Giving birth draws you deep into your body, yet you’ll depend on others to get through it. Whether you have a brief labor eased by an epidural, deliver on all fours in your own living room or have an unplanned C-section, what matters most is how you are cared for and if you are listened to by your providers. The best way to advocate for yourself in the delivery room is to begin the process well before your swollen feet ever step into the space itself.
It is possible to get compassionate, respectful care from many kinds of providers — midwives, obstetricians, family physicians and nurses — and in settings including hospitals, birth centers and your home. But, according to a recent international survey, up to one third of women experience some trauma during birth, which means that at some point during labor, they felt that their emotional well-being or even their — or their babies’ — lives were under threat. And according to the latest Listening to Mothers report, one in four American women who underwent either labor induction or a C-section reported experiencing pressure from a health professional to do so.
(Click to read this great piece by Angela Garbes on nytimes.com)
Any woman who has ever carried and birthed a child, in whatever fashion, deserves her own ESPN highlight reel — blood, sweat, tears and the eventual triumph of holding her newborn baby. To be clear, childbirth isn’t a game. You can’t plead with the referee when you don’t like a call or leave the field when you’re tired.
Still, as a lifelong athlete, I saw childbirth, especially an unmedicated one, as the ultimate challenge of physical endurance, mental stamina and my ability to handle pain.
When I became pregnant in January 2018 and set about preparing for the monumental task of birthing a human, I loaded up on prenatal vitamins, kept a daily routine of birthing stretches and exercises, and endured an eight-week birthing course. An image of the lead female competitors in the New York City Marathon, who bring me to tears when they run past my Brooklyn apartment each year, filled me with confidence for labor. Washboard-like abs. Lean legs showing off every strand of muscle. Calm, focused and confident expressions on their faces.
However, as my due date came near, I clung to a fear of pain and the unknowns out of my control. How long would my labor be? Would my mind fall apart? What if my pelvis wasn’t the optimal shape or I stopped dilating?
(Click to read on NYTimes.com)
When I met Johnson at WMN Space, my first question was how, exactly, she started doing this kind of work in the first place. (I mean, it’s not something you can major in at college.) The former yoga instructor and bodyworker told me she found her calling while dealing with a serious pelvic-floorinjury brought on by childbirth.
“I started researching [treatment], and all I could find were tens of thousands of entries on postpartum depression,” she recalls. “But I was like, ‘Of course I’m depressed.’ I was pooping in my pants, sex was impossible, my low back was killing me all the time—and I’m someone who was totally fit and healthy [before giving birth.]
(Click to read about pelvic floors on wellandgood.com)
If there’s one thing the experts agree is guaranteed about pregnancy and birth, it is that “it will likely be very different from whatever you might be imagining.” This is Julia Bower, a CNM (certified nurse midwife) in Austin, Texas. Bower has delivered over 800 babies in her over her twenty-plus-year career. In case you are unfamiliar, certified nurse midwives like Bower are health care professionals who have a graduate degree in midwifery and have passed a certifying exam. Certified nurse midwives (as well as certified professional midwives, though they don’t necessarily have a degree) are licensed by their state* to provide much of the same care as ob-gyns and are experts in low-risk births.
We asked Bower to give us her unfiltered play-by-play of childbirth.
(click to read on goop.com)
For more than 60 years, it has been the standard of care to try to speed up childbirth with drugs, or to perform a cesarean section if labor was seen as progressing too slowly.
Now a new set of recommendations is changing the game.
In February, the World Health Organization released a set of 56 recommendations in a report called Intrapartum Care for a Positive Childbirth Experience. One key recommendation is to allow a slow labor to continue without trying to hurry the birth along with drugs or other medical interventions. The paper cites studies showing that a long, slow labor — when the mother and baby are doing well — is not necessarily dangerous.
A little history is required to understand the importance of that one recommendation, says Dr. Aaron Caughey, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University, who did not work on the report. In 1955, Dr. Emanuel Friedman studied 500 women and concluded that labor is normal when, during the intense phase of contractions, the cervix opens at a rate of at least one centimeter (about 0.4 inches) an hour. “Dr. Friedman showed that 95 percent of women progressed” at this rate, says Caughey. “And that became the standard of care.”
(click to read on npr.org)
Despite prodromal labor not being mentioned in the most common pregnancy books, you’ll still hear it frequently being discussed among friends, with care providers and in online communities. Because of this discrepancy, it makes sense that there is confusion and frustration surrounding the topic. In this post I hope to define prodromal labor, but more importantly offer onlutions and encouragement if you find yourself experiencing this frustrating phenomenon.
The reason why prodromal labor is not mentioned in pregnancy books is because it is more commonly known as pre-labor or even misnamed as false labor. It seems as if our birthing culture uses these three terms interchangeably – prodromal labor, pre-labor and false labor. This is so confusing! If this has confused me, I bet I’m not the only one wondering what’s going on.
(click link above to read on MotherRisingBirth.com, an amazing resource…)
Cesarean delivery of a baby—or C-section—is the most commonly performed surgery in the world.
Rising C-section rates are a problem all over the world—but it’s particularly notable in the United States.
C-sections have skyrocketed in the U.S. since the mid-1970s. In just one generation, this country’s C-section rate has increased 500%.
One in three babies are now born via C-section—compare that one in 20 in the mid-70s.
And a mother who has a C-section for her first delivery is overwhelmingly more likely to have C-sections for future deliveries.
And while it’s incredibly common—it’s still major surgery—with a range of potential complications such as hemorrhage or infection.
It’s estimated that nearly half of C-sections may be avoidable—but to prevent them, researchers need to find out what exactly is driving the dramatic increase in their use.
(click the link above to listen to the podcast from Harvard School of Public Health)