, I did NOT suffer, and found it a spiritual turning point in my life. Since that time I've just seen too many ways in which our beliefs create that experience. So now I believe that women have to know what is possible in birth. You CAN have the empowerment without the pain.

Suggesting that painless birth is possible, perhaps part of our perfect design, does not negate the experience of women who perceive birth as painful. There are historical references to painless birth and there are stories of painless birth from around the world, yet pain can be, and has been, painful for most women. Far too many. We can change that though.

There are many satirical works comparing sex and birth. The comparison is valid considering both can be altered by similar factors. I'd like to take that comparison one step further.

Women's experience of sex:

Some women enjoy orgasmic sex
Some are multi-orgasmic
Some are non-orgasmic
Some experience female ejaculation
Some experience painful intercourse

Some have perfunctory sex

Women's experience of birth:
Some enjoy orgasmic birth
For some birth is painful
For some, long births are normal
For some, short births are
For some giving birth is just a means to an end

In both cases 'position' (in the case of birth both mother and baby's position), partner (in the case of birth, both the actual partner and anyone on the birth team) and practice (in birth today women may only have one or two children, so a fact-baased childbirth class like HypnoBirthing class would have to take the place of life-experience) play a huge role in how events unfold. A woman with vulvodynia is likely going to find sex painful. A virgin is likely to find sex painful. A women who is being raped is going to experience pain. A young girl who is physically immature is going to find sex painful. A physically mature woman who is tense is likely to find sex painful. A woman who is with an unexperienced partner may find birth painful. A woman who is not producing lubrication due to a hormonal imbalance may find sex painful. That doesn't mean sex is painful, yet no one would deny that these women experienced sex as painful. No one would argue that sex is painful by design or that women who enjoy sex are somehow just lucky or somehow exceptional. I don't know anyone who would argue that sex is painful for a lot of women because there is some inherent design flaw, and then set about 'proving' it without questioning why some women find it painful while others either enjoy it or least find it not completely objectionable.

Women who experience sex as painful, who want to enjoy sex more fully (and not everyone does...some women are perfectly happy with their sex lives even if they've never experienced an orgasm, maybe because they don't know what they are missing, poor things) can fix the underlying problem to improve their sex lives. In the case of a medical problem, it would be fixed if possible. If it was an emotional issue from a past experience, that would have to be addressed. For a woman who just didn't know what 'makes her tick', education and exploration would be key. For a women who is simply incompatible with her partner, a new partner could change the experience.

Suggesting that women can have a more enjoyable experience doesn't mean it is expected that every woman will have the SAME experience. It simply means that if you learn how your body works and control the variables, you can improve your experience IF YOU WANT TO. If you knew the secret to mind-blowing orgasms, and later your friends found out that you knew this and didn't share the secret, do you think they'd be upset? Yet when people like me try to share the secret of mind-blowing birth, we are sometimes told we are judgmental, or trying to inflict guilt or that we're being biased. I find that odd. If we told a woman she could have a better sex life, we wouldn't be accused of telling her she was doing it 'wrong' before. Why is it any different for birth?

In the case of birth, it is slightly different because we are talking about improving the experience for both mother and baby. Not only that, but many of the variables that contribute to a fearful, painful, dangerous situation in birth can be long lasting in their consequences to the baby.

So I have to wonder, if the difference between a comfortable natural birth and excruciating natural birth (or putting babies at risk) is simply a matter of learning what makes birth painful so one can avoid it, why don't more women want to know? Perhaps not every woman will have an orgasmic birth, or even painless, but quicker and more manageable is surely possible...without drugs. AND women would still get the 'love cocktail' that The Business of Being Born talks about. How great is that?! Why wouldn't women want to know this?!

Perhaps just seeing the ecstasy that comes from un-medicated birth will help us reach a tipping point where women will choose natural birth and experience painless by accident. Maybe that's enough for now. Maybe that's all this movie will do, because it does show the ecstasy of natural birth. It does show a little bit about how our culture came to view birth the way we do (as a dangerous medical event) as a result of a very well planned smear campaign. It also uses valid statistics to show that it has been to the detriment of women and babies that we do see birth this way.

It breaks up these sobering facts with humor in all the right places. It really was enjoyable to see the audience respond to the film. Both events had decent sized crowds, and both were very well orchestrated. There were expert panels for questions following the showing, and opportunities for more education and ways to become active in expanding women's options.

I'm so glad I was able to attend!


Blizzard Baby

Another baby was almost born on the way to the hospital, this time during a huge snow storm that buried us here in Wisconsin.
It was on the news, channel 12 I think. I didn't take notes because I figured I'd just find the details on their site and post the link, but I can't seem to find it anywhere.
The intro made no sense to me. They said the baby surprised the parents by making an early arrival. Yet they said the mother was scheduled to be induced in a couple of days. The baby appeared to be full term.
In any event, the dad was out shoveling snow like the rest of us. (It seems a never ending job the last few days.) His wife comes out and tells him they have to go to the hospital, RIGHT NOW. Visibility is near zero. It's a raging storm that is dumping snow snow so fast, malls, churches, colleges, schools and stores are closed and people are stranded. Yet these parents are so freaked out, they get in the car and risk their lives to get to the hospital.
Click here to see what these people ventured into.
What if they'd been stuck in that mess? Would they have known what to do? I'm sure not if it made more sense to them to risk death than just stay home and give birth where they would be warm and safe.
What have we done to women that they fear this natural process so?


More Quick and Easy Births

I went looking for a news story today, about a local backseat birth, and I found several! I didn't find the one I was looking for, though.

Last week, I was teaching a HypnoBirthing class, and a dad is concerned about a backseat birth, so we've talked about it a little every week now for 5 weeks, trying to reassure him that if the baby is coming that fast and easy, it's not a problem. This is a common concern for parents, especially HypnoBirthing parents, because if birth is comfortable for mom, and they aren't sure they are in labor, they figure they might not leave in time to get where they are going. We address that concern in class, (even the moms who do have completely painless births still have sensation , just not pain) but truly, although I've got maybe a dozen stories total here on the blog and we hear about one of these on the news about once a month, if you think about how many babies are born, it just isn't something that happens all that often. I've been teaching childbirth classes since 1991, and none of my parents have ever birthed in the car (since I began teaching HypnBirthing though, most do arrive at the hospital at 7-9 cm because they don't think they are really in labor until they are quite far into it).

So they come in last week and tell me that their heater broke in their car, and they were in getting it fixed. One of the mechanics, I believe, sees my client is pregnant and tells her about his exciting weekend.

He had just bought a new car (and I got the impression that for the dad, this was a very important element in the story; that he had to have his car detailed because it was brand new) and his wife was scheduled for a cesarean on Monday for pre-eclampsia (and here is a fun fact, women who actually have pre-elampsia are very sick... getting the baby out quickly is the only way to keep the mother from having seizures and possibly dying. An emergency cesarean is imperative, not 'oh, go ahead and have your baby shower this weekend and we'll schedule surgery for first thing next week').

In any case, after the baby shower, the mom 'felt funny'. She didn't feel like she was in labor, just 'funny'. And since she'd been told she was sick (and may well have been getting sick) she thought it was a good idea to go to the hospital. But by the time they got to the car, she said something felt really odd, and asked her husband to take a peek. She was wearing his boxers, and when Dad looked, he was just in time to catch the baby; the head was already out. I don't know how big the baby was or anything, but mom and baby are going fine. In the retelling of the story, it did seem that dad thought catching his own baby was very cool. Maybe it made up for the wet back seat in his new car.

Now, you'd think this would be news, but there was nothing on it when I looked. Perhaps the family is just private that way. Which makes you wonder how many people this might happen to who just don't want the attention.

However, while I was looking it up, there were TWO OTHERS that happened in the last two weeks. One was in Ohio. A little peanut baby at 4 lb. 3 oz. One was in Michigan. This one just "sort of fell out" at 7 lb. 7 oz.

I also found another I didn't have in the first list. This one happened 2 years ago, and the archive just has the first two sentences, but that gives us the basics. There is a picture of the baby boy, but no weight. He looks to be about 6 lbs.

I actually hope more and more of these happen so people will realize that these quick, easy birth are the way we are designed to birth! However, I fear that if women aren't really thinking things through, their fear will still prevent them from thinking critically.

Years ago, there was some movie star talking about her near car-birth on The View. One of the women said something like, "we hear you have quite a scary story to tell about the birth of your baby". She said yes, then proceeded to tell them that she had surges (contractions) all day, but she didn't think she was in labor. It didn't hurt, so she just went about her daily business.

Eventually, she realized that the sensations were just a few minutes apart, so they headed to the hospital. On the expressway, she felt like the baby was going to fall out, so she got on her knees and told her husband to drive like a maniac. Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, the baby did indeed 'fall out'. I had one client who had a similar story from a previous birth.

In both cases, the doctor's advice was that next time, they should come in two weeks early and be induced to avoid such a scenario again. Fortunately, my client saw the illogic in this, but the movie star in The View thought that sounded like a great idea!

Her labor was so painless, she didn't know she was IN labor. Her baby almost FELL out. So instead of having a homebirth with a midwife next time to avoid a repeat, she thought it would be better to introduce a multitude of risks? Induction is so common these days many are under the impression that there is little or no risk to elective induction. That's simply not true.

First of all, planning to induce two weeks early, as determined by ultrasound, risks preventable prematurity. Ultrasound can be off by two weeks on either side of a 'due date' which itself is actually a 'due month'. "Due" is anytime between from 38 weeks to 42 weeks. 38 weeks is not 'early' and 'late' isn't until 42 weeks 1 day. Less than 5% of women actually give birth on their 'due date'.

After 28 weeks, an ultrasound can be off by as much as 3 weeks and is not supposed to be used for dating after that time. Yet I hear women all the time saying, "Well, my due date changed again." Your 'due date' doesn't change! I always ask them how many times their conception date has changed. You are the same amount pregnant regardless of what the machine says!

So, if someone is induced 2 weeks early based on an ultrasound date, they actually might be FIVE weeks early. Prematurity has considerable risks for the baby, and iatrogenic (doctor caused) prematurity due to increased inductions is a concern for the doctors who have to try to save these babies.

"Elective induction of labor, either for medical convenience or at the patient's request, and the practice of cesarean birth on demand have become increasingly common.10,11 The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 19.9% of all labors are induced; the rates have doubled since the last report in 1989.12 Although many inductions are for medical indications, it has been suggested that two thirds are performed for nonmedical indications.10,13 For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has classified psychosocial issues as an acceptable indication for induction.14 Further, after careful consideration, a woman's right to choose a cesarean delivery is also supported by ACOG.15

Although a scheduled birth may be convenient for the parents and the obstetrician, it is often painfully inconvenient for the infant who is not ready for prime time. Anyone who practiced in the '70s and '80s knows all too well that there is an increased risk of iatrogenic prematurity with elective deliveries, particularly those without lung maturity studies 16; the risk of RDS is also increased in infants delivered by cesarean especially in the absence of labor.16,17 One study reported that 18.2% of the cesarean births in their population were elective; 38% were performed at maternal request.18" (Buus-Frank, 2005. pp 233)

But that's just the beginning. IF the mother isn't actually anywhere near her 'due date', induction will fail. There is actually something called a "Bishop's Score" to determine how likely it is that induction will work. If the cervix is not in a forward position, is not soft, is not already effacing and dilating, and the baby is not low in the pelvis, induction will fail, leading to an unnecessary cesarean. Well, by that time it will be necessary because pitocin and/or cytotec will have likely led to a life or death emergency. So a better word might be an avoidable surgery. Then there is the maternal mortality (death) rate for 'elective cesarean' that is 3 times higher than for a natural vaginal birth. (Wagner, pp. 68)

Part of what causes such risk with pitocin is that it causes contractions that are longer, stronger and closer together, meaning they are very painful. Remember, we were talking here about babies who were born so fast and easy because their mothers were so comfortable they didn't realize they were in labor.

So now, instead of the logical option of staying home with the next baby and letting the baby fall with a midwife to watch over them, we are looking at what might happen if they choose to be induced two weeks early, which is the suggestion of the doctor.

Once pain is introduced with the pitocin, a mother is likely to beg for an epidural or other 'labor drug', which is really a misnomer, like Demerol which also creates risk.

Let me take a slight detour to explain the illogic of 'labor drugs'.

My best friend broke her tail bone while pregnant and "4 days overdue" (meaning she was NOT overdue) and asked for something for the pain. She was told they couldn't give her anything because anything strong enough to help her would be harmful for the baby. BUT if she let them induce her, she could have something for the pain. She asked why she couldn't have those same drugs now, for the pain she was already in. Because they are 'labor drugs' she was told. I love her response.

She said, "So, let me understand this. I'm in pain now, but the drugs are bad for the baby?"

"Yes." said the nurse.

"But you can induce me, create pain, and give me drugs?"


"And these are the same drugs I can't have for the pain I have now, because they are dangerous."


"So, in 30 minutes these drugs become less dangerous?"


"Then why can't I have them now?"

"You aren't in labor."

My friend was stunned, and the nurse never did comprehend what the problem was. My friend went home and used hypnosis for the pain. She had an hour and a half labor and birth a 10 lb. 4 oz. baby boy in a tub at home 4 days later (8 days past her 'due date').

I haven't even addressed the risk of the epidural this woman might also choose, and actually I'm not going to because I have to run. However, for anyone interested, Dr. Mehl-Madrona has research paper title Medical Risks of Epidural Anesthesia During Childbirth that you can access by clicking on the title.

I think the point has been made that inducing 2 weeks early to avoid the 'problem' of the next baby falling out too easily and quickly is the height of idiocy.

Buus-Frank, M., (2005). The great imposter [sic]. Advances in Neonatal Care: The Official Journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses. 5(5):233-236.

Wagner, M., (2006). Born in the USA: How a broken maternity system must be fixed to put women and children first. University of California Press. Berkeley.