Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Various Birth News

I have a lot of articles and only a few minutes, so I'm condensing!

Most of these I gleaned off of various birth blogs, so I will do my best to give credit where it is due. Some things I saw on multiple blogs, so I'll give credit to where I saw it first.


(1) Can't remember where I saw this first, but I was reminded of it by Kathy on "Woman to Woman Childbirth Education" - a newly discovered birth blog, written by an L&D nurse. Check it out!

Nursing Birth

She has lots of great articles and news stories, AND she is currently writing a series of priceless real-life hospital birth stories entitled, "Don't Let This Happen to You." I've only read a couple, but they are GREAT - packed with information and really an education in themselves. Read them regardless, but read them especially if you are planning a hospital birth - they will show you what you want to avoid and how to work with the system and avoid the pitfalls. Check it out!

(2) News Article, with thanks to Rixa at Stand and Deliver: "Stand and Deliver? Upright Positions Reduce Pain, Speed Birth" published in the Cochrane Database. Here are some quotes from the article:

Women who walk, sit, kneel or otherwise avoid lying in bed during early labor can shorten the first stage of labor by about an hour, according to a new Cochrane evidence review. Women who labored out of bed during the early stages were also 17 percent less likely to seek pain relief through epidural analgesia, the review found.

"This shortens labor by about an hour and, for a lot of women, an hour would be really important," said Teri Stone-Godena, director of midwifery at the Yale School of Nursing, who had no affiliation with the review.....

So why would staying out of bed shorten labor and reduce pain?

"Women who are upright and mobile are able to change their positions more easily," said Annemarie Lawrence, lead review author and a research midwife at the Institute of Women's and Children's Health at Townsville Hospital in Queensland, Australia.

"The ability to change positions, to utilize a wider variety of positions, and try other options, such as hot showers, birthing balls and beanbag supports, may help reduce overall pain and give women a greater sense of control over the progress of their labor," she said.

When women are upright, there is also more room for the baby to move downward because the diameter of the pelvis expands slightly. This puts less pressure on nerves in the spine, which could mean less pain.

"It may also be that women are more distractible when up and moving around," Stone-Godena said. "When you are lying there looking at clock, it's a lot different from being up and about."

Being upright allows gravity to help the baby make her way into the world. Lawrence said, "The physiological advantages of upright positions and mobility include the effective use of gravity, which aids in the descent of the baby's head. As the head is applied more directly and evenly against the cervix, the regularity, frequency, strength and therefore efficiency of uterine contractions are intensified."

When the mom-to-be moves, this also helps the baby to get into the best position to hasten birth. "This improves its alignment for passage through the pelvis," Lawrence said. "There is also a psychological advantage associated with the belief that being upright and mobile empowers women to actively participate in their birth experience and maintain a sense of control."

Other research has found that feeling in control and able to make choices reduces pain and psychological distress in general.

In contrast, however, lying flat on one's back during labor can put a great deal of pressure on the blood vessels in the abdomen. "There is widely accepted physiological evidence that the supine position may be harmful in late pregnancy and labor," Lawrence said.

According to the reviewers, the supine position puts the entire weight of the pregnant uterus on the blood vessels that supply oxygen to both mother and child, which could potentially lead to problems with heart functioning in the mother and reduced oxygen to the baby. These outcomes could be serious in extreme cases. Lying on one's side has no link with such problems, however.

Stone-Godena said that despite all the attention given to empowering women to have the type of birth experience they prefer, medical professionals still pressure women into lying in bed during labor, because it is more convenient this way for nurses and doctors and makes fetal monitoring easier.

"I think this research is very vindicating of women being allowed to assume positions of comfort," she said. "Listening to their bodies is what they need to do. Most of time when we limit people's activity, it isn't for reasons that are soundly based on evidence."

She added, "This clearly shows that there are no advantages in staying in bed unless that's where you want to be."

(3) BBC News Article, with thanks to Jill at the Unnecesarean: "Homebirths 'As Safe' As Hospital"

As if we didn't already know! But it's nice when the media admits it. Quoting from the article:

"Research from the Netherlands - which has a high rate of home births - found no difference in death rates of either mothers or babies in 530,000 births.

Home births have long been debated amid concerns about their safety.

UK obstetricians welcomed the study - published in the journal BJOG - but said it may not apply universally.

The number of mothers giving birth at home in the UK has been rising since it dipped to a low in 1988. Of all births in England and Wales in 2006, 2.7% took place at home, the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed.

The research was carried out in the Netherlands after figures showed the country had one of the highest rates in Europe of babies dying during or just after birth.

It was suggested that home births could be a factor, as Dutch women are able and encouraged to choose this option. One third do so.

But a comparison of "low-risk" women who planned to give birth at home with those who planned to give birth in hospital with a midwife found no difference in death or serious illness among either baby or mother.

"We found that for low-risk mothers at the start of their labour it is just as safe to deliver at home with a midwife as it is in hospital with a midwife," said Professor Simone Buitendijk of the TNO Institute for Applied Scientific Research.

"These results should strengthen policies that encourage low-risk women at the onset of labour to choose their own place of birth."


And now I'm off to bed! Good night, everyone!

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