dad from day one: The Business of Being Born

Fourteen weeks.  Second trimester.

For the past several weeks, my wife has been toying with the idea of “going natural” for the birth.  In other words, no pain medication.  And I’ve been impressed just by her willingness, because I know if it were up to the men of the world to continue the human population by giving birth instead of women, the human population would have died off thousands of years ago.

I had been seeing The Business of Being Born keep popping up on my Netflix as a recommended title that I would enjoy.  Then recently, a writer friend (http://www.meetmissjones.com/) also told me I should see it after she read about our disappointment with our first two appointments at a standard hospital.  (Of course, we ended up switching to midwives and are so happy, though I had no idea what a midwife really even was when we first met with them.)

So last night we watched the documentary, The Business of Being Born, directed by Ricki Lake and produced by Abby Epstein (yes, they are both Jewish).  I went into it thinking it would be a tiring movie telling how much money is made off of strollers, cribs, daycare, etc.

Instead, it is a one-sided film about the importance of the long-lost tradition of natural births.  And we loved it!

I took notes:

-Induced labor increases the chances of C-Section by 50%

-In Japan and Europe, 70% of births are delivered by a midwife.  In the US, only 8%

-The US has the 2nd worst newborn death rate in the developed world

-The US has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among all industrialized countries

-Since 1996 the C-Section rate in the US has risen 46%; In 2005, it was one out of every 3 American births

While there are obviously certain situations where a C-Section is absolutely necessary (like the baby being “breach”), it is a major surgery that has become the new norm.

Interestingly, in the movie, a group of young doctors are asked how many live births they have witnessed.  Basically, none of them had.

And to me, that’s scary.  That it’s easier, less time consuming, and more profitable to induce labor and perform a C-Section that it is to let the baby born naturally.

In the documentary they explain how the peak times for American babies being born is at 4pm and 10pm, the times at the end of the work shifts so that doctors can go home.

For me, the desire to have a natural birth all comes down to observing the downward spiral of having a baby in a hospital, with a doctor, the American way:

The mother is given Pitocin, to induce labor.  Which causes longer, more intense contractions and cuts off oxygen to the baby, putting both the mother and the baby at risk, as well as potentially causing birth defects (even ADHD or Autism in the child later on, though not enough evidence can back this yet, but I won’t be surprised when it can).

So inducing labor increases the chances of having a C-Section by 50%, which puts both mother and child at greater risk.  And the epidural slows down the birthing process- which in addition to the Pitocin, is another drug that may also affect the health of the baby.

Until last night, I had never witnessed a live human birth.  But now I’ve seen at least four or five.  All of them natural.

It’s pretty interesting to watch.  I didn’t think it was gross, and I’m not artistic enough off a person to go on and on about how beautiful it was.  It just seemed natural and normal.  Like watching someone poop.  But a baby came out instead.

The Business of Being Born does contain a large amount of nudity, as most of the mothers are nude while giving birth.  But we were so intrigued by watching the births, that it didn’t register, “hey, this is porn”.  It was just a woman giving birth.  The documentary is not rated, because if it was, it may have to be rated NC-17.  But to that I say, What Movie Rating Does Real Life Get?

One of the major reasons I now support natural birth (and denounce induced labor by a doctor, with certain exceptions) is the fact that in a hospital, the mother lays down flat on a bed.  Common sense tells us that gravity will naturally help pull the baby out.  Plus the fact that by having the mother lay down flat, it gives the baby less room to come out.

I also learned that when a baby is born naturally, “a love cocktail of hormones” is released by the mother, causing a unique bond to occur between the mother and the child.

This is where we’re headed.  This is what we will attempt.  A natural birth overseen by midwives.  Yet just down the hall from an M.D. in case something goes wrong.

We just have to be weird, don’t we?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Business_of_Being_Born

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

healthnutshell: The Extremes of Being a Meat Head Vs. Being a Vegetarian

What kind of meat did Jesus eat?

In 1990 as a skinny 9 year-old boy weighing well under 100 pounds, I was so proud of the fact that I could eat an entire Double Whopper combo meal at Burger King.  I impressed my parents and Italian grandfather every Friday night when, by tradition, we either went there for dinner, or the now extinct Quincy’s- “Home of the Big Fat Yeast Roll”, and I ate more than any of them.

In fact, one of my childhood catch phrases was “I need more meat.  If there’s no meat, it’s just like eating air”.  I was one extreme carnivore.

Much has changed since then.  As I’ve slowly slipped down the slippery slope of eating organically, it only seemed natural that I would eventually become a vegetarian, or at least go through a vegetarian phase.

Oddly enough, the deciding factor in whether or not I should attempt vegetarianism was based a question derived from a tacky 1998 bracelet craze: “What would Jesus do?”  I asked myself, “What did Jesus eat?”

Jesus ate meat.  He absolutely ate fish- he was a fisherman and even performed miracles which involved multiplying fish to feed thousands of his followers.  In fact, every time I’ve read about Jesus eating any kind of meat in the Bible, it’s always been fish.  Of course, knowing that Jesus was Jewish meant that by religious tradition he also ate some lamb and beef.

It’s safe to assume that Jesus ate a lot of fish and just a little red meat.  (But of course, he didn’t eat pork, being a law observing Jew.)   And that’s the basis of the standard I go by: The less legs, the better. 

Zero legs: Fish have no legs, meaning they’re the healthiest kind of meat to eat.  Except predator fish (like sharks), bottom feeders (like catfish, shrimp, crawfish), and shellfish (scallops, clams). 

Two legs: Chickens and turkeys.  They eat seeds, worms, and sometimes small mice.  They aren’t as healthy eaters as salmon and tuna and tilapia, but they’re better four-legged animals.

Four legs: Cows.  They should be fed grass, because feeding them corn causes health problems for them.  But even when we eat organic, grass-fed beef, our intestines aren’t long enough to fully digest the meat.  On the other hand, a true carnivore, like a wolf, has long enough intestines to properly digest the meat for all its nutrients.  As for pigs, they are scavengers, just like a possum or a vulture, so that’s why I am so adamant on not eating pork whatsoever (healthnutshell: No Pork on My Fork).

The less legs, the better.  Except for predators, carnivores, bottom feeders, and shellfish, which all feed on other animals they killed and ate, or the remains of dead animals they found along the way.

I am not a vegetarian, but I only eat animals that are.  Eating animals that are carnivores and scavengers is the problem.  Meat is not a bad thing or unhealthy at all as long as it’s the right kind of meat.  And the right amount of it.

Recently, studies have been popping up that show that Seventh Day Adventists live longer than the rest of us: Their men live 9.5 years longer and their women live 6 years longer.  Aside of limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly, eating a health amount of good fats (nuts), most Seventh Day Adventists are either vegetarians or near-vegetarians.

http://lifetwo.com/production/node/20070107-longevity-seventh-day-adventists-life-expectancy

http://www.islandpacket.com/2009/05/16/846639/study-finds-seventh-day-adventists.html

While I will not convert my faith, I have converted to the Seventh Day Adventist  lifestyle of limited meat consumption.  Typically, only one of the meals I eat in any given day actually has meat in it.  And even then, it’s tuna, salmon, tilapia, chicken, turkey, and a few times a month, beef. 

But that’s only so good.  Because what good is it to only eat meat once a day if the portion size is too big?  I look at my hand and visualize the size of my hand without fingers.  That’s around 4 ounces of meat, a quarter of a pound.  That is the proper portion size of meat that I will allow myself to eat per day.  Not per meal.

Because if nothing else, by eating more than a fingerless hand’s worth of meat in a day, I am consuming too much sodium.  Because meat equals sodium.  And too much sodium equals heart disease and high blood pressure, which equals heart attack.

Was it easy to become this way? No.  But not because I go around hungry.  Because it takes more deliberate planning of my meals to make a health meal without meat.  But I’m getting it figured out.

I only eat meat at dinner.  For lunch, sometimes I pack a salad, or a rice and been burrito, or even some homemade, whole wheat English muffin pizzas with low-fat cheese.  All with a generous portion of fruit on the side (which I’ll be writing more about soon: Fruit by the Foot.)

For several months now, I’ve been doing this.  And I’m not hungry in between meals because I eat fruit.  And then of course at dinner, I eat meat with green vegetables. 

If I can add 9.5 healthy years onto my life by not being a meat head, it’s worth it to me.

Here’s a post from one of my writer friends that she just posted this morning, which I highly endorse:  http://www.meetmissjones.com/2010/04/real-food-wednesday-journey-to-real-food/