Fear of birth creates longer labor, increased complications according to study

June 28th, 2012 by Cindy Locher

New research was published just yesterday in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology which concludes that increased fear of birthing leads to longer labors and more complications in the birthing process. It is estimated that one in five women has severe fear of birth; others to a lesser degree. It was noted that, in Britain where the healthcare system is strapped, women are increasingly turning to resources outside of their medical system (including hypnosis) to help them with both physical and emotional preparation for the delivery.

An extensive survey of more than 1250 women who learned self hypnosis as part of their preparation for delivery had a significant reduction of fear of labor and a reduction in complications. The survey included 853 first time mothers. The women were interviewed as part of the survey, and an significant number of them — 89%– said using the self hypnosis techniques had enabled them to overcome their fears; 72% said they felt calm during the birth; 61% reported that they felt able to manage the pain in labor. Of the women in the survey, only 15% required a caesarean, while the national rate in Britain, where the survey took place, is almost 25%. Overall, 95% of women felt they had received benefits from learning self hypnosis as part of the birthing experience.

Hypnosis is well known for decreasing or eliminating fears, reducing the perception of pain, and giving people a greater sense of calmness and control, and it has long been used in preparation for birth. Now this study confirms the effectiveness of this approach, which also has no negative side effects for either mother or child.

Are you pregnant and have fear of delivery? Try hypnosis!

5 reasons to eat strawberries

1) They may reduce the risk of degenerative disease – strawberries are an amazing source of folate (the folic acid found in food). Inadequate amounts of folate in an aging population can contribute to atherosclerosis, and even a decline in mental function.

2) They could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering LDL cholesterol. Strawberries can suppress inflammatory responses of the body, including those in heart disease.

3) Use strawberries to counteract stress – they contain over 100% of our daily recommended allowance of vitamin C in just one cup. Studies show that when vitamin C is consumed during times of stress, it has the ability to bring our blood pressure down.

4) Prevent bone loss with strawberries – they are high in potassium, and high-potassium diets have been shown to reduce bone loss by preserving calcium stores and preventing the breakdown of bone that comes with the natural aging process.

5) They’re high in antioxidants – strawberries contain anthocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects us from the damaging effects of our environment, especially the sun.

Better breathing can mean better health

By Sue McAllister
smcallister@mercurynews.com
Posted: 06/28/2012 12:00:00 AM PDT

“It is the first thing we do,” says Dr. Margaret Chesney, a breathing researcher at UC San Francisco, “and it is the last thing we do. It’s really important, but we take it for granted.”

Yet we can control our breath if we choose. And breathing properly, experts say, can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental focus and athletic performance, help control high blood pressure and mend other health problems.

Chesney and others point out that many of us have developed a habit of not breathing deeply enough, and unknowingly we hold our breath for short periods when under stress. Women are more prone to such “under-breathing,” Chesney says. Both of these unconscious practices can raise carbon dioxide levels in our blood, which over the long term can be harmful.

“Short, shallow breathing causes a cascade of negative effects in the body, and the body associates that with the fight-or-flight response,” says Al Lee, co-author (with Don Campbell) of the 2009 book “Perfect Breathing.” “It gins up the adrenaline, the cortisol, the stress chemicals.”

The good news, experts say, is that it’s easy to retrain ourselves to breathe more effectively most of the time, the way we do when relaxed. And there’s no equipment needed, no memberships — we’ve got all the tools with us all the time.

The Lee and Campbell book draws from both recent research on respiration and the breathing techniques of traditional practices such as qigong and yoga. Lee notes that, although the idea of working on one’s breathing “seems new age-y,” his research has shown that athletes, elite military personnel, stage actors and singers all rely on breathing techniques to control and improve their levels of performance.

“These techniques are used by just about anybody in any discipline you can think of — fighter pilots to Olympic athletes, marksmen, special forces, you name it,” Lee says. “They would say, ‘This is the most important thing I do.’ ”

Stress reduction was what Dr. Joe Rod, a cardiologist who’s practiced for 30 years in San Jose, wanted a few years ago after going through a wrenching divorce. He signed up for a course in the multistage, rhythmic-breathing technique sudarshan kriya, but he was skeptical that it could really help him. Partly based on yogic breathing, or pranayama, it is taught by the international nonprofit organization Art of Living, whose founder is credited with developing the practice.

The effects were striking, Rod says. “After 90 days of doing this, I felt my stress was markedly reduced, and now I would not stop doing it, because I would not want to revert to the levels of stress I had at the time.”

Rod practices his breathing for about 25 minutes daily and meditates as well. He has not missed a day in two years. His two adult daughters, impressed by the changes in their formerly 80-hour-a-week workaholic father, who was on the brink of starting antidepressant medications before improving his breathing, also chose to take the sudarshan kriya course, though he says that they don’t practice it often.

Sudarshan kriya is sometimes criticized because part of the practice involves rapid, shallow breathing, which makes some people feel hyperventilated and dizzy. But that effect passes with practice, Rod says, adding that he has experienced no ill effects.

Rajshree Patel, a longtime teacher with the Art of Living and an ex-prosecutor in Los Angeles, recently led a series of free workshops on the breathing technique as part of the campaign Take a Breath, Bay Area. The benefits from the practice come over time, she says, and include better sleep, a stronger immune system and more energy.

“In a modern world of fast-paced, hectic life,” she says, “it’s the simplest, easiest and most natural way to go back to our center.”

The primary function of breathing is to deliver oxygen to tissues, take carbon dioxide out of the body and regulate the acidity of our blood, says Chesney, who directs the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UC San Francisco. (Blood that is overly acidic prompts the kidneys to retain sodium, increasing blood pressure.) But there is plenty of evidence to show that breathing also is powerfully connected to our emotions and overall health, she says.

Currently, she and her husband, UC San Francisco adjunct professor of nephrology Dr. David Anderson, are studying the physiological means by which techniques such as yoga and meditation lower blood pressure. They are focusing on a group of women who are at risk of high blood pressure. The study quantifies the subjects’ carbon dioxide levels under a variety of conditions. The hope is that, by teaching patients to practice deep, “mindful” breathing, they can lower high carbon dioxide levels and reduce high blood pressure.

Many breath-training techniques are being recommended and taught today, Chesney says, some of which emphasize a certain number of breaths per minute. But she prefers to focus on slow, relaxed, deep breathing — the kind that makes our bellies rise and fall when we’re not sucking in our stomachs.

“You can do that even in your car; you can switch off talk radio and put on some nice music,” she says. A few weeks ago, when BART trains were halted for most of a day, many Bay Area residents felt stressed by the heavy highway traffic. Chesney points out that this kind of situation “is a chance to get either very angry and huff and puff, or maybe stop and breathe.”

Castro Valley resident Jen Julian, 54, used to think about her breathing constantly, because it had become hard to do. Diagnosed several years ago with the lung disease chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis, she found her condition worsening in 2005 and had to start using an oxygen tank constantly. She had noticed that just getting out of bed, taking a shower or doing laundry was exhausting. In 2006, under the care of the Stanford Center for Advanced Lung Disease, she underwent a double lung transplant and then had to relearn how to breathe normally.

The first deep breaths she took, about four days after surgery, were a pleasant surprise and a joy, she recalls. Now she is not only living life normally, but cycling, skiing and pursuing the lifelong dream of earning a pilot’s license. She says she will never take breathing for granted again.

“I am kicking butt today, let me tell you,” she says. “I take a deep breath every morning in honor of my donor.”.

Eating dessert with breakfast is a possible new diet fad

If you don’t know about this diet, or the study that started it, you can read more about it here. But I emphatically don’t recommend fad diets, or any diets for that matter, because they don’t work and they can make us (and our children) unhappy.

So what can you do when you really do need to make some healthy changes in your lifestyle, and your willpower isn’t your strongest asset? Try hypnosis! Hypnosis has been proven countless times to help with weight loss.

Why It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

FromTime Magazine:

If you’ve been a lifelong smoker, you might be thinking, Why quit now when the damage is already done? But a recent study finds that even the oldest smokers can reap significant benefits from kicking the habit.

Based on a review of previous studies, three researchers from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg determined that smokers over the age of 60 could reduce their risk of premature death 28% by quitting.

The review included 17 studies from the U.S., China, Australia, Japan, England, Spain and France that tracked anywhere from 863 to 877,243 people for follow-up periods of three to 50 years. Overall, the study found that current smokers had the highest absolute mortality rates in all studies: smokers over the age of 60 were 83% more likely to die, compared with people who never smoked. In comparison, former smokers over the age of 60 were 34% more likely to die than never-smokers. That’s a 28% decline in death risk between current smokers and former smokers.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Tai Hing Lam of the University of Hong Kong further calculated reductions in risk by age: quitting smoking reduced premature death risk by 21% for people in their 60s, by 27% for people in their 70s, and by 24% for those in their 80s.

The risk of death “notably decreases with time since smoking cessation even at older age,” the authors write. In other words, the longer it had been since people quit, the lower their risk of premature death.

“Even older people who smoked for a lifetime without negative health consequences should be encouraged and supported to quit smoking,” the authors write.

“Many older smokers misbelieve that they are too old to quit or too old to benefit from quitting. Because of reverse causality and from seeing deaths of old friends who had quit recently, some misbelieve that quitting could be harmful,” Dr. Lam writes. “A simple, direct, strong and evidence-based warning is needed.”

Lam advises physicians to help their patients quit smoking by referring to the acronym, AWARD:

Ask about smoking
Warn smoking patients by saying, “If you continue to smoke, your chance of dying from smoking-induced diseases (such as cancer, heart diseases, stroke and respiratory and many other serious diseases) is 50% (67% for the very young; 40% for the very old).”
Advise, “If you quit now, your risk will be greatly reduced (by 25% at old age, and by much more before age 40 years).”
Refer to a cessation clinic or hotline
Do it again until they quit. If you have helped 2 smokers quit, you have saved at least 1 life.

The study and editorial are published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Do you have this key to life balance?

Getting active can clear your mind, build muscle, rev up your metabolism, help you blow off steam, and even reduce your chances of getting chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity. In fact, a recent study found that just 1 hour and 15 minutes of exercise per week can reduce heart disease risk by up to 14%!

Did you know that not every kind of exercise is right for everyone? Maybe Pilates, basketball, or hula-hooping is ideal for your body. Maybe it’s hiking, rock climbing, flying on the trapeze, or playing tag with your kids. Or maybe you haven’t even found it yet!

At Stress Less Hypnosis, we believe that each person has a unique set of activities, foods, relationships, lifestyle choices, and other ways of getting healthy that suits them best. Our job is to guide you towards the approach that works for you.

How do you get your body moving?