Monday, January 29, 2007

But what if

It is still just sinking in, this enormous thing that has hit me. it has opened to doors to my understabnding where alot of folks are coming from, and, hopefully, it will open the doors to my ability to communicate my message more effectively. So here goes:

When people think about homebirth, as it applies to me, as it may apply to themselves, as it is in their minds, one thing comes up again and again, and it goes something like this: "Homebirth seems really cool, but I would worry about something going wrong". Let us begin to analyze all that is and isn't going on here when we really dissect this statement, and all that is implicit within it.
Firstly, we must accept that nothing is given. No birth is without some level of risk. No day nor hour nor minute of our lives is ever given to us as a guaranteed free-from-danger moment. And yet we live on, the grand majority of us will live successfully through to tomorrow. We do what we can when we live our lives, most of us using the best information we can gather and intuit, to live safely and well. For a family who has conscientiously planned to have homebirth, this applies to birth. What applies to life applies to birth.

Birth is not a medical event. It is a profound rite of passage, it is life-changing, yet it is as normal and ordinary as every other stage of human life. There is no pathology involved as a given. There is no emergency as a given. 90 percent of the people alive today were not born in a hospital. It is not inherently dangerous to become pregnant, to carry a child in your uterus, or to let it arrive and be born and live and prosper. But this idea is so foreign to many of us, raised up on a diet of Soap Opera ladies clutching their stomachs in elevators, People magazine covers proclaiming "they barely made it to the hospital in time!", and as we get older, friends and neighbors telling us thier own horror stories, their own accounts of babies who "couldnt fit through the pelvis", heartrates that "plummeted", cords around the necks, and the disturbingly frequent "failure to progress". Lets also include in here phraseology such as "overdue", babies who might be "too big", "too small", and mothers and their partners who, by the end of 9 months of prenatal SCARE, see their soon-to-be SURGEONS as saviors from the deadly condition that is human gestation. No wonder everyone thinks the whole business is fraught with peril, each baby who even makes it is, by these standards, a miracle to be thankful for, no matter what the circumstances surrounding the always traumatic and danger-filled labor and delivery. Sheesh.

But what about the big pink elephant in the room, the fact that 97% of these issues are directly caused by the very saviours themselves---the technocratic interferences routinely performed by the OB's and their staff, as they were taught in medical school, as they will teach their interns, as they will continue to do, until the projected c-section rate of 50% by 2020 will be here. Here is a list of what to expect when youre expecting --to have hospital birth, that is---

History shows us that the industrial revolution brought final sweeping changes to the female dominated field of birthing and midwifery, and in plainspeak, the men did not like one bit that they were not controlling, measuring, dissecting and ruling this field. With the advent of science and modern medicine, this field quickly came under the classification of something that needed to happen under the "care" of doctors, who, like today's Obstetricians, have little to no experience with a normal human spontaneous labor and delivery without interruption, intervention, and, the cavalcade of problems that arise because of these approaches, for both mother and baby.

Women used to die in childbirth from Puerperal Fever, which was caused in mass part by poor hygiene in the hospitals. The doctors did not wash their hands as they went from woman to woman, cadavers, sick people, woman to woman, sticking their filthy arms up inside a newly post-partum woman, with her cervix still open, with pathogens all over the hands, bedding, and in the air---without antibiotics, (and apparantly without soap!), this Childbed Fever was a major killer of new mothers well into the 20th century.

Women are still dying in childbirth, from the use of dangerous drugs like cytotec to augment/induce labor, and from infections surrounding cesarian sections, lack of monitering of vital signs, poor nutrition and hemmorage, all medical issues that have been nearly erradicated in countries who use the Midwifery Standard of Care.

As medicine becomes more meddlesome, more big-money and more and more interferences become standards of care, there will be a whole new generation of Obstetricians fresh out of medical school who HAVE NEVER SEEN A NORMAL BIRTH. Not one. it is not a requirement in the United States. These men and women, and their staff, are ALL coming at these pregnant familes with a entire INSTITUTION backing them and their policies.

Do the Obstetricians "want to help people?"
Well, lets examine that. They could claim that they want one thing, because this one thing is what ostensibly keeps them afloat, and that is: numbers. outcomes. tangible proofs of success. good result. good outcome. live mother, live baby. sounds decent, right? Maybe not very spiritual or romantic, but sounds ok, right? EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS A HIGHER MATERNAL AND INFANT MORTALITY RATE THAN 29 other deveolped nations. Hmmm

So now that we see that the hospitals are NOT doing nearly as well as the nations who have midwifery based care as the Standard, how about some statistics as far as outcomes for homebirth? Here is nice list to help you or anyone who has family and freinds to convince:

But, as usual, I digress: So back to the original, typical, understandable given the cultural climate comment, Homebirth seems really cool, but I would worry about something going wrong. what are people saying about me? Are they saying that homebirthing women and their familes are doing something that is risky, dangerous, putting having a groovy experience akin to Underwater Wedding Vows or skydiving above the safety of their babies and themselves? I know for a fact that this is exactly what many people think about homebirth. Many people, intelligent people, friends and relatives, this is exactly what they think homebirth is about. Some kind of crazy counter-culture thing to put on your checklist of radical events you participated in. Nothing could be further from the truth, nothing.

It pisses me off and worries me all at once. (To take the subjective sting out of the comment, I do maintain a very stable comprehension of where most people are coming from, culturally, emotionally, before I get insulted that they would ever think that me or my husband would do something dangerous just for rebellious kicks.) So I am examining this mind-set as it pertains to people's images of Birth as a whole, and in that context, it is pretty easy to understand why they think such a danger-filled emergency event filled with blips bleeps and technology, code red, ultrasound, needles, anesthetics, straps, knives, scalpels, sutures, drugs, catheters and more couldn't POSSIBLY be safe at your house! These people think the hospital is clean. They think doctors know best about birth. They think they will be in the best of hands. They think if something happens, they will be in the best place to deal with it. These people may be harkening back to their own hospital birth experiences, and cannot imagine, literally can not imagine how they would have survived without their surgeons' wise hands cutting htem pulling them injecting them removing and inserting and testing and measuring....never stopping to accept how angry they will be if they let themselves "go there" mentally and start asking what the hell did they do to me and why?

There are many many ways in which women and the people who love them can avoid a vast majority of the common associated risks of pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum and infant care---there are websites and books and none of it is expensive, difficult or anything you have to go to college for 10 years for.

The first time I spoke on the phone to our midwife who was there for the birth of our homeborn son, Casey, she told me her areas of focus for the pregnant mother were Nutrition and Emotion. I was so floored by how different that was from prenatal "care" I had received at the hands of the local OB/GYN clinic for my first two babies that I didn't even know what she meant at first, to tell the truth. Nutrition and emotion? That sure isn't what they cared about when I went to the OB's office! They cared about what I weighed and how quickly they could get me out of there before I started asking questions. I asked them about nutrition during my second pregnancy as a "test" to see what they would say about me avoiding pre-ecclamsia that I suffered from during my first pregnancy due to desperately poor nutrition---and they poo-poo'ed me and said something to the effect of "hey, shit happens, take yer prenatal vitamin"

Fortunately for me, I knew by then that a high protien diet is an exclusive factor in preventing pre-ecclampsia, having been lucky enought o be turned on to the work of Tom Brewer, and I went on to have 3 pregnancies without a trace of high blood pressure, protien in the urine or the massive swelling that I endured when I was carrying my first child and thought McDonalds, kraft macaroni, spaghettios, and kool-aid with the occasional prenatal pill from the local drug store was good enough.

So, homebirth is cool, but they worry something will go wrong? Oh, how I want to bite my toungue, and simultaneously tell them all that will go wrong if they go to the hospital doctors! Do they think midwives are not trained in whatever it is that they envision the hospital providing in the form of good practice? Do they think that me and all homebirthing families are idiots?

Midwives check tempertaure, pulse, maternal and fetal hearttones, fundal height, blood pressure, and urine. this is the first 2 minutes of your exam. Then next half hour or more (our visits with our midwife would last long into the evening, more often that not!) is spent discussing any and everything you want to! Birth plans, of course, but so much more. What are we going to do if we go past 41, 42, 43 weeks? What would be the instances to consider hospital transport? What are the supplies and equipment we are going to have ready for the birth? What are the plans postpartum for the infant and mother? What support networks have you established for housework, nutritional needs, what about the other children? Do you want to try a waterbirth? Who will be present at the birth and WHY. What have you been eating everyday. and so much more....can anyone of you for a second pretend that they do all this for you at the local gyno's office? Do you not get it that the reason they strap all that crap to you with velcro during your hospital labor is because they are too busy to be bothered to check your blood pressure or listen to your baby's heart themselves? Do you not know that post partum hemmorage is almost always caused by some hasty doctor pulling on your umbilical cord before it is ready to detatch, thus causing a massive intenal wound which can cause fatal amounts of blood loss in a very short time span? Do you not know that simply nursing your baby will facilitate each and every one of the events that are suppossed to occur immediately postpartum? Do you still think you need to be subjected to vaginal exams all throughout your labor? Do you think the lithotomy position is one that any woman would naturally assume when laboring in true peace and privacy?

Yes, homebirth is cool. Extremely cool. And worrying about something going wrong is the precise reason we chose it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this awesome post. I, myself, said, "I would be scared of going to a hospital in case something went wrong."

Far too many ways to be messed with there, in my opinion.

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