|Posted by Aisha Al Hajjar, MSM BSM LM CPM AMANI on December 18, 2015 at 7:10 PM|
Natural Birth Increases Breastfeeding Success
ALLAH designed the female body perfectly to carry, birth, and feed babies. This miracle has been a trusted fact since the creation of humankind. It wasn’t until the last century that there were other options besides natural, non-medicated birth followed by breastfeeding.
With these new options women have begun to doubt their bodies and the natural process. The introduction of medical interventions in labor and birth have produced side effects that take an irreversible toll on woman and babies. Following closely behind has come bottle feeding and man-made infant formulas.
Women have always known that with childbirth comes pain. But when we look at the modern culture of birth we find a society of women who fear the unknown pain of labor so much that they seek medical help to avoid it. There are a precious few who still trust the perfect design of their body and choose a completely natural, non-medicated birth. These “natural moms” are also most likely to choose the natural method of breastfeeding their baby as opposed to bottle feeding.
Fortunately, childbirth education is beginning to become available around the world, albeit sparse in Muslim communities. Women who take AMANI Birth classes learn about the physiology of their bodies and the process of pregnancy, labor, birth, and lactation (and how to best prepare for it) find that they are capable of birthing their babies without pain medications and medical interventions and subsequently of feeding their babies without bottles or formula.
Unfortunately, the majority are still in the dark, blinded by the false hope for something better than nature. What they fail to realize is that the medical interventions and pain medications used for labor and birth only offer to rearrange or change the pain of childbirth, not to eliminate it. What’s worse is that these modern interventions and drugs come with a myriad of unnecessary risks for both the mother and baby. Many also fail to realize the importance of breastfeeding their newborn baby, mistakenly believing that formula is just as good as breast milk, or maybe even thinking formula is somehow "better" than the breast.
Below are some of the things women should consider when making choices about their labors and births.
Birth is an athletic event which takes training and preparation. “Birthing a baby is equivalent to swimming a mile [1.6 km],” according to Obstetrician, Dr. Robert A. Bradley, in the video “Bradley on Birthing.” I seriously doubt any woman could survive the swim without months of training first.
Neither a medical nor a natural birth are painless. It’s best to learn to cope with it.
By the time pain medication is administered the woman has already spent a considerable amount of time laboring (which she probably didn’t prepare for).
Pain medications may not take away all the pain or may not work at all!
The administration of the drug usually involves needles in sensitive areas of the body and is a cause of pain in itself.
There are additional medical interventions that come from not being able to move or feel or push effectively (due to pain medication) which cause greater injury to the body and will be felt after the birth (and often times hurt worse than the birth itself).
Natural birth mothers, who prepare their bodies for birth, learn to work with their labor, and employ simple techniques for minimizing pain, usually feel great after birth.
Medicated mothers often feel nauseous, sick, and have a great deal of pain from medical interventions and feel miserable after birth.
A mother who feels great is more capable of caring for her baby and thus more likely to breastfeed her baby right away.
The fact that “natural mothers” usually feel great after the birth, while medicated mothers do not, is of extreme significance. Do we really want to move the pain from a few hours BEFORE birth to a few hours/days/weeks AFTER birth? Think about that for a moment. You are not going to eliminate pain, but simply move it around. Wouldn’t you rather feel great when it counts? When you have your newborn baby in your arms?
Mothers should also know that all medications that are used during the labor and birth of her baby do reach the baby within an estimated sixty seconds of administration. She should also know that NO medication, not even the medications used during childbirth, have been proven safe for the unborn child.
Additionally, she should realize that these medications affect her and the baby in ways that outlast the birth. Even a medicated mother who has full intention of breastfeeding may find it extremely difficult to get started due to some of the short-term effects of these medications:
- Interferes with Mother and Baby’s Alertness
- Effects Mother’s Ability to Care for Baby
- Causes Nausea and Other Discomforts
- Requires Prolonged Recovery Time for Mother and Baby
- Mother and Baby’s Bonding Time May be Compromised or Delayed
- Interferes with Baby’s Sucking Reflex Making Nursing Difficult
- Interferes with Mother’s Milk Supply
There are also a myriad of medical risks associated with using these medications. Rather than making a list I’d like to ask expectant mothers, “Can you be absolutely positive that you or your baby won’t have an adverse reaction to the man-made drug you are considering for your short-term comfort? Would you put your baby in harms way for a couple hours of pain relief for yourself? If you can learn how to minimize the pain and birth completely naturally, would you try?” Simply put, “Why risk it?”
Sadly, many expectant mothers around the world don’t have the opportunity to take classes. Subsequently, they don’t know what to do to prepare for their upcoming labor and birth. They are unaware of the physiology of pregnancy and birth and they are unclear about proper diet, simple exercises to prepare their body for the event, or natural techniques for coping with the pain.
These women often find themselves in a panic and unable to bear the discomforts and pains of birthing their baby naturally. They unknowingly fight their labor and make the pain worse! These women often times come into the hospital in a panic and searching for medicinal relief. In the end they feel they have “suffered through” the event and are often too sick and in pain to be able to care for themselves, let alone cuddle and nurse their new baby. The hospital staff is then left to take over and keep the baby in the nursery, feeding them with bottles of formula.
In today’s medically managed birth culture it is rare for medical professionals to witness a completely natural birth. The panicked patients who seek rescue from their birth have become the norm and the calm joyous natural birth of our great-grandmothers has become abnormal.
It is a sad state of affairs when abnormality becomes normality and normality seems impossible. But it doesn’t have to be this way! There is hope. As more and more women find their way to quality childbirth education there will be more and more doctors witnessing the benefits of a calm, confident, non-medicated woman, an empowered woman who confidently labors in peace.
As these women leave the delivery room touting the joys of a truly natural birth, others will listen. They will not tell of births without pain, but they have understood the process, had techniques to cope, and worked effectively with their bodies. They were in control of minimizing their pain and were able to trust the natural plan for their bodies.
They will tell of their pain being over the moment their babies were born. They will tell how they insisted on birthing completely naturally, without intravenous drips, without pain medication, even without episiotomy.
They will have advocated for their baby and insisted that the doctor delay clamping their babies’ umbilical cords and that they be allowed their right to nurse their babies on the delivery table, before the placenta is even expelled. They will have acted in confidence, knowing that immediate breastfeeding is not only possible, but beneficial to both the mother and her baby.
These women knew that they were not in need of synthetic hormones to expel the placenta and prevent maternal hemorrhage. They learned that breastfeeding their babies produces the same hormones, naturally, that these synthetic injections provide. They knew that their breast milk is full of important antibodies that their babies need to have the healthiest start in life. They were keenly aware of the importance of bonding and nursing in the first moments of life.
What sets these “natural moms” apart is that they take the time to get educated and prepare for their births. They are determined to have the healthiest, most natural, joyous births possible. They are dedicated to their babies and insist on bringing them into the world undrugged, alert, healthy, and ready to breastfeed. They are confident in themselves and understand that early breastfeeding is the best assurance to successful breastfeeding.
They are the women who will set the trend for a change in our birthing culture that will bring us back to what’s worked, naturally, for thousands of years. As more women become aware of the benefits of totally natural childbirth, they will become a driving force that will create a demand for quality childbirth education. Change is on the horizon and a new era of naturally born, exclusively-breastfed babies is dawning.
©2010 AMANI Inc., All Rights Reserved. All writings are the original work of Aisha Al Hajjar and are based on her personal research, experiences, and opinions.