The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to

The trailer

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Baby remembers birth: Hospital, Birth Center, or Home

Meteyer resolved to stay out of the hospital when she gave birth, but it wasn’t easy. When her son, Ambrose, was born three years ago at the Greenhouse Birth Center in Okemos, Meteyer toughed out an epic 48-hour labor without drugs. She said it was worth it to avoid a hospital-managed birth, which she thinks would have involved a “failure to progress” diagnosis, Pitocin and a possible cesarean section.

Hey! Meteyer is a physician ...

Read the full article at Outside the Hospital: Local women discover natural birth

" ... epic 48-hour labor without drugs." As genuinely impressed as I am with the article and with Dr. Meteyer's awareness and commitment to natural birth, including her own, I have to post an article I wrote last week. It is about the baby's experience of birth, the baby's perception of his or her experience of birth.

One of my major complaints about both of the fields of obstetrics and midwifery is that few of the highly trained people in either profession consider the impact of the birth on the baby. Whether the birth is at the hospital, birth center, or home, I found the caregivers are oblivious to the baby. The single, desired outcome is, "Live baby." Their focus seems to be on showing that the birth choice and process was just fine, because, "the baby is ok." Baby is alive, baby is ok, and baby looks good, that is the language, regardless of what happens. No one asks the baby, or considers the baby ... as the general belief is that babies are resilient, and babies don't remember; so, adults trained in the medical field, wearing scrubs, licensed by states, and insured can do whatever they want or need.

I wrote the article after several days after learning from my friend/colleague who is writing a book on the experience of Csection and VBAC birth. She said out of two hundred stories, none, not one of the women talked about how the birth impacted their baby. I had been chatting over a period of days with David and Donna Chamberlain about this phenomenon. David is a pioneer in the field of prenatal consciousness. I contend that doctors, nurses, men, and women ... they can't allow themselves to consider that the human baby is fully aware and recording everything. To do so means they have to acknowledge what they've been doing to babies, sometimes for years and years. Mothers and fathers can't acknowledge the traumatic aspects of their baby's birth because our mainstream culture doesn't yet accept the science and techniques to heal the experience. Major abdominal surgery which prevents the baby from experiencing what humans have experienced for eons is touted as perfectly safe for the baby.

I have also been editing a documentary-style piece for the Columbia, MO Red Tent Event ( Six of the seven women who shared their stories gave birth by cesarean section. I was so surprised; I expected it would be a lot of "natural birthers and homebirth mothers bragging about their experience to make other women feel bad," as another blog about homebirth rags about. Five of the 6 women also did a VBAC. They shared the traumatic experience of surgical birth and the triumph of completing themselves, healing themselves after a vaginal birth. During neither the surgical birth or the vaginal birth story did women talk about the impact of the experience on their baby. Women rarely do .....

So, here's my draft of an article I started for the group:

In our culture we speak of a baby’s birth as if it were the mother’s birth. When mothers give birth to their babies they are aware of their own experience and love to share it with everyone. But, do we consider the baby’s experience? Do we consider that as the mother speaks of her experience – joyful or painful – that the baby also has a perspective? His or her own story? Whether we acknowledge it consciously or not, we mothers naturally and intuitively know on a deep level that their baby also experienced their birth. We have never had the acknowledgement or support to truly “go there” in order to consider that that birth that profoundly affected us negatively also affected our baby.
When birth has been long, challenging, and painful, it has also been the same for the baby. In fact, it is even more so for the baby. The baby’s physical experience of being stuck, for example, is as terrifying as the mother’s experience, or maybe more. Unfortunately, society hardly acknowledges the life-altering impact of even a great birth. Women are not supported to celebrate the beautiful birth or to process a dangerous or terrifying birth experience. 

The baby is also experience the most profound experience of life: the transition from the warm, wet, safe environment to this world. Within seconds or preferably minutes, the baby’s connection to the mother – his cord – is severed. She or he immediately goes through astounding physiological changes to become a totally, separate, and independent person. For almost ten months she or he has been symbiotic with his mother in every way .. physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, and physically.

The physical change alone is monumental. Within seconds the baby’s heart chamber closes to reroute blood, the liver begins to filter, the lungs expand.

Whatever is going on in the environment will either support or interfere with the baby’s process. This is all recorded in the baby’s brain. From the moment of conception, the creature we now know is our baby, has been growing in reaction to our environmental experiences and reactions. She or he only knew the world through us – our emotions, our hormones, our choices and behaviors. Now, his or her body (and brain) will begin her own life.
This is the moment as well when our new relationship begins with our baby. We have known this baby for months. We have felt our baby stirring within us. We can feel the difference between our baby’s personalities during gestation. We have talked to the baby, told her of our dreams of her and for her future. We have told her we can’t wait to see her. Some mothers have not wanted their babies and their gestational dialogues have gone differently. Whatever the story, it also belongs to the baby. Now our baby is here. She or he is a totally separate human, but it does not feel like that to us. This insures the baby’s survival. 

The newborn baby’s life is still completely dependent. She or he is totally helpless and will survive only if there is a loving, nourishing caretaker who will protect him or her from dangers of the world. We humans are resilient and we do manage to survive in the harshest and most violent, uncaring environments, but we now know that a human’s ability to receive and give support, nurturing, and protection to others and self begins in the womb and during labor, birth, and infancy.

As mothers our emotional and psychological beliefs about our baby and our lives are important from conception forward. The baby has been grown in the womb of the person intended to be that caretaker and protector – in most cases. The relationship and the baby’s experience of the parents are well-established by birth. The birth experience will inform baby of how the world is – quiet, safe, supportive or scary, touch is harsh, and cold -- and how we will care for and protect him or her. 

Mothers have their perspective of their experience of birthing their baby. Babies have their experience of being born. Did the baby begin his or her own birth process as is physiologically indicated? Or, was she induced? Was epidural narcotics used so that mother’s attention and focus was no longer on her body and her baby? What was that like for the baby? 

How mother and baby come back together to reconnect will form a foundation for their way of relating. This is a profound relationship that will undergo major psychological and emotional changes in those first moments of life outside the womb. How mother and baby reconnect is defining. How that re-connecting and integration occurs will be the template for their relationship outside the womb.
Babies tell their story as mother tells her story – and new mother tell their story often. “Then the epidural came on and I was relieved. I watched television and slept. It was great.” But the baby is crying and thrashing. Mother says, “Shh, shh, shh,” to the baby and goes on with her story while simultaneously trying to force a breast or bottle in the baby’s mouth. This is like a mother telling her experience of birthing her baby, “It was horrible. I was in such pain and no one was there to support me.” Her friend says, “Shhhh..shhh…shhh… here is a piece of cake” and it is forced upon her. Soon the mother will not be trying to share her story that needs only to be acknowledged. It’s not that her perspective “will just go away” with time. She learns to hold the emotional pain inside. Babies learn this way too. 

A baby’s response will accelerate, for example, when a mother is speaking of a medical caregiver whom she felt was invasive or violating. Or, sometimes, babies appear to zone out or fall asleep. They are “checking out”, they are not asleep. Babies also respond to parts of THEIR story that are joyful, exciting, and supportive. “And, when Bob (daddy) arrived I was able to relax and ….” baby relaxes, coos, laughs, or shrieks. 

While I know this information may trigger many feelings about how our babies have been treated and what they experienced, I also always intend to provide the hope to heal it. It is important to understand that there are new techniques that support babies to heal what happened during birth. These techniques support mothers and babies to tell their story and to be heard by one another. Acknowledgement is the foundation for mother-child healing and for family and couple healing. Fathers/partners have their perspective of their experience that varies greatly from either mother or baby. Their experience is vastly different, but just as important. Fathers also need to have support to share their story and to be heard and supported. Men have no place to share, “I felt horrible when I wasn’t able to protect my baby or when I couldn’t get the nursing staff to listen to our decisions” or “when this man I never saw before lifted up my wife’s gown and ….”. 

Mothers and fathers – nurses, doctors, anyone – can learn to watch babies and listen to their cries. Adults are too fast. They tend to be invasive of baby’s space and unresponsive to baby’s timing needs. Anyone can learn how to slow down and to respond to a baby in a more gentle, slower, and aware manner. All of us can learn how to pause when we are too activated, and to slow down to hear and see BABY’S story and their current needs expressed through their body language and cries. 

This information can be quite alarming for parents who have not considered that their baby has their own perspective of the birth experiencing. This can trigger shame, guilt, anger, and denial. That is the “bad news” as I call it. The GOOD NEWS is that there is much new scientific information and new techniques to support a person – at any age – to heal their very early experiences. The focus of the new techniques works on the central nervous system level. We intend for baby (whether 4 days or forty years old) to have an experience of being wanted, heard, protected, seen, not separated from mother, or touched gently, etc. When the baby has that experience, the nervous system is able to create new neural connections around that experience. It allows one to integrate the undesirable experience with the desirable.

Healing, integration, processing … it is about healing the experiences during conception, gestation, labor and birth, and early parenting in order to overcome the experiences that interfere with attachment and bonding in the primal period. We believe that these early experiences are the foundation for the rest of life. We believe that the GOOD NEWS is that we can create the relationships we wish for with our loved ones when we acknowledge our woundings and the joys of our earliest experiences.

Therapists who work this way – to support baby, mother, and father to process their individual experiences and to integrate them into their new family system -- have been trained in biodynamic craniosacral therapy as the foundation for the work, and will have trained with one of the pioneers of this work, William Emerson, Ray Castellino, Wendy McCarty or one of their many students. Therapists and their teachers are usually members of the International Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) ( APPPAH was co-founded by Nevada City resident, Dr. David Chamberlain. He and his wife Donna started a local group, Birth and Early Parenting Educators (BEPE) to support Very Early Parenting locally and beyond.

L. Janel Martin Miranda
CranioSacral focused Attachment Therapist
Birth Videographer
Midwest BEPE - Columbia, MO

Friday, February 15, 2008


Speaking of pain, have you seen this video by Penn and Teller about newborn circumcision?

This entertaining documentary interviews parents, doctors, former babies, and activists both for and against routine infant circumcision.

Penn and Teller -- BULLSHIT

Be aware, it's very graphic.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pain and Pleasure

The fetus is not a “little adult,” Anand says, and we shouldn’t expect it to look or act like one. Rather, it’s a singular being with a life of the senses that is different, but no less real, than our own.

From article, The First Ache, in New York Times today,

http://www.nytimes. com/2008/ 02/10/magazine/ 10Fetal-t. html?_r=1& th&emc=th& oref=slogin

I began reading this and just had to highlight some points and give my perspective. It focuses on pain. Our society is obsessed with pain; well, with the elimination of pain. Have you noticed? Drug companies spend a lot of money to advertise for every imaginable pain and rake in billions of dollars for their efforts. And, we still have a lot of people unable to feel their pain ... and they are unable to feel their pleasure, their joy, and humans struggle to truly embrace love, touch, regard, and healthy, sexual connection. Consider with me as you read the article, what's up with this focus on understanding and getting rid of pain? Pain is a primary, human emotion, as is pleasure. Can we have one without the other?

He finds “outrageous” the suggestion that the fetus feels anything like the pain that an older child or an adult experiences. “A fetus is biologically human, of course,” he says. “It isn’t a cow. But it’s not yet psychologically human.” That is a status not bestowed at conception but earned with each connection made and word spoken. Following this logic to its conclusion, Derbyshire has declared that babies cannot feel pain until they are 1 year old.

If this is true, why do we nurture and love our babies? Why are we aghast at the story of an adult abusing a newborn or infant? Should we evaluate the experience of our infants with the same standard then that obstetrics uses in the evaluation of the newborn and the consequence of their work? Baby is alive, Baby looks ok.

As you read about the debate over when does pain start in the human and do prenates feel pain, wonder with me, "Do prenates, laboring and birthing babies, and infants FEEL ... so is all of the love we give them even important if they don't FEEL." Is there no "psychology" as this one researcher says? Or can you embrace the growing scientific evidence shared in this article that tells that we are CONSCIOUS beings during gestation? What does not yet psychologically human mean anyway? I have, sometimes regrettably, two degrees in the psychology field. I belong to the emerging field of pre and perinatal psychology ( even though I don't care for the title because of the word psychology. Psychology has a bad rap these days and what it means to some prevents them from pursuing the field of pre and perinatal life.

However, my colleagues -- from a myriad of field -- have been synthesizing the scientific research for over two decades. Today's article supports not only their work in the study of fetal pain (experience and consciousness) but also that there is a consciousness before conception, an existence, a being, a soul that comes in at conception. One can begin, as pioneering scientists have always done with emerging information to look even broader and deeper. We can wonder about the conception experience of the consciousness (soul) and the experience of the laboring and birthing baby in terms of pleasure and pain, or as biology looks at experience, growth or protection. Yeah, that brings up the abortion issue; I address it at the end.

I am only half way through the article and had to post my responses so far. What a great dialog we could have in this country if so many folks weren't afraid to change their behavior (obstetrics) and so many folks were afraid to acknowledge the consequences of our unknowing so far (the effects of random conception, unaware gestation, invasive drugged labor and birth, and disconnected infancy .)

Does the fetus feel pain?

"When the surgeon lowered his scalpel to the 25-week-old fetus, Paschall saw the tiny figure recoil in what looked to him like pain."

"I don’t care how primitive the reaction is, it’s still a human reaction,” Paschall says. “And I don’t believe it’s right. I don’t want them to feel pain.”

“Pain perception probably does not function before the third trimester,” concluded Rosen, the review’s senior author. The capacity to feel pain, he proposed, emerges around 29 to 30 weeks gestational age, or about two and a half months before a full-term baby is born. Before that time, he asserted, the fetus’s higher pain pathways are not yet fully developed and functional."

Before nerve fibers extending from the thalamus have penetrated the cortex — connections that are not made until the beginning of the third trimester — there can be no consciousness and therefore no experience of pain. Sunny Anand reacted strongly, even angrily, to the article’s conclusions.

Anand acknowledges that the cerebral cortex is not fully developed in the fetus until late in gestation. What is up and running, he points out, is a structure called the subplate zone, which some scientists believe may be capable of processing pain signals. A kind of holding station for developing nerve cells, which eventually melds into the mature brain, the subplate zone becomes operational at about 17 weeks.

I've said it a hundred times maybe here ... from the moment of conception there is no time in human development that is not critical. Every moment of life, from conception forward, through gestation, during LABOR AND BIRTH, the hours and days in the hospital, infancy, childhood ... everything we experience is registered.

after birth.

How important this wording is to our unconscious --- the separation of PREnatal and POSTnatal. Our language reflects a huge discrepancy in our thinking about human babies that is perpetuated by science and obstetrics. Notice this as you are reading anything from the science of prenatal life to ACOG literature. We look at the human being's experiences in two categories, Before birth and AFTER birth. Please begin to wonder about that ... how is it that we do not consider the same profound understandings to exist for the laboring and birthing baby? Why do we not understand that the newborn baby that we see so interactive and responsive at home three days later was also the same in the hospital. WHY do we, as a society, and around the world, believe that when the baby is in the hospital, in the care of professional medical people that whatever is done to the baby won't be remembered, and so, it doesn't matter?

Before nerve fibers extending from the thalamus have penetrated the cortex — connections that are not made until the beginning of the third trimester — there can be no consciousness and therefore no experience of pain.

Maybe not ...

"....five children who were captured on video by a Swedish neuroscientist named Bjorn Merker on a trip to Disney World a few years ago. The youngsters, ages 1 to 5, are shown smiling, laughing, fussing, crying; they appear alert and aware of what is going on around them. Yet each of these children was born essentially without a cerebral cortex. The condition is called hydranencephaly, in which the brain stem is preserved but the upper hemispheres are largely missing and replaced by fluid."

Mercer concludes:

“The tacit consensus concerning the cerebral cortex as the ‘organ of consciousness,’ ” Merker wrote, may “have been reached prematurely, and may in fact be seriously in error.”

Maybe the "consensus" that has pervaded conventional thought and lead us for generations to believe that the human baby doesn't remember the pain ... maybe that consensus is also in error.

Many noted that if Merker is correct, it could alter our understanding of how normal brains work and could change our treatment of those who are now believed to be insensible to pain because of an absent or damaged cortex.

While the scientists go on and on debating the if and when, and while obstetrics continues to promote that our laboring and birthing baby doesn't feel the experience, birth trauma doesn't exist so it doesn't matter they do to a baby to get them here, while they promote that the newborn doesn't remember, as in doesn't remember the happiness of the experience either, while they promote the baby remembers being dropped by the mother, but won't remember pain inflicted by a medical caregivers, while they promote that the baby IS affected by maternal ELICIT drug use but not by use IN the HOSPITAL, while all this goes on around us, LOOK at babies. LOOK at NEWBORN BABIES. SLOW down, LOOK at them ... at how they interact with their loved ones. Look at how gently and softly parents touch their newborns as the medical caregiver is so rough. Wonder at how the baby settles down in the arms of this PROTECTIVE parent and thrashes and flinches when that rough caregiver comes near or they hear that person's voice.

The possibility of consciousness without a cortex may also influence our opinion of what a fetus can feel. Like the subplate zone, the brain stem is active in the fetus far earlier than the cerebral cortex is, and if it can support consciousness, it can support the experience of pain. While Mark Rosen is skeptical, Anand praises Merker’s work as a “missing link” that could complete the case for fetal pain.

If the prenatal brain can support consciousness we can begin to extrapolate about the laboring and birthing baby and the infant AND about the consciousness that exists at conception and before. As the article goes on, of course it gets into abortion, as does the field of pre and perinatal psychology as we embrace that the human being has a soul, an existence before conception (and after physical life here). Embracing the concepts of pre and perinatal psychology that lead us to believe that the birth experience is a critical developmental time. It scares many who do not want to fully consider abortion beyond the typical, mainstream bi-polar perspective of the "right" versus the "left" that pervades ever issue in our modern life. I consider that while physical life here can be ended with abortion, consciousness, the essence, soul, energy that exists before conception a soul can not be killed, and that the experience of abortion is between these three souls (mother, father, and baby).

IN FACT, “THERE may not be a single moment when consciousness, or the potential to experience pain, is turned on,” Nicholas Fisk wrote with Vivette Glover, a colleague at Imperial College, in a volume on early pain edited by Anand. “It may come on gradually, like a dimmer switch.” It appears that this slow dawning begins in the womb and continues even after birth. So where do we draw the line? When does a release of stress hormones turn into a grimace of genuine pain?

Do we really need decades and decades of conclusive research to tell us to be soft, gentle, kind, quiet, respectful in the presence of a newborn? Do we not know that when we deaden our ability to feel pain, we also deaden our ability to feel all emotions?

Don't we want to be able to feel our pain, so we can feel our pleasure?

Don't we want to be able to feel our pleasure, so we can feel our pain?

Don't we want to know we are alive? And, don't we want to experience our lives here on this wonderful planet?

So, that's as far as I got. More later for sure....

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fentanyl -- More about Fentanyl

Last year I posted about epidural and how babies are non-consenting research subjects. Today I received a comment on that post and wanted to share it here. Otherwise, you might miss it. It gives me the opportunity to revisit that information.

Link to the post:

And today's comment:
Anonymous said...
I am a terminal ovarian cancer patient and my doctor prescribed a fentanyl patch for the extreme pain I suffer. It has provided excellent relief and I don't believe that it has damaged my mental or physical health in any way. However, I have read that it is not short-term, acute pain, so I would agree that it doesn't belong in obstetrics. However, I think you're going overboard to classify it as a street drug. There are people who misuse just about anything in an attempt to get high. Should we ban house paint and spray cans so teens can't "huff" them? Same with fentanyl. There's more to life than giving birth. This drug has brought much comfort for people who suffer chronic pain.
Thank you for your post, Anonymous. There are not words to express how sorry I am to know that you are terminally ill. I wish you the best. I am sure the fentanyl patch is most helpful to you. This is the appropriate use of fentanyl. Labor and birth is not.

I shared an article about a young man who died from a fentanyl and heroine overdose in my post last year. The article says that over a hundred people have died from that combination of drugs. Clearly, I am not the one to classify it as a street drug. Whether it is or not isn't the point. What is happening to babies who are born under the influence of narcotics and synthetic opiods is the point. In addition to it being known as a dangerous drug on the street, the US Defense Department classified fentanyl as a potential chemical warfare drug. They were considering it as a chemical to use to subdue crowds but decided against it after the tragic loss of many lives in the Chech Republic, I think it was., where fentanyl was responsible for many deaths when used to subdue crowds.

Why would anyone even consider administering this to a laboring woman and baby? For any reason? The reason it is used at all was to counter the effects of bupivicaine which was known to be dangerous.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiod. The drugs -- a cocktail of drugs at the discretion of the individual anestheseologist -- are administered directly into the spine of a woman. It doesn't just numb her from the waist down -- it gets into her system. She is impaired. Her baby gets the drug and is impaired. This doesn't begin to compare with the valid use of the drug for pain for an adult, with a patch. The blood brain barrier of the newborn doesn't develop for weeks according to some research out of the University of Arizona. Unfortunately, I can't find it right now. Basically, the astrocytes that will eventually make the blood brain barrier don't develop for awhile.

Prior to the great marketing campaign in obstetrics that convinced women that epidural is safe, we knew that babies were affected by the drug that is still used in epidural -- bupivicaine. I can tell you, as can many women, we were not "numb from the waist down." We were drug impaired. Babies were limp, unresponsive, and hard to waken. My daughter could not be wakened. So, now, a decade later, thanks to fentanyl... thanks to fentanyl!?!??! ... those effects are minimized. All babies from the beginning of obstetrics have uninformed, non-consenting research subjects. Now epidural is promoted as so "safe" and so "normal" that women who want to NOT have epidural are now seen as the weirdos by women who are happy to go in, lay down, spread before strangers, and turn their bodies over to the medical conveyor belt. They are happy to be numb, unable to feel their bodies, their babies, or to even move to allow their baby more room to birth from their bodies. Pitiful. Talk about "peer pressure".

Bupvicaine and fentanyl, neither one, were ever shown to be safe before using in labor and birth. Never shown to be safe for the baby. Experimentation on women and babies in recent years in obstetrics has been to find the dosage of bupivicaine that does provides the best "maternal satisfaction." The harm to the baby during birth and for his life time is not anyone's consideration.

The research by the early 90's was clear about the detrimental effects for both. Rather than discontinue it's use, experimentation on women and babies continued. The main point of my posts is that fentanyl is used by obstetricians without ANY research to show that it was safe for the baby or mother before doing so. There is a huge difference between a fentanyl patch for a adult in pain, and a catheter in your spine allowing the drug directly into your nervous system. HUGE DIFFERENCE. An adult can choose to use it. A baby can not choose. They are dependent upon to ensure their safety and wellbeing during labor and birth. A woman who would never consider during sanctioned (prescription) or street drugs, and is admonished if she does, is given full permission to use harmful drug during this most important event. It is done without his consent and against his will. Does the human baby not have the right to labor and be born without drug? With a mother is not impaired.

bupivicaine and fentanyl to find the best amount of fentanyl to COUNTER the dangerous effects of bupivicaine. These effects have been known since late 80's and early 90's. Rather than ending the use of the bupivicaine researchers continue to study the effects on HUMANS ... human newborns.

I am sorry, I don't think we can compare the adult experience/need for pain relief with fentanyl with what is right and just for the human newborn. The "off-label" use of fentanyl in obstetrics, on laboring and birthing women and babies can not be justified. I am speaking out on behalf of the babies who cannot speak for themselves. I am outraged at the medical profession for such criminal violation of woman and babies and for violating the position they hold. They are to protect and "do no harm." I am sad that women are so incapable of trusting their own body to birth their baby and instead trust the propaganda that epidural is perfectly safe. I am outraged that they believe that the use of narcotics is dangerous and the potential for addiction applies to everyone else but them.

What kind of society is this that promotes that a woman laboring and giving birth "under the influence" is ok? Natural? Normal?

I was born by saddle block and have done intensive trauma therapy to heal it. I have given birth "under the influence" of drugs several times -- one against my will and permission, and one by choice as my ex-medical student, later to be obstetrician husband convinced me it was perfectly safe. I was thirty-seven, supposedly in the high risk category and "didn't need to go through all of that." Wasn't he sweet? That was in 1994. Ten years later I found the extensive research showing how dangerous it was for me and for my daughter. He didn't read the research. He had trusted his teachers who pass on their medical rituals.

I know how hard it is to process the violation of a birth where things were done to me, against my will. I know what is it like to feel violated and feel raped .... to not remember twenty hours and who did what to me. All because of drugs I never said yes to. I know how hard it is to have chosen to induce and use epidural and then to learn how lied to I was. In both cases I know how painful and how freeing it is to recognize and deal with the impact on myself and baby. I know the power to heal that comes from seeing that my baby experienced their birth, whether I was violated or made the decision that resulted in their wounding.

We can acknowledge that women and babies are affected by birth ... drugs, interventions, rough handling, strangers, invasions ... because now we have techniques to help us heal and integrate the early, traumatic experiences. We don't have to remain ignorant, in denial, continuing to harm babies.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Back in the ring ... to help my colleague

My colleague, Jill Chase, PhD, has entered into the web of another blog. The discussion is on waterbirth and Jill posted info from our field of pre and perinatal birth psychology. Jill and I are both members of the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Birth and (Birth and Early Parenting Educators). I posted this, but I am sure that it will disappear. I enter this ring ... like All-Star wrestling very rarely, only when I see a colleague getting attacked from behind, like with a metal chair and a multi-tag team approach. So, here's my post.

Hi, Jill --

I just happened to see you were in this nasty web. Having your credentials trashed is par for the course here. Don't take it personally. All you can do is post and run at best. Any one with credentials and information to challenge the status quo, to question the big debate home vs hospital, doctor vs midwife, from the perspective of the baby gets blocked anyway.

As a developmental psychologist, maybe you can address this -- before you get blocked. It does seem logical to me that the human development never ends once the conception occurs. so, that means that whatever is happening in the womb and during the first hours and months of life -- responding, learning in response to the environment -- is also going on during labor and birth. Isn't it rather unscientific and ignorant to think that the experience of the birthing baby isn't processed like every other moment? Whatever we call it -- imprinting or memory -- the experience is recorded in the human baby's brain and body.

This blog won't ever talk about the real needs of the baby. Because obstetrics and midwifery both deny that the baby is an aware, live being, the brain is working, is "online" and recording everything, and that the neocortex and language will develop based on what has happened before, you won't find an audience here. Most people have experienced harsh, rough treatment and interventions. Some take the perspective that it's the way it is and doesn't matter because we don't remember. Ironically, they are the medically trained and entrenched people, or their zombie followers. It is like that hazing mentality. They got through it just fine, so there is no reason to stop doing it. To realize that babies remember birth opens up a whole new level of FEELING ... denial is easier. "Because we have always done it" is easier answer than saying, "OH MY GOD... what have we done and what can do it about." Most of the people here can not go there --- they can not also see the field we belong to as having resources for healing when one has been traumatized.

"Hey, I bet my babies didn't particularly love being intubated or placed on respirators! I should have told the NICU staff not to bother, as I wouldn't want to cause psychological problems later on!"

This is a perfect example of how the denial belief system that says we should just ignore that babies remember when some babies need interventions. Somehow, the need to do interventions with the knowing that the baby is going to impacted for life doesn't enter into the denial locked mind. WHEN babies need touch and intervention, a simple answer/solution is to do the touch with awareness. Our field believes we should tell the baby what is happening, ask permission, and to support the mother to be supporter of the baby.

Speaking to the baby, holding and comforting the baby before interventions when possible ... in a medical emergency, someone explaining to the baby, acknowledging the pain, the fast past, the separation from the mother and creating a safe environment. But the biggie is in a fast, harsh intervention, and/or on ongoing such as in NICU, the caregiver knowing that the baby is experiencing it and the brain and body will remember, will acknowledge this, maybe not verbally in the moment, but with their touch and regard for the baby. There is a whole field of research and practices for how to help the baby afterwards. This is what the human being needs in every other stage of life...

I was banned here repeatedly for posting what you have about our field and then started I have done several posts on this over the past year. Feel free to be a guest poster.

As the blogger on hospitalbirthdebate, I was featured on Tales from the Womb. The NICU doctor blasted Dr. Wirth and denied that it is scientific that baby's remember; but who can deny that they experience it? He said on his April 22 post, "So no, I will not be softly and calmly uttering phrases like 'You're dying. Stay calm. I'm going to do an emergent chest tube insertion. It'll probably hurt... a lot, because if I take time to use pain medication, that tension pneumothorax is going to kill you.' to babies in the delivery room. Sorry."

Why not? Why not give a newborn baby struggling for life the same respect we would like to see our child, friend, spouse, or parent receive in their life threatening crisis?

My main point/question to those who feel that since their baby experienced or they are a doctor who does it ... And who can deny that human development is one, long continuum from conception forward? How can you scientifically promote that human being goes into "OFF" or "blob mode" in labor or birth or just because they are in the hospital, or being touched by medically trained people.

There is a middle ground. It IS ok to acknowledge the human newborn AND deliver conscious, gentle, acknowledging care and touch. AND, more importantly, we know HOW to help these babies to not live in the shadow of harsh entry into the world.

Our field is new, cutting edge, and compiling all of the science from multiple fields. She, like most medically trained people who are treating babies as they do, refuse to look at what they are doing -- even when based in science. But then, obstetrics is known, even within medical field, to be non-science based.

I am on my way to California right now to spend a month with David and Donna Chamberlain and our group. I'll have some good posts on this topic this month. And, I am posting this one now.

Baby Keeper

Monday, February 04, 2008

Just Say Yes .... to women and babies

"We live in a culture where it's okay to "medicate" yourself to oblivion but if you are okay with coping with the natural pain of childbirth you're crazy."

Nik, a commenter on this blog

We have to "Just Say No to Drugs" when we do.

I read a great post today, Epidural is not your savior, at She makes a point that I've been making for a long time ... about how woman expect to be pain free in birth and for the birthing of their baby from their body to somehow be done to them. Medicine has both obliged and created a monster. Medicine purports to be serving maternal requests and needs, but truly it is a relationship. When did it start ... that's in the history. Today, is a review of some literature that always makes me livid ....

Twenty years ago the research was clear -- epidural is dangerous for mother and baby. The need for management of fluids and oxygen were known, as were maternal and baby cardiac and spinal issues.

Not many people consider that these drugs were NEVER shown to be safe BEFORE using on women and babies, just as no drug - ether, scopalamine, demerol, bipuvicaine, fentanyl, cytotec -- was ever shown safe before doctors used them experimentally on women and babies.

Women have been trained by medical field and culture to believe that childbirth pain is horrible (thanks to pit it is) to be managed by someone or something outside themselves. In doing so women give up their power and ability to experience any pain -- the result of this mentality to use substances to get rid of every pain and for the medical person to do so is far reaching. As an ex of an OB, I am aware of the many reasons for the pushing of drugs in the medical field ... natural birthers allude to them and medical people deny it.

Here's a perfect example of the "Peer literature" that shows it has nothing to do with the real risks to the baby, to their relationship, and to their long-term addiction potential.

Bupivacaine versus bupivacaine plus fentanyl for epidural analgesia: effect on maternal satisfaction.
J D Murphy, K Henderson, M I Bowden, M Lewis, and G M Cooper, Department of Anaesthetics, Birmingham Maternity Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre. BMJ. 1991 March 9; 302(6776): 564–567.

OBJECTIVE--To compare a combination of epidural fentanyl and bupivacaine with bupivacaine alone for epidural analgesia in labour and to evaluate factors in addition to analgesia that may influence maternal satisfaction.

"Maternal satisfaction" is the objective!?! with a drug like fentanyl?? while the field promoted controversy about home and water birth and maternal satisfaction and empowerment are ridiculed?!? Perhaps this “scientific” approach to studying the drugs used in epidural anesthesia – focused on maternal satisfaction – give us some clues as to how this cultural approval for these dangerous drugs, promoted as safe, but purportedly for physician needs and timing, has evolved into a socially accepted, safe drug. It is under the guise of “maternal request” and “informed consent” lingo and no one addresses a corresponding, rising epidemic of narcotic addiction problem in the US.

The medical field and their research are responsible for creating this growing belief in labor and birth being about maternal satisfaction, not the human baby's need -- and doing so with dangerous drugs.

Here is an example of peer literature that shows us just how little the baby is considered in the labor and birth experience.

The drug, bipuvicaine, that was known/shown dangerous in the early nineties is counteracted by another drug, fentanyl, a synthetic opiod, also NEVER shown to be safe for the mother and baby, but known to be extremely dangerous for everyone else in the world to use. WOMEN AND BABIES are being experimented on without their consent. From what we know of the epidural effects, from the 90's, we, physicians, nurses, mothers, grandmothers, fathers and anyone with half a brain cell ought to know that we must use these drugs and interventions only when absolutely necessary. The medical field promotes the use of cesarean, not because it is safer and easier for the human baby or mother.

Synergistic effect of intrathecal fentanyl and bupivacaine in spinal anesthesia for cesarean section.
Jaishri Bogra, Namita Arora, and Pratima Srivastava,BMC Anesthesiol. 2005; 5: 5.

In this study by addition of fentanyl we tried to minimize the dose of bupivacaine, thereby reducing the side effects caused by higher doses of intrathecal bupivacaine in cesarean section.

The researchers -- IN their research -- actually acknowledge the detrimental effects of epidural and are researching for dosage on live babies and women. Of course, throughout the 90's doctors experimented with drugs and doses and the researchers looked at the results. What kind of research is this? We are to believe any of the research that the obstetric field dishes us? I gave birth twice in a teaching hospital - one a planned induction with epidural. Were we research subjects? Must not be, no one ever followed up to see how we did in the long term. HA! It's appalling.

Methods: Study was performed on 120 cesarean section parturients divided into six groups, identified as B8, B10 and B 12.5 8.10 and 12.5 mg of bupivacaine mg and FB8, FB10 and FB 12.5 received a combination of 12.5 μg intrathecal fentanyl respectively. The parameters taken into consideration were visceral pain, hemodynamic stability, intraoperative sedation, intraoperative and postoperative shivering, and postoperative pain.

The year is 2005. HOW IS THIS “SCIENTIFIC STUDY” APPROVED AND ACCEPTABLE TREATMENT OF THE HUMAN NEWBORN??? One hundred twenty babies randomly placed in groups to receive different drugs. Drugs that were never, ever shown to be safe for a baby. It's OK to give birth under the influence of narcotics when we know how potentially addictive and dangerous narcotics are every day for everyone. Lord o' mercy -- do the people in charge of the "War on Drugs", drug prevention, drug treatment, and child psychology know this?!?! Being in all of those fields, I can tell you, NO, they don't. Do nurses and doctors thinks about this?

The researchers continue ...

Researchers concluded, Spinal anesthesia among the neuraxial blocks in obstetric patients needs strict dose calculations because minimal dose changes, complications and side effects arise, providing impetus for this study. Here the synergistic, potentiating effect of fentanyl (an opiod) on bupivacaine (a local anesthetic) in spinal anesthesia for cesarian section is presented, fentanyl is able to reduce the dose of bupivacaine and therefore its harmful effects.

So, now we have a new generation of children raised on television, drug commercials, and the DARE program who are now giving birth. We have women so unwilling to even feel a pain and willing to do so because they believe is it so safe ... because they are alive and "baby looks fine." The research above said babies were fine WITHOUT that even being a part of their research study. Is peer research really the ultimate in informing us? Or does it serve to perpetuate the obstetric field's vice on women's bodies and souls?

And, meanwhile, even a good number of good doctors and good nurses know that women can do labor pain. They realize that their profession is barely a hundred years old and that women gave birth for eons without medical professionals present. How quickly these drugs ... morphine, cocaine, and narcotics have numbed humanity.

The natural birth field mostly promotes the ability and right of a women to move her body to birth her baby ... upright, no recreational use of narcotics during birth because of the danger to her and her baby. She is up and off her sacrum where the nerves all gather and pain is heightened. Her pelvis can up open up to 30-50% eliminating the need for interventions and the coached pushing. On her back, numb from the waist down with the interventions so aptly described in the post, Epidural is not your savior, it is an absolute miracle, a tribute to just how much the human woman's body and her baby can endure and overcome, and still manage to birth ... alive. Another blog and visitors shred the natural birth movement and women's self-empowering that comes with claiming her body and birthing at home. It is they, the medical caregivers and their peer reviewed research that has created the language of "maternal satisfaction" and now they are angry and outright undermining that when women say no thank you to drugs. Anyone who has read about and considered the natural birth movement knows the main reason women want to birth out of the hospital is to avoid the drug enforcement crew.

When a woman "knows her body works" and maybe even sees her body as her savior, she doesn't need any drugs ... and science and logic tell us that is better for baby and mother, and their relationship. The mechanics of medical birth ensure that women will need pain relief. It is criminal, I tell you ... and then there's what they do to the baby while maintaining that babies don't remember.

Oh, my ... where are the logical and scientific folks who claim that the birth experience is irrelevant at best for the babies when we know logically and scientifically that there is no time in human development from the conception experience throughout life that the human brain is not taking in and processing information. Birth is not a black out where the baby's brain is not functioning ... INTERACTING WITH THE ENVIRONMENT AND PROCESSING IT. Americans, 90% of whom were born "under the influence" of drugs are IN a BLACK OUT when it comes to the needs of the laboring and birthing newborn.

"Just say yes ... to women and babies"

I have an ongoing challenge out to anyone who can show me ONE piece of literature that shows that any drug ever used in obstetric care was shown to be safe before using on laboring and birthing baby.

"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC

OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife

Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.

I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth