Celebrity Births. The Good. The Bad. The Influence.

by Debra Flashenberg, IMI Advisory Board Member and Guest Blogger

I have never been one to closely follow celebrity gossip.  In fact, I am embarrassingly behind the times – stuck somewhere in the late 90’s when Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan and Friends were big.  But I  can’t deny the influence celebrities have on society. They are the  American equivalent of the British Royal Family.  Recently, the biggest  Hollywood trend is pregnancy and babies.  (I have even been called up by VH1 looking for the scoop on “hot Hollywood mamas” only to disappoint  the producer when I told him very few mega stars have passed our  threshold.)

With this uprise in celebrity births there is a bit more scrutiny on  how the precious little off-spring of the Hollywood elite come into the  world.  And, it stands to reason that like everything else, how  Tinseltown gives birth will have an impact on Jane Q. Public.  There  seem to be two emerging camps of thought:  A return to the home for  birth or an early trip to the ER for a planned cesarean birth.

On one hand we have people like Ricki Lake, who has used her  celebrity status to open the eyes of many to the possibility and safety  of a home birth with her film The Business of Being Born.  I recently spoke with one midwife who said she has never been this busy.  That movie really boosted business!  After a little digging, I was thrilled to  find out that many well-known celebs have recently opted for a home  birth with a midwife.  Demi Moore, Cindy Crawford, and Davina McCall have all given birth at home three times.  Nelly Furtado, Lucy Lawless, Ani DiFranco, and Pamela Anderson are  also amongst those who chose a home birth.  Pamela Anderson is quoted as saying “I gave birth at home both times, naturally, with a midwife, in water, with nothing.’

Then there is the other side – the planned cesarean births – that  seem to get a bit more media attention. I guess what I find most  horrifying is the reasoning behind this choice, and I am ghastly afraid  that the American public will follow suit.  Many of the Hollywood mamas  are “too posh to push”.  Christina Aguilera has been quoted in Hello Magazine as saying “I didn’t want any surprises. Honestly, I didn’t want any [vaginal]  tearing. I had heard horror stories of women going in and having to have an emergency C-section [anyway]. The hardest part was deciding on his  birthday. I wanted to leave it up to fate, but at the same time I was  ready to be done early!”I strongly encourage readers to research the full spectrum of evidence on the risks of non-emergency C-sections.

A related scary trend is the idea of “near term” births.  These are  babies that are delivered 4 or 5 weeks before the given due date.  (Note that full term is considered between 37-42 weeks.) It’s rumored that some celebrity moms have asked to deliver their  babies via C-section a month before their due dates to get a head-start  on slimming down, says Wang, co-director of the newborn nursery at  Massachusetts General Hospital. 

There is significant risk to a child delivered before full gestation.  A study published last year in the medical journal Pediatrics,compared 90 near-term infants with 95 full-term infants. Near-term babies were  more likely to be evaluated for infections and to have low blood sugar,  unstable temperatures, breathing problems and jaundice.  As a result,  27% of the near-term babies required treatment with intravenous fluids,  while only 5% of the full-term babies did. And 50 of the near-term  infants didn’t get to leave the hospital with their mothers, compared  with only 7 of the full-term babies.  Infant mortality in our  country is at a surprisingly high rate for a developed country.  Does  this “near term” birthing trend shed some light on why U.S infants die  too often?  Marian MacDorman, a statistician at the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), was recently quoted as saying The single most important thing we can do to lower the rate of infant  mortality is to reduce the rate of preterm birth. But in fact the trend  is going in the opposite direction — that rate [in the U.S.] is  increasing.

We live in a society where our heroes are actors and rock stars – fame is valued, many would argue, more highly than education.  I’m not  prepared to debunk the importance of the cool factor in our role models.  But I do think it’s important to bear in mind that when it comes to  life and death decisions, jumping on any bandwagon being  driven by pop culture is ill-advised.  Who will empower you?  What will  inspire you?  And what is informing your decisions?

Watch the red carpet for the latest in evening gown fashion and read  the tabloids to see who looks best in a bikini.  But when it comes to  how you bring life into the world, look not to the A-list, but to your  very own inner goddess.

About Debra

Debra, founder of Prenatal Yoga Center in NYC,  has studied with renowned prenatal yoga teacher Colette Crawford, R.N., at the Seattle Holistic Center. Debra has received certification for Vinyasa Yoga from Shiva Rea as well as completed the OM Yoga advanced teacher training with Cyndi Lee in 2004. Debra has also studied the Maternal Fitness Method with Julie Tupler. Debra currently studies with Cyndi Lee, Genevieve Kapular, and Carrie Owerko.In 2006, Debra received her certification as a Lamaze® Certified Childbirth Educator. In September of 2007, Debra completed a Midwife Assistant Program with Ina May Gaskin, Pamela Hunt and many of the other Farm Midwives at The Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of  the International Maternity Institute.

 

 

 

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