11 August 2011

Are We Still Designed To Give Birth Naturally?

We fell pregnant with our first born, while I was still a dietitian, working at an infertility clinic and Christo a biomedical engineer. We were comfortable with the medical world and even knew the hospital personnel on first name terms due to Christo’s business.
My pregnancy went smooth and without any problems.  My gynecologist was an older gentleman, and earned my trust through the way he had compassion with me during my first miscarriage the previous year and advised me not to use the contraceptive pill only months after we got married and experienced the terrible side-effects there of. He trusted very much in all the medical gadgets available to measure and monitor pregnancies, and since he was my doctor, I trusted him in every decision he made.  
Photo courtesy Philips Research

He did a sonar with every 6 weeks visit, but did respect my decision for no blood tests. We never questioned the frequency of doing sonar’s or internal examinations. We also didn’t discuss a birth plan, natural birth or caesarians. I never really weighed up the pros and cons of natural births versus caesarians, I just assumed I will give natural birth.  What I knew about a caesarian was what we learned at the prenatal classes and the nurse who presented the classes was VERY pro natural birth and present it as a very positive experience.
Two days before my due date, I had a show in the middle of the night.  An hour later my water started leaking. We called the gynecologist at 7h00, and he instructed us to meet him in the maternity ward as soon as possible.  I wasn’t rushed at all, I experienced NO contractions what so ever, and went for a shower and blow dried my hair before we got in the car - two hours later.  By now my water was streaming down my legs and Christo had to line the seat of his brand new Volkswagen Jetta with black bags!  At the hospital the nurses were so relieved to see me, since my gynecologist was constantly checking on my arrival, since I already called him 7h00.  By now it was 9h30.  The ward personal was quite busy and without any fuss,  I was pushed into the line of duties for the day!  Without even knowing me in any way they started to shave me and gave me an enema to clean my bowels.  Next, they informed me, would be the induction, since I wasn’t experiencing any contractions yet.  But before they could put in the intravenous line, I had to run for the toilet!  Oh, what a shock to my body and mind!  Nobody prepared me on the effect of the enema.  Within seconds painful contractions was ripping through my body due to the irritation of the enema!  
After about an hour, (at 10h30) I found some balance again, the personnel made me comfortable in a bed and it seemed like I was stuck to the bed for the rest of labour! The intravenous drip with Oxytocin was slowly finding its way into my body. The gynecologist arrived and attached electrodes from a cardiotocograph to my unborn baby’s scalp to keep a constant monitor on his heart rate.  I also had a belt around my tummy monitoring the intensity of the contractions. 

No way of escape for me - I was “plugged in….” I couldn’t even go to the toilet anymore and had to use a bedpan.  Talk about uncomfortable! The whole time Christo was by my side in the spacious, bright white room, with lots of noises finding it’s way through the door and personal coming and going. I wasn’t at all prepared for the intensity of the pain and had to fight off contractions that flooded my body every 3 minutes lying still on my back, leaving me breathless at times.  So, I asked for an epidural by 11h00! Within minutes the anesthetist was next to my bed and 10 minutes later the pain was gone!  Wow, what bliss!  For the rest of the day, Christo and I was chatting and waiting, while listening to our baby’s heartbeat and watching in amazement how the contractions come and gone and increased in intensity, according to the monitor!  Every now and then a nurse marched into the room to check on baby and me.  
By 16h30 my Gynecologist visited me and checked my dilation.  He warned Christo that it wouldn’t be long now and if he wanted to have supper at the cafeteria, he needed to hurry!  At 17h00 the nurse checked me again and found me fully dilated.  Next a rush of events happened.  The nurse informed the gynecologist and called Christo. Nurses started running in and out of the room, arranging equipment around the bed and worse of all, strapping my legs in stirrups in the air!  It was a terrible feeling, the lifelessness in my legs!  The worst of all was knowing that my baby wanted to be born, I had to give birth to a baby, but I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t in control of my body anymore...due to the epidural. 
By 17h20 everyone was around the bed and the gynecologist urged me to push.  What?!  Where must I push, I cannot feel anything!  It isn’t possible to push!  The whole day they command me to stay in bed and relax, dripping liters of body foreign chemicals  into my system, from different angles and now I must be all up and arms (with legs in the air) and ready to push my baby out? Was it only me that cannot do it?  For what felt like hours, but actually only 10 minutes, they kept  instructing me “How to push”, with no success.  Then the gynecologist asked for equipment to help me deliver. It scared me so much to hear that he wanted to do an “instrument delivery” but there was no other option! I couldn’t give birth to my baby by myself. Due to the epidural my lower body was paralyzed making it impossible to “push” !  

Praise the Lord, my Son was born only minutes later, with no head injuries!  
As I think back to my son’s birth it is a miracle that he wasn’t born by caesarian!  Almost every single procedure that preceded the birth of my son, are contrary to what is the ‘natural way’ for the body! Here I shared how Prolactin, Endorphin and Oxytocin are the main birth hormones and how it is the baby who determines when he/she is ready to be born, through hormones released into the bloodstream when the lungs are fully matured. As the end of pregnancy draws nearer the Mother’s body automatically increases the secretion of Oxytocin. As the baby releases ‘extra’ hormones due to the matured lungs, the Mother’s body releases even more Oxytocin and enter the latent phase of labour. Mother will start to experience contractions (the very strong Braxton Hicks), which results in dilation and the cervix will start to thin out and a small bloodstained discharge can appear (not always).  
When observing the latent phase of my Firstborn’s birth, everything went according to my body and baby’s readiness.  At home I was in the latent phase of labour.
In my observation (over the past 10 years, being involved with many women in labour), as well as my personal experience of birth (8 babies later), the way the latent and active phase of labour is handled, determines a successful natural birth!  
It would be interesting to know what would have happened if I wasn’t pushed into the line of duties and pin to the bed, in a spacious, bright delivery room, with all kind of noises and activities. I would most probably very slowly went into the active phase of labour and would not have needed any induction. I had 6 babies the natural way away from the hospital procedures and with each one I went into the active phase after about 12 hours. My second baby was also an induced baby, more in a next posting.
The biggest antidote to the release of Oxytocin, is adrenaline. During the latent and active phase of labour the mother needs to withdraw and be by herself.  
This sense to withdraw, will be more or less for different women, all depending on their personality. 

An introvert Mother will need a lot of privacy and an extrovert Mother will sometimes need close friends and family.  The bottom line is, she wants to feel save, secure, loved; all due to Oxytocin and the overwhelming emotions and sensations she is experiencing. When the mother at any stage during the latent or active phase of labour experience anxiety, exposure to disturbing emotions, the release of Oxytocin will slow down and the latent or active phase will slow down, or can even stop.  Anxiety due to, too much movement, bright lights and spacious rooms, observations and procedures ‘necessary’ to monitor labour. Even a natural rush of excitement  (who will not get exited by the idea of their baby being born today) and normal distractions like too many things a mother still has to get in place before she has her baby, can result in the release of adrenalin. When labour then slow down or even stop, the ‘old school’ would probably sent a mother home with a ‘false labour’ message.  But now days, I seldom hear of women sent home with ‘false labour’, they rather keep you in hospital and intervene.  Next will follow induction (as in the case of my firstborn) or even breaking you waters (the case with my second birth), and then in 2 out of 3 cases labour will end in a caesarian.  
The labour will end in a caesarian because the body just did not have enough Oxytocin to ‘push it over the edge’ for the active phase and birth of the baby.   During this, the mother’s blood pressure would most probably skyrocket, only because of all the adrenaline and excitement and then the caring gynecologist would suggest a caesarian, with accompanying scary words like high blood pressure and preeclampsia. 
During the past year I know of more women giving birth by caesarian than women who had a normal birth, and it breaks my heart!  The saddest part is that it is mostly first pregnancies that end in caesarians.  These new Mothers, trust their doctors with their whole heart, the husband and father to be, trust the doctor with the lives of his wife and unborn child!  They believe the medical profession act with their best interests at heart and when the doctor suggest tests, scans and a certain procedures during labour, they believe, it is for their best!  And may I be so bold to say, a labour ending in a caesarian is seldom for the Mother and Babies best interests!  Oh, I know their are emergency cases, my 4th birth was an emergency case and we were heading for a caesarian.  But emergency cases don’t count for 66% of labors ending in caesarians, which is the ridiculous statistics for caesarians in South Africa!  
So what is the root of the problem?

-Mothers aren’t allowed to listen to their body, act on impulses of their body and let their body do the job at it’s own pace;
-Mothers aren’t allowed to move around in their own space;
-Mothers are talked into procedures which is mostly for the gynecologist and hospital staff’s convenience and not for the Mother and Baby’s best interest;
-Due to the high subscription to Medical Aids in South Africa, it is financially highly beneficial for the gynecologist and hospital to perform a caesarian. Exactly the opposite is true in the UK where caesarians are only performed as a last option, due to the high cost of the procedures carried by the national health care.

What can Mothers and especially First Time Mothers (and Fathers) do, to avoid a Caesarian?

-Educate yourself on the body’s ability to give birth, as God intend it to be!   Contrary to the medical propaganda that babies grow too big and mothers are too ‘small‘ to give birth naturally, God designed women to give birth naturally and He hasn’t change the design (I do know history testifies of such rare cases, but not 66% of cases!);
-Negotiate with your doctor so you are able to provide your body with all the 
desirable impulses of safety to go into labour naturally;

-Provide your body with the correct supplements (Omega 3 - the building block of hormones is a good start) so it can react on the right impulses. Read more about supplementing during pregnancy here (tips for breastfeeding mothers);
-Have a birth plan.  Know what can go wrong due to intervention and plan to avoid it;  
-Talk to mothers who had emergency caesarians and mothers who had normal births.  Why do you need to make the same mistakes as other, learn from their mistakes;
-Find out from your gynecologist what percentage of his patients end in caesarians (if it’s more than 10%, chances are good that he will push you into a caesarian with the usual scare tactics).
-Be specially aware if your baby’s time of birth is near a holiday, (Christmas) or your gynecologists annual vacation; 
-Often gynecologists are “very pro-natural birth” in the early months, but then during the last few weeks starts talking you into a caesarian, due to possible ‘complications’.  In the last few weeks no mother of father have the energy to argue with a gynecologist, with whom they have build a relationship for 6 to 7 months, and whom they trust.  The gynecologist knows that at the end of your pregnancy you are tired, you are big, you are full of anticipation to hold your baby, you’re not in a situation to find a second opinion and you just want to get it all over and done!  It is during this stage that they will tell you your baby is to big too be born naturally and you need a caesarian. If you resist, they will use the scare tactics on the caring husband. After all, what young husband would want to put his wife’s life in danger by putting her through a ‘high risk‘ natural birth - let alone that of the baby!  
-As you approach the 40 week mark, your gynecologist will start to put pressure on you and give you ultimatums (more on this topic in a follow-up posting) of expected delivery.  This unnecessary pressure will inhibit your body to produce Oxytocin in high enough levels.  
So many times I hear, it is not important how you baby was born, what is important is that mother and baby is safe and in good health.  Yes, I totally agree, but that is only a half truth!  

An unnecessary caesarian does not end in a healthy baby, automatically!  We daily encounter mothers with caesarian babies with health issues, as a direct result of the caesarian.  Babies born by caesarian all have gut problems which manifests as colic and/or constipation. No fun experience for a First-Time-Mother or any mother in that case.

Then there is the sad truth that the medical world don’t allow more than 4 caesarians, without a major battle!  I currently have a dear friend who is awaiting her sixth caesarian, but not without battles and constant ridicule from the medical world, well meaning friends and family. Praise the Lord for her gynecologist who is a believer in this case and trust the Lord for his patient and not his own abilities - quite unlike most other so called Christian doctors. 

Can I be honest with you and say unnecessary caesarians is the enemy’s most successful way to stop you from bringing forth Godly seed into this world.  Unnecessary Caesarians rob the World from Godly men and women who could change the World for God’s glory!
And therefore I urge Mothers to seek truth in this very important part of life, seek God and be not afraid!

With love


"But the midwives feared God, 
and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them...
...Therefore God dealt well with the midwives,
and the people multiplied and grew very mighty."
Ex. 1:17;20


Lizanne said...

ek raak sommer depressief... ek gaan aandring op 'n VBAC vir my volgende kind, want ek kan gaan daarvoor staan dat hulle vir my se net 4 c-sections nie. Hoop en bid maar dat ek volgende keer minder luister na dokters...

Nelba said...

Can't agree with you more... Have just recently had to fight for the right to a VBAC after 2 c-sections - all because of an unnecessary first c-section. They will tell you it's dangerous. There are dangers, but the true stats are something like 1.7% ruptures with 2 prior c-sections. They will tell you nobody will support you. In the private sector you are going to have an uphill battle, but it is possible... Doing a c-section against your wishes is assault. Bottom line... A healthy mother and baby - its not as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Wow jy kan so reguit in so mooi manier goed se. Ek geniet dit vreeslik om jou goed te lees. En ek kon nie meer saam stem met elke liewe ding wat jy gese het nie. Hoop jy post sommer gou die volgende een.

Anonymous said...

BAIE GOED! Alle eerste mammas moet hierdie lees en glo wat hier staan! Jy kon dit nie beter gese het nie! Kan nie wag vir jou volgende post nie!

Raine said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am glad to see more mothers realizing the problems with out healthcare & birth culture, and going back to natural ways. There is a big problem in the US as well with unnecessary c-sections and doctors denying VBACs, but a small and growing number of women are fighting back against it by educating others.

I wanted a natural birth with my son, but ended up with a c-section after 38 hours in labor and no progression. Most doctors would not have let me go that long, because I was already past my expected due date, but mine said there was no need to rush so long as I was ok & the baby was OK - the reason for the c-section was meconium after we broke my water to try for more contractions after 36 hours. The good thing is my midwife & the OB said a VBAC should be fine next time, and he did the double stitches that are supposed to be safer for it.

Olivia said...

Well done, Linnie. It's scary how the story of my first birth is almost identical. It's like they set you up tp fail. Unfortunately mine ended in a c/s.

I had to be put up a fight to get a VBAC with my 2nd. Even then I had to be in a hospital and the midwife seemed nervous and it ended with some intevention but vaginally, at least.

#3 & #4 were born in hospital completely naturally.

And now with #5 I'm prepping to put up another fight... to have a VBAC at home (an HBAC). Pray for us?

Anonymous said...

Weereens die regte ding so op die regte tyd

Anonymous said...

Linnie, gelukkig was jy een van die 1 uit 3 mammas vir wie die induksie 'normaal' uitgedraai het. Ek was een van die 2 uit 3 wat gekeiser was omdat my baba nie veronderstel was om te kom nie! Dit is die rede waarom ek vandag 'n Doula is al het my pad nie die 'normale' roete gevolg nie! Min vrouens kan so uit ondervinding praat soos jy!

Sasha and the T's said...

I am glad to see a Godly article about childbirth. I have born my children several ways: 1st hospital normal, 2nd early C, 3rd repeat C, 4th hospital VBA2C with epidural, 5th home birth unattended. We were living in a developing country during the 5th pregnancy and birth and the repeat C rate is above 60%. Their episiotomy rate is 87%. I tried the local midwife but she didn't even know physical characteristics. In short, we decided to bear at home. It was the early morning in our home when we had the first peek of our natural born 3rd daughter. Such a blessing to be in control of the body that God gave me!

Anonymous said...

Linnie, I hope every 1st time mom out there reads this!! I had a Caesar with my 1st (hospital & gynae we were at were very pro natural birth. However I made the decision as a young mom, my husband was deploying & I couldn't think of going through labour without him. But I was also fearful, we are both very tall & big boned. His mother kept telling me how he was over 5kg, she tore front to back, 3rd degree & took 2 weeks to be released from hospital &so sadly I chose the Caesar route. I wish I had simply trusted my Father's perfect timing! Despite not wanting you to have more than 5 Caesars,no Dr warns of the feeling of not being able to attend to your other children when more are born- excruciating! I found it was heartbreaking for me to not be able to just be able to carry on as normal with my son! He was at least 3 when debs was born&but now she will not yet be 2 so it will be even harder! Thank you for speaking the truth in love-may it remove the scales off many eyes

Anonymous said...

Oh, Linnie, thank you for speaking out on a topic I feel strongly about. My first birth could follow the same description as yours, almost to the letter! I am so thankful to God, who enabled me to educate myself and my husband, so that all of my next 6 births were natural and uncomplicated, midwife assisted births, the last 5 at home. Sooo much better!

Ellouette said...

I am so excited about this! Thank you, my dear friend! At last somewhere I can send moms-to-be to read the truth. As you said: God's design never changed - we still are the "man with the womb" of Genesis 1 - created to bear children.

Anonymous said...

Ag wens ek kon dit bietjie meer as 'n week gelede gelees het! Verlede Dinsdag was ek kliniek toe vir my maandelikse swangerskapsbesoek en het my so ontstel toe die suster sê die hospitaal se beleid is dat tweelinge per keiser gebore moet word, dat my bloeddruk amper deur die dak is. Gevolglik is ek onmiddellik in die hospitaal opgeneem - waar ek uitgevind het dit nie die geval is nie, maar niemand wou my glo dat ontsteltenis die rede vir die hoë bloeddruk is nie en nie my swangerskap nie.
Ek het daardie nag net na 11:00 begin kontraksies kry en is 24:40 na die kraamteater geneem, was toe 5 cm ontsluit. Na 8:00 het hulle my water gebreek oor ek reeds 9 cm ontsluit was en dinge te lank gevat het volgens hulle. Teen 9:00 wou die dokter hê die suster moet my gereed maak vir die teater vir 'n keiser. Ek het in my lewe nog nooit so gebid soos toe nie! Die suster het hom egter gevra om haar 'n kans te gee en het sy vir my 'n drup gegee en 'n induksie. Na minder as 5 minute het ons eerste dogtertjie op die bed gelê - die kontraksies was so kragtig dat ek skaars nodig gehad het om te druk en net een druk was genoeg om die hele baba uit te laat "pop"! As gevolg van die spoed, het ek geskeur. En 10 minute later het haar sussie op die bed gelê.
Ek voel dit kon soveel beter verloop het as die dokter net na my wou luister en my huistoe gestuur het toe my bloeddruk minder as 'n uur later normaal was. Ek sou rustiger gewees het en nie die hele eerste fase in die hispitaal deurgemaak het nie wat waarskynlik die breek van my water en die induksie onnodig sou gemaak het.
Maar al die eer aan God, Hy was steeds met ons en ek het nie 'n keiser gekry nie.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin