The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA


Labor Is Good for Your Baby

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.


I'm interested in more info on labor preparing the baby for birth, particularly on anything about babies born c-section after mom labors for some time versus babies born without labor. I'd appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction.
This is a bit long, and I hope it helps. I have two studies, a couple quotes and a book or two to recommend.

from Scientific American Magazine, April,1986: "The Stress of Being Born" by Hugo Lagercrantz and Theodore A. Slotkin.

The authors state, "It is actually important to undergo the events eliciting the production of stress hormones (catecolamines: adrenaline, etc.). The resulting surge of hormones prepares the infant to survive outside the womb. It clears the lungs and changes their physiological characteristics to promote normal breathing, mobilizes readily usable fuel to nourish cells, ensures that a rich supply of blood goes to the heart and brain, and may even promote attachment between mother and child." < no wonder we cry!!! >

The authors suggest that babies delivered by c/s before labor begins miss the benefits of the "catecolamine surge" during labor. They also note that catecolamine levels are positively correlated with higher APGAR scores in babies who are moderately asphyxiated, suggesting that the hormones counteract the effects of oxygen deprivation.

Some adaptational effects of a catecolamine surge during labor on baby:

  1. Improves Breathing

  2. a) Increases lung surfactant
    b) Increases lung-liquid absorption
    c) Improves lung compliance
    d) Dilates bronchials
  3. Protects heart and brain

  4. a) Increases blood flow to vital organs
  5. Mobilizes fuel

  6. a) Breaks normal fat down into fatty acids
    b) Breaks glycogen (in liver) down into glucose
    c) Stimulates new production of glucose by liver
  7. Facilitates bonding?

  8. a) Dilates pupils
    b) Appears to increase alertness
The second study is from "the green journal", "Obstetrics and Gynecology" vol.68 no.1 july,1986. "Fetal Heart Rate Pattern and Risk for Respiratory Disturbance in Full Term Newborns" by M. Wennergren,MD, M. Krantz,MD, O. Hjalmarson,MD, and K.Karlsson,MD.

Only deliveries by c/s were included in this study which suggests that, "Contrary to popular belief, there was a significantly lower incidence of respiratory disturbances after ominous fetal heart rate pattern... It is suggested that these results may be due to a favorable effect on the fetal lung of systemic or local factors, produced in response to intrauterine stress." Robert Mendelsohn,MD, (not part of above) has said that it is impossible to tell the difference between normal fetal stress and abnormal fetal distress. I can't remember if it's in his book, "Male Practice: How Doctors Manipulate Women" or "Confessions of a ..." (sorry, i also can't remember the rest of the title.) He also said in may of 1978 that the c/s infant mortality rate is 13 times higher than that of vaginal birth. I haven't found those numbers anywhere else, and am curious what it is today.

Finally, I have a line once written by Susan and Stewart McElhinney,AAHCC "If there were no labor, the baby might get hurt when it fell out."

I hope this is useful to you in some way. I know that some Dr.s recommend letting baby experience some labor even if he's going to be born by c/s to try and avoid problems with respiratory distress. A pediatrician is required to be present at c/s to take care of baby because of these risks, so these things are well known to doctors. I would recommend discussing this with your pediatrician as s/he probably has lots of good info. Suzanne Rehmeier,AAHCC

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Birth Joy and Pain


SEARCH gentlebirth.org

Main Index Page of the Midwife Archives

Main page of gentlebirth.org         Mirror site

Please e-mail feedback about errors of fact, spelling, grammar or semantics. Thank you.

Permission to link to this page is hereby granted.
About the Midwife Archives / Midwife Archives Disclaimer