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October 2014 • Online Edition
 

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Nine Birth Trends To Consider – Some To Avoid If Possible | Print |  E-mail

by Jamie Siebrase

Placenta smoothies, overzealous Hollywood doulas manically screaming at doctors – they make for attention-grabbing headlines and hilarious comedy, true, but, behind the hype, is there anything worth considering?

 

This month, local experts open up about wacky birth trends that aren’t really all that wacky – or trendy.

Home Birth

This recent “trend” isn’t novel, considering homebirth was the de facto method of delivery until things like anesthesia and widespread insurance coverage transformed American childbirth. Today, 27 states, Colorado included, permit a woman to hire a professional midwife to deliver her baby at home.

“To give birth at home, all the stars have to be aligned,” says Lauren Williams, cofounder of Belly Bliss, 300 Josephine, bellybliss.org, 303-399-1191. “And, it isn’t for everyone,” she adds. Local doula Kristy Truesdale of Trinity Birth Care, 720-278-5935, trinitybirthcare.com, believes “wherever you birth, you need to feel safe.”

For me, the mess feels unsafe. “Birth isn’t as messy as people think,” Williams reassures. Adds midwife Janet Schwab of To Each Her Own, 191 University, 303-854-7898, 2eachherown.com: “Most women are in water, so mucus and blood are contained; the partner usually prepares by covering carpet with plastic.”

Schwab specializes in home births; she’s never delivered a baby with so much as a low Apgar score (a five-criteria scale for assessing the health of newborn babies). “That said, at home you’ll have to accept some risk because you won’t have the same hospital equipment and personnel.”

Water Birth

While critics worry about infection, proponents of aquatic birth, which is reportedly how ancient Egyptian pharaohs were delivered, believe water offers a smoother transition for babies. Supposedly water, dubbed the midwife’s epidural for its pain-relieving properties, decreases active labor time and offers natural support for the perineum.

Water isn’t an option at every hospital. Denver Health, 777 Bannock, denverhealth.org, 303-602-2915, is one of the few local hospitals to permit delivery in water. “It was a big deal to get done,” says Dr. Kent Heyborne. “We had to make sure everything was safe, especially in regards to infection control.” Healthy mothers who have their prenatal care at Denver Health may attempt water births.

TENS

Truesdale, and Trinity partner Diana Solorzano laud the pain mitigating powers of Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS), a chiropractic tool. The handheld device was first used during labor in the ‘70s. Mild electronic pulses are sent to the nerves through electrodes attached to the skin on the lower back at various acupuncture points. “This is a tool a woman can use up until point she gets an epidural or gets into the birth tub,” says Truesdale, who likes the impermanence of TENS during labor, which unlike an epidural doesn’t take time to wear off.

Hypnobabies

Taught by Mandy Jeffries at Belly Bliss, among others, the educational birth class hones in on Gerald Kein’s Painless Childbirth technique – a process purportedly making childbirth more enjoyable by allowing laboring mommas to remain deeply in hypnosis while walking, talking, and changing positions.

The course introduces moms and partners to an entirely different language. “You don’t have contractions,” says Truesdale, “You have pressure waves.” Talking CDs and soothing background music deliver subconscious cues; there’s also guided meditation. Jeffries’s course, materials included, costs $350.

Placenta Consumption

“Humans are the only mammals that don’t consume the placenta immediately after birth,” says acupuncturist Lisa Bullis, owner of Pin & Tonic, 1100 E. Evans, 303-733-3317, pintonic.com. Back East, the placenta’s been used for thousands of years. Of sensationalism surrounding placenta smoothies, Bullis says, “That’s disgusting.” She cleans, cooks, dehydrates, then grinds mothers’ placentas for encapsulation for $75 for patients and $100 for non-patients.

An American study performed in the 1950s found correlations between placenta consumption and ample breastmilk supply. The practice is also thought to balance hormones, particularly Corticotropin-releasing Hormone (CRH): low amounts of CRH are associated with postpartum depression.

Doulas

At a basic level, doulas provide emotional and physical support to mothers during birth. It’s a misconception that doulas are only for natural-birthing moms-to-be. “A doula can help with any kind of birth,” says Williams. “Sometimes a woman with an epidural needs a doula even more.” Truesdale concurs, “We support moms in whatever their vision is; there is a time for epidurals.”

There’s no shortage of Denver doulas. Prices and services rendered vary. For those on a budget, student doulas are available through Belly Bliss. Truesdale and Solorzano offer sibling doula services, too.

Orgasmic Birth

The 2008 documentary Orgasmic Birth put this practice on the map. “It’s more about feeling good during labor, focusing on how birth isn’t always bad, scary, and painful,” explains Williams who frequently suggests orgasms as a way to kick-start labor. According to Williams, some women use sex toys in labor to have orgasms because, when you have one, your body releases oxytocin, the “natural-high” hormone.

Most fads are great, but two are best avoided:

Early Inductions & Elective Cesareans

“Induction is great,” says Bullis, “if there’s a concern for mom or baby. Otherwise the natural process should be respected.” Adds Solorzano, “Nonmedical inductions lead to higher c-section rates.” About 33 percent of American babies are delivered by c-section annually. Some are medically necessary, but a rising number are requested.

Studies of U.S. women show white, married women delivering at private hospitals are more likely to undergo surgery than poorer women, even though they are much less likely to have complications requiring cesareans. Many experts agree it’s best to follow American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines and avoid elective cesareans and inductions before 39 weeks.

 
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