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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Urgent Care Centers
Alpine Center (open 24/7) 616.391.6220
3350 Broadmoor Ave. 616.391.8020
Grandville Center 616.391.6210
Plainfield Center 616.391.8242
South Pavilion (open 24/7) 616.391.8242

Breastfeeding Assistance
Please see our reference list under Bonding.

Breastfeeding pump and equipment suppliers (purchase and rental)

Baby Beloved
2505 Ardmore SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Women's Boutique
5150 Plainfield Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI

Postpartum Assistance

The mission of MomsBloom is to provide physical and emotional postpartum support for families and to create a sense of community through education and mentorship regardless of race, income, or family type.

Lesley Jeruzal, Postpartum Doula in Training
6818 Mildred Ave SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49508

Sara Binkley-Tow, MA, CIMI, CHBE, PCD(DONA)
P.O. Box 522
Cannonsburg, Michigan 49317
Phone: 616.828.1021

Angie Walters, PCD (DONA)
Postpartum Doula

Infant Massage Classes and Services
All in The Touch
Learn how to massage your baby for a lifetime of benefits.
Contact Sara Binkley-Tow

Postpartum depression resources and support groups
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities--Postpartum Adjustment Support Group
665 Seward Ave. NW, Suite 110, Grand Rapids, MI (free parking on site)
Evenings: Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday, 8 pm
Mornings: Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday, 9:30 am
616.391.1771 or 616.391.5000

Life After Baby, Ada
LAB is a self-help group providing an avenue for community, support, resources, education, and encouragement. No need to register, no fee, just come!
2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 7-9p.m.
Ada Bible Church
8899 Cascade Rd SE
Ada, MI 49301
Contact: Jenna and Diane

Childcare Options

Kent Regional Community Coordinated Child Care (Kent Regional 4C).
Provides childcare referrals and information on selecting quality childcare consultation on financial assistance for parents using childcare, workshops for parents, advocacy on behalf of children and families, child care professsionals, resource library.

Community Services/Programs

Michigan Assistance and Referral Service (MARS)
MARS provides information about programs offered by the State of Michigan that may help families in need with assistance for medical, nutritional, food, day care, temporary cash or other expenses. MARS will help you determine if your household may be eligible.

Friday, November 17, 2006

DONA International

The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth

The Nutan Pandit Lamaze Program® for Childbirth

Birthing Naturally: Natural Childbirth Directory

Birth Partners.Com: Natural Childbirth Provider Directory

Hypno Babies

Hypno Birthing
Natural Childbirth.Org

The Natural Family Site: Natural Childbirth


Gentle Birth

Birthing Naturally

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services

Mothering Magazine: Pregnancy & Birth

Ask Dr. Sears: Pregnancy & Childbirth


Ina May’s Website

International Cesarean Awareness Network
These are in no particular order.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
The Birth Book and The Pregnancy Book by William Sears, M.D. & Martha Sears, R.N.,
Birth Your Way by Sheila Kitzinger
Homebirth by Sheila Kitzinger
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
Obstetric Myths vs. Research Realities by Henci Goer
The New Well Pregnancy Book by Mike Samuels, M.D. & Nancy Samuels
Having a Baby, Naturally by Peggy O’Mara
The Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg
Birthing From Within by Pam England
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy
Prenatal Parenting: The Complete Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Loving Your Unborn Child by Frederick Wirth
Magical Beginnings Enchanted Lives - A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth Deepak Chopra
Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Shanley.
Immaculate Deception I & II by Suzanne Arms
The VBAC Companion: The Expectant Mother's Guide to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean by Diana Korte
Natural Childbirth After Cesarean by Crawford and Walters
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Myla Kabat-Zinn

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Dr. Linda Kunce, DC
833 Leonard St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
phone: (616)459-2332
referred by: AnnaLee

Dr. Lori L. Walenga, D.C.
6575 Belding Road
Rockford, MI 49341
referred by: Shannon Pawson

Birth Photography

Photographs By Devon
Devon Hamstra
The following is a list of OB/GYNs in the greater Grand Rapids area who offer services related to natural childbirth. Grand Rapids Natural Parenting does not recommend or endorse any particular practitioner. The doctors on this list were put here based on recommendations from parents who had a good natural birth experience. However, every birth is different. The practitioner who works best for one family may not be the best choice for another. We strongly recommend you interview several choices before making your decisions.

Dr. Michael Bennett, M.D.
Grand Valley Gynecologists
referred by: Laura J.

Dr. Ruth Brandt
Knollcrest OB/GYN
Burton and E. Beltline
phone: 942-1300
referred by: Devon

Dr. Andrea Wolfe
Obstetrics & Gynecology
1000 E Paris Ave SE
Primary Care Partners SEast OB &
Grand Rapids, MI

The following are some names of doctors who may also be supportive, based on input from area childbirth educators.

VanSlooten (Spectrum)
Frank (Spectrum)
Dalton (Metro)
Bolan (Metro & Spectrum)
Taylor (Spectrum & Holland/Zeeland)
The following is a list of practitioners in the greater Grand Rapids area who offer services supporting natural childbirth. Grand Rapids Natural Parenting does not recommend or endorse any particular practitioner.

The doctors on this list were put here based on recommendations from parents who had a good natural childbirth experience with this practitioner. However, every birth is different. The practitioner who works best for one family may not be the best choice for another. We strongly recommend you interview several choices before making your decisions.

Dr. Brenda Zook, M.D.
Applewood Family Medicine (Spectrum Health)
Sparta, MI
referred by: Melissa H.
"Dr. Zook always treated me as an intelligent woman in charge of the decision making regarding my birth. She was very supportive of my wishes for a natural childbirth, and even offered suggestions that hadn't occurred to me. She was always warm, personable, and willing to answer any questions at my prenatal visits. The couple of times we disagreed on the best way to proceed, she always respectfully gave her recommendation and then stated that it was my choice. She was always very respectful of my wishes. Despite not being "on-call" the night my son was born, she was there to catch our baby. She is an excellent doctor for anyone looking for a natural hospital birth. I loved having only one doctor taking care of both myself and my baby."

Stacy Steen (Spectrum)
referred by Marie
The following is a list of practitioners in the greater Grand Rapids area who offer childbirth services. Grand Rapids Natural Parenting does not recommend or endorse any particular practitioner. The midwives on this list may or may not have were put here based on recommendations. Every birth is different. The practitioner who works best for one family may not be the best choice for another. We strongly recommend you interview several choices before making your decisions.

The Greenhouse Birth Center
1831 Newman Road
Okemos, MI
phone: (517)349-2620
referred by: Heather C.

M. Elyse Veach, MN, CNM
Certified Nurse Midwife
3535 Park St. Suite 110
Muskegon, MI 49444

Maureen Chrzanowski, M.S.N., C.N.M., F.N.P.
Gail Heathcote, M.S.N., C.N.M.
Amy Anstett, M.S.N., C.N.M.
Spectrum Health Blodgett Professional Office Building
1900 Wealthy S.E. Suite 300, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
phone: (616) 774-2400

Brenda Daniels, RNC, MSN, CNM
1586 44th St SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49509
phone: (616) 532-1410

MaryAnne George,CNM
80 68th Street Suite 301
Grand Rapids, MI 49548
Phone: (616) 391-8370
The following is a list of midwives in the greater Grand Rapids area who offer homebirth servies. Grand Rapids Natural Parenting does not recommend or endorse any particular practitioner. All of the homebirth midwives on this list strongly support natural childbirth and have excellent reputations in the area. Please keep in mind that every birth is different. The practitioner who works best for one family may not be the best choice for another. We strongly recommend you interview several choices before making your decisions.

Birth Song Midwifery
Yolanda Visser, CPM, CM
I am a traditional midwife. I like that title. My nitch is the Home Birth setting. I believe that I am supporting a tradition of women and their abilities to birth. Traditions that are empowering, centering and social. Traditions that are becoming lost. My children were both born at home. As they walk away to form their own lives, I'm reminded of the importance of choices and support.
1514 Wealthy St. SE Suite 238-B
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
office: (616)458-8144

Laura Slater
2045 Wealthy St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Shannon Pawson, CPM
Women who choose homebirth desire a safe, natural and active birth, where they are in charge of their experience. Birthing at home, in your own environment, allows many women to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
Rockford, MI
cell (616)295-1128

Sara Badger, Midwife
951 Thomas Street S.E.
Grand Rapids MI 49506
(616) 452-7355
Services Provided: Homebirth Midwifery, Waterbirth, VBAC, Childbirth & Breastfeeding education, Doula Services, Birth Advocacy.
Areas Served: Grand Rapids and surrounding areas
Description of Services: Holistic care for those birthing in all settings. Parental empowerment every step of the way.

Home BirthWorks
Susan Wente, CNM, Dr.PH
We know that if a healthy woman is put in the supportive and nurturing environment of home that Home Birth Works. It is our desire to bring the focus in childbearing back to where it belongs: to the mother, father, the baby and the family that the birth is creating. The majority of healthy women can deliver safely and comfortably in the home with a trained midwife.
5505 South Centerline Road
Newaygo, Michigan 49337
cell: (231)519-1081
residence: (231)652-3247

Full Circle Midwifery
Patrice Bobier, CM, CPM (senior midwife)
4220 E. Loop Road
Hesperia, MI 49421
(231) 861-2234

BellaBirth Doula Services

Sue E. Bailey (DONA)
Rockford, MI

Kriste Johns (DONA)
(616) 460-3552
Grand Rapids MI

Heather Luyk (DONA)
Grand Rapids, MI

Gretchen Worcester (DONA)
Grand Rapids, MI

Birthing Grace Doula Services
Kriste Weber
(616) 460-3552
Grand Rapids, MI

Marie Bauman
I've been a doula since August 2003 and I love what I do. I would love to be able to help YOU have a great doula experience.

Heather Love,
Coopersville, MI, U.S.A.
Phone: (231) 343.1444

With Woman
Lindsey Cook
Birth Doula/Massage Therapist

Jessica English, CD(DONA)
location: Kalamazoo
phone: (269) 598-1488
Karlye McNeely, RN, BSN –HypnoBirthing
Work with your body during childbirth with self-hypnosis. Bring your baby into the world within a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
location: Zeeland, MI
phone: (616) 886-9873

Jodi Borsk, CBrE
Certified Brio Birth Educator
Location: Grand Rapids Area
616 862-5145

Jill Tenbrink, AAHCC – The Bradley Method
My husband, Randy, and I were introduced to the Bradley Method® when I was pregnant with our first child, Nathan in 2000. Due to a rough labor and pressures of the birth team, I had an epidural but managed to avoid a C-section. During my teacher training, I was priveledged to observe 8 unmedicated births. I became pregnant with my daughter, Elizabeth, and she was born at home in April 2004... drug free! Both experiences were wonderful, but Beth''s birth was so much more empowering and the family bonding was incredible. Bradley® helped us to prepare our son for the birth. He was a great comfort during labor and watched Beth''s birth. He even cut the cord. Bradley® has given us the gift of two wonderful, life-changing experiences.
location: Grand Rapids, Holland, & Zeeland
phone: (616)494-9687

Mother Nurture Childbirth Services
Laurie Smit is a certified childbirth educator through ALACE (Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators). Her services encompass the entire birth process from pregnancy to labor and delivery to postpartum. She also offers childbirth, early pregnancy, and VBAC classes.
location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Diane Kutter - Lamaze
Phone: 304-9277
Grand Rapids

Patrice Bobier
Full Circle Midwifery Service, Inc.
4220 E. Loop Road
Hesperia, MI 49421

Jessica English, CD(DONA) – The Best of Natural Birth
We get one chance to birth our babies. Barring medical complications,
natural birth is the safest, most empowering way to bring those tiny
people into the world. Jessica English is a former certified Bradley
Method instructor. After several years of teaching and attending
births as a doula, she discovered a passion for a wider range of
techniques. Still rooted in deep relaxation, her 8-week class teaches
couples to navigate the terrain of natural birth, in all its
incarnations. 93% of her students who have a vaginal birth do so
without any pain medication. Hospital and home-birthers are welcome,
and Jessica also offers private classes and doula services. Group
classes are taught at Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts.
location: Kalamazoo
phone: (269) 598-1488

Test Your Natural Childbirth Know-How!

--from November 2, 2006 meeting--

Read the questions and decide which are true statements, and which are myths. Then scroll down to find the answer, as well as a referenced quote about that topic.

Myth or Fact?

1) Epidurals are completely safe for mother and baby. Epidural anesthesia does not cross over into the placenta, so it does not affect the baby.

2) You don’t get a medal for having a natural childbirth.

3) All that matters is a healthy mother and a healthy baby.

4) Natural Childbirth can help facilitate a quicker labor and birth.

5) Routine hospital procedures inhibit bonding between mother and baby.

6) Extended contact between mother and baby after birth may significantly affect the subsequent behavior of a mother towards her baby.

7) Babies who are separated from their mothers at birth will not form as strong of an attachment.

8) The lithotomy position is the best birthing position for mom and baby.

9) Birth in the U.S. is safer than it has ever been.

10) Forty weeks is the average time of gestation. Mothers who go beyond 40 weeks are ‘overdue’ and are at greater risk of complications.

11) Homebirth is just as safe for low-risk mothers as hospital births.

12) Pain in childbirth can be beneficial.

13) You wouldn’t get your teeth pulled without anesthesia. Why suffer the pain of labor if you don’t have to?

14) An ultrasound shows my baby is going to be too big for me to deliver. So, I need to be induced before my due date or have a cesarean.

15) If my doctor suggests induction, it must be necessary.

16) It is safe and beneficial for a mother to eat and drink while in labor.

17) Vaginal Birth After Cesarean is safer than elective repeat cesarean.

18) A straight, clean episiotomy heals better and faster than a jagged tear.

19) Medical interventions impact a newborn’s ability to breastfeed.

20) Continuous electronic fetal monitoring provides a beneficial safety net for laboring mothers.

1) Myth. “The Physician’s Desk Reference cautions that local anesthetics –the type used in epidurals- rapidly cross the placenta… (and) can cause varying degrees of maternal, fetal, and neonatal toxicity which can result in the following side effects: hypotension, urinary retention, fecal and urinary incontinence, paralysis of lower extremities, loss of feeling in the limbs, headache, backache, septic meningitis, slowing of labor, increased need for forceps and vacuum deliveries, cranial nerve palsies, allergic reactions, respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting, and seizures… Epidurals have also been linked to an overall increase in operative deliveries: cesareans, forceps deliveries, and vacuum extractions…Eight primary studies revealed that the rate of cesarean section was 10 percentage points higher in the women who had received epidural anesthesia. One study actually found that the cesarean rate increased to 50 percent when the epidural was given at 2 cm dialation, 33 percent at 3 cm, and 26 percent at 4 cm.” (“Epidural Epidemic-Drugs in Labor: Are They Really Necessary…Or Even Safe?” By Joanne Dozer and Shannon Baruth, Mothering Magazine issue 95, July/August 1999)

2) True. No medals are awarded if you have a drug-free labor and birth. However: “…women who experience natural childbirth not only report greater satisfaction with their birth experience than those who do not, but also feel less pain and discomfort during the early weeks and months of motherhood.” (Having a Baby, Naturally, by Peggy O’Mara, p. xviii) And: “Circulating throughout your body are natural hormones that relax you when stressed and relieve pain when you hurt…endorphin levels go up during contractions in active labor and are highest just after birth…endorphin levels were found to be highest during vaginal deliveries, less high in cesarean births in which the mother had also labored, and lowest in cesarean births performed before mother’s labor had begun…As an added benefit, endorphins stimulate the secretion of prolactin, the relaxing ‘mothering’ hormone that regulates milk production and gives a woman a boost in interacting with her baby. Researchers believe that it is a combination of these hormones that contribute to the ‘birth high.’ (The Birth Book, by William Sears, M.D. & Martha Sears, R.N., p. 138)

3) Myth. “In several large studies dealing with mothers’ attitudes toward their birth experiences, researchers have found that the most important factor contributing to a positive perception of delivery is the mothers’ sense of control: the feeling that they participated actively in the decisions that were made and that they were not merely a passive object of care… It appears that any time a woman is forced into a passive, helpless, sick role, she feels a lowered sense of self-esteem. In particular, women who are given significant amounts of drugs or who are separated from their baby soon after birth often feel that they have been cheated or failed and have questions about their ability to mother. Research has shown that whenever a birth, either vaginal or cesarean, causes a mother to doubt herself, she is likely to carry this over to her feelings about her baby and her ability to care for it.” (The New Well Pregnancy Book, by Mike Samuels, M.D. and Nancy Samuels, p. 371)

And: “A good birth is not just a matter of safety, or of achieving the goal of a live and physically healthy mother and baby. We want birth to be as safe as we can make it, but should not take it for granted that delivery in an operating room is necessarily the best way to achieve this. Childbirth has to do with emotions as well… Everything that happens during a birth influences the way in which a woman perceives herself afterward. It can affect the relationship between her and the baby, and between both parents and their baby, for years after the actual birth.” (Birth Your Way, by Sheila Kitzinger, p. 8)

4) True. “…it is good to know that most women in labor need to be able to change position and to move around freely. Movement greatly helps cervical dilation during the early part of labor and helps bring the baby into the most advantageous position for passage through the pelvis…If your movement is not hampered by intravenous lines, electronic fetal monitoring, and most forms of epidural anesthesia, you will generally have an easier time assuming the positions that favor cervical dilation and, when that is complete, descent of your baby.” (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, p. 226)

5) True. “Procedures that Affect Bonding: Interventionists may briefly take the baby to weigh, measure, and examine it; suction out its nose and throat; and give a vitamin K shot and eyedrops. Some hospitals may routinely separate the newborn from its mother and place it in a nursery for variable amounts of time. This procedure does not allow bonding to take place in the critical period of the first hour after birth.” (The New Well Pregnancy Book, by Mike Samuels, M.D. and Nancy Samuels, p.198)

6) True. “Now it is recognized that the events of the first hour play a key role in the attachment that develops between parent and infant…Mothers who had greater early exposure to their infants showed more soothing, fondling, and eye-to-eye contact with their babies at one month and still showed more soothing behaviors at one year…This study provided the earliest evidence of a sensitive period as the time ‘during which the parents’ attachment to their infant blossoms… [and during which] complex interactions between the mother and infant help lock them together… A review of the studies at this time supports the view that extended contact after birth has positive effects, has no negative effects, and may significantly affect breast-feeding and subsequent behavior of a mother toward her baby. Therefore, it is advisable for a hospital to promote bonding.” (The New Well Pregnancy Book, by Mike Samuels, M.D. and Nancy Samuels, p. 434-436)

7) Myth. “It is also important to mention that when a mother is not able to bond because of illness or hospital policy, she should realize that she can overcome any effects of the separation. Human behavior is flexible enough and motherhood powerful enough to create love easily through later contact.” (The New Well Pregnancy Book, by Mike Samuels, M.D. and Nancy Samuels, p. 436)

8) Myth. “There are a number of problems generated by this position: (1) it focuses most of the woman's body weight squarely on her tailbone, forcing it forward and thereby narrowing the pelvic outlet, which both increases the length of labor and makes delivery more difficult (Balaskas and Balaskas 1983:8); (2) it compresses major blood vessels, interfering with circulation and decreasing blood pressure, which in turn lowers oxygen supply to the fetus (for example, several studies have reported that in the majority of women delivering in the lithotomy position, there was a 91% decrease in fetal transcutaneous oxygen saturation (Humphrey et al. 1973, 1974; Johnstone et al. 1987; Kurz et al. 1982); (3) contractions tend to be weaker, less frequent, and more irregular in this position, and pushing is harder to do because increased force is needed to work against gravity (Hugo 1977), making forceps extraction more likely and increasing the potential for physical injury to the baby; (4) placing the legs wide apart in stirrups can result in venous thrombosis or nerve compression from the pressure of the leg supports, while increasing both the need for episiotomy and the likelihood of tears because of excessive stretching of the perineal tissue and tension on the pelvic floor (McKay and Mahan 1984). (excerpt from Birth as an American Rite of Passage, by Robbie Davis-Floyd, PhD,

9) Myth. “In fact, the risk of a woman in this country dying from maternal mortality… has not decreased in more than 25 years…The data also suggest an increase in recent years in the number of women dying during pregnancy and birth in the US. We have known for some time that maternal mortality in the US is underreported… ‘The actual pregnancy-related death rate could be more than twice as high as that reported in 1990.’” (“Revealing the Real Risks: Obstetrical Interventions and Maternal Mortality”, by Marsden Wagner, Mothering Magazine Issue 118, May/June 2003.)

10) Myth. “…inducing for exceeding your due date is a textbook case of how mainstream obstetric care keeps narrowing the definition of normal until practically no one fits, which then creates the ‘need’ for intervention…there are problems with the due date itself…when researchers in a 1990 study followed a group of healthy, white women, they discovered that pregnancy in first-time mothers averaged eight days longer than this [40 weeks], and the average was three days longer in women with prior births…ultrasonography…does not reliably establish due dates. Even in the first trimester, the date is plus or minus 5 days. This means the actual due date falls within a 10-day window…While even the forty-two-week limit isn’t sound, in recent years, the ‘time’s up’ date has backed up to forty-one weeks, with some researchers recommending forty weeks. Based on the above study, first-time mothers are not only not ‘late’ at forty-one weeks, they haven’t even reached the average pregnancy length.” .” (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer, p.55-56)

11) Myth. Homebirth is actually safer than hospital birth. “Planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births in the United States.” (Abstract from Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America, British Medical Journal Dot Com,

12) True. “The pain and stress of normal labor have value for both you and your baby…Pain guides you. Usually, the positions and activities you find most comfortable are also those that promote good labor progress to help shift the baby into the best position for birth. Your body responds to labor pain by secreting adrenalines and endorphins. Adrenalines give you stamina. Endorphins relieve pain and elevate mood…The normal pain and stress of labor also benefit your unborn baby. The stress hormones produced in response to labor trigger the final preparation of your baby’s lungs to breathe air, mobilize glucose for energy, and, by shunting your baby’s blood away form the limbs and to the brain and heart, protect your baby against lack of oxygen during labor.” (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer, p.137-138)

13) Myth. “Labor will hurt. Probably a lot. But whether this is negative is another matter. Pain and suffering differ, as anyone who engages in activities demanding strength and endurance can tell you. A laboring woman can be in a great deal of pain, yet feel loved and supported and exhilarated by the power of the creative forces flowing through her body and her ability to meet labor’s challenges. Conversely, a woman with an epidural may experience no pain, yet feel intensely distressed because she feels ignored or helpless. Of course, pain and suffering may coincide, as many women who have labored will hasten to tell you. Still, the key seems to be who controls the pain medication decision. Pain becomes a drawback only when pain medication is being withheld or when a woman is not getting the support and help she needs to master it… the pain and effort are gloriously rewarded, making labor more like running a marathon or climbing a mountain than experiencing an injury or illness.” (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer, p.139-140)

14) Myth. “…ultrasound weight estimates are so inaccurate that if your caregiver suspects a large baby, he or she could equally well flip a coin as order a sonogram. Moreover, studies comparing induced women with women allowed to begin labor on their own all show that induced women have more cesareans and equal numbers of shoulder dystocias…It turns out that shoulder dystocia isn’t very tightly tied to weight, and while it’s a dangerous situation, handled properly it rarely results in permanent injury.” (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer, p.139-140)

15) Myth. “Many studies agree that fewer than 10 percent of women require labor induction for medical reasons… The U.S. induction rate doubled between 1989 and 1998 (from 9 percent to 19.2 percent) and is apparently still rising, although there was no corresponding rise in the size of babies, the length of pregnancies, or the incidence of maternal illnesses requiring induction. With so many inductions taking place, a common misperception has arisen that obstetricians are now able to start labor at will, with no disadvantages from the procedures used…Labor involves an extremely complex interplay of hormones that cannot be altered without upsetting the normal physiological pattern.” (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, p. 207-208)

16) True. “In three large U.S. studies totaling seventy-eight thousand women in labor who ate and drank freely, there was not one case of aspiration. The anesthesia-related maternal mortality rate in England and Wales, where oral intake in labor is usual, is identical to the rate in the United States, where it is not. Nor is aspiration a problem in other countries that permit eating and drinking in labor, such as Japan and the Netherlands.” (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer, p.139-140)

17) True. “Cesarean surgery is just as risky as any other major abdominal surgery for the mother—a considerably higher risk for her than vaginal birth. With repeat cesarean, she has three times the chance of dying and roughly five to ten times the risk of suffering complications such as infection; dangerous blood loss; transfusion; complications from anesthesia; injuries to the bladder, intestines, or urethra; and future bowel obstruction, hysterectomy, ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and dangerous placental complications. The more cesareans a woman has, the more the risks to her increase…According to Marsden Wagner, a neonatologist and perinatal scientist who worked for WHO for fifteen years, if women lose the option of VBAC, we can expect there to be at least twelve maternal deaths every year in the United States because of unnecessary cesarean section, not to mention thousands of cases of injury and illness. VBAC on the other hand, is safe when other risk factors, such as Cytotec or other prostaglandin induction, aren’t added. The risk of uterine rupture in a woman with a previous transverse lower-uterine incision (the safest location on the uterus for incision) has always been and remains about 0.5 percent.” (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, p. 294-295)

18) Myth. “The belief that a cut made by scissors heals better than a natural tear has failed the research test. It is true that a surgical cut is easier to repair than a jagged tear, but since many women suffer no tears and need no stitches at all, why cut? And any smaller tears that do occur heal more quickly and better (sometimes without any stitching) than the larger episiotomy incisions, which include more layers of muscle than most tears…Women usually heal more quickly and experience less discomfort with their own tears than with an episiotomy.” (The Birth Book, by William Sears, M.D. & Martha Sears, R.N., p. 89-90)

19) True. “Now, a Swedish study has produced evidence that ‘caine drugs, the family of anesthetics used in epidurals, do, in fact, profoundly disturb instinctive newborn breastfeeding behavior…In the group not exposed to pain medication, all ten newborns successfully self-attached and suckled. Only two, or one-third, of the six babies in the pudendal block group, and three, or one-quarter, of the twelve babies exposed to narcotic, epidural anesthetic, or some combination of narcotic, pudendal block, and epidural block, did the same. Moreover, one of the two successful breastfeeders in the pudendal block group was helped by the mother and one of the four in the combination group suckled, but was not properly latched onto the nipple. In addition, the babies of medicated mothers cried substantially more, which the authors attributed to frustration. They also ran significantly higher temperatures, which could have been due to crying and is disadvantageous in that it means a greater expenditure of calories.” (“Epidurals: Can They Impact Breastfeeding?” by Henci Goer,,,h1nz-1,00.html)
“Epidural labor analgesia is only one of the many intrapartum interventions that may affect breastfeeding. Interventions such as maternal intravenous fluids, vacuum extraction, operative deliveries, and infant oral suctioning may also alter suckling.(16) Sorting out which intervention has the greatest impact on suckling is the next step for researchers in this area. Epidural labor analgesia puts mothers and infants at risk for a variety of health problems that are not encountered in an unmedicated labor. Added to these is evidence that epidurals hinder early breastfeeding. Instead of incurring the risks of labor epidurals, women may use non-pharmacological methods of pain control that do not hinder suckling.” (Epidurals and Breastfeeding, Jan Riordan, RN, EdD, IBCLC, FAAN, Wichita, Kansas from Breastfeeding Abstracts, November 1999, Volume 19, Number 2, pp. 11-12,

20) Myth. “Recent research has not borne out the case for routine continuous fetal monitoring…First, it has been found that a majority of fetuses have heartbeat irregularities during labor and are still normal. This means that the tracings are very difficult to interpret…Studies have shown that if tracings are shown to a group of experts, they agree only part of the time…Evidence from all the monitoring trials still shows no advantage for continuous electronic fetal monitoring over intermittent fetal monitoring…The review of all studies to date gives the evidence that continuous electronic fetal monitoring has no clear benefit to the fetus. Continuous electronic fetal monitoring does, however, definitely raise the mother’s chances of having a cesarean section by about one third. In addition, the monitor changes the relationship of the caregivers to the mother…” (The New Well Pregnancy Book, by Mike Samuels, M.D. and Nancy Samuels, p.339-340)