Category Archives: Safety

Postpartum Bleeding

After I shared a post on Facebook regarding Pitocin, I was asked about its use after birth. When I went to go grab some resources, I found I had no entries on hemorrhage! So here I am, making one. Below, at the bottom of this entry are a couple of articles that have some great alternative options for postpartum bleeding.

When I gave birth to my firstborn, before my placenta was born and I was preoccupied with my baby, I was given Pitocin as a precaution without my knowledge. When I asked about it, I was told not to worry so I assumed it was necessary and accepted what my doctor said. As a result, I agreed to the Pitocin after birth a second time when I had my next baby. Since learning more about it however, I’ve delivered my last five children using alternatives that I felt led to do with each of them instead. Due to the risks, including postpartum depression, associated with Pitocin, I personally prefer alternatives and therefore would only use it in a true emergency situation.

Pitocin is synthetic form of Oxytocin derived from the pituitary glands of mammals including humans, pigs and more. I believe it’s being overused, and the commonality of it’s use as induction despite the recommended caution in the insert explains why. The insert indicates that Pitocin should only ever be used if absolutely necessary because of the risks. You can read more about that by clicking on this link to a post on Facebook that I referenced on the page.

As I mention in Pregnancy & Birth Truths, the belief is that inductions carry little to no risk. However, a medically induced labor is triggering labor, mimicking a spontaneous labor but what’s actually happening is quite different. The use of Pitocin, with a constant drip, does not take into consideration what the body as a whole needs, whereas the communicators in the body determine how much and how often Oxytocin should be released. Therefore, the drugs cause more intense labor than the body is built for and at a pace the laboring woman has a difficult time keeping up with. For a VBAC, this can be especially dangerous because it can put added stress on the cesarean scar, and in some cases lead to uterine rupture. This includes what some deem as “natural inductions” because it is still pushing the body harder and encourages it to go farther than what the body knows it is capable of. However, even for a birth without prior c-sections, this can still lead to pain medication and other interventions.

The best way to address concerns of hemorrhage are to deal with it preventatively. Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Iron are especially important to help with blood flow, strengthening the uterus, and clotting during pregnancy. Red raspberry leaf tea can also help tone the uterus from 36wks until birth. Another way to prevent, is by being more hands off, and don’t force pushing as the birther is laboring and allowing the placenta to detach on its own.

After the baby is born, there are herbs you can take to manage the bleeding. Some examples include Angelica Root, Cayenne, and Motherwort. After the placenta is birthed (this is important due to its clotting ability), Shepherd’s Purse and Comfrey Root are also an option. Also, many have used a piece of their cord or placenta in their cheek to signal to the body that it needs to clot.

This link includes some recipes of tinctures for postpartum care, including hemorrhaging.

To learn more about variations of postpartum bleeding, click here!

Unassisted Pregnancy: Naturally Managing Complications Natural Alternatives to Medications and Procedures

From Tips for Mother and Baby

This goes along with the question of “What if something goes wrong?” As I’ve already said in other articles, the simple answer is that the mother will handle it. Many freebirthers prefer to think of complications as ‘variations of normal’ that happen during pregnancy, labor, and birth. While the majority of pregnancies are low-risk and very safe, not all are completely uneventful. If they become too severe, the mother should of course see a doctor or midwife. However, many of these issues can be managed at home by a well-informed mother. There is no reason to panic!

Preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced hypertension or, in other words, high blood pressure. It is also called toxemia. It is common in first time mothers, teenage or multiple pregnancies, and women over 40. Smoking, drinking, and other unhealthy lifestyle practices can increase the risk of preeclampsia. There may also be a genetic factor. It occurs once the pregnancy has reached 20 week gestation. It happens in only 5-8% of pregnancies, and those with healthy lifestyles are very unlikely to be affected by it. Preeclampsia can cause low birth weight babies by depriving the placenta of blood. It can develop into eclampsia, which will cause seizures, but this is very rare–especially for those who recognize the condition and treat it.

Mild preeclampsia will cause high blood pressure, water retention, and protein in the urine; you may swell more than usual and notice your pee is cloudy. Severe preeclampsia causes headaches, blurred vision, light sensitivity, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and shortness of brush. When a mother suspects preeclampsia, she should take it easy and get lots of rest. There are many things she can do to help lower her blood pressure. These include limiting salt intake, drinking more water, and avoiding unhealthy foods and substances like fried foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Exercising 30 minutes a day will also help. Preeclampsia is rare in those who do this regularly, so these methods are great for both prevention and treatment of this complication.

Bleeding is common during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. As many as 20-30% of women bleed early on, and only half of them have miscarriages. Bright red bleeding or gushes of blood are signs of trouble. Do not wear a tampon if you are bleeding, and stop douching and having sex. Bleeding can be caused by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, or placental problems such as previa or abruption. Miscarriage is the most common, occurring 15% of the time. Ectopic pregnancies happen in about 1 in 60 conceptions. Molar pregnancies are extremely rare and end in miscarriage. Treatment should include lots of rest, as well as palpitating the stomach for placental location. In this situation it would be very wise for a woman to see a doctor or midwife in hopes of diagnosing the problem and treating it. In many cases, miscarriage cannot be prevented, but in late pregnancy, a C-section could save the baby’s life. Bleeding should be taken seriously.

Gestational diabetes is temporary and is cured by delivery of the baby. For some reason, during pregnancy, the body may stop producing enough insulin. Other names for it include glucose intolerance and carbohydrate intolerance. It occurs most often in older or overweight women, and there may be a genetic factor. Only 2-5% of all pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes. It can cause macrosomia (or large birth weight). This increases risk of labor complications, like shoulder dystocia. The newborn may have hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, which usually clears itself up in a few days after a few breastfeeding sessions. The baby may be hungry, shaky, sweaty, dizzy, tired, weak, or more prone to crying, but he should recover quite quickly without any serious side effects. It could also cause jaundice, which also clears up on its own.

If a mother feels very thirsty, is peeing more often, is tired or nauseated, develops many infections, or experiences blurred version, she may have gestational diabetes. She can confirm it with a simple blood test, done at home if she likes. If gestational diabetes is suspected, it is best to err on the side of caution and begin treatment. A healthy diet is the best treatment. The mother should limit her intake of simple sugars and carbohydrates, get lots of rest, and exercise. Natural sugars, such as those found in fruits, are much safer. Snacking on healthier foods will make a big difference. Like preeclampsia, a healthy lifestyle is both good prevention and good treatment.

Severe nausea and vomiting can be a sign of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and multiple pregnancy. However, it does not always mean something is wrong. Some women just have very bad morning sickness that lasts throughout the pregnancy. A mother suffering from this should keep her eyes open for signs of a complication without worrying herself too much. Eating more, sticking to foods she can keep down, and ingesting lots of ginger can help her deal with it. Sleep-deprivation can be linked to these symptoms, so mothers should get lots of rest. Drinking lots of water will prevent dehydration and may help with the nausea.

Carrying multiples isn’t really a complication, but a variation of normal. It can make for a more difficult pregnancy and increase risk of certain afflictions. The average woman has a chance of only 3% of naturally conceiving twins. Fraternal twins are more common, and triplets occur in only 1 in 8,000 births. Twins are more likely to occur in women who are taking fertility medications, eat lots of conventional foods with additives, have had 4+ pregnancies or already delivered twins, or are overweight. A family history of twins increases that chance, as does cultural background, for African Americans are more likely to conceive multiples. The percentage increases every few years for women over the age of 30. Yams and high dairy diets can make twins more likely, too. The risks of preterm labor, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and severe nausea and vomiting, and breech birth are increased.


<<To read this article in its entirety, click here>>

Charcoal for Infant Jaundice

Image result for activated charcoal babies

So thankful that a friend shared this info with me. I found this truly fascinating and wanted to share!

To read this article in full and to see other uses for charcoal, go to: Charcoal for Babies

“Just like adults babies get sick too. It seems unfair that these fragile vulnerable infants have to face a world full of so many enemy agents so soon in life. For babies born in hospitals and babies born at home there are a host of unseen but very lethal organisms lurking about ready to infect their little bodies. Whether it be a hospital borne infection or something a breast feeding mother ate at her last meal, babies are not equipped to deal well with their new environment. Whether it beGastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), neonatal jaundice, infant diarrhea, colic, or accidental poisoning, in many cases Activated Charcoal has been found to be an effective simple and natural remedy.

Infant Jaundice

Even from birth many babies fall victim to neonatal jaundice. Whether jaundice be because of an inherited factor such as in Erythroblastosis fetalis, or because of a sluggish immature liver, many babies turn yellow soon after birth instead of a glowing pink.  Activated charcoal is a simple natural remedy for a jaudiced baby.

“When Nathan, our firstborn, came along, he was somewhat jaundiced. The yellow-orangish appearance of his skin and eyes was due to the build up of bilirubin, a bile pigment that was not being properly metabolized. For various reasons, the liver sometimes does not kick into gear at birth, as it should have with Nathan. Out he went into the sun for a daily sunbath. Charcoal has also been credited with lowering bilirubin levels. But, since babies are only designed to swallow at birth and not chew, we mixed some activated charcoal powder in a bottle of water and let the particles settle out. We then poured this slurry water off into a baby bottle and popped that into his mouth. After a couple of days, and several ounces of slurry water later, he was a healthy ruddy pink.

“As he grew, Nathan would now and again show signs of being a little colicky. We could only smile as he would accept a charcoal tablet, and then thoroughly enjoy playing with it in his mouth. By the next morning he would be over whatever had caused him discomfort. Later, when his brother Enoch came along, charcoal tablets were his first experience with “candy”. If only other young parents knew how powerful charcoal can be as a first aid.” page 27

For jaundiced babies, add one tablespoon of activated charcoal powder into four ounces of water. This makes a good slurry that is able to pass through the nipple of a baby bottle. Shake well before giving. Or, you can let the charcoal settle out, pour off the gray water and give that. 

Dr. Agatha Thrash M.D. tells the following case of neonatal jaundice in a four-day old breast-fed baby:

“The father took the baby to our laboratory to be tested for its total bilirubin levels. The levels continued to climb over the next twenty-four hours and a consulting physician agreed with our suspicion of an ABO blood incompatibility. When the bilirubin rose to 18 mg% the consultant prepared to give an exchange transfusion of blood.

The same hour the mother began administering as much charcoal as she could get the baby to accept. With the baby undressed in her lap, she sat in the sunlight giving over an hour of exposure to both front and back (babies can tolerate more sunlight before getting a sunburn than can adults).

At the next six-hour bilirubin check, the level was down to 16.5%, and we knew we had avoided the hazardous exchange transfusion. Continuing with this treatment the bilirubin began to clear and was down to 4 mg% by the tenth day.”

In one astounding study the need for exchange transfusions in babies with erythroblastosis fetalis was cut by more than 90% with the use of charcoal. Erythroblastosis fetalis is a severe anemia that develops in an unborn infant because the mother produces antibodies that attack the fetus’ red blood cells. The antibodies are usually caused by Rh incompatibility between the mother’s blood type and that of the fetus (that is, the mother and baby have different blood types).

These babies can be at extreme risk after birth and, depending on the severity, a blood transfusion may be performed. In one study done at Fort Benning, Georgia, activated charcoal, suspended in water, was given every two hours. The treatment was continued for 120 hours in normal newborns and 168 hours in premature infants, or until bilirubin levels fell. Charcoal should be begun at four hours of age to produce the maximum reduction in elevated bilirubin levels.” page 158 “

Pre-labour Rupture of Membranes: impatience and risk

wateroncarpetAmniotic sac and fluid play an important role in the labour process and usually remain intact until the end of labour. However, around 10% of women will experience their waters breaking before labour begins. The standard approach to this situation is to induce labour by using prostaglandins and/or syntocinon (aka pitocin) to stimulate contractions. The term ‘augmentation’ is often used instead of ‘induction’ for this procedure. Women who choose to wait are often told their baby is at increased risk of infection and they are encouraged to have IV antibiotics during labour. In my experience most women agree to have their labour induced rather than wait. I wonder how many of these women would choose a different path if they knew there was no significant increase in the risk of infection for their baby?

The rush to start labour and get the baby out after the waters have broken is fairly new. When I first qualified in 2001 the standard hospital advice (UK) for a woman who rang to tell us her waters had broken (and all else was well) was: “If you’re not in labour by [day of the week in 3 days time] ring us back.” Over the following years this reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours, then 24 hours, then 18 hours, then 12 hours and now 0 hours. You might assume that this change in approach was based on some new evidence about the dangers involved in waiting for labour. You would be wrong.

<<To read more of this informative entry, please click here>>

Membrane release before birth sensations begin, what to do?

wateroncarpet1. Drink plenty of fluids. Minimum: 8 glasses spaced throughout the day. Purified water with lemon squeezed in it is good.

2. Allow nothing in vagina. No fingers, no tampons, no oral-genital contact, no bath water, no swimming pool water, no speculum, no penis, nothing whatsoever!

3. Wear something loose-fitting with no panties.

4. If you are leaking and need something for sitting, use clean towels fresh out of a hot dryer.

5. Take your temperature every 4 hours while you are awake. Normal range is 35.5 to 37.3 Degrees Centigrade or 96 to 99 Degrees Fahrenheit. If it goes above the upper ranges, drink some water, retake it and if your temperature remains up call your medical person. It could be a sign of infection.

6. Take 250mg Vitamin C every 3 hours while you are awake. Oranges, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, red peppers are all good sources.

7. No baths. Shower as much as you like.

8. Eat foods that are non-constipating and easy to digest. Especially avoid foods with MSG or nitrates, such as pizza, Chinese food, or deli meats. These foods can make you vomit in the birth process.

9. Be meticulous about toileting. Wipe from front to back, and wash hands carefully after.

l0. If the water is colored green or brown (meconium), or if it has a bad smell (sign of infection), let your medical person know.

<<To read more of this informative entry, click here>>

Pregnancy & Birth Truths

In a culture where birth has turned into something quite medicalized, I’ve been pondering the different beliefs that are circulating about labor and birth. So I thought I’d throw something together with some information. Please feel free to share more topics in the comments that I can touch on and I’ll make a second post! 🙂

1. ) First, let’s address our “EDD”. This is our, estimated due date, and determines a general date around which we can expect the baby. However, what is often not shared is the commonality of women giving birth up to 5wks before or after that date (check out the info here)! While many have come to believe 40wks is the time that which a baby must be born, it’s actually the average time frame of when a woman gives birth. This date is determined by last menstrual cycle, however many women’s cycles vary! Women can have a cycle from anywhere between 20 days and 45 days, however, most doctors automatically determine the 40wk mark by a 28 day cycle. So, not only could the 40wk mark be off due to the cycle calculations, one may not even give birth to their babies at 40wks! Try and picture the math for a moment:

If a woman cycled at 20 days and her last period was on August 4th, her 40wk mark would be May 1st.
Compare that to a woman who cycles at 45 days and her 40wk mark lands on May 26th.
That’s a full 25 day difference!
Add to that a woman who naturally delivers around 42 weeks, she’d give birth on June 9th.

A woman with a 28 day cycle would be due on May 9th. If one were to consider induction at 36-38wks based on this 28 day cycle (what many believe to be considered “full term”), the dates would be between April 11-25th! That would be nearly two months premature!! Two months!

2. ) And so the transition into induction: The belief is that inductions carry little to no risk. A medically induced labor is the use of synthetic drugs in order to trigger labor and acts much like a spontaneous labor. However, what’s actually happening is quite different. The drug, Pitocin for instance, mimics that of the hormone Oxytocin (what your body naturally releases to initiate labor). Pitocin however does not take into consideration what the body as a whole needs and is a constant drip, whereas the communicators in the body determine how much and how often Oxytocin should be released. Therefore, the drugs cause more intense labor than the body is built for and at a pace the laboring woman has a difficult time keeping up with. For a VBAC, this can be especially dangerous because it can put added stress on the previously made cesarean scar and in some cases lead to uterine rupture. This includes what some deem as “natural inductions” because it is still pushing the body harder and encourages it to go farther than what the body knows it is capable of. However, even for a birth without prior c-sections, this can still lead to pain medication and other interventions.

3. ) Pain management: Epidural, Demerol, Staidol, etc. are all synthetic drugs to aid in pain management in hospitals. However, while they may manage pain, there are lots of side effects to be aware of. Each of these can minimize the ability to work with your body as labor progresses. I personally used Staidol while in labor with my second child and I felt completely out of control. I could not stay awake, I couldn’t communicate with my husband, I found it difficult to make my body push… I could barely function. I threw up all over myself and I had to lay in it until my baby was born 2 hours later. You know that feeling when you’re falling asleep at the wheel and you wake up suddenly and panic because you realize you’re falling asleep while driving? That’s how it felt with each contraction at one minute apart…. for at least 2½ hours. As each contraction came, I woke up in a panic, confused. I have found in my 4 other births that I did not use pain killers, that I was able to focus, have clarity of mind, communicate what I needed and wanted, work with my body, move around, and most importantly, remain calm.

From research and from my own experience, I’ve found that these drugs will completely alter how a woman will instinctively behave while in labor. A progressive labor then turns into an active mission because your mind and body are no longer able to work together – either the mind is foggy from the drugs, or your body is numb from the drugs, or both. You now have to help your body bring the baby down the birth canal through encouraging certain movements rather than allowing natural instinct to come into play. For the epidural, that also means not being able to move around like one may need or desire to do if not medicated.

4. ) Laying on your back: Also called Lithotomy (flat-on-back) or C-position (resting on tailbone with body curled in the shape of a C) are the most used birth positions in hospitals. They are almost solely used for the purpose of convenience for the doctors and rarely because the woman has preferred that position. Not only are these positions often the least comfortable to labor in, they can actually hinder the laboring process. It results in reducing the pelvic outlet up to 30% smaller and puts greater pressure on the perineum (which can thus lead to tearing, episiotomy, forceps delivery, or vacuum extraction). It also can decrease the fetal heart rate and other types of distress leading to continuous electronic fetal monitoring (EFM), increased risk of shoulder dystocia, problems with presentation, or a prolonged pushing phase. There is no need for a woman’s legs to be held back and can in fact lead to putting lots of unnecessary stress on the perineum which in turn could also lead to tearing.

5. ) Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM) also known as the non-stress test (NST): This is a machine that measures both the fetal heart rate and the uterine contractions at the same time and was invented by Orvan Hess and Edward Hon. It was introduced to make a reduction in cerebral palsy which has essentially been proven to have made no progress (the rates have remained the same for the past 30+ years). The EFM became universally used in the US, it has been linked to dependence on the machine, and thus has led to increased misdiagnoses of fetal distress and increased (and often unnecessary) cesarean deliveries. That being said, often, any varying combination of pitocin, pain medication, and the lithotomy position can cause such distress and thus lead to a now necessary cesarean delivery.

Home birth also safer for ‘higher risk’ women

“The rate of oxytocin augmentation, epidural analgesia, and postpartum hemorrhage was significantly lower when labor started as a planned home birth. Differences in the rates of other primary outcome variables were not significant. The home birth group had lower rates of operative birth and obstetric anal sphincter injury. The rate of 5-minute Apgar score < 7 was the same in the home and hospital birth groups, but the home birth group had a higher rate of neonatal intensive care unit admission. Intervention and adverse outcome rates in both study groups, including transfer rates, were higher among primiparas than multiparas. Oxytocin augmentation, epidural analgesia, and postpartum hemorrhage rates were significantly interrelated.”  (Halfdansdottir et al 2015).

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