Common Sense and CoSleeping

Source: Tales of a Kitchen Witch, By Joni Rae
Date: 16th November 2012Cosleeping is not the devil. Is it dangerous? Yes. But so is sleeping in a crib. Do we still use them? Of course. The key is common sense. Something we sorely lack in this world.There are safety measures you have to take no matter where your baby sleeps. To put your baby in a crib you have rules. Common sense rules like no heavy blankets, pillows, toys, bumpers, gaps in the mattress, bars of a certain width, etc.

Cosleeping has safety rules too: do not drink or smoke before bed, sleep on a firm mattress or futon, no heavy blankets or pillows, don’t sleep with the baby if you have sleep apnea or if your bed is too small, put your mattress on the floor, etc.

It isn’t “cosleeping” that causes death, its the unthinking parent that goes to bed tipsy and rolls over onto the baby, or the parent that hasn’t bothered to take a good look at their fluffy bedding. Or the parent that doesn’t cosleep at all- their baby is in a crib thank you very much but one night they are so exhausted and at their wits end and bring baby into their bed, only to have tragedy strike because they aren’t used to baby being there.

So why all the attention? Money, I’m sure. The studies you see being thrown around in the news are skewed. No! Surely not. That never happens, right? These campaigns aren’t about the safety of our babies. These campaigns are about you buying cribs. According to the Ask Dr. Sears website:

“Who is behind this new national campaign to warn parents not to sleep with their babies? In addition to the USCPSC, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) is co-sponsoring this campaign. The JPMA? An association of crib manufacturers. This is a huge conflict of interest. Actually, this campaign is exactly in the interest of the JPMA.”

Wow. So the people telling us we have to buy cribs are the people that sell the cribs. I have four children and I’ve NEVER bought or used a crib. (Except for Cooper, who spends part of the night in his p&p but that is a different story.) I know lots of people that are the same. This isn’t about “raising awareness” or “getting us talking about it” or the health and safety of our children. It is about getting you to buy a crib.

Here are some real statistics according the The Baby Bond’s Fact sheet:

Number of U.S. births year 2000: 4,058,814

Total infant deaths year 2000: 28,411
Age birth to 1 year. (6.9 per thousand)

Number SIDS deaths year 2000: 2,523
Defined as death with unexplained cause, birth to 1 year.

Total suffocation deaths year 2000: 1,000

Number of crib-related “accidents”/yr: 50

Number of playpen-related deaths/yr: 16

Number deaths/yr attributed to overlying: 19 Most are only “suspected.”

Number of babies (0-2) dying in night fires/yr: 230 Many of which may have been retrievable if next to parent, not in another room of home. This is true for abductions and other night dangers as well.

Number of deaths/yr in adult beds reported as entrapment/suffocation between bed and wall, headboard, or other furniture, on waterbed, in headboard railings, or tangled in bedding: 18 With side-rail: 1 That’s 19 of the 60.

Number of deaths/yr reported as suffocation of unknown cause in adult bed: 13

These would be SIDS if in a crib. Remember, these do not necessarily involve cosleeping.

Number of deaths/yr in adult beds from prone sleeping: 5

Again, these are considered SIDS in cribs, and they are preventable in adult beds, as in cribs.

4/yr died not from falling out of adult bed, but from suffocating (pile of clothes, plastic bag) or other danger (such as drowning) after falling out.

13% of U.S. infants are routinely cosleeping with nearly 50% sharing bed for part
of the nights.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2000 Survey.

“Why does our nation rank only 42nd in infant survival?* in the industrialized world (some non-reporting nations are thought to rank better than us as well)? Our difference from the best-ranking nations is a high predominance of formula feeding, isolated sleep, and medical intervention. The highest cosleeping/breastfeeding nations rank with half our overall infant death rate (and negligable SIDS rates). Remember we rank #1 in medical intervention.”

So is cosleeping dangerous? Yes, if done without care or thought. So think. Use the mind that the creator (whoever she/he is) gave you and think about what you are doing with your babies. Don’t blindly follow trends or advice from ads plastered on bus shelters. Do research and make informed decisions with a big dollop of common sense tailored to your own little family’s needs.

You might be interested in our own article: “Some Shocking Facts About Cot Death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS)

Sleep comfortably next to your baby with the Mumanu Pillow

Mumanu_Postnatal_Pillow_cosleeping

Therapeutic massage more effective than acupuncture or self-care education

12509833_s
Source: News Fix, by April Clarkson
Date: 19th July 2013Researchers from the Group Health Cooperative, US, report the results of a study which found that therapeutic massage was more effective than other complementary therapies for persistent back pain, and apparently provides long-lasting benefits.The researchers randomised 262 patients with persistent lower back pain, aged between 20 and 70 years, to receive either acupuncture (n=94), therapeutic massage (n=78), or self-care educational materials (n=90). Up to 10 massage or acupuncture treatments were allowed over a 10-week period. Telephone interviewers scored patients for symptoms and disability after four, 10, and 52 weeks.

The researchers found:

  • At 10 weeks, massage was superior to self-care on both the symptom and disability scale
  • Massage was superior to acupuncture on the disability scale
  • After one year, massage was no better than self-care, but was better than acupuncture on both scales
  • The massage group used the least medications and had the lowest costs of subsequent care.

The authors noted that Traditional Chinese Medical acupuncture seemed relatively ineffective, and suggested that massage may be a useful alternative to conventional medicine in the treatment of persistent back pain.

Relieve back pain even faster with a Mumanu Pillow
FREE world-wide delivery when you buy online www.mumanu.com

mumanu-show-poster-male.jpg

Why I no longer believe babies should cry themselves to sleep

5041281_m
Source: Globe and Mail by GABOR MATÉ
Date: Feb. 04 2006’Some of our friends see us as weak parents because we haven’t Ferberized our children,” says my niece Rachel Maté, a 33-year-old Vancouver lawyer and mother of two. ” ‘You’re letting your baby control your lives,’ they argue. But it would break my heart to let my baby cry without comforting her.”Named after Dr. Richard Ferber, the pediatric sleep expert quoted in a previous 2006 article on parents who share their beds with their children, Ferberization is the process of “training” an infant to sleep by ignoring her crying. As a family physician, I used to advocate the Ferber technique and, as a parent, practised it myself. Since then, I have come to believe that the method is harmful to infant development and to a child’s long-term emotional health.

Ferberization seems simple: “After about one week, your infant will learn that crying earns nothing more than a brief check from you, and isn’t worth the effort. She’ll learn to fall asleep on her own, without your help,” reads Dr. Ferber’s advice. The question is, what else does a baby learn when treated this way and what is the impact of such learning?

People cannot consciously recall what they “learned” in the first year of life, because the brain structures that store narrative memory are not yet developed. But neuropsychological research has established that human beings have a far more powerful memory system imprinted in their nervous systems called intrinsic memory. Intrinsic memory encodes the emotional aspects of early experience, mostly in the prefrontal lobe of the brain. These emotional memories may last a lifetime. Without any recall of the events that originally encoded them, they serve as a template for how we perceive the world and how we react to later occurrences.

Is the world a friendly and nurturing place, or an indifferent or even hostile one? Can we trust other human beings to recognize, understand and honour our needs, or do we have to shut down emotionally to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable? These are fundamental questions that we resolve largely with our implicit memory system rather than with our conscious minds. As psychologist and leading memory researcher Daniel Schacter has written, intrinsic memory is active “when people are influenced by past experience without any awareness that they are remembering.”

The implicit message an infant receives from having her cries ignored is that the world — as represented by her caregivers — is indifferent to her feelings. That is not at all what loving parents intend.

Unfortunately, it’s not parental intentions that a baby integrates into her world view, but how parents respond to her. This is why, if I could relive my life, I would do much of my parenting differently.

When the infant falls asleep after a period of wailing and frustrated cries for help, it is not that she has learned the “skill” of falling asleep. What has happened is that her brain, to escape the overwhelming pain of abandonment, shuts down. It’s an automatic neurological mechanism. In effect, the baby gives up. The short-term goal of the exhausted parents has been achieved, but at the price of harming the child’s long-term emotional vulnerability. Encoded in her cortex is an implicit sense of a non-caring universe.

The concepts behind Ferberization precede the publication of Dr. Ferber’s 1985 bestseller Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problem. Forty years earlier, Benjamin Spock proposed the very same approach in his seminal book Baby and Child Care. The cure for what Dr. Spock called “chronic resistance to sleep in infancy” is straightforward. The way to ensure that the infant doesn’t “get away with such tyranny,” he wrote, was to “say good night affectionately but firmly, walk out of the room, and don’t go back.”

Dr. Spock was a great pioneer of humane and loving child rearing and much of his advice refuted the harsh Victorian practices prevalent in his days. On this sleep issue, however, he ignored his own admonition that parents should trust their own instincts and gut feelings and not defer to the opinion of experts.

Monica Moster, an 80-year-old grandmother of seven, recalls what it felt like for her to follow such advice with her own children. “It was torture for me to do it,” she says. “It went against all my motherly emotions.”

Rachel Maté reports that even some of her friends who believe in Ferberization have a hard time of it. “I know women who have to stand in the shower with their hands over their ears so they can’t hear their baby crying. It’s traumatic not just to baby, but also to parent.”

In our stressed society, time is at a premium. Beholden to our worldly schedules, we try to adapt our children to our needs, rather than serving theirs. More “primitive” aboriginal peoples in Africa and North and South America kept their infants with them at all times. They had not yet learned to suppress their parenting instincts.

The baby who cries for the parent is not engaging in “tyranny,” she is expressing her deepest need — emotional and physical contact with the parent. The deceptive convenience of Ferberization is one more way in which our society fails the needs of the developing child.

Vancouver physician Gabor Maté is the co-author of Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.

What does your sleep position say about you?

Source: Bad Psychology .net by Badpsych
Date: 16th March, 2013

What does our sleeping position say about our personalities? Well, in short, it says this:

image

No, wait, wrong picture. This one is more accurate:

image

Many articles on the internet claim that sleeping positions are correlated with a person’s personality. Most of these, if not all, come from two different sets of “research.”The first comes from Robert Phillips, a so-called body language expert. According to the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Philips surveyed many individuals and found that there was a relationship between four common sleeping positions (Fetal, Log, Yearner, and Freefaller) and their personalities. But it turns out these news outlets, and those who subsequently referenced them, didn’t do their research. On Phillips’ site, he clarifies that he did no such research. What he really did was write a piece for Premier Inn called Sleep-o-scopes, where he made horoscope-like attributions to sleeping positions. These attributions were not based on scientific findings. “It wasn’t meant to be taken absolutely seriously,” Phillips writes, “but it seems to have gone round the world being picked up by all sorts of media from the Financial Times to Fox 4 News.”

The second source comes from Dr. Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service. According to BBC News and many, manyothers (seriously, Google “Dr. Chris Idzikowski and sleeping positions”), Dr. Chris Idzikowski claims to have found six common sleeping positions (the ones listed on the pictures above) and has linked them with different personality types. However, when I checked his list of scientific publications on The Edinburgh Sleep Centre website (where he serves as director) I found nothing remotely related to personality. It’s a dead end. Either he did say something legitimate but didn’t get published—other than on news outlets who love to source each other—or this was a fabrication.

I should note, however, that I did find one scientific article that attempts to study the possible correlation between sleeping positions and personality. More specifically, the author was concerned with emotional aspects of personality. Schredl (2002) surveyed 47 students on a sleeping questionnaire and the 16-PF Personality Inventory. His results noted that the prone position showed significant difference in “self-confidence” and “anxiety traits,” compared to the other position groups. The fetal position and royal position groups did not show any significant differences. However, this is all he found. He never says anything about a person’s sociability, how fun they are at parties, or how they have warm and open hearts. Moreover, his methodology left much to be desired. You can find the full-text article on the link below.

Reference:

Schredl, M. (2002). Sleep positions and personality: An empirical study. North American Journal of Psychology, 4(1). 129-132.

 

According to our research the only accurate sleeping position personality trait is The Mumanu

sleeping-personality-types

New Thinking on Risky Pregnancies

Bed rest may not be the answer for risky pregnancies
Source: The Wall Street Journal. Your health.
July 15th, 2013Studies show bed rest doesn’t alleviate complications, and could cause other problemsDoctors increasingly are recommending pregnant women limit their activities if they are at risk for complications, rather than resorting to the traditional approach of resting in bed.

Remaining in bed for extended periods has long been prescribed for women who are at risk for preterm delivery labor or have high blood pressure, bleeding or other complications. But studies have failed to turn up evidence that bed rest improves these conditions. And some research has shown that being confined to bed can cause health risks of its own, including blood clots and a temporary loss of bone-mineral content.

Bed rest is “not healthy, it’s not helpful and it’s potentially detrimental,” said Michael Katz, chief of obstetrics at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. “It’s something I’m staying away from more and more.”

So why do many doctors continue to recommend bed rest? As many as 20% of women in the U.S. are placed on bed rest in the latter half of pregnancy, according to some estimates. Experts say some practitioners fear liability if a complication arises and the doctor didn’t take action. And some mothers want to feel they are minimizing risks to their unborn babies.

Dr. Adam Wolfberg says bed rest can help some women overcome fears.

“I think that bed rest is something women can do that makes them feel better in the incredibly powerless situation they find themselves in when facing a loss or preterm delivery,” said Adam Wolfberg, a specialist at Boston Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Wolfberg said he agrees there isn’t evidence that bed rest is beneficial, but he believes it can make a woman feel better and that it is unlikely to hurt.

Some doctors say they will only recommend full bed rest in extreme circumstances, such as advanced cervical dilation to the point when other measures haven’t helped, or the premature rupture of a membrane.

The controversy underlying bed rest was highlighted in May with the publication in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology of a study and editorials that cast doubt on or criticized the practice. The study found that restrictions on activity by women who had a short cervix—which increases the risk of preterm birth—didn’t result in fewer preterm births than those who had no restrictions. The study, supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, analyzed data from a previous trial of about 650 women. About 252 of the women said they had been placed on activity restriction or bed rest.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a bulletin to members last year on preterm labor, which affects about 12% of births and is defined as birth before 37 weeks. “Although bed rest and hydration have been recommended to women with symptoms of preterm labor to prevent preterm delivery, these measures have not been shown to be effective for the prevention of preterm birth and should not be routinely recommended,” read the bulletin.

Other studies have found detrimental effects to bed rest. A 2010 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that reviewed previous research said that women placed on bed rest had a 19-fold increased chance of getting deep-vein thrombosis, or a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the lower part of the body, said Anne Lyerly, associate director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Dr. Lyerly, who co-wrote one of the editorials in the May issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, called the practice of prescribing bed rest unethical. In her editorial, she cited a 2011 review of previous research that said bed rest can also result in bone demineralization and muscle atrophy, and cause psychological effects, such as depression and increased stress levels. The review, published in the journal Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecology, cited earlier studies including one that found pregnant women on bed rest had a bone loss of 4.6% compared with 1.5% for those who weren’t.

Some doctors say they are increasingly recommending at-risk patients limit their activity rather than go on bed rest. They may tell patients to rest more or avoid strenuous exercise or long walks. “The modern woman is going to say, ‘Can I go to yoga? Can I go to the gym? Can I still work 60 hours a week?,'” said Adam Romoff, associate chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. “We still should be careful about whether these patients should be going to the gym or taking long walks. I think we should negotiate 20, 30 or 40% off the top as far as physical activity goes.”

Taking a Load Off

 

Nearly 1 in 5 women are put on bed rest at some point during pregnancy to safeguard against complications, some experts estimate. Bed-rest regimens can vary, depending on the degree of pregnancy risk.

  • On modified bed rest, a woman might need to limit her activities for a period of time. It might be OK to move around the house, and even continue working. But heavy tasks, such as housework and lifting children, should be avoided.
  • Strict bed rest might require remaining in a sitting or reclining position most of the time. Getting out of bed might be permitted only to shower or use the bathroom.
  • With total bed rest, typically recommended for the riskiest pregnancies, women might need to lie on their side at all times, even when eating. Personal hygiene is often limited to sponge baths and a bedpan. Some women require hospitalization.

Source Mayo Clinic

Connie Fong, a patient of Dr. Katz at California Pacific Medical Center, was put on strict bed rest in the hospital during her first pregnancy in 2011 after losing a baby the previous year. For 10 weeks, she was restricted to a bed and was wheeled outside on a gurney to get fresh air for one hour a day.

“It became a physical and mental challenge,” recalled the 35-year-old resident of Menlo Park, Calif.

Still, she felt the bed rest was warranted given that she was showing signs of preterm labor. In the end, Ms. Fong didn’t deliver the child early, and her son is now 23 months old.

Ms. Fong currently is expecting her second child in a couple of months. She is on modified bed rest, working from home three days a week to avoid the commute to her job in San Francisco. She can’t lift anything more than 10 pounds and tries to lie horizontal as much as possible. Still, she says the restrictions are far easier, both psychologically and physically, than her last pregnancy.

Never let babies sleep in seats out of car – research suggests dangers

8776084_m
Never let babies sleep in seats out of car – researchers suggest dangers in baby car seat sleeping. I think most parents leave a sleeping baby in the car seat for fear of waking them. It’s important to never leave a baby unattended in a car seat…Source: New Zealand Herald, By Martin Johnston
Date: 16th July, 2013Babies should never be allowed to sleep in car safety seats when the seat is not in a car, researchers say after a new study showing a link to decreased oxygen levels.

Dr Christine McIntosh and her colleagues have also warned that babies’ time in car safety seats should be kept to a minimum, after the latest findings in their long-running research.

The researchers, from Auckland University and the Cot Death Association, have previously shown a reduction in mild breathing problems in babies whose car safety seat was fitted with a simple foam insert with a slot for the back of the head.

Babies’ heads are larger, relative to the body, than adults’ heads, and protrude behind the line of the back.

The commercially available insert helps to keep the baby’s body forward. It also allows the head to remain upright even when the infant is asleep, rather than slumping forward, which can obstruct breathing when the chin is on the chest and pushed back.

A larger study, published today in the prestigious United States journal Pediatrics, confirms that using the insert does reduce breathing risks for babies who were on average 8 days old, but it does not eliminate the seats’ risks.

Comparing sleep studies in two groups each of 39 babies, the researchers found those whose car safety seats had the inserts had fewer instances of stopping breathing because of a blocked airway, and had less severe reductions in oxygen saturation levels than the non-insert group.

But there was no difference between the two groups in the number of moderate reductions in oxygen saturation levels per hour.

“Even reducing severity of the fall in oxygen levels is important and is a good indicator that the insert did help make babies safer,” Dr McIntosh said.

“This study also highlights the importance of not using car seats as a place of sleep for infants. Sudden unexpected deaths in infants can occasionally occur in car seats [and] capsules.”

In their journal paper, the researchers note car safety seats are essential for infants’ safe transport in cars but they express concern at the reported high rates of infants spending more than 30 minutes a day in a car seat, “often for sleep out of the car as well as for transport”.

“There is now compelling evidence that hypoxia [oxygen deficiency] is associated with behavioural problems and adverse effects on development and school performance.

“Furthermore, car seat use has been associated with apparent life-threatening events and with at least some otherwise unexplained sudden deaths in term infants.

“We believe that caregivers should be strongly advised that car seats should not be used for infant sleep outside the car.”

Even when the insert is used, the researchers say, young infants should never be left unattended in car safety seats. “Car seat use should be restricted to the minimum time required for essential travel.”

 

Do you have any tips on keeping baby asleep while you transfer them from the car seat to a cot?

 

I was pregnant for 10 months

The idea that pregnancy becomes dangerous after 42 weeks, making induction essential, is out of date.
Source: The Guardian, by Viv Groskop
Friday 1 October 2010

Viv Groskop with Jack, born 20 days late: ‘I knew what I was doing and was happy with my decision.’ Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian
Jack, my third child, arrived last month, 20 days late. My first two babies were 15 days late. But a day shy of week 43? That is virtually record-breaking – and, some would say, slightly mad. For the last week I barely left the house. I knew what I was doing and was happy with my decision. But I didn’t want to hear what anyone else had to say about it. (Especially if it was: “Have you tried eating curry?” Yes. About 57 times.)In the US there are women like me who call themselves the Ten Month Mamas. The Mamas used to have an online resource – sadly now defunct – which featured the stories of dozens of women who had gone past 42 weeks, some of them as far as 48 weeks. (Many of the most extreme examples were Mormon – some with more than half a dozen children.)Historically, tales of weirdly overdue babies are not unprecedented. The actor Jackie Chan claims his mother carried him for 12 months before he was born by caesarean section, weighing 12lb. There is also a story of a woman in a prisoner of war camp who allegedly waited until the camp was liberated to give birth – at 12 months’ gestation.

But maybe these claims are not so odd when you remember that the average pregnancy is actually nearer 10 months than nine. So if you give birth at 43 weeks, you are heading towards 11 months anyway.

I held out as long as I could, but in the end Jack was induced. I wish it could have been otherwise. The day before he was born, the hospital consultant had made it clear that she didn’t agree with me remaining pregnant for a day longer. Despite the fact that there were no signs that there was anything wrong, there was a risk of stillbirth, she said. “How does that apply to this pregnancy in particular?” I asked, as all my tests were clear. “You’re very overdue,” came the answer. I could have waited another day or two maybe. But I wasn’t happy acting against the hospital’s wishes.

The induced labour was not a terrible experience – Jack was born with no complications in 50 minutes – but it was not ideal. I had wanted him to come out when he wanted to. Not when a doctor ordered him to. It turned out that he was large, but not abnormally so (8lb 12oz; his sister was larger at 9lb). And he had no signs of being post-dates: no wrinkly skin, and the amniotic fluid was clear. I wasn’t sure he was really that late at all.

So why is 40 weeks seen as the norm when only 5% of babies arrive on their due date – and when it is 41 weeks in France? Could we be inducing babies who don’t need to be induced – exposing both them and their mothers to unnecessary risk?

The US midwifery guru Ina May Gaskin thinks so. She believes that every baby will come in its own time, and she is currently campaigning for 43 weeks – rather than 42 – as the definition of “late”. The dates in themselves, says Gaskin, do not indicate the need for induction. There are clear signs if there is something wrong and the baby needs to come out: reduced foetal movement, for example, a deceleration in growth, or reduced amniotic fluid – all of which could be picked up by the mother or a midwife.

In recent years the ultrasound dating scan at 12 weeks has been seen as the best measure of due date in the UK. Statistics suggest it is marginally more accurate than the traditional LMP (last monthly period) date. The latter method, known as Naegele’s rule, dates back to 1838. It is based on the idea that human gestation lasts 10 lunar cycles (nine months plus seven days) and assumes that every woman has a monthly cycle of 28 days where she ovulates on the 14th day.

The trouble is that very few women fit the “average” – hence the huge variation in the dates when babies are born. Seventy per cent arrive after their due date. And yet it has become a fixed point by which we measure everything in pregnancy. Meanwhile, induction rates in England are rising – albeit very gradually – up from 18.3% of babies in 1990 to 20.2% last year.

Hannah Latham, 36, a writer from Bristol, was 18 days overdue when she gave birth to Noah, now six weeks old. “I do wish they could give you a ‘due window’ of three weeks instead of a due date,” she says. “It becomes very stressful. You have all these people hassling you, saying, ‘Isn’t he here yet?’ Because, of course, you tell everybody your due date. Which in future I wouldn’t do.” Latham consented to an induction in the end because an ultrasound scan showed that the amniotic fluid was starting to run low.

“Until then there was no good reason to induce. But they pressure you from when you are a week overdue. They say to you, ‘Are you aware that you are putting your baby at risk?’ I said, according to what statistics? They said, ‘We don’t know.'”

This is the problem with overdue babies: there is very little evidence because so few women allow their pregnancies to go past 42 weeks. As US midwife Gail Hart points out, the most-cited statistic about post-dates babies (that their risk of stillbirth “doubles after 42 weeks”) comes from a 1958 study – a time when mortality rates were 10 times what they are now. Also, as Hart argues, induction is hardly risk-free: it carries higher rates of caesarean section, uterine rupture, foetal distress and maternal haemorrhage.

These risks were what put me off induction. Home birth was also a factor, as it is for many: if you agree to induction, it has to happen in hospital. This usually means you end up being monitored, wired up to a machine to measure the baby’s heart rate, and you will have to deliver flat on your back. Having given birth twice, I know that I cope best if I am free to rampage around the room. Because my midwife knew me very well (by coincidence she had delivered my second baby at home), she helped me to stand and move around, while still being monitored. I was lucky – this is not standard practice.

Fear of intervention is the main reason women resist induction. The British website www.homebirth.org.uk features women who have given birth past 41 weeks, the latest at 43 weeks plus six days, and many of the mothers talk of being “reluctant to interfere with nature”.

Joanne King’s second baby was born at 43 weeks plus three days. She writes: “I explained [to the consultant] that I thought the risk of being induced versus carrying on with the pregnancy – when the baby and I were well – was not one worth taking. She agreed with me.”

But for other pregnant women the desire to see their baby safe and sound is too much to bear. They would rather just get induced. “Most women are very impatient,” says Mervi Jokinen of the Royal College of Midwives. “And it is a mental strain: you are getting bigger, you are not sleeping well, you want to see your baby. Most women are not negative about induction by the second week [overdue] and some ask to be induced well before that.”

The latest baby Jokinen delivered was 44 weeks gestation. “As a midwife you know if a baby is truly post-mature by the state of the skin. It’s drier and flakier. They look like someone who has been in the water too long.” But according to one American study [cited by Gail Hart in Midwifery Today], more than 90% of supposedly “late” babies born at 43 weeks in fact show no signs of post-maturity.

Gaskin argues that in the US there is a new medical complication, “iatrogenic” (“doctor-caused”) prematurity – “inductions where babies turn out to be premature and then spend a week or more in the neonatal intensive care unit”. She says in four decades of experience and thousands of pregnancies, she has seen only one woman who needed to be induced. “We’ve had experience with many Amish families in which 43-week pregnancies seem to be the norm.”

To most hospitals, Gaskin adds, a lack of symptoms – and the patient’s history – is irrelevant: “This habit of making absolute rules that are applied to cases that used to be open to individual treatment has contributed to the dumbing down of maternity care.”

This is true in the UK too. I couldn’t understand why my doctor was not interested in all the heart monitoring (every two days after 42 weeks) – and all perfect – or in the ultrasound scan. Nor was there any interest in my birth history (two late babies and fast births, which I thought made me a poor candidate for induction). All that mattered were the statistics – from 1958.

So would Jack eventually have come out himself safely? I’ll never know. As Jokinen puts it: “This is the thing. Some babies come out ‘late’ and they are perfectly OK. And you wonder what was wrong with the dates.”