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fascinating book recommendation


Forum: Natural Childbirth

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  #1  
October 3rd, 2012, 09:51 AM
Quantum_Leap's Avatar frequent flier
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Location: Seattle area, Washington
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This isn't really about natural childbirth per se, but I thought it would be interesting to many of you ladies. Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives: Annie Murphy Paul: 9780743296632: Amazon.com: Books I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far.

It's basically about all of this emerging scientific research that is showing how tremendously important the mother's behavior/mood/etc. during the nine months of pregnancy is for fetal development, more important than anyone ever realized. It says that the mother's eating habits, emotions, etc. can actually alter the way the baby's genes are expressed. So, at the point where they baby is conceived he or she has certain genes, but then some of those genes can get turned either "on" or "off" depending on the mother's behavior. So, for example, what the mother eats during pregnancy doesn't just provide the baby's nutrition, it also provides a signal to the baby about whether the world he is about to be born into is one of hardship or one of plenty, and the baby adjusts his metabolism accordingly. That's just one example. There are many, many fascinating experiments and studies that are described here.

I am thoroughly enjoying it, so wanted to share!
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  #2  
October 3rd, 2012, 02:23 PM
therevslady's Avatar Built for Birth
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Location: Atlanta, Ga
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I totally get that. I have read that our mood and outlook can actually change the shape of cells in our own bodies. I'm sure it helps dictate things in our baby's bodies as well!
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  #3  
October 11th, 2012, 12:09 PM
Dee
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I read Origins this spring, and liked it, too. What I thought was really interesting was that it's not just mother's behavior, though, it's a huge list of environmental factors that are beyond our control but have long (like decades-long, lifetime-long) effects on the fetus. Really fascinating, and easy to to read in that science-journalism-for-non-scientists sort of way.
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  #4  
October 16th, 2012, 10:52 AM
Quantum_Leap's Avatar frequent flier
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I just finished reading it, and there's a part I didn't like about it, though. Towards the end of the book, it talks about recent research on the pain that babies experience during the process of birth. I guess they've done experiments where they've measured the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in umbilical cords after birth (which is a proxy for the amount of pain the baby experienced). They said that these levels are the highest in assisted births (forceps, vacuum, etc.), middle in normal vaginal deliveries, and lowest in C-section births. So, basically, the baby experiences less pain if it's born by C-section than if it's born vaginally? And then they've correlated those results with measures of the babies's responses to stress later in life. For example, they measured the intensity and duration of crying following routine vaccinations at four months of age, and they found that babies who had more of the stress hormone cortisol in their umbilical cords at birth cried longer and harder in response to that pain at four months than did the babies with lower levels of the stress hormone. They said the same thing about circumcision -- that boys who had been circumcised right after birth cried more after their shots than boys who hadn't, and that boys who had been circumcised with no analgesic cried even more than boys who had been circumcised with an analgesic. In other words, basically, an early experience of pain conditions babies to be more sensitive to and responsive to pain later in their lives.

I don't know what to make of all of this, but it bothers me to think that giving birth to my babies vaginally might have caused them any pain or distress. The researchers pointed out that a forceps delivery exerts about 50 pounds of pressure on a baby's head, but that even a normal vaginal delivery exerts about 22 pounds of pressure on the baby's head just from the mother's tissue. Of course we can never ask newborn babies to explain to us whether or not the birth experience that they just went through actually hurt them. It makes me sad to think that it might have, though.
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