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Lowering the Risks of Interventions During Birth

Childbirth is a collaborative effort.

As the different elements of the process work harmoniously, there is often a safer and more productive outcome. Compassionate emotional support and comfort measures hold the power to dramatically reduce certain birth risks and even surgical interventions. The birth community is now publishing more research on the benefits of birth support and how a strong support system can actually affect your birth experience in a positive way.

What’s the verdict?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has published their research on birth support and how midwives are making strides by improving the birth experience nationwide. After establishing that a woman is low-risk, she may benefit from less medical intervention that could prove stressful for her or her baby during labor.

In this research they have also identified that it’s not all about experiencing less pain.

With an epidural alone, mothers might feel less physical pain but can still be significantly affected by anxiety and birth trauma without access to a support system. Continuous emotional support, affirmations and comfort measures have been shown to dramatically shorten the duration of labor and lower the risk for operative deliveries.

When midwives, medical staff, and doulas work cooperatively with a woman in labor, they are able to focus attention on empowering them through the experience and finding natural ways to comfort and encourage the progression of birth safely. Changing positions, massage, intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring and pushing at the mother’s comfortable pace reduces cesarean risks and can also reduce birth trauma and stress during birth.

This is important news for babies to be.

As hospitals and birth centers shift toward this holistic way of thinking, it normalizes birth practices that shy away from medical interventions and pain management. Acknowledging the importance of a strong support system in the birth space will empower women to make their own decisions for their baby’s birth and create a birth plan that is more attune to their specific needs.

When you have a carefully assembled team in place, you can feel confident that you’re receiving all the attention and care you want and nothing you don’t, without compromising safety.

A strong support system matters!

As you prepare for birth, assembling your support system is just as important as deciding your birth preferences. Talk to your care provider, your birth center, and birth support professionals about your options and resources that will customize your birth experience to it’s fullest potential.

Real Fitness for Real Moms

Whether you’re expecting or just welcomed your new baby, a little fitness worked into your daily routine is a good thing.

Most women think that fitness is a strict gym routine of cardio and weightlifting and that type of environment can be anything but motivating and simply out of the question when you’re a new mom. If you’re looking to be healthier during your pregnancy or just after having a baby you can incorporate a great work out in fun and easy ways.

Squat!

There’s no denying the power of squats. If you’re trying to give yourself a lift, working a series of squats into your day will tone your legs and lift your hiney. Squats can also strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy and make to make your labor a faster process and jump start your postpartum recovery. Do 5 to 10 squats after using the bathroom, during commercials, or on the hour and before you know it, you’ll have hundreds done each day. Cleaning up after kids? Do some squats while you’re picking up toys and clutter. Before you know it, you’ll have established an awesome workout routine.

Lunges

Lunges do some amazing things for your legs. If you’re pregnant, these not only help strengthen your pelvic floor but also improve circulation and alleviate swelling. While doing some lunges, you’re strengthening your core and lower body. When recovering postpartum, core strengthening exercises help retrain the muscles and avoid injuries. Lunges are easy to do around the house, when you walk from room to room do 5 to 10 lunges. If you’re baby wearing, you’re adding some weight to your workout! Be careful with lunges while you’re pregnant, as it can be easy to lose your balance.

Stroller Workout

A walk around the block or through the park is a great way to get some fresh air, stretch your legs and give your baby a change of scenery. Pushing a stroller even adds some additional weight to your workout. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous gym visit to get an amazing workout into your daily routine. Make the most of your workout by paying attention to your posture and your breathing. Team up with other moms in your neighborhood to empower them to get up and moving!

One of our childbirth educators, Alisha, leads a walking group two times per week called Mama Movement. This is an awesome opportunity for families in our area to socialize and practice a healthy exercise regimen.

Getting back into a workout routine is easier than you think.

It only takes a few minutes each day to get some valuable activity into your busy day. A body in motion stays in motion, and whether you’re pregnant or postpartum, you can benefit from some extra activity.

Listen to your body. Know your limits. Start slow.

Find a workout routine that works for you and always keep the safety of you and your family at the front of your mind.

 

Delayed Cord Clamping

Delayed cord clamping isn’t a new process and has been part of Birthways Family Birth Center standard of care for as long as we’ve been welcoming babies.

In practice, we typically wait until the umbilical cord has stopped pulsating and often until after the placenta is born to clamp and cut the cord. At our center, the clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord is left to the discretion of the mother when no medical complications are presented.

The clamping and severing of the umbilical cord is considered to be a spiritual and sacred process in many cultures, encouraging the medical community to research the positive and negative effects of delayed cord clamping. Recently, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have published an official scholarly recommendation to delay the clamping of an umbilical cord at least 30-60 seconds after birth. While this doesn’t seem like a long time, it is longer than immediate cutting and has been shown to have positive benefits.

This recommendation is slowly but surely raising the standard for delayed clamping, providing newborns with a multitude of benefits at birth and later development.

ACOG Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping

While preterm infants may benefit the most from delayed cord clamping, all infants can benefit both physically and developmentally at birth and the first few months postpartum. Some of these incredible benefits include improved transitional circulation,increased red blood cell volume as well as decreased risk of brain hemorrhaging and iron deficiency in the first year.

Because iron deficiency has been linked to impaired cognitive development, delayed clamping can improve the cognitive, motor and behavioral development of infants in their first year. This can make it easier to reach developmental milestones and help infants establish stronger mental and emotional connections.

Known Drawbacks

The only notable drawbacks that coincide with delayed cord clamping are the yield of cord blood if the parents are choosing to bank. Cord blood banking agencies require a minimum volume of cord blood and the delayed clamping results in less blood to meet this criteria. Each birth is different and in some cases, delaying the clamping doesn’t create a problem for banking. This can be considered a minor setback, as the health benefits in this case dramatically outweigh any negatives.

Preferences

Each family has their own beliefs and cultural lens when it comes to their birth decisions and cord clamping. Some choose lotus birthing in which the placenta remains attached until it naturally separates from the infant, usually after a few days. Other parents choose more traditional methods of severing the cord like cord burning. 

After ACOG published their research on delayed clamping, standards of care have begun to change for the better.

Although delayed cord clamping has always been an important part of our philosophy, we firmly believe it remains at the discretion of parents. However, this will hopefully change the perception of delayed cord clamping in hospitals and birthing centers across the board as more parents and practitioners familiarize themselves with the undeniable health benefits for newborns.

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

“There’s no use crying over spilled milk.”

A mantra for the breastfeeding mother.

In honor of Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day we’ve decided to share some valuable words of wisdom to all the breastfeeding mothers out there that have definitely cried over spilled milk. Adjusting to a breastfeeding routine can be challenging for any mom and spilled milk definitely feels like a tragedy when you’re just getting the hang of it.

Pumping breast milk can be a challenge in itself and any milk that goes to waste can be traumatizing for women who are experiencing a low milk supply or even moms feeling stressed their baby isn’t eating enough. 

We want to assure you, it’s all going to be okay.

Whether you’ve knocked over some precious ounces of freshly pumped breast milk or accidentally let some expire, you’ve definitely had a moment of breastfeeding-induced anxiety. No matter what, it’s going to be fine and work itself out. Even if that feels impossible. Whenever things get tough, seize the opportunity to build yourself up. 

You are incredible.

Do you know how incredible it is to not only make a firm decision about your parenting style but to stick it through? That’s amazing. Not to mention it’s astonishing how your body can build a human from scratch and produce food for that small person to live! If you ask us, you’re already too amazing to feel let down over some spilled milk. 

It might be tough, and you’re entitled to a few bad days but it’s important to look on the bright side. Motherhood, parenting, breastfeeding and pumping won’t go according to plan, that much we can tell you for certain. Learn to laugh at the bumps in the road, celebrate the small triumphs you make every day and learn to let go of the mini mistakes that aren’t failures.

When you’re a mom, there’s no such thing as a failure. Only obstacles.

To help you through the days that feel a little tough or beat up your self esteem, we came up with some tips and tricks for pumping that will make your life a whole lot easier.

  • Follow a pumping routine and feeding schedule.
  • Drink plenty of water before you pump.
  • Hold your baby, look at a photo or something that smells like them. This triggers hormones that help you produce more milk.
  • Pump as often as your baby nurses.
  • Pump early in the morning when your breasts are the most full.
  • Pump from opposite breast as your baby nurses.
  • Make sure your pump is as comfortable as possible. Not all pumps are created equal.

Fill your day with affirmations that you’re a breastfeeding pro and everything else will fall into place.

Some days you might feel like breastfeeding isn’t working out, but don’t get impatient. No one becomes a professional overnight and with anything, breastfeeding and pumping take some practice.

With a strong support system and self determination in place, you can conquer your breastfeeding goals and say goodbye to the days of crying over spilled milk.

Black History Month: Influential Midwives

Many years ago, I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting with two influential MIdwives of color that have made strides in the birth world. Gladys Milton and Margaret Charles Smith spoke to their midwifery experiences at a conference for practicing and aspiring midwives that I’ll never forget.

In these sessions, Margaret and Gladys enlightened our group to the challenges of Midwifery in the mid-1900s. They took care of the women doctors and hospitals didn’t want to care for during that time. Poor women, primarily women of color. They had limited access to resources and were rarely paid for their work as Midwives. Midwives have made progress legitimizing their profession with specialized care and training. Gladys Milton moved and inspired us all with her experiences, validating our passion for improving the birth of children in our communities.

Gladys was recruited by the Walton County Health Department to provide birth and delivery services to women in low income areas. As this was during the peak of racial segregation, many African American women had to rely on midwives for birth services. After taking this opportunity in Walton, she was trained and licensed in nearby Alabama to practice midwifery in 1959.

After acquiring her license, Gladys delivered babies and provided in home postpartum care for nearly two decades before opening her own center in 1976. This center was the first birthing center in Walton county, now known as the Milton Memorial Birthing Center. Milton Memorial is run now by Glady’s daughter and Midwife, Maria Milton and continues to provide care to low-risk families in their community.

Margaret Charles Smith was one of the first official Midwives in Alabama in 1949 and was still practicing in 1976 when Midwifery became illegal in Alabama and was permitted to practice until 1981. She caught her first baby at the age of 5 when the Midwife didn’t show up in time, she Midwifed herself through 3 births, and welcomed over 3000 babies to some of the poorest women during her Midwifery career.

Margaret co-wrote a book in 1996, “Listen to Me Good: The Story of an Alabama Midwife” and was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010. But what I remember the most about her was the stories she told at the Mana Conference in 2000. She shared with us her trials & tribulations as a midwife and was open to questions. One woman asked her, since she was prohibited by Alabama law from performing internal exams to assess dilation, how she knew when it was time for a woman to push… her response.. “Have you ever heard of crowning?”. She had quite the sense of humor.

Since she was restricted, like most of the Midwives back then, from using medical equipment and performing specific exams, she became more attuned to nuances of normal healthy pregnancy and the signs of problems. Several years after hearing her stories and her sharing some of her tricks of the trade, I had a mother experience a prenatal complication that did not present with the typical symptoms, yet it was Margaret’s words that came to me and allowed me to recognize the issue at hand and allowed this mom and baby to get the care that they needed.

I often think of these amazing Midwives and am thank full for the knowledge and wisdom they have shared that continues to support moms & babies today.

During the month of February, we take a moment to recognize women like Gladys Milton and Margaret Charles Smith and the men and women that inspire us every day to continue improving childbirth and midwifery care.

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