Friday, May 13, 2011

Women and The Challenge: Part 5

This is the final in our 5 Part series on the Women and The Challenge Lecture I attended.  The other parts- 1, 2, 3, and 4, can each be respectively found at the links on each number.  The last speaker was Ms. Marilyn Hildreth, an RN with IBLCE (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners), and ICCE (International Center for Clinical Excellence) certifications.

Ms. Hildreth told us about the Cochrane Database.  Basically it compiles a list of the absolute necessary standards for pre and post natal care and is considered the gold standard for research on nursing and medical practices during labor and delivery.  She made some really interesting points about current labor and delivery practices in American hospitals.

The practice of not allowing a woman in labor to eat?  It is actually considered to be harmful to not allow a woman to eat while in labor.  She made the point that a woman has a greater chance of being struck by lightening twice than dying of asphyxiation from eating during birth.  Forcing a woman to stay in bed hooked up to the belt baby monitors can be considered detrimental because freedom or range of movement being allowed helps a birth progress both naturally and more quickly.

It is considered more harmful for a woman to labor and deliver in the lathotomy position (lying down with knees up) than many other natural child birth positions.  In fact doing things encouraged in most hospital births- like holding your breath and bearing down is considered far more harmful and stressful to your body and your baby during birth than naturally progressing through a contraction.

It is considered better for the baby to stay in their mothers room and not even be bathed the first week instead of being taken to the hospital nursery and bathed.  These two things alone can decrease how well a child takes to nursing, but nurses offering samples of formula is especially detrimental to the nursing process.

Unfortunately, a lot of nurses simply aren't educated that excess intervention and technology causes more harm than good in a child birth.  Most schools of nursing teach the standard practices of labor and delivery simply because they have been standard in the last few decades.  Ms. Hildreth encourages expecting mothers to really focus on a birth plan and back up ideas that they are comfortable with so that their choices are always honored.  She also advises expecting mothers to hire a doula to help coach the mother through labor and delivery.  She encourages women and families to support midwife versus medical models of pre and post  natal care.

Ms. Hildreth pointed out two shocking facts, especially to me- that we are considered 40th in the world for child birth safety and that the March Of Dimes organization gave South Dakota hospitals a grade of D (near failure) when it comes to the adequacy of our care and options for premature and high risk deliveries and babies.  She recommended that every new and expecting mother check out Dr. Thomas Brewer's research on birth toxemia and Linda Smiths book 'Birth and Breast Feeding" for more information.

With the conclusion of revisiting the lectures I got the privilege to watch for myself, I do feel more frustrated.  South Dakota is supposedly rumored for having a really high quality of living, but one has to ask themselves- is this just economically or does this standard apply to every aspect of our lives- our medical care, our cost of living, our opportunities, etc.  Unfortunately, I am led to believe that this really only applies to a few very select areas.  I would like to see our health care system here, especially women and children's health be focused on as an important area needing improvement but with the budget cuts that every area of our state budget faces, I doubt this will happen.

It is both enlightening and disheartening for me to see that we are so subpar in the area  that we should be deeply concerned with, the care of our mothers-to-be and newborns.  It will take a lot of momentum for change to happen.  This, of course, first starts with education- we hope that this series has helped do just that for you!

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