Cesarean Birth

Support and love from friends and family is important in every birth, regardless of the experience. Before giving birth, make sure you have support put in place. When confronted with a cesarean birth, be aware that you and your baby may need lots of extra love and support. Healing from a cesarean or any other procedure, such as an episiotomy can pose some additional challenges.

“A big drawback of cesarean sections is separation from your baby immediately after birth…once back at home, you will find it more painful to move around for a while, making caring for a new baby harder. It can take longer to bond with you baby, but be patient – it will happen…Cesarean babies are often premature, are more vulnerable to respiratory distress, and may be affected by what prompted the operation…A baby with physical problems needs extra attention, and you may need help to cope with sleeping or feeding.” (Meredith 18)

After a general anesthetic, drowsiness or lethargy can occur for you and your baby. Drugs that are absorbed through the blood stream may interfere with oxytocin (a hormone that is important for nursing and bonding), although exact side-effects of drugs is not clear. That said, breastfeeding may also pose some challenges after a cesarean. Some women notice that it takes longer for their milk to come in. It can also be more difficult to get into a comfortable position. Regardless of a cesarean, there is always the potential for challenges involved with breastfeeding, but it is well worth the effort to keep trying if breastfeeding is something you desire to do. Many Midwives have observed that given the right support, knowledge and patience, the vast majority of women are able to breastfeed. We suggest you view our page about breastfeeding [here] and ask for support, if you need some extra help getting the swing of things.

What is alarming is the rate at which women are getting c-sections. Web-sites like thestir are reporting that rates are said to go up to as much as 50% in the USA [and Canada’s rates are not much less than that]. Check out their article [here].

17 Century Midwives Were Women with Expert Knowledge

According to historians such as Doreen Evenden, research shows that “the seventeenth century [English] midwives were often women of considerable social status, both central figures in local women’s culture and representatives of the respectable part of the local population…the midwife was a ‘specialist’ whose expertise was concentrated in the area of child delivery.” (Evenden, 42, 170).”

Historical views of midwifery also illustrate a give-and-take relationship between a midwife and her community as well as a midwives’ expertise in the birthing realm. Whatever the midwives social status, all were trained through a system of apprenticeship under the supervision of an expert midwife. “A new archivally-based study of seventeenth-century London midwives has demonstrated that midwives were better trained through an ‘unofficial’ system of apprenticeship served under the supervision of senior midwives than has previously been assumed.” (Evenden, 9)

The midwife also had basic knowledge of common diseases and gynecological conditions (Evenden, 171) which, arguably, made them a threat to the economic prosperity of university trained medical men and experts in the contemporary medical profession. In addition to research from Doreen Evenden that supports midwives as experts in the medical field, the trial records themselves from seventeenth century London also demonstrate that midwives were medical experts who testified in court trails “about various forms of sexual impropriety,” (Evenden, 171), which points to the high level of respect that a community gave their midwives.

Midwifery manuals published by seventeenth century midwives themselves also act as primary sources on the subject of midwives’ involvement in birth and demonstrate seventeenth century midwives to be women with an expert knowledge in anatomy and birth during the seventeenth century.

Inuit Birthing Practices

Due to their location, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, research shows that Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic were seldom affected by colonization. For the most part they were free to practice their economic and cultural activities. (Babiuk, et al, 35)

Generally, Europeans traded with the Inuit and left. They did not attempt to settle the territory. (Babiuk, et al, 35) Inuit people lived unaffected until the 1950s, at which point they began to feel the impact of non-Aboriginal people and the Canadian government. (Babiuk, et al, 56) Once touched, many Inuit people were forced by the Canadian government to relocate to islands of the Artic with the promise of abundant land and modern amenities. Instead they found very little governmental support and barren, inhospitable lands. (Babiuk, et al, 56)

Their traditional migratory lifestyle was ruined and economic and cultural activities were terribly impacted. Inuit peoples of Canada have a history of traditional belief systems which believe that creation included the material world and the invisible (spiritual) world. “The entire universe had spirit, and the Creator was present in everything”. (Babiuk) In addition to their daily activities such as hunting, this belief system was embedded in their birthing practices.

From the earliest times, Inuit women viewed childbirth as a part of all other natural cycles of life. “Like death, birth was seen as part of a cycle of life that existed within the sacred realm, governed by ubiquitous spirituality that originated with the Creator.” (Carroll and Benoit, 265) In this regard, the arrival of a baby reminded everyone of the delicate cycle of life and death.

State of World’s Midwifery Doc

Many women who want a midwife cannot have one yet, women die in child birth everyday from a lack of adequate care. The below video “highlights the importance of the role of the midwife in reducing maternal and infant mortality as well as the issues and challenges they face.”

Sharing the Wealth – Thoughts on Global Sustainability in Maternity Care

Maternal mortality is mainly a tragedy of the “third world”. There are half a million deaths world-wide due to cause’s related to pregnancy and birth and [approximately] 99% of them occur in undeveloped countries. (Omran, 91) In saying this, it is not denying the fact that over-medicalized births can be a tragedy of the “developed world” or that maternal and infant death sadly happens in every country, it is just not the focus of this particular post. Instead the focus here is that in developing countries many women and babies are dieing from complications which could be avoided with adequate maternity & birth care. Arguably, in order to improve the maternity care for women in the under-developed parts of the world as well as lower the mortality rate among these women, a redistribution of the global wealth as well as equitable resource allocation based on the individual needs of particular communities is required. Furthermore, issues of race and class as well as patriarchy need to be addressed in order to solve the inequality experienced by women globally. Continue reading

Folic Acid

Folic acid is important for women who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant. It boosts production of red blood cells, so is essential for fetal development. It also helps prevent neural-tube defects. Join Obstetrician/Gynecologist Siobhan Dolan as she takes us through a local farmer’s market in her community to inform us which foods are rich in folic acid.

“The good news is that folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects. But it only works if taken before getting pregnant and during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before you even know you’re pregnant.” (March of Dimes Foundation)

Doula Supported Pregnancy&Birth

Having support during one of the most momentous times in your life is vitally important. This support often comes in varying forms, including but not limited to family, friends and health care workers. Women often feel they need the loving, hands-on support of someone who has experience dealing with birth, breast feeding and the postpartum period. Fortunately, professionals who take a more personal support role are available.“In my mother’s generation, women hired a baby nurse to come and help in the first few days and weeks following birth. Today more parents in my practice work with doulas who are trained to support a mother during labour and first days and weeks following. Doula is a Greek word that refers to the main female servant in a household. Research shows that women who labour with a doula at their side have lower rates of cesarean sections and forceps deliveries, fewer requests for epidurals, and shorter labours.” (Feder, 41)Doulas are trained professionals in the birth process and in the postpartum period. They do not actually birth babies (midwives and obstetrician usually do), their support, however, is often priceless to a birthing woman and her family. Many women opt for a doula when they do not have a midwife since they can act as a positive advocate for a more natural birthing process during a hospital birth.