Vita Mutari

Thanks to Diana, I have come across a new blog that I am sure I will love. In this post, Vita Mutari, which translated from Latin means “life transformation,” she discusses the difficulty that sometimes arises with terms surrounding labor and birth:

So I was asked today again about the pain of childbirth…and again I expressed my frustration that what we feel in labor with our babies is “intense”, “incredibly huge”, etc…but that I don’t believe that there is a word in the English language to express what it feels like, as it’s totally unique to anything else you will ever feel in your life. It demands full attention of your body, your mind, your soul….it is one of the few experiences we have that transcends the physical and is all encompassing, taking everything you have and everything that you are….only to have you emerge on the other side transformed, changed permanently – you will never be the same.  Sometimes you have a really difficult experience and you come out the other side feeling beaten down, feeling weak and dealing with the consequences of the negativity for the rest of your life. Other times you will emerge with an entirely new respect for yourself, your body, your strength…you will suddenly see yourself as the amazing person that you are!


Which (finally) brings me to these two words…my new favorite words.  I think I will start using these words from now on when someone asks about what labor feels like or the pain of giving birth…. VITA MUTARI!!  Labor feels like “mutari”….the contractions will grow and you will feel Vita Mutari …the vita mutari will grow in intensity….as the mutari increases, you may vocalize or call out…

Oh, yes! I like this!! And along those lines, this birth story and this “Sour Grapes” post are fitting.

Updated to add…

This from the Irish Times: Pain relief “doesn’t lead to more satisfying births”:

“Research on women’s satisfaction with labour has found that the one-on-one support they got from the midwife was a much more important part of the actual experience than the experience of pain. Paradoxically, a lot of women talk about a high level satisfaction along with a high level of pain.” – Midwife and professor Denis Walsh

While there are certainly times when labor pain is “pain” and an epidural can “transform what is a miserable experience into one they actually enjoy because they are not suffering the awful pain,” [quote from a doctor in the article], oftentimes a doula or a midwife or some other support person can likewise transform “pain” into “mutari”.

Anesthesia and future learning disabilities…

Ok, I just read about this study, and haven’t really “ruminated” on it, which I normally do, so I’m just shooting from the hip with this. Basically, researchers went back and reviewed birth records of children born in one locality in Minnesota from 1976-1982, to see if they were born vaginally or by C-section, and if by C-section, then with the mom under regional or general anesthesia. Then, they looked at the children to see if they had any learning disabilities during school…

I’d like to read the entire article, and not just the abstract. I wonder if they controlled for enough stuff in this study. I was born in another state during the time period of this study, and my mom was knocked out during a routine vaginal birth; I assume I was dragged out by the head with forceps. Obviously, I have no learning disability — or if I do, imagine just how brilliant I would have been, if I hadn’t been born that way! ;-P But just because a woman gave birth vaginally does not mean she did not have general anesthesia nor regional anesthesia. Was this controlled for? It appears that all vaginal births were lumped into one group, regardless of whether or not a woman had drugs either for pain (such as an epidural, pudendal block, IV or IM or SQ narcotics or other drugs), or to speed up her labor (pitocin); it also is not noted in the abstract whether there were any forceps or vacuum (if applicable at the time) births; nor was the neonates’ condition noted (such as Apgars, NICU admittance, etc.).

Some women may have gotten general anesthesia, and were “under” a lot longer with their babies inside of them, during a vaginal birth than during a C-section — a typical C-section takes an hour, but the actual time from giving drugs to getting the baby out is in the neighborhood of 5-15 minutes — quicker if an emergency, slower if not. I recently read a nurse’s first experience with attending a C-section with general anesthesia, and she said the doctors worked in double-quick time, because they wanted the baby out as quickly as possible, so it wouldn’t have negative effects from the drugs given to the mother. I don’t know how long women were usually knocked out for either vaginal or C-section births, but this would seem to be  a relevant factor. After all, sometimes a little of something might not be bad, but a lot of it could be. Drugs definitely fall into this category.

I find it interesting that “drugs don’t harm the baby” yet somehow babies whose mothers were given regional anesthesia for C-sections had fewer LDs than mothers given general anesthesia for the same operation. It would seem, then, that general anesthesia was more harmful to babies than regional anesthesia. Were there *any* mothers not given *any* drugs? These should have been the control, not just “vaginal birth” which can come with a plethora of drugs and other interventions.

I first read about the study on “Mommy Myth Busters,” and they look at this from another angle, and include more information, including that “The team is investigating whether use of an epidural on a mother during natural labor has similar effects on the incidence of learning disabilities in children as a C-section with an epidural.” So, this research doesn’t look at women who give birth vaginally or by C-section with an epidural. If I remember correctly, the drugs and procedures used 30 years ago were quite different from what is the current norm today, with much of the then-standard practices going the way of pubic shaves and 3-H enemas (high, hot, and a helluva lot).

So, I think this research may be important, but it is probably going to be pretty well mangled by the press, leading women to think that their babies may even be better off to have a C-section with an epidural than to have them vaginally without drugs. When that wasn’t what was even looked at in the study. We’re looking back through time at what was perhaps standard operating procedure three decades ago, which is quite a bit different from current norms.

Allow me to say that this myth may not be quite as “busted” as one might think from reading the popular press. I remain skeptical. Perhaps time will tell…

Better Birth videos and PDFs

Multiple sources have pointed me to this website for videos and brochures that support and promote natural birth. [Disclaimer, I’ve not actually watched them. Yet.] There has been a lot of good feedback from this — one woman in particular said that she liked how that the videos showed the women laboring in a hospital setting, but still moving during labor, pushing in upright positions, etc. She said it helped her visualize herself being able to do that in her birth, since she is planning a hospital birth.

The road to attachment parenting, etc.

One of the blogs I read has almost nothing to do with birth, except the woman has given birth to four children (twin girls followed by two boys). I came across it when I first started blogging, and it appealed to me on a few different levels, so I’ve continued to read “Parenting by Trial and Error.” A recent post was guest-written, and was entitled, “The Evolution of a Natural Birthing, Attachment Parenting, Homeschooling Mom.” The story sounds quite familiar — she started her first pregnancy with no particular desires about birth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, etc., but gradually came to have quite solidified views. It’s a story that I’ve often heard repeated in one form or another, at one stage of motherhood or another. Details may change a bit, but it seems that many of us have traveled this road — from accepting societal norms, or just whatever our friends are doing, to stopping and thinking about our actions and choices. Perhaps we then make different choices; perhaps we continue to make the same choices — but either way, we are better for making conscious decisions, rather than just blindly “choosing” what everybody else is doing.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I assumed he’d sleep in a crib. After all, that’s where babies sleep, right?

At that time, I’d never heard of co-sleeping, slings or attachment parenting. Dr. Brazelton was barely on my radar, much less Dr. Sears. I’m assuming I planned to breastfeed – since I never stocked up on formula – but I wasn’t particularly passionate about it either way. As for labor and birth, I don’t think I gave them much thought either. I took the series of childbirth classes at our local hospital and read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but that’s about it.

Then my son was born, and everything changed.

Click here to continue reading.

Miscarriage Post

I’ve never had a miscarriage, but it is a fairly common event — the estimate is that 15-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage (losing the baby prior to 20 weeks and/or 400 grams), with even more pregnancies ending in miscarriage unknown and unnoticed by the woman, appearing like a late and/or heavy period. This post is one woman’s experience with a miscarriage. Although I’ve known many women who had miscarriages, I’ve never heard quite this description, on an emotional, mental, physical, and hormonal level.

The next birth? What about *this* birth?

Far too often, women put their wishes and dreams for birth on hold, promising to make changes for the next birth. Many women “plan” on having a natural childbirth (and I put that in quotes because too many women are like my oldest sister — their “plan” is assuming that they’ll show up to the hospital and have a natural labor and birth simply because women have been having unmedicated births for millenia), but then end up agreeing to an unnecessary induction (or other intervention), and regretfully let go of the dream or plan “this time… but next time will be different!”

But what about this birth? For one thing, it’s your only chance to give birth to this baby, which makes it important, even if you have other children. But for another, one intervention leads more easily to the next, and you may end up with a C-section for your first birth, and then find it difficult or impossible to have anything but a C-section for subsequent births. Click here to read an awesome post on “this birth”.

Let your voice be heard

There is a birth video being made which will feature all different women, and you are invited to be one of those women, by submitting a short audio or video clip about homebirth — why you chose it, your experience, or how it affected your family. You can also submit a written account. Click here for more information.

Thanks to Citizens for Midwifery for the link!