Excellent health of a mother doesn't guarantee/ increase her chances to have a healthy baby? - Mothering Forums
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Birth and Beyond > Excellent health of a mother doesn't guarantee/ increase her chances to have a healthy baby?
olstep's Avatar olstep 06:56 PM 06-24-2010
How true is this statement? Obviously, the better a mom takes care of herself the better start her babies will have. Is it a rule? How common are the exceptions?
Even though the birth is considered unpredictable, is it possible to predict the outcome for the baby with more or less small error? Or are there too many factors that need to be taken into consideration to make any grounded judgement?

tessie's Avatar tessie 06:58 PM 06-24-2010
I imagine it depends on what you mean by health problems in the baby.
olstep's Avatar olstep 07:18 PM 06-24-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by tessie View Post
I imagine it depends on what you mean by health problems in the baby.
Mainly complications during the birth which would require medical intervention.
Lousli's Avatar Lousli 07:35 PM 06-24-2010
As the mother of two premature babies (for unexplained reasons) I would have to say that of course the statement is not true. Honestly, there is nothing that guarantees a healthy baby. There are plenty of things that can be done to improve your chances, and plenty of things that can be done to really make you at much higher risk of having an unhealthy baby, but no guarantees.

The prematurity rate in the US is I think greater that 10% right now, and I think a good amount of those premature births are for unknown reasons. Plus you have to figure in things like genetic abnormalities, birth defects, birth trauma, etc.

I'm not trying to say that birth/pregnancy is dangerous or that the mother's health doesn't matter, just that guarantee pretty much means there is NO chance of something bad happening, and that just isn't realistic.
CI Mama's Avatar CI Mama 09:58 PM 06-24-2010
Birth comes with risks. Life comes with risks. Sometimes we do all the right things and terrible things happen. Sometimes we screw things up right and left and it all turns out OK anyway. That's just how it is.

There are certainly plenty of things that we can do to minimize risk, but there is always the element of luck/randomness/fate. If something unexpected and tragic happens, it's not much of a consolation that our risk for that event was very small. That's why we have religion and art and philosophy...to help us find the courage to live with the reality that there are a lot of things that we can't control, no matter how much we try.

Knowing that there are no guarantees, and that there is a big mystery around some tragic things that occur, gives me greater awe for the majority of times when things go just right (sometimes for equally mysterious reasons). That can be a source for deep, deep gratitude.
MsBlack's Avatar MsBlack 09:06 AM 06-25-2010
I like to say--the closest thing we get to a guarantee of a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby, is by pro-actively pursuing/attaining good health.

But no, no guarantees.

It's certainly better for mom and baby both if mom is healthy throughout pregnancy (and beyond). Certainly true that healthy babies are *usually* the outcome--by far. Can't give you any stats on that, though.
liz-hippymom's Avatar liz-hippymom 11:31 AM 06-25-2010
yeah. being healthy does not garuntee a good outcome. i have been an organic perfect pregnancy mama for all mine. but my last birth resulted in a dead baby.
i foster pregnant teens, and you would be amazed how perfect thier babies are when all they want to eat is chips and candy. it's a crap shoot
sharr610's Avatar sharr610 12:21 PM 06-25-2010
Health is also a relative thing. I think people will define being "healthy" in lots of different ways. For some people thats avoiding fats and meats, for others its low stress and avoidance of chemicals in their diet. I think it just depends on so many things. And then there are the things that were done when WE were in the womb and children that have a huge impact on our endocrine system's health, but that we have little control over.

But yes, healthy mom should generally mean healthy mama...
cappuccinosmom's Avatar cappuccinosmom 12:34 PM 06-25-2010
Complications happen.

Mom and baby can be in perfect health, and still have birth end in complications or tragedy.
MyFillingQuiver's Avatar MyFillingQuiver 12:49 PM 06-25-2010
For some people, it comes down to a perspective on these "big" things, as well.

For example, I believe I'm not ultimately in charge of what happens in my life. I'm supposed to be responsible, treating my body as a temple-while relying on God's wisdom to guide my choices, as well as His wisdom to choose for me the outcome He sees fit-as only He sees the big picture.

Others believe in some part of divinity or destiny or fate..some believe in karma, etc.

Therefore, in my belief and faith, I am charged with a great responsibility of doing all I can to protect the life growing within me through eating healthfully, living a healthful life, having faith and praying. I believe, ultimately, that no matter what choices I make, the fate of this child (and all my children, born or not) is in God's hands....but that doesn't excuse me from making educated, informed and healthful choices.

It's a great responsibility when we understand (and most here do) the gravity of what it means to be a parent. For me, it means I've been charged with the biggest responsibility in this world-to care for and raise a family. I do not turn this responsibility over to doctors (in the case of our day-to-day health and illnesses, and now I am turning this way with birth) unless God shows me that it's too great of a situation for me to handle.

Anyway, I know that was a big rant! I apologize! I am trying to be respectful of all aspects of birthing and how outcomes are affected by health...sometimes, as PP have said, we can do all things right, be healthy, plan for safety and a future for our babes, and have empty arms. This is true of m/c (which I've had) or birth loss. Sometimes, as we also know, the crack addicts, alcoholics and irresponsible take home a baby-or CPS does. Sometimes, these things just don't make sense. For some people, it's because we see that we don't have the entire big picture-though that doesn't offer the comfort, but it's an explanation for the unexplainable, some like me believe in.
GuildJenn's Avatar GuildJenn 02:00 PM 06-25-2010
Of course. What???

I had a textbook perfect pregnancy with my first, ate really well, exercised and thought sweet thoughts. That certainly didn't stop the umbilical cord from getting around her neck. Nor does the health of a mother have to do with shoulder dystoxia, etc.

That's not to mention premature labour - which is often a mystery - incompetent cervix and all the rest of it.

Life just doesn't come with that kind of control. Of course we all want to do the best for our babies and deal with what we can control. But most things, we can't.

I think that's one of the most dangerously pervasive myths in the NFL community. Of course I believe in the benefits of NFL. But I don't believe it is a blanket protection against disease, disorders or accidents.
expatmommy's Avatar expatmommy 02:06 PM 06-25-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
I think that's one of the most dangerously pervasive myths in the NFL community. Of course I believe in the benefits of NFL. But I don't believe it is a blanket protection against disease, disorders or accidents.
And when the myth fails you, it is catastrophic.

A healthy mama offers no guarantees, not even that the mother will ultimately stay healthy over time. I was healthy & still my baby died. I had faith and an understanding of the bigger picture; didn't save my baby and still doesn't make any sense.
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 02:25 PM 06-25-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
I think that's one of the most dangerously pervasive myths in the NFL community. Of course I believe in the benefits of NFL. But I don't believe it is a blanket protection against disease, disorders or accidents.
I think the whole idea of a healthy baby being guaranteed is one of the most dangerously pervasive ones in the entire birth/pregnancy world - both NFL and mainstream. OBs (I'm talking in general - the culture) strongly imply, without ever quite saying it, that they can guarantee you a healthy baby if you just do whatever they tell you. I gather that a lot of midwives operate in a similar fashion. It's crap. It's complete and total crap. They can increase your odds, but there are no guarantees. There's no guarantee that I'm not going to get killed by someone running a stop light when I go to pick up my van this afternoon. Since we can't guarantee that crossing a street or having a bath will end in survival, the belief that we can guarantee good health in unborn baby is pure arrogance...unbelievable arrogance, really.
olstep's Avatar olstep 04:26 PM 06-25-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
There's no guarantee that I'm not going to get killed by someone running a stop light when I go to pick up my van this afternoon.
There is no guarantee in life in general. Period. We can do something to be better prepared, control some things but not everything depends on us..

What pps talking about is complications during birth. Childbirth does involve some risks. Nobody can guarantee a safe outcome. Still the chances of a safe outcome are much higher

The % of complications is not high in general. It is lower for uneventful pregnancies. Should be significantly lower for mom who have excellent health.
It is not only about eating organic or watching your fat. It is also what you genetically inherited, how much you can take without straining yourself. It is not only how you feel and how you look, it is what in your medical records - unbiased information.

Of course, it takes more than excellent health to have a safe birth outcome - educated mom, skillful practitioner, right/ safe environment, etc) . But providing other conditions are the same the chances that these moms will have complications during birth/ pp are much lower.
GuildJenn's Avatar GuildJenn 03:29 PM 06-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
I think the whole idea of a healthy baby being guaranteed is one of the most dangerously pervasive ones in the entire birth/pregnancy world - both NFL and mainstream. OBs (I'm talking in general - the culture) strongly imply, without ever quite saying it, that they can guarantee you a healthy baby if you just do whatever they tell you. I gather that a lot of midwives operate in a similar fashion. It's crap. It's complete and total crap. They can increase your odds, but there are no guarantees. There's no guarantee that I'm not going to get killed by someone running a stop light when I go to pick up my van this afternoon. Since we can't guarantee that crossing a street or having a bath will end in survival, the belief that we can guarantee good health in unborn baby is pure arrogance...unbelievable arrogance, really.
Absolutely agreed.
GuildJenn's Avatar GuildJenn 03:32 PM 06-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by olstep View Post

Of course, it takes more than excellent health to have a safe birth outcome - educated mom, skillful practitioner, right/ safe environment, etc) . But providing other conditions are the same the chances that these moms will have complications during birth/ pp are much lower.
Um - WHICH complications are you talking about?

Because having a cord around the baby's neck, for example, has nothing - ZERO - to do with maternal health.

I'm really angry at your statement. Certainly there are conditions where diet, exercise, and health are a factor. But there are MANY MANY complications that have NOTHING to do with any of that.
caedmyn's Avatar caedmyn 05:33 PM 06-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
Um - WHICH complications are you talking about?

Because having a cord around the baby's neck, for example, has nothing - ZERO - to do with maternal health.

I'm really angry at your statement. Certainly there are conditions where diet, exercise, and health are a factor. But there are MANY MANY complications that have NOTHING to do with any of that.
I'll preface by saying no, I don't think a really healthy mom guarantees a healthy baby or good outcome. But this made me wonder...is it possible that low amniotic fluid would make a baby more likely to get tangled in the cord? I have read that *sometimes* low amniotic fluid can be related to dehydration in mom. So perhaps that might account for *some* cases of cord around the neck?

And I know of at least one case here (well actually one mom, two births) where shoulder dystocia WAS related to the health of the mom, specifically an eating disorder during teenage years led to a very narrow pelvis.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it seems to me it might be too blanket of a statement to say that there are some complications that absolutely don't have anything to do with mom's health in any case. Does that make sense?
laohaire's Avatar laohaire 06:20 PM 06-26-2010
Strange, I've never heard this myth. I mean, of course we talk all the time about how important it is to eat healthy foods and exercise and avoid toxins and all that, but I've never heard anyone say there was anything like a guarantee that healthy mom equals complication-free birth. Which doesn't surprise me, of course, since it obviously isn't true.

Besides what others have also said, let's not forget that we don't even know what perfect health is. Almost everyone claims to be healthy - but it's not so. Even someone who everyone agrees might be healthy might be missing some essential nutrient or ingesting some toxin that nobody is really attuned to.

Let's also not forget genetics. I absolutely do believe that genetics are not entirely a crapshoot - it seems that the health of not just the parents but the grandparents, and probably so on, have an effect on the health of the genes. But sometimes things just "are." (Also you can have a very healthy mother but if her mother was unhealthy, that affects her baby - don't forget our eggs formed while we were still in our mothers' wombs). Anyway, if a healthy mother has a baby with certain conditions, that can lead to birth complications.

It is interesting to hear so many people say they've heard this myth, this is my first time (and I've obviously been on MDC for almost 5 years so I'm not completely new to the NFL community).
GuildJenn's Avatar GuildJenn 09:24 PM 06-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by caedmyn View Post
I'll preface by saying no, I don't think a really healthy mom guarantees a healthy baby or good outcome. But this made me wonder...is it possible that low amniotic fluid would make a baby more likely to get tangled in the cord? I have read that *sometimes* low amniotic fluid can be related to dehydration in mom. So perhaps that might account for *some* cases of cord around the neck?

And I know of at least one case here (well actually one mom, two births) where shoulder dystocia WAS related to the health of the mom, specifically an eating disorder during teenage years led to a very narrow pelvis.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it seems to me it might be too blanket of a statement to say that there are some complications that absolutely don't have anything to do with mom's health in any case. Does that make sense?
No, it really doesn't make sense to say that.

There are lots of cord accidents that are NOT related to low amniotic fluid. Cord compression can relate to amniotic fluid levels, but a tight 2x nuchal cord is a problem regardless. (A recent review of the literature suggests that the deciding factor in nuchal cord deaths isn't the nuchal cord, but the amount of slack left in the cord.)

Just because low amniotic fluid can be a risk factor in some kinds of cord accidents it does not follow that you can avoid cord accidents by drinking a lot. Your risk might go down for the particular kind that occur with low amniotic fluid, but your risk will not go down for the random kind.

And even for other complications, I think people mistake lowering your risk factor, or the idea that sometimes a cause can be pinpointed, with protection. This is not the case. You can not have risk factors and still develop problems.

This kind of thinking is simply blame-the-victim thinking. Bad things happen even if you do everything '"right." Obviously women should try to be healthy and reduce their risks for certain things, but it's a very very very big leap to make from 'reduce risk factors' to 'achieve healthy baby.'
CherryBomb's Avatar CherryBomb 09:44 PM 06-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post

This kind of thinking is simply blame-the-victim thinking. Bad things happen even if you do everything '"right." Obviously women should try to be healthy and reduce their risks for certain things, but it's a very very very big leap to make from 'reduce risk factors' to 'achieve healthy baby.'


Quote:
It is interesting to hear so many people say they've heard this myth, this is my first time
It's rare that I hear someone say outright "if you do xyz, you're guaranteed a healthy baby" but I hear it implied often. My first two were c/s and my second baby was born seriously brain damaged, so if it comes up, invariably I get a bunch of leading questions where the person is obviously trying to figure out what I did "wrong" that caused the "bad thing" to happen. The implication is that if I hadn't done xyz and had done abc instead, everything would have been fine. Some things might be avoidable. But often there's really nothing that could have been done to predict or prevent. You can look at "risk factors" but they really don't mean much other than "these people that had this problem usually had these things in common." I had no "risk factors" for ectopic pregnancy, but I still had one (and it very nearly killed me). You just can not predict with certainty who's going to have the massive PPH, who's going to abrupt, who's going to have a cord accident, etc.

Being healthy just means you're probably going to avoid complications associated with poor maternal health. It does not, in anyway, mean you're going to avoid complications in general.
AlexisT's Avatar AlexisT 09:50 PM 06-26-2010
Yep. I've heard people say that if I'd just done X (eaten a particular diet, taken supplements, even had midwifery care instead of obstetric) I would not have had high blood pressure and preeclampsia. The fact is, no one knows why I got sick, and if you don't know why it happens you can't prevent it. There is a trend I see where so much emphasis is placed on the mother's actions that she becomes responsible for the outcome, good or bad. There is so much that is not dependent on anything we do.
philomom's Avatar philomom 10:03 PM 06-26-2010
No, unfortunately it doesn't. I was 26 years old, had an excellent diet and was in the best shape of my life and only took long walks for exercise while carrying..... and I had a stillbirth close to term. No drugs, no alcohol... not even cough syrup or Tylenol. Nothing.

Sometimes these things are not in our control.
caedmyn's Avatar caedmyn 10:05 PM 06-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
No, it really doesn't make sense to say that.

There are lots of cord accidents that are NOT related to low amniotic fluid. Cord compression can relate to amniotic fluid levels, but a tight 2x nuchal cord is a problem regardless. (A recent review of the literature suggests that the deciding factor in nuchal cord deaths isn't the nuchal cord, but the amount of slack left in the cord.)

Just because low amniotic fluid can be a risk factor in some kinds of cord accidents it does not follow that you can avoid cord accidents by drinking a lot. Your risk might go down for the particular kind that occur with low amniotic fluid, but your risk will not go down for the random kind.
That's not quite what I was saying. I got the impression that some of the earlier posters were saying that the mother's health NEVER has anything to do with certain types of complications (like shoulder dystocia or cord issues). I was pointing out that that just isn't true. It's likely RARE for mother's health to play a part in some complications, but I don't think you can say it NEVER plays a part. I just don't think it's accurate to speak in absolutely (this is ALWAYS caused by something mom did, nor this is NEVER caused by...). I'm not trying to blame the victim at all. Really the only thing I can think of off the top of my head that probably has nothing at all to do with anything mom does is placenta previa (and for all I know it's been shown that a previous D&C increases risk or something else).
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 10:15 PM 06-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
It's rare that I hear someone say outright "if you do xyz, you're guaranteed a healthy baby" but I hear it implied often.
This, exactly.

Outside the natural childbirth community, it plays out a little differently, but it's still there. All through my third pregnancy when I was arguing with my OB and GP, who were both insisting that I had to have a c-section, because I'd already had two, I got the same two same phrases over and over again. Those phrases were "all that matters is a healthy mom and a healthy baby" and "we just want you and your baby to be safe". My GP also threw in a "I'm so worried about you that I can't sleep", just for good measure.

There is no way to look at those statements without realizing there's an implied promise there. They were telling me, not quite in so many words, that if I just did what they told me, and scheduled the section when they told me, I would be healthy, and my baby would be healthy. The GP wouldn't be worried once I scheduled, because the risks would be gone. If I just stopped fighting, I'd be healthy, and the baby would be healthy. If I just did what I was told, baby would be "safe".

They never flat out said "do this, and we guarantee your baby will be healthy", but that was their entire argument for the c-section.

It's prevalent here, too. Lots of "what did you do wrong?" when things don't turn out well. That also carries a strong implication that mom must have done something (eaten something, taken something, felt something - whatever), because if there were nothing wrong with her, then her baby and birth would have been perfect.

Oh - and fwiw, I know a woman who has had two stillbirths. After autopsy, it turned out that there's some kind of genetic problem on the father's side, and she's basically never going to have a living girl, unless she goes elsewhere for the sperm. She's healthy as can be, and her boys have been healthy, happy babies. I didn't meet her until after her second stillbirth, so I have no idea how many people piled guilt on her shoulders for the death she couldn't have possibly prevented...but my experience says that it's almost certain someone did.
expatmommy's Avatar expatmommy 12:49 AM 06-27-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by caedmyn View Post
I'm not trying to blame the victim at all. Really the only thing I can think of off the top of my head that probably has nothing at all to do with anything mom does is placenta previa (and for all I know it's been shown that a previous D&C increases risk or something else).
Have you known many people who have had losses? Really? You seem to be trying very hard to find some reason, some explanation to prove that stillbirth or loss has definable reason. You know what the crappiest part of stillbirth and loss is? That most medical people don't know why it happened, can't explain it, and money isn't spent to research it. It is this great big unknown that well meaning people then try to explain away by some ill informed "it must be because of X or because of Y". It can't just happen for no reason at all. Someone or something must be to blame.

My son might have died because of how his placenta formed. He might have died because of how the umbilical cord inserted. He might have died because of a blood clot. He might have died because of some unknown unexplainable reason. I could and have spent a long time, as part of my grief process, trying to figure out the why. The reality is, no matter how hard one tries to be healthy and to do all things right, bad things can and do happen to good well intended people. It is a false notion that we have any sure measure of control over the outcome, be it a large or small potiential that something may go wrong.
Jane's Avatar Jane 01:43 AM 06-27-2010
I think that for populations of people, it works. For these 10,000 "healthy" women and those 10,000 "unhealthy" people (we could argue over the definitions) the "unhealthy" people will have more bad outcomes, whether we're dealing with babies, heart disease, etc.

But for individuals, it doesn't work out that way. What holds true for populations doesn't hold true for any one individual. Certainly, using crack cocaine increases the risk of placental separation and death of mom and/or baby. But not all crack smokers will have catastrophic outcomes. By far, most will be "fine". But on one would recommend smoking crack, unless they had a big life insurance policy on you.
I have certainly seen a lot of shit happen to good people. Miscarriages, as the foremost example, are shockingly common. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in the death of the fetus. There's really no way to make sure it doesn't hit you. Stillbirth is rarer, but devistating and many time, completely unable to be explained.
flitters's Avatar flitters 04:12 AM 06-27-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
Being healthy just means you're probably going to avoid complications associated with poor maternal health. It does not, in anyway, mean you're going to avoid complications in general.
I really like your wording above.
MsBlack's Avatar MsBlack 09:38 AM 06-27-2010
Just for perspective here....

In research I conducted a couple years back on stillbirth, I discovered that 70% of cases of stillbirth have no known/knowable cause (even on autopsy w/cellular studies). Apparently healthy babies die, either late in pregnancy or during labor, and a solid reason cannot be found. Often the ones who show no actual cause, are written down as 'cord accident'--but in most cases this is basically a guess (yes, *sometimes* 'cord accident' is true, can be seen, but mostly NOT). We just hate to have no idea why this happens--'cord accident' is the most common diagnosis when another COD can't be discovered.

Just saying--health of mothers in these births is not necessarily implicated.
GuildJenn's Avatar GuildJenn 10:41 AM 06-27-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by caedmyn View Post
That's not quite what I was saying. I got the impression that some of the earlier posters were saying that the mother's health NEVER has anything to do with certain types of complications (like shoulder dystocia or cord issues). I was pointing out that that just isn't true. It's likely RARE for mother's health to play a part in some complications, but I don't think you can say it NEVER plays a part. I just don't think it's accurate to speak in absolutely (this is ALWAYS caused by something mom did, nor this is NEVER caused by...). I'm not trying to blame the victim at all. Really the only thing I can think of off the top of my head that probably has nothing at all to do with anything mom does is placenta previa (and for all I know it's been shown that a previous D&C increases risk or something else).
Excuse me, but a nuchal cord has nothing to do with what the mother does.

It is accurate in some cases to say that.
laohaire's Avatar laohaire 12:18 PM 06-27-2010
I see, so this is an implied myth.

OK, so we're basically looking at a backlash here.

You have the mainstream line of thought that goes like this:
"I'm pregnant and I'm following doctor's orders. I'm all set because I have a doctor and he'll tell me if anything is wrong or if I have to do anything. If something actually goes wrong, which surely it won't because I'm in good hands, then it will just be completely random and unavoidable. I'm not worried because my doctor will take care of everything."

And now you have us NFL crunchies coming around saying this:
"Stop putting all your trust in the doctor! Your OB knows how to do surgery but he doesn't know or care about diet, exercise, avoidance of toxins or anything like that. Not only that, birth without a doctor (with midwife or even unassisted) is safe! It's safe for a lot of reasons, but among them is that an informed, proactive mother is less likely to have complications!"

Unfortunately, like probably ANY countermovement, we go too far. In our efforts to show that we mothers have a lot of impact on the success of the pregnancy and birth, we may imply that she has ALL the impact.

Homebirth is broadly as safe as hospital birth (though of course the details are different for both places) but in our efforts to convince everyone of this, we may go too far and imply we're COMPLETELY safe. Which we're not.

I think this is totally about the countercultural aspect. If everyone had the same assumptions we did, then there would be no need to exaggerate ("if you are informed and proactive you can avoid all the complications") to counteract the exaggerated assumptions of the mainstream ("if you have a homebirth without a doctor, you and your baby will die").

I think it behooves us all, in every way, to try to look for the truth and express our findings in a fair and accurate manner. Implying that the excellent health of a mother guarantees a healthy baby puts mothers and babies at risk, and undermines the message we're trying to put out.
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