Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cord Blood Banking

Hat tip to Giving Birth Naturally for posting ACOG Revises Opinion on Cord Blood Banking:
It is refreshing to see that ACOG can make some improvements in judgment, albeit small ones. While they still won't take a stance for or against it, their revised opinion on the scam that is private cord blood banking is a small nudge in the right direction.

I especially like the statement, "ACOG also advises physicians who recruit patients for for-profit cord blood banking to disclose their financial interests or other potential conflicts of interest to pregnant women and their families."
Read the text of the news release here.

My major concern with cord blood banking is the necessity of cutting the umbilical cord earlier than might be optimal in order to preserve the cord blood, thereby depriving the newborn of the blood. A representative from a cord blood-banking company may be speaking to our homebirth group this year; it will be interesting to see what they have say on these issues.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Hathor's been doing some neat comics lately on Oxytocin - the "Love Hormone". She just came back from the Trust Birth Conference which I really wish I could have gone to. She heard Michel Odent speak, and he really rocked her world, as he did mine when I heard him speak a couple years ago at a local conference. Hathor came across this article, over a year old and just a rat study, but still important:

The massive surge in the maternal hormone oxytocin that occurs during delivery might help protect newborns against brain damage, a new study in rats suggests.

Researchers say the findings should encourage scientists to investigate whether elective caesarean sections, which lack this oxytocin surge, disrupt normal brain development.

Also, I found Hug the Monkey, a whole blog devoted to the subject of Oxytocin; and an article entitled 5 Ways Pitocin is Different than Oxytocin which, in honor of list month, I will include here:
  1. Pitocin is released differently. Oxytocin is released into your body in a pulsing action. It comes intermittently to allow your body a break. Pitocin is given in an IV in a continuous manner. This can cause contractions to be longer and stronger than your baby or placenta can handle, depriving your baby of oxygen.
  2. Pitocin prevents your body from offering endorphins. When you are in labor naturally, your body responds to the contractions and oxytocin with the release of endorphins, a morphine like substance that helps prevent and counteract pain. When you receive Pitocin, your body does not know to release the endorphins, despite the fact that you are in pain.
  3. Pitocin isn't as effective at dilating the cervix. When the baby releases oxytocin it works really well on the uterine muscle, causing the cervix to dilate. Pitocin works much more slowly and with less effect, meaning it takes more Pitocin to work.
  4. Pitocin lacks a peak at birth. In natural labor, the body provides a spike in oxytocin at the birth, stimulating the fetal ejection reflex, allowing for a faster and easier birth. Pitocin is regulated by a pump and not able to offer this boost at the end.
  5. Pitocin can interfere with bonding. When the body releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, it promotes bonding with the baby after birth. Pitocin interferes with the internal release of oxytocin, which can disturb the bonding process.
I knew, like, three of those already. And for some really hair-raising stories, try Knitted in the Womb's Rant on Pitocin (with comments).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Acupuncture may increase pregnancy chances

Acupuncture involves placing very thin needles at specific points on the body to try to control pain and reduce stress. In fertility treatment, it is thought to increase blood flow to the uterus, relax the cervix and inhibit “fight or flight” stress hormones that can make it tougher for an embryo to implant, Manheimer said.

The analysis pools results from seven studies on 1,366 women in the United States, Germany, Australia and Denmark who are having in vitro fertilization, or IVF. It involves mixing sperm and eggs in a lab dish to create embryos that are placed in the womb.

Women were randomly assigned to receive IVF alone, IVF with acupuncture within a day of embryo transfer, or IVF plus sham acupuncture, in which needles were placed too shallowly or in spots not thought to matter.

Individually, only three of the studies found acupuncture beneficial, three found a trend toward benefit and one found no benefit. When results of these smaller studies were pooled, researchers found that the odds of conceiving went up about 65 percent for women given acupuncture.

Link: Acupuncture may hike odds of pregnancy

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Six Practices for a Healthy Birth

If you haven't seen a copy of Lamaze International's new quarterly publication, Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond, I highly suggest you try to get a copy. I was mightily impressed by the inaugural issue.

Lamaze has identified six care practices that promote, support and protect normal birth. These are:
  1. Labor should begin on its own.
  2. Laboring women should be free to move throughout labor.
  3. Laboring women should have continuous support from others throughout labor.
  4. There should be no routine interventions during labor and birth.
  5. Women should not give birth on their backs.
  6. Mothers and babies should not be separated after birth and should have unlimited opportunity for breastfeeding.
Detailed information about each of these Care Practices are available here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Top 10 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic

The Green Guide publishes the Top 10 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic, based on information from the Environmental Working Group. Here's a summary:

1. Baby Foods
2. Rice
3. Strawberries
4. Grains
5. Milk
6. Corn
7. Bananas
8. Green Beans
9. Apples, apple juice
10. Peaches

And the runners-up are: nectarines, grapes & raisins, and kiwi fruit.

Elsewhere I have read that buying organic meat and dairy, rather than fruits and vegetables, gets you the most "bang" for your grocery "buck".

Saturday, March 01, 2008