Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Study: Vaginal Delivery May Increase Maternal Responsiveness to Newborns

Yet another study telling us another good reason why cesarean birth should be avoided when possible.

"We found a significant difference in activity in certain cortical and subcortical areas of the brain in this group of mothers who delivered vaginally compared with those who delivered by cesarean section. Broadly speaking, the cortical brain regions are believed to be important for regulating emotions and empathy," principal investigator James Swain, MD, PhD, FRCPS, told Medscape Psychiatry.

....While the mechanism is not entirely clear, researchers believe vaginal stimulation caused by vaginal delivery results in the release of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that is a key mediator of maternal behavior in animals.

Cesarean section, said Dr. Swain, may alter the neurohormonal experience of childbirth and therefore may decrease the responsiveness of the human maternal brain in the early postpartum.

The investigators are currently looking at 3- to 4-month postpartum data to determine whether these effects of vaginal delivery on the maternal brain endure. Although the final analyses are not complete, Dr. Swain said preliminary analysis in this healthy group indicates the contrast between the 2 groups may not persist, suggesting that mothers who deliver via cesarean section may eventually "catch up" to those who deliver vaginally.

-- Medscape Medical News

Some time I'm gonna compile a list of all the reasons why one should try to avoid a c-section.

As one of my doctor friends says, "We talk about the 'hard' outcomes - the deaths, the morbidity... When do we factor in the 'soft' outcomes - like breastfeeding and bonding and emotional health and on and on?" And then as she often states so simply and yet so meaningfully, "Birth matters. It really does. We better get it right."


natalie said...

Wow! Sounds like science is catching up with common sense. ;-)

DoulaMomma said...

Just letting you know I linked to your post

Corin said...

Thank you SO much for this. I hope to get a moment in today to link to it!