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.

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Body Mechanics – 2

BODY MECHANICS

As your pregnancy advances, your body ligaments and joints will naturally loosen to allow for an easier birth, by allowing the pelvis to develop flexibility. The following suggestions will assist you in avoiding strain while doing the normal daily activities.

Stand Smart

To reduce ankle swelling and assist your circulation, avoid standing for long periods of time. In order to avoid circulation issues, periodically flex your calves and /or rotate the foot in circular motions. You should also alternate resting one foot then the other, on a stool.

Lift lightly

stooping lifting carryingYou already are carrying around and lifting more weight. Don’t lift heavy objects. For light lifting, use your arm, leg, and thigh muscles not your back. Don’t bend to get close to an object, squat. Keep that head of yours up and with your back straight. Lift by pushing up with your legs and flexing your arms. Avoid the urge to lift up a toddler, use the squat to get down to the child’s eye-level or sit on the floor to cuddle.

Sit Sensibly

sittingAvoid sitting for more than a half an hour at a time. Use straight-back chairs with a small pillow at the small of the back. Use a footstool, shift positions often, and avoid crossing your legs. Periodically exercise your calf muscles and do foot flexions and / or rotations.

When arising from the chair, avoid lunging forward. Slide your body to the edge of the chair, plant your feet on the floor, and use the leg muscles to lift yourself up. If someone is willingly offering assistance to get up, use it.

Sleep

During the final four to five months, side-lying is the best position. This is the best for baby and the most comfortable for you.

In the last trimester you should have at least four pillows. Two pillows should be under the head and at least one for the top leg to rest upon, and maybe one to support your lower back. Shift slightly forward towards the belly, to get the full weight off the lower leg.

Rise in the Proper Manner

Don’t sit up suddenly when the alarm goes off because it will strain your lower back and abdominal muscles. Don’t immediately swing your legs off the bed, as it would strain your lower back ligaments. Instead, roll onto your side and push yourself up by using your arms, into a sitting position then swing your legs gently over the side.

Body Mechanics- I

START WITH GOOD POSTURE

As the baby grows in the womb, your center of gravity will shift. The additional weight in the front could create a swayback posture, causing discomfort on the lower back. The following suggestions to assess and alter your body mechanics will assist in having less discomfort.

STANDING POSTURE

Head

Keep your head up. Looking down all the time will throw off your balance. Of course, you will want to look at the new bulge as it grows but doing so all the time will make your posture off balance.
Keep your chin level. When your head is held correctly, the shoulders will follow as well as the back.

Drop your Shoulders

Allow the shoulders to rest in a natural position. To do this relax the shoulders. If you tend to wear your shoulders up around your ears or slouched forward, your whole body will be off balance.
Try to avoid “throwing back” your shoulder blades. This will cause back problems. You may need to have someone massage the shoulders to allow them to relax into the correct position.

Avoid Tensing / Swaying the Lower Back

As your baby grows the weight will cause your back muscles to contract as a counter-balance of the shift in weight to the front. The tension of the muscles contracting may cause a backache.
A slight curvature of the back is normal. Avoid an exaggerated curve as it will cause a “swayback”. If there was chronic pain of the back before you were pregnant, it will only get worse from pregnancy. You may need to get Chiropractic attention if you already tended toward a “swayback” before pregnancy or if you had back issues prior.

Tilt your Pelvis Forward

Pull your abdominal muscles in, tuck in your buttock muscles, and tilt the pelvis forward. Doing this will counteract tendency of the lower back to arch abnormally.

Relax the Knees

Bend your knees slightly. Avoid locking them.

Sexually Transmitted Infections – Part 2

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is exclusively transmitted sexually, genital-to-genital contact; but can also be transmitted oral-to-genital or anal-to-genital. In females the disease can spread from the genitals to the rectal area. It can be spread to the newborn in the form of ophthalmia neonatorum through vaginal birth.

AGE is the most important factor. Statistically, sexually active teens, young adults, and African Americans are at the highest risk. The majority of those who have contracted this disease are under the age of 20.

Girls who are prepubescent the two most common symptoms is vaginitis and vulvitis. There may be signs of infection, or vaginal discharge, dysuria and swollen, reddened labia.

The factor of concern, most adolescent females show no signs or symptoms. When they DO have symptoms they are less pronounced than those of men. In women there may be some cervical discharge, but usually it is minimal of lacking altogether. Irregularity of the menses may be the presenting symptom or complaints of pain within the pelvis.

In rectal gonorrhea, the symptoms may not be asymptomatic or the opposite with severe discharge, pain and blood in the stool. There may be rectal itching, fullness, pressure, and pain…as well as diarrhea.

Since Gonorrhea is a highly transmittable disease all recent partners (30-days prior) should be reported, cultured, and examined. Most treatment failures occur due to reinfection.

Screening and Diagnosis

All pregnant women should be screened at the first appointment. Those women with risky behaviors indicated, should be re-screened at 36 weeks. The screening is done through “cultures”.

Management

45% of those women who are found to have Gonorrhea also have Chlamydia. For both pregnant and non-pregnant women, the treatment should be cefixime in a single dose.

All women with co-existing syphilis infections should be treated as for syphilis. Penicillin is the preferred drug for treatment. The alternative (especially for those allergic to penicillin) is Doxycycline, Tetracycline, and erythromycin. Tetracycline and Doxycycline are contraindicated in pregnant.

Morning Sickness

MORNING SICKNESS

Image

The experience of morning sickness differs with each woman, and each pregnancy. It is thought that the term comes from when it generally starts, in the morning. When in actuality it can start and end at any time of the day. It can range from a mild discomfort, to constant vomiting and nausea for the first trimester or longer. It generally can begin at around 6 weeks and last until the 14 week.

Triggers:

  • Empty stomach, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), hunger.
  • Strong smells
  • Hormonal surges and imbalances
  • The normal pregnancy-related changes in the digestive system
  • Oily foods
  • Very sweet, sugary foods (which could include fruits).
  • Vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies
  • Lack of exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Ambivalence or anxiety about the pregnancy

Normally, morning sickness is not a problem. But, it may be uncomfortable at times. Severe morning sickness with excessive vomiting may be a problem in that that dehydration and severe malnutrition may occur. In such instances a person should go to the hospital for rehydration with intravenous fluids. Note: medications prescribed for morning sickness have not proven to be safe for the fetus.

What can be done to lessen morning sickness:

  • Exercise. A lack of cardiovascular stimulation can make nausea more unmanageable.
  • Get plenty of rest, use relaxing herbs, and ask for help if you are fatigued.
  • Ambivalence about being pregnant can cause internal tension that may make it worse. Feeling guilty over the emotions is not helpful, so acknowledge what you feel and release negative thinking. Talk about it with someone.

Recommendations for your Diet:

  • Small, more frequent meals that are full of carbohydrates and protein
  • If you awaken in the middle of the night it may be that you actually are hungry. Try a snack before bed, and maybe one during the night.
  • Always carry with you nutritious food, especially if you are hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemia can cause not only nausea, but also could cause dizziness, headaches, hot flashes /followed by cold sweats, anxiety, and fainting.
  • Even if you think drinking fluids, especially water, makes the nausea worse…drink plenty of it. Dehydration can cause even more problems!
  • Chose foods that are prepared by steaming, water-saute-ing, or baking. Fried or oily foods are harder to digest!
  • Instead of sweets for quick-fuel food, eat complex carbohydrates (see nutrition hand-out).
  • Consider taking a vitamin/mineral supplement in case you have deficiencies in these areas as the cause of nausea.

HERBALS:

  • Ginger root, grate one teaspoon of fresh ginger root in one cup of boiling water, cover and steep for 10 minutes. Try to drink without sweeteners.
  • Suck on ginger flavored hard candies or crystalized ginger.
  • Any herbs of the mint family will help, including Ceyaka.

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

 

* Next topic coming up: Prenatal Tests (Other than the usual blood-panel, etc)

 

 

 

Herbal Teas – Part 5

red clover illusRed Clover
Trifolium pratense, L.

Constituents: Phenolic glycosides, isoflavones, flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, cyanogenic, glycocides, mineral acids, vitamins

Actions: Alterative, antispasmodic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, possible estrogen activity

Common Names: Purple Clover, Trefoil, Cleaver grass, Cow grass

Medical Parts: flowers and leaves


USE:

Renal Conditions (233) IHONA

“Very soothing for the nerves” (233) IHONA

As a gargle for sore throats (234) IHONA

Promotes fertility, restores hormonal balance, and balances Alkaline/Acid.  (2) WWHCY

Useful for coughs, and colds…mucus congestion (220) TWOH

Stimulates the liver and gallbladder/for constipation and sluggish appetite. Outside the body a fomentation is used for rheumatic or gouty pains, and to soften hardened milk glands (395) THB

Ointment: Lymphatic swelling (128) CGTMH

Eye Infection (99) WWHCY

Homeopathic: Cancer, constipation, cough, mumps, pancreas (affections of), throat (sore, mucus in), Uvula (pain in). (234) IHONA

 

VITAMINS AND MINERALS: Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Calcium.

References:

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

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

Tierra, Michael. (1990) The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan S. (1986) The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock NY

Herbal Teas – Part 4

nettleNettle
Urtica dioica

Constituents: Histimine, formic acid, acetylcholine, serotonin, glucoquinones, many minerals (incl. silica), vitamins A, B, C, tannins.

Actions: Astrigent, diuretic, tonic, nutritive, stops bleeding, circulatory stimulant, promotes milk flow, lowers blood sugar levels, prevents scurvy.

Nettles take minerals, including iron, from the soil and the aerial parts are a good tonic for anemia; high vitamin C content in the plant helps ensure that the iron is properly absorbed. Clears uric acid from the system to relieve gout and arthritis, and the astringency stops bleeding. (131) CGTMH

Said to reduce Rheumatic problems, stimulates the digestive system and promotes milk flow in breastfeeding women. Used for excessive menstruation flow and blood in urine. (191) THB

Good for asthma, chronic and acute urinary complaints, urinary stones, nephritis, and cystitis. Nettle also used for helping with diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and chronic arthritis and rheumatic problems. (202) TWOH

Nettle is considered to be an herb that is “rich” in calcium, iron, and numerous other vitamins and minerals.  It is an herb that is recommended for pregnant women who have low energy or suffer from chronic fatigue.  Nettle aids as a diuretic, to eliminate excess water from the body. This herb is considered a pregnancy “Tonic”, which stems from Native American usage as a pregnancy tonic, a preventative of hemorrhaging after birthing, and energy restoration after childbirth . (177) HHFW

It is an anemia preventative, reduces varicosities, and decreases the likelihood of hemorrhaging during childbirth. TNPB

Nettle will expel phlem from the lungs and stomach; clean the urinary canal, valuable for diarrhea, dysentery, piles, as well as inflammation of the kidneys.  IHONA

Nettle is known to increase male and female fertility, will assist in the rebuilding of kidney function as well as kidney stone removal. Eases leg cramps and muscle spasms.  High in Calcium, vitamin K. WWHCBY

VITAMINS AND MINERALS: The tea is a good source of Iron, Calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin A

References:

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

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

Tierra, Michael. (1990) The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan S. (1986) The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock NY

Herbal Teas – Part 3

nettle Nettle Leaf
Urtica dioica


Constituents: Histamine, formic acid, acetylcholine, serotonin, glucoquinones, many minerals (incl. silica), vitamins A, B, C, tannins.

Actions: Astringent, diuretic, tonic, nutritive, stops bleeding, circulatory stimulant, promotes milk flow, lowers blood sugar levels, prevents scurvy.

Nettles take minerals, including iron, from the soil and the aerial parts are a good tonic for anemia; high vitamin C content in the plant helps ensure that the iron is properly absorbed. Clears uric acid from the system to relieve gout and arthritis, and the astringency stops bleeding. (131) CGTMH

Said to reduce Rheumatic problems, stimulates the digestive system and promotes milk flow in breastfeeding women. Used for excessive menstruation flow and blood in urine. (191) THB

Good for asthma, chronic and acute urinary complaints, urinary stones, nephritis, and cystitis. Nettle also used for helping with diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and chronic arthritis and rheumatic problems. (202) TWOH

Nettle is considered to be an herb that is “rich” in calcium, iron, and numerous other vitamins and minerals.  It is an herb that is recommended for pregnant women who have low energy or suffer from chronic fatigue.  Nettle aids as a diuretic, to eliminate excess water from the body. This herb is considered a pregnancy “Tonic”, which stems from Native American usage as a pregnancy tonic, a preventative of hemorrhaging after birthing, and energy restoration after childbirth. (177) HHFW

It is an anemia preventative, reduces varicosities, and decreases the likelihood of hemorrhaging during childbirth. TNPB

Nettle will expel phlegm from the lungs and stomach; clean the urinary canal, valuable for diarrhea, dysentery, piles, as well as inflammation of the kidneys.  IHONA

Nettle is known to increase male and female fertility, will assist in the rebuilding of kidney function as well as kidney stone removal. Eases leg cramps and muscle spasms.  High in Calcium, vitamin K. WWHCBY

VITAMIN AND MINERAL CONTENT:

Vitamins A, C, D. and K, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Sulphur.

REFERENCES

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

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

Tierra, Michael. (1990)  The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan. (1986)  Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock

 

 

Herbal Teas – Part 2

Red Raspberry Leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf
Rubus idaeus


Constituents: (leaves) fragarine (uterine tonic), tannins, polypeptides.

Actions: (leaves) astringent, preparative for childbirth, stimulant, digestive remedy, tonic.


Infusion:

used for period cramps and discomforts, in pregnancy helps prepare the womb for childbirth. It is useful for diarrhea, sore throats, and mouth ulcers.  This herb is a cleansing diuretic. (113) CGTMH

“When combined with cream it will relieve nausea and vomiting”. Prevents miscarriage, reduces labor pains, assists in the increase of breast milk. (328) THB

The infused tea can be used also for menstrual irregularities. Tones and prepares uterus
for childbirth. (219) TWOH

Tones and nourishes the uterine muscles, and considered the “pregnancy tea”. Packed with vitamins and minerals, ” especially high in chelated iron”. It assists with enriches breast milk and milk flow. After childbirth, assists in restoration. (177) HHFW

It nourishes muscles and can be used for prevention of hemorrhaging due to the high iron content and its stringent quality.  (91) TNPB

Used by native peoples in soothing the kidneys and urinary tract, for relief of painful menstruation, a miscarriage preventative, aiding flow of menstruation yet if too abundant, will decrease the flow without stopping it. (231) IHONA

Red Raspberry will help with male and female fertility (when combined with Red Clover). Eases morning sickness, reduces labor pains and post-partum pains. It does not strengthen labor pains but allows the muscles to function properly and will assist the undelivered placenta. (19) WWHCY

VITAMIN/MINERAL CONTENT:

Calcium, Iron, Vitamins C and E, Vitamin A and the B Vitamin complex, as well as many minerals… two of which are Phosphorus and Potassium.

 

REFERENCES

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

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

Tierra, Michael. (1990)  The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan. (1986)  Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock