Monday, January 21, 2008

Some Thoughts on Pregnancy and Birth

The following is a post I found from my good friend Liz. She is a catholic mother of 4 and a strong advocate for natural home birth, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and homeschooling. I have always planned on raising my children in the same way and when I read her post I knew it needed to be shared. Hopefully after those who read this will be careful not to waist the perfect opportunity for penance that God intended through natural birth.

As a pregnant woman, I find I have little in common with certain other pregnant women. When I was pregnant with our oldest it was the fact that most of the other first time moms were a good ten years older than me. They were over thirty, had "lived" life and felt they were ready for parenthood.

I have always felt that the morons of the world are the ones who think they're ready. Guess what, you're never ready.

When I was prego with number two son, it was the other moms who were on their second child who would ask if I was going to have any more after that because God knows, that was it for them.

Now I find I'm just impatient with the pregnant women choose to be ignorant. The ones who I run into all the time who don't read anything have no idea what's going on with their bodies or their babies. It's enough to make me scream. I'm talking about usually college educated women who have careers. They're smart, they just choose to be ignorant when it comes to bringing their child into the world. And it's usually the ones who won't eat any kind of fish or avoid having even half a glass of wine during their whole pregnancy. They're very careful not to put anything into their bodies that could hurt the baby but when it comes time for the baby to come out they want to be pumped full of drugs and "delivered".

I'm not even saying you shouldn't ever have pain medication but don't you want to know what your options are? Don't you want to know what your body does during labor and delivery? What you can expect to happen, or what you have the right to refuse be done to you.

The attitude of being afraid to question a Doctor's decision regarding your care because you are afraid of offending him or because you think he's doing you some big favor by delivering your child is just silly. He's offering you a service, he's being compensated for that service. Yes you have a say in what happens, if you don't tell him/her what you prefer, then they'll do what is easiest for them. Why not, I would too. If you don't care how the job gets done, then I'll do what is easiest and most convenient for me.

You might not believe me that Doctors do what is most convenient for them or make a lot of decisions from a risk management position. You might say this is the United States, we have the technology we are the greatest country in the world. The safest place you could be to have a baby is in an American hospital with an American Doctor.

I would then tell you that you were crazy. If you did the slightest bit of homework you'd find that the great U S of A is number 34 on the infant mortality rate list. Yes, I'll say it again number 34. That means that there are 33 countries safer to have a baby in than America. Ok, there are some pretty tiny countries ahead of us but even if you knock off 5 or 10 countries from the list we would still be around number 24.

If you don't like what I've said so far, then you are going to hate it when I tell you that many of the countries that have a lower infant death mortality rate have a much higher instance of births attended by midwives. It makes sense though. If you ask anyone who has experienced both, a hospital birth attended by a physician or a birth attended by a midwife, you will find they will tell you the difference in care is remarkable.

I'll tell you a few of the reasons why. When you are in a hospital setting, you are surrounded by technology and they have all the equipment necessary for any situation that may arise, but they also set themselves up to need this technology by intervening in what is a natural process. For reasons like Doctor convenience and the need for them to speed things up so you'll stay on their schedule, they do all kinds of interventive procedures which necessitate the need for technology so they can know when their interventions are not working or are putting the mother and baby at risk.

During the normal hospital delivery, you don't see your doctor very often. He/She pops in for a minute or two during labor and then leaves you in the care of the nurses, who rely on the machines they have you (so conveniently for them) hooked up to to tell them when things are going south. So, yes you do need all that technology in that setting because by the time they catch something, the need to fix the problem is immediate. Contrast that to a natural birth with a midwife who is with you the whole time assessing the situation and is much more able to catch potential problems earlier on and address them or asses the need for medical intervention. It's just a completely different attitude about the birthing process.

The midwife approach views birth as a natural process which they assist and help with in case of problems. The obstetrical approach is more of a cure you of the sickness of pregnancy. That's why you go to a hospital right? Your sick and they make you better.

You wonder why it would be this way, why won't the Doctors take a different approach ? I'll tell you why, because no one requires it of them. Because they have tons of patients who take more time picking the right car seat to coordinate with their diaper bag than they do picking or questioning their Doctor.

I'll leave you with this:

"In the U.S. the national infant mortality rate was 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live births [in 1991]. The worst state was Delaware at 11.8, with the District of Columbia even worse at 21.0. The best state was Vermont, with only 5.8. Vermont also has one of the highest rates of home birth in the country as well as a larger portion of midwife-attended births than most states. . .

"The international standing of the U.S. [in terms of infant mortality rates] did not really begin to fall until the mid-1950s. This correlates perfectly with the founding of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) in 1951. ACOG is a trade union representing the financial and professional interests of obstetricians who has sought to secure a monopoly in pregnancy and childbirth services. Prior to ACOG, the U.S. always ranked in 10th place or better. Since the mid-1950s the U.S. has consistently ranked below 12th place and hasn't been above 16th place since 1975. The relative standing of the U.S. continues to decline even to the present."

("International Infant Mortality Rates--U.S. in 22nd Place," David Stewart, NAPSAC News, Fall-Winter, 1993, pages 36, 38.)

Since Liz wrote this in 2003 the United States has dropped 3 places to 37 in infant mortality rate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've had 10 births x 3 no pain-relief, hospital births x 1 gas & air, hospital birth x 2 epidural, hospital birth x 1 emergency caesarian x1 , hospital birth planned section x 1, home delivery x 1...all healthy children...4 breast fed 6 bottle fed...all healthy...