Category Archives: 1. Pregnancy & Birth

Fertility and conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and the early postpartum period.

Nutritional Deficiencies in the Mother May Affect Her Attachment with Her Baby

From API’s Publications Team

Healthy diet essential for mothersNutritional deficiencies in mothers can affect her mental health and lead to inconsistent patterns of mother-child interactions, which in turn increases the likelihood of creating an insecure attachment between the mother and child.

The effect can be two-way, since insecure attachment can lead infant depression which often leads to a repressed appetite in the baby. The resulting nutritional deficiencies in the baby can prolong childhood mental illness.

These theories will be discussed in a March issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article by Purdue University, “Models Linking Nutritional Deficiencies to Maternal and Child Mental Health.”

“Giving the Love that Heals,” an interview with attachment therapist Harville Hendrix

Happy Valentine's DayDear Readers,

Click here to download your free gift from API.

As promised in the Winter 2008-09 Healing Childhood Wounds issue of The Journal of API — as a followup to the article “The 11th Commandment” — this free audio download is the full version of API Co-founder Barbara Nicholson’s interview with Imago Relationship Therapy Founder Harville Hendrix.

The author of Giving the Love that Heals, Harville’s words are inspiring and motivating — a true reminder that everyday should be Valentine’s Day. You do not want to miss this interview!

Happy Valentine’s Day from API…

~ Rita Brhel, editor of The Attached Family publications

(If you have trouble downloading the file, contact me at editor@attachmentparenting.org.)

Family Bonding Begins Before Birth for Unmarried Couples

From API’s Communications Team

FamilyA University of Maryland study shows that, more than marriage, involving the father during the prenatal period leads to a stable family life.

The Fragile Families Child Well Being Study, published in the December 2008 Journal of Marriage and Family, found that fathers involved during pregnancy were significantly more likely to remain involved in raising their child at age three.

The study shows that an emotional investment in fatherhood is, not surprisingly, more important than getting married without a sense of real commitment.

To read the entire article go to www.newsdesk.umd.edu/sociss/release.cfm?ArticleID=1805.

Rates of Unnecessary Childbirth Interventions is Alarming

From Lamaze International

BirthDespite best evidence, health care providers continue to perform routine procedures during labor and birth that often are unnecessary and can have harmful results for mothers and babies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent release of birth statistics reveals that the rate of Cesarean surgery, for example, is on the rise to 31.1 percent of all births — 50 percent greater than data from 1996. This information comes on the heels of The Milbank Report’s Evidence-Based Maternity Care, which confirms that beneficial, evidence-based maternity care practices are underused in the U.S. health care system.

What the Research Says

Research indicates that routinely used procedures — such as continuous electronic fetal monitoring, labor induction for low-risk women, and Cesarean surgery — have not improved health outcomes for women and, in fact, can cause harm. In contrast, care practices that support a healthy labor and birth are unavailable to or underused with the majority of women in the United States.

Suggested Labor and Delivery Practices

Beneficial care practices outlined by Evidence-Based Maternity Care, a report produced by a collaboration of Childbirth Connection, the Reforming States Group, and the Milbank Memorial Fund, could have a positive impact on the quality of maternity care if widely implemented throughout the United States. Suggested practices include to:

  • Let labor begin on its own.
  • Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.
  • Bring a loved one, friend, or doula to support you.
  • Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.
  • Choose the most comfortable position to give birth and follow your body’s urges to push.
  • Keep your baby with you — it’s best for you, your baby and breastfeeding.

“Lamaze is alarmed by the current rate of Cesarean surgery, and furthermore, by the overall poor adherence to the beneficial practices outlined above in much of the maternity care systems in the United States,” said Pam Spry, president of Lamaze International, www.lamaze.org. “We are continuing to work to provide women and care providers with evidence-based information to improve the quality of care.”

Lamaze International has developed six care practice papers that are supported by research studies and represent “gold-standard” maternity care. When adopted, these care practices have a profound effect –instilling confidence in the mother, and facilitating a natural process that results in an active, healthy baby. Each one of the Lamaze care practices is cited in the Evidence-Based Maternity Care report as being underused in the U.S. maternity care system.

A Need for Balance

“As with any drug, we need to be sure that women and their babies receive the right dose of medical interventions. In the United States we are giving too high a dose of Cesarean sections and other medical interventions, which are causing harm to women and their babies. Yet, there are many countries where life-saving medical interventions are under dosed, which can also cause harm,” said Debra Bingham, chair of the Lamaze International Institute for Normal Birth. “Every woman and her baby needs and deserves the right dose of medical interventions during childbirth.”

The research is clear, when medically necessary, interventions, such as Cesarean surgery, can be life-saving procedures for both mother and baby, and worth the risks involved. However, in recent years, the rate of Cesarean surgeries cause more risks than benefits for mothers and babies.

The Danger of Cesarean Sections

Cesarean surgery is a major abdominal surgery, and carries both short-term risks, such as blood loss, clotting, infection and severe pain, and poses future risks, such as infertility and complications during future pregnancies such as percreta and accreta, which can lead to excessive bleeding, bladder injury, a hysterectomy, and maternal death.

Cesarean surgery also increases harm to babies including women giving birth prior to full brain development, breathing problems, surgical injury and difficulties with breastfeeding.

About Lamaze International

Since its founding in 1960, Lamaze International has worked to promote, support and protect normal birth through education and advocacy through the dedicated efforts of professional childbirth educators, providers and parents. An international organization with regional, state and area networks, its members and volunteer leaders include childbirth educators, nurses, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, physicians, students and consumers. For more information about Lamaze International and the Lamaze Institute for Normal Birth, visit www.lamaze.org.

AP from a Preemie Mom’s Perspective

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

**Originally published in the Spring 2007 annual New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Rita doing Kangaroo Care with Rachel
Rita doing Kangaroo Care with Rachel

It was a big day for me, my husband, and my daughter. In mid-January, seven months after Rachel was born, when she had reached 18 1/2 pounds and 26 inches long, her pulmonologist told us she was ready to come off the cardio/respirations apnea monitor that had been a constant part of her life since she left the hospital five months earlier. I was nervous, but her doctor told me that it was OK – in all his many years of practice, he had never seen a healthier looking preemie than Rachel.

It was a great compliment. My daughter was born in June at 30 weeks gestation, due to a significant placental abruption, a serious pregnancy complication in which the placenta prematurely separates from the uterus. Weighing three and one-half pounds and measuring 16 inches long, Rachel was nearly three months early.

A Traumatic Start

I had been planning a drug-free childbirth, but what I got was anything but easy, natural, and beautiful. It was traumatic for me, both emotionally and physically. I had been in the hospital for four days after hemorrhaging, and I was being treated with several anti-labor drugs, one of which (magnesium sulfate) left me so weak that I required oxygen. I was given an epidural in case I needed a C-section, and I had an episiotomy that became a fourth-degree tear and later acquired an infection. This was not the childbirth of my birth plan. Continue reading

Traci’s Story: Developing an Appreciation for Bottle-feeding

By Traci Singree, leader of API of Stark County, Ohio

**Originally published in the Spring 2007 annual New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Traci and baby
Traci and baby

Before my children, I was career driven, working in retail management, which meant no family time at holiday or summer get-togethers because I was always working! And I loved it! I met my husband right out of college. We were together for about five years before we got married. In 1995, we were wed. I continued my course of 12-hour days, sometimes 6-day work weeks, and I was having a blast working in the fast-paced field of fashion retail.

About five years later, my husband and I were starting to get that something’s missing feeling, having done all the things we wanted to do. We found ourselves sitting around the house looking at each other on weekends saying, “What do you want to do?” round and round until we decided that maybe that something missing was a baby!

It took us nearly a year to conceive our first-born. We discovered I was pregnant the day of my first fertility appointment. My only knowledge of pregnancy came from what I had heard from my mother or from fellow co-workers with children. I never really researched anything to do with birthing or babies until late in my pregnancy. Continue reading

Small Blessings: A Father Recalls His Preemie Daughter’s Birth

By Mike Brhel

**Originally published in the Summer 2007 Secondary Attachments issue of The Journal of API

Mike and Rachel
Mike and Rachel

My wife and I had always wanted a family. We had tried for a child during the first few years of our marriage, but nothing ever happened. We decided to leave it up to God; He would give us a child when the time was right. That time came in December of 2005, confirmed by those two distinct lines.

I was thrilled to become a father and could hardly contain my excitement. This made it extremely difficult to wait to tell friends and family the good news until we were sure that the pregnancy would go to term. After a slight scare in the first trimester, everything was going as expected.

On the morning of June 6, everything changed. Continue reading

You are What You Eat: A Nutritional Guide to Preventing and Treating Postpartum Depression

By Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, author of Depression in New Mothers and co-author of The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood

**Originally published in the Spring 2008 New Baby issue of The Journal of API

FishBecoming a mother can be wonderful – and highly stressful. Sleepless nights, breastfeeding difficulties, a history of trauma, low partner support, or a baby with health problems are all stressors that can put you at risk for depression. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to help you cope.

Fatty Acids and Depression

Does it seem like more and more people you know are depressed? You’re not imagining things. Depression is on the rise worldwide. And much of this increase is due to what we eat. Over the last century, we’ve increased the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids in our diets, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of Omega-3s.

Omega-6s are found in vegetable oils, such as corn and safflower oils, and are a staple of many processed foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found in plant and marine sources, and most Americans are deficient in them. As a result, we are at risk for a whole host of problems – including depression. And pregnant and postpartum women are especially vulnerable. Continue reading

Speaking Out About Postpartum Depression

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

**Originally published in the Spring 2008 New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Postpartum DepressionSo many first-time moms are caught off-guard by their emotions after giving birth to the baby they’ve been waiting for months, even years, to join their family. It’s completely normal to feel a letdown after the big day. After all, childbirth is a life-changing experience in every way. What new moms and their partners need to do is understand how to recognize the “baby blues” and what can help until they go away…usually in a couple weeks.

If not – if the symptoms are lasting much longer, are just plain overwhelming, or are accompanied by feelings of hurting the baby or yourself – see your doctor immediately. Mothers with intensely sad or angry feelings could have postpartum depression, or the more serious postpartum psychosis. These symptoms are very serious and can even be classified as medical emergencies. But they are very treatable; it doesn’t take long until you’re feeling back to yourself again and are able to enjoy the bonding time with your new baby that both of you deserve.

I know this firsthand. Continue reading

Planning for the Postpartum Period

By Molly Remer, MSW, CCE

**Originally published in the Spring 2008 New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Molly and son
Molly and son

When my first baby was born in 2003, I made a classic new mother error – I spent a lot of time preparing for the birth, but not much time truly preparing for life with a new baby.

I had regularly attended La Leche League meetings since halfway through my pregnancy and thought I was prepared for “nursing all the time” and having my life focus around my baby’s needs. However, the actual experience of postpartum slapped me in the face and brought me to my knees.

Hurrying to Rejoin the World

My son’s birth was a joyous, empowering, triumphant experience, but postpartum was one of the most challenging and painful times in my life. I had not given myself permission to rest, heal, and discover. Instead, I felt intense internal pressure to “perform.” I wondered where my old life had gone, and I no longer felt like a “real person.” A painful postpartum infection and a difficult healing process, with a tear in an unusual location, left me feeling like an invalid. I had imagined caring for my new baby with my normally high energy level, not feeling wounded, weak, and depleted. Continue reading