Childbirth is a life changing event which can be both exhilarating and draining, the greatest experience of one’s life or the worst. Childbirth carries tremendous dogma, old wives tales, traditions, and controversy.
Adults have their own rhyme and reason for birth choices. Doctors and midwives make choices for convenience, scheduling, to avoid lawsuits or for profit. You may make decisions based on personal beliefs, research, the influence of others, your own benefit, and quite likely for what you believe to be the good of the baby.
Doctors and midwives may claim to “first do no harm”, but that apparently does not hold true in childbirth which is evidenced by the United State’s embarrassingly high infant mortality rate and intervention rate. It is your job as the parent then, to distinguish fact from fiction to uncover what is really in the best interest of your child. What is really best for your baby? What is your baby thinking or feeling during childbirth? What does your baby really want?
BABIES WANT TO AVOID PAIN
It is fairly logical to assume that your baby does not want to experience pain. Many birth interventions such as breaking the water, labor inductions, forceps or surgery can cause the baby pain by forcing the babies skull against the mothers pelvis, crushing the baby with intolerable and relentless contractions, nicking the baby with a scalpel, or the unimaginable pain of forceps dragging them out of the birth canal by their head.
Labor inductions can cause crushing contractions which smash the babies head into the mother’s pelvis repeatedly. For some barbaric reason anesthesia is rarely used in circumcision which is clearly excruciating for the baby not to mention totally unnecessary. Vaccinations are also painful. Some of these procedures are so painful and traumatic that the baby fails to make eye contact with its parents or breastfeed at all.
BABIES WANT OXYGEN
Babies also seem to enjoy adequate blood and oxygen. Anything that compresses the umbilical cord which is quite literally, the babies lifeline, will understandably cause fetal distress and if not resolved can cause potentially irreversible brain damage. This is the worst nightmare of any parent but I am quite sure the baby didn’t sign up for it either. A combination of broken waters and a supine (on the back position) can cause the baby to lie on its own cord and compress it.
The supine position also compresses the mother’s vena cava which is the main vein supplying blood to the uterus. Pregnant women dutifully sleep on their side through pregnancy only to get to the hospital and start suffocating their baby to give the doctor a better view.
Many interventions used in hospitals restrict blood flow to the uterus either through contractions or from the fight or flight response of the mother. The violent contractions brought on by Pitocin and Cytotec restrict or eliminate the blood supply to the uterus causing dramatic fetal distress often “necessitating” a cesarean section. Overly long or strong contractions essentially suffocate the fetus by only allowing the fetus to “breathe” briefly between contractions.
By far the single most common intervention that literally robs a newborn of up to one third of their blood supply is the insane practice of immediate cord clamping. There is not one scientifically valid reason to clamp a cord immediately. The cord pulses for approximately 15-20 minutes following birth and this pulsing is the babies final and vital blood transfusion. The cord blood is rich with stem cells, iron, and oxygen and it is 100% the property of the baby.
The cord continues to pulse during the baby’s crucial transition to pulmonary oxygenation (breathing through the lungs). It can take several minutes for the oxygen from breathing air to reach the baby’s brain and the oxygenated cord blood compensates in this critical time. As you can imagine, cutting the babies lifeline literally starves the babies brain of oxygen until the lungs can take over. In addition to potential irreversible brain damage, immediate cord clamping also robs the baby of vital iron and causes widespread childhood anemia. The easiest way to avoid anemia? Let the baby retain the blood that is rightfully theirs.
BABIES WANT SECURITY
Babies want to stay in the comfort and safety of the womb until it is time to come out. Inductions and C-sections that are scheduled for convenience or some other arbitrary reason are quite simply removing the baby prematurely. Birth will happen when the baby is done growing. Babies stay inside the womb for a reason and they want to remain there until they are done growing. Some studies indicate that doctors are the leading cause of premature births in the United States.
The unfortunate truth is that virtually all medical interventions carry risks to the mother and baby. In fact, many of the interventions are so harmful to the baby that they lead to fetal distress which puts parents under pressure to submit to even more procedures that carry even greater potential for harm. Almost no parent will say no to something that will save their child when the baby’s heart rate is dropping precipitously. The fact remains that the doctor or midwife caused the distress in the first place.
BABIES WANT A LOVING WELCOME
Try to imagine that you are coming into the world for the first time as a baby(or an alien if that is easier for you). You feel yourself being blasted from the sanctity of the womb to the shrieks of agony of your mother and the militant shouts of others as you are suffocated on and off for twelve hours while your head is rammed repeatedly into bone. Then you feel your body become heavy and unresponsive as you are drugged into oblivion. You are suddenly exposed to blinding light and a crowd of eyes peeking between mask and cap as your mother is filleted to rip you from the safety of your mother’s body. 1/3 of your blood supply is drained from your body as your primary life giving organ is cut from your body without painkillers. Your lungs are not fully developed since you are a few weeks early and since you didn’t travel down the birth canal the amniotic fluid was never squeezed from your lungs. You are whisked away in the latex gloves of uncaring, unresponsive hurried strangers who ram a syringe up your nose, weigh you on a cold metal table, inject you with toxic chemicals, blind you, and irreversibly mutilate your penis without any painkillers. You are finally handed to your mother who is too tortured, butchered and drugged to hold you much less breastfeed.
Conversely imagine coming into the world for the first time in a homebirth setting. You stay in the uterus until your mothers highly evolved and naturally intelligent birthing mechanism understands that you are ready to be born. You feel the strong and gentle hugging squeeze of the uterine contractions as they gently but firmly propel you into the birth canal. You can hear the familiar sounds of your parents and maybe some music. They are talking to you, encouraging you, telling you they love you and cant wait to meet you. You feel the familiar rhythm of your mother’s body moving into various positions that give you ample room to comfortably rotate into the perfect position to be born in. You are squeezed out with a final hugging push or two into the loving warm waiting arms of your parents (perhaps to the sound of your mother’s orgasm) and you are placed on mom’s warm waiting chest within seconds. You blink a bit in the semi darkness and hear your mothers voice without the buffer of the womb for the first time. You hear her love and see into her eyes as you instinctively latch on. Meanwhile your body is being infused with the final blood transfusion that will give you all the oxygen, blood, stem cells and immunity you need for the healthiest start in life. While you latch on to your mother’s warm, waiting breast, her body releases oxytocin which improves your bonding, releases her breast milk, and causes the cord to stop the transfusion, the placenta to detach from the uterine wall and deliver itself naturally. The colustrum from your mother’s breast is all the Vitamin K you need especially since no one will be mutilating your penis. There is no Hepatitis vaccine since you aren’t sexually active quite yet and your penis stays happily and gratefully intact.
There are many arguments for and against natural birth but from the baby’s point of view there is undeniably no contest.
Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/silversldr/2451035644/