Ah-Hah #2 from the Trust Birth Conference

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices

I was fortunate to attend two of Dr. Sarah Buckley‘s sessions at the conference.  The first I attended: “When Birth Goes Wrong–the Hormonal Impact of Interventions”  deepened my understanding of the what happens physiologically with many common interventions.

But my biggest learning was truly “getting” the three key requirements that contribute to an Unhindered Birth:

A woman needs to feel:
Notice that she may or may not have people around her when birthing, and she may or may not be at home.  Some women need to be alone to truly “let go”.  Some women feel more relaxed when they are around family members.  A woman who has relatives who work in hospitals and is comfortable in that setting, may feel safer in that setting than at home–simply because it is familiar.  Having a midwife sitting in a corner of the room may be reassuring for one woman, while having a nurse checking the monitor regularly, may help another woman to relax more.  Understanding that how the birthing woman feels is key, was my major insight from this session.
That said, what I learned about Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) and it’s effects in the body made me question why we are so quick to use this chemical to induce or augment labor.  Especially as most women are induced before their babies and bodies are ready to birth!  (I can see another blog post about due dates coming!)  Our bodies don’t have as many Oxytocin receptors before labor or in early labor as they do close to the natural time of birth, and that is why many elective/early inductions don’t work and the 1/2 that “fail” end up as C-sections.
Intravenous Pitocin does not have the pain-relieving effects of Oxytocin produced in the body, because it is delivered directly into the bloodstream, rather than from the Pituitary gland through the brain, so the peripheral actions that make Oxytocin the “hormone of Love” are missing and it makes labor more painful.  Also, because Pitocin is delivered continuously rather than in pulses(like the Pituitary does), the body’s Oxytocin receptors will be overwhelmed and the body will shut some of the receptors down.  What effect might this have on the child?  Dr. Buckley theorizes that Pitocin’s use may contribute to malfunctions of Oxytocin release in the child which could result in Autism, Schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease and drug & alcohol abuse in later life–more research is definitely needed here.Dr. Buckley’s book: “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering,” goes into more detail on the effects and risks of Pitocin–do read the book!