10 November 2008

fear factor

When women are told they are carrying a BIG BABY, it can be a complete mind, um, trip. It's rare that a woman will actually hear (if she is even told) that estimates by ultrasound late in pregnancy are not particularly accurate and can be off significantly (around 1-3 pounds in either direction - I've been at plenty of "big baby" births where the kid comes out at 6 lbs)...her mind is stuck on the image of the Charlie Brown-headed toddler and how it can possibly pass through her pelvis.
Now of course there are sometimes babies who are actually really big and have problems being born, but I think we need to remember that this is rare & that nature wants birth to work - it needs birth to work. And it usually does work out just fine if allowed to happen without unnecessary intervention. Ah - but there's the issue - it's usually not our inadequate pelvises or our gigantor babies...it's more likely how we treat women in pregnancy and labor. Whether we make them feel afraid and intimidated and do all sorts of things so they can't move their bodies and work with labor to birth their babies, whatever the size.
This post was inspired by Corin at The Human Pacifier and her post on bigbaby.org.uk
She quotes from the website:
The female pelvis is PERFECTLY designed for birth.....no matter the size of the baby.....it is designed to open up to make more space for the baby.....and a baby's head is PERFECTLY designed to gently mould, to make it smaller, so that it passes through the female pelvis with ease. Babies know how to get into a good position for birth, tucking their head tightly so that the smallest part presents first...

But when a women reduces her pelvic capacity, by being immobile on a bed, perhaps due to an induction - for a "big baby" or an epidural, because of the pain caused by the induction, or the fear caused by the constant "big baby" conversations everything gets a lot harder, words like "cephalopelvic disproportion" (CPD) - where the baby's head is too big to pass through the pelvis, get used - needlessly.

If a woman enters labour free from fear and anxiety oxytocin (the hormone of labour) will be free to flow, her uterus will contract efficiently, endorphins (natural morphine like pain relievers released during labour) will flood her body, adrenaline will be kept to a minimum ensuring that her uterus is well oxygenated and making her as comfortable as possible.

She will move instinctively into positions which freely open her pelvis, such as a squatting position (where the pelvis is said to have up to 30% more capacity) or perhaps on all fours - both superb positions for birthing a big baby.

The size of a baby in a normal, physiological birth - where anxiety and "big baby" talk is not present - is largely irrelevant, it doesn't make it more painful and it doesn't make it harder!"

And Corin says,
This last part makes so much perfect sense to me and I've thought this exact same thing many times in the past; that a large part of our supposed "inability" to birth "big babies" stems from the fear that is instilled in us very early on. This is a big reason why I feel like ultrasounds should be kept to a bare minimum. It seems like we're often set up on the path to failure the minute our ob senses that the baby may be over what is considered "normal". And the topic of "normal" size babies is one all of it's own; it's amazing how many natural birth videos I've seen and stories I've read in which mama gives birth at home naturally to a baby over ten pounds. So, is it really all that "abnormal" after all?
So it's less about the actual size of the baby & more about the mind, um, trip (in the woman and in her care provider) that the thought of a big baby causes.

Maybe all woman who have had a big baby without problems should go around and tell those stories! While we're at it, let's make pregnancy and birth a fear+intimidation free zone.

1 comment:

Unnecesarean.com said...

Want some big baby birth stories? Come on over!