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Take Responsibility for Your Pregnancy

January 28, 2007

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit. With 12 children and 18 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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Take responsibility for your pregnancy and for the health of your baby. In response to a reader that has accused me of perpetuating the myth that “premature birth is somehow the mother’s fault”, I feel I must address all of my readers. This email comes as a response to my last article, You Have the Power to Experience a Full-Term Pregnancy.

I am outraged, frankly, that the editor of Preemie magazine would rather quote a statistic (namely, that “60% of premature births have NO KNOWN cause”) than be on the side of helping solve the problem. I am sure this magazine is a great resource for parents of early babies. I know that it can be an awful thing to have a really early, sick baby be born to you, especially when you’ve been told there is “no reason” for it. How absolutely frightening that must be to think there was nothing you could have done, or will be able to do in the future if pregnant again.

I wholeheartedly agree that these parents need resources, they need support and information once the baby is here. But why aren’t we focused on how we can avoid that in the first place?

This magazine, as well as the “big business” of NICUs and premature baby care, are all on the other side of prematurity. They are not interested in helping solve the prematurity problem, because it would cost a lot of people a lot of money. They are not the solution to the problem, but the band-aid to an epidemic, really.

Even if I somehow believed that there was “no reason” for 60% of premature births, that wouldn’t be enough to stop me from trying to figure it out and get information into the hands of all pregnant women.

Information that can save their lives, and their babies lives, at no cost and at absolutely no risk to them AT ALL.

I will say it again. Nutrition underlies almost all pregnancy problems, whether it is prematurity or preeclampsia. That’s not to say there aren’t other reasons for problems, like undetected infection. Here is a quote from Dr. Brewer’s book, What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know About Nutrition, Bedrest and Drugs in Normal and High Risk Pregnancy:

”Research conducted and reported in the medical literature over the past century provides conclusive evidence that toxemia of pregnancy is a disease of incorrect nutrition and that incorrect nutrition is also associated with the vast majority of cases of preterm labor”.

In response to this email, I encouraged this Preemie editor to read up on Dr. Tom Brewer. He has a wonderful website, and the aforementioned book of which I am in the middle of right now. For those of you that don’t know, his focus was on nutrition and pregnancy and he was able to come up with a lot of answers both in his practice and in the thousands of phone calls he received from pregnant women over the years.

Dr. Brewer went into communities where there were high rates of prematurity, preeclampsia, etc. and was virtually able to eliminate these problems with diet. Dr. Brewer was a competent OB himself who realized that both diet and attention to the woman avoided so many issues.

I want to empower women. I refuse to go with the pity party, trying not to offend women that think I am saying they did a “bad job” in their pregnancies. There is no such thing, but there IS knowledge and power and research. When it comes down to it, we all do the best that we can do and sometimes worst of all, we wrongly BELIEVE that we are doing the absolute best for ourselves and our babies. It is not a woman’s “fault” per se, but it IS her responsibility to take charge of her own pregnancy and choices.

It is our JOB to do better for our babies, to find answers. Just because your doctor isn’t giving you this information, just because Dr. Brewer’s work is not as mainstream as it should be…..it doesn’t matter. Take responsibility for your pregnancy and for the health of your baby.

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  1. Amber says:

    My first son was born at 28 weeks gestation for “no reason”. I saw a doctor through that pregnancy and nutrition was never a topic of discussion during my prenatal visits.

    I am currently 33+ weeks pregnant with my second son and going strong WITHOUT the dozens of “interventions” (hormone shots, cervical sutures, etc.) that the doctors were insistent upon. I truly believe that this, in a major way, is due to how I have taken care of myself throughout this pregnancy. I have eaten a mostly organic (organic is hard to find sometimes) Vegan diet and been mindful of the supplements and herbal teas I have used to ensure maximum health for baby and I.

    Also wanted to mention: I have seen 3 different OBs (at three different practices in two different states) and a midwife (shadow care) during this pregnancy. At NO POINT did ANY of the doctors even mention nutrition/supplements/exercise/weight gain or anything of the sort to me. During my first consultation phone call with my wonderful Midwife nutrition was the main topic! And, it continues to be the major focus of my prenatal care.

    I agree that not all premature births can be avoided… but I am certain that many of them can be prevented by educating moms on proper nutrition before and during pregnancy.

    Thank you for a wonderful article. 🙂

  2. Yes, it is AMAZING, isn't it, Amber? I didn't have quite as early of a birth with my first, but she was indeed early. Typical OB care.
    But the most important point, which I think you make, is that we need to accept whatever care we get or don't get. There is a lot of whining out there, wanting to put the blame on someone else. I know in my case, I accept whatever it is I could have done differently that may have prevented an early birth. And I took that responsibility with nutrition for my next 4 births, as you have!
    Congratulations!!! Maybe you'll make it PAST your due date this time!

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