In a culture where birth has turned into something quite medicalized, every once in a while something will come along in my Facebook Newsfeed or someone will mention something in one of my Facebook groups that really just get me thinking about the information that is out there. During my research journey I learned a lot of things that have opened my eyes to how people tend to slide into tradition rather than really ponder what makes the most sense. That’s how it was for me during my first assisted pregnancy and birth. I did everything that I was told to do because I believed the doctor knew best and therefore I trusted everything they said as fact.
It was after I gave birth to my second child that I began learning things about the estimated due date (how pregnancies can go to 38- 46 weeks along depending and that 41 weeks is the mathematical average of how long a pregnancy is), induction (and how different a medically induced labor with synthetic Pitocin is in comparison to the hormone oxytocin that is released naturally by the body), uterine rupture (which I discovered can happen in a first time mother with no uterine scar from a prior c-section and the risk goes from 0.007% with no prior cesarean to 0.51% with one prior cesarean, but the risk remains the same at 1.85% with each subsequent cesarean), birthing positions (while laying flat on the back or resting on the tailbone while curled in a C shape are the more common birthing positions in hospitals, these positions can reduce the pelvic outlet up to 30% and therefore unless the woman feels led to be in such positions, it’s more ideal to be on all fours, squatting, standing, or in the lunge position which can help decrease risks of shoulder dystocia, as well as prolonged pushing phase, and tearing), and clamping the cord (where delaying the clamping of the cord has showed benefits for the baby to receive all the T-cells in the cord blood as well as oxygen as they transition to taking their first breath).
These are a few of the things I learned in just the first months of researching… so now, being 13 years later, I’ve only discovered so much more. Where is a great place to start? Start with finding answers to your questions… like, what if the baby is born and does not breath right away (because the thought of that can be scary). When you look for the answers, you will discover that knowledge and solutions can equip you to address fears, reduce panic, and create a proactive plan in how to move forward rather than getting paralyzed by the unknown. By the way, many babies take a moment to transition to take their first breath. Keeping the cord pulsing to allow the oxygenated blood to travel to the baby and rubbing their back while they lay on their belly is the first thing to do, clearing the airways by wiping down with a cloth from the nose and mouth, or if necessary using a suction device (an aspirator for instance). If the baby’s color starts to change, calling for help and performing Infant CPR are the next steps. From there, a paramedic can help.
So what is some bits of information you trusted until you learned more about it? What are some of the “what if” questions you have that spark fear in you, or used to until you researched it? Let’s quash the idea that labor and birth is a medical event and inherently dangerous. It’s empowering to have the knowledge of what is a true emergency and what is not so as to be able to take action accordingly.