Eve’s Birth Story

In the last post, Natural is Always Best, we were talking about why not to get an epidural during labor and how beautiful natural childbirth is. We ended with an amazing quote from Ina May Gaskin saying, “When you are injured and feel pain, its message is ‘Run away!’ or ‘Fight!’ You are being damaged. This is survival information. The pain of labor and birth has an entirely different message. It says, ‘Relax your pelvic muscles. Let go. Surrender. Go with the flow. Don’t fight this. It’s bigger than you.'” Because I have not had the privilege of experiencing the beauty of childbirth yet, I am posting a remarkable birth story that is a perfect example of what Ina May says. I know you will enjoy it! Thank you Jessica for letting me share this!

 

Eve’s Birth Story

Eve Amelie was born to us on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 6:21pm, weighing 8lbs 8oz and measuring 21 ¾ inches long.

Eve’s birth story would be hollow if I failed to explain the events that unfolded in the months preceding her arrival, so at the risk of boring you to death, I’m including lots of details- details that I believe are riddled with the fingerprints of God.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been passionate about childbirth and deeply convicted that it is a natural and extremely empowering event in the life of a woman that holds great significance in God. I’ve desperately desired to open to the fullness of the process, allowing it to pull me into deep realms of revelation and awaken me to the Divine intent buried within it.

I attempted a natural delivery with my son, Jonah, but due to gestational hypertension and failure to progress it ultimately became extremely eventful and complicated- requiring Pitocin, an epidural, and 3 hours of pushing. He miraculously emerged during the final push they gave me before wheeling me away for an emergency c-section (38 hours elapsed between my water breaking and delivery). To top it all off, Jonah wasn’t breathing at birth and required a stay in the NICU. Then several months after my less than ideal delivery I had a miscarriage. Needless to say, I began to question whether or not my body had the capacity to healthily progress through the various stages of pregnancy and the labor process.

The first two trimesters of my pregnancy with Eve were marred with doubt and fear. I couldn’t even speak of her delivery during that time. There was an ache and darkness attached in those days to the manner in which she would ultimately emerge from my womb. Every tinge of hope that surfaced in my heart for an entirely natural unfolding was quickly suffocated by remembrance of how my body had failed in the past.

About 2 months prior to Eve’s due date, I began to sense the activity of the Divine all around. It seemed there was an urgency in God to rebuild a foundation of faith within me and restore all the enemy had stolen. He came to me with a fury of love and affection. He sang over me songs of redemption and healing and I spilled my fear and longing at his feet. He began to overwhelm me with the peace of his presence and reveal himself to me through people and circumstance.

One afternoon I stopped by to visit my friend, Rebecca, after the arrival of her daughter, Kiyah, and she shared her birth video with me. The surrender and peace of God I saw in Rebecca’s face even during the most taxing phase of the delivery process brought me to tears. I left her house that day weeping with desire to experience the same.

That night while researching childbirth I stumbled across Ina May Gaskin, the guru of midwives and a natural birth advocate. I immediately ordered and began reading her book Guide to Childbirth. I felt confidence and excitement being resurrected within me as I progressed through the pages. Reading story after story of  healthy and fulfilling deliveries where women were surrounded by the encouragement and affirmation not only of their spouse but also other women began to stir in me a desire to be accompanied by a doula during my labor with Eve.

One Saturday morning, I woke early with a weightiness of heart that felt much like conviction and thoughts of a doula swirling in my mind. I Googled “doula Nashville” and immediately discovered Gaylea McDougal, a doula/monitrice who appeared to not only have incredible skill and experience in the realm of women’s health, pregnancy and childbirth but also shared my passion for God and belief that the process of bearing and delivering new life is deeply spiritual. She co-developed a Christian childbirth class called Alpha Childbirth, which is centered upon the divine nature of pregnancy and delivery and focuses on how to rely on God’s Word and surrender to his will and way in the process. I wept as I read through her website. My spirit was filled with peace merely at the thought of laboring with her by my side. I felt overwhelmed in God, like he had divinely led me to her and had high purpose in crossing our paths. I immediately wrote her and her response moved me deeply. She spoke to my fear and breathed life into me with her words. She agreed to be my doula, and I enrolled in her childbirth class.

The subsequent weeks I bathed in the word of God and worship and felt fear and doubt gradually dissipating. I listened to a CD created by Gaylea over and over, which is full of scriptural affirmation. I would weep as she spoke hope and truth over me and my spirit would burn as if it had been ignited with the refining fire of God. Gaylea challenged me to pray very specific prayers, so I did. I asked God to align the systems of my body, to keep my blood pressure low, to perfectly position Eve for delivery, to divinely initiate and carry out the labor process, and to prevent me from tearing. I asked him for a specific team of people to surround me and my husband during labor and delivery- for Gaylea, my friend, Lindsey, and midwife, Lauren, who attended Jonah’s birth- all of whom are extraordinary women of faith. I even ventured to ask for Room 9 at Vanderbilt, the only room with a birthing tub.

During the last three weeks of my pregnancy, I saw several spikes in my blood pressure. The highest of which was 156/109. Each time the numbers reached over 140/90 it would take my breath. It felt much like defeat, yet my spirit refused to relent. I felt convicted that Eve’s story would not parallel Jonah’s in this way, that God could and would sustain my body until the end, so I fought on my knees and asked others to do the same.

The weekend prior to my due date I felt overwhelmed with a darkness I didn’t understand. I attempted to analyze it and settled on the assumption that it was a combination of shifting hormones, fear that each day was leading me to a more and more compromised physical state, fear also that my body would be unable to initiate the birth process on its own, and frustration with not knowing the day or time God was going to call Eve from the womb. I decided it must just be the unpredictability of the season that was wearing on me, and to an extent it was all of those things, yet something deeper was happening that reached my conscience while rocking Jonah that Sunday night.

Jonah had been extra desirous of my attention for several days. He had requested to be held and rocked and laid still in my arms for hours. I wondered quietly if he sensed the changes to come. This particular night he struggled to fall asleep. I heard him crying for me from his bed. I went in and his sob was deep. I got a bottle, laid him across my lap and rocked him. I felt the warmth of his face against my bear arm and his hand on my chest. I sensed that he was absorbing my affection and I was doing to the same with him. I was flooded in those moments with images of nursing him . . . Where did the time go? How did he so quickly go from my belly to this state of independence? I rocked him until he fell asleep, then laid him down in his bed and I broke. I ran downstairs so I wouldn’t wake anyone and I sobbed harder than I have in a long time. My heart was grieving as if I were losing him. The only way I can describe it is that it felt like together we were approaching a death of some sort. Death of all we’d ever known.

I felt desperate to hold on to what we shared and I couldn’t help but grieve the change that was inevitably coming. The tears were seemingly endless. I was aware that Eve would ultimately enhance our lives, and I did desire her. She was just as much my baby as Jonah, but in those final days alone with him, she felt like a threat. As much as I ached to have her in my arms, when I was really honest, I was perfectly content with her where she was as well. The familiarity and sanctity of all I had known was protected as long as she was in me. I didn’t have to ration my attention and affection. I could mindlessly meet all her needs and fulfill Jonah’s as well.

I spilled this raw emotion at the feet of Jesus that night. I wept and wept and wept until all my strength was gone. I released fear and relinquished control. I opened entirely to God and his spirit of peace poured over me.

After that I stopped counting the days and watching for signs of Eve’s impending arrival in my body. I came to terms with the fact my pregnancy could drag on another 2 weeks, and I genuinely became ok with it. I was free of fear, free of restlessness, free of desire to control and manipulate the timing of God.

Tuesday, May 10th, I had an appointment with my midwife, Lauren. I assumed she would offer to strip my membranes (a natural induction method) as it’s rather routine for a 40-week check. I consulted Gaylea the night before to see what her thoughts were on the matter. She urged me to wait, reiterating our common desire to allow God to entirely initiate the labor process. And so I did. I shared with Lauren at that appointment how desperately I desired to entirely relinquish control and allow God to be God in the initiation of Eve’s birth. We laughed about the long list of natural induction methods that consume a mothers mind and are often suggested by practioners in the final weeks of pregnancy. Lauren was extremely supportive of my desire not to interfere and simply wait. She gently checked me (so gently in fact I had absolutely no cramping or spotting afterward). I was a loose 2cm and 75% effaced.

That night my brother in law and his girlfriend came over for dinner. Toward the end of our time together I began to feel my contraction gradually intensifying. I didn’t take them seriously as I had been contracting for weeks and just assumed I was still days (maybe even weeks) away from actual labor.

Around midnight my contractions became rhythmic, every 10 minutes like clockwork, and they were strong enough to capture my attention. It felt to me like waves of the energy and power of God building and crashing over and over in my abdomen. A cramping sensation would begin in my back and wrap around the lower half of my belly as a burning sensation would build in the top of my abdomen and work its way down until pressure filled my pelvis. I laid in bed riding these waves of energy alone with God in the darkness. After each one I whispered thanks and praise to him. I felt his delight and pleasure and could almost see him dancing over me as I surrendered to his power in my body.

By 2:30am my contractions had steadily reached 5 minutes apart and were intense enough that I needed to roll over to my hands and knees and moan to relax through them. I woke Allen and he was wonderful. He applied counter pressure to my lower back during contractions and we laughed and thanked God together when they released. There was such a spirit of joy in our bedroom that night. No fear at all. Just gratitude to God and excitement that he was Lording over the birth of Eve.

 By 4:30 or 5am, we decided to text Gaylea to let her know we were in labor. She seemed excited and said she would meet us at our place soon. I was thrilled that she wasn’t tied up with another client as there were 3 of us due within the same window of time and one of her clients had been experiencing symptoms of labor the previous day!  I text Lindsey as well and she was thrilled! She had plans to leave for vacation on Friday and we were both worried she would miss Eve’s birth. If you’re counting, that’s 3 perfectly answered prayers: God initiates labor (check), Gaylea attends birth (check), Lindsey attends birth (check). . . At this point I’m so ridiculously in awe of God I can’t stop smiling and laughing. His faithfulness couldn’t have been more evident.

We called Allen’s parents to come pick up Jonah and I called my mom to tell her we were in labor. Within the hour our house was full of people. Our parents, Gaylea, Lindsey, Jonah . . . There was such a spirit of peace and joy. I worked through contractions every 4-5 minutes and we talked and laughed between them.

By 10am or so it became evident that it was time for the house to clear out with the exception of my laboring team. My mom left her purse on the stairwell, so I grabbed it and ran outside to give it to her. A contraction began to build, so I dropped her purse on the driveway, ran back in, closed the door and squatted into its power. At the peak my water broke and began to spill from me. What a moment that was!

Lindsey photographed, videoed and offered comic relief, while Allen and Gaylea helped me relax and surrender to each contraction. Gaylea offered lots of tools to relieve pain and ease discomfort. She introduced various positions, used a TENS unit on my lower back, massaged lavender/peppermint oil into my scalp and combed it through my hair with her fingers (absolutely heavenly!), she saturated a towel with the oils and water and I buried my face in it during contractions. The scent powerfully relieved the tension in my body. She massaged me and applied counter pressure when needed, but the thing that stands out in my mind the most about Gaylea that day was the spirit of peace she carried. It radiated through her eyes and touch and words. She was patient, tender, and full of love. She had absolute trust and faith in the birth process and total confidence that God was lording over the birth of Eve.

Between each contraction we laughed and talked and laughed some more. Allen, Gaylea, and Lindsey didn’t simply sit and watch with somber faces as if they were waiting for me to take my final breath nor did they grimace when they saw me in pain, and I was glad. I wanted peace and joy to rule and reign in the process of Eve’s delivery, and it absolutely did. I felt as if our spirits were consistently rejoicing together in the beauty and power and faithfulness of our God as he revealed himself in and through my body.

Gaylea monitored my blood pressure and Eve’s vitals. Both were perfectly healthy! (prayer #4 answered)

By about 2:30pm my contractions intensified to the point that I felt their power curling the upper half of my body around my abdomen. The force and pressure that accompanied them was unbelievable! We moved upstairs to prevent my animalistic moaning from being heard on the street. Every 3-4 minutes they would surge through me and I felt their effectiveness in my pelvis. The pressure intensified with each one.

About an hour later Gaylea checked me to see how far I had progressed. I was 6 almost 7cm, and we decided it was probably time to transfer to the hospital. We weren’t in a state of panic at all. Allen and Lindsey calmly loaded our vehicles while Gaylea taught me to blow through contractions and resist the urge to push and succumb to the totality of their power. She said to say “C-C-C” and blow like you’re blowing out candles.

The car ride to the hospital was interesting. I didn’t feel panicked. I was in perfect peace, but the intensity of my contractions continued to build to the point that I wondered how much longer I could “C-C” and blow them away. They were overpowering me it seemed, but I continued to focus on maintaining control.

We pulled into valet at the hospital. I got out of the car, held tightly to Allen’s neck and squatted into a contraction. I’m pretty sure everyone watching thought I was about to have my baby on the sidewalk! Allen put me in a wheelchair and pushed me as fast as he could to labor and delivery. I had another contraction in the elevator. The people riding with us looked panicked. We pulled up to the L&D window, told the nurse my name, and she said wheel her to Room 9! (I prayed for Room 9, remember?!). Allen pushed me into the room and guess who was standing there? Lauren! The midwife I had prayed for!! She just happened to be on-call that day.  .  . Do you see the activity of God?! I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. I hugged her and thanked God, then squatted by the bed into another contraction.

I crawled on the bed and she checked me. I was 9 ½ cm. Only a cervical lip remained. I couldn’t believe it! I was so close to meeting my baby! I hugged the back of the bed through several contractions and we all laughed and talked between them. I felt absolutely high on God! The joy and excitement I felt was incomparable to anything I’d ever felt prior.

Lauren offered to fill the birthing tub, and though it sounded quite romantic and had been a dream of mine for a long time, my contractions felt too intense at that point to get in to the water. I decided instead to move to the toilet (not quite as glamorous, I know). Allen put toilet paper under my feet for leverage. It was hysterical! Eventually, Lauren decided it would be easier to deliver Eve on a birthing stool than on the toilet, so I moved to a stool in the room. Gaylea sat behind me and played with my hair. Allen was beside me caressing me with his hands and Lauren was at my feet coaching me along.

Evidentially, my water bag had an upper tear because it was bulging at the bottom just a couple inches inside me; it felt much like a water balloon. Lauren offered to break it, and I was fine with that, but she looked me in the eyes after a bit of discussion and said, “Let’s just wait, Jes.” I felt her saying with the intensity of her gaze, “Let’s let God do it ALL!” And he did!  A couple of contractions later, my water sprayed all over her! It filled her shoes, saturated her socks and pants. Allen said it was a bit traumatic even for him and he didn’t get doused in it. That was such a moment of victory! I felt again the pleasure of God all around me. He was delivering Eve from the womb with absolutely no assistance!

Several contractions later, it became apparent that my cervical lip wasn’t going away in the position I was in, so we decided it would be best for me to stand. The power of my contractions at that point made my legs tremble. It was difficult to support the weight of my body, even with the help of Lauren, Allen, and Gaylea, so I moved to the bed. I pushed on my hands and knees, then on my right side and finally my left. It had been about an hour and a half and that crazy lip still hadn’t dissolved. I began to get a bit discouraged, wondering how much longer it would take. My body had been pushing for so long (since we were at the house, really). Lauren reassured me that though I had been pushing against the lip, there was no swelling. She encouraged me with her words and eyes and touch as did Allen and Gaylea.

Eventually, the lip dissolved with a bit of help from Lauren and Eve was free to move down. I’ll never forget the feeling of fullness in my pelvis as Eve’s body descended. She felt extraordinarily large in comparison to my anatomy. My bones were stretching to accommodate her, and I momentarily wondered if they had the capacity to contain her without breaking. The excitement in everyone’s voice empowered me to press on. I’ll never forget the way Lauren, Gaylea, and Allen’s touch soothed me between contractions during that final phase of delivery. I felt their hands caressing my thighs and arms and hair and it made me feel so safe- like I wasn’t alone.

I’m not sure how many contractions came and went before Eve finally crowned, but when she did, Lauren made eye contact with me and with a serious tone said, “Do NOT push. Hold her there, Jes.” (or something to that effect) And I remember thinking, “Ok! I’ll do anything you say! My life (and perineum) are in your hands.” I literally felt like Eve’s body was about to split me in half. About 4 or 5 minutes elapsed between that contraction and the next, which felt like an extraordinarily long time but it gave my skin ample time to stretch to accommodate Eve.

With the next contraction Lauren told me to push gently, I did and Eve’s head was delivered. Lauren removed the cord from around her neck and one push later, her shoulders and body slithered out! I’ll never forget that feeling. The relief, the overwhelming sense of accomplishment, the wonder and awe that swept over me! Lauren said, “Reach down and receive your baby, Jes.” Then Allen and Lauren laid Eve on my bare belly. The warmth of her overwhelmed my senses. I was finally skin to skin with the life that had been evolving in me for so long, with the girl who had captured my heart so many months ago.

Allen looked at me with tears in his eyes. We were so overwhelmed with the faithfulness of God to us. I couldn’t have felt closer to him. I was flooded with remembrance of every tear and prayer, every loss and trial that led us to that moment of shared victory.

Lauren checked me, and miraculously I didn’t need one stitch! Allen cut the cord once it stopped pulsating. I held Eve and couldn’t stop thanking God for her life and for sustaining us through the process. He answered every detail of every prayer I whispered. He revealed himself to me. He restored all the enemy had stolen in seasons prior. He delivered me as he delivered Eve.

Praise be to God for overwhelming us with evidence that he sees and hears and reigns over every intricate detail of the processes of life!


For those of you who know me, you know that I am extremely passionate about everything revolving around babies, parenting, and childbirth. I recently read an amazing article about epidurals by Kate Engelhardt, D.C., DACCP. Here is some of the information I learned:

Approximately 80% of vaginal deliveries today involve an epidural, according to The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Although epidurals are very effective at reducing pain during labor, they also can have other outcomes on the labor process, like the following: slowing labor; leading to augmentation with Pitocin; causing ineffective pushing which can lead to the use of vacuum extraction, forceps, and excessive pulling by the birth provider; and often causing a significant drop in blood pressure which leads to the use of electronic fetal monitoring for fetal distress. They also restrict the woman to laboring on her back many times because intravenous fluids are required for precautionary measures.

At the 2006 Midwifery Today conference, Robbie Davis-Floyd made a great statement describing today’s typical hospital birth. She said that a woman experiencing normal labor pain carries an immense amount of strength, and once she enters the hospital it becomes very difficult for her. She goes from being a strong woman in labor who understands why she is in this extreme pain to a “patient.” She is not in her comfortable clothes anymore; she is in a hospital gown. The IV and fetal monitor are put in place immediately in anticipation of a crisis. As all of these things happen, the laboring woman’s strength slowly begins to fade, and worry and fear set in. She is not in control anymore; she is the patient. If you plan for something to fail, it probably will. Penny Simkin, P.T. stated in her 2004 paper entitled “Update on Nonpharmacologic Approaches to Relieve Labor Pain and Prevent Suffering,” that “this model places the burden of pain control solely on medical professionals, and the woman’s role is on of passive compliance…. Because the key to pain relief is held by others, the woman becomes more dependent and powerless, not only in managing her pain but in all other aspects of labor and birth. Self-confidence in the woman’s own resources and capabilities and a willingness to be an active participant in her care are not assets in this model.”

From a chiropractic standpoint, a woman should not get an epidural for many reasons. The first is that the epidural is inserted directly through the spinal column into the nervous system. This alone is reason enough to opt out of an epidural!Another reason is that when the epidural numbs the bottom half of the body the woman has to lay on her back while trying to give birth. When the woman is numbed, she is unable to move around and effectively push using gravity. The epidural also slows the laboring process eventually causing augmentation with Pitocin to speed up the process. The baby is now forced to move with artificial contractions resulting in unnatural pressure on the baby’s cervical spine. Because the woman’s body is numb and being forced into labor before it is ready, ineffective pushing occurs which eventually leads to the use of forceps, vacuum extraction, or forceful pulling. This all puts unnecessary stress of the baby’s spine, spinal cord, and brain. This is why it is imperative to get your newborn’s spine checked by a chiropractor as soon as they are born.

Natural childbirth is by far the best option for mom and baby and is just the beginning of the beautiful bonding experience that is supposed to happen. Deciding to go through the birthing process naturally requires planning and determination. The laboring woman needs someone by her side to remind her that she is strong and her body is doing what it’s supposed to. Ina May Gaskin writes, “When you are injured and feel pain, its message is ‘Run away!’ or ‘Fight!’ You are being damaged. This is survival information. The pain of labor and birth has an entirely different message. It says, ‘Relax your pelvic muscles. Let go. Surrender. Go with the flow. Don’t fight this. It’s bigger than you.'”

Trust your body! Natural is always best!

This is a MUST-READ article from Newsweek Magazine, written by Sharon Begley. Just say NO!

One Word Can Save Your Life: No!

Aug 14, 2011 10:00 AM EDT

New research shows how some common tests and procedures aren’t just expensive, but can do more harm than good.

Dr. Stephen Smith, Professor emeritus of family medicine at Brown University School of Medicine, tells his physician not to order a PSA blood test for prostate cancer or an annual electrocardiogram to screen for heart irregularities, since neither test has been shown to save lives. Rather, both tests frequently find innocuous quirks that can lead to a dangerous odyssey of tests and procedures. Dr. Rita Redberg, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and editor of the prestigious Archives of Internal Medicine, has no intention of having a screening mammogram even though her 50th birthday has come and gone. That’s the age at which women are advised to get one. But, says Redberg, they detect too many false positives (suspicious spots that turn out, upon biopsy, to be nothing) and tumors that might regress on their own, and there is little if any evidence that they save lives.

These physicians are not anti-medicine. They are not trying to save money on their copayments or deductibles. And they are not trying to rein in the nation’s soaring health-care costs, which at $2.7 trillion account for fully one sixth of every dollar spent in the U.S. They are applying to their personal lives a message they have become increasingly vocal about in their roles as biomedical researchers and doctors: more health care often means worse health. “There are many areas of medicine where not testing, not imaging, and not treating actually result in better health outcomes,” Redberg says. In other words, “less is more.” Archives, which is owned by the American Medical Association, has been publishing study after study about tests and treatments that do more harm than good.

That less health care can lead to better health and, conversely, that more health care can harm health, runs counter to most patients’ conviction that screenings and treatments are inherently beneficial. That belief is fueled by the flood of new technologies and drugs that have reached the market in the past two or three decades, promising to prevent disease and extend life. Most of us wouldn’t think twice if our doctor offered a test that has the power to expose a lurking tumor, or a clogged artery, or a heart arrhythmia. Better to know—and get treated—than to take any risks, the reasoning goes.

In fact, for many otherwise healthy people, tests often lead to more tests, which can lead to interventions based on a possible problem that may have gone away on its own or ultimately proved harmless. Patients can easily be fooled when a screening test detects, or an intervention treats, an abnormality, and their health improves, says cardiologist Michael Lauer of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In fact, says Lauer, that abnormality may not have been the cause of the problem or a threat to future health: “All you’ve done is misclassify someone with no disease as having disease.”

From PSA tests for prostate cancer (which more than 20 million U.S. men undergo every year) to surgery for chronic back pain to simple antiobiotics for sinus infection, a remarkable number and variety of tests and treatments are now proving either harmful or only as helpful as a placebo.

This realization comes at a time when Medicare has emerged as a fat target in the debate over taming the deficit, with politicians proposing to slash costs by raising the age of eligibility or even eliminating the program. Experts estimate that the U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year on medical procedures that provide no benefit or a substantial risk of harm, suggesting that Medicare could save both money and lives if it stopped paying for some common treatments. “There’s a reason we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care [as other developed countries] with no gain in health or longevity,” argues Dr. Steven Nissen, the noted cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “We spend money like a drunken sailor on shore leave.”

Many medical advances, of course, have saved lives and eased suffering for millions of people. Screening tests like mammograms can lead to early treatment of breast cancer, especially for women with hereditary risk or a strong family history of the disease. For cancer patients who report back pain, MRIs can prove invaluable for spotting tumors that have metastasized to the bones, allowing doctors to intervene before it’s too late. The years between 1980 and 2004 saw a 50 percent decline in the death rate from coronary heart disease thanks to better treatments and drugs that reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. At least 7,300 lives are saved every year thanks to colonoscopies.

The dilemma, say a growing number of physicians and expert medical panels, is that some of this same health care that helps certain patients can, when offered to everyone else, be useless or even detrimental. Some of the most disturbing examples involve cardiology. At least five large, randomized controlled studies have analyzed treatments for stable heart patients who have nothing worse than mild chest pain. The studies compared invasive procedures including angioplasty, in which a surgeon mechanically widens a blocked blood vessel by crushing the fatty deposits called plaques; stenting, or propping open a vessel with wire mesh; and bypass surgery, grafting a new blood vessel onto a blocked one. Every study found that the surgical procedures didn’t improve survival rates or quality of life more than noninvasive treatments including drugs (beta blockers, cholesterol-lowering statins, and aspirin), exercise, and a healthy diet. They were, however, far more expensive: stenting costs Medicare more than $1.6 billion a year.

If that finding makes you scratch your head—how can propping open a narrowed blood vessel not be wonderfully effective?—you’re not alone. Many cardiologists had the same reaction when these studies were published. It turns out that the big blockages that show up on CT scans and other imaging, and that were long assumed to cause heart attacks, usually don’t—but treating them can. That’s because when you disrupt these blockages through surgery, you “spray a whole lot of debris down into the tiny blood vessels, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke,” says Nortin Hadler, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, whose book on overtreatment in the elderly, Rethinking Aging, will be published next month. Many of the 500,000 elective angioplasties (at least $50,000 each) performed every year are done on patients who could benefit more from drugs, exercise, and healthy eating.

New technology has sometimes made the problem more acute. Where once arterial blockages were detected by chest X-ray, now doctors can use cardiac CT angiography, which shows the heart and coronary arteries in dramatic 3-D. When it was introduced a decade ago to screen for cardiovascular disease, it seemed almost miraculous: a 2005 cover of Time trumpeted that it could “stop a heart attack before it happens.” Difficult as it is to believe, however, there can be such a thing as too much information, especially from new imaging technology. “Our imaging and diagnostic tests are so good, we can see things we couldn’t see before,” says Lauer of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “But our ability to understand what we’re seeing and to know if we should intervene hasn’t kept up.”

In a recent study, John McEvoy, a heart specialist at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, and colleagues found that 1,000 low-risk patients who had CT angiography had no fewer heart attacks or deaths over the next 18 months than 1,000 patients who did not undergo the screening. But they did have more drugs, tests, and invasive procedures such as stenting, all of which carry a risk of side effects, surgical complications, and even death. The CT itself has a potential side effect: by exposing patients to high levels of radiation, it raises the risk of cancer. “Low-risk patients without symptoms don’t benefit from CT angiography,” says McEvoy, though high-risk patients with heart disease might.

The Cleveland Clinic’s Nissen has seen firsthand what happens when doctors, armed with too much information, perform what turn out to be unnecessary procedures. In 2009 a 52-year-old woman with chest pain underwent a cardiac CT at a community hospital. Neither her LDL (bad) cholesterol nor her C-reactive protein (another risk factor for heart disease) were elevated. But since the CT showed several coronary plaques, her physicians performed coronary angiography. Complications ensued, and the woman wound up undergoing more procedures, one of which tore an artery. She eventually went to the Cleveland Clinic for a heart transplant—not because she had heart disease when it all started, says Nissen, but because of the cascading interventions triggered by the CT.

Nissen regularly counsels asymptomatic, low-risk patients against having cardiac CT, echocardiograms, and even treadmill stress tests; studies show they produce many false positives, leading to risky interventions. Even a clean scan can lead to worse health, if it makes people believe they can eat whatever they want and stop exercising. “I’ve had colleagues gain weight after a negative heart scan,” apparently figuring they were home free, says UCSF’s Redberg.

Radiologists and other physicians who diagnose or treat back pain have their own version of the CT: it’s called magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. Just as cardiac CT makes sense in principle, so does getting a high-resolution image of the spine if someone is suffering lower back pain with no clear cause. An MRI typically costs about $3,000 and is designed to spot everything from bulging discs to hairline fractures. Find any of those things, the logic goes, and you can treat the problem surgically. But there’s a fundamental flaw: clinical trials have shown that back surgery, including vertebroplasty (putting special cement on a tiny spinal fracture) and spinal fusion, is no more effective at alleviating ordinary pain than plain-old rest and mild exercise. But like any surgery, it carries risks. Last year the American College of Physicians warned that “routine imaging [for low back pain] is not associated with clinically meaningful benefits but can lead to harms.” That’s because the “abnormalities” seen in an MRI often have nothing to do with the back pain (people without pain have them, too), but seeing something on a scan makes a physician feel compelled to get rid of it. “There is a longstanding fallacy among physicians that if you find something different from what you perceive to be ‘normal,’ then it must be the cause of the patient’s problem,” says UNC’s Hadler.

Dr. James Goodwin, a geriatrician at the University of Texas Medical Branch, cites an extreme example of this fallacy in the case of a frail 84-year-old woman who was told by her gastroenterologist that it was time for another colonoscopy, just a few years after her last one showed no problems. She died when the procedure perforated her colon. Though this outcome is rare, the recommendation that led to the woman’s death is all too common, says Goodwin, even though expert groups advise against screening colonscopies for anyone over 75 or who has had a normal result within the past 10 years. He says he was dumbfounded when his elderly patients kept receiving “reminders” from their gastroenterologists telling them it was time for another colonoscopy—seven or five or even two years after their last normal one.

Both curious and concerned, Goodwin launched a study of Medicare patients. Fully 46 percent had a screening colonoscopy fewer than seven years after a negative one. Making matters worse, many of them were over 80.

Medical practice also suffers from a kind of mission creep: if a treatment works in severe disease, some doctors assume it will work in milder disease. But that is not necessarily so. Antidepressants, for instance, have been shown in randomized trials to help with severe depression but not with moderate or mild depression, yet are widely prescribed for those conditions. Drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are effective against gastric reflux and rare esophageal diseases as well as some ulcers, but at least half, and possibly 70 percent, of the 113 million U.S. prescriptions for PPIs each year are for conditions they don’t help, such as run-of-the-mill stomachaches. PPIs can cause bone fractures, severe and hard-to-treat bacterial infections, and pneumonia. Millions of people are being put at risk unnecessarily, which is one reason treating adverse drug reactions costs the U.S. $200 billion a year.

Statins, common cholesterol-reducing drugs, may also not benefit some people who are taking them. Statins are proved to help people with both heart disease and high cholesterol, but not those with just high cholesterol. The drugs are nevertheless widely prescribed to patients who fit the latter description, despite adverse effects, such as severe muscle disease in up to 20 percent of patients. Similarly, cardiac resynchronization therapy, a special pacemaker that causes the right and left ventricles to beat in sync, can save the life of a patient with congestive heart failure whose ventricles are at least 150 milliseconds out of sync. Yet patients with a mistiming of 120-150 milliseconds are receiving the devices.

Low-tech tests should sometimes be avoided, too. In an Archives paper published this month, a panel of physicians, led by Brown’s Smith, announced its first list of tests and treatments that should be dropped altogether for certain patients and ailments: antibiotics for sinus infections, imaging for low back pain, osteoporosis screening for women under 65, and electrocardiograms and other cardiac screening in low-risk patients. Even blood panels for healthy adults made the list. Today’s comprehensive blood tests measure 15 or so enzymes, proteins, lipids, and the like. Yet by chance alone, if you test for 20 things, something will fall outside the bounds of “normal,” often due to simple lab error.

Many doctors don’t seem to be getting the message about useless and harmful health care. Medicare pays them more than $100 million a year for screening colonoscopies; some 40 percent are for people in whom they will almost certainly harm more than help. Arthroscopic knee surgery for osteoarthritis is performed about 650,000 times a year; studies show that it, too, is no more effective than placebo treatment, yet taxpayers and private insurers pay for it. And although several large studies, including the Occluded Artery Trial in 2006, have shown that inserting a stent to prop open a blocked artery more than 24 hours after a heart attack does not improve survival rates or reduce the risk of another coronary compared with drugs alone, the practice continues at a rate of 100,000 such procedures a year, estimate researchers led by Dr. Judith Hochman, a cardiologist at New York University. “We’re killing more people than we’re saving with these procedures,” says UT’s Goodwin. “It’s as simple as that.”

Foods for Babies

For a couple of weeks I have been suspecting that my little dog, Addison, is pregnant, and this weekend I got confirmation from the vet that she is indeed pregnant with 2 puppies. So with my extreme excitement that 2 beautiful little puppies will be here soon, I thought I would post something about babies! 🙂

I wasn’t sure what exactly to post, but this past weekend, at my amazing Maximized Living seminar, I found out that CERTAIN BRANDS OF CEREAL THAT INFANTS ARE FED IS TIED TO DIABETES LATER IN LIFE. This is so sad and shocking to me, because parents are told that feeding their babies cereal is good for them and part of the process of introducing foods to the baby, but it is not! Also, it is important to notice that there is a difference in purchasing a branded cereal from the store and making your own cereal. At least, if you choose to introduce grains, by making your own, you know that there are no added sugars, preservatives, etc., and you can use healthier whole grains.

I can’t just give this information about cereal and not provide you with a follow-up about introducing foods to your baby, so I remembered an article I found a few months ago about this. I found this from the blog SmartMeals, and it is full of great advice on how to introduce foods to babies! 🙂 Enjoy!

 

Introducing Foods to Babies

I had a great question today that I thought I would share.  It is very important to start your children out off on the right foot nutritionally.  Here are my recommendations :

Here is the question:  “My almost 6 month old is nursing, do you have a recommendation as to what to wean him on to? I weaned my others to whole, organic milk around 14 months old. Some of the literature I have read lately seems to suggest that milk past infancy is not as necessary as pediatricians insist that it is. I’m not sure what to think…” 

Answer:  First, it is very important that we point out that breastfeeding is always best.  At a bare minimum, breastfeed for 12-18 months.  Once your baby gets teeth it is an indication that they are getting ready for food.  Conventional dairy is not desirable.  If you are going to introduce dairy, wait at least 12 months and introduce organic (preferably raw) cow’s milk or organic goats milk (goats milk is a lot easier to digest).

Great foods to start with are (always do one at a time and wait at least 4 days before introducing the next)  avocados, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans.  After that, you can introduce some fruits like apples, peaches, pears, plums, etc.  – always start with them slightly cooked and then move to raw. After 9 months old you can start adding more veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, spinach, etc.  If you are going to add grains (must be the whole, healthy grains) wait until 12 months then add brown rice, quinoa, millet, oatmeal.  Lastly, you could add meats, eggs, and nuts/seeds.  If you stop breastfeeding before 12 months (not recommended) you may want to add some of the organic, naturally raised meats a little earlier.

For prepping baby foods.  You can lightly steam the veggies/fruit and then process them in a food processor with a little filtered water.  You can then transfer the pureed food to ice cube trays (make sure they are non-toxic) to freeze.  Then pop them out as you need them.  Making your own baby food is quick, easy, convenient, and much healthier than conventional baby foods.

TGIF!!! 🙂 I could not be more thrilled that it is Friday, and I see no better way than to celebrate by making an AMAZING CHOCOLATE CAKE…. the best part, besides being yummy, is that it is HEALTHY!

I have talked in a previous blog about the need to eliminate or at least limit your sugar intake. When I say sugar, I mean obvious sugar and anything that converts to sugar in your body (grains). This is NOT a low-carb diet… you still get plenty of carbohydrates from vegetables. Reasons SUGAR should be ELIMINATED from the diet:

  1. Sugar is the primary dietary cause of the OBESITY epidemic.
  2. Sugar causes HORMONAL and METABOLIC IMBALANCES.
  3. Sugar is the fast tract to DIABETES.
  4. Sugar increases the ACIDITY in the body.
  5. Sugar causes INFLAMMATION.
  6. Sugar is the primary reason for HIGH CHOLESTEROL.
  7. Sugar leads to HEART DISEASE.
  8. Sugar is an ANTI-NUTRIENT.
  9. Sugar is a known TOXIN.
  10. Sugar promotes CANCER.

Although this is a list of 10 separate things, they really all go together. When your body is toxic, inflamed, and acidic, it is the prime environment for cancer and disease. Sugar literally feeds cancer cells and creates so many problems in your body. This is definitely enough to convince me that I CAN take sugar out of my diet, but if it’s not enough for you….

Another big reason to eliminate sugar is that it is the preferred source of energy for your body. This means that when faced with the choice between sugar and fat, your body will pick sugar to use for energy. In today’s world, EVERYTHING has sugar in it so we are getting constantly overloaded with sugar and never have a chance to burn fat for energy. This and the fact that sugar causes hormonal and metabolic imbalances are what lead to obesity.

In Maximized Living, we call this diet The Advanced Plan, but some know it as The Healing Diet. I will go into more detail about The Advanced Plan in another blog, but for now, you have the basics: NO SUGAR. 🙂 I know this sounds hard, especially because sugar is hidden in almost every food in the grocery store today, but I have an amazing recipe that will make it a breeze to eliminate sugar from your diet.

 

Decadent Chocolate Cake

(makes 1 – 9 inch cake)

Ingredients:
1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
5 large organic eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR extra virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup xyliol
1/4-1/2 cup stevia
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon filtered water

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  grease a 9″ cake pan with coconut oil or  a thin layer of butter.

Drain and rinse beans and shake off excess water. Place the beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, 1/4-1/2 stevia and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. Make sure there are no chunks.  Mix together cocoa powder, baking soda in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter with xylitol until light and fluffy. Add the remaining two eggs, beating for one minute after each addition. Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix. Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water  and beat the batter on high for one minute or until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch and knife comes out cleanly. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover with an overturned bowl.  (Frost immediately before serving)

Super Chocolaty Frosting

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted organic butter
1/4 cup xylitol, pulverized into powder
5-6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut milk (or none.. the original recipe calls for 2 but i’ve noticed it makes the frosting runny and not close to normal frosting texture)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

(add more xylitol if desired)

 

I personally like it without the frosting better, but the frosting is good too! Don’t let the nutritiousness of black beans scare you… I have made this for one of my nephew’s birthday parties and everyone (kids and adults) loved it! It tastes like and has the same consistency of “normal” chocolate cake! 🙂

When I wrote the first post on my blog, I said I would share my story of how chiropractic and the 5 essentials has completely changed my life. I figure there is no better day than now to start sharing my story. 🙂

I started chiropractic care about 4 years ago, but I did not just wake up one day in great health and decide to go; I had a LONG journey of migraine headaches leading up to my first visit.

I started having migraines when I was 11 years old and had them until I started chiropractic when I was 21 years old. I had about 5 migraines a week through the entire 10 years. I had the normal symptoms of migraines: unilateral head pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, etc. As unbelievable as it sounds, I literally learned to live with them with the help of the medicine Excedrin Migraine. I would take at least 3 every time I got one to at least lessen the pain and symptoms.

When the migraines started, I went to my medical doctor and was checked for everything, from something as simple as eye problems to a brain tumor or something similar. The doctors could not find anything wrong with me so they decided it must just be stress causing the migraines. I would go back to the doctor periodically over the next few years for another check-up and the conclusion was always the same.

When I was 20 years old, the symptoms I was experiencing started getting worse. I was getting really dizzy and blacking out a lot, and I would see spots in my vision. I went to the eye doctor first to get my eyes checked since my vision was changing, and he told me that my optic disc was bulging forward. With the other symptoms I was having, he thought I should go immediately to have an MRI. I ended up having 2 MRIs checking for multiple sclerosis (a bulging optic disc is very common with this) and a brain tumor that was pushing my disc forward. The MRI did not show anything abnormal so they decided to send me to a headache specialist.

I was so excited to see the headache specialist because I just knew that he was going to help me and make my migraines go away. My mom and I went to see him and after a couple of minutes of him asking me endless questions, he preceded to tell me that he did not think migraines were my problem at all, he thought I was depressed…. REALLY?? He then performed an EKG to make sure my heart was strong enough to handle anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, then prescribed 2 of these to me. My mom and I both left the appointment very disappointed and angry. The doctor not only tried to tell me I was depressed (which anyone who knew me at all knew that was not true at all), and he tried to tell me that the migraines I had been experiencing for the past 10 years were not real!!!

After this appointment, I felt hopeless. It became very clear to me that I was going to be having migraines for the rest of my life. A little bit after this realization, a lady at my church who knew about the problems I had been having told me about a chiropractor who had just moved to our area. She said that she knew he could help me if I would go to him. I had heard about chiropractic and I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew I didn’t want anything to do with it….. until now. I decided to go, only as a last resort.

This is all I’m going to share today. Part 2 of My Life Transformation will be coming soon! The next part is so amazing and exciting I will save it for later! 🙂

The medical doctors sent this little boy home to die after chemo didn’t work (Chemo is a poison that not only kills cancer cells but kills good cells too), and they still will not admit that alternative treatment works. This is what the doctor said, “But sometimes unexplainable things happen that we have to call a miracle.”

But…. Why wait to get sick? Keep the healing power inside you working properly by the 5 essentials: 1) Maximizing mindset 2) Maximizing nerve supply through corrective chiropractic care 3) Maximizing nutrients with whole foods 4) Maximizing oxygen and lean muscle mass 5) Minimizing toxins

These are ESSENTIAL for health and wellness!

Read the article now! I found it at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1136870/The-boy-11-tumours-sent-home-die–survives-grandparents-alternative-therapy-treatments.html#ixzz1OhxajAIk.

The boy with 11 tumors who was sent home to die… and survives after grandparents’ alternative therapy treatments

By Daniel Martin

Last updated at 8:07 AM on 10th February 2009

In remission: Scans have shown cancer tumours in Connah Broom, aged seven, have shrunk since his family sought alternative treatments for him. After he developed an aggressive form of childhood cancer in 2006, Connah Broom’s body came under relentless attack from the disease. Eleven tumours spread from his neck to his knees and his case appeared hopeless. In 2007, doctors told his family there was nothing more they could do. They said they should take him home to enjoy his final months. But Connah’s family refused to give up hope. His grandparents began treating him with alternative therapies and, remarkably, he survived. Latest scans on Connah, now aged seven, show that ten of his 11 tumours are shrinking, have no blood flow and may be dead. The family are preparing for new scans which they hope will reveal the last tumour is also in retreat. His grandparents are convinced their treatments, including a strict organic diet and a daily sauna, are helping him beat his disease. But cancer experts are more sceptical, warning that the tumours could return at any moment. Last night they cast doubt on whether the alternative therapies had made any difference.

Connah lives with his father Chris, 27, and his grandparents Debbie, 53, and Jim, 56, in Gronant, North Wales. Debbie Broom said: ‘There are times when we’ve broken down and thought “Why Connah?” and wanted to lash out at someone. But we’ve coped by turning our frustration into positive energy to help him.’ The family’s nightmare began in August 2006 when Connah was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the nervous system that can spread round the entire body. Doctors found tumours stretching from his neck, through his chest near his heart, in his stomach close to several organs including the kidney and intestine, and down his left leg.

Grandmother Debbie gives Connah ultrasound: It is claimed the treatment kills cancer cells. Mrs Broom said: ‘They told us Connah had 11 tumors which were at the most advanced and aggressive stage. It was like a bolt out from the blue. ‘Connah had been suffering sharp pains in his stomach now and again for about a year. But our local surgery could not find anything wrong. We never expected something like this.’ He was put on chemotherapy for seven months, and doctors considered surgery. But they concluded the cancer was too widespread and close to vital organs for it to be successful. Mrs Broom said: ‘A doctor told us to take Connah home and enjoy our remaining time with him.’

They were given the option of putting Connah on an experimental drug called Tapotecan – but were told it could damage his kidneys and heart, meaning he would have only a 50 per cent chance of surviving the treatment. The Brooms decided the risks were too high. Instead, they turned to alternative therapy.

Connah undergoes light therapy while his Grandad Jim reads to him: Few studies have been carried out to show it works and it is not available in the UK or US. After surfing the internet they decided on an organic diet and filtering his water, after reading it would help reduce harmful toxins in his body. The results, according to Mrs Broom, were amazing. ‘Once we did this, Connah stopped becoming ill,’ she said. However, experts say levels of toxins in food and drink are unlikely to be high enough to cause cancer.

The next alternative treatment the Brooms deployed was reiki. The family had set up a website for the ‘Connah Appeal’ and among those who sent messages of support was a man who described himself as a reiki healer. It is claimed that this Japanese healing works by focusing electromagnetic energy at the frequency needed to destroy cancer cells. However, no trials have shown it can reduce tumours, although in some people it can help reduce stress and pain.

Connah has his daily sauna: It is believed dangerous toxins are sweated out but experts say the body can detoxify itself naturally. The healer now carries out weekly sessions at the Broom family home. Connah’s retired grandfather went back to work for an oil company to help his son, a chef, raise money. They also sold some property to raise funds. The thousands raised have largely been spent on trips to Poland to have scans not available on the NHS. They also went to a cancer clinic in Mexico which offers a sound and light therapy not available in the UK or even the U.S.

Sono Photo-Dynamic Therapy is a controversial technique, which is rejected by mainstream medical science. It involves Connah swallowing a capsule containing algae. He is then placed under light of a certain wavelength, which apparently ‘activates’ the algae to create a powerful oxidant which can kill the cancer. After visiting Mexico, they rebuilt the equipment at home and now repeat the technique every night. Mrs Broom also uses an ultrasound machine she got in Mexico to rub over the affected areas after she was told this would also help. This is followed by laser therapy, which is meant to act like a low dose of radiotherapy.

Debbie gives Connah laser treatment: It is believed the laser traces the skin round the tumor areas to act like a low dose of radiotherapy. Then Connah has a sauna, to ‘sweat out’ the toxins. The entire procedure takes two and a half hours. Mrs Broom said: ‘We’re not under any illusions and we know that all this could change at any time. Each day is like the turn of a card. You don’t know what hand you’re going to be dealt. The Power Above has been watching over Connah and we just pray every day that his good health will continue and he will keep getting better. We can’t pinpoint exactly which part of what we are doing is making Connah so well, so we’ll just keep doing it all. If what we’re doing stops working, then we’ll look for another treatment. We’ll never give up doing everything in the world to help our little boy.’

But experts are sceptical that the alternative therapies have had much effect. They say cancers often go into remission for unexplained reasons – and can come back. Dr Julie Sharp, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Two thirds of children with neuroblastoma can be successfully treated but unfortunately some types of the disease are more difficult to treat. Some parents of children that don’t respond well to treatment decide to seek alternative therapies and often these are still in an experimental stage. It’s important to remember that all proven treatments for neuroblastoma are available in this country and that the standard treatment here is equal to anywhere else in the world.’

Connah’s GP Dr Eamon Jessop said: ‘The thing with this cancer is that it can suddenly flare up again and when it comes back, it can come back rapidly. The family are aware of this and, if it does happen, we will have to look again at whether traditional medical treatments should be considered.’ But he added: ‘When it was decided two years ago that his tumours were inoperable, we would have expected just a short time before he became very ill. But sometimes unexplainable things happen that we have to call a miracle. The excellent care given to Connah by his grandparents can only have helped him. They really are amazing people.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1136870/The-boy-11-tumours-sent-home-die–survives-grandparents-alternative-therapy-treatments.html#ixzz1OjB0mIvd

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