Monday, October 22, 2012

If this job matters so much, why doesn't anybody care?!

A few years ago, I was doing an interview with a local magazine and at the end of the interview, she said to me, "Wow, your job really matters."  I patted myself on the back.

A few weeks ago, David and I were flying to NYC and got to talking with with a guy on the plane.  He worked for AT&T and we had a great conversation with him about a variety of topics.  After a while he asked what we both do for a living.  I gave him my card and he said, "Oh wow, you have a job that actually matters!"  

So, if people think that it "matters," then why don't people treat birth like it matters?  This is something I think about a lot.  A couple of years ago we were doing a production of "Birth" by Karen Brody.  Many of you remember it as our BOLD Fort Worth event.  We got a spot on Good Morning Texas, not because of what we were doing to bring awareness about birth and birth options, but because it was Infant Mortality Awareness month and Dallas and Tarrant County rates are some of the highest in the nation (7.1/1000 births).   But no one wanted to talk about the possible correlation birth had to these dying babies.  

Why are we so comfortable with the way things are?  Why are we OK with non-medically-indicated inductions?  Why are we OK with more than 1/3 babies being born via cesarean section?  Why are we OK with moms and babies being separated at birth?  Why is formula still pushed on moms in the hospitals and pediatricians offices?

If my job MATTERS, why do these problems still exist?!  If it MATTERS, why do we not support moms in breastfeeding wherever and whenever she needs to nurse her baby?  If my job MATTERS, why do moms have to fight to get access to care providers trained in normal birth?  

Do people really believe that BIRTH MATTERS?  If this is true, they should act like it.  We care about how our parents leave this earth - hopefully treated with respect and dignity.  I believe that babies deserve this same respect.  They deserve a peaceful entrance and welcome without separation from their parents.  

Birth matters for the baby.  Birth also matters for the mom.  I'm not sure that many women believe that.  Perhaps that is the bottom line.  Do women think birth matters?  I'll be the first to admit that with my first baby, I didn't think it mattered at all.  I was only focused on the end result - a healthy baby.  I didn't realize that birth impacted me or my baby.  After 3 unmedicated births, I know.  I know that birth matters.  I found my voice. My confidence.  My power. 
BNN Board of Directors
I'm just coming off a weekend with the Board of Directors for BirthNetwork National for our annual Strategic Planning meeting.  Wow!  Let me assure you, there are people working hard across the county to make change happen, to make women aware of their options.  To create options where options do not currently exist.  There is a lot going on.  But more people are needed to make these things a reality.  Check to see if your area has a chapter and how you can get involved.  If there is not a chapter, start one.  Seriously.  There is support and we are coming out with better, clearer training to support Chapter Leaders in leading their community in the promotion of Mother-Friendly maternity care.
What is the "birth climate" in your area?  Does birth MATTER where you live? 


Martha A. said...

I think it depends in my area. To the more natural enthusiasts, it matters, but they feel there are reasons for the inductions, the c-sections and they are told they should be thankful and not look for other options. Money is a the biggest stumbling block. Midwives are not covered by Medicaid, neither are doulas. When they take a childbirth education class, they are being told (locally) how an epidural works, not the pros and cons of the epidural and giving birth naturally. Nurses that are trying to promote a more natural birth, are getting in trouble for not controlling their patients pain. More women are using breast milk, but not many are breastfeeding and they are not seeing the difference. I meet more women that pump at the beginning and are giving up on breastfeeding because of that. But, there is a local birth center that offers different education classes, free prenatal and women's health care...drawing women in. There is an active breastfeeding support group.

Samantha said...

It is so true about what Martha said. I've been working as a RN for about 7 years now, and it's been long enough to see how the entire healthcare system treats birth; as a problem. If anyone at any time is in pain...people think the hospital is the place to be and someone there needs to fix it. Of course, birth is notoriously 'painful', and if there is an option to make the pain go away, the doctors and nurses feel they are doing their jobs when they can treat that. It's something that's tangible (at least for the patient), however subjective. So if the hospital *doesn't* treat the pain, the patient has a 'bad' experience and associates this with the! NO hospital will go for THAT. It really is SO so so sad.

Speaking about location...I live here in Salt Lake City (for about a year), and it is I think undoubtedly the epidural CAPITAL of the US. Everyone here talks about getting their epidural before they even feel anything. If you ask them if they are going natural, you either get an immediate "NOPE, epidural!", or an absolute CRAZY look. I have to bite my tongue frequently. I've also lived in Portland, OR, which is MUCH more granola and open to differing birth ideas. And then I've lived in Las Vegas, which may be the C-Section capital of the US. It's sad how many people just don't even consider a vaginal birth and hop right on the C-Section train there. I've also been in upstate NY, and they like to preserve their "I'm tough" title and there are many natural deliveries there, but still a lot of medicated ones (although lower than anywhere that I've lived, that I've noticed). There really are local cultures that embrace a certain birthing style, and I totally feel like an outsider here in epidural city!