Should You Deliver Your Baby at Home or In the Hospital?

Portable birth hot tub. Sweet.

Portable birth hot tub. Sweet. (Photo credit: Jason Lander)

Home delivery is a subject that’s often highly emotional. Both women and men of all different backgrounds tend to harbor strong ideas about hospital birth versus home birth. There are also disagreements among delivery doctors when it comes to suggesting which place is safer to give birth.

Despite the fact that the number of home births in North America has exploded this decade, at-home delivery is still lower than 1 percent of all births in the U.S.

Women who decide on home birth choose this method for a number of reasons. Having their baby in a recognizable environment, prior adverse hospital experience, preventing needless medical interference, and wanting more control are a handful of excuses women give for choosing home birth.

Safety Issues

The medical community in the United States isn’t particularly supportive of home birth. Doctors cite reasons such as safety, and only a handful of insurance companies will provide for home delivery. With a lack of support from these two groups, most women believe hospital delivery is their sole selection.

Research involving the safety of premeditated home deliveries for low-risk mothers is insubstantial. Some research suggests that babies born at home are at higher risk for difficult transitions to living outside the womb, post-birth seizures, or death. Other research hasn’t found any difference regarding health or safety. In fact, it shows lower occurrences of doctor interventions in comparison to hospital deliveries.

One considerable challenge is that, even with deliberate screening for low risk, it’s difficult to determine which birth will be a fetal or maternal emergency that requires a hospital visit. For every purposeful home birth, transportation plans must be arranged before delivery that figures a traveling time to the hospital that’s as quick as possible. Expecting parents must also understand that 10 to 40 percent of mothers or children may need to be hospitalized during their labor, delivery, or immediately during their postpartum stage. If transport is necessary for emergencies, any delay can be fatal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have conceded that birthing centers and hospitals are the safest places to give birth in the United States. At the same time, they respect a woman’s rights to make their own medically informed decisions regarding their delivery location.

Choosing Home Delivery

If premeditated home birth is chosen, delivery should be overseen by no less than two people, one of whom is properly trained in specific types of CPR for newborns. It’s also a good idea that a certified midwife provides care to the mother and baby.

Although it’s a fact that labor and delivery are natural, it’s complex and unexpected circumstances are common. Everyone who’s familiar with the birthing process very well knows that almost anything can turn the miracle of birth turn into a tragedy. Whatever the setting, a healthy mother, and baby is the primary goal for each birth.

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Safety of Vitamins and Herbs During Pregnancy

Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of iro...

Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of iron and folic acid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you’re pregnant, you probably want to do everything in your power to make sure that your baby is growing the way he should. You want to have a safe and healthy pregnancy, and an important part of that process is making sure you get the kinds of nutrients that you need. Yet, some herbal supplements or vitamins may raise certain questions, and it’s important to know what kinds of nutrients have been proven to help during pregnancy and which ones may be questionable.

Here are some basic facts and concepts you need to know when thinking about supplements of any sort during pregnancy:

  • Prenatal vitamins are specifically designed to keep your baby and you healthy. They have the kinds of nutrients that pregnant women need most to help their baby grow. One of the most important nutrients in a prenatal vitamin is folic acid. Folic acid has been shown to reduce the probability of your baby having certain kinds of birth defects, known as “neural tube defects.” Iron is another important component to a prenatal vitamin, which can help prevent anemia.
  • Herbs, minerals and amino acids are mostly untested. These kinds of supplements may be beneficial during pregnancy, but not enough research has been done to say with any certainty whether they can help or not. Some women have experienced great success with certain herbal remedies specifically designed for pregnancy. Just make sure you talk with your doctor before taking a supplement of any sort during pregnancy.
  • Testing of drug safety during pregnancy is rare. The fact of the matter is that the risk posted to testing a drug on a pregnant woman outweighs the potential benefit of testing the drug, in many instances. For now, most of the scientific data is gathered by studying records of how many women use a certain medication during pregnancy, and then following up down the road to see if there was any impact that might be related to the medication.

As always, if you’re considering a supplement, talk to your doctor about whether it is right for you and your baby during pregnancy.



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Pregnant Women and Seat Belt Safety

seat belt

seat belt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traffic accidents are a huge risk not only for the general population, especially for pregnant women. It’s not uncommon for women to worry about the baby getting severely injured because of the seat belt during an accident. However, experts are warning expecting women that not buckling up could end in tragic results.

Risking Injury

Many expectant mothers drive until their expected dates for various reasons, ranging from work to casual driving, without incident. Some are in accidents that could cause them to lose their unborn children.

In some cases, pregnant mothers decide go without wearing their seatbelts. This behavior puts the woman and the baby at a high risk of injury. They incorrectly believe their unborn child is safer this way. Others simply don’t wear their seat belt properly.

Recent studies reported that pregnant women who are unrestrained during an accident are at a higher risk to lose the baby than mothers wearing their seat belts.

The study further reinforces the results of previous studies that connected seat belts and the chances of both the baby and mother surviving.  Experts concluded that the safety the belt provides from injury protects not only the expecting women, but for their unborn children as well.

Safety Studies

Researchers learned more about why using a seatbelt influences the outcome of a pregnancy. 126 expectant mothers, located in Duke University Hospital’s trauma registry, were studied. Women who were involved in collisions while within their second or third trimesters became the focus.

These women who had been in a car crash during their second and third trimesters were treated at Duke between 1994 and 2010. Within this group of mothers, 86 had their seatbelts during their car crashes while 12 didn’t.

In this study, each group contained three women who lost their pregnancies. This means 3.5 per cent of the mothers who wore a seat belt lost their baby, in comparison to the 25 per cent of mothers who didn’t have their belt on.

Additionally, 17 women driving or riding in vehicles without airbags had a larger possibility of their unborn children sustaining injury. The primary reason for the baby’s death is most likely from the placenta tearing away from the wall of the womb. This condition can be deadly for both the mother and the fetus.

How To Wear Your Seat Belt

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that seat belts are to be worn securely and low across your hip bones, just under your belly. They also recommend that your belly is located from the steering wheel as far as possible. Make sure to take extra care to drive without distractions like cell phones, eating or while tired.

There are some newer vehicle models that have a button so you can change the height of the brake and gas pedal as necessary. This feature can often be purchased as an option. If your car doesn’t have this feature, you can also buy a pedal extender to give you some more space between your stomach and your steering wheel.

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New Study Raises Uncertainty About Drug’s Safety During Labor


The labor inducing drug Pitocin, often given to women to help induce labor, has undergone new preliminary research. This new investigation has brought up issues regarding its safety during childbirth.

About Pitocin

The study determined that using Pitocin to either induce or help labor was connected with unplanned admissions to neonatal intensive care units (NICU). This study also found that Pitocin is a culprit in decreased Apgar scores, a test that determines a newborns’ physical state immediately following birth.

Pitocin is a man-made version of oxytocin, which is a hormone that naturally releases during labor. Oxytocin, as well as Pitocin, causes the uterus to contract. Normally, it’s taken intravenously in order to induce or quicken labor when health care providers feel it’s necessary.

Research Results

The new study consisted of researchers going over the records of over 3,000 women who carried their babies the full nine months and gave birth at Beth Israel between 2009 and 2011.

Pitocin use seemed to increase the risk to babies being admitted to the NICU in addition to staying for at least one day. In addition, Apgar scores of 7 or less also connected to the use of the labor inducing drug. A score below 7 is a red flag, signifying that the baby needs medical treatment. However, it’s not a sign that the baby has serious medical issues or the child will retain any health issues.

The research done at Beth Israel, however, was unable to definitively determine if it was Pitocin that caused the babies’ issues, or some other factor.

Other Studies

Other similar research has taken a much closer look at Pitocin’s use. Coincidentally, attempts to slow the induction of labor prior to 39 weeks, with the exception of life threatening situations, have gained momentum at the same time the research was undertaken.

A 2011 Cochrane Review determined that Pitocin didn’t appear to be the cause of negative effects on either the mother or baby and also seemed to decrease labor times by almost two hours. However, using Pitocin didn’t lower the rate of cesarean sections. This is one of the top excuses for some doctors to hand it out.

Revamping Policies

There are now many independent institutions that have also reviewed their policies and regulations regarding the use of Pitocin. Within the two-year time frame reviewed by scientists in the new study, Beth Israel put into action a system-level intervention. This new intervention is designed to oversee when the drug is given and how it is justified in any given patient’s medical records. These changes in this management led to a substantial decrease in Pitocin usage rates.

Despite these changes, Pitocin is still the most commonly used drug to induce labor, a widely used procedure across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximate that over 23 percent of pregnant women were induced in 2010.

Yet experts believe it is far too early to jump to any conclusions regarding the safety of Pitocin for newborn babies based solely on the new study.



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Mothers-To-Be Given Personalized Answers from ‘Life Coaches’


Don’t worry about what painting the baby’s room blue or pink.

When Jasmine Warren underwent her 18-week ultrasound, she discovered she would give birth to a son with Spina Bifida, a condition she’d never heard of.

Warren had no idea what Spina Bifida was, nor did she know what to expect.

She then had to figure out how to explain the condition to her three young daughters. Describing a disease like Spina Bifida to younger children who continually ask “why,” while trying to get the answers for yourself, can add plenty of stress to the pregnancy.

The Child Life Department at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, comprehends the family dynamic with these diagnoses.

“It’s not just about a single individual; it involves the entire family. Siblings, grandparents and spouses. We attempt to include the whole family,” says Lauren McCann, Child Life Manager.

Le Bonheur gives mothers-to-be and their families “life coaches” via its Fetal Center to generate blueprints on what to look for regarding the upcoming baby’s diagnosis and ways to answer the questions, even to younger children.

“Discuss it in a manner that children can understand. There’s no need to use all the medical terminology available,” says McCann. “We make certain we use relevant terms. ‘The small opening in your child’s back’ is the best way to describe what Spina Bifida is to a layman.”

For the more in-depth talks, Child Life initially becomes acquainted with the family and the ways they handle discussions about serious subjects.

“Parents know their kids better than anyone else. I know plenty about children’s developments but I know nothing about that particular child,” says McCann.

Warren stated her eldest daughter will be more understanding while asking fewer questions; her middle daughter, however, will ask lots of elaborate questions.

With the assistance of McCann, Warren laid out a plan for her family. She’ll explain the basics of Spina Bifida to the younger girls, not going into details until the little boy is born. In this, they’ll have more insight on the ways Spina Bifida will influence their family specifically.

“Warren wants the ability to get her children ready for a baby brother, not Spina Bifida in general but in his particular case,” says McCann, “You should be specific, and you’ll need to know exactly what’s happening. Waiting until seeing how the baby is will be good for them because there’ll be definitive answers to their questions.”

Warren says the “life coaches” assist her by teaching her about what her boy will be brought into the world with and how to explain it to the girls. The coaches completely removed the worry from her mind.

“When your baby is characterized as having a condition you’ve never heard of, it becomes so much more difficult,” says Warren, “You want the ability to know that if you need answers about anything, life coaches can help you through it all. That makes things lots easier when you know you have somebody to contact.”



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