|June 4, 2014 |
Volume 16, Issue 12
|Midwifery Today E-News|
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In This Week’s Issue
Join us in Australia
Plan now to attend “Promoting Midwifery: Skills from Around the World” in Byron Bay, Australia, this November. You’ll be able to learn from a great line-up of teachers including Sarah Buckley (pictured), Robbie Davis-Floyd, Gail Tully, Sister MorningStar, Carol Gautschi and Gail Tully. Planned sessions include Promoting Optimal Fetal Positioning, Breech, Shoulder Dystocia and “Malpresentations” as well as a two-day Midwifery Issues and Skills class.
Quote of the Week
A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.
— Grantly Dick-Read
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The Art of Midwifery
The hormones responsible for producing the wonderful substances in colostrum and breast milk are sensitive. If mama is resting, sleeping when baby sleeps, eating well and keeping her fluids up, there is little doubt that she will produce enough milk. In different languages to hundreds of mamas across Asia, I have said, “The more baby sucks the more the milk will come.”
ALL BIRTH PRACTITIONERS: The techniques you’ve perfected over months and years of practice are valuable lessons for others to learn. Share them with E-News readers by sending them to email@example.com.
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The United States has the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world. About 11,300 newborns die each year in the US on the day they are born; this is 50% more first-day deaths than all industrialized countries combined (Save the Children 2013). Prematurity and infant mortality often go hand-in-hand and the problem is mainly iatrogenic. Almost no mother leaves the hospital unscathed. Women are bullied into cesareans for no reason and are often induced at 39 weeks or sometimes earlier. The reality is that ultrasound cannot date a pregnancy as accurately as the skilled hands of a midwife can, so the dates are often wrongly applied. Induction via Pitocin and/or Cytotec is common, necessitating the use of an epidural since the pain caused by these two medications is overwhelming. And yet, in the midst of all of this medicalization of birth, we are finding out more reasons for the importance of undisturbed birth. For example, microbiome research is showing that the foundation for life is being set by how and where the pregnancy and birth are accomplished. I keep wondering when the people in the medical system will apply what we are learning from research.
So what is the answer? We somehow must learn to apply love and respect to birth. Birth is sacred and it belongs to the motherbaby. We as midwives and doulas can be guilty of not putting the motherbaby first. Give mother and baby back their God-given power to birth on their own terms and then we will see the statistics change for the better. Not only will we build a healthier society, but each individual within our society will be healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually. It may take those who know and understand this to re-teach mothers their power, but there are plenty of us who care deeply about mothers and babies to do this. And we need to fight protocols that take rights away from midwives to practice true midwifery—the kind of midwifery that allows twins, breeches and VBACs to be able to seek care in a homebirth midwife without the danger of a legal battle. Midwives are the experts on normal birth and all of its beautiful variations. Right now many midwives cannot attend VBACs, twins and breeches, so these babies are being born via cesarean.
Birth is a Human Rights issue!
Save the Children. 2013. Surviving the First Day: State of the World’s Mothers Report. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
— Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today
Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.
Praise for the Harrisburg conference, April 23–28, 2014:
“I feel like I have a whole new insight into women and how intuitive they can naturally be.”
“Sister MorningStar blew my mind. She was such a wonderful breath of fresh air!”
“Great class [Massage in Pregnancy and Birth]. I really enjoyed the hands-on aspect.”
“This session [Tricks of the Trade] was really informative and interesting! One of my favorites!”
“Gail Hart’s knowledge and perspective on when a cesarean is necessary and being okay about that decision was refreshing.”
“The hands-on teaching is great! Gail Tully is so knowledgeable and open for questions and discussion.”
“Gail Hart: It was a pleasure being in your class. The laid-back format and the clearly explained rationale made learning easy. Thank you!”
“This conference was outstanding! I honor and appreciate your coordination, vision and leadership.”
“Thank you all for coordinating, planning and sharing a beautiful Midwifery Today conference!”
The Role of the Shy Hormone in Breastfeeding
There is no breastfeeding without oxytocin, since the milk ejection reflex is dependent on the release of this hormone. The mechanical effects of oxytocin have been well known for a long time, not only for inducing contractions of specialized breast cells during the milk ejection reflex, but also for inducing uterine contractions during childbirth and orgasm, and for inducing contractions of the prostate and seminal vesicles in the sperm ejection reflex. The behavioral effects of oxytocin are also well understood; it is commonplace today to summarize these effects by using the term “love hormone.”
We have still a lot to learn about oxytocin release. However, we have a sufficient amount of physiological and observational data to conclude that the release of oxytocin is highly dependent on environmental factors. The best way to summarize what we already know is to claim that oxytocin is the “shy hormone”: it behaves like a shy person who does not appear among strangers or observers.
This is the kind of knowledge that is not easily digested where breastfeeding is concerned. I have heard many stories of mothers who required guidance to overcome breastfeeding difficulties. The advice they received almost always focused on the position of the baby when latching on. Common recommendations would be different if it were better understood that many difficulties in breastfeeding are related to the release of the shy hormone. Instead of being guided to find the right postures, the mother might be first advised to stay with only her baby in a small dark room with the door closed and the guarantee that nobody will enter. It is well demonstrated that the shy hormone does not appear in situations associated with a release of adrenaline. This implies that the room must be warm enough to make comfortable skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby possible. I know from experience that such simple suggestions can help break a vicious circle during a critical phase of lactation.
An analogy to breastfeeding is possible with childbirth. In the framework of natural childbirth, I have often heard stories of very long and difficult labors. A common comment is, “We tried everything,” when the meaning of this comment is, “We tried a great diversity of postures, nipple stimulation, massage, acupuncture, a birthing pool, etc.” It is not common to hear that the baby’s father, grandmother and second midwife, for example, had been sent away so that finally the laboring woman was left alone, save for an experienced, silent and low profile midwife.
Read this article excerpt from Midwifery Today magazine, now on our website:
Craving more birth info?
Q: How long did you breastfeed your baby/babies? Was it longer or shorter than you had expected? What changed?
— Midwifery Today
A: I had trouble breastfeeding my first two due to tongue-tie issues and lack of support. I pumped breast milk for them for 7.5 months and 4.5 months. Both of those numbers were shorter than I expected and it made me sad. I breastfed my third baby for 25 months. I made it to my goal of two years through a lot of challenges and a lot of support. I’m currently breastfeeding my fourth child who is 14.5 months old. I have no end date in mind. It will end when one of us decides it is time. It might be in 10 months or it could be in two years. I don’t know.
I have to say that I really enjoy breastfeeding so much more than pumping and bottle feeding. I feel more bonded, I get more sleep and it takes far less energy. I’m so happy I made it through all the hurdles. It was worth all the time, energy and tears. My two breastfed babies would agree, too.
— Andrea Van Cleve Cohen
A: Just over five years with the first two, including three years of tandem feeding. I plan to go to five years with my current 8-month-old.
— Kathy Reynolds
A: I breastfed my first baby for nine months; I was pressured by other mothers to get her to take occasional bottles. After three days of refusing bottles, she took the bottle and then refused the breast. With my second baby, I thought giving one bottle a day would prevent the problem I had with my first, but a serious case of mastitis during a move ended all breastfeeding after three months. With my third baby, I stopped listening to everyone else and nursed for 19 months until another pregnancy stopped milk production. I planned to repeat this length with my fourth baby, but he decided he was done at seven months after a friend offered him juice from a cup— he went straight from exclusive breastfeeding to using a cup. Baby number five insisted on being attached and that I sit upright all night long. After nine months, I had to make a choice between sleep deprivation with extreme depression or a bottle.
— Jenee Clark
A: I breastfeed my second child for 20 months and my third daughter for 18 months. When I started, I was just so happy to be able to provide them with food that I didn’t think about when to quit so I let them decide for themselves.
— Jenny Matsumoto
A: I breastfed my first baby for two short weeks (1994). I had no support, no education and the birth was a c-section. I feel lucky I even made it to two weeks. With my third baby, I was determined to breastfeed and did very successfully for 27 months. He self-weaned when I was eight months pregnant. I nursed my fourth baby until she was 4. I never set an end date in my head, but just figured I’d go with the flow and see how long we were both comfortable nursing. I had to educate myself because there was still no professional support available in the town I lived in. Strength and determination, plus support from family and friends, is essential. I’m currently nursing my fifth, a 7-month-old, with no end in sight.
— Tammy Gifford
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