April 29, 2008

Hidden Risks – Many Ways to Safety

Hidden Risks – Many Ways to Safety
A few year ago the news had a special report on cleanliness in hospitals, specifically hospital sheets. A study showed that it took as much as eight washings before a sheet was completely disinfected. They found that most sheets used in hospitals were only cleaned and disinfected once.

Hospitals are notorious for spreading disease. According to Suzanne Arms, President of Birthing the Future, "There are 25 strains of pathogens completely resistant to all known antibiotics and most of these are found in hospitals."

Infections which spread within a hospital are called nosocomial infections. These can be bacterial, viral, fungal, or even parasitic. These infections can spread through the air, on objects, by people or on people. Pneumonia is a common and serious nosocomial infection that babies are susceptible to.

What makes hospital infections so dangerous?

One hospital website I visited has this to say, “In the last ten years, infections in hospitals have become an increasingly serious issue. What makes hospital infections so dangerous? Many infections that originate in the hospital setting are resistant to antibiotics – hence the term “super bugs” – and patients in hospital are ill and therefore far more susceptible to infection, leading to potentially deadly complications.” The article went on to urge patients to wash their hands and reduce the amount of time they spent in the hospital visiting patients.

After a quick search in the internet I found pages of studies which blame employee non-compliance in hand washing as the major cause of the spread of infection. Hand washing before touching every item seems to be impossible for even the most vigilant health care worker and since the threat is invisible, there is much room for human error. Shoes, stethoscopes, uniforms, pens, doorknobs, toilet handles, ties, and keyboards are all things that can transport infectious organisms from one individual to another.

"There are areas which are almost impossible to keep clean," one labor and delivery nurse confides to me, "the most filthy being the nursery, and on the bars of the maternity beds."

She recalls, “I was involved in a study where I collected samples with Q-Tips from various areas of the hospital and then we cultured the samples and received a report. The most shocking of the results was that we found very bad antibiotic resistant bacteria on the conveyor belt in the cafeteria. This was found to be from an infection from a man in isolation."

Another labor and delivery nurse tells me that many times, "Nurses from other areas of the hospital will come into the nursery to help feed the babies- wearing the same uniform and shoes they wore all day when treating and caring for infectious patients."

This discussion can be shocking and scary to you as an expecting mother until you realize that your only responsibility is look out for the interests of your baby. When you know that a dirty TV control, a pen, or a helpful nurse can be the way in which your baby gets exposed to infectious diseases, you can take actions to prevent this from happening.

If you know about these unseen dangers you can choose not to be carried along helplessly by the circumstances of your birth, and to take action to ensure that your baby gets the best start in life. Empowerment starts with knowing and acting on what you know.

The Lowest Risk- Is At Home!
Mothers and babies who birth at home have the least risk for contracting infections. Anything you find inside of your home, you have likely been exposed to on a daily basis and your immune system has created antibodies for it. Because of this home birth moms never need to have their genitals scrubbed with disinfectant before birth. A laboring mother can safely birth on her bathroom floor if she likes and still have little risk of infection.

The Second Lowest Risk- Is A Freestanding Birth Center!
The second best choice to avoid infection is to deliver your baby at a free standing birth center. Here you can still deliver anywhere that you like, and you will not have to be scrubbed with a disinfectant before the birth of your baby. A birth center which is not attached to a hospital does not carry the same risks of employees spreading high level infectious diseases with objects like stethoscopes, shoes, uniforms, pens or hands.

Four Tips For The Hospital Birth:
If you can’t deliver you baby at home or in a free standing birth center, you can still do some things to reduce the risks of your baby catching an infection;

1) Clean your surroundings.

Have your husband or your labor support teams disinfect the room where you will labor. Have them this with an antiseptic, paying careful attention the bed rails, bathroom rails, tables, door knobs, T.V. remote controls, and anything else that you may touch.

Most store bought cleaners won’t have any effect on viruses, but you will rest more easily knowing that the area has been cleaned attentively. The worst thing that can happen with this approach is that the nursing staff will roll their eyes at you!

2) Bring your own sheets. You can drape them over the hospital bed, and leave them behind after the birth.

3) Keep your baby with you.
From my discussions with nursery nurses, you can save your baby from most risks by keeping your new baby close to you. This way you do not risk a not-so-clean incubator, nurses who change diapers without washing their hands first or nurses with dirty uniforms holding and feeding your baby to “help out”.

In most cases, there is no reason for your baby to be removed from you. Even in the case of a cesarean section, if you need to rest, the father of a family member can care for the baby in the room. If anyone wants to touch you or your baby ask them to wash their hands first.

4) Breastfeed.
Your breast milk has living components to it as well as essential nutrients for your baby. Your breast milk will contain immunity to everything you have ever been exposed to, and anything you come into contact with within the hospital. Your early milk is especially beneficial to your baby's immature immune system. The benefits of breastfeeding are endless and could not possible be covered here.

4) Leave as soon as you can after the birth.

Studies show that the longer you stay in the hospital, the more the risk goes up for you or your baby to contract an infection.

Most women would not even consider taking their newborn to the hospital to see a sick relative so the same should hold true immediately after birth. If you and your baby are well, the best place to be is home.

For more information of hospital infections you can start here.


April 22, 2008

More on, "No," and Finding Your YES!

On “No”
Why is it important to be in touch with your inner “No?” Your inner knowing is immensely intelligent.

Recently Oprah spent a whole show on teaching people to listen to their inner senses. Her guest, Gavin de Becker author of “The Gift of Fear” talked about how we are all born with the power to know when we are heading into danger. As a violent crimes investigator he noticed that whenever he interviewed victims, the victims always told him that they had ignored multiple internal warnings that something was not right and they had walked right into danger.

Gavin explains that during our lifetime the brain takes in and stores more information than we can consciously be aware of. The brain is constantly taking in new information and comparing it with our old experiences, but we can’t recall everything at every moment. Many times our warning of danger could be a gut feeling or a body sensation, or even a flash of a thought.

In addition to body sensations, de Becker feels that you should pay attention to anything that makes you say, “Hmmm. This does not seem right.”

He says that we all have this gift, but often we are taught to ignore it. He feels that women are especially disposed to ignore their inner knowing because of social conditioning.

Leading edge educators and scientists believe that that mind and the body connection are so important that we can no longer separate them when studying them. Dr. Bryan Post, the founder of the Post Institute for Family-Centered Therapy says, “The brain and body are a unified system, what happens in the brain happens in the body.”

Be aware that we are mainly talking about the unconscious brain, the part of the brain that is mostly responsible for our survival.

Anxiety and nervousness that is not resolved leads to a long term stress response in the body. Our cells go from functioning normally, called thriving, to functioning in a survival mode. This is harmful to well being which needs cells to be in the thriving mode to regenerate. Being in stress ,and thus the survival mode, is most unfavorable if you desire a normal pregnancy and birth.

When I read about medical care providers telling women that they will need to be induced if the baby does not come by a certain date, or that the baby may be “too big” to birth, or that their pelvises may be “too small,” I cringe at the constant messages that she is receiving in her minds conscious and unconscious- messages of fear.

It is a wonder that any women can have a natural birth after being kept in this constant state of fear, and I commend any women who is able to birth naturally despite that.

How can this empower us?
Birth counts on you to have your body, mind and spirit at-ease. You will want to know your body’s “Yes!” intimately because your body will work at its optimum during birth when it is at-ease.

Finding your yes! Some exercises…
•Think of a food that you love. Feel it in your body, what does your body do? Sit with this. This is a, "yes!"

•Try it another way. Sit still and smile without moving your face. This feeling is a "yes!"

•Think about your past and look at some memories where you knew that the answer was “Yes!”

Your, "yes," will guide you where you want to go. Your path of power is to find this place. For instance, if you are with a medical care provider, and every time you visit them you feel badly when you leave- this is a “No.”

If you don’t feel a 100% “Yes!” when you are with your birth attendant, then how do you expect to give birth easily with them? Find someone who is your “YES!”

When I was pregnant, I visited a hospital and took a tour of the maternity ward. They told us that after the birth, the baby would be taken away for a minimum of four hours for bathing and procedures. I felt sickness in my body whenever I imagined having my normal healthy baby taken away from me. This did not feel safe. I felt a huge inner “No!” which started me on my path to education and empowerment for my birth.

Looking inside, I always knew when I was headed right. I felt ease in my body when I made a good decision, even if others argued with me.

Make each decision one step at a time, and follow your inner knowing. We all have it, we just need to practice listening to it.

copyrite 2008 Barbara Rivera

April 14, 2008

Knowing that you know...

Truth changes over time, and that is a fact!

Years ago, smoking was not considered to cause disease, today we know differently.

Just a few years ago, babies were given little or no anesthesia for surgery because it was believed that they did not feel pain like we do, today we know that babies do indeed feel pain and they feel it more intensely than we do.

(If you don't believe this look here-- http://www.uams. edu/info/ Updates/October0 1/anand.htm )

With so much information out there, how can we know that what we are doing what is right?

I believe that the right answer lies within each one of us. When we stop looking outside for answers, and look inside we will find the answers. How do we do this? Lets start by knowing what we know!

Saying No

Think of a food that you hate. Picture it in front of you.
Feel what happens in your body, this is your "No".

How comfortable are you with saying no? Can you return a cup of coffee if you asked for two sugars and it came black? Would you pay for an orange paint for your kitchen if you wanted green?

Imagine this: You go to your hairdresser and you ask for a trim of your long shoulder length hair. The hairdresser agrees, but cuts your hair into a short bob. When you protest, the hairdresser says, "I only do one cut, and this is what is best for you."

You look around and see that everyone is getting a bob. You get angry but no one seems to listen, “Pooh pooh, you look great.”

When you get home, your husband says, "You look great – I don’t know what you are upset about."

Feel this feeling inside of you, this dis-ease.
How would you attempt to make it right to yourself? What feelings are you feeling, about this?

Would you be angry?

Would you try to be happy about it?

Would you cry?

Would you feel confused?

Would you make it your own fault?

How do you take this not right feeling , and make it all right?

This is your flag. Take this and keep this feeling in your tool box to use!
(The feeling that this is not right , even though everyone is telling me that it is all right.”)

This is your "no"

The first step to empowerment is knowing that you don't' need to know everything, you just need to know what your "No." feels like!

You are becoming a mother and your baby will be counting on you for protection. How do we find our power? We find it by knowing our own internal warning system. This has been given to us by our biology.

Our brains take in billions of bits of information, but we can only be conscious of a tiny bit. Our intuition is just that- our brains are talking to us through our body saying. "Something is not right."

Honor this.

Barbara Rivera

copyrite 2008 Barbara Rivera