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Tag Archives: Birth Center

Benefits of Childbirth Education Classes

Expecting?

While you anxiously await your baby’s big arrival, there’s plenty of organizing and preparation for parents to catch up on. Childbirth education classes might not be at the top of your list, but they’re actually an important part of the whole childbirth process.

Even if your’e a pair of veteran parents, childbirth education classes  can help you brush up on your baby skills before the big day and keep you feeling confident and ready to go.

What are some of the benefits of childbirth education classes?

 As an expectant parent, it’s normal to have a lot of questions about your upcomkng birth experience. Childbirth education classes answer a lot of the questions that many parents still have as the ‘due date’ approaches. Participating in a childbirth education session gives parents confidence and peace of mind. Parents can discuss their fears or uncertainties with their instructor and other expectant parents in the session. The instructor discusses different pain management options and comfort measures to help you put all the finishing touches on your birth plan so you’re ready to go when the big day arrives.

In Home Childbirth Education Classes

Group classes can be great but they’re not ideal for every family and private childbirth education classes at home can be easier for parents to work into their busy schedules. Private classes are tailored for the needs of the parents and they can be sure that they’re getting all the information they need and nothing they don’t. These classes help parents develop a birth plan that is harmonious with their parenting styles, cultural ideals, and the choices they wish to incorporate for their child’s birth. During private sessions, there’s more opportunity for your childbirth educator to break down the individual elements of your birth plan and give parents their complete and undivided attention.

Childbirth Education for Grandparents

This curriculum is not exclusive to expectant parents but can also offers grandparents a refresher course on all things baby care. When parents and grandparents participate to their childbirth class together, they can stay on the same page with parenting styles. This keeps grandparents feeling included in the process and comfortable that they’re equipped to lend a helping hand.

Childbirth education classes offer valuable peace of mind to parents

Get your birth plan in place and all those questions answered so you can sit back and relax with your family in those last few weeks of your pregnancy. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a few classes make in your baby prep, having you feeling more confident than ever to start this amazing new chapter with your family.

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.

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.

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.

To Hat or Not to Hat

It’s National Hat Day and although we appreciate the value of a a great hat, there’s a time and a place.

It has become customary to put a little knit cap on your baby’s brand new noggin to keep them nice and toasty just after birth. Although it sounds like a great plan to keep your baby warm, it can actually disrupt valuable bonding and hormone production, and may result in an overheated baby!

We all love that sweet baby smell.. Johnsons and Johnsons tried to bottle it.. there’s a reason why we love to smell babies, especially our own!

Skin to skin contact has some incredible benefits immediately after birth and as your baby is getting introduced to their new environment. This contact benefits the mother as much as baby, and begins the bonding process that will be important during their breastfeeding journey. Skin to skin improves a baby’s respiration, regulates their body temperature and reduces stress and anxiety. The first hour after birth is important for the infant as it’s their first opportunity to become acquainted with their parents, allowing them to become more emotionally stable and confident as they age.

When your are skin to skin with your baby and able to smell your baby, your body releases Oxytocin, the hormone that rules labor and is known as the LOVE hormone. Smelling your babys head releases oxytocin, which helps your uterus contract, helps expel your placenta and minimize bleeding. Oxytocin also helps you fall in love with your baby.

So why do they put a hat on your baby?

The head and face are important for a newborn’s natural instincts to acquaint with the mother’s scent, warmth and heartbeat. Newborns will nuzzle into their mother’s chest and and begin searching for their mother’s breast. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone released in the mother when her baby’s scent is nearby, that triggers the final stages of labor and increases milk production. This is one of the many beautifully simple ways that nature has perfected the childbirth process, and that cute tiny hat is getting in the way!

When mom is available, she can regulate her baby’s temperature with her OWN BODY and no hat is needed. Yes.. that’s right.. when baby is skin to skin with mom, mothers temp will increase or decrease to heat or cool her baby! Pretty incredible!

So when should you choose a hat?

If your baby is born premature, underweight or has certain medical complication, a hat may be a good idea. In some of these situations, the mother or baby is not well enough to utilize skin to skin contactWhen skin to skin contact isn’t possible, hats, swaddling and warmers might be the only way to regulate your newborn’s temperature. If baby is able to be held, but mom isn’t available, Dad or another family member or friend can hold baby skin to skin.

This period after birth is unique and shouldn’t be interrupted by anything, including a tiny hat.

Some birth professionals say that babies remember birth. This period of bonding is unique in that it is the first impression your baby has of this great big new world. These impressions are theoretically associated with the way adults perceive the world, so we should make it count!

Besides, there’s plenty of opportunities for cute hats once your baby is a little older.

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