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A very unscientific theory

January 12, 2011

 A fellow home birther and I have been discussing the benefits of home birth versus hospital versus midwife assisted hospital births. My baby, born at home, had no jaundice, scored a 10 out of 10 on her apgar, and was basically as good as you get. The question of jaundice came up b/c all of the home birthers we’ve talked to never had jaundiced babies. Almost every hospital birther I’ve asked has (even midwife assisted). So this leads to the question – what is the reason for this discrepancy (and more importantly, why have OBs not been aware of this)? Is it the fact that the home birth baby is immediately allowed to breastfeed, on demand, no interruptions from the moment they’re born until…they stop breastfeeding? Is it the immediate skin to skin contact? Is it the unmedicated, vaginal birth? It’s probably all of these things. But the evidence (based on our own flawed, non scientific study) is pretty clear: these babies born without any interventions often times end up looking and acting much healthier than the “safe at the hospital” babies.

But this polling led to this follow-up: almost all home birthing moms had no problems breastfeeding. sure, there were initial ” I have no f’n clue what we’re doing” latch problems, but there were no milk supply issues in any of these moms (myself included). But almost all of the hospital birth moms I know have had supply issues, and definite issues with latching that have lasted well past the first week. So what is this about? My theory – again, the baby is allowed to be with the mom from the minute they’re born, no one is whisking them away to bathe them, test them, stick them in the nursery. Mom and baby are basically forced to figure it out and keep trying until they get it right at home. And I think that the constant trying, latching, absolutely no introduction of bottle, helps. Could it signal to the hormones to make milk and keep on making it whereas if there is a lag time between trying – either b/c the baby isn’t in the room, or there was a bottle feed so the mom could get some sleep – that messes with the hormonal signals? In fact, scheduling feedings for a baby or spacing feedings out more and more during the day (or night) will lead to the same decrease in milk production. Emptying the breasts frequently leads to an overall increase in milk production.”  -could this happen so early on it affects milk supply for the rest of post-partum? It’s very possible. again – its my own theory. It’s extremely interesting that I’ve heard the same two sides from the two groups of moms. of course, I’m completely biased. I had an awesome experience and I want everyone to have the same experience. But there is evidence out there that skin to skin contact is one of the most important things that can happen directly after the birth into post partum – Science and Sensibility has a great post on this, particularly mentioning how important immediate skin to skin contact is for breastfeeding.

The issue that my friend and I both find so frustrating is this: you work so hard on doing the right things during the pregnancy – eating right, exercising, not drinking, smoking… and you work so hard to get everything perfect for the new baby – the best and safest crib, car seat, bpa free bottles. But when it comes to the actual birth and labor – everything goes out the window and moms just want to get through it without realizing how incredibly important the actual act of birthing is and how much it affects both the mom and the baby. I wish the birthing classes spent more time on this point than anything else. For example, how important it is that the baby starts the labor – the hormones that signal labor to begin are released b/c the baby is ready to be born. Not a minute before. The evidence is there, its such a shame that a lot of times for convenience (both the mom’s and the OB’s) the evidence is ignored.*

So what is your experience? Hospital? Home? Milk supply issues? I’d love to expand this “study”.

*I am well aware and supportive of situations where medical interventions area  must, so let’s not go there in the comments!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurie Keatts permalink
    January 12, 2011 3:01 pm

    I had the labor from Hell. 39 hours total. Got Pitocin and an epidural after 27 hours of “natural” labor, and I had only dilated 3-4cm at this point (had to get the Pitocin because my water bad broken at midnight on Thursday, thus the clock was ticking to get her out before infection set in). 11 hours after Pitocin, I had only dilated to 6-7cm and the doctor told me I had to have a c-section for Jillian’s safety.

    She was born 39 hours after this whole fiasco started, via c-section, and scored a 9 on her apgar. She DID have infection from the water being broken for so long, had to spend the first week of her life in the NICU with an IV in her head for antibiotics, and was not breastfed immediately (I was so drugged up, I didn’t know who or where I was). Coincidentally, she did NOT have jaundice. So add that data point to your research. 🙂

    • January 12, 2011 4:13 pm

      Love it! Its always good to hear a happy ending to a hellish labor. But how went the breastfeeding?

  2. Stephanie permalink
    January 15, 2011 4:24 pm

    With Finn I was induced at 40 weeks and 2 days. Labor was less than 9 hours and I pushed for about 45 min. I also had an epidural. I was very happy with my overall experience. The hospital was awesome about breastfeeding. He was allowed to room in with me and I could take him to the nursery if I wanted to get some sleep.
    With Emmet, I actually went into labor the morning I was supposed to be induced at 39 weeks and 2 days. I was in labor for less than 6 hours if you include before I was given pitocin, and only pushed for 20 min (if that). Had an epidural with him as well. Great experience, and he roomed in with me so I could breastfeed whenever I wanted. We also left the hospital after only about 24 hours, which was much quicker than with Finn.
    I would not change either experience, but I agree that women should be educated about all of their options, and especially if they choose the hospital option to make sure you know their policies and if baby can room in with you in order to breastfeed. We had to request the room in option since they have to have adequate staff to be able to come to your room and check on baby.
    I did not have any milk supply issues with Finn, and as of now with Emmet, I am breast feeding exclusively, not even pumping.
    Oh, and Finn had apgar of 10 and Emmet 9.

  3. January 17, 2011 12:54 pm

    Steph you bring up a great point of needing to be given all of your options! Once a mama has all the facts, no one can fault her for making an informed decision, not matter what it is!

  4. Jenny Morand permalink
    January 30, 2011 4:17 pm

    I delivered with the midwives at MCV. The nursing staff there is amazing at woking with moms that want an unmedicated birth. One of my nurses was a former doula and the other held a shower head aimed directly where I pointed for about 45 minutes! They encourage immediate skin to skin even after c sectons, have a low episiotomy rate, and the maternity ward practices couplet care unless there is a medical problem. Still, my baby was jaundiced and I had latching and production issues. I had my baby late on a Friday night and I was told that the LCs were off on the weekend! I also had to wait until Sunday for a pump. Then my baby was taken for brief periods to go under the lamp. They discharged us both at the earliest possible time, even though we weren’t sucking, peeing or pooping. My midwives were shocked when they realized this. I was fine with it because we were getting NO rest in the hospital. Overall, MCV does a great job, and home births aren’t an option for everyone. But for a second baby, I would like the intimacy of a home birth, and I feel like I could conquer BF challenges on my own because of what I learned the first time.

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