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Monday, July 21, 2014

Choosing A Home Birth – Your Pregnancy Can End At Home With Proper Preparation

When you are pregnant, you have many different people offering you so many suggestions that it can be confusing to know what the right choice is for you and your baby. Most of your friends and relatives have given birth in a hospital, and they argue that this is the safest way. However, more women than ever in the United States are choosing to have home births, and most of those births are uneventful in terms of complications. They also create a deeper bond and a more lasting memory for the woman giving birth.

If you read stories about home births online (such as on the forum located here), you will find that almost universally, women were extremely happy with their choice. If you think about it, it is easy to see why. A birth at home is in the most comfortable environment for you. You can shower if you would like, and you can move around your home freely. The lighting is the type of lighting that you like best (no harsh overhead fluorescent lighting), and you bed is there for you right after you have given birth. In addition, it is going to become the most familiar place for your baby once he is born, so why not start him out in the place where he will be spending most of his time and life.

So, if a home birth sounds like a good choice for you, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you are able to have one. Of course, it is not possible to prepare in advance for every eventuality, and some women are not able to have a home birth even if they want one. Conditions such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and placenta Previa are certain to prevent a home birth, since they are complications that are much more likely to require the intervention of a hospital medical team.

However, for those women who are having a normal pregnancy, with no complications, who are at low risk, there are a number of things that you can do so that your wishes can be honored. First, be sure you are getting adequate nutrition. Following the basic food groups, having good portion sizes, and eating whole grains and healthy fruits and vegetables can help ensure you are having good nutrition. The baby’s weight is also a good indicator, so be sure your doctor agrees that your weight gain and the baby’s are appropriately progressing.

Second, you should ensure that you are taking the proper pre-natal vitamins. For the most part, doctors and midwives today have been recommending pre-natal vitamins based on the favorable results of many studies, including those performed by the March Of Dimes. Certain vitamins have been definitively shown to prevent birth defects, and increase fetal health.

Third, you may wish to consider having a pre-natal massage session or a series of sessions before you give birth, and then continuing after you have given birth, preferably in your home. Due to limitations to mobility, getting yourself to a spa may become impossible, and massage therapy can be crucial for your pregnancy. Rather than allowing the lack of mobility to stop you from having one, it is best to have one in your home. Evidence is mounting with each passing month and year on the incredible benefits to both mother and baby of prenatal massage therapy.
Fourth, it is advisable to sign up for a pre-natal yoga class, or to obtain a prenatal yoga video, such as can be found on amazon by clicking here. Pre-natal yoga has demonstrated beneficial effects for every stage of pregnancy, and many physicians and midwives heartily recommend the practice. Like massage, it can help your body be prepared for labor by loosening and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, making pushing during labor easier.

Fifth, it is strongly advised that you hire a doula, in addition to a skilled and experienced midwife. The doula will help the laboring woman with emotional support, as well as helping to calm the laboring woman and her partner. Having a doula is almost certainly a must if one wants to have a natural childbirth at home. You can check the links here and here to help you find a certified doula in the New Jersey area.

While there are risks of a home birth, the risks are generally small. Usually, the risks involve complications during the birth that were not foreseen, leading to the need to be transferred to a hospital. Prior to the 1900s, nearly all births were home births. Advances in modern medical treatment have made even home births safer, with midwives generally bringing fetal monitoring equipment with them, along with oxygen for the mother or baby. With proper preparation, it has been found that home births are nearly as safe as those in a hospital or birthing center, and their popularity is on the rise. Research for this article was performed on The Mayo Clinic's home birth page, the American Pregnancy Association’s page, and a recent Huffington Post article detailing the results of a study of home births in America.

Since more and more modern women are choosing to insist on a natural childbirth, feeling that their decision matters and that they have a say, it is only natural that home births are following in the footsteps of this growing trend. Just as C-sections come with many risks, but are performed routinely, perhaps there will come a time when births are routinely performed at home even though there are some risks to this. If you are considering a home birth, then you are paving the way for future women just like yourself to make the same decision. You are treating pregnancy and birth as a natural process rather than a medical condition, and this is to be applauded. We can only hope that more women in the future will follow in these footsteps toward a more integrated approach to their own labor and birth.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why Every Pregnant Woman Should Educate Herself About Pregnancy

Every pregnant woman should read at least one book about her pregnancy. I would state, actually, that every pregnant woman should read every book and internet article about pregnancy that she can. It is very important to be informed. In the introduction to the book Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn, by Simkin et al., the author states that “…expectant parents [should] have a portable, comprehensive, and unbiased source of factual information and sound advice…” about their pregnancy, as well as how to care for the new baby once it is born.

While this is an excellent book, and every pregnant woman should obtain a copy, there are many other books, websites, scientific studies, and scholarly articles that one should research upon becoming pregnant. Since the evolution of the e-reading device, as well as magazines available on Google’s newsstand app for smart devices, it is not difficult to get most of the information you need right on your smartphone or tablet device, thus making it easier than ever to make informed decisions about your birth plan, your medical care, and the desired outcome of your labor.

Some of the decisions to make involve medications such as epidurals, whether you want a natural birth or C-section (this desire cannot always be honored, although it is best to know what each option entails beforehand), and whether you want a hospital birth, home birth, birthing center birth, or a water birth. Each of these decisions required careful research on the risks and benefits, the statistics regarding success rates, and possible side effects or harmful effects on you and the baby for each decision.

While pregnancy is a completely natural event, there have been advances in medical science that every woman should know about. There is also a lot of knowledge among the general public about certain advances and interventions, but some are not fully understood. There are procedures that bring with them a certain level of higher risk, but many women may not be aware of these risks.

For example, an epidural and an amniocentesis are both rather routine in this day and age. However, there are some women who would not want either of them if they were aware of the risks and possible damage that can occur to mother or fetus. In the case of an epidural, there is a 1 in 1,000 risk of temporary nerve damage, and a 1 in 13,000 risk of permanent nerve damage in the leg, foot, or stomach. This nerve damage can result in numb patches on these body parts. Permanent urinary incontinence can rarely result from this procedure as well.

The overall complication risk, including all complications both minor and major, is 23% This is according to the website listed in the next paragraph. The rate of caesarian section increases among women who have had epidurals, by 7 percentage points. Other complications have included a drop in blood pressure, the need for assistance in delivery with forceps or vacuum, as well as fetal distress, blood vessel trauma, and punctured Dura.

Infections, high fever, and backache were also common. This list is only a brief discussion about some of the problems associated with epidurals. Every woman who is considering having one should know all of the risks. The website located here is well-referenced, with many studies about epidurals listed in the footnotes. While the pain of labor is intense, and is obviously what has prompted the popularity of this procedure, it is still best to know as much as possible before accepting it. Also, while the risks of major problems are rather small, especially compared to other medical procedures, it is still best to make such a decision with both eyes open.

Similarly, an amniocentesis is a routinely administered procedure, where doctors may minimize the risks of the procedure when discussing the procedure with a possible candidate for it. Since many miscarriages occur in the second trimester, when this test is performed, it is very hard to accurately estimate the miscarriage risk. The accepted risk for miscarriage because of an amniocentesis is between 1 in 200 and 1 in 400.

To some, that may not seem a small number. This test, however, is the best way to test for a genetic abnormality. This test is performed in the second trimester to allow a woman the option of aborting the pregnancy if a genetic abnormality which will create a significant burden to the family is discovered. The burdens of having a genetically abnormal child include financial burdens, as well as social burdens with regard to when the child is in school, as well as in normal social situations with friends and family.

There are other risks of this procedure as well, including causing uterine infections, the needle coming into contact with the baby possibly causing damage, and causing the water to break (i.e. creating a leak in the amniotic fluid). This would cause labor to be induced prematurely, since the amniotic fluid is what keeps the baby alive and nourished in the womb. Click on the website names that follow for links to discussions of the risks and benefits of an amniocentesis at Babycenter and the American Pregnancy Association.

In the case that a baby will have a genetic abnormality, if the woman is not planning to have an abortion (whether for religious, moral, or other personal reasons), then the performance of the test is questionable. At the URL located here, the doctor speaks about the increasing risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome for people who are older adults.
The benefits of this test are significantly mitigated if they lose the baby due to the test itself. And again, if they are not planning to abort the fetus, then the advantage of having the test may be quite small since there is nothing that can be done. Amniocentesis has very accurate results with regard to predicting Down’s syndrome. However, many women feel that a 1 in 200 potential risk for miscarriage from this procedure is too high and have chosen to not have one done.

There are hundreds of other reasons to become as informed as possible about pregnancy, especially with regard to your birthing choices. Whether to have your birth in a hospital, birthing center, or at home, are each choices that come with certain potential risks as well as certain potential outcomes. For example, if you choose to give birth in a hospital, you have a greater chance of having a cesarean section. Giving birth at home is nearly as safe as giving birth in a hospital or birthing center, according to recent research. An article at The Huffington Post, and another at the American Pregnancy Association go into greater details, and can be accessed by clicking on the website's name in the preceding sentence.

Home births are usually only allowed or normal pregnancies with low risk of complications. The disadvantage to a home birth is that there is no way to do a C-section if something goes wrong, and only a midwife would be willing to perform the delivery. This is probably the most important choice to make during your pregnancy, before the time of labor comes.

There are many other compelling reasons why every pregnant woman should be as informed as possible. With the evolution of smartphones and tablets, it is no longer even necessary to carry around a bunch of books to read about pregnancy and the birth experience. Kindles and e-readers, as well as other apps are available to read all about pregnancy right on your smartphone. Scientific studies and other information are available through social media sites and other apps. Every pregnant woman should learn about the procedures she will be having before undergoing them, and her birth partner should take an active role in learning to be better able to help her during the birth experience.

Such foreknowledge will make the pregnant woman feel more empowered and in control of her own pregnancy. Since much of pregnancy belongs to another (the fetus), having the most information can serve to make a woman feel that she is more of an active participant in the process, rather than just a vessel for the entrance of another being into this world. While it is certainly the case that the process is focused on the birth of a new person, it will help the pregnant woman to know that she, too, is an active participant in her own life and the creation of the life of another, since both lives will be forever changed by this experience.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reducing Pain and Duration of Labor During Pregnancy: Acupressure Point

A study conducted in 2004 has some very interesting and useful information for pregnant women, as well as their caregivers. This study describes how a very simple technique, which can be applied by anyone, can reduce the pain of labor. More importantly, this technique was found to significantly reduce the time of the first stage of labor, between 3cm cervical dilation and full dilation.
While the duration of the second stage of labor did not differ significantly, the effect on the first stage of labor is clinically significant. Due to the pregnancy, there are fewer medications that can be prescribed to assist with the duration of the first stage of labor. Additionally, even medications that are deemed safe for pregnancy can have unpredictable consequences, as each person and each pregnancy can react differently. For this reason, non-pharmacological interventions (such as pre-natal massage and acupuncture) are always preferable to pharmacological ones.

I have spoken to a number of obstetricians and gynecologists, who have stated that the results of this study would be useful to them. With regard to actually performing this technique, it is simple enough to teach to the spouse or other loved one who is present, so that they can administer the technique during all of the stages of labor. Even though the first phase of labor is the only one that showed an effective shortening, this technique was still shown to reduce pain and lessen the need for pharmacological pain-killers. (A certified pre-natal massage therapist or certified acupuncturist can also demonstrate the technique to expectant parents sometime before labor)

The most popular and effective pain-killer used during labor is an epidural. However, pregnant women are not often advised that this method can actually prolong the second phase of labor, which is the pushing stage. Click here to view the study

There are also other effects that can occur from an epidural, including the risk of temporary or permanent nerve damage, many women need to have a catheter inserted in order to eliminate, and it can make you feel itchy, shivery, or fevered. Most importantly, epidurals increase the risk of your blood pressure falling, which can increase the risk for the baby needing assistance due to improper positioning for birth. Epidurals also wear off after a certain amount of time and require the services of a specialized doctor, known as an anesthetist. When the medication wears off, the anesthetist must be called again, and they may not be readily available. This is according to the website - click here . A number of these risks may not be discussed with you by your doctor, so it is important to find out about your pain relieving options well before your labor starts.

Pregnant women and their care-givers can easily administer this technique to laboring women, and it is something that more midwives and obstetricians should be using. The SP6 acupressure point is located on the inner calf of the lower leg, four finger widths above this inner ankle, at the back border of the leg bone. A diagram or photograph could be provided to the spouse or caregiver providing the acupressure, and the acupressure is applied during each contraction for 30 seconds. Although this was the model used in the experiment, it is also possible that continued application of pressure to SP6 during labor would have a similar effect on the duration of labor and intensity of pain.

As a simple intervention that nearly anyone can apply, this acupressure massage technique can be useful for most pregnant women, whether in hospitals, birthing centers, or at home. Midwives and obstetricians may find the study useful in their own practices as well.