Birth Trauma Part 3

According to Cheryl Tatano Beck, traumatic birth is defined as “an event occurring during the labor and delivery process that involves actual or threatened serious injury or death to the mother  or her infant. The birthing woman experiences intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and horror” she had later revised that statement to include the woman feeling stripped of her dignity.

What is the cause of women perceiving their birth experience as traumatic? It is the systemic elimination of protective care during the birthing process.

In Beck’s study of 40 women she says that there were four themes that emerged. Theme #1 was to care for the women and treating them as human beings. Theme #2: Lack of Communication.  Theme #3 was safety. Theme #4: The ends will justify the means.

With theme One: #1 women feeling they were objectified, and treated arrogantly and with a lack of empathy. The women were #2 left alone, and abandoned. The #3 birthing mother’s needs were not met by the hospital staff. An example given was of a woman from Puerto Rico who was on all fours, when a nurse brought in 20 students to observe…without her consent.

In theme Two: #1 no one communicated with the woman in labor. They were described as having conversations with one another within earshot but not directly talking with or to the laboring mother. As if she were non-existent.

In the third theme:  the #1 laboring mothers felt that the staff (nurses and doctors) did not adequately deliver safe care. #2 The mothers were not being allowed input into the care being given for their own selves and actually fearing for their own and / or the infant’s life!

In theme Four:  entailed #1 the sense that what was endured and experienced by the mothers was the sense of being “pushed to the background” as everyone around them were celebrating the baby’s healthy birth. These women #2 felt invisible, only the infant mattered.

The experiences mothers have had led to severe post-partum trauma and depression.  Beck, Driscoll, and Watson’s book Traumatic Birth goes into detail about feedback loops [pp. 10-12] that describe the interaction of the mother and child after a traumatic birth, with a listing of the causes and consequences of the cause. Sometimes even breastfeeding is difficult, creating “…intruding flashbacks, disturbing detachments with their infants, feeling violated, enduring physical pain, and insufficient milk supply…” Often the anniversary of a traumatic birth amplifies the feedback loop.

 …

My own reaction to the shared experiences the women in this book had illustrated the barbarism of western medical professionals, a barbarism that is completely contrary to those principles I listed from the ACOG website in part #2.

The women who tell their story of childbirth weave an astounding sense of personal alienation.  It is no wonder that there is PTSD, depression, self-destructive behaviors, socially isolationistic behaviors and pelvic floor injuries as a result of the improper calloused form of care received. Many of the women feel as though they were raped, yet most had no “history of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse” so birth precipitated  a sense of having “the loss of the soul”.

I only touched on a small portion of the book in these three posts. In the next few blogs, I would like to address how we can alter the outcome for women in these circumstances and possibly change childbirth for women.

Varicose Veins

WHAT ARE THEY?

Varicose-Vein

Varicose veins occur when the valves (that keep the blood flowing one way through the vessels) have become weak, which allow the blood to pool in the veins. This “pooling” causes the veins to become lax and distended.

CAUSES:

  • May be due to diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Heredity
  • Hormone changes can cause the laxity of the valves
  • Pregnancy can be a predisposition for some women
    -Because there is a congestion of the blood in the lower extremities due to pressure from the uterus.
    -The return of blood from the legs to the pelvic area is reduced by the heavier uterus.

They are most common in the legs, ankles and feet. They can also show up in vulva (Vulvar variscosities) and anus (as Hemorrhoids). They become more pronounced as the pregnancy advances.

The vulvar variscosities usually are not noticible until birth. Some women notice the large ones during pregnancy. A gentle birth and hot compresses applied to the large distended veins will reduce damage or trauma to the veins. Occasionally bleeding or hematoma (internal pooling of blood) can occur and will require medical care.

Hemorrhoids become evident after birth, normally. So the use of gentle birthing will help with these as well. Constipation will aggravate hemorrhoids, and should be treated (although, following a good diet will reduce constipation due to the additional fiber from foods).

Usually the varicose veins will empty quite quickly after pregnancy. They are quite common during pregnancy, and usually repair is not considered during that time.

RECOMMENDATIONS

• Eat well, and drink lots of water
• Exercise! Exercise improves the circulation, and assists in both the prevention of and treatment for varicosities.
-Brisk walks for 30 minutes each day
-Or ride a stationary bike for the same length of time as walking
-Swim
-Yoga
-Belly dance moves such as pelvic rocks, and rolling/rocking the hips in a figure-eight.
-Dance!
• At least 20 minutes twice a day with feet elevated higher than the heart
• Do NOT sit in one place for too long. This would encourage insufficient pelvic and leg circulation.
• If you have severe varicose veins use support stockings (you can find them at a drug store.
• Use visualization to reduce the size and number of the varicose veins.
• You need to consider who / what is your support. You are not superwoman, and will need support during this very exciting time in your life!

CAUTION: Never massage the varicose veins! Massaging the veins can cause clots to dislodge and lead to an embolism. Embolisms are dangerous! If you see signs of phlebitis (swelling, heat, pain, infections around the veins) you should see the doctor or midwife right away.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

Follow the “baby wise” diet . Be especially careful to eat whole grains, high quality proteins, fresh vegetable and fruits as often as you can.

• Vitamin C with bioflavonoids is vital for assisting the walls of your veins to be strong.
• Foods with high vitamin C: citrus fruits, rose hips, dark green leafy vegetbles, cherries, alfalfa sprouts, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatioes, and green peppers.
• An additional 2,000 mg. of C with bioflavonoids can also help
• Vitamin E also is good for the vascular system. Take 200 to 600 IU a day. If you have heart or blood pressure problems begin with 50 IU and work up to 400 IU over a three month time-frame.
• B complex vitamins. Whole grains, nutritional yeast (I take mine in orange juice), and yogurt (its helps maintain intestinal integrity ).
• Green Vegetables…romaine (stop eating the low-vitamin Iceburg variety) lettuce, butter lettuce, turnip greens, kale, collards, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and turnip greens. Steam these, do not boil!

HERBALS

• Nettle leaf tea (One herb in the “Pregnancy Tea” blend I use) . Infuse by making 1 ounce of herb to 1 quart of water and allow to steep for 2 hours. Drink a cup to up to a quart a day depending on severity.
• Garlic, onions, oatstraw, calendula, motherwort, can also be consumed. Please consult an herbalist for guidance on their use.
• Kelp. Kelp can be added to soups or taken in a tea form.
• Deficiencies in essential fatty acids may make the varicose veins worse. Take 500 mg. of one of the following oils once each day: evening primrose, flaxseed oil, black currant oil, or borage oil.

REFERENCES:

Romm, Aviva Jill. The Natural Pregnancy Book: herbs, nutrition, and other holistic choices (2003) Celestial Arts

Lowdermilk, Dietra Leonard and Shannon E. Perry. Maternity and Women’s Health Care, 9th ed. (2007) Mosby.

Effects of Marijuana on Pregnancy – Newborns

marijuana

Marijuana: Effects on the Mother

Prolonged use may lead to apathy, lack of energy, lack of desire to work or be productive, diminished concentration, poor personal hygiene, preoccupation with marijuana – the amotivational syndrome

Effects on the fetus

Marijuana can easily cross into the placenta, and causes increased levels of carbon monoxide in the mother’s blood, reducing the level of oxygen to the fetus.

With more states legalizing the sale of Marijuana, there are more users. Those that smoke or exposure to the smoke from their significant others who smoke, Need to be aware of the effect on the unborn fetus.

Issues

One issue with Marijuana use, is that often it has other street drugs combined with the plant itself. Or additional THC is added to compound the effects. These two, and other contaminants can create the issues that will be discussed regarding the development of the fetus, and the later development of the fetus through early childhood.

There have been few definitive studies conducted on humans as to the effects of Marijuana on the fetus. “A new study in animals suggests that children who are exposed to marijuana in the womb may suffer from a variety of long-term problems even if they aren’t born with obvious birth defects.”

One of the components of Marijuana, that the researchers call WIN, has shown an effect in studies conducted on lab rats. Although, not causing birth defects, Marijuana does cause memory loss and inability to learn. “Researchers say they also found that WIN interfered with the release of a brain transmitter called glutamate, a key chemical associated with learning and memory processing.”

An Italian research team found that marijuana caused a disruption from “chemical and electrical processes in the brain during gestation (Bhattacharya)” in lab rats. The effects the study indicates, can be confounded by smoking, wealth, and urban living.

Even second-hand Marijuana smoke can affect the unborn fetus. It can cause your baby to be born premature, and have a lower birth weight, both are risks for the baby. Studies are few and far between, due to the risks involved on the fetus. “In the very few studies available, there appears to be an increase in the incidence of premature labor and low birthweight. In cases in which pot had been tainted with a stimulant (cocaine, for example), there was an increased risk for dangerously fast labors (less than three hours) and for placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall)” states Dr. David Barrera.

Observation has shown that “…babies born to women who abused marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness (trembling or shaking), and a high-pitched cry — any of which may indicate neurological problems in development”. Later in the child’s development these children have a lack of problem-solving skills, and poor memory.

Based on a study conducted by University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, and colleagues in the Eunice K. Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, babies born to smokers of Marijuana are two times more likely to have stillborn babies.

REFERENCES:

Bhattacharya, Shaoni. Marijuana use in pregnancy damages kids’ learning. 25 March 2003 http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3543-marijuana-use-in-pregnancy-damages-kids-learning.html#.VQWPAeGgZ-8

Hackethal, Veronica MD. Smoking Pot May Double Risk for Stillbirth. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/817503 Medscape Medical News. December 9, 2013

Herbert, Clare. I’m pregnant and my partner smokes weed. Will it affect our baby? http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x1043727/im-pregnant-and-my-partner-smokes-weed-will-it-affect-our-baby#ixzz3USuXGKAG November 2014

How could marijuana use affect your unborn baby? http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com/pregnancy/articles/937071/secondhand-toke-marijuana-pregnancy