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Pregnant Women Turn to Alternative, 'Personalized' Birthing Options

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Giv­ing birth is the most pri­mal act in a woman’s life. And yet, mod­ern med­i­cine has turned birthing into a ster­ile, med­ical pro­ce­dure, often per­formed in a hos­pi­tal oper­at­ing room.

But more and more women are reject­ing the tra­di­tional hos­pi­tal approach to deliv­ery in favor of a more “per­son­al­ized” birthing expe­ri­ence, with some lit­er­ally going back to their pri­mal roots by trekking into the wilder­ness to give birth.

Born in the Wild is a new real­ity TV show, which debuts on Life­time on Tues­day at 10 p.m. It fea­tures expec­tant moth­ers who chose to give birth out­side in the woods. Peter and Audrey Bird, who live in Alaska and have three chil­dren, are fea­tured on the show. They said they had a neg­a­tive expe­ri­ence in the hos­pi­tal with the birth of their 6-year-old son.

My labor was full of fear,” Audrey, 25, says on the show. “That’s not some­thing that I ever wanted to do again.”

So to wel­come their daugh­ter Piper, they decided to go into the great out­doors to give birth in a makeshift tent, with no med­ical professionals.

I’m excited to have my baby out­side in Alaska,” Audrey said. “We’re sur­rounded by the lake, the trees, and the clouds, and the moun­tains. It’s absolutely breath­tak­ing. We are about a hun­dred miles from the near­est road. No power lines run to the prop­erty, no phone lines, we don’t have a sewer sys­tem. On this side of the lake, it’s just us. There’s no neigh­bors. There’s no other fam­i­lies nearby. So we are very isolated.”

Prac­tic­ing OBGYN and ABC News con­trib­u­tor Dr. Jen­nifer Ash­ton said, while extreme, more women are tak­ing con­trol of their labor and delivery.

I think there’s no ques­tion we’re cer­tainly hear­ing a lot more about alter­na­tive births,” Ash­ton said. “I think in large mea­sure that comes because women are grow­ing more and more dis­sat­is­fied with what’s being offered by their doc­tor, by their board cer­ti­fied OB or even in some cases by a cer­ti­fied nurse mid­wife, and it’s push­ing them to seek out these more extreme birthing experiences.”

In sub­ur­ban New Jer­sey, Cheryl and Ter­rance Suy­dam decided to have all three of their chil­dren born at home.

With their third child, Cheryl planned to give birth in a tub set up in the family’s liv­ing room, with two mid­wives and her hus­band on hand. In the final stages of labor, she decided instead to move to the fam­ily sofa, which had been cov­ered in plas­tic. After 21 hours of labor, Cheryl deliv­ered a healthy baby girl.

Through­out Suydam’s deliv­ery, the couple’s two other kids, Livvy and Alex, who were ages 3 and 6 at the time, and even the fam­ily dog, freely walked in and out of the birthing room.

Out-of-hospital births are far from the norm. Only around 1 per­cent of births in the United States are done out­side of a hos­pi­tal, accord­ing to the most recent sta­tis­tics from the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention.

The fact of the mat­ter remains, that in obstet­rics, there can be life and death, last minute emer­gen­cies that are unex­pected, unan­tic­i­pated, and if they occur out­side of a safe hos­pi­tal or birthing cen­ter set­ting can be dis­as­trous for the mother or the baby,” Ash­ton said.

But more U.S. hos­pi­tals are see­ing the trend of moth­ers want­ing options and now offer a vari­ety of birthing expe­ri­ences, includ­ing Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Cen­ter in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jen­nifer Horn had her son Seth at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Cen­ter, and although it was her third time giv­ing birth, it was the first time she was able to watch her baby being born.

Horn had pre­vi­ously given birth to two chil­dren via C-section, but for her third child, she decided to try Vanderbilt’s “family-friendly” C-section option.

With a tra­di­tional C-section, the sur­gi­cal drape stays up for the entire surgery and the mother is cut off from the birthing process. After­wards, the baby is usu­ally whisked away to be cleaned up. But with the “family-friendly” option at Van­der­bilt, the baby is given to the mother imme­di­ately after birth, so she can cra­dle her new­born, skin-to-skin.

Stud­ies have shown that babies who have that con­tact with mom, that skin-to-skin in the first hour, have higher rates of breast­feed­ing, lon­gi­tu­di­nally, over time when you look at that three months, six months,” said anes­the­si­ol­o­gist Dr. Sarah Starr, who helped develop the pol­icy at Vanderbilt.

With this option, the sur­gi­cal drape still goes up on the mother’s mid­sec­tion dur­ing the surgery, but when it’s time for the baby to come out, the doc­tor opens a win­dow in the drape so that the mother can have the same view of her baby being born as a mom giv­ing birth vagi­nally would.

It’s just like vagi­nal birth. You don’t see any­thing down there, but you get to see the baby come out,” Horn said.

In the same hos­pi­tal, another mom-to-be named Glenna Kramer opted for a com­pletely dif­fer­ent type of deliv­ery for her first child. She wanted to have nat­ural child­birth, with­out an epidural or an obste­tri­cian present. Instead she had a mid­wife and a nurse help her through the delivery.

To ease the pain, Glenna used a tub of hot water, an option not avail­able to women attached to IVs, and she had nitrous oxide, more com­monly known as “laugh­ing gas,” to help take the edge off.

[The nitrous oxide] more or less served the pur­pose of calm­ing me down and help­ing me relax and help­ing me cope with the pain rather than tak­ing the pain away,” she said.

In the end, Glenna was snug­gling happy, healthy baby boy she had brought into the world by doing it her way.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Gender Identity is Biological, Study Says

ABC/Lou Rocco(BOSTON) — There is a grow­ing body of evi­dence that gen­der iden­tity is hard wired into the brain and not sim­ply a mat­ter of psy­chol­ogy, accord­ing to a new Boston Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine study.

Writ­ing in the jour­nal Endocrine Prac­tice, the researchers said that as many as one in 100 peo­ple could be liv­ing with some form of gen­der iden­tity dis­or­der — mean­ing they may iden­tify their gen­der dif­fer­ently than the one they were born with.

For exam­ple, actress Lav­erne Cox was born a man but iden­ti­fies as a woman.

This makes the case for doc­tors to use surgery and hor­mone treat­ment rather than psy­chother­apy alone to help their patients come to terms with their gen­der iden­tity, Dr. Joshua Safer, the lead researcher and a pro­fes­sor at BUSM, said.

The paper was a com­pre­hen­sive review of the sci­en­tific evi­dence that gen­der iden­tity is a bio­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non,” Safer explained. “As such it pro­vides one of the most con­vinc­ing argu­ments to date for all med­ical providers to gain the trans­gen­der med­i­cine skills nec­es­sary to pro­vide good care for these indi­vid­u­als,” he added.

Nearly 40 per­cent of med­ical stu­dents they sur­veyed said they were uncom­fort­able car­ing for trans­gen­dered patients, and 5 per­cent of med­ical stu­dents said that the treat­ment was not part of con­ven­tional med­i­cine. After teach­ing a course that raised the med­ical stu­dents’ aware­ness about trans­gen­der med­ical need, the stu­dents’ dis­com­fort dropped by 67 percent.

Safer and the other authors of the study said they hope to change the per­cep­tion of trans­gen­dered peo­ple within the health­care sys­tem so that they get bet­ter treat­ment. But because the study was small, it does have lim­i­ta­tions, the researchers said, and there should be addi­tional inves­ti­ga­tion to focus on the spe­cific bio­logic mech­a­nisms for gen­der identity.

The ABC News National health team would also like to raise aware­ness about gen­der iden­tity and what it means to be trans­gen­dered. We’re hold­ing a tweet chat on the topic Tues­day at 1 p.m. ET. Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and med­ical cor­re­spon­dent, will mod­er­ate. We’ll be joined by experts, patients and loved ones to talk about the chal­lenges of being trans­gen­dered and what that means for over­all health and wellbeing.

Join­ing the chat is easy. Click here to learn more.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


High Numbers of Teens Are Victims of Dating Violence — A new sur­vey by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion finds that just over 20 per­cent of all teenage girls and one in 10 teen boys have expe­ri­enced at least one instance of vio­lence while dat­ing over the past 12 months.

Although the CDC has been tak­ing this sur­vey since 1999, the cri­te­ria has been revamped to list far more seri­ous forms of teen dat­ing vio­lence (TDV).

Polling 9,000 teens who’ve dated over the past year, the CDC says that 20.9 per­cent of teenage girls reported TDV, with 6.6 per­cent say­ing it was phys­i­cal, eight per­cent claim­ing the vio­lence was sex­ual and 6.4 per­cent acknowl­edg­ing it was both phys­i­cal and sexual.

Mean­while, 10.4 per­cent of teen boys reported TDV, with the num­bers about half of those for girls when it came to phys­i­cal, sex­ual or both phys­i­cal and sex­ual violence.

Nonethe­less, the CDC researchers say “pre­ven­tion efforts may be more effec­tive if they include con­tent for both sexes.”

Cer­tain at-risk behav­iors asso­ci­ated with TDV include smok­ing, drink­ing, using drugs, depres­sion, eat­ing dis­or­ders and thoughts of suicide.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Drinking Hot Coffee Is Cool

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — No one ever saw the Fonz with a cup of cof­fee in his hand but per­haps the King of Cool was miss­ing out on something.

At least that’s what a lot of New Zealan­ders think when 1,500 were asked by the sur­vey com­pany Canstar for their atti­tudes about drink­ing coffee.

Twenty per­cent of the respon­dents believe that sip­ping cof­fee makes them appear more sophisticated.

What’s more, a third of mil­len­ni­als, those 18-to-34, say they look cooler when hold­ing a cup of coffee.

There also appears to be a cer­tain snob­bery among a small group of cof­fee drinkers as 12 per­cent will actu­ally judge a per­son by the brew they consume.

Over­all, 52 per­cent admit that they’ll go out of their way for a good cup of joe and yeah, there are Star­bucks in New Zealand.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Report: Elderly Dentist Drugged, Drooled, Pulled Wrong Teeth

iStock/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) — While drool­ing is some­times expected at the dentist’s office, it’s usu­ally not the den­tist doing so — though that’s just what author­i­ties say was going on with 75-year-old Dr. Gary Dean Burnidge, who is accused of repeat­edly oper­at­ing on patients while under the influ­ence of drugs.

Tulsa World reports Burnidge sur­ren­dered his license in Jan­u­ary and sub­se­quently sold his prac­tice. He is accused of pulling the wrong teeth, oper­at­ing on the wrong side of patients’ mouths, and instruct­ing his staff to inject him with med­ica­tions that at times left him slur­ring and drool­ing while on the job.

The den­tist is also alleged to have over-anesthetized patients, and improp­erly stored con­trolled drugs around the office.  

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Certain British Workers Have More than Sex Education

iStock/Thinkstock(LEEDS, Eng­land) — Turns out that many of Britain’s street­walk­ers have more than just street smarts.

Research by Leeds Uni­ver­sity reveals that 38 per­cent of peo­ple in the sex trade have at least an under­grad­u­ate degree and among that group, 17 per­cent have fin­ished a level of post-grad study.

Leeds researchers qual­i­fied their find­ings by acknowl­edg­ing that none of the 240 sex work­ers they polled, which included 28 men and 12 trans­gen­der peo­ple, were forced into their cur­rent profession.

Mean­while, most work­ing in the sex trade have done other things for money. Over seven in 10 say they worked at health­care, edu­ca­tion or char­ity jobs while a third admit­ted work­ing in retail.

Yet, while the money is good, the risks are also great. Almost half of those sur­veyed claim to have been vic­tims of vio­lent crimes such as rape and rob­bery and 36 per­cent say they received threats via emails, calls or texts.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Pain Causing Sleep Problems for Many Americans

OcusFocus/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A sur­vey con­ducted by the National Sleep Foun­da­tion found that pain may be the prob­lem keep­ing many Amer­i­cans from get­ting suf­fi­cient sleep.

Respon­dents said that hav­ing pain was asso­ci­ated with feel­ing unhealthy and more stressed, and with prob­lems sleep­ing. Included in the pain-related sleep issues was lower-quality sleep, as the actual dif­fer­ence in dura­tion between those with chronic pain and those with­out was only about 20 to 30 min­utes per night.

Even envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, such as tem­per­a­ture, light and noise, were more prob­lem­atic for those respon­dents with pain.

Peo­ple with chronic pain, the sur­vey showed, were more wor­ried about their sleep, say­ing that it was impact­ing their daily life.

The study found that 21 per­cent of Amer­i­cans suf­fer chronic pain, and 36 per­cent said they had suf­fered acute pain within the last week.

Sixty-five per­cent of those with­out pain reported good to very good sleep qual­ity, com­pared to just 45 per­cent with acute pain and 37 per­cent with chronic pain. 

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Study: American Minors Can Easily Purchase E-Cigarettes on Internet

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study shows that Amer­i­can minors may find it dan­ger­ously easy to pur­chase e-cigarettes online, despite reg­u­la­tions pre­vent­ing those under the age of 18 from pur­chas­ing such products.

Accord­ing to the study, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion Pedi­atrics, researchers in North Car­olina had 10 minors between the ages of 14 and 17 take part, attempt­ing to pur­chase elec­tronic cig­a­rettes online. Those 10 par­tic­i­pants made 98 attempts to buy e-cigarettes and were rejected for being under­age just five times.

In total, 75 pur­chases were suc­cess­ful. None of the 98 ven­dors com­plied with North Carolina’s e-cigarette age-verification law.

The researchers called for fed­eral laws to “require and enforce rig­or­ous age ver­i­fi­ca­tion for all e-cigarette sales.”

The study also noted that all deliv­ered pack­ages came from ship­ping com­pa­nies that, accord­ing to either com­pany pol­icy or fed­eral reg­u­la­tion, do not ship cig­a­rettes to consumers.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.