The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
I'm often struck by how much VBAC moms insist on having their older siblings present at the birth, especially the ones born by cesarean. It finally struck me that this is yet another example of a mother's wonderfully strong instinct about providing the best possible care for her children.
In my studies of the hormones of birth, I've learned that the stress of labor causes a woman's body to release endorphins to ease the pain and to facilitate a primal bonding with her baby. In a natural labor, the levels of these hormones are significant, and they are passed through to the baby also to ease the stress on the baby. As a fun side effect, the endorphins seem to fill the air around the laboring woman so that her birth attendants also get to enjoy them. There's a reason why birth attendants sometimes call themselves "natural birth junkies". :-)
Endorphins are the "love hormones" released during sex, childbirth and breastfeeding, and they really are like an aphrodisiac, causing people "under the influence" to fall in love with each other without any rational filtering. I try not to usurp the power of these hormones, and I work hard to keep the family focused on each other in that first hour after birth, because I want them bonding with each other instead of with me.
I have previously understood how these endorphins can have a wonderful
healing effect for couples who have had a past traumatic birth, as the
mom is under the influence of nature's finest "narcotic", and the dad absorbs
them from the air around her. But it was this most recent discussion
about siblings at VBAC that helped me realize that this also pertains to
the older children who were born through a traumatic birth process.
If they are present at the VBAC, these older children get to enjoy and
absorb the endorphins and bond with their families in a way that they missed
completely at their own birth. Nature heals.
I really like this theory. It is great that it offers hope to families who have had a traumatic past birth experience, and it sort of explains why my desire to give birth again, or even to watch someone else giving birth, is reaching addiction proportions. In fact the whole pregnancy and birth experience for me was just one big trip. It also partly explains why I fell in love with my two midwives (even if I never see them again, I shall still regard them as some of my dearest friends). I think it also could explain why fathers bond so well with the babies after a tranquil homebirth, compared with an aggressive hospital delivery - one of my most precious memories is of my husband holding our baby boy in his arms while I was lying on our sofa having my tear stitched. He was sitting in the doorway on a kitchen chair and he happened to look up from James and smiled at me as I glanced towards him .. you could almost feel the love in the air.
How do you think the endorphins get into the air? Perhaps from
the mothers breath or sweat, do you think? Or maybe the excitement
and happy emotions of the event stimulate the sympathetic production of
similar chemicals in the bodies of the people around? I suppose many
forms of excitement are contagious in a confined situation, and birth *is*
a particularly focused and centred event. If you accept the theory
that the happy hormones are given off by by the mother, it presumably works
the other way around in unhappy situations where fear and unhappiness are
transmitted between people and to the mother.
I suppose the transfer of the endorphines could be from the sweat of
the mother, just like when you have several women living together they
start ovulating at the same time after a while.
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