Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Anti Science Hippie Moms...."

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today asking for positive thoughts of comfort for her 17 yr old sister who was having a baby in a hospital with no doula or support people around her. She was concerned because of her own experience as a young woman birthing in the hospital with little choices offered and no one to help empower her. Her's was similar to mine, forced episiotomy, student OB's, a lot of interventions that were never quite explained and a lot of pain and suffering afterwards. A commenter on her post suggested that " I know the anti-science anti-doctor meme in the hippy community has some merit - however some docs are the reason baby and mom survived !" This is the last kind of comment a mother of 3, who has had 3 different births in 3 different settings and knows from experience what happens in a large portion of mother's experiences needs to hear from a "friend."

Please don't assume that people who support natural birth and dont advocate for healthy, low risk women to birth in hospitals don't do their homework, there is plenty of science that supports it. But yes, we are blessed when there are the couple of doctors who really do provide good support. But really, how long is the doctor there for? There are hours and hours for most first time moms with no support at hospitals and scientific studies show that when interrupted in labor by strangers, the physiological conditions that support a healthy biologically correct birth get disturbed and that does cause the complications that often require the help of the doctor to "save them" as she put it.

This article by Alice Dregger, so eloquently points out the misunderstanding fueled by the unethical treatment of women by doctors in the birthing business. 

Credit for pic and a great article can be found here.

" in the U.S., "obstetricians are the experts and the experts have come to see birth as dangerous and frightening." De Vries suggests that the organization of maternity care in this country -- "the limited choices that American women have for bringing their baby into the world, what women are not told about dangers of intervening in birth, and the misuse of science to support the new technologies of birth" -- actually constitutes an ethical problem, although we typically do not recognize it as one."

There are many people who also are under the misconception that midwives are not educated or do not have scientific studies to back up the "witchcraft" that they support. Yet time and time again, studies point to less intervention, less disruption, less meddling and better outcomes for both mothers and babies, long term.  The use of inductions , routine fetal monitoring, epidurals, and the inability to eat or move around freely has disrupted the normal processes of birth, increasing risks to the point that the Royal College of Obstetrics has made claim that there are too many babies born in hospitals.  

 Hospitals around the country are at the beginning phases of implementing a new paradigm into the birth culture of their institutions.  This is a wonderful starting point to shift the commonly held belief that birth is inherently risky and we NEED interventions to be safe. There are 30 other countries that have a better maternal mortality rate than the USA. Obviously, we can improve this. 

When a friend expresses her concern for a loved one, obviously, insulting them with stereotypes is not the nicest thing to do, but even more than that, carrying around this attitude and spreading it is dangerous. When it is already so hard to make decisions and swim through the information that you have to search for because it is not readily offered by your paid professionals in so many cases, the perception of your peers can influence the decisions that are made. If you are going to give advice to someone, please make sure it is accurate, you could be doing more harm than good. And if you made some of the decisions that have been proven to be not as safe as we think, and nothing bad happened to you, consider yourself lucky. This is the exception, not the rule, and it is very invalidating to be talked to like you don't have a reason to be concerned, when you are following your instincts and doing your homework. Being concerned when you have this knowledge is healthy. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Safe Motherhood Quilt Project

AHHHHHHH..... the sigh of relief as I sit here after completing my finals for Winter term and welcome the next 2 weeks of relaxation. Wait. Oh ya, no relaxation for me! I have a browser with 11 tabs open, most of which are midwifery related articles waiting to be read and filed, a few more are autism related articles waiting to be read and discussed with the old man about possible solutions to help with our 9 year old and I have a pile of work upstairs waiting to be organized so I can get to midwifery studies in a few days. 

The life of a midwifery student is exciting and exhausting but oh so rewarding. Especially when you open your computer to see one of the biggest inspirations to your calling being interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.  Ina May Gaskin is a pioneer for American Midwives. She has made leaps and bounds in bringing awareness, advocacy and education to mothers for over 30 years. She makes so many articulate points in this interview and is so inspiring. 

One of the things she discusses in this interview is her Safe Motherhood Quilt Project described as, "The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates, as well as to the gross underreporting of maternal deaths in the United States, and to honor those women who have died of pregnancy-related causes since 1982." There is a list of facts as well as more info on how to get involved and spread the word on the website. Please visit it and learn about how we can prevent maternal mortality and improve the outcomes for many women and families in our country.

Some stats that are important to remember when thinking about maternal mortality rates are :

  • At least 30 other countries have lower maternal death rates than the U.S.
  • There has been no reduction in the maternal death rate in the U.S. since 1982.
  • The CDC acknowledges that we have a massive problem of underreporting of maternal deaths in the U.S. and that our reported rate may be only 1/3 to 1/2 of the actual total number.
  • Maternal death rates are four times as high in the African-American community as in the Caucasian community.
  • There is no federal requirement that the states carry out a confidential review of all maternal deaths in order to be sure that all are counted, to analyze the principle causes of preventable deaths and to make policy recommendations to prevent such deaths in the future. In most countries with lower maternal death rates than ours, maternal deaths are systematically reviewed and there are lower levels of underreporting of such deaths than the CDC says we have in the U.S.
Please visit http://www.rememberthemothers.org/ for more info!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What are the Conditions for a Physiological Birth?

This is knowledge from the beginning of time that we have had disrupt and prove to be sure that nature had it right... Time and time again, I here professionals who have had more experience than you can imagine, quote scientific studies that tell us that Mother Nature already knew what we needed to survive and only when mankind turned to "man" did we forget the old ways or disrupt them enough that we have to prove it over and over again in as many ways as we can that women know how to birth if left to their own accord.

Antique midwifery texts dating back to the 1600's written by European physicians, male physicians, knew already what midwives are trying to bring back to the women of our communities today.  They describe in great detail the passion of labor, the needs of a woman while she is birthing, the effects of disruption to the mother, the psychedelic state of mind that she enters, the Ecstasy right after labor of an uninterrupted birth and the very little help that one must give other than making sure the mother is well nourished and hydrated and has emotional support if she chooses.

Let's relearn what is already written in our genes, what we were born with, unlearning the fear and accept Birth.