Why do Filipinos still believe in superstitions, despite being a largely Catholic country? In every aspect, in every field, in every occasion, there’s always superstitious beliefs. Even if people just came from worship or Sunday mass, they still go to a Chinese person for some feng shui advice. When I was young, the first one I heard was that those “palaspas” are for driving away evil spirit. Now that I am older, there are so many silly (I consider them silly) things. During new year, people resort to silly practices just to be “lucky” for the next year. They must have 12 different round fruits on the table on new year’s eve, they must put some paper bills/coins in their wallet so that they will have money all year round, they should be wearing polka dots, again to attract money and good luck. Is that Chinese in our blood, or are we just money-driven?
In medical field, even during giving birth, again superstitions abound. Many consider giving birth at a date with the number 8 LUCKY. It’s not a strange thing anymore when parents tell you they had a cesarean delivery scheduled on the 8th, 18th or 28th of the month, at exactly 8:00am. Some even go to the extreme of informing the obstetricians that the baby should come out at exactly 8:08 or 8:18 am. If not the number 8, others want to deliver during the 9th of September, 2009; 10th of October, 2010; 11th of November, 2011; and I will not be surprised to hear someone schedule their delivery date this coming 12th of December, 2012.
Cesarean delivery has it’s own risk. As far as the baby is concerned, when the mother delivers via this method, without prior labor, the baby has not been subjected to the “stress” the mother undergoes during labor. Because of this, there is no surge in epinephrine (otherwise known as adrenaline). Low levels of circulating epinephrine in the baby’s blood leads to a low oncotic pressure (important to absorb fluids from the lung alveoli into the bloodstream; remember, the baby’s lungs are filled with fluid, NOT air, inside the uterus). After delivery, because of low oncotic pressure, there is less/slow absorption rate of the fluids from the alveoli of the infants lungs into the bloodstream. The infant then breaths fast until the fluid in his lungs is completely resorbed (condition known as transient tachypnea of the newborn), usually in 6 hours, but may last until 72 hours in some patients.
Another lifelong implication of cesarean delivery to the baby is INCREASED RISK for baby to develop allergic disorder, even if both parents deny family history of it. Vagina of adult women, just like our skin, is normally populated by bacteria; the bacterial population differs from one body part to the other. During vaginal birth, the baby tends to aspirate and swallow some of those bacteria along the maternal vaginal tract. These bacteria populate the intestines of the baby leading to, but not limited to: (1) closure of the gaps between intestinal cells, thus inhibiting proteinaceous substances to permeate the intestinal wall and incite infection or allergic reaction, (2) stimulate the intestinal immune system to secrete secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) that acts as a first line defense against invading pathogenic/infectious bacteria/virus/fungi in the intestines, therefore protecting baby from infection – this is how our immune system act for the first time after birth.
Now, when the baby is delivered via cesarean section, this BENEFIT of vaginal delivery is abolished. Why? The mother’s abdomen is prepared with iodine, to prevent infection of the cesarean wound. Because of this, majority if not all of the bacterial flora of the mother’s abdomen has been wiped out/eliminated. As the head of the baby is delivered, there’s nothing to aspirate/swallow that will give the above benefits of vaginal birth. Now, even if baby is latched onto the mother’s chest during that skin-to-skin contact to allow baby aspirating the chest bacterial flora, the quality of bacterial flora on the mothers’ skin is different compared to that of the vaginal flora and may act differently thus as far as infant’s immune system stimulation is concerned.
Third, just a recently published study found out that cesarean delivery led to lower expression of a protein UCP2 at the neurons found at the hippocampal region. This protein fosters short-term and long-term memories. Among mice, knocking out the UCP2 gene or chemically inhibiting this protein interfered with differentiation of the neurons and circuits at the hippocampal region and impaired adult behavior related to hippocampal functions. (See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2185597/Babies-born-naturally-higher-IQs-delivered-caesarean-section.html?ITO=socialnet-twitter-mailonline).
A woman who had this strange belief of giving birth during a “lucky date” REQUESTED for a cesarean delivery on the 10th of October, 2010, consciously knowing that her baby is premature at 36 weeks. (Not my patient though, but I took over the case during the weekend when baby was already deteriorating). Alright, so the baby was born with a very nice birthdate of 10-10-10. Lucky, yey! NOT…
Normally babies who are 36 weeks, considered near-term, have good transition from intrauterine to extrauterine life. We USUALLY do not expect complications, breathing becomes normal in most cases. However, this particular baby developed complications, his breathing wasn’t normal as expected and eventually required mechanical ventilatory support. Still, baby deteriorated, developed persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, and expired within few days. So if babies who are 36 weeks normally have good transition, how come this baby did not do any good? Honestly I don’t know what went wrong too. Or maybe nature is telling us not to interfere, let nature take its toll.
Is there really a lucky number for a birth date? Do we really have to alter the expected date of delivery just to be born at a “lucky date?” Many of you reading this may just shrug your shoulders and go on… Just consider your child’s future, consider some of the disadvantage of cesarean section, especially if it is not indicated at your birth circumstances.