to the 1930's, more than 90% of all births in the U.S.A. occurred at home.
Then women were offered "pain free" birthing with medications in the
hospital setting. It didn't take long for the concept of "better living
through chemistry" to catch on, and less than a century later, 99% of all
births are now performed in a hospital. With this 99%, the United States now has
the dubious distinction of having the highest Cesarean rate ( 31%) and the
highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized country. The
World Health Organization has declared that NO country is justified in
having a c-section that exceeds 10%. Despite this, the American Medical
Association (AMA) recently passed a resolution saying "the safest setting
for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or
a birthing center within a hospital complex." According to the AMA, the
reason for this resolution was due to recent media attention given to homebirths
and their fears that more women would start to question whether a hospital
really is the best option.
Statistically, there is
plenty of data to support the choice to birth at home. The European countries
that use Midwives and support decisions to birth at home have far fewer
c-sections (under 5% in most cases), lower infant deaths, and lower death rates
for the mothers due to complications of medical interventions.
My mother was a labor and
delivery nurse for over 30 years, and I've had the pleasure of being present at
many births, both in the home and the hospital setting, myself. We
both agree that the hospital environment has turned birthing (the most
natural process in the world) into a high-tech, high-intervention big business.
Statistics support this as well. Birthing is the number one reason for
admission to a hospital in the US and it accounted for nearly four trillion
dollars in health care costs last year, and these costs keep growing. No wonder
the AMA and hospitals are afraid of women taking birthing back into the home. It
would hit their pocket books... hard. The average birth costs more than
$8,000.00 not including all the pre- and post- natal care. On the other
hand, a midwife and a doula for a home birth is typically less than $3,900.00
and includes ALL the costs; prenatal, birth, and postnatal care.
I have to say that I much
prefer the home setting in most cases. I can list dozens of reasons why the home
setting is better: decreased risk of infection, little to no unnecessary
interventions, freedom to choose any number of birthing positions, dad can
delivery his child if he chooses, no rush to cut the cord (too soon, and the
instance of jaundice and other nutritional issues increases), no whisking off
the baby to be cleaned & blood typed and otherwise poked and prodded, quiet
bonding time for mom, dad, baby and any other family members, the freedom to
eat, the freedom from the mandatory saline lock or I.V., etc, etc, etc... I
could go on for days. But
there is only one reason why I would want to be in the hospital; that very rare
crisis. And I do mean rare, like a prolapsed cord - where the cord
comes out ahead of the baby and gets pinched, cutting off the necessary blood
and oxygen supply to the baby. However, these kind of events only happen
in less than 1 out of every million births and in which case, given the
mortality rate in the hospital setting, there is no guarantee that the outcome
will be any better in the hospital than it would be at home. So, we are in full
support of all the women who are looking at the option of a home birth.
MORE FROM EUROPE
Medical care in the United States is currently the most
expensive in the world, but that doesn't mean it is worth every penny. The U.S.
spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other
industrialized countries, but it has fallen to last place among those
countries in preventing deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO), ranks the
United States at number 37 for how healthy its citizens are.
Overall American health is lagging far behind other
industrialized countries like France (#1), Italy (#2) and Spain (#7), but is
also behind third world countries like Columbia (#22) and Costa Rica (#36). The
reason is that the United States has a capitalistic money-driven health care
system. In America, we don't treat people for the greater common good, we manage
diseases for profit. American doctors, hospitals and other healthcare
professionals receive payment based on how often they see patients and how many
procedures they perform or drugs they prescribe. In other countries like France,
doctors and other healthcare workers are paid based on how healthy their
patients are, regardless of how often they see them or how many drugs and
surgeries they prescribe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
over half of Americans under the age of 64 are taking at least one prescription
medication every month. By age 65, more than 84% of Americans are taking three
or more Rx medications each day. The percentages get even higher when you
include over the counter medications like aspirin, sinus medications and
anti-acid medications. Despite taking more drugs than our European counterparts,
our death rate from disease is MUCH higher. The most common causes of death in
the U.S. according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC are as
- Heart disease (650,000+ deaths each year)
- Cancer (559,000+ deaths each
year) - this rate is going up in the US
- Adverse Reactions to prescription drugs ( 350,000+
deaths reported annually with estimates for 2.2 million in unreported deaths
related Rx medication - which would obviously put Rx Medications as the
Number 1 cause of death, easily beating heart disease, cancer, stroke and
accidents all combined!)
- Stroke (143,000+)
- Respiratory problems like Asthma and Emphysema
- Accidents (117,000+)
Also, the infant mortality rate in the US is
horrendous. More than 2 million babies die in their first 48 hours of life,
giving the United States the dubious distinction of having the second highest
death rate for babies in the world. Only Latvia has a worse infant mortality
rate than the U.S. (UPDATE: As
of 2009, the US is now ranking behind Latvia... we now have the WORST infant
mortality rate on the planet, despite having the highest number of births in a
The leading causes of death in European countries like
Italy and France? The numbers vary slightly from one country to the next,
but the general numbers, according to WHO and the European Public Health
Alliance (EPHA) are as follows:
- Accidents (107,000+)
- Heart disease ( 58,000+)
- Stroke ( 49,7000+)
- Cancer ( 35,000+)
Infant mortality rates in Europe are less than 3 babies
of every 1000 births.
Take a good look at those numbers. Americans take
more prescription drugs, have more surgeries and spend more money on health
care, but are dying in much greater numbers than Europeans. Basically 12
Americans die for 1 European that dies from illnesses like heart attack, cancer
So, who's health advise and doctor recommended
guidelines are more effective; the FDA and American Medical Association (AMA),
or France's Ministry of Health and the EPHA? The answer is pretty obvious.
With the above in mind, the following are some recent
health attitudes from the Europeans:
DRUGS - 2008
The European Society of
Cardiology released the results of a four year study comparing fish oil to
statin drugs (like Crestor ®), to a high quality fish oil supplement.
3500 heart patients were given the fish oil and another 3500 were given the
statin drug. The results were as
- Fish Oil group ~
1,981 died or had to be hospitalized for heart problems
- Statin group ~ 2053 died
or had to be hospitalized for heart problems
In another parallel study,
2,285 patients were given the statin drug and 2,289 were given a placebo. There was NO difference between the placebo success and the drug.
Another interesting tidbit from the studies - Very few of the fish oil
recipients complained of side effects. However, more than half of the drug
recipients complained of side effects like muscle weakness, exhaustion, memory
loss, irritability, decreased sex drive, kidney problems and liver damage.
Omega-3 fatty acids from
fish like salmon and tuna have long been proven to offer health benefits like
protecting the heart and brain. As these studies show, a high quality fish oil
supplement offers better overall health benefits than statin drugs.
What's a "High
Quality" fish oil? NOT the grocery store varieties like those found at
Walmart and other big box stores. These are cheaply made supplements that are
often rancid or loaded with heavy metals and may cause more problems than they
help. Carlson and NutriWest make some of the best fish oils at a reasonable
price. Depending on the person, we like the F- Complex or the Super EPA from
NutriWest. They also make an excellent chewable variety for children.
Carlson's lemon flavored Cod Liver oil is another high quality liquid option
at a reasonable price.
By the way - healthy total
cholesterol in Europe is 170 to 220. Cholesterol is necessary for making
hormones. It has to be at least 160 for hormone production. European doctors are
more concerned over all with CRP (c-reactive protein) which measures the rate of
inflammation, than they are with cholesterol. The arteries and veins are moving
blood through them. If inflammation is low, the walls of the arteries and veins
are smooth. If the inflammation goes up, it scars the walls, making it possible
for cholesterol and other materials (clots, calcium, etc) to collect on the
walls. If the inflammation is low, the cholesterol could be 500 and still
never find a place to attach and clog the passageway. If the inflammation
is high, even those with very low cholesterol are still in danger of
The biggest causes of
- Soft drinks
- Diet sweeteners
- Refined foods, especially
white sugar, white bread, and anything that comes in a metal can or
plastic (fresh or frozen foods are best!)
- Processed dairy foods -
those that have been homogenized and pasteurized - raw milk is okay
- Viruses or bacterial and
Natural options for reducing
inflammation are cinnamon, tumeric, pineapple, garlic, any green leafy
vegetable, barley, fish oils, eggs (yes .. eggs!), grapes and apples. Doing the liver
cleanse monthly, green drink daily and getting
adequate rest are also big reducers.
DRINKS - 2008
Many European countries have now banned the sale of
energy drinks, like Red Bull and Hype, due to an alarming increase in heart
attacks and strokes associated with their use. Teenagers and college students
in particular, a group not known for these kinds of deathly events, have
been dying of strokes from drinking these dangerous drinks on a daily
These drinks contain a potentially deadly combination
of high caffeine, sugar and carbonation, which causes rapid changes in the
blood. Initially it causes a jump in adrenaline and an increase in energy, but
shortly after, the stress to the body from this big kick to the adrenals
causes the blood to become thick and sticky. This leads to rapid blood clot
formation and dramatically increases the risk for sudden heart attack and
stroke. Constant use of these drinks also depletes the adrenals leading to
more exhaustion and a vicious circle of needing more and more of the energy
drink to compensate for the adrenal crashes. As the adrenals become more
stressed from this vicious cycle, they begin to put out some 30 different
hormones that negatively impact heart, pancreas, liver, thyroid and brain.
There are better ways to increase energy without
using high doses of sugar and caffeine.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep
- Support your immune system
- Avoid eating refined food. Eat lots of fresh or
frozen fruits and vegetables, raw nuts or seeds and complex carbohydrates.
Stick with the lower glycemic index varieties like lettuces, celery,
cucumber, asparagus, zucchini, cauliflower, apples, grapes, pears, and
peaches. Instead of "instant" or
"quick" packaged foods, consume more whole oats, brown rice and
multi grain breads and pastas. Keep servings of these carbs to less than 3
per day. Carbs can give us energy, but too many can make us fat and
- Green drink is instantly available LIVE nutrition.
It's a huge healthy way to increase energy.
- Clean your liver.
A clogged liver can make you tired, reduce your sex drive, cause blood
sugar imbalances, make you depressed and pack on the pounds.
- Exercise at least 20 minutes daily. If you
are tired, keep it simple. Take a slow walk, do yoga or the Pilates 100.
- Breathe! It's easy to hold your breath
or breath shallowly when stressed or in pain. Oxygen is critical to
energy production. Take several slow deep breaths anytime you feel
the need for an energy boost.
- Bach Flower remedies: Olive, Hornbeam and