Mind: Childbirth Classes
Knowledge is power.
All women should empower themselves and prepare for their birth with an assortment of classes. Visit the following local links to find the right class for you.
My Phoenix Pregnancy Pregnancy Perks Partners includes boutiques, spas, nannies and more
Fresh Start Women’s Foundation This is a resource center for women with an amazing schedule of classes, on-site childcare and computer library
Supported Birth of Arizona doulas, classes, belly casting and more
Mind: Recommended Reading
Pregnancy is a great time to absorb as much information as possible.
Mary’s recommended reading:
Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
Spiritual Midwifery Ina May Gaskin
Homebirth Sheila Kitzinger
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth Sheila Kitzinger
Active Birth Janet Balaskas
Optimal Fetal Positioning Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott
Let Birth Be Born Again Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth Ina May Gaskin
Your Amazing Newborn Marshall & Phyllis Klaus
The Doula Book Marshall & Phyllis Klaus
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding La Leche League
Nursing Mother’s Companion Kathleen Huggins
Breastfeed Your Baby Sheila Kitizinger
Sit Up and Take Notice Pauline Scott
Creating a Joyful Birth Experience by Lucia Capacchione and Sandra Bardsley
For parenting/early childhood development I highly recommend all parents get the parenting video:
You can purchase this video from Amazon.com for around $15.00 but l have a lending copy for all existing clients.
Body: Optimal Fetal Positioning
Sitting upright on a birth ball or leaning over the ball in the hands and knee position as much as possible the last weeks of pregnancy can help facilitate your baby to “drop” or “engage” into the pelvis in the anterior position.
During your prenatal check-ups, especially in the last trimester, the doctor or midwife will palpate your abdomen to detect the baby’s position. While most moms-to-be know that head down is good, few understand the significance of a baby facing the mother’s navel or the mother’s spine.
Occipito-anterior (OA) and Occipito-posterior (OP) often called “anterior” and “posterior” for short are the technical terms to describe the way your baby is positioned in the uterus. Both of these terms apply to a baby who is head down.
The best position for your baby to engage into the pelvis is the Occipito-anterior (OA). This is what is called the Optimal Foetal Position (OFP). In the OA position, your baby is head down with his or her face looking at your spine. In the OP position, your baby is head down with his or her face looking at your navel.
Have you ever heard of “Back Labor”? Have you experienced back labor yourself or do you know someone who has? Back labor occurs because the baby is in the occiptio-posterior (OP) position. An OP baby and mother must do more work in order to have a vaginal birth. Labor is often longer and more painful, while the baby attempts to rotate to the anterior position.
Optimal Fetal Positioning teaches us that simple lifestyle changes like improving your posture can influence the way your baby positions him or herself into the pelvis. Years ago before television women were much more active and when they sat on a couch it was to read or sew.
When they were positioned on the couch they sat upright because proper posture was encouraged. Today when we rest on the couch we tend to recline back with our feet up with the remote control in our hands. This is not a good position to be in during late pregnancy because your uterus will contract to try to rotate the baby to the OA position. When the uterus contracts it tilts forward and when we are semi-recumbent we are working against the uterus. This is why women will have frequent long episodes of Braxton-Hicks contractions in late pregnancy because the uterus is trying to rotate the baby to the optimal foetal position.
For more on how to find what position your baby is in, please visit spinningbabies.com.
Body: Pregnancy Nutrition
Nourish your body and have a healthier baby!
Understanding the changes that your pregnant body goes through, along with the benefits of taking certain supplements such as calcium and chlorophyll will be covered in this article.
To begin to understand the importance of good pregnancy nutrition you need to understand the changes that the body undergoes after conception. The liver and kidneys play a vital role in the development of our babies and the health of our bodies. These vital organs take on new functions with pregnancy so you need to make sure you eat the right foods to nourish these organs thus you will create a very nourished environment for your baby. Yummy!
by Thomas Brewer, M.D.
You are one of over 3 million women who have a baby in the United States every year.
In recent years pregnant women in our country have been less healthy than pregnant women in many other countries. An increasing number of premature or “low birth weight” babies are being born. This is primarily caused by the failure of our doctors to recognize the role of nutrition in pregnancy. Instead of emphasizing good diet, many American doctors who care for pregnant women still prescribe low calorie, low salt diets for “weight control”. Many doctors also still depend on drugs such as diuretics (water pills) and amphetamines (diet pills) to try to prevent diseases during pregnancy. High blood pressure is typically treated with a low salt diet and bed rest. Some doctors are even using calcium and aspirin for toxemia prevention, but it’s not proving as helpful as they’d hoped.
This kind of treatment is often dangerous to both mother and baby. But you can avoid danger by good nutrition throughout your pregnancy. We now know that most pregnancy diseases and complications are caused by poor diets – by lack of enough good foods during pregnancy. The methods of diet described in the following pages were used with success by over 25,000 women in my practice over a 12 year period in the prenatal clinics of Contra Costa County in Richmond, California, USA. And they are used today by many more informed and educated women, with equally excellent results.
When you understand what a good pregnancy diet is and how important good foods really are, you will be able to protect yourself and your baby from many complications The Importance of Diet If you are an expectant mother, you must eat a good, nutritious, balanced diet every day during your pregnancy. A good diet is the best insurance that your baby will be healthy and strong with a normal weight at birth!
The rest of this article will supply you with much of the information needed to give you an idea of what you and your baby need to stay healthy, including charts to help you stay on track!
What Is A Good, Nutritious, Balanced Diet?
The Brewer Diet For A Healthy Mom And Baby Every day of the week, you and your baby must have: One quart (4 cups) of milk. Any kind will do: whole milk, low fat, skim, powdered, or buttermilk. If you do not like milk, you can substitute one cup of yogurt for each cup of milk. Two eggs. One or two servings of fish, shellfish, chicken or turkey, lean beef, veal, lamb, pork, liver or kidney. Alternative combinations include: Rice with beans, cheese, sesame, milk Cornmeal with beans, cheese, tofu, milk. Beans with rice, bulgur, cornmeal, wheat noodles sesame seeds, milk. Peanuts with: sunflower seeds, milk. Whole wheat bread or noodles with: beans, cheese, peanut butter, milk, tofu.
For each serving of meat, you can substitute these quantities of cheese: Brick 4 oz.
Longhorn 3 oz. Camembert 6 oz.
Muenster 4 oz. Cheddar 3 oz.
Monterey Jack 4 oz. Cottage 6 oz.
Swiss 3 oz. One or two servings of fresh, green, leafy vegetables: mustard, beet, collard, dandelion or turnip greens, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard. Five servings of whole grain breads, rolls, cereals or pancakes: wheatena, 100% bran flakes, granola, shredded wheat, wheat germ, oatmeal, buckwheat or whole wheat pancakes, corn bread, corn tortillas, corn or bran or whole wheat muffins, waffles, brown rice. Two choices from: a whole potato (any style), large green pepper, grapefruit, lemon, lime, papaya, tomato (one piece of fruit, or one large glass of juice). Three pats of butter. Also include in your diet, in addition to the above (i.e., don’t count one food in two categories): A yellow- or orange-colored vegetable or fruit five times a week. Liver once a week, if you like it. Table salt: SALT YOUR FOOD TO TASTE Water: Drink to thirst. It is not healthy for you and your unborn baby to go even 24 hours without good food!
Your goal is 80 to 100 grams of protein each day for the prevention of toxemia.
Your Daily Pregnancy Nutrition Checklist Have you ever tried to watch your nutrition with the diets in popular pregnancy books? It’s downright frustrating! Dr. Brewer’s diet is simple, yet powerful. No double-counting certain foods in different categories, or complicated calculations of grams and calories. Just print this sheet and check it off daily. PLEASE print it as many times as you need to! Make copies!! Pass it on to your friends! Spread the word!!! (Sorry, this form is not interactive, the boxes are just for looks.)
Every day of the week, you and your baby should have: Milk Servings (8 grams each)
= 32 grams Eggs (6 grams each)
= 12 grams With just 2 eggs and 4 glasses of milk you’ve already laid a “protein foundation” for today’s excellent nutrition! You’re halfway there! Subtotal = 44 grams Meat/Protein (avg. 25 grams each)
= 50 grams Green Leafy Veggies (under 1 gram each)
= 2 grams Other Veggies (under 1 gram each)
= 1 gram Whole Grain Bread (2 grams each)
= 6 grams Citrus Fruit or Juice (~1 gram each)
= 2 grams Other Fruit (under 1 gram each)
= 1 gram Butter (1 gram each)
= 3 grams Protein Grand Total (if all boxes checked) = 109 grams
And don’t forget the following foods weekly: Whole grain cereal (oatmeal, wheatena, etc.)
Yellow or orange fruits and veggies
Liver (if you like it)
A whole baked potato, any style.
Congratulations! You’ve given your baby the best possible start in life by eating right TODAY! Simply do this every day during pregnancy, one day at a time, and you’re doing everything you can to ensure that you and your baby won’t suffer from toxemia, low birth weight, IUGR, and a host of other nutrition-related ills. Way to go!
“Fast Foods” In Pregnancy According to Dr. Tom Brewer some of the “fast foods” so often restricted during pregnancy are actually excellent for pregnancy!
He recommends the following: eggs, milk, breads, tortillas, tacos, enchiladas, ice cream, salad bar, beans.
Think about it…these are all quick to prepare yourself, and/or readily available at your local fast food eatery. They are all high in protein and essential vitamins and minerals. They are calorie-full, which is NOT a negative thing when you’re literally eating for the life of your baby. They also contain salt (NaCl) which is an essential nutrient…that is, your body (and your baby) CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT IT!
Eggs make a quick breakfast, and they contain 7 grams of high-quality protein each. Each egg contains all the building blocks of life – enough to create a complete chicken!
Milk is easy and refreshing anytime, with meals or snacks. It is high in calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D, and each 8 ounce glass contains 7 grams of high-quality protein.
Two eggs and one quart (4 glasses) of milk each day will give you 40 grams of protein…that’s 50% of what you need to avoid toxemia and other protein-deficiency diseases of pregnancy.
Breads and tortillas provide much-needed calories during pregnancy, and whole wheat (or other grain) breads and tortillas are packed with natural vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. They make very easy meals…and a great way to use up leftovers. Last night’s chicken and rice make a great sandwich or burrito…just add some shredded cheese, a little mayo or salsa, and you’re set!
Tacos and enchiladas? Sure, why not?! Again, think of how they’re made: corn tortilla (whole grain), beans or meat (protein), lettuce and tomato (vegetables). Sounds like the makings of a great pregnancy meal!
How about ice cream? So many pregnant women I talk to mention ice cream like it’s on a taboo list. They apologize for having “just a tiny scoop” at a Fourth of July picnic. Personally, I eat it every night during pregnancy, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty! As Dr. Brewer says, “If you’re going to have a candy bar, have one with nuts.” So I apply that to my favorite indulgence: ice cream. I scoop it up, then add plenty of peanuts or almonds, wheat germ, and a bit of chocolate. With a glass of milk, it makes a great high-protein, evening snack.
The salad bar in your office cafeteria, buffet restaurant or fast food joint is a great place for a pregnant feast. Choose fresh, dark-green, leafy lettuce or spinach, and add your choice of veggies (yellow squash is a good choice) and add an array of high-protein, high-vitamin and -mineral additions…consider hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, kidney and ceci beans, hard cheeses, and cottage cheese. Fruits are often available as well, so you can probably meet an entire day’s vegetable and fruit requirements in one satisfying meal – not to mention getting a significant amount of protein in the deal!
I’ve already mentioned beans at the salad bar, but what about at home? They’re easy to prepare from dried, or you can use “convenience” cans. Yes, they’ve got sodium. That’s what you need! They’re also an excellent source of quality protein, and make a complete protein when combined with rice or grains. Try eating chili with cornbread, black beans with rice, or a three-bean salad. There are refried beans, franks-n-beans, baked beans, barbecue beans…take your pick!
I hope this has helped to free you a little from the traditional mindset about foods and nutrition in pregnancy. Remember that as long as you gain weight on high-quality protein and food that tastes good to you (that means, salt to taste!) you can enjoy them without guilt, and without fearing the scale, knowing that you’re doing a great thing for your baby.
SOLVED THE RIDDLE OF ECLAMPSIA AND BIRTH DEFECTS IN NEWBORNS
By Dr. James Howenstine, MD. November 30, 2004 NewsWithViews.com Eclampsia has been one of the major enigmas of the medical profession for hundreds of years. The cause for eclampsia is considered to be mysterious by most physicians despite extensive scientific articles beginning in the 1920s showing that eclampsia is an easily preventable nutritional disease. Standard therapy consists of bed rest, restriction of sodium in the diet, diuretics, and blood pressure lowering drugs. This condition is treated as a medical emergency with efforts to bring about immediate delivery of what is often a very premature baby by inducing labor or Caesarian section.
Evidence of eclampsia is found in between 2 and 20 per cent of pregnancies worldwide. Approximately 50,000 women die of eclampsia annually. Eclampsia is seen more frequently in poor people, diabetics, twin pregnancies, women who have received no prenatal care and women with preexisting kidney disease or hypertension.
Typically signs of eclampsia appear in the last three months of pregnancy. The cardinal feature is elevation of blood pressure from the blood pressure levels seen earlier in the pregnancy. Common symptoms include severe swelling, protein in the urine, headaches, nausea and vomiting, mental confusion and agitation, right upper abdominal pain (liver), visual impairment, convulsions and ultimate coma. Severe cases often have coagulation problems with bleeding , liver dysfunction and kidney failure..
Dr. Tom Brewer had an important conversation prior to medical school with an immigrant Russian neighbor who related that pregnant Russian women often died of hemorrhage or convulsions. This Russian neighbor related that “Times were hard and food was scarce.” This conversation made a profound impact on Dr. Brewer’s thinking.
During his obstetrical training Dr. Brewer observed that the toxemic patient often became dehydrated with thickened blood. In this dehydrated state the use of the often prescribed diuretics to lower blood pressure becomes particularly dangerous. He felt that the eclampsia was related to lack of protein, salt, vitamins and minerals.
During his residency training at Lallie Kemp Charity Hospital in Louisiana 25 % of the pregnant women seen there had toxemia. In his general practice with a partner in Fulton, Missouri he did not restrict salt, food or weight gain, used no diuretics, encouraged protein intake and saw only healthy women deliver healthy babies with no toxemia. The only toxemic patient he saw in 100 deliveries was a poor woman on a deficient diet who had received no prenatal care.
Dr. Brewer became convinced that low infant birth weight, premature labor, and eclampsia were being caused by the dehydration, low salt diet and diuretic drugs given to eclamptic patients. He feels that physician emphasis on weight limitation during pregnancy has proven to be dangerous because it leads to malnutrition.
The diet Dr. Brewer recommends for pregnant patients includes :
One quart or more of milk daily Two eggs and one or two servings of fish, chicken, lean beef or pork or cheese daily One or two daily servings of fresh green leafy vegetables (mustard, collard or turnip greens, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, or cabbage) Five daily servings of whole wheat bread, corn tortillas, or cereal A piece of citrus fruit or a glass of orange or grapefruit juice A large green pepper, papaya, or tomato Three pats of butter daily Five servings of yellow vegetables weekly Three baked potatoes weekly No salt restriction He is convinced that eating 80 to 100 grams of protein daily prevents toxemia. Thirty years of using this diet in thousands of patients has avoided all cases of eclampsia, anemia, premature separation of the placenta, severe infections in lungs, kidneys and liver, low birth weight babies, premature babies, and miscarriage. All babies were born healthy. The American obstetrical profession continues to oppose the concept that malnutrition causes eclampsia.
Dr. Brewer has been able to instruct midwives in how to institute his high protein diet for eclamptic patients. This diet leads to reversal of symptoms which is unheard of using conventional drug therapy.
The patient who gains no weight during a pregnancy is at high risk for eclampsia. It must be remembered that a considerable portion of the maternal weight increase1 is caused by the weight of the placenta, the expanded blood volume seen during a normal pregnancy, the weight of the baby and the quantity of amniotic fluid. Very obese women , who are existing on empty calories from starches and sugars gain weight that is stored as fat because the baby is unable to utilize the empty calories. These babies are underweight and the mother is often toxemic. Animal experiments using sheep showed that most sheep placed on a starvation diet near the end of a pregnancy died.
Dr. Brewer has observed that pregnant women who were smoking 2 packs of cigarettes daily but eating a good diet had no problems with the health of the child suggesting that the quality of food consumed is the most important prognostic factor. A woman eating for twins must consume enough food for 3 people.
Dr. Brewer is convinced that improving the diet prior to conception is very worthwhile. This creates impossible problems for impoverished persons. Because the focus of medicine is so drug oriented and so lacking in nutritional knowledge eclampsia will probably continue to be a plague even though it’s cure is very simple.
Nutritional Deficiencies Are Being Attributed To Genetic Disorders
Veterinarians have learned that the institution of a healthy diet, vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements prior to conception completely eliminates congenital birth defects(2) in animals. Dr. Joel D. Wallach D.V.M., N.D. relates that 98 % of birth defects are caused by nutritional deficiencies. He includes in this list cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, heart defects, brain defects, spina bifida, cleft palate, limb defects, hernia etc. Radiation appears to be responsible for less than .1% of birth defects. Teenagers have a bigger percentage of children with birth defects than women over age 40 probably because of poor diet, lack of supplements, and their own need for supplements as growing adults competing with that of the developing infant.
Billions of dollars have been spent on laboratory, pet and agricultural animals to learn more about birth defects. The information obtained from these studies has totally eliminated birth defects in animals.
Cystic fibrosis is a selenium and fatty acid deficiency in the fetus or newborn breastfed infant. Maternal malabsorption of selenium caused by subclinical celiac disease is the initiating cause of the selenium deficit found in the fetus. This newborn’s selenium deficiency produces the fibrocystic lesions in the pancreas typical of cystic fibrosis. The cystic fibrosis infant is born with normal lungs but later they become a major problem with recurring pneumonias and pseudomonas bronchial infections which often cause lung failure to be the cause for death at a young age.
In 1958 Dr. Klaus Schwartz of Germany reported in Federation Proceedings (NIH Journal) that selenium was an essential nutrient. Deficiency of selenium produced the same pancreas lesion in test rats and mice as was seen in cystic fibrosis in humans.
In 1972 Cornell University researchers reported that chicks hatched from selenium deficient hens developed cystic fibrosis lesions in their pancreas. This “cystic fibrosis” disease in the chicks was completely reversible within 30 days in newborn chicks by supplementation with selenium. This important research information enabled Dr. Wallach to treat 450 cystic fibrosis patients with excellent results using selenium. Infants with “cystic fibrosis”started on selenium therapy at 3 months are still cured at age 12. Mothers who had cystic fibrosis children have been able to have normal children when their selenium deficiency was corrected.
Working in conjunction with 3 Chinese scientists Dr. Wallach was able to learn that 1700 children who died of Keshan Disease (a heart fibrosing illness caused by selenium deficiency in the soil) had clear evidence in 595 of these children (35 %) of the cystic fibrosis lesions in their pancreases. Because the Cystic Fibrosis gene is reportedly present in only 1 out of 2500 persons this clearly proves that cystic fibrosis is not a genetic disorder. Approaching the Keshan Disease from a different angle careful autopsy studies of 400 persons who died with “cystic fibrosis” had characteristic fibrotic lesions of the heart exactly like those found in selenium deficiency in Keshan Province of China.
The reason that some mothers become selenium deficient appears to be related to food allergies which cause changes in the appearance of the gut producing malabsorption of food. Breast feeding by a selenium deficient mother makes the infants selenium deficiency worse. The presence of maternal food allergies, malabsorption syndromes and nutritional deficiencies all can lead to birth defects. Dr. Wallach believes that it is unlikely that aggressive searching for food allergies and widespread use of selenium and nutritional supplements will be pursued by physicians who are earning a comfortable living with the status quo. Unfortunately many physicians hearing about the relationship between selenium and the causation of “celiac disease” will be skeptical and not willing to use this information.
The Infertility Problem
Dr. Wallach has had considerable success in helping couples have children who have been diagnosed as infertile by conventional physicians. He is certain that infertility is simply another manifestation of the nutritional disaster in the U.S. Testing husband and wife for nutritional defects and then correcting these defects has permitted hundreds of couples to have children. This may involve the use of rotation diets to ascertain food allergies. Correction of malabsorption also leads to pregnancies. Finding couples with poor nutrition, no food supplements, food allergies and malabsorption can be very rewarding in the correction of infertility. This information about the frequency of nutritional disorders seems to provide convincing evidence that birth defects are not able to become manifested when good nutritional supplementation is provided at the time of conception and continued during the pregnancy.
The U. S. medical system has moved so far away from understanding the importance of nutrition that implementing of Dr. Brewer’s diet to stop eclampsia and Dr. Wallach’s program to prevent birth defects with good nutrition may never become common practice but at least persons who are interested in learning what good nutrition can accomplish may be helped to avoid these problems.
Massive amounts of money were and are being spent learning the position on genes where genetic defects are located. When this information is obtained it does not cure any diseases. The suggestion by Dr. Wallach that good nutrition prevents possible genetic defects from appearing appears to be of far greater importance than the site where gene defects are located. When Dr. Wallach made the break through discovery that selenium deficiency was the actual cause for fibrocystic disease he was promptly fired from his position at the NIH. This emphasis on genes as a cause for diseases removes the blame for the failure of modern pharmaceutically oriented medicine’s inability to cure cancer, arteriosclerosis, and Type 2 diabetes.
Footnotes: 1 Interview with Dr. Tom Brewer Preventing Eclampsia (Metabolic Toxemia Of Late Pregnancy) : An interview with TomBrewer, M.D. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients November 2004 #256 pg. 69-75 2 Wallach, J.D. Lan, Ma Let’s Play Doctor Wellness Publication LLC pg. 120-124
© 2004 Dr. James Howenstine – All Rights Reserved Dr. James A. Howenstine is a board certified specialist in internal medicine who spent 34 years caring for office and hospital patients. After 4 years of personal study he became convinced that natural products are safer, more effective, and less expensive than pharmaceutical drugs. This research led to the publication of his book A Physicians Guide To Natural Health Products That Work. Information about these products and his book can be obtained from amazon.com and at www.naturalhealthteam.com and phone 1-800-416-2806 U.S. Dr. Howenstine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by mail at Dr. James Howenstine, C/O Remarsa USA SB 37, P.O. Box 25292, Miami, Fl. 33102-5292.
If you are interested in yummy and nutritious recipes to nourish you, your baby and the rest of your family, then you have come to the right section of this sight. You will find recipes that follow the “Brewer’s Diet” and recipes that were created to help women with specific needs of pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.
Body: Birth Ball
Using the Birth Ball for pregnancy and childbirth? With Mary as your midwife you will be given the opportunity to experience the benefits of the birth ball because all of her clients receive a free birth ball as a gift to help them through pregnancy, labor and beyond!
Sitting upright on the Birth Ball you have to assume proper posture. It is the perfect position to be in as much as possible during late pregnancy. It is recommended that during the last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy women sit on the birth ball as much as possible while watching TV, relaxing or at the computer.
Sitting upright on the Birth Balls achieves the following:
Increases blood flow to the uterus, placenta and baby
Relieves pressure and can increase the pelvic outlet as much as 30%
Provides comfortable support for knees and ankles
Provides counter-pressure to the perineum and thighs
Mom’s can lean forward and pelvic rock, sway and gently bounce
Upright posture works with gravity encouraging the descent of the baby
Putting all of your upper body weight on the Birth Balls when in the hands and knees position will do the following:
Helps relieve back discomfort and pain
Mom’s can pelvic rock and reduce tension in the lower back
Putting the weight of the upper body on the ball takes the weight off your wrists
Encourages rotation of a posterior baby
May relieve pressure on swollen anterior lip of cervix
The Birth Ball Supports Women in Laboring Positions
Childbirth Experts and researchers throughout the world have validated that standing, sitting and walking help to shorten labor by 25-40%. When a woman remains upright and active during labor her contractions are stronger, more regular and frequent, which quickens labor progress.
How does and upright position make such a difference in labor?
Uterine contractions are more effective in bringing the baby through the pelvis if the mother is upright and can lean forward. A muscle that is required to work against gravity will tire more easily. Pressure from the baby’s head on the cervix remains constant when a woman is positioned upright – so cervical dilation may occur more rapidly. Pelvic mobility is increased during pregnancy by hormones that soften the ligaments in the pelvis. A woman’s pelvic
outlet increases as much as 30% when squatting and leaning forward, so the baby may descend more easily during labor and birth. Supported squatting with keeping the knees above the hips offers optimal Perineal stretching; less muscular effort; optimal oxygen and blood flow to the baby; and the most effective angle for descent of the baby. Blood flow to the uterus, placenta and infant are more optimal when a woman labors in an upright position. Fetal distress is actually less likely to occur, so the newborn’s condition is more stable at birth. When a woman labors in a reclining position, blood flow to the uterus is decreased; oxygen to the uterus and the baby are decreased; and maternal blood pressure increases. When a woman is semi-reclining, the baby’s head puts pressure on the pelvic nerves in the sacrum, increasing pain during contractions. Much less pressure is placed on these nerves if the woman remains upright, leans forward and remains off her back. Gravity enhances uterine contractions and maternal bearing down effort. It is definitely more difficult to push a baby out when a woman is recumbent ans essentially pushing “uphill”.
How can birth balls help childbearing women?
The Birth Ball is a physical therapy ball, usually about 29” in diameter. The ball can be used in prenatal and postpartum fitness programs; used in late pregnancy can help encourage the baby to engage in the OA position; for positioning during childbirth and for comforting the baby after birth.
Using a Birth Ball can make rhythmic movement, changing positions and remaining upright easier. Fatigue is decreased when a woman can rest part of her body on the ball. The ball provides support to hip joints, knees, and ankles so the woman can be mobile for longer periods of time.
STANDING: Gravity helps the fetus to descend during the course of labor. The laboring woman can tolerate standing longer when she rests her upper body on a birth ball that is placed on a bed or stationary chair.
KNEELING: Women often kneel to relieve the pain of back labor and to encourage the rotation of a posterior position baby. Kneeling over the birth ball and rocking or rotating the hips is more comfortable and counter pressure is easier to apply when the woman is in a forward leaning position.
SITTING UPRIGHT: When a woman sits upright on the birth ball she often remarks that her back immediately feels better! She can easily rock back and forth and she finds that the ball provides counter pressure on her perineum and thighs.
POSTPARTUM: After birth women may want to use the birth ball in a postpartum exercise program. A specialist is fitness can assist in obtaining information about a safe exercise program for postpartum recovery.
BABY SOOTHING: Babies love rhythmic movement ad many parents have used the birth ball as an aid to soothing a fussy baby. Some gently bounce on the ball and others move side to side on the ball while holding their baby. The infant craves movement to stimulate his/her nervous system, ad the rhythmic movements on the birth ball can help foster healthy development of the baby.
Sources of information about the physiology of labor: Active Birth; Janet Balaskas. Easing Labor Pain; Adrienne B. Lieberman. Gentle Birth Choices; Barbara Harper, RN. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth; Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer. The Birth Partner; Penny Simkin
Spirit: Creative Birth Journaling
I learned about journaling at a workshop I took in 1994 while I was pregnant with my 4th baby. We did one of the exercises from the book “Creating a Joyful Birth Experience,” and from that is has influenced so much of my work. With ADOBE doulas we used this book for the foundation of our birth plan guide, I have used journaling exercises in my childbirth classes and doula training’s for the last 11 years. I was blessed with the opportunity to meet Sandra Bardsley at the MANA Conference here in Phoenix over 10 years ago. Check out our Class Calendar for Journaling and Birth Art sessions.
Spirit: Arizona Birth Network
The Arizona Birth Network is a non-profit organization committed to helping women and families have safe and fulfilling pregnancy and birth experiences while empowering them in their role as health care consumers.
We promote an awareness of evidence-based care and informed decision-making through advocacy, education and support.
There is nothing better than pregnant women and new mothers coming together to share and learn from each other. The Birth Circle Meetings is a wonderful support system.