October 13, 2016
Interview with 2016 Conference Keynote Speaker Kajsa Brimdyr - "Reality” Versus Reality: The Nocebo Effect on Birth and Breastfeeding
By: Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), CLE | 0 Comments
Today on Science & Sensibility, I am delighted to be interviewing ethnographer Kajsa Brimdyr, PhD, CLC, Lamaze International's fourth plenary speaker at the upcoming annual conference in West Palm Beach, FL next weekend. Kajsa is presenting "Reality" Versus Reality: The Nocebo Effect on Birth and Breastfeeding." You can register to attend the 2016 Annual Lamaze International Conference in person here, or if travel is not possible, you can make plans to participate virtually by following this link. You can find all the plenary speaker interviews here if you missed any of the other interviews I have conducted. - Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.
Sharon Muza: What part of the birth experience grabs your attention the most?
Kajsa Brimdyr: My passion, my obsession, is skin to skin in the first hour after birth. I am constantly amazed by how capable babies are immediately after birth, how magical that time can be for the mother, the baby and the partner. I have spent a decade studying newborn behavior during that time, and the barriers within a hospital that could prevent this important experience.
SM: Tell me about the paper you recently published on the topic of that important first hour skin to skin after birth?
KB: This past year, my team and I published a paper The Association Between Common Labor Drugs and Suckling When Skin-to-Skin During the First Hour After Birth which is about the ways that common labor medications affect newborn behavior - specifically the stage of suckling - during the first hour after birth. It was a heart-wrenching study.
I always fall in love with the mothers and babies I work with (one of the advantages of being an ethnographer is that I'm allowed to!), and it's soul crushing to watch the snowballing effects of a medicated birth, and to see that impact on the newborn. (I'll be doing a concurrent session "Birth Consequences: The Impact of Epidurals" on this during the Lamaze conference as well.) So I needed to think about this issue objectively. It is clear from the work that I have been doing in Egypt, Romania, Sweden, China and all around the United States, that hospital practices influence a mother's laboring experience, and her opportunities to hold the baby skin to skin immediately after birth. But how can we help mothers and babies understand these implications in a blame free way?
SM: How do you feel contemporary reality TV shows on the subject of pregnancy and birth portrays mothers and why is that portrayal important?
KB: I teach a class at Union Institute and University in the Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation degree called Anthropology of Childbirth. In it, we examine different birth TV shows - A Baby Story, One Born Every Minute, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, etc. These are the shows that are on every day, available on demand, watched over and over. Research is showing us that women get their childbirth education and understanding of birth from these shows. In the course, we analyze the shows as if we were anthropologists studying a foreign culture.... What is the plot of the story? Who is the hero? How do you know? If you were going to learn everything you needed to know about labor and birth from this show, what would you have learned? The results are depressing. The mother is almost never the hero of her own birth. And the baby doesn't even play a role in many birth stories.
This struggle of my students trying to find good examples of birth stories in the reality show media was happening at the same time that I was spending a lot of time with mothers and families in hospital labor and delivery wards, researching labor medications and skin to skin contact, and watching these same reality show situations play out before my eyes.
SM: What does your plenary presentation at this year's conference focus on?
KB: That examination is what we are going to look at during this talk. What do the reality shows that mothers are watching really look like? What are the messages - sometimes clear, sometimes hidden - that exist in these shows? Who is the hero? What are the metaphors? What is the point of the story?
SM: I understand that you have created a positive alternative to these "mainstream" birth reality shows?
KB: My latest project is working to counteract this situation. A new reality show, currently available on Amazon and online, looking at what childbirth looks like in a Baby-Friendly hospital. A hospital that is midwifery driven, where all nurses are Certified Lactation Counselors or IBCLCs. Where the mother is the hero of her own story. Where the baby plays a central role. Where parents can see what is possible. The latest research is showing us how vital a role these reality shows play in our mothers' understanding of labor, birth and breastfeeding. We need to take an active role in improving the message, and helping mothers find a path of strength and positive transformation.
SM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, I know I speak for all conference attendees in stating that I am very excited to hear your presention next week in Florida.
TagsChildbirth education Professional Resources 2016 Plenary Speaker 2016 Annual Lamaze International Conference