Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Business of Being Born

I think people should see this movie, mostly because it is bold and eye-opening. But also because it tells the truth.
When I told people about our decision to home birth, some of them would respond very negatively. I don't mean in an unkind way, but in a very pessimistic way. They would bring up the safety factors and tell me scary stories of so-and-so's birth, and how if she hadn't been in a hospital, the baby and mother would have died. I think it's highly insensitive for any woman to tell birth horror stories to someone exploring their options. "It's safter to be in a hospital because you could bleed to death" or "It's better if you're in a controlled environment in case the baby is under distress and you need a c-section."

I'm not saying there aren't mother and infant deaths during birth, or even problems,  but I am saying tons of them can be prevented.

The thing is, not every pregnancy is meant to be at home. There are a whole list of conditions that prevent women from choosing a home birth. But if none of those are present, there's no reason to treat every pregnancy like it's high-risk. And that's what seems to happen a lot of times in hospitals. I've heard many stories where procedures are done unnecessarily when everything is going fine.

For example, I know a great lady who was in labor with her first baby for 1.5 hours. Yes, seriously! She was only in the hospital 25 minutes before the baby was born. There was no time to do anything but push.  Well, at least that's what she thought. After the birth, she found out that the nurse had given her pitocin through the IV.

Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin, the hormone that causes uterine contractions. Pitocin is used to do one of two things: 1) start labor and/or 2) speed up labor.

Now, does it sound like this woman needed pitocin? Absolutely not! Nobody knows why she was given it. But it was...without her consent or even her knowledge.

I'm not saying every birth in a hospital has something horrible happening with it. But I think a lot of hospital staff need to learn that unless there is a problem during the birth process, don't treat it like one. 

That's why having a home birth, or at least a midwife, can make all the difference. And yes, things can go wrong during birth. That's not to be denied. But my belief is that, when something does go wrong, then take action. Birth is a natural process of life, not a medical procedure. Treating it with the expectation that something horrible is about to happen is silly. Every time we get into our car, something could go wrong. Someone could get into an accident. But does that mean we should only ever drive to the hospital? Or only drive when an ambulance is right there with us? No, it means we learn about driving, we drive defensively, we wear our seat belts, we don't talk on our cell phones or drive under any influences. We concentrate on what we're doing.

That's how I feel about birth. With great care, birth doesn't have to be this looming, dooming experience. It can be beautiful. :)


Natalie said...

Great points!! I have a hard time facing labor as it is, especially with my health conditions (which are not threatening to me or baby, but just cause a lot more pain and lengthier labors for me)... a hospital setting would increase those fears a hundredfold. Having people tell me what my body "should" be doing or how fast a baby "should" come out, forcing things on me I don't want, etc. would only be detrimental to me and baby. Obviously there are GREAT reasons for planning a hospital birth, when the situation is high-risk, etc., and I would do that if it absolutely came down to my child's safety.
But truly, from my children's perspective, being birthed at home was so much more peaceful for them... no bright lights, no weird smells, no bells and whistles... waterbirth for the last two, etc... and Mommy's arms and Mommy's eyes were the first things they felt and saw. I can't think of a better way to come into the world. :)

Third Eye Photography Idaho said...

Amen cousins! I had a very non-invasive hospital birth. I had a child that decided she wanted to be transverse until I was 6 hours into labor. Then, she turned down. I had a feeling she would turn herself around, but to ease our anxiety a bit, we checked into St. Alphonsus. I had a female nursing staff that was fabulous! All went very smoothly :) They also agreed not to suction and poke at Malina for a while after delivery. They just let the 2 of us take her in.