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Six Healthy Birth Practices
This Month
Written by Laura Maxson LM   

The Lamaze website, provides a blog, videos, and articles about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. They have been at it since 1960. Lamaze is much more than the breathing method they became famous for, so be sure to check out, Lamaze’s Six Healthy Birth Practices. Complete with articles and a series of short videos aimed at parents to help keep labor and birth as safe and healthy as possible, this a great starting point for parents developing a birth plan.

 

Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices

1: Let labor begin on its own.

2: Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.

3: Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.

4: Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.

5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urges to push.

6: Keep mother and baby together – It's best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding.

 

When implemented, these six evidence-based practices mean less high-tech medical-model care and more low-tech midwifery-model care; fewer surgeries and more time allocated to laboring; more naturally starting labors, with fewer inductions; and more power to pregnant women, and less to care providers. Accepting and implementing these steps can bring a complete paradigm shift. 

 

In the United States, technology and the medical model have long been the norm. Procedures and interventions adopted (often without proper research) have proven difficult to change. Decades of medical tradition and cumbersome hospital protocols often wedge parents and care providers into power struggles and turf wars. Individual practitioners and parents together will be the ones to turn the tide. Change, however, often triggers roadblocks from a variety of directions. In other words - it’s political.

Parents can get a conversation started and figure out how to best incorporate these six ideas into their birth plan. Routine recommendations don’t necessarily meet everyone’s needs. Ask questions and make your birth plan individualized.

 

Let labor begin on its own.

Induction of labor more than doubled between 1990 and 2005 with no corresponding increase in medical need, resulting in poor outcomes for babies born between 37 and 39 weeks. This caused the March of Dimes and others to initiate programs to decrease the number of labors induced before 39 weeks with good results.

 

Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.

Tethered to the bed by IV lines, electronic fetal monitors and epidurals, many in labor are denied the ability to use one of their most powerful tools - movement. Not moving can increase labor’s pain leading to other interventions. 

 

Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.

Although birth doulas are proven to shorten labors and diminish the need for interventions including cesarean surgery, they are routinely discouraged by some practitioners, outright banned at some hospitals, and rarely covered by insurance. John Kennell, MD, said, “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” 

 

Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.

After routine episiotomy was found to cause more harm than good, it took 30 years to fully change protocols, and there are still some doctors who routinely perform episiotomies with no medical indication. Rupturing the bag of waters, IVs, routine electronic fetal monitors, and many more interventions that ought to be used based only on medical need are instead routinely preformed in many hospitals and by many care providers. 

 

Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urges to push.

Women are often asked to push in the position most convenient for the practitioner. Utilize the squat bar, birth stool and other more upright positions, such as hands and knees, to help push effectively.

 

Keep mother and baby together - it's best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding. Baby-Friendly practices in all three Santa Cruz county hospitals are helping families get breastfeeding of to a good start. Skin-to-skin is respected and encouraged for the first hours after birth.

 

Women are better served when aware of the limitations and influences of current obstetric practices on low risk pregnancies. The Bellies, Birth & Babies Spring event is an excellent place to learn a bit about shifting paradigms while meeting practitioners and other families.

 

Laura Maxson, LM, CPM, the mother of three grown children, has been working with pregnant and breastfeeding women for over 30 years. Currently she is the executive director of Birth Network of Santa Cruz County and has a homebirth midwifery practice. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

 

Side Bar:

Free Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices videos - www.Lamaze.org

Birth Network provides a listing of providers and events at www.birthnet.org

Bellies Birth and Babies – Mar. 24, 2-5pm

Meet the Doulas – Jan. 27, 4-6pm

 

 
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