Thursday, November 29, 2012

Awesome Video of Triplets Birth!

I wanted to share this awesome birth video (hat tip to my friend Amanda) - it is the spontaneous, unmedicated, vaginal birth of triplets! How awesome is that?

This birth occurs in a hospital, though the mama has had two homebirths for her other two children. You will see from her comments in the video that she had to make some unwanted compromises, but overall the birth went well and was fairly hands-off.

I believe that this birth occurred in England (right? anybody?), and perhaps that is why the birth seems so much less "fussy" than American births. Much less commotion, less shouted coaching at the mother, fewer interventions. Though there were a few things that bugged me (premature cord clamping! ack!), on the whole I was very favorably impressed with this birth. It would be very hard to get a vaginal triplet birth of this caliber in America (as far as I know!).

The short version: Babies A and C are vertex, Baby B is double footling breech and requires neonatal resuscitation (but ultimately does fine).

If I had multiples, I think I'd still want to have them at home. But this mama is an awesome warrior birther (how does she do it so calmly??), and I am in awe of this birth.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Debate Continues: Premature (Immediate) vs. Physiologic (Delayed) Cord Clamping

Last night, as I was pausing to waste a few minutes on Facebook, I came across an article that disappointed me greatly. Written by a practicing OB/GYN at Fair Oaks Women's Health in Pasadena, CA (just a few minutes from my hometown!), the article purported to show why delayed cord clamping (DCC, also known as physiologic cord clamping) is unhelpful or even harmful.

For a few seconds, I was quite taken aback. Cord clamping issues are one of my many passions in the birth world, and over the past few years I have read article after article after article showing the harmful health effects of immediate (or premature) cord clamping (which deprives a baby both of its oxygen supply and of its full blood volume), and the health benefits of physiologic/delayed cord clamping, which allows a baby to continue to receive oxygen after the birth as well as its full blood volume as it is pumped back into the baby from the placenta. Although the sacred cow of immediate cord clamping is proving a hard dinosaur to slay in hospital births, it is on its way out as more and more care providers learn of this evidence. I do not know of any licensed midwives in the entire state of Arizona (or hospital nurse-midwives, for that matter) who still practice the outdated procedure of immediate cord clamping.

As the evening progressed, more and more comments showed up on the blog post, all pointing to the deficiencies or inaccuracies contained therein. I had hoped that the number of comments would provoke a thoughtful discussion from the doctor who authored the piece, but to my disappointment, the article was taken down by this morning, so all possibility of meaningful discourse was ended.

I assume, of course, that the doctor took down the piece because he wished to do more research into the subject, rather than out of fear that his clients would read comments that reflected negatively on his position. If that is the case, and I am sure it is, I look forward to seeing a blog post in the future reflecting more accurate views on the benefits of delayed cord clamping. It is from situations like this that wonderful and positive changes can come to care provider habits, and I will look for this in the future from Fair Oaks Women's Health doctors.

In the meantime, here please see my link list to various pieces on the benefits of delayed/physiologic cord clamping (and the harmful effects of immediate cord clamping), which includes an excellent piece by Dr. Nicholas Fogelson ("Delayed Cord Clamping Should Be Standard Practice in Obstetrics"), as well this excellent and timely piece at Science and Sensibility: "Common Objections to Delayed Cord Clamping: What's the Evidence Say?"

I look forward to hearing great things at Fair Oaks Women's Health as the doctors there use this opportunity to learn and update their practices.

Later note: The full (and excellent!) response to Dr. Jick's article may be found here at Check it out and join the conversation!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time for Some Extreme Awesomeness!

Okay, all y'all! There's a lot of awesomeness in the world, but when we're talking extreme awesomeness, there's only one thing to which I can be referring. You all know what I'm talking about, right? We're talking about...

Placenta Medicine!!!

Yes! This blog is your one-stop refer-all site for the wonders of placenta medicine, better known as the post-birth maternal consumption of the placenta. If you haven't heard of this before, you are in for a treat!

To introduce this yummy topic, read about my first experience with placenta medicine - part 1 and part 2. Then hop over here to check out a list of links to the scientific studies supporting placentophagy (consumption of the placenta) for numerous benefits - help with hormonal fluctuation, anemia prevention, postpartum fatigue alleviation, afterpain relief, postpartum depression prevention and treatment, and milk production.

With my first birth, I had never heard of placenta medicine, and my placenta went the way of all good biowaste (*sob*). With my second birth, I had heard of placenta medicine and decided to try it - it just made sense, as almost all mammals (and many traditional peoples) eat their placentas. Why not? So I tried it. I had a placenta smoothie right after the birth, and I decided to dehydrate and encapsulate the rest.

To my surprise, the effects of placenta medicine were amazing. Placenta medicine helped my postpartum energy and moods (which were sorely tested by the severe nursing problems we experienced) tremendously. Most amazing, however, was its effect on my afterpains.

For those of you who haven't yet given birth: Afterpains are the post-birth contractions of the uterus, the purpose of which is to shrink the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size, and also to prevent too much bleeding. They are very uncomfortable! However, with one's first birth they are supposed to be extremely mild or even unnoticeable - they then get worse with each subsequent birth.

That was NOT my experience.

With my first birth, the afterpains were excruciating. I believe "toe-curling" is the correct descriptor. They were so intense and painful that I was unable to hold the baby for more than a couple of minutes after the birth. I then had to hand over the baby to my husband and midwives to hold while I dealt with the afterpains. I completely missed the "nursing window" - the first hour after the birth when baby is awake and alert and when nursing introduction is optimal (after that, baby usually falls asleep for a few hours, and you have to wait quite a while to initiate breastfeeding). It was awful, and the afterpains continued for weeks upon weeks. It totally stank.

Enter placenta medicine!

I still had horrible afterpains. I still missed the breastfeeding window. But my afterpains (which should have gotten worse for a second birth) were so much better! It was night and day! And I only had a few "toe-curler" afterpains, instead of days and weeks of them. It was a HUGE improvement!

I was a complete convert.

With my third birth, I was determined to outwit those afterpains and have a fighting chance at a decent bonding experience with my baby. Thus, I developed the following postpartum plan:

  • Placenta Medicine
  • Advil within seconds of the birth, max dosage
  • Homeopathic Arnica
  • An afterpains tincture from an herb shop
  • Calcium-magnesium liquid supplement, taken during the 3rd trimester and during the postpartum
I made one change to my placenta medicine. Being that I was lazy and didn't want to take the time to encapsulate, and also because I was concerned that modern dehydrators go above the "raw foods" temperature limit (thus destroying various enzymes and vitamins/hormones), I decided to do all-raw placenta medicine - in the form of my famous placenta smoothies (placenta, orange juice, yogurt, mixed frozen berries). I asked a friend to take the placenta off of the membranes and to cut it up into pieces for me, which I kept in the fridge, and planned to use one piece per day in a smoothie.

Immediately, however, I ran into a snag - there is no way to eat a placenta in that way fast enough to consume the placenta before it goes bad. Thus, I asked my husband to put it in the freezer for me, and I used the pieces frozen.

Only problem - DH did not keep the pieces separate in the freezer, so all of them froze together in one huge, icy, placenta-blob. Thus, if you had come over to our house in the two weeks after our birth, you might have seen me hacking wildly at the placenta-ice-brick with an ice pick, attempting to break off a piece for a smoothie. Amusing, to say the least!

And how did this plan work to eliminate those hideous afterpains?


Wow, it was night and day! Only mild-by-comparison afterpains which dissipated much more quickly. My postpartum was a dream.

I know that the plan made a difference, just because afterpains do typically get worse with each baby. As I've worked on my plan and implemented placenta medicine and other components, they have atypically gotten better and better.

This will be my plan from now on!

If anyone has any questions or further ideas, please let me know!