Back to School Sale, Whole Month September

12 09 2012

Back to School Sale    The Entire Month of September

  • All Baby Blankets, Buy One Get One Free
  • All US Shipping Free
  • Each book purchase comes with Free Emergency Childbirth printout copy
  • All orders over $50 come with Free surprise gift

The Perfect Birth

Giving Birth During Natural Disasters

27 08 2012

The Tropical Storm Isaac path that people are eying today brings to mind an issue most of us don’t think much about: giving birth during a natural disaster. Specifically, of course, I am thinking of events which cause isolation (such as tropical storms or hurricanes) and cut you off from modern convenience. Thinking back to events like Hurricane Katrina, I am sure giving birth during something as arduous as that could feel like giving birth in a war-torn third world country, and probably would contribute to a huge dose of physical and psychological trauma for a new mother. With a little careful planning and forethought, however, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you had to give birth by yourself, with limited resources, and no access to medical care, could you do it? Better yet, would you be calm enough to not experience the worst day of your life? This is another example of why it truly pays to be prepared for an unassisted birth.

Hurricane Charley in Florida created a situation where a hospital lost power, and thus the ability to enact their typical interventions on laboring patients. The results, to the surprise of the nurses on staff, were better and healthier births. Story as recalled in the book Pushed, by Jennifer Block.

A lot of people talk about the irresponsibility of freebirth (birth without a medical attendant) like it is the height of stupidity, but they easily sympathize with women who accidentally found themselves birthing unassisted. Why is that? You can’t blame a mother who wanted to get medical care and could not, right? Wrong. You could. Now before anyone accuses me of more blame-the-victim mentality, I am not at all accusing mothers who’ve been in that situation of being reckless. After all, it could have easily been me in my younger years. What I am saying, though, is there is a heavy value to the Boy Scout motto “be prepared”. A woman who has an intentional and prepared UC is most certainly not more reckless than a woman who was caught off guard and accidentally gives birth by herself frantically. That makes no sense, so it’s time for us to take responsibility and arm ourselves with knowledge so that we can be as capable as possible.

Women who accidentally UC (have unassisted childbirth) find themselves usually at least a little panicked. There is usually at least some sense of frenzy. And of course, during a labor, being calm and making rational decisions and letting birth flow smoothly is far preferable to and more advantageous than fear-based chaos. The person who is cool and collected and knows how to handle themselves is better equipped to have a healthy birth in the absence of pros (hurricane or no hurricane).

So, what would you do if you had to give birth during a hurricane or tropical storm?

Some people say that storms cause a rise in births. Other natural events associated with the start of labor include full moons.

First, let us hopefully assume you have a stable shelter, or have found stable shelter. And let us hopefully assume you are disease-free and free of certain very difficult medical conditions. Let’s assume that you are, for most intents and purposes, safe and healthy and that your baby is as well.

Next, remain calm. Do not panic. It would greatly help you if you had read Emergency Childbirth: A Manual beforehand. Answers to specific questions about how to handle different birth scenarios can be found there. Click that link and print it out and you can have it. It’s free. This store is great, by the way, but this freebie is an excellent resource for sure. It’s supposed to be so easy a child could understand it. In fact, I’m going to read it with my children as part of their education. If you hadn’t read it beforehand, having it ON hand can still help– the book has quick jump-to points that summarize almost every birth scenario and how to carefully handle it until help arrives. Good for refreshing your birth partner in the moment if something unexpected occurs.

If you can control it, be in a dwelling that has plenty of fresh, clean water. I live in Florida so the Hurricane Isaac path was on my radar, but I still stock up anyway on canned food and bottled water. You do not have to be a Floridian to have a safety net like this. Water will be essential for keeping hydrated and for cleanliness. If you can safely create a flame, you’ll be able to boil water for any sterilization purposes you may require. Even during a tropical storm, labor can be quite hot, especially in the summer in a humid climate and without AC or power to your shelter. Have water to keep damp washcloths on hand and make the situation more bearable.

A pregnant woman after a storm in Haiti.

For people who have wells and septic, remember that power outages could be lack of access to running water and toilet use. Do what you have to do. Labor will not last forever so if you have to soil things such as a toilet that cannot flush or even a bath tub, go for it and try not to dwell on it. It’s temporary and can be dealt with afterward. So, attempt to designate an area or areas for easy and hygienic bathroom use and then put it out of your mind. Letting troubling thoughts bother you during labor will not make anything easier. It won’t give you a running toilet, running water, or make the power come back on, and it won’t bring an ambulance through flooded streets or a doctor to your doorstep.

In case of threat of tornadoes and hopefully being in a stable dwelling, allow the mother to labor in a central location in the shelter away from windows. For many buildings this will be a hallway or a bathroom. Try to give her space and privacy as this will ease the birth process for her. Be within earshot and discreetly check in frequently. Keep others from intruding in her birth space.

Survival should not be limited to people who believe in UC and freebirth, and for that reason, removing fear in UC and freebirth is essential.

People often ask about birth supplies and what you need for a homebirth. The truth is, birth just happens. Even with the bare minimum, even in the middle of a storm, even without permission or handy supplies or a perfectly clean environment, you will more than likely just give birth. Therefore, do not let a lack of a medical bag scare you. Making birth as comfortable and safe as possible doesn’t have to be a major hardship.

I recommend having on hand plenty of buckets (various uses), clean towels (not immaculate, not pretty, not perfect, just CLEAN), a knife or scissors (out of children’s reach), and a lighter or 3 with plenty of lighter fluid. Blankets for the mother and newborn are also very important. Please have a few flashlights with extra batteries. Have a fully charged cell phone or two on hand (take care of that before power loss) in case you actually get reception if and when needed. Preserve the power by not using phones unless completely necessary. You may find it useful to have the disposable Lysol disinfectant wipes for surfaces type of product on hand. Not a usual natural parenting recommendation, and I understand that.

These things may make life easier, but life will happen without them. Remember that keeping mother safe and healthy by adhering to natural birth physiology needs will be crucial for the newborn’s survival. If you do not have infant formula on hand nor running water or available water to mix it with, the newborn will need their mother to nurse.

You don’t not need to wait for a storm, hurricane, blizzard, or natural disaster to leave you feeling stranded and helpless to start wondering how to properly manage a solo birth. Eliminate the threat of birth taking you by surprise in any set of circumstances by understanding birth physiology, read more, panic less, and make it out alive.

Neonatal Resuscitation

7 12 2011

One of the biggest fears when talking about UC (unassisted childbirth) is how to respond to emergency scenarios. A common fear is that the baby will not be breathing or responsive at birth. I believe that having some idea of what you would do in a crisis is extremely important. Not only is it a life saver in the rare event that you face danger, but it’s invaluable for instilling the confidence and peace of mind needed for a truly relaxing birth for you and baby. After all, panic will help no one, even if you are presented with a challenge. Be prepared!

So, here are a few things to remember on the topic of neonatal resuscitation. This is not to be construed as medical advice; please research all subjects independently before making any decisions with regard to the health of you and your baby.

  • Babies are instinctively stimulated by mother. You can read more about how mothers tend to do this to illicit a response here in Emergency Childbirth: A Manual, by Gregory J. White. Lisa Barrett (midwife) also remarks, “Rubbing a baby and gently blowing and talking is usually enough to ensure the baby opens her eyes to look and take a breath. There is usually no rush as with a cord pulsing the baby is normally getting plenty of oxygenation and will come into herself pretty soon.”   Keeping the baby warm and stimulating it are usually more than enough to achieve positive results.
  • There can be a delay in crying, pinking up, or drawing first breath– don’t panic! The two previously quoted sources also support this and provide elaboration.
  • Aggressive tactics for administering oxygen are no longer generally recommended, and are often not even used amongst the medical community/rescue services. The Lisa Barrett link as well as the Emergency Childbirth text will discuss this more, including how utilizing pure O2 has not been proven better for neonate resuscitation compared with blowing shallow breaths for the infant (this too can be instinctive). In fact, these days, using oxygen on a newborn is considered to do more harm than good and so is foregone in favor of the gentler revival techniques. The International Association for Maternal and Neonatal Health (IAMANEH) also state that an oxygen tank is NOT essential for neonatal resuscitation, that the mask and bag are more appropriate (which is equivalent to shallow mouth-mouth), and even warn against routine suctioning of mouth and nose of infants after delivery.
  • Take action first, dial for help afterward. In an infant CPR video, EMT and Captain Nathan McConnell warns that if your baby needs help, your time is best spent attempting to stimulate and resuscitate. He recommends giving at least 2 minutes of care before stopping to call 911. Precious time could be wasted if you choose to dial emergency services first. By the time they respond and arrive, it could be too late, and since every second counts, immediate attention is key. Since life saving resuscitation techniques tend to be the same both at home and in the hospital, knowing how pros handle it will be critical to making sure you’ve done just as they would, and that you’ve done all that you can do.
  •  IAMANEH details the appropriate steps to neonatal resuscitation and speak on it very practically. Basically the steps (see all the links and sources) involve stimulation of the infant, clearing the airways, breathing for the infant, gentle chest compressions, and repeating.
  • Signs the resuscitation was successful include pinking of the tongue (lips alone are not indicative), overall raised APGAR scores, good pulse and good breathing. Resuscitation efforts can go on for up to 10 minutes or more, and 10-20 minutes is usually the period where further attempts would prove futile.
  • Finally, understand that the majority of the time, everything is just fine. The odds of you having to do any of this are slim. Knowledge of neonatal resuscitation techniques can be there for you just in case. You need to learn them, know them, get familiar and comfortable with them, keep cheat sheets, and then put it out of your mind. Don’t dwell on a negative potential… focus your attention on the actual reality and remain calm and optimistic. You have every reason to believe that birth will go smoothly, so don’t worry yourself sick (it only distresses the baby and increases the chances for dilemmas).

Nothing beats taking a class. If you’re like me, you have taken a class several years back and even been certified, but keeping current could be beneficial for both increasing your confidence as well as hearing the updated recommendations (as these change from time to time). Hear what the pros have to say, and if possible, get certified. If you’re unsure of your ability to react quickly in an emergency, do drills. Include everyone you think will be present at the birth. Think of all possible scenarios and outcomes. Have Plans A, B, and C.

Like I usually say– even if you don’t plan on having a UC, being as prepared as you would need to be to have one is such a good idea, because you never know where you’ll find yourself and what will happen. Accidental UC’s happen all the time, and mothers who weren’t expecting it and were not prepared experience worse outcomes than intentional UCs that were thought out in advance. When it comes to birth and nerves, education is key. Never hesitate to transfer to a hospital if you suspect something is amiss with your neonate and they do not appear to be thriving. It’s always better safe than sorry.