For the next several weeks, I will be sharing information from a 2015 study released through Childbirth Connection, entitled, "Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care.” In this commissioned report, the author takes researched evidence to view four hormonal systems involved in childbearing: oxytocin, beta-endorphin, epinephrine-norepinephrine and cortisol (the stress system), and prolactin. This is some powerful information and may bring on a great deal of thought and discussion about our routine practices around the care of pregnant, birthing, and postpartum women.
Nancy K. Lowe, editor of the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN), wrote of this study, "Each and every intervention should be considered within the context of its potential to disrupt normal maternal/fetal physiology and whether the risk of that disruption is worth the potential benefit. To assume that we can intervene needlessly in a normal physiologic process during a critical period of human development without consequence is indeed naive and presumptuous,” (2015).
The report's author, Dr. Sarah Buckley, concludes her paper with, "what is known reveals profound interconnections between mothers and babies, among hormone systems, and across childbearing processes and the life course...a growing body of research finds that common maternity care interventions may disturb hormonal processes, reduce their benefits, and create new challenges and concerns, including the possibility of adverse longer-term developmental and epigenetic effects,” (2015).
Buckley's report may challenge our beliefs about the care we provide to mothers and babies, even that which we might see as indirect and innocuous. I find myself in full agreement with Lowe when she states, "What is lacking in the United States is a national standard of maternity care that guarantees women access to care providers, systems of care, and specific types of care that first, do-no-harm through respect for and support of the exquisite physiology of childbearing,” (2015).
More to come...
Buckley, S.J. (2015). Hormonal physiology of childbearing: Evidence and implications for women, babies, and maternity care. Washington D.C: Childbirth Connection Programs, National Paratnership for Women and Families. Retrieved from http://transform.chidbirthconnection.org/reports/physiology/
Lowe, N.K. (2015). The hormonal physiology of women and their fetuses and mothers and their infants. JOGNN; 44(2): 171.
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