Thursday, June 19, 2008

What I don't like about childbirth

Well, like most issues if it can become political, it will. This has always saddened me especially when it comes to childbirth. To catch you up to speed, earlier this year Ricki Lake produced a documentary, The Business of Being Born (BOBB), about the disturbing trends of the birthing industry here in the US. Oh and yes, it is an industry- billions of dollars we're talking here. While the film in itself isn't that controversial it has stirred up quite a response in the medical community. In response, these are Ricki Lake's comments:

DOCS TO WOMEN: PAY NO ATTENTION TO RICKI LAKE'S HOME BIRTH Ladies, the physicians of America have issued their decree: they don't want you having your babies at home with midwives.We can't imagine why not. Study upon study have shown that planning a home birth with a trained midwife is a great choice if you want to avoid unnecessary medical intervention. Midwives are experts in supporting the physiological birth process: monitoring you and your baby during labor, helping you into positions that help labor progress, protecting your pelvic parts from damage while you push, and "catching" the baby from the position that's most effective and comfortable for you-hands and knees, squatting, even standing-not the position most comfortable for her. When healthy women are supported this way, 95% give birth vaginally, with hardly any intervention. And yet, the American Medical Association doesn't see the point.

Yesterday it adopted a policy written by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists against "home deliveries" and in support of legislation "that helps ensure safe deliveries and healthy babies by acknowledging that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital" or accredited birth center."There ought to be a law!" cry the doctors. The trouble is, they have no evidence to back up their safety claims. In fact, the largest and most rigorous study of home birth internationally to date found that among 5,000 healthy, "low-risk" women, babies were born just as safely at home under a midwife's care as in the hospital. And not only that, the study, like many before it, found that the women actually fared better at home, with far fewer interventions like labor induction, cesarean section, and episiotomy (taking scissors to the vagina, a practice that according to the research should be obsolete but is still performed on one-third of women who give birth vaginally). Which is why the American Public Health Association supports midwife-attended home birth. The British OB/GYNs have read the research, too, and have this to say: "There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications... it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families. There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman's likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe"The other trouble with the American MDs is that they seem to have lost all respect for women's civil rights, indeed for the U.S. Constitution - the right to privacy, to bodily integrity, and the right of every adult to determine her own health care. The "father knows best" legislation they are promoting could indeed be used to criminally prosecute women who choose home birth, say, by equating it with child abuse.

Research evidence be damned, the doctors want to mandate you to go to the hospital. They don't want you to have a choice.We think they're spooked. The cesarean rate is rising, celebrities are publicizing their home births (the initial wording of the AMA resolution actually took aim at Ricki for publicizing her home birth on the Today Show!), people are reading Pushed and watching The Business of Being Born, and there's a nationwide legislative "push" to license certified professional midwives in all states (The AMA is against that, too, by the way). The docs are on the defensive.After all, birth is big business-it's in fact the most common reason for a woman to be admitted to the hospital. And if more women start giving birth outside of it, who will get paid? Not doctors and not hospitals. "The AMA supports a woman's right to make an informed decision regarding her delivery and to choose her health care provider," the group said in a statement. But if it really supported women's birth choices it wouldn't adopt a policy condemning home birth and midwives. Because if U.S. women are to have real birth choices, everybody needs to be working together to provide them, not engaging in turf wars at their expense.By Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block for The Huffington Post

You can go to The Business of Being Born for more info on the documentary, which is now out on DVD.

What I do not like about all of this hullabaloo is that in all of this back-and-forth we lose sight of the most amazing thing about birth- God's ability to create life. On one hand, I'm always unnerved at New Age philosophy that women are "goddesses" and that we are "empowered" through birth-which is often the angle you hear on the natural childbirth front. On the other hand, I do not believe trusting in a money-driven system for birth - which often promotes doctors to a "god-like" status as well. Especially when most doctors have never been witness to natural birth in its entirety.

Where does this leave me? I know it was an issue that I definitely walked through with God. Having healthy pregnancies led me to question the interventions and the one-size-fits-all birth at the local hospital where I was living. One of the most precious things that God told me at that time was that he had not only designed my body to carry and grow a child, but that He had been smart enough to devise a way for that precious creation to enter the world as well.

I look back on all three births in amazement. Never once did I suffer, never once was I scared, never once was I fed through a system, never once was anyone able to take credit but my Heavenly Father. I could have no greater wish for any mother out there...

Lord, You are the creator and giver of life. Let us seek you in EVERYTHING and may nothing be glorified but You.


Ali said...

Whew!!! I love the part about God being wise enough to think of a good way to get the baby out!!! I'm so glad that you have opened my eyes to the reality of child birth and what it really should and should not be...rock on!!! (does this mean you are going to do it again???)

Danielle said...

Yeah, Kel I'm curious also-are you going to do it again????!!

Kelli said...

Ummmmm, jury's out on that one... ;)

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