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Non-natural birth & immediate bonding

post #1 of 154
Thread Starter 
(Title change by request)

I am sure that most people in this community suspect this, but I was wondering if anyone knows of or can direct me toward actual studies which might deal with this issue.

I have long suspected that many of the current mainstream practices of birth in hospitals may be what is leading so many women toward being unable or unwilling to care for their babies properly after birth.

We all know that during natural birth, the mother releases oxytocin as well as other hormones which initiate the very short period of time in which mother and baby attach. These hormones cause the mother to become fiercely protective of her baby and they promote not only bonding, but a strong desire in the mother to keep her baby close and to nourish and protect it.

But most women in hospitals today give birth under some kind of anesthesia. Even the women who are lucky enough to have natural births have their babies taken from them immediately after and the mother is usually left waiting as she listens to her baby screaming while the doctors and nurses run tests, measure, weight, poke, prod, and wash the baby before giving it back to the mother. This is, in essence, taking the responsibility of the baby away from the mother right at the critical moments in which she should be forming an attachment to her baby. Instead, she is forming an attachment to not holding her baby and hearing the sound of her child's cries.

I have strong suspicions that these actions may be creating a lack of ability to mother in these new mothers. I hear too many women say that after their baby was born, they were "scared" or they were unsure of themselves or did not know what to do. Often, they do not understand their babies cries. Many of them put their own wants and desires before the biological needs of their babies (ie: CIO, putting the baby in another room, not wanting to breastfeed for personal reasons). It seems as though because these women were not allowed to bond with their babies in hospital, they lost the ability to mother properly.

Everyone I know was terrified after the birth of their baby and even with their second and third babies, they told me it was like the first time and they didn't know what to do. All of them had problems bonding.

Everyone told me that I would also be a scared first-time-mom, but it wasn't that way for me at all. I had a home birth and was absolutely intent on my baby. I never had a time where I did not understand her cries. There was never a time when I could let her cry or even put her down until she was much older. I was fiercely protective of her.

Are there any studies that deal with this directly that you know of? What was your experience? Did you have trouble bonding after a hospital birth or a home birth?

As someone mentioned, you can have a hospital birth and still be a gentle parent. Of course this is true! We all know this because so many mothers here do give birth in the hospital.

BUT, do you think that this could be because we had access to the resources to know what might happen and how to overcome it? Most of us knew about attachment parenting before we ever gave birth. Most mothers don't have access to this information. Their experiences are usually of the authority taking care of their birth and their babies for them and many of them often have little info to go on other than what they are told.

What do you think?

Edit:

Someone was able to answer my question very well with this Mothering article by Sarah J. Buckley:

http://www.mothering.com/pregnancy-b...print-of-labor

It's a fantastic article, much of which was relevant to my question, but I'll quote the most relevant paragraphs here in case anyone was interested, but didn't have time to read the full article:

"Epidural pain relief has major effects on all of the previously mentioned hormones of labor. Epidurals inhibit beta-endorphin production47 and therefore also inhibit the shift in consciousness that is part of a normal labor...When an epidural is in place, the oxytocin peak that occurs at birth is also inhibited because the stretch receptors of a birthing woman's lower vagina, which trigger this peak, are numbed. This effect probably persists even when the epidural has worn off and sensation has returned, because the nerve fibers involved are smaller than the sensory nerves and therefore more sensitive to drug effects.48

Another indication of the effects of epidurals on mother and baby comes from French researchers who gave epidurals to laboring sheep.56



Some studies indicate that this disturbance may apply to humans also. Mothers given epidurals in one study spent less time with their babies in hospital, in inverse proportion to the dose of drugs they received and the length of the second stage of labor.57 In another study, mothers who had epidurals described their babies as more difficult to care for one month later.58


The consequences of such radical departures from our hormonal blueprint are suggested in the work of Australian researchers who interviewed 242 women in late pregnancy and again after birth. The 50 percent of women who had given spontaneous vaginal birth experienced a marked improvement in mood and an elevation of self-esteem after delivery. By contrast, the 17 percent who had cesarean surgery were more likely to experience a decline in mood and self-esteem.


These studies not only indicate important links between birth and breastfeeding but also show how an optimal birth experience can influence the long-term health of mother and baby...And enhanced self-esteem after a natural birth--a lifelong effect, in my experience--is a solid base from which to begin our mothering.


Even in non-interventionist settings, it is uncommon for a baby to remain in his mother's arms for the first one to two hours. And yet nature's blueprint for this time includes a specific and genetically encoded activation of the brain and nervous system for both mother and baby. For example, when the newborn baby is in skin-to-skin contact at the mother's left breast (which is where new mothers in all cultures instinctively cradle their babies) and in contact with her heart rhythm, "a cascade of supportive confirmative information activates every sense, instinct and intelligence needed for the radical change of environment…. Thus intelligent learning begins at birth."70


For the mother also, "A major block of dormant intelligences is activated" the mother then knows exactly what to do and can communicate with her baby on an intuitive level."71 This awakening of maternal capabilities is well known among animal researchers, who link it to the action of pregnancy and birth hormones on the brains of mothers who have recently delivered.72 Such intuitive capacities are sorely needed in our human culture, where we rely so heavily on outside advice from books and "experts" to tell us how to care for our babies."




Thank you so much for the help! I'll add this to the research that I already have. As someone else mentioned, I think it is wonderful that hospitals are beginning to learn this and that some of them are starting to implement protocol of allowing the mother to have and keep her baby immediately after the birth.
post #2 of 154
I had a ECS w/Gen Anes. I did feel some lack of bonding, esp in the hospital. once we got home and breastfeeding was established things were much better.

However, I was never terrified of my baby, I never let him cry (even now). I do not put my needs in front of my child's. Couldn't even take a dump today, because I needed to attend to him.

I hate to break it to you, but your child's birthday is just one day. You don't need to have a great birth experience to be a good mom. You can have a crappy birth and be a spectacular mom. I am.
post #3 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post
<snip>

I hate to break it to you, but your childs birthday is just one day. You don't need to have a great birth experiance to be a good mom. You can have a crappy birth and be a spectacular mom. I am.

^^^this^^^
post #4 of 154
Yep, that. I've been an extremely attentive mom, an AP parent, and I do everything with my children. I do extended nursing, co-sleep until they're ready to be in their own room (so for at least a few years), don't CIO, etc. I don't even really put my baby down for the first several months (doing skin-to-skin, nursing, or carrying in a sling) unless I'm right down on the floor playing with the baby. And we've never used baby sitters. So apparently I'm not one who is "attached to not holding my baby". One of my children was born after a 53 hour induction (with an epidural for the last few hours and a vacuum extraction), one was born to another mother and adopted by me in an international adoption, and one was born via planned c-section. I didn't need a glorious homebirth to be a good mom to my kids...and thinking I had to and that I was a failure for not being able to have one is what lead to a lot of self-esteem issues for me when my first child was an infant. Then I realized I am a mom who does the best I can and are very attached to my children regardless of how they entered the world.

Seriously, moms who aren't able to give birth with "the perfect birth" really don't need to hear that because of that, they are statistically supposed to be crappy moms. I know several moms who have had homebirths that do CIO and don't breastfeed past a couple months old and swat their infant's hands. And a lot of moms who have non-natural births who are fantastic AP parents.
post #5 of 154
I agree with the previous posters. It is almost like natural birthers can't just take that natural birth is an awesome thing. Natural birth has to be an awesome thing and any other form of birth has to be an awful, terrible thing that scars you and your baby for the rest of your lives. It gets old.

I had an AWFUL birth, with a spinal, and my baby was stolen from me and I did not see her for 20 hours, and barely after that for 5 days.

She is so amazing that I don't have words to describe her. She is such a joy and being her mom is the greatest thing I have ever been called to do. I have never been unsure of her, despite having never been around babies before. She is breastfed (despite how awful it is for me) she is never left to cry and has all her emotional needs met. I am pretty sure I am an awesome mother. And if my next one is born by HBAC or c/s, I will be just as awesome a mother to that one.

My best friend had an epidural and is a great mother too - she has a very high needs baby who wants to be held or nursing every second of the day and she willingly provides that for him.
post #6 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post
I had a ECS w/Gen Anes. I did feel some lack of bonding, esp in the hospital. once we got home and breastfeeding was established things were much better.

However, I was never terrified of my baby, I never let him cry (even now). I do not put my needs in front of my child's. Couldn't even take a dump today, because I needed to attend to him.

I hate to break it to you, but your child's birthday is just one day. You don't need to have a great birth experience to be a good mom. You can have a crappy birth and be a spectacular mom. I am.
You are exactly right! I think the issue, however, is that we have found resources to educate ourselves. Most moms don't know anything about CIO. They take all of this bad advice maybe because they had this experience in the hospital and they don't know where to turn, so they hear what the authority tells them and they believe it, which can lead to these parenting practices.

We in the natural parenting community learn about problems that can arise, usually before we give birth, and I think in a lot of cases, this helps us overcome obstacles set forth in hospital practices.

Of course, not all women are going to be this way. Lots of women never have any access to info saying that CIO is bad and they still in their heart of hearts know it's wrong and refuse to do it. It's just a generalization, of course.
post #7 of 154
These threads cause nothing but trouble in my experience. It is IMPOSSIBLE to predict maternal/infant bonding with such general statements. There has been evidence that oxytocin is not released adequately with mother's who have a C/S with no experience of active labor. HOWEVER, the biggest stimulator of oxytocin release is breastfeeding... so even if a mother has to have a C/S, her breastfeeding is going to release more oxytocin hormones than it would have following active labor. If the mother also doesn't happen to breastfeed, then well, I think it's unfair to make such assumptions. We are creatures of the highest thought processing abilities and have a frontal lobe.... I do not think oxytocin is the "end all be all" determining factor in this.

Also- epidurals have no effect whatsoever on the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is released during active labor, pressure on the cervix, and vaginal birth. The oxytocin is there whether it is natural or whether you don't feel a thing....
post #8 of 154
Nothing makes my day like generalizing about what I crappy mother I must be because I failed birth. Of course, I do breastfeed, and I don't CIO, but I had a c-section so you should probably get some better woman to come take my baby from me.
post #9 of 154
I have two daughters. One I didn't give birth to and one with whom I had a natural childbirth. I feel that I am equally attached to them. I might even be closer with DD1 (my adopted girl) since she had no competition for my attention. (She said, typing 1 handed with one kid nursing and the other hanging off my chair asking to go outside.)
post #10 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildwomyn View Post
Nothing makes my day like generalizing about what I crappy mother I must be because I failed birth. Of course, I do breastfeed, and I don't CIO, but I had a c-section so you should probably get some better woman to come take my baby from me.
I'm so sorry, I didn't realize it would be taken personally when I wrote it, so I corrected the post to discuss what I think what the issue really might be.

Of course you are not going to be a bad mother because you didn't have a natural birth.

BUT, mothers who tend to be good mothers also usually learn about gentle parenting practices in advance. If we read about these things and know they are not good, then we know ho to implement gentle techniques before the birth.

Do you think that a mother who knows about attachment parenting before the birth of her child might stand a better chance than a mother who doesn't know what might happen yet? Do you think that women who have never heard that things like CIO are bad would know on their own? I don't know for a fact, but wonder if perhaps these mothers who have had their authority taken away in the beginning might just listen to bad advice because they feel unsure of themselves.

Having already learned about AP in advance could make things quite different.

I just have to wonder what it is that causes so many women to not listen to instinct and instead do things like CIO. There's got to be some kind of underlying issue.
post #11 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by amberskyfire View Post
You are exactly right! I think the issue, however, is that we have found resources to educate ourselves. Most moms don't know anything about CIO. They take all of this bad advice maybe because they had this experience in the hospital and they don't know where to turn, so they hear what the authority tells them and they believe it, which can lead to these parenting practices.

We in the natural parenting community learn about problems that can arise, usually before we give birth, and I think in a lot of cases, this helps us overcome obstacles set forth in hospital practices.

Of course, not all women are going to be this way. Lots of women never have any access to info saying that CIO is bad and they still in their heart of hearts know it's wrong and refuse to do it. It's just a generalization, of course.
I think there are plenty of reasons to educate mothers about natural births. Believe me, I would never want anyone to go through what I went through without good reason.

I believe that non natural birth can cause a lot of problems, but inability to mother is not one of them.

If you believe strongly against CIO, than educate against CIO! Having a non natural birth has nothing to do with a mom letting her 4 month old cry it out in a crib.

Also-- IME, most people who CIO do it because they think it's best for their kid. Not because their epidurals have left them without maternal feeling.
post #12 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masel View Post
I have two daughters. One I didn't give birth to and one with whom I had a natural childbirth. I feel that I am equally attached to them. I might even be closer with DD1 (my adopted girl) since she had no competition for my attention. (She said, typing 1 handed with one kid nursing and the other hanging off my chair asking to go outside.)
That is very interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience

Did you know about gentle parenting techniques before you adopted?
post #13 of 154
I had an epidural with my first and a great experience being a first time mom, came completely naturally to me, more so than anyone else I have talk about first time mothering with. With my second I went completely med free and holy cow was that a hard transition.
post #14 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by artgoddess View Post
I had an epidural with my first and a great experience being a first time mom, came completely naturally to me, more so than anyone else I have talk about first time mothering with. With my second I went completely med free and holy cow was that a hard transition.
Thank you! That's just the kind of anecdotal info that I was looking for.

Do you feel that there was anything in particular that may have caused you to have a hard time the second time around?
post #15 of 154
"I have strong suspicions that these actions may be creating a lack of ability to mother in these new mothers. I hear too many women say that after their baby was born, they were "scared" or they were unsure of themselves or did not know what to do. Often, they do not understand their babies cries. Many of them put their own wants and desires before the biological needs of their babies (ie: CIO, putting the baby in another room, not wanting to breastfeed for personal reasons). It seems as though because these women were not allowed to bond with their babies in hospital, they lost the ability to mother properly."

Sorry, I don't know how to quote, so I've cut and pasted.

First of all, there is clearly some serious judgment going on here about what is "proper" mothering...what is right for one is not right for another, and I think that needs to be addressed right off the bat. There is no definitive manual that defines "the ability to mother." I think most people would agree that being abusive is not good parenting, but even what constitutes abusive is subjective (is spanking abusive? Well, I might think so, but many parents would disagree with me).

Secondly, I think that that social and financial factors are way more significant to how a child is raised. The fact that the extended family has broken down, and one can not easily appeal to mothers, grandmothers, sisters, nieces, etc to help with the day-to-day issues means that we have to turn elsewhere for advice. And where is that? Just like with so many other things, we turn to the "experts," & scientific studies. These change from decade to decade, so even they are clearly not definitive. If we need time away, quite often, we have to turn to daycare centres and other financial models of care. That's going to change things. And another thing is that many families need two incomes to survive. That's bound to change the face of the family. I'm not saying any of these things are good or bad, just that I think the birth experience is a drop in the bucket compared to these other influences.

Also, what about adoptive parents? They don't even give birth to the babies, they may not even come into their lives until toddlerhood, yet clearly, they can create strong bonds with these children.
post #16 of 154
I haven't read the thread, just skimmed it. I believe there is some chemical connection. I don't want to post anymore because from what I read, ppl are taking it personally when to me it seemed a genuine scientific query. There are consequences in so many ways to a less than totally natural birth (which, in case anyone thinks I am pointing fingers, I have never had. All of my births (3) were hospital births, only 1 of them natural/ no interventions.) I don't know if any studies can be done on it, and I am sure that the mothers in MDC at least have used AP principles to complete an attachment after births that didn't go as planned or hoped....
post #17 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by amberskyfire View Post
BUT, mothers who tend to be good mothers also usually learn about gentle parenting practices in advance. If we read about these things and know they are not good, then we know ho to implement gentle techniques before the birth.
As pro- gentle parenting/doing research about parenting as I am, I think saying that "good" mothers are mothers that practice gentle parenting and read about parenting is absolutely unfair. Many mothers dont read a thing about parenting and are still excellent mothers. And mothers that don't practice gentle parenting are not necessarily not "good" mothers.
post #18 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by amberskyfire View Post
I'm so sorry, I didn't realize it would be taken personally when I wrote it, so I corrected the post to discuss what I think what the issue really might be.
It was originally more insulting? Because the one I was responding to is still there.

I had a medically necessary c-section. I wish it hadn't been necessary, but I don't regret making the choice to do it in the circumstances I was given. And I actually had already decided to nurse and not cio, etc., before/while I was pregnant, and it didn't magically save me from developing pre-e. I feel good about having been prepared enough to be sure that I actually needed the interventions I had.
post #19 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeliphish View Post
These threads cause nothing but trouble in my experience. It is IMPOSSIBLE to predict maternal/infant bonding with such general statements. There has been evidence that oxytocin is not released adequately with mother's who have a C/S with no experience of active labor. HOWEVER, the biggest stimulator of oxytocin release is breastfeeding... so even if a mother has to have a C/S, her breastfeeding is going to release more oxytocin hormones than it would have following active labor. If the mother also doesn't happen to breastfeed, then well, I think it's unfair to make such assumptions. We are creatures of the highest thought processing abilities and have a frontal lobe.... I do not think oxytocin is the "end all be all" determining factor in this.

Also- epidurals have no effect whatsoever on the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is released during active labor, pressure on the cervix, and vaginal birth. The oxytocin is there whether it is natural or whether you don't feel a thing....
In all my research, I have only found information that does say that use of epidural does have an effect on the release of oxytocin. Here is just one example of one study that was done: http://www.biomedexperts.com/Abstrac...ural_analgesia
Maybe you know of some better or newer info than I've been able to find, however.

I agree that there is a lot of oxytocin released during breastfeeding, but most mothers, unfortunately, do not breastfeed Not that a woman who doesn't breastfeed will definitely have problems, but if there is a larger percentage of mothers who do have trouble after medicated births, then that might show up in a study. That's what I was asking, is if there is that kind of a study done.

I think the problem with this kind of a question is that mothers are very quick to take offense to whatever they can. We are very vulnerable as moms. If someone says that having drugs in labor may cause you to have difficulty mothering, OF COURSE people are going to freak out and take offense and say "OMG, I had it and I am not a bad mom!" but that's just people.

Of course it's silly to think that having an epidural or a cesarean will MAKE you a bad mother, but it's very foolish to say that it's okay to do these things because it's possible to turn out okay in the end. What if it does cause a lot of women a lot of problems? Shouldn't we try to find out if there are more issues at hand? Of course in any study it isn't going to be 100% either way. That's just science. That is why we, as humans, have to generalize. Nothing is ever going to fit into our belief that everything is always 100% either way. That's just life. It's funny that it has to be an issue, when we are all grown up now and should all know by now that everything has to be generalized, but I guess that's how we mamas are.

But no one is suggesting here that mothers who have had drugs or cesareans are bad mothers.

People's desire to get uptight about parenting never seems to equal the findings of science, though. And hey, I'm no different. I can get pretty growly when people start to put out negative articles on attachment parenting.
post #20 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
"I have strong suspicions that these actions may be creating a lack of ability to mother in these new mothers. I hear too many women say that after their baby was born, they were "scared" or they were unsure of themselves or did not know what to do. Often, they do not understand their babies cries. Many of them put their own wants and desires before the biological needs of their babies (ie: CIO, putting the baby in another room, not wanting to breastfeed for personal reasons). It seems as though because these women were not allowed to bond with their babies in hospital, they lost the ability to mother properly."

Sorry, I don't know how to quote, so I've cut and pasted.

First of all, there is clearly some serious judgment going on here about what is "proper" mothering...what is right for one is not right for another, and I think that needs to be addressed right off the bat. There is no definitive manual that defines "the ability to mother." I think most people would agree that being abusive is not good parenting, but even what constitutes abusive is subjective (is spanking abusive? Well, I might think so, but many parents would disagree with me).

Secondly, I think that that social and financial factors are way more significant to how a child is raised. The fact that the extended family has broken down, and one can not easily appeal to mothers, grandmothers, sisters, nieces, etc to help with the day-to-day issues means that we have to turn elsewhere for advice. And where is that? Just like with so many other things, we turn to the "experts," & scientific studies. These change from decade to decade, so even they are clearly not definitive. If we need time away, quite often, we have to turn to daycare centres and other financial models of care. That's going to change things. And another thing is that many families need two incomes to survive. That's bound to change the face of the family. I'm not saying any of these things are good or bad, just that I think the birth experience is a drop in the bucket compared to these other influences.

Also, what about adoptive parents? They don't even give birth to the babies, they may not even come into their lives until toddlerhood, yet clearly, they can create strong bonds with these children.
When I said that women often have trouble mothering, I didn't mean that they didn't go by a specific set of rules (ie: AP). I mean that women today often go against what would be a natural instinct. For example, many mothers ignore their babies cries. Ignoring a baby's cries and leaving it alone while you go about your business isn't the way any mammal, including humans, instinctively reacts toward her offspring, so that's the biggest factor I wanted to bring up - not spanking or using a stroller or any other type of parenting choices which are variations of normal.

I think you are totally right about extended family and parenting. Most mothers today don't have anyone to help them. I didn't and still do not. I'm pretty much on my own. I'm married, but my husband doesn't know anything about parenting and didn't know what to do.

And almost all mothers do create strong bonds to their children, but a lot of mothers say that they had to work to form these bonds over time. I've been reading some of the research by Michel Odent and he parallels studies done in monkeys, but I don't think that humans and monkeys are close enough to be considered the same because we react very differently socially from monkeys.
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