Friday, March 20, 2009

Stating the Obvious: Hospital Practices Strongly Impact Breastfeeding Rates

A new study analyzed data from Listening to Mothers II, a nationally representative survey of 1,573 mothers who had given birth in a hospital to a single infant in 2005. Mothers were asked retrospectively about their breastfeeding intentions, infant feeding practices at one week, and hospital practices.

About half (49 percent) of first-time mothers who intended to exclusively breastfeed reported that their babies were given water or formula for supplementation, while 74 percent reported being given free formula samples or offers.

Boston University (2009, March 19). Hospital Practices Strongly Impact Breastfeeding Rates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/03/090319161505.htm

So, this study only confirms what we already know - poor breastfeeding rates are more often caused by external factors, such as supplementation and formula offers - rather than a true inability to breastfeed.

The key to remember if you're planning a hospital birth is to state - widely and loudly - that you intend to exclusively breastfeed, and to accept all the assistance you can get, whether it be a true lactation consultant or a supportive nurse. You must remember to tell all staff that you want NO supplementation of any kind at any time - including pacifiers or glucose water.

The most vulnerable times will occur if they want to take the baby for "observation" in the nursery. While many hospitals allow 24 hour rooming-in, some still promote this archaic practice of shuttling newborns off to the nursery, where you'll have no idea if your wishes are being respected. If you aren't able to avoid this separation, for whatever reason, you can make your preferences explicitly clear beforehand or send dad to be on watch until this time period is up.

Ultimately, you may have to advocate for yourselves and your child. The best plan is to know what you're up against. Don't wait until the birth to find out if the hospital is mother-baby friendly or breastfeeding supportive. These factors can be easily assessed with a simple pre-birth tour or call to the maternity floor during your pregnancy. Don't let lack of preparation undermine your commitment to breastfeed your child.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Product to Help with C-Section Recovery

A new product, Vitagel, is being used to assist mothers recovering from c-sections.

While I completely support minimizing recovery time and maximizing patient comfort and safety, I can't help but wonder if this new product will be used to market c-sections by downplaying the fact that c-section remains a major abdominal surgery that should be a last resort.

Only time will tell, but I can see the great potential for an increase in c-sections due to a public perception of safety and greater convenience due to a shorter, easier recovery time.

The answer isn't to take a product like this off the market, because all mothers should have access to the safest, quickest, most comfortable recovery possible, but to promote the evidence-based practices that reduce the incidence of c-sections and thus, the need for such a product.

This will be on my radar for 2009 - I'll be interested to see where it leads.

CDC Stats are In: C-Sections are Again on the Rise

Today, the CDC released preliminary birth data for 2007. While some statistics were encouraging, namely that preterm birth, the leading cause of infant mortality in the US, decreased for the first time in over 20 years, other statistics were not so encouraging:

For the 11th straight year, c-section rates continued to climb, from 31.1% in 2006 to 31.8% in 2007.

Pre-terms births, defined as infants delivered at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, fell 1% in 2007 to 12.7% of all births. Per the March of Dimes, the improvement is largely due to a reduction in deliveries taking place before 39 weeks.

I've posted in the past on the mounting research outlining the dangers of induction and c-section before 39 weeks and the large number of pre-term births that could be prevented by doing so, which is a position also supported by the March of Dimes.

The CDC stats confirm that the efforts of the March of Dimes and other such advocacy efforts are helping to delay c-sections and inductions until closer to 40 weeks, but have as yet been unsuccessful in reducing the number of c-sections needlessly performed each year.

I find it so ironic that the key to improving birth outcomes for babies is forcing doctors to adhere more strictly to evidence-based guidelines. The incidence of pre-terms births was reduced, not by some great technical advance in medicine, but by making doctors stop performing potentially harmful procedures too soon.

In short, when doctors follow the evidence, birth outcomes improve.

The real conundrum lies in why is it so difficult to make modern maternity care practices follow what the evidence proves is best for mothers and babies...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Proposed Research Study on Social Support in Childbirth

Hazel Williams of the University of Sussex recently contacted me about a study she is conducting on the effect of social support on childbirth experiences. Details are posted below:

This month and next, there is an MSc Health Psychology study being run
at the University of Sussex (UK). We are carrying out research looking
at the effects of social support on experiences of childbirth. The
findings from this study will help us understand how different types
of support during birth may affect women's feelings of control and
emotions during and after childbirth.

If you are interested in taking part, the Health Psychology online
study can be found at:

All of the information you give in the questionnaire will be treated
as strictly confidential and will be used only for the purpose of this

Best wishes and thanks for your time.

Hazel Williams

Please consider participating to further our knowledge in this area and to support birthing mothers worldwide.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Screening of New Documentary: Birth

Some time ago, I posted about filmmaker Kathryn Mora and her forthcoming documentary entitled "BIRTH".

Kathryn contacted me to announce that the film is complete and a screening has been scheduled. I encourage everyone to attend. Details are available below:

You are all invited to the premiere screening the documentary, BIRTH on Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 7 p.m.

BIRTH, explores the benefits of natural childbirth and the dangers mothers and babies face in today’s high-tech and drug-filled maternity care environment. The mothers in the film who gave birth with drugs and medical intervention and without, compare their experiences. In addition, childbirth experts give valuable information and enlightening insights about birth. When a woman considers childbirth, education will help replace her fears with confidence and empowerment. This documentary will interest everyone because childbirth affects us all in one way or another.

The screening will be held at:
Center For Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University
274 Moody Street Studio C
Waltham, MA 02453

For questions, please contact filmmaker Kathryn Mora at 518-867-7100 or via email

From Points North/South to the CDIA Waltham Campus (274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA.)
Take Route 128/I-95 to Exit 26 (Route 20). Follow Route 20 East for 2 miles. Turn right onto Moody Street. CDIA is located 1/4 mile down on the left.

From Points East/West
Take the Mass Pike to exit 14 (Route 128/I-95). Take Route 128/I-95 to Exit 26 (Route 20). Follow Route 20 East for 2 miles. Turn right onto Moody Street. CDIA is located 1/4 mile down on the left.

Train: Fitchburg (Fitchburg Line) commuter rail to Central Square Waltham - CDIA is located two blocks up on Moody Street.
Bus: Oak Park - Dudley via Central Sq bus #170 or Cedarwood bus #70/70A

There are two public parking lots within a short walking distance of CDIA. The Embassy Parking Lot is located two blocks down Pine Street behind the Embassy Landmark movie theatre and is located one block away from CDIA. The Crescent Street Lot is another option, located on Crescent Street between Moody and Adams. In both cases look for the parking signs when you reach Moody street.

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