Thursday, September 11, 2008

A long transition

I have this friend, Alisa, who always knew that she wanted to give birth without medication. (Crazy, huh? -- At least this is what I was thinking.) She took Bradley classes in her last trimester and was reading "The Birth Book" by Dr. Sears. I was at her house one day doing laundry and she left to go to work. I was left there by myself to finish up and nurse my baby. I was already a Dr. Sears fan, so I picked up the book and started reading.

If you have not read the book, it starts out by telling about the authors' eight births. This was so powerful to me. And emotional. The births with medication left Martha Sears feeling victimized, for lack of a better word. The unmedicated births were empowering! The way she described the differences between the two really struck a cord with me.

The next chapter is titled, "Birth -- Then and Now." I think of all the things that I read, this is what really impacted me. It details the history of childbirth in America. Don't you ever wonder how in the world we have gotten to this point? I live in North Texas where the c-section rate is an astounding 50%! Some DFW hospitals are at 60%. It is completely unacceptable. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to share my knowledge and experience -- except at baby showers!

I teach a class called "Consumerism in Childbirth" in which I go into detail about the history of childbirth and midwifery. How did the (male) OB even get involved in childbirth? Who are all these people in childbirth? What questions should you be asking of your doctor, midwife, hospital? How they answer is as important as what they say. Is homebirth (again, it's telling me that homebirth is not a word!) safe(r)? This is a great class to take at the beginning of pregnancy. But it is NEVER to late to change your provider. If you are jumping over red flags, pretending they aren't there, you have no one to blame but yourself if things don't go as you'd like or your wishes are not honored. As long as the baby is still inside you, you have a choice. I'll say it again -- you will only give birth to this baby one time. I get tired of hearing people say, "Well, on the next baby, we'll do things different" or "I'll definitely have a midwife with the next birth." Do it NOW!

So I read this chapter "Birth -- Then and Now" and was left with this feeling that as women, we have been sold a lot of garbage. And we bought it! Think of how childbirth is portrayed in the movies or on television. It is "funny" with the laboring woman screaming at her husband or demanding the drugs (and she's always flat on her back which is the worst, and most painful, position to be in). The other scenario that we see is the drama -- how dangerous childbirth is. But we watch it, don't we? We cry and feel sad. And scared. We fear childbirth because this is all we have ever seen. Very few people (doctors included) have ever witnessed a completely unmedicated, intervention-free birth. There's not much drama, let me tell you! Doctors need us to believe that we need them. I have to leave you with a quote by Brigham Young: "Would you want doctors? Yes, to set bones. We should want a good surgeon for that, or to cut off a limb. (!!) But do you want doctors? For not much of anything else, let me tell you, only the traditions of the people lead them to think so; and here is a growing evil in our midst. It will be so in a little time that not a woman in all Israel will dare to have a baby unless she can have a doctor by her. I will tell you what to do, you ladies, when you find you are going to have an increase, go off into some country where you cannot call for a doctor, and see if you can keep it. I guess you will have it, and I guess it will be all right, too." As a side note, before 1900 (when this would have been written), nearly all births took place in the home with a midwife. Less than 5% of American births were attended by a doctor when Brigham Young made this prophetic statement.

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