Information from a recent article brings to light a new study which suggests that fewer babies are born on Halloween, but more babies are born on Valentine’s Day. These were the only two holidays that were examined, however, the research is suggesting that mothers may have something to do with the onset of labor and that there are feelings or thoughts associated with Halloween which might prevent women from going into spontaneous labor on that date. (Planned c-sections also tend not to be scheduled on this spooky holiday either.) On Valentine’s Day, however, more spontaneous births are reported to take place possibly, as the study suggests, because of the mother’s positive, romantic and loving feelings that are associated with this date.
As stated in the study, “All types of births decreased on Halloween as compared with the surrounding two weeks. The chance of giving birth on Halloween went down by a total of 11.3 percent, with 16.9 percent fewer C-sections, 18.7 percent fewer induced births and 5.3 percent fewer spontaneous births. On Valentine's Day, the likelihood of giving birth went up by 5 percent compared with the weeks before and after the holiday. Births from spontaneous labor spiked 3.6 percent, while induced births went up 3.4 percent. Cesarean births were 12.1 percent more likely on Valentine's, which might suggest women deliberately schedule C-sections to have Valentine's Day babies.”
This study brings up some interesting topics about the mentality of an expectant mother and how her expectations can impact the onset of labor. Cultural practices and superstitions could possibly feed into the mothers feelings about her labor, leading her to feel less relaxed, comfortable, or confident about going into labor on certain dates.
While the anecdotal notes about birth occurring on either of these holidays is interesting, it does bring up larger questions about the part the mother plays in labor and how her emotions and expectations might influence things. We address these topics in our booklets and encourage all educators, doulas and care providers to explore this topic with their clients. The mental space of the mother, along with her expectations and fears can have a significant impact on her birthing experience, up to and including when labor begins.
What do you think?
Have you noticed any trends with regards to the timing of childbirth in your clients? Are there times of the year, or even a time of day, which you’ve noticed a woman is more or less likely to go into labor? How do you approach the topic of mental preparedness and relaxation with your clients, in terms of when labor begins?
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Plumtree Baby, LLC
It is no secret that most women in the United States are giving birth in a hospital. There are plenty of articles, blogs and opinion pieces on the appropriateness of this environment and the alternatives (such as birth centers or home births). We appreciate the work being done by others to emphasize and promote the importance of the environment for birth and thought, since most women are giving birth in a hospital, what would an ideal hospital environment look like to us? So we did a little dreaming...
A woman giving birth in "Paradise Hospital" is in contact with her midwife or doctor throughout early labor and encouraged to remain at home for as long as comfortable. She is given reminders/tips to conserve her energy (such as eating, drinking, resting/napping) and encouraged to find upright/active positions, when she is not resting, to encourage the baby to descend and her body to open.
When the time comes to go to the hospital, the midwife or doctor calls ahead to the hospital and makes arrangements for her care. She, her partner and anyone else she chooses to have with her, arrive at the private, birthing entrance to the hospital and are met by an assistant to help with their bags and a valet to park their car. The mother walks calmly down a peaceful, dim hallway to her private room. Inside the spacious room is a large bed in the corner, a large floor mat (thanks to Debra Pascali-Bonaro and Community Hospital Department of OB/GYN in Feldbach, Austria for the inspiration), several birth balls, a birth stool, a large couch and a few different chairs. On the walls are professional photos of focal points (a flower, a drop of water, a single leaf on a stream), relaxing scenes (such as a mountain lake or beach) and a sleeping newborn. Charts with labor positions or comfort measures are on display to encourage mom. There are soft, cozy blankets and numerous pillows on the bed. Railings are placed around the room so mom can grab onto them for support. A rope or cloth hangs from the ceiling for the mother to hold or pull on. The cloth can also be wrapped around her upper body allowing her to "dangle" (loosen her torso and hips) while having upper body supported.
The large, attached bathroom has a deep tub big enough for two, a separate thermostat and adjustable, overhead lighting. Battery operated candles, large, soft towels and miscellaneous toiletry items rest on shelves. Speakers connect to the sound system in the birthing room, which has several pre-programmed selections, such as soothing music or nature sounds, or the mother can connect her own MP3 player and listen to whatever she chooses.
The mother is encouraged to make herself comfortable, remain in her own clothes or put on a wrap-style, soft cotton dress that is brand new and gives her total freedom of movement and modesty. The nurse attending her discreetly watches the mother to gauge her progress, gives her privacy, offers her something to drink or eat, and suggest comfortable positions. She monitors the baby's heart rate periodically in a way that is least disruptive to the mother and always speak softly and keep the lights dim. All of the equipment and supplies are behind doors or in a storage area to be used only if needed.
There is total freedom for the mother and respect for her privacy and needs. She is encouraged to trust her instincts and listen to her body. When the mother starts to feel the urge to push, she pushes in whatever way she chooses, such as on the bed, in the water, using the birth stool or squatting on the mat. Her midwife or doctor catches the baby in any position the mother is in. Following the birth, the mother is given the time and space to appreciate what she just did. She picks up her baby or is handed the baby and helped into a comfortable position to rest with her baby on her belly, skin-to-skin. The time to bond with her baby is deeply respected and interruptions are kept to a minimum.
What would you add or change about "Paradise Hospital"? Are you seeing any part of our dream really happening or available in your local hospitals? What do you think is standing in the way of this dream or other similar dreams for an ideal birth environment for all women?
This is our dream of an ideal hospital birth environment. We are not trying to create a debate about where a woman should give birth (because, frankly, this sounds a lot like a birth center). We are simply offering our dream of how to make the location where most women are giving birth a little better (yes, you can still get an epidural here and they have an OR and other emergency services). While we can't do much to make this dream a reality in every hospital around the country, we can and do help parents understand the impact that the environment and atmosphere of their birth can have on their overall experience. Our Thoughtful Decisions booklet encourages parents to understand their options for their birth environment and attendants and begin to explore the impact the birth location on their plans and preferences for birth. Our Natural Childbirth booklet puts a heavy emphasis on the environment (the place, the people and the ability for mom to find comfort) and explores the underlying hormonal changes that can occur depending on how the environment impacts the mother. We realize that changes in hospital policies, practices and amenities won't happen unless there is a demand from the consumer and we hope that each of the parents we teach (directly through out classes or indirectly through our booklets) will ask for and choose the environment that best suits them and their needs.
Copyright 2011 © All Rights Reserved Plumtree Baby, LLC
We know that the majority of parents do not take a childbirth preparation course and there are many possible reasons for this (too costly, too time-consuming), but overall, the general consensus is that mothers-to-be are just planning to check into the hospital, let their doctor or midwife “get them through it” and to have an anesthesiologist at the ready to ensure a pain-free birthing experience. With this being a common view on birth, why even bother with a childbirth education class?
Well, we can suggest several reasons that pregnant women and their partners should take a childbirth preparation course.
- To become aware of the processes, whether medicated or not, that a woman’s body will go through in the course of labor and birth. Learning about the anatomy and physiology of birth makes a woman more aware, and thus more in-tune, with what her body is doing and how she may feel while her labor starts and progresses. Her understanding will help her feel calmer, more in control and less frightened.
- A woman that spontaneously goes into labor is going to have to manage her labor, at the very least, until she can get to the hospital, get through triage, be admitted, be examined and then have the anesthesiologist called (which can take 30-60 minutes or more depending on the time of day and how busy the labor and delivery ward is). She may also be advised to wait to get an epidural until her labor has progressed further. A mother (and her support partner) who has no idea of what is occurring in her body or how to cope with and mentally process her sensations is likely to experience a heightened sense of fear, tension and pain. This is something that is rarely discussed during the course of prenatal visits with care providers and can often come as a shock to mothers when labor begins and they find themselves without resources or coping techniques.
- Pain levels have little to do with a woman’s satisfaction with her birth! As stated in this article, “Remember that labor pain is more than a physiological process; coping with labor pain is emotional and complex and results in feelings of fulfillment and achievement for women. Therefore, satisfaction with labor is not necessarily related to the efficacy of pain relief.” A woman is more likely to feel satisfied with her labor if she is supported, feels “in control,” respected and cared for, regardless of the pain she may experience during the process.
- To understand what interventions may be suggested or administered and to become aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each one. Even if a woman fully intends to have an epidural, it (as with all other interventions) does not happen in a bubble. There are IV’s to be administered, continuous fetal monitoring for the remainder of labor, the loss of mobility, an injection into the spine to be considered, and several side effects that could, and commonly do, occur. It is not simply the skilled anesthesiologist that will breeze into the room to rescue a woman from her discomfort, or the possibility of experiencing it.
We don’t expect that all women who take a childbirth course and learn about their options will choose to have an unmedicated, natural birth, but we do believe that helping them become aware and informed, will help them feel powerful and more satisfied with their birth experience regardless of their choice of pain management. And we know that this information, and so much more, can be conveyed and discussed during thoughtful, evidence-based childbirth education classes.
Now it’s your turn...
Should expectant women and their partners take a childbirth preparation course? If no, why not? What are the benefits of a childbirth class? Share your comments below and if you would like to share this article with parents, pin the image about on Pinterest.
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Plumtree Baby, LLC
One of the overarching themes that we’ve tried to include in Plumtree Baby materials is the idea of thoughtfulness. To us, thoughtfulness is the idea of approaching each family, each topic and each activity with good intentions and well-thought-out objectives. Whether the objective is to inform, encourage, excite, or prepare students and clients, doing so mindfully and with respect is at the heart of each of these.
Some benefits of a thoughtful, client-based approach include:
- A deeper level of trust between the expectant parent(s) and the educator, care provider and/or doula.
- An increased level of student engagement
- A higher rate of client/student satisfaction
- A teaching environment that encourages more student participation and interaction
How can you incorporate the idea of thoughtfulness into your classes or prenatal consultations?
First, assess your teaching materials and topics by asking if each tool or idea serves a purpose. Can clients relate to the materials or information being presented? Is there an expected result or outcome you would like each student or client to have or experience? If so, what is it?
Second, ask if each resource (film, book recommendation, visual aid, activity etc.) will be useful and define the outcome you would like to see. If you cannot define the outcome or clearly pinpoint the way in which each resource will advance or educate your clients, consider not using it. Those topics or activities that only serve to fill time, or which are being used largely out of habit, may not be assisting your students/clients at all.
Building a thoughtful class series or care program means that professionals should constantly be reassessing their offerings. Offering your clients useful, up-to-date, evidence-based information that will help them to achieve a safe, healthy, and satisfying birth experience, is at the core of the thoughtfulness concept.
Now it’s your turn:
What does thoughtfulness mean to you? Do you incorporate this concept into your practice and, if so, how? What are some examples of thoughtful behaviors, tools or resources that you have come across or used in your business? How do you feel that a thoughtful approach impacts your clients and students?
Copyright 2011 © All Rights Reserved
Plumtree Baby, LLC