I find it so ironically appropriate that as I make my first blog post here on our home site it surrounds the topic of birth and it's interventions- sometimes necessary and sometimes not necessary at all. This topic is incredibly near and dear to my heart because of my own personal birth experience, my calling to help women through their journey of conception, pregnancy, labor, and birth, and because I am currently almost 22 weeks pregnant with our second baby.
Since the emergency cesarean birth of our daughter Jordan, I have been soul searching and academically searching through the in's and out's of labor and delivery and why it can be such a struggle for some and an amazing act and experience of bravery, empowerment, and bliss for others. Throughout the past 3 and a half years I have read several books written by fabulous women and men on the science and spirituality of birth. Along my journey, I have uncovered what many women today are doing without; personal birth stories and scientific fact that illustrate the power of the human body and it's inborn/innate potential to bring forth a child with little to no input from the educated mind and little to no intervention from modern medicine.
While investigating the difference between births with interventions such as cesareans and those without the facts that I uncovered were astonishing. The reason I say "uncovered" is because it is exactly that...these statistics are not disclosed in any way shape or form to expecting mothers by their OBGYN's, PCP's, Pediatricians, and or hospital faculty and staff. These statistics seem to only exist in the underground world of people like you and me doing their own research to find out the truth about birth.
Although we knew the risks and we tried our best to avoid a cesarean birth, there was an unforeseen complication that was not discovered throughout the majority of my labor and once this complication was resolved we were still left with no other option than to deliver our daughter via surgery. These circumstances do occur and in these cases intervention is necessary. However, after meditating on my labor and birth and retracing everything time and time again I know in my heart that had I been with a more competent and aware group of providers the outcome could have very well been different. I believe this is the sentiment of many women who are actually more of a victim of cesarean birth than a full informed and active participant in the decisions made on this incredibly special day. Never the less, I address this topic of cesarean with complete gratitude for it's existence and complete awareness that with the cesarean rate in our society rising due to the impatience of practitioners, the parents unawareness of the risk, and the windy road of intervention side effects created by pitocin and other artificial labor augmentations our children as a generation are in danger of being set up for failure in regards to their immune system and it's effect on their overall health.
"The largest study of its kind confirms yet again that the Cesarean epidemic in the U.S. deserves more attention. Two-million full-term births over 35 years in Denmark show that children born by Cesarean had “significantly increased risk” of developing certain chronic disorders such as a 20% greater chance of asthma, a 10% greater chance of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a 17% greater chance of leukemia, and an over 40% greater chance of developing immune deficiencies, as well as higher chances of systemic connective tissue disorders and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)," states Improvingbirth.org. These conditions along with many others that are presented to us as Chiropractors such as a mother's inability to produce milk, aversion to breastfeeding, torticollis, tmj disorders, cranial bone malpositioning, thoracic outlet syndrome, and numerous other neurological and musculoskeletal disorders can change the entire dynamic of the babies entrance and existence into this world as well as the health and bond between the mother and baby.
With these facts in mind, women should know their choices and the real weight that those choices carry for the future health of their children. Although Cesarean birth serves a great purpose in the case of an emergency, it does not deserve the main stage in childbirth practices as it has today.
There are several ways cesareans can be avoided.
1. Find a health care provider and birth setting with low rates of intervention. When interviewing providers over the phone or in person it is perfectly acceptable to ask what their current cesarean rate is. It can be intimidating questioning a Doctor or Midwife about their practices, but remember there is only one way to find out...and that is to ask. If given the cold shoulder or treated badly, this passive aggressive behavior should be seen as defensiveness and give insight into what type of provider they are. Most midwives have a cesarean rate of approximately 3% or less and OBGYN's tend to range from 10-50%.
2. Find a Chiropractor you trust. Chiropractic care for the pregnant mother helps to insure that the mothers pelvis has adequate nerve supply, full range of motion, and is ready for the dynamic transition it takes before, during, and after labor. Chiropractors with a special interest in prenatal care are skilled in providing safe and specific spinal adjustments that allow the mothers body to better harness the ability to birth naturally. Chiropractic care is statistically known for decreasing the length of labor, the pain experienced during labor, as well as decreasing the overall recovery time therefore decreasing the risk of unnecessary intervention.
3. Add a Doula as part of your birth team for labor support. The loving support of a Doula helps the laboring woman have a safe, memorable, and empowering birth experience where her boundaries and wishes are respected by healthcare providers. Studies show that having a Doula decreases the overall cesarean rate by over 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of pitocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%. Doula's also assist you in creating a flexible birth plan which allows you to have a plan in place that covers all of your basic requests and boundaries as well as a plan for situations if your birth escalates in intensity. This creates a symbiotic relationship between you and your birth partner, Doula, and provider where everyone will be on the same page and working toward the same goal.
3. Educating yourself & your birth partner. Although most people trust the norms of birth in our society because after all if that's what everyone else is doing these days it must be best... this is not always the best approach. The days of living in villages and even assisting in other women birthing their babies is long gone. Most first time moms have no experience to lean on in making the decisions that surround the modern birth such as what type of facility and provider to choose, what your wishes are in regards to c-section, epidurals, pitocin, vacuum distraction, forceps, early cord clamping, and any other potentially harmful modern birth "protocol." I recommend taking a birth class from a well respected childbirth educator in your community, reading books such as the Well Adjusted Baby, Spiritual Midwifery, Ina Mayes Guide to Childbirth, and doing research through documentaries such as the Business of Being Born and/or websites such as improvingbirth.org. All of these resources are great!
4. Avoiding Induction. Studies show that induction can greatly increase the likelihood of a cascade of unnecessary intervention. Induction causes stronger than normal and irregular contractions putting additional stress on the baby. This stress causes the babies heart rate to increase, reasonably so..resulting in the most common cause of cesarean birth- fetal distress. Avoiding induction by choosing a practitioner who understands that normal gestation can range anywhere from 36-42 weeks and having a plan for natural or alternative methods of induction will be helpful. Building a relationship with a Chiropractor who is certified in Acupuncture and other methods to encourage your pelvis and baby into a proper position as well as encouraging the onset of labor may serve you well if you are drifting toward the 42 week mark.
My hope is that women will increase their knowledge on this topic and be able to make fully educated decisions based on their awareness of the benefit and risk of any intervention- in particular cesarean. However, one fact remains the same- getting your baby here safe & sound is the number one goal and that may not include our dream birth, but taking an active role in your labor and birth will definitely increase your chances of having a positive outcome :-)
Please share this article in order to elevate the awareness about this topic.
Love, Your Chiropractor & Doula- Lauren Jessup-Alvarado