Most often, faulty diagnoses of premature labor are made by means of unnecessary routine vaginal exams and superfluous electronic fetal monitoring devices. Never mind that the definition of preterm labor includes contractions that get longer, stronger, and closer together while opening the cervix. Mom is so alarmed at the possibility of losing her baby that she often isn't thinking critically; she's willing to do anything to save her child. She probably doesn't know that even if the cervix is dilated a couple of centimeters, it can be completely normal.
She also doesn't know that study after study show that terbutaline doesn't do a thing to stop premature labor. She doesn't know that FDA hasn't approved this drug for use during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or lactation. Nor does she know that FDA warns that this drug should not be used to stop or slow contractions because serious adverse reactions may occur after administration of terbutaline sulfate to women in labor. The pregnancy continues, but there is no way to prove that it wouldn't have otherwise, so the assumption is that the only reason it continues is because of the interventions.
Any woman who has been put on this drug will recognize these effects: nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, increased heart rate, shaking, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and inability to sleep. Terbutaline can also cause liver damage. Because the betaminimetic agent crosses the placenta, baby experiences the same things mom does, including heart rate accelerations. When mom is unable to eat because of nausea, combined with the effect on her already taxed liver and high blood pressure, she will quite likely develop symptoms of preeclampsia.
- Kim Wildner
Excerpted from "Terbutaline or Not Terbutaline? That is the Question," Midwifery Today Issue 63.
If a pregnancy is not yet 34 weeks along, most hospitals will attempt to stop contractions
by giving the mother a tocolytic drug such as ritodrine or terbutaline, which is intended to
suppress uterine activity. Terbutaline is specifically contraindicated for tocolysis by FDA
and causes increased heart rate, transient hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, pulmonary edema,
decreased blood flow to the heart, and irregular heartbeat in the mother and hypoglycemia
and accelerated heart rate in the fetus at times, but is widely used anyway. Mothers should
know that, to date, no studies have convincingly demonstrated an improvement in survival or
any index of long-term neonatal outcome with the use of tocolytic therapy. On the other had,
the potential damages of tocolytic therapy to the mother and newborn are well documented.
- Anne Frye,
Vol. I, Labrys Press 1997
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I know that in order to determine station you are supposed to feel the ischial spines,
but I often cannot. Any recommendations?. -Nikko
To share your thoughts and experience, go to Midwifery Today's
You are invited to the First Mother-Friendly Childbirth Forum, presented
by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). Find out how Mother-Friendly care
improves outcomes, increases satisfaction, and reduces costs.
In 1996, representatives from a broad spectrum of maternity-care professional organizations
and prominent individuals, including midwives, physicians, nurses, childbirth educators,
labor support providers, postpartum doulas, and lactation consultants, formed CIMS. The
stated mission was to promote a wellness model of maternity care that would improve birth
outcomes and substantially reduce costs. In furtherance of that mission, they crafted the
Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI), a consensus document providing guidelines to
help US hospitals, birth centers, and homebirth services provide culturally competent,
evidence-based maternity care. Since that time, more than 50 organizations and prominent
individuals representing more than 90,000 members have endorsed the CIMS MFCI.
In an unprecedented and innovative approach to providing the highest quality maternity
care, CIMS developed a process through which hospitals, free-standing birth centers, and
homebirth services could be designated as mother-friendly. The institutions and homebirth
services achieving this designation would be assured of providing women with:
- accurate information to make informed decisions
- access to a full range of evidence-based practices for their care
- continuous support and referral resources
- access to midwifery care and baby-friendly breastfeeding support as defined by
the World Health Organization's infant feeding guidelines.
Thursday, February 20, 2003
10:00 AM–3:30 PM
Sheraton National Hotel, Arlington, VA
Download the Forum Program and Registration Form.
To learn more about MFCI visit our Web site: www.motherfriendly.org
For additional information please contact:
Rae Davies, executive director
CIMS National Office
PO Box 2346
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004
Question of the Week (Repeated)
Q: I am a doula and have a client with pelvic floor
dysfunction (PFD) and interstitial cystitis (IC). She would like to have a natural birth.
She has been told to get an epidural to "quiet the bladder and pelvic nerves." Does anyone
have experience with PFD or IC? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
- Rachel Porter, birth doula
Send your responses to email@example.com with
"Question of the Week" in the subject line.
Question of the Week Responses
More about pregnancy-induced itching [Issue 5:01]: I had PUPS when I was pregnant, starting
at about 33 weeks. It was very red, raised, and maddeningly itchy and covered my arms, legs,
and belly. The doctors just smiled and told me to use a hydrocortizone cream and take Benedryl,
and that in most cases it would go away within three weeks of delivering. I was preparing for
a homebirth and didn't want to put anything but organic food in my body, so their recommendations
seemed harsh. After a week of lying naked on the couch, drugging myself on TV to try to escape
my body, I knew I would go way out of my mind long before I delivered, and so I tried the drugs.
They didn't even begin to affect the irritation. Blessedly, I found a very loving naturopath,
and with two visits and in less than a week, it was all but gone. He recommended a combination
of some herbs and homeopathic remedies, and at the second visit changed one or two things a
little. I won't list the things I used because they were quite specific to my body.
I believe there were many mental and emotional issues exacerbating the condition. At 37 weeks
I surprisingly delivered not one, but two babies. They were beautiful, healthy 6 lb. 7 oz.
and 6 lb. 7.4 oz. identical twin girls. I have since learned that because PUPS is hormone
related, carrying twins increases the risk of developing this seemingly harmless but intensely
irritating condition. I also think the week on the couch was similar to bed rest, and may have
helped me carry the twins to 37 weeks. In a way the condition helped draw me back deeper into
my body and may have helped the outcome.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Responses to any Question of the Week may be sent to E-News
at any time. Please indicate the topic of discussion in the subject line or in the message.
Mothering celebrates the experience of parenthood as worthy of one's best efforts and
fosters awareness of the immense importance and value of parenthood and family life in the
development of the full human potential. As a readers' magazine, we recognize parents as the
experts and wish to provide truly helpful information upon which parents can base informed
For more information please visit www.mothering.com. THANK YOU!
Midwifery Today Magazine Question of the Quarter
Theme for Issue 66: Birth Environment
Question of the Quarter: What do you do to create a positive birth environment? In your experience, what have you seen that disturbed or facilitated the birth environment?
Please submit your response by March 1, 2003 to
All responses subject to editing for space and style.
Write an Article, Receive a Free Subscription!
Here's your chance to get a free one-year subscription to Midwifery Today Magazine. Write a
full-length article ( 750 words or more) about protecting the birth environment and what that
means to you. Submit it by Feb. 26, 2003 for the next issue. If your article gets accepted for
publication in the magazine, you get a free one-year subscription! We are especially interested
in hearing from those of you who work in hospital settings. Tell us how you protect the birth
environment in the hospitals, against all the inherent obstacles.
Send submissions here.
Exclusively on the BirthLove Site
Gloria Lemay, celebrated midwife and teacher, is offering advanced online doula education.
She covers a vast amount of topics that today's doulas and student midwives need to know:
herpes simplex II, medical terminology, pediatric exam of the newborn, prenatal diagnostic
tests, business and professionalism, pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes and
so much more. The course is free for all BirthLove members.
Check it out!
More about pubic symphysis pain [Issue 5:02]:
First, X-rays are fallible in that they show density only, not bone or any other body part
except as ghostly gradations (an exception to this would be metals). Second, your doctor is
not concerned because the pain is not his; lacking concern (or dare I say aptitude), he
doesn't deserve your payment for his services. Only a careful, sensitive exam could tell what
the issue most likely is. When the symphisis separated for your 11+ pound baby's passage,
issue (muscle, tendon, connective) is squeezed into the gap formed. The pressure of the baby's
passage continues to stretch this tissue while the pubis closes, gets caught, and smashed in
between. The remedy for this is simple, quick, and painless if done right after delivery and
in my view should be checked for and done as a matter of routine in all full-term vaginal
deliveries. Since a year has passed for you, and your squished tissue, which is perhaps
showing signs of ossification due to the accumulations of metabolic waste salts in tissues
with impaired circulation, there is more reaction, pain, and guarded trauma to get through,
but the process is still simple and direct. The difficulty now lies in retraining your muscle
response to having been in a state of dysfunction for some time. If you can find a practitioner
who understands both the physiology and remediation for this problem, the process should not
take more than a couple visits until you struggle to remember ever having experienced the
discomfort you now feel.
- Uli K. Zangpo, osteopathic kinesiologist,
Forest Knolls, CA
A woman who is 12 weeks pregnant is growing some sort of cyst/growth in her uterus
(noncancerous). It is growing at the same time as the fetus. Will this cause her any problems,
and what can be done about it?
Recently I attended a birth of a mother (G3P2) whose fundal height had just exceeded 40
cm at her last prenatal visit at 41 weeks. She was tiny and had never had a baby over 8-1/2 lb.
I went into the labor somewhat concerned about shoulder dystocia. She had a longish labor
(15 hours) and had been pushing very strongly for more than 35 min when we had a discussion
about rupturing her membranes, which were still intact. My “little voice” cautioned
against doing this, and the mother was not overly keen, so we let them remain intact until the
birth of the head. When they broke I hurriedly peeled them off the baby's face. I then went in
immediately for the baby's shoulders, and they came with only a moderate amount of pressure
followed by the rest of the body. The baby weighed in at 9 lb. 4oz. I have since wondered if
letting the membranes stay intact might have facilitated the rotation and delivery of the
baby's shoulders. Any comments or experience?
I delivered a baby on Jan. 20. He weighed lbs 12 oz. and got stuck during the delivery. I
was told that for about 2 minutes his head and his left shoulder were pulled, and now he can't
move his left arm. I am very concerned and don't know what to do. I want to get your thoughts
and opinions and possible methods to help my son regain use of his arm. He can grip my finger
in his left hand, but otherwise it is completely limp. Please help me.
- Crystal Medina
I live in Mexico City. I'm studying medicine but I don't like it anymore. I have discovered
the doula profession and I would like to study it, but I don't know of any professional
schools in my country. Please share information about schools that offer this career. It
doesn't matter where the schools are—I could get a scholarship. This is what I really
want to do for the rest of my life. Saludos a todas ustedes!
Regarding epidural question [Feedback, Issue 5:02]: There's a great video being used by the
doula course instructor at Conestoga College in Ontario, Canada. I don't know the name of the
video or the name of the instructor. The video shows newborns trying to breastfeed—both
newborns whose moms had epidurals and those who didn't. It's amazing to really see the
difference in rooting and suckling. I found it much more effective than what I had read
previously. Health Sciences Program coordinators can be reached at 519-748-5220. Try Teresa
Malott, ext. 3700.
I am an aspiring midwife, and I am presently taking a birth and parenthood class. We have
just read a book called "A Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer. I think
Carol will find this book very helpful with her epidural questions.
- Suzanne Campbell
It is illegal in the United States to buy or sell human body parts, but an exception has
slipped through: eggs. In ads placed in campus newspapers, so-called egg brokers dangle tens
of thousands of dollars before young women with the right pedigree of looks, talent, and SAT
scores. Their eggs, carrying that pedigree, are wanted by infertile women. To the donor it
might sound like a deal; in fact it's an ordeal.
For about a month, the donor actually turns her body over to the process. She must inject
herself daily with hormones that stimulate her ovaries to produce up to several dozen ripened
eggs rather than the usual one. These mature eggs are sucked out of her swollen ovaries with
needles inserted through the vaginal wall. The major risks relate to the heavy drug treatments.
In about 1 in every 100 women a hyperstimulation condition balloons the ovaries to the size of
grapefruit, and the belly fills with fluid, requiring hospitalization. There is a real but
rare danger that an ovary will rupture or be irreversibly damaged, or even that a heart attack
or stroke will occur. Brokers that solicit donors don't have to talk about this.
Safety warning: One Stanford student had a stroke while being treated for egg donation.
Faced with student loans, she was one of many girls attracted by a broker's ad in the Stanford
Daily offering $50,000 for the right eggs. A year ago, she told Stanford Magazine, "I wish I
had been better warned." Warning patients of risks is a basic commandment in medicine. The
American Society for Reproductive Medicine has developed guidelines that call for independent
medical and psychological counseling about these risks. It also recommends a cap of $5,000 on
donor compensation. The group is concerned that heftier payments might tempt donors to
downplay risks. Jeffrey Goldberg, the head of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at
the Cleveland Clinic, believes the guidelines are on target, but "not all centers adhere to
them." Unless the profession finds ways to enforce its standards, Goldberg believes, the
government will step in. But even if standards are forced on the clinics, egg brokers and
their anonymous clients are not subject to any of these professional constraints.
The use of egg donors is increasing at nearly 20% annually as more women delay childbearing
to the point where their own eggs are in trouble. If human cloning, which relies on ripe eggs,
becomes a reality, it will call for even more donors. Though some years off, new technology
might help. Scientists are finding ways to ripen eggs in test tubes rather than in women's
bodies, eliminating the risk of ovary-stimulating drugs. And frozen egg technology will enable
women to store their own eggs for later use rather than look to vulnerable students in search
of tuition payments.
- Bernadine Healy, MD
I feel the use of oxytoxic drugs in labour should not be given without the woman's
informed consent. I welcome readers' views and personal feelings about this particular subject.
- Josephine Brown
I am a new midwife in a previously established practiced. I have a question regarding
follow-up of Pap smears and first-trimester SABs. It has recently come to my attention how
important these two follow-ups can be and are that they are frequently missed even in an
already-established practice. I am particularly interested in how you keep track of all of
your Paps and your protocol for SAB follow-up. We have recently had a couple of blighted
ovums at 5-7 weeks and are not sure if we should follow these up with BHcg, US, or expectant
management. If anyone has a system that works well, I would love to hear about it.
- Gennifer Robbins, CNM, South Bend, IN
How I miss reading more of your E-News. Midwifery Today offers me moments of salvation. I
sit at my computer and drink a hot cup of lemon water with honey and realize just how blessed
I am to be a midwife. As we all know, midwifery truly is a challenging calling. There are
moments you can't wait for the beeper to go off, and then there are those days that you want
to cry when it goes off. Blessings are that the computer does not beep!
Thank you for continuing this great service. I do read your journal and still want for more.
God bless you and once again, thanks. With deepest respect and appreciation,
- Pat Connolly-DeTura, sister midwife on the journey
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