Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Are We Thinking?

One thing I can't apologize for, is that I'm biased. Severely. Nope, no open mind here! I'm also strongly opinionated, er, I mean, passionate about what I believe in. While I have attempted to temper that exuberance in many areas of my life, there is one place that I am unswerving...

....and that place is Childbirth.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe there is a "one size fits all" when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Just like every woman is unique, so are her birth needs. There are some true medical instances where a woman should birth in the hospital. The woman with a clotting disorder...or a previous C-section incision incompatible with future vaginal births...or who had her pelvis crushed by a bus, therefore creating true CPD, or cephalo-pelvic disproportion, meaning, "baby can't get out".

But what about the rest of the birthing population? Why are our hospitals full of the average woman? You've probably looked at her in a mirror before. She's healthy, no risk factors or outstanding medical conditions, and if she walked into a doctor's office, she would be sent away as normal, not needing any special attention.

Let that same Average Joanna get pregnant.

She suddenly needs a battery of tests...ultrasounds...bloodwork...more bloodwork to check out THAT bloodwork...ultrasounds...invasive procedures...fingers checking her cervix even before she's full-term...ultrasounds...difficult blood-sugar tests...and have I mentioned ultrasounds? When she gets closer to her due date, she's told that her baby is "getting big" and that she should consider induction. She's told that her pelvis is inadequate, and that there is no way she could push out even an average-sized baby. She's told that she will definitely want an epidural because, "Why would you want to feel any pain if you didn't have to?" She's told that her water will be broken, that she will need all kinds of wires, monitors, beeping machines, and a prepped operating room, "just in case." It's assumed that her body is broken. Why?

I think the deeper question is, why do we as consumers allow it? Why did we give our power away? What are we thinking by our wholehearted acceptance of someone else's definition of normal? Why do women buy into the thought that we're not able to have a baby naturally, without assistance, tampering, "help", or intervention? Why are our c-section rates so high? Can 1 in 3 women truly not give birth without being sliced open? Why is the routine use of pitocin accepted without question? As Henci Goer, noted medical writer and researcher said, "If 40% of women need oxytocin to progress normally, then something is wrong with the definition of normal."

These questions carry over into every aspect of pregnancy and birth, from the first set of routine ultrasounds, to risky prenatal tests, to inductions, epidurals, and the whole cascade of interventions leading to an almost guaranteed c-section.

I recently sat in on a friend's childbirth education class. She discussed many things I had heard or studied before, but the thing that horrified me the most were the on-hand representations she had of routine interventions, the most notable of which was the Internal Fetal Monitor. Tears welled up in my eyes as I pricked my fingers with the end of that thick, sharp wire. Why, oh why, is it normal, acceptable, desired, or approved of, to screw such a device into our tiny baby's heads??

What are we thinking? Furthermore, why aren't we thinking? I implore you to ask questions. Find out for yourself if the standard offerings of the medical establishment are to your taste, liking, health, or best interest. If you cannot come to a place of peace with your chosen care provider, seek another. But, if you choose to walk in, put up your hands in an attitude of surrender, giving in to everything they want to do to you, then please, please, do it on purpose. Don't let surrender be your default because you didn't know you had any other options, or weren't willing to go against the seeming authority of your health care provider. You might choose the medical standard of care, but let it be just that, your choice.

Make Informed Decisions - yours and your baby's life and health depend on it.

1 comment:

  1. right on the very well said, and poses a great question, that I have asked myself in the past. What was I thinking? The reality is that with my 1st pregnancies, I wasn't at all. I simply trusted the system I believed would think best for me, rather than themselves. I was failed terribly and have since learned to THINK and make educated decisions. I have learned to TRUST what normal really is and experience for myself. I hope "we people" as I was once called by my former O.B. can help others realize and question standard care, and rise above the standards to experience the birth they were made to have.