Frequently when I talk to holistic health practitioners and natural health advocates there is a distrust of traditional medical specialties. I have always viewed that we are all spokes on the wheel of healthcare and all contribute to the patient’s well being when we are doing our job properly. This article is designed to help ease those misunderstandings particularly as it relates to the birth process.
I was introduced to home birth in 1978 when I started Chiropractic school. I was in the first quarter when my wife found out she was pregnant! We took the preparatory classes, found a good midwife, ate well and our son was born in a textbook like fashion.
Within 5 years we had two more girls. Each with different midwives all with a wonderful result. We ate a whole foods diet which changed a little bit with each decade always chemical free, no refined sugars and minimally processed. The kids grew up healthy with regular chiropractic care and excellent nutrition.
There was no serious illness and no surgery required. When our son was 21 and living on his own he had a life threatening car accident causing a grade 5 liver fracture (grade 6 is death) an injured bile duct and loss of his gall bladder. This was followed by a three year stint in hospitals all around the country with many specialists including interventional radiologists, trauma surgeons and many gastroenterologists.
They were some of the most dedicated human beings I have ever met and all contributed to saving our son’s life. He is now a healthy, happily married, landscape designer.
Fast forward a few years and I got a call from our oldest daughter in tears. She had been to her OB-Gyn and was told she would never be able to have children due to her irregular cycle. I proposed we do some labs, look at her as a whole person and not as a gynecology case and see what nature could do.
Labs revealed she had a hypofunctioning thyroid. With some simple nutrients, avoidance of soy and fluorides and a little natural progesterone, she was pregnant in 3 months. She had a healthy pregnancy and chose to have a midwive. In Alabama where she lives midwives are illegal and she had to get one from Tennessee.
She also had a new OB that was on call should she need her. Her labor was fairly normal except some shoulder dystocia when our grandson was crowning but with some skillful manipulation from the midwife all was well and she had a healthy boy.
A few years later our youngest daughter, also a Chiropractor was pregnant. She chose a birthing center with a midwife, had a healthy pregnancy but her labor was delayed. She tried everything, the midwives tried everything, her back up OB even stripped her membranes and I tried everything, but after 5 days we all agreed it was time to transfer to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital she was examined by the Nurse midwife on staff. She was very sympathetic, extremely professional and suggested pitocin and an epidural. Of course we had all heard all the horror stories but felt we had no other choice. They proceeded with the plan and I was amazed how smooth everything went. No violent labor pains (my daughter was even able to nap).
The epidural was very effective and she continued laboring for several hours. The birthing center had notified us that the OB on call was known to have an attitude and not be sympathetic to natural births. When he arrived on the scene, nothing could have been further from the truth. He was jovial, in a great mood and totally comfortable with home births.
His pet peeve he told us is women that don’t take care of themselves and show up in ER at 40 weeks having no prenatal care. My granddaughter arrived with a woodstock like crop of hair and all was well!
Strategies for Resolving Delayed Labor
There are several strategies I will share with you that have helped coax babies out that are late but first the bigger picture. If something is not going right with your labor and delivery, seek another opinion. Don’t be afraid of doctors in emergency situations. This is where their training is superb.
They know when life is in jeopardy and are trained how to rescue it. They may not know or understand your philosophies on raw milk, cholesterol and other lifestyle matters but for life and death situations that is their turf.
Understand that all the healthy lifestyle practices you have done will give you and your baby a much better chance of survival should you have to undergo a surgical procedure.
If you go in with a healthy attitude looking for help that is most likely what you will get!
Proper planning can help with some third trimester challenges and these are some general rules.
1. If your baby is malpositioned in any way, seek the help of a Webster trained Chiropractor who have had great success in turning babies naturally by balancing uterine ligament and muscle tension.
2. If you have seen a classical homeopath during your pregnancy, wonderful; there are several remedies you should have on hand though. Caulophyllum is the most common remedy to help with a delayed or stalled labor.
Find it at most good health food stores or order it by your SECOND trimester. Any potency will work. If you have a 6c take a few pellets three times a day, a 30c once a day. Only take after you are late! Aconite 30C is a wonderful remedy for fright if something is not going right. Don’t freak out take a few deep breaths and a few doses of Aconite.
Arnica is great to have after the birth to help speed up healing and recovery.
3. If you see a health care provider that does Acupuncture wonderful! If not learn where the points LI4 and Sp6 are and massage them deeply ( should be mildly tender) several times a day if you are late.
4. If you see a practitioner who uses Standard Process formulas have them consider Pituitrophin PMG for a late labor
Most importantly recognize that pregnancy is a state universally admired by all and there are many paths to a healthy birth!
This was a nice article. My mother had her first child, my oldest sister, in a hospital and never made that decision again. This was in the early 80s and the experience was traumatic. I, as well as my 2 other siblings, were born at home by midwives, who were illegal in Canada in the 80s. Needless to say, they found ways around that 😉 My mother had perfect, natural home births. We were all a few weeks “late” and my mother just waited until we decided to come out on our own, so to speak (I decided on the ride over and very nearly ended up delivered outside – once we were indoors, I took 10 minutes to arrive! My mom didn’t even sweat!). My brother was positioned upside-down, and the midwife gave her a quick massage to flip him over.
Natural home births are the only thing I can imagine. I feel a sort of dread when it comes to hospital births. I just feel a hospital is meant for the ill and the dying, not those being born!
Thank you SO MUCH for this balanced perspective. I wish I had read something like this before I had my first baby. I had planned a homebirth, read lots of literature from homebirth advocates, heard the hospital horror stories. And then my baby was breech and wouldn’t turn. We tried the Webster Maneuver and many other things. I read about breech homebirths. But in the end, my midwife (who is open to breech births if you have a proven pelvis) would not do one for a first time mom. I spent my last few weeks of pregnancy full of anxiety about hospitals and doctors.
My hospital experience was wonderful. (As wonderful as abdominal surgery can be, anyway) No pressuring from the staff to do things to our baby we didn’t want to do.
I am grateful for the homebirth movement. But in its zeal to convince people that homebirths are safe, it has forgotten that before modern medicine, women went into childbirth much like a soldier into battle: unsure if they would come out dead or alive.
Modern medicine does have a place. Thank you again for this article.
Essential oils clary sage, geranium and lavender can be very helpful for a “delayed” labor as well. I agree with Rebecca and Pat in TX though. We try to fit everyone into this box that babies should come in 40 weeks and 42 at the most. If mom and baby are both healthy, let the baby come when the baby and your body are ready. I just had a friend who delivered her baby at home 16 days “late”. I have a sister-in-law who has had 12 kids and almost all of them have been about 2 weeks late. That is just her body’s normal gestational cycle. The less intervention (even natural) the better in most cases.
What a wonderful article. As someone who tends to have an ‘all or nothing’ attitude and then deal with guilt or feelings of failure if something doesn’t go the way I planned, this is a crucial and helpful reminder for me. I love this view of healthcare, there is a place for medical intervention and as I don’t want to be judged for my views, I shouldn’t be judging the modern medical establishments.
I really appreciate this. Your posts articulates exactly what I think to be the wisest view towards conventional medical intervention. I pray someone will write one to that “anti-home birth” doc on Tennessee someday and teach him compassion for people who are afraid of the medical establishment. His job is not to judge them or make them feel his displeasure and his doing so does harm. As a person who has experienced both appropriate medical intervention with my second birth experience, and the worst of conventional medicine with my first, I cannot help but advocate that people develop a healthy mistrust of the medical establishment. Studies show that women who are mistreated in labor and delivery on the way I was respond in the same way that rape victims do. I thank God for the wonderful and caring nurse-midwife who knew the truth and validity of my experience who procured my medical records from the hospital in Tampa and brought in a few boxes of tissue and went over them with me. The medical establishment needs to abandon its resentment of the movement born in reaction to its own crimes and realize the validity of the accusations. Only then can it be trusted to address its own problems.
I appreciate the perspective. However, could someone define delayed birth? The article did not specify how late the labor was or why it was an emergency situation. Midwives I have spoken to have told me that women can go up to 2 weeks with no danger to the child or mother. I know it is typically an OBGYN’s knee jerk reaction to want the baby born ASAP. Mine scheduled me for a C-section the day after my daughter was due. I did not do it. She came naturally three days after her due date. So, again, what in this case is delayed labor? What timeframe are we talking about, or did something special happen to need to deliver ASAP? I think we need this information to be able to apply it to our own situations. Thanks.
Pat in TX
I was wondering the same thing! My midwife was never anxious about an *overdue* baby, which was a good thing since mine rarely came before 15 days past their *due date*. Out of 12, I had one on her due date and none early. My midwife used to say that she never met a woman who remained pregnant forever:-)
I may be wrong, but I think the article is referring to a labor that fails to progress. A friend of mine was in labor for 3 days and then had to have hospital interventions, i.e, pitocin, forceps, etc. I don’t think they are referring to being overdue, although that is how the article read.
I have had 2 babies on their due dates and I had 5 babies at 42 weeks or more! All were delivered totally naturally, 3 hospital, 4 with midwives. So I kind of wondered as well what delayed labor is. 40 weeks is an average, not a magic number. My babies needed a longer cooking time. Just want to encourage anyone reading to not worry so much about it. The hardest part is waiting for the baby when you are big, miserable and impatient to meet him/her!
so we need to have a general definition for failure to progress. ceserean happy doctors always state failure to progress as the reason to do surgery. healthy labor will ebb and flow at times. I was just confused about why they thought they needed to take measures, I think the article left out something important. maybe it was something personal they didn’t want to reveal, which is fine. just confusing.
Celeste Holstein DC
Hi ladies! Sorry for the confusion, we are encouraged to keep the articles brief because readers generally prefer shorter more concise pieces. I could write 5,000 words on my labor and it wouldn’t be enough. 🙂
My labor was a full 2 weeks late. Philosophically, I was perfectly comfortable with going longer. The midwives I was seeing work in a birth center and by law can only deliver within 37-42 weeks. On monday at 4AM I began having contractions and happily walked and labored until I felt it was time and was checked that night and found to be 3cm. I was told to go home and rest and sleep through them, and I was fairly able. Tuesday I was very sore and had intermittent contractions all day. On Wednesday I awoke again to fairly consistent contractions. I was miserable, I was sore, and I was frustrated but I kept the faith that this baby was coming soon. My midwives felt the need to send me to have a post date appointment with an OB because I was reaching my limit and he stripped my membranes which sent me into strong labor so we went back to the birth center. I progressed nicely with the aid of hypnobabies until 8 cm and then was allowed to get in the birth tub. After some absolutely blissful time in the tub I realized my contractions had stopped. I had the opportunity to get out and get adjusted by a fabulous chiropractor who happened to be at the birth center already. My contractions started again. And then stopped…walking, herbs, homeopathics, nipple stimulation, squats, rolling on the birth ball all worked for only a period of time. The midwives decided breaking my water would be best and that was done around midnight. I could no longer get comfortable and there was no way I could rest. I walked, I spent hours in the shower and squatting. Nothing seemed to get me those next two centimeters so I could push. At 7 AM I was exhausted after 4 days of contractions. My midwife said she would give me until 9am before a transfer. Dad came by and adjusted me, did acupuncture, etc and in a last ditch effort the midwives attempted to use Evening Primrose to dialate my cervix. While laying on my back, waiting for a contraction to apply the EPO I had a moment of clarity and it became abundantly clear that we had tried everything. I was at peace with my process. It was a humbling moment to be sure. I am a Webster trained, 2nd generation chiropractor, no one wanted a natural birth more than me. I never expected to find myself here.
At the end of the day, the most important thing was that I deliver a HEALTHY baby girl. I would not allow my stubbornness to negatively effect her. Yes, no one has ever birthed a toddler. However, women have birthed stillborns and babies with cerebral palsy. Our modern medical system does have a purpose and I made a thoroughly educated and pained decision to use it. I am more equipped than most to fight for what I want in that setting. I had a beautiful outcome.
I’m not sure why my birth turned out the way it did. I have examined it many times. I really believe that as a physician every healthy challege I experiencemakes me better, more equipped, more empathetic. Maybe that’s the reason, and if it is it was good enough.
Dr. Holstein, thank you so much for your reponse to the questions! I am expecting my first in October, and it is so fantastic to read this well thought-out and balanced perspective from your father and yourself. I am planning a natural birth with midwives at an excellent teaching hospital in my city (the hospital is known to be very natural-birth friendly and has an amazing midwivery practice), but it is good to realize that not everything is in my control, and that is okay! The important thing is a healthy baby and mother, in the end.
Celeste Holstein DC
It sounds like you have a great support team and you have educated yourself, Randa. You will have a beautiful birth, no doubt! But yes, it is good to realize that in birth, just as in life, we have little control over the total outcome. If we truly had complete control, life wouldn’t be all that interesting, right? 🙂
I read one birth story in Spiritual Midwifery that really stuck with me, and the take home message was that the woman chose not to have a birth plan because without one she could allow herself to experience her birth fully without trying to direct it or have resentment if it didn’t go the way she planned. I read so many stories of moms that had planned natural births that went awry and they had so much guilt and hurt afterwards. I didn’t want that. Am I disappointed? Sure. But I’ll have a second chance to get my natural birth, and I’m equipped with even more knowledge than the first time around!
Congrats on your pregnancy and good luck in your beautiful birth!
This was very encouraging. I planned for a homebirth, but after 3+ hours of pushing my very experienced midwife suggested heading to the hospital. I was given pitocin and an epidural and had a forcep delivery, then my daughter was kept from me for 6 hours for observations. None of this was ideal, BUT I recovered very quickly from losing quite a bit of blood and serious tearing/lacerations. My daughter was perfectly healthy and her forcep bruises healed quickly. At first I thought all my prep for birth was for naught, then I realized it was telling that even after a traumatic birth we were both well enough to go home the following day and resiliant enough to recover from birth in no time.
Wow, great article! I loved your overall approach to healthcare. I am due with my 3rd in Dec. and have already been planning what I’ll have to do/say/explain when certain situations arise.
Can you tell me how to use arnica after the birth?
So happy to see Dr. Frank on your blogsite!!! He was my chiro 15 years ago before I moved out to CA. Boy did I miss him when I moved! I used to drive an hour each way to go see him. Totally worth the drive to have a doctor who works “with” you rather than “on” you.
I had the Webster technique with my 3rd baby. A 10 pounder stuck feet down is not good! She ended up being born at home 🙂