Thursday, December 3, 2009

Babies are people, too

Becky being held by Solomon, with John watching on, shortly after being born

I have been pondering what impact, if any, the birth of a child has on his or her future physical, emotional, and mental well-being. After all, this point in time is every human being's first introduction to their family, to society, and to life in this world.

Are they treated as one of several thousand nameless faces that pass through the average hospital every year, with little regard to their feelings? Are they just frail creatures on the brink of death unless somebody forcefully suctions their mouth, slaps their back, pokes their heel, puts eyedrops in their eyes, injects them with viruses, and lays them under a warming or UV light? How would you feel if you walked into someone's house for the first time and that is the treatment you received?

Most people assume that babies are too young to understand what is going on around them, but we only think so because babies do not have our verbal skills. What they lack in communication they make up for with intuition. I learned this with one of our children, John. When John was born he was wrapped in the cord a total of three times, twice around the neck and once around the torso and up between his legs. The cord around the neck issue is such a bogus scare tactic, because babies don't breathe through their mouths at that point. The concern is compression of the cord if it is wrapped too tightly, since it is the cord that supplies baby with oxygen, but it could be wrapped too tightly anywhere, not just the neck. Many babies have the cord around their neck at birth. Well, John was wrapped pretty good. The moment his head was born, the cord tightened around his body, which probably made the oxygen levels drop. This in turn caused him to empty his bowels, but he was born seconds later into the birth pool so untangling him was a snap and the water prevented the meconium from sticking to him.

When my midwife came back to check on me later that night, she told me what had happened with the cord at birth. John, who at this point was very content and just looking around, suddenly started shrieking in a panic and grabbed at his throat with both his hands, as if trying to pull something (the cord) away from his neck. He not only understood what we were saying, but he also remembered the event. Everyone who was over at our house when it happened agreed, and it was a little creepy. John has had exceptional verbal skills his entire life. He spoke in complete sentences when he was just barely 18 months old. Babies do understand, they do get scared, and they do remember.

With my next birth after that, Miriam, I came to the realization that this could work to my advantage. In labor, I talked a lot to the baby, and kept telling her that she was doing great, or that she needed to move off my tailbone, or rotate this way or that. I told her we were waiting to meet her and very excited. It worked like a charm. The labor was fast and the pushing stage very short. Same thing with Becky, once I actively started labor. Both were great deliveries, and the babies really worked with me. Most people would think it crazy that I would talk to my baby like I would talk to anyone else, but those same people are having highly managed hospital births that end in being sliced open one third of the time. I guess I'd rather seem a little crazy but give birth to a baby that is calm and content and not screaming and scared.

Babies are extremely smart, and we don't give them near enough credit. When our children enter the world, they are the only baby born to us in about two years. Everyone in the room is eagerly waiting to welcome them. The room is warm and damp, the lights are dim, and nobody is going to inflict any pain on them moments after birth, or take them away from the only person they have been with for nine months. Mom and Dad are right there, as are all the other faces with familiar voices like siblings and the midwife, all of whom the baby has been hearing all along through the belly.

I don't know what impact, if any, a traumatic birth has on a baby (and yes, I believe that 99% of hospital births are traumatic to mother and/or baby), but I am still glad that I have the option of delivering babies in a quiet, safe environment. Obviously, being a Christian, one could overcome any obstacle in life with the help of the Holy Spirit, but I for one would like to avoid even burdening my children with unnecessary obstacles if it is possible to do so.

Miriam, about 1/2 hour after being born, checking out Mom close up



video

Becky, about 1 hour after being born

19 comments:

  1. You make an excellent point. We're born as smart as we're going to be, that's immutable. What changes is the degree of knowledge and social training we gain as we age. Babies aren't stupid, they're just totally ignorant. Most people think it's strange that I talk to babies the way I talk to adults, but I think they're not giving babies enough credit.

    I love Becky's expression in the video at the end- it's very much, "Wow! Look, there's stuff out here and I can see it! It's amazing!"

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  2. I wish I could have had my children at home, it just wasn't the thing to do over 20 years ago.

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  3. "I believe that 99% of hospital births are traumatic to mother and/or baby"

    What exactly do you mean by this? I have to imagine that it would be a bit of a shock for a baby to be born, regardless of the environment.

    I am lucky enough to have delivered at a hospital that is very open to natural birthing (I could have had a water birth if I wished). I realize most people are not so fortunate. But my birth in the hospital doesn't sound all that different from your home births.

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  4. You make excellent points.

    Babies and children are not dumb, they just haven't learned everything yet, and are not able to fully express themselves.

    I don't like children, but I NEVER treat them like inferiors. They understand me without me talking to them in 'baby' speak - I reserve that kind of talk for dogs, who really DON'T understand me.

    Children (and babies) should be talked to like a person - it improves their vocabulary and helps them develop their ability to speak much faster.

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  5. First of all...AWE!!! Those pictures and that video are precious. You have beautiful babies. They look so little compaired to my big headed children. Thank you for this.

    You are %100 dead on. Babies do know and they are so smart. Joshua is 9 months and talking and communicating and understanding. Little newborns are no different. They are so smart and amazing. God made the most wonderful, magnificent creation when He made babies."Fearfully and Wonderfully" fashioned.

    Well good blog.

    Jessica

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  6. Of course babies understand their surroundings. They accomplish so much in the first year of life alone.

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  7. Although a baby recognizes the language and voices he heard in the womb, he has no way of knowing what those sounds mean. Vocabulary is acquired through experience and context clues. How would a newborn baby know what an umbilical cord is or where your tail bone is? If your baby instinctively understood English, then why not all languages?

    I agree with Nurse Bee that any birth is probably a shock, and those of us who gave birth in the hospital could also show pictures and videos of how alert, smart, and happy our babies acted. God is all powerful and the one who keeps us breathing, but do you really think he has to do some kind of special intervention to make a child grow up emotionally healthy because he, GASP,got his blood drawn shortly after birth?

    There may be some good arguments in favor of home birth, but this post is making you lose all credibility.

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  8. Well, I guess I fit into the 1% that had non-traumatic deliveries in the hospital! And if my daughter, who was completely breech, would've been born at home, we might both be dead. Thank the Lord for an old-fashioned doctor and midwife who delivered a breech baby vaginally! And I agree with Nurse Bee. My births were not much different than yours. I had no drugs, no interference- and I got to hold my babies, talk to them, and nurse them right after birth. They were all wonderful experiences. Home births aren't for everyone, and you can have a non-traumatic, non-stressful hospital delivery! And where I don't think that babies comprehend as much as you think they do, I do agree that babies are people, too, and don't need to be 'dumbed down' or talked down to. My firstborn son was talking in full sentences by 11 months, and I think that is from us talking to him so much from the time he was born. (not baby talk- regular talk) All of my children are very advanced in communication, socialization skills, and talking to adults. So I see your point, even if I don't agree with 100% of it. =)

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  9. I would have to agree-babies know much more than we give them credit for. I wrote about this same topic after a conversation with my youngest daughter ( http://created4homeschooling.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-poor-homeless-daughter.html ). She spent her first 10 weeks in NICU after arriving 14 weeks early. 3 times during her stay she pulled her ventilator tube out after the doc had talked about taking it out beside her bed.

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  10. Mama2four,
    Being breech is not that big of a deal, and you can have breech babies at home. Our midwife would not deliver first-time moms breach, however, and told us that if we were breech we'd have to go see a midwife a few hours away.


    "I don't know what impact, if any, a traumatic birth has on a baby (and yes, I believe that 99% of hospital births are traumatic to mother and/or baby), but I am still glad that I have the option of delivering babies in a quiet, safe environment."

    Heh, I will ALWAYS have the option of having children outside of the hospital. I don't care what laws they pass, or even if they make it illegal... I'd rather have a baby at home "on accident" than risk everything that goes on at a hospital. Everyone thinks American hospitals are so great. Did you know that we rank 28th in infant mortality rate? 28th! That is horrible.

    I cant' believe that people still vaccinate, too. There is no way that I'm injecting any of my family with aborted humans, monkey parts, chicken embryo, live viruses, mercury and everything else that is in those shots straight from the pits of hell.

    For all you who think that hospital births are just fine and dandy, watch Pregnant in America and Business of Being Born. Americans are ignorant to what is going on, and anyone who does any amount of research will quickly come to the conclusion that having a birth in a hospital is a dangerous, dangerous thing. You should not go to the hospital unless your life is at risk.

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  11. I was very interested in your thoughts. I think you are absolutely correct that babies are intelligent.
    As a nurse in training however it concerns me that you feel a hospital birth is traumatic. Each of the things you mentioned come with definite and helpful purpose.
    Also, just so you are aware. The issue of the cord around the neck is most certainly not bogus. You are correct when you say the issue is compression and it could happen anywhere, but here is why the neck issue is significant...the concern is that as the baby descends and pushes through the cervix and into the vagina the pressure of the child's head and neck passing through will cause compression of the cord, thereby decreasing the placental oxygen supply to the baby. So it really is not bogus..I promise! Think of how long it can take to have a baby...hours of contraction and compression repeatedly can add up to a lot of hypoxia for little baby.
    God has really blessed the United States with great healthcare. I am so grateful that we live in a country where God has made scientific research and advantages known to man. We are so blessed!

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  12. WOW!What vaccine is made of aborted humans and monkey parts? They left that little detail out to the accredited nursing school I attend. I would be very interested to read that source of information. Please share the link(s) and/or journals, books, etc. that you found that in. I am extremely interested.

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  13. Anonymous, in response to your concerns about the cord around the neck issue, I did a copy-and-paste from Gloria Lemay's blog, who is an experienced homebirth midwife. I agree completely with what she was saying, and have experienced a couple of different cord issues between my four home births, all of which resolved on their own because I was not medicated and my labor was not managed (particularly, no AROM). The following is all one long quote:

    From Susan:

    “My first was born by c-section due to brow presentation. I was induced at 41 weeks 4 days. Long labor.

    My second was a successful VBAC. I was induced with him also at 41 weeks, 5 days with a Pitocin drip. Contractions didn’t start right away and, after about 3 hours, the doctor broke my water. Things started so slow, but the doctor was very patient and we waited. Finally the contractions were getting a bit heavy and I decided on an epidural. I was given a small amount and was still able to feel the contractions but the peaks had been tapered off. I then dilated quite quickly from 8 to 10 (45 minutes) and had that intense need to push. So I pushed for about 30 minutes and our son was born. But when he came out his cord was wrapped twice real tight around his neck. He was not breathing. His one minute Apgar was 3. He was given oxygen and, within 5 minutes, his Apgar score was up to 8.”

    Gloria responds:

    Susan, you said- ‘But when he came out his cord was wrapped twice real tight around his neck. He was not breathing, Apgar was 3. Given oxygen and within 5 minutes his Apgar was up to 8.’ Susan, you are making a very common mistake. Attributing your baby’s low 1 minute Apgar to the cord around the neck is not correct. Your baby had a low Apgar at birth because you had an epidural and the pitocin drip was turned up too high. We know this because the second stage was so short. The cord around the neck is the reason the doctors give you so you won’t ask questions about why he was blasted out so quickly.

    This kind of pitocin induction is sometimes associated with delayed speech and/or learning difficulties. It depresses the baby’s oxygen levels through the pushing stage. The reason the baby’s Apgar score came up nicely after 5 minutes is because you grew an essentially healthy baby and it was difficult for modern obstetrics to kill him.

    So many women are told the baby didn’t breathe or wasn’t pink because of the umbilical cord being around the neck. It is a lie. We don’t see this at unmedicated home births and I have attended births where the cord was tight and up to five times around the neck.

    The two most important things with a VBAC are:

    1. don’t do anything to increase the strength of the contractions and
    2. don’t anaesthetize the woman.

    Your former doctor put you and your baby in danger by not following those two protocols. Your uterus was put in unnecessary danger of rupturing by both the Pitocin drip and artificially rupturing the membranes. In hindsight, the cord was around the neck and, thus, probably out of danger but artificially rupturing the membranes is associated with causing the umbilical cord to prolapse–an obstetric emergency.

    Susan replies:

    “Gloria, it sounds like you just completely described what happened to me and my son–who does have learning difficulties and developmental delays.”

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  14. Anonymous, I'm struggling to find the logic in your comment: "having a birth in a hospital is a dangerous, dangerous thing. You should not go to the hospital unless your life is at risk." If a hospital is dangerous, why would anyone go there if their life was at risk...?? To increase the chances that they'll DIE?! Could it be that some people wait TOO LONG to seek medical assistance, until it's TOO LATE and then the hospital, doctors, nurses are TO BLAME?

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  15. "WOW!What vaccine is made of aborted humans and monkey parts? They left that little detail out to the accredited nursing school I attend. I would be very interested to read that source of information. Please share the link(s) and/or journals, books, etc. that you found that in. I am extremely interested."

    Anonymous,
    I'm the one who posted the comment about vaccines. Here is a PDF from the CDC's own website, it lists ingredients in vaccines.
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/Pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-1.pdf
    and
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf

    At the end of the first link, under "production media" you will see "human diploid tissue culture, MRC-5" and "Human diploid tissue culture, WI-38." Google "MRC-5" and "WI-38" and you will see that these are cell lines from two aborted kids in the 1960s. They have been growing these aborted tissues in a tube for the past five decades so that they can use them for vaccines.

    Also on that ingredient list you will see the other things I mentioned-- monkey parts, chicken parts, cow parts, aluminum, mercury (Thimerosal), and formaldehyde.

    Don't blame your accredited nursing school for not teaching you this stuff. Accredited "education" in this country does not teach you anything. And yes, I can say that because I'm about to graduate with honors from one of the top 30 research universities with honors. My wife is almost done with her graduate degree in medicine, and has a BA in biology.

    If you want a good history lesson on why public education in America sucks, then read John Taylor Gatto's books or listen to his stuff on YouTube.

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  16. Baptist Boy in VA,

    wow, going down the ingredient list just ruined my appetite for breakfast. I have known about the human cell lines, as well as the animal tissues, for years, but seeing it all in one long list is sickening.

    In fact, I started a post called "Vaccines and the pro-life issue" months ago, but have never had the time to write it without compromising the quality of research.

    If you would be interested in writing a guest post on that subject, I would love to publish it on my blog. Most people, including Christians, are completely ignorant of this info (and they may not read down to comment #16 on a post about babies to find it). But I realize you are at least as busy as I am, so if you can't that's very understandable.

    In any case, thank you for your informative comment. Congratulations on your graduation!

    Zs.

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  17. Reading this post and watching the video reminded me of an experience I had when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. My brother and sister-in-law excitedly showed me a video they had taken of their daughter when she was 2 minutes old. They had a traditional induced, epidural hospital birth. Their tiny baby girl was laying alone and naked, cord already clamped and cut, on a table while a nurse shoved a little hat on her head. She had already had the eye ointment put in her eyes so they were squinted shut and glistening from that. They were so proud of this video and it made me nauseous to see. Couldn't those things have waited???

    THIS is what Zsuzsanna is referring to as a "traumatic" hospital birth and yes, it is the norm. I think there's a pretty self-selected population of folks that read this blog who are FAR more likely to either have a homebirth or to take a more active role in their birth and have a more gentle introduction to the world for their little one. Yes, the birth itself likely is a bit traumatic for the baby - there's no need to add to that immediate cord clamping and cutting, separation from mom, eye ointment, etc. All those things are completely unnecessary for the vast, vast majority of moms and babies.

    I am so grateful that I was able to have a homebirth. Watching your video reminded me so much of those precious minutes and hours I spent with my husband just enjoying our son without strangers poking and prodding him.

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  18. Reading this post and watching the video reminded me of an experience I had when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. My brother and sister-in-law excitedly showed me a video they had taken of their daughter when she was 2 minutes old. They had a traditional induced, epidural hospital birth. Their tiny baby girl was laying alone and naked, cord already clamped and cut, on a table while a nurse shoved a little hat on her head. She had already had the eye ointment put in her eyes so they were squinted shut and glistening from that. They were so proud of this video and it made me nauseous to see. Couldn't those things have waited???

    THIS is what Zsuzsanna is referring to as a "traumatic" hospital birth and yes, it is the norm. I think there's a pretty self-selected population of folks that read this blog who are FAR more likely to either have a homebirth or to take a more active role in their birth and have a more gentle introduction to the world for their little one. Yes, the birth itself likely is a bit traumatic for the baby - there's no need to add to that immediate cord clamping and cutting, separation from mom, eye ointment, etc. All those things are completely unnecessary for the vast, vast majority of moms and babies.

    I am so grateful that I was able to have a homebirth. Watching your video reminded me so much of those precious minutes and hours I spent with my husband just enjoying our son without strangers poking and prodding him.

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