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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Placental blood flow during contraction-how to increase oxygentation during a contraction

The more I have learned about the placenta, the more I have come to recognize how amazing it really is.  I am also amazed at the ability of the baby to compensate for a lack in oxygen when needed. The placenta is mostly an organ used to exchange oxygen.  Most of the time, the placenta functions well to bring oxygen to the baby.  But if not, in general, a baby has enough reserves of oxygen to compensate for severe short term shortages of oxygen. So, while our bodies go through bumps during labor, the whole process is basically made to succeed.

I think I've shared this video before, but I thought I'd share it again as it is a great way to understand the relationship between our placenta, contractions, and the oxygenation of the baby.

If the baby is having a difficult time during labor, there are a few things you can do to maximize the oxygenation of your baby.  The oxygenation of the placental blood is dependent on the maximum intensity of the contractions and the maternal blood pressure.  It is less dependent on the length of the contraction.  It is even less dependent on maternal oxygenation.

With this idea in mind, you will want to focus on decreasing the intensity of contractions and increasing maternal blood pressure.  If you are on pitocin, discuss decreasing the amount you are using as this will decrease the intensity and the amount of contractions you are having.  To increase blood pressure, your nurse may increase the amount of fluids you are receiving through an iv.

There are also some non-medical things that you can do.  Jasmine essential oil is something that has been shown to increase blood pressure, but also help with anxiety and pain.   Also, increasing the mothers heart rate increases the blood pressure.  While I have never seen any studies done on this idea, I would think getting up and moving would help to increase the mothers heart rate and subsequently the blood pressure.  (Moving also helps with other problems with oxygenation).

An epidural will often decrease blood pressure, so make sure you take that into consideration when choosing to get one.   Another problem with epidurals and blood pressure, is that epidurals are associated with fevers sometimes.  Fevers can then further dilate the blood vessels and lead to lower blood pressure.  Hot water may also dilate blood vessels.  This should be taken into consideration if there are problems with the fetal heart rate and blood pressure.  Anemia  can also decrease blood pressure, so make sure you keep on top of that if you have a problem with that during pregnancy.

Some other untested ideas:  Caffeine raises blood pressure within 10-15 min.  I'm not sure by how much, but it's something you  could try.   Drinking sugary or salty drinks will also keep your fluids in your body.  Drinking water will also add more fluids and you should see the effect within 15m.  Try drinking 16 oz at a time and then repeat after 15m if it is not showing any difference. 

Overall, the process works well and was made to function in a way that maximises the amount of oxygen available.  If extra help is needed, there are things both medically and non-medically that you can do.  I truly find this whole process amazing.

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Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.