Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Sad State Of Affairs

Last week I saw a headline as I pulled up my email on the web. It said, "Today Show Watches Birth". Since I'm a homebirth junkie, I immediately assumed it would be a home birth, but much to my dismay it wasn't. "Oh well", I thought, "I'll watch a good hospital birth with the rest of the world." Next thing you know I'm watching a scheduled cesarean delivery and the Today Show commentator is giving the play by play.

The surgery was 'straight forward' and 'non eventful' and mom's uterus was cut open and then they pulled the baby out (is that what they call straight forward now a days??) Next, they gave the baby to a nurse who, momentarily, showed it to the mom and dad from across the room and then the camera went to the baby warmer and we watched what happened there.

Now, I've seen enough hospital deliveries to know what happens at the baby warmer, but this was different. There were two nurses who plopped the baby down onto a clean blanket, rubbed the baby's skin vigorously and then lifted the baby up abruptly and changed the blanket, then set him down again. As if this wasn't enough, they repeated this rubbing and lifting thing THREE times!! The infant was screaming it's lungs out and I couldn't believe the rough way that they handled the child. Dad walked over and admired his new kid and dropped a tear or two and the commentator remarked at how "special" the moment was.

Not exactly a special moment, actually. If you've ever witnessed a truly "special" birth you know that "special" after-birth moments are when mom is holding her baby against her chest and the baby is comforted and quiet. I realize this is a C-Section and so holding the baby is not in the cards, but atleast dad could've been holding his own child....or the child could've had human contact after such an abrupt way out of the womb!

Next, they pan over to the mom as she's laying on the table with her uterus out of her body as the doctors sew her up, and the commentator asks her how it all went and how she feels. The mom is speechless and she begins to cry, which then ends with the Today Show host remarking again at how "wonderful" and "special" the birth has been. As the video clip ends, they ask the main doctor how common cesareans are. She replies, "Between 25 and 30% of all births are delivered by cesarean today." Then she goes on to rattle off the 'necessary' reasons for these deliveries.

As the clip ended I sat and cried. What a sad state of affairs we are in if 1 out of every 3 babies is born this rough and sterile way! Coming from knowing what it's like to deliver babies in a humane, gentle way and then to watch this assault on women and babies makes me lose hope for our future and for ourselves as human beings. I completely believe in ceasarean deliveries for moms and babies who are truly at risk or in danger, but with all of the information about how to eat right during pregnancy amongst our high-tech medical world, we should be doing less surgical deliveries and more natural, uncomplicated births.

I believe our medical community is to blame for this epidemic. They keep women beholden to them through lack of education and little communication at the office visits. I hear from women daily who know nothing about their pregnancies, but yet, go to the doctor regularly for "checkups". I know they have questions because they call me. They ask me the questions they should be asking their practitioners! They exist in an uneducated, prenatal state of mind because the doctors don't take the time to teach them, nor do they practice preventive medicine. They own the market share of the medical industry, and yet, perform the worst on keeping women low risk and healthy.

Throughout my midwifery career, which has comprised the last 13 years of my life, I have seen the cesarean rate only increase yearly. Women today are no different than women three or four decades ago, so why the increase? The blame sits squarely upon the shoulders of the countless doctors who make money by doing surgical births. The more surgeries or procedures, the more money for themselves and the hospitals. It's a well known fact that hospitals lose money fiscally but make up for it in the maternity ward. It's a BIG business!

After watching this 'normal', everyday delivery I sat and shook my head. This is the very reason I became a midwife and I'm still only scratching the surface when I help 10-20 moms per year bring their babies into the world peacefully and lovingly. One person can only do so much to turn the tides and sometimes, like today, it feels like we're sinking.

Thanks for reading...Here's to a new year and better choices with how we deliver our babies. Please tell your sisters and friends that they have a choice and it lies with them to make the difference.


Emily said...

I tell my sisters and friends every chance I get. I'm sure they get tired of me... but I just hope they question a little when their doctors tell them how routine c-sections are, how normal and risk-free it is to induce labor, etc. I hope all first-time moms won't believe the women who tell them they can't do it without drugs & to get that epidural ASAP. (Not that I don't believe epidurals have their place, but I think too many women get them out of fear & that's not a good reason.) Anyway, thanks for writing Lori, I'm just a homebirth wannabe, but I am a natural birth junkie! :)

Wendyrful said...

Lori, this is such an awesome post. I agree with you, and I often feel like I'm sinking right along with the women forced to birth under the current system! Thank you for the work that you do!

Lori Wrankle, Traditional Midwife said...

Thank you to both Emily and Wendy for your thoughtful voices in the modern day maternity conversation. I think it's awful that more women don't get the facts and are bombarded by medical fears and mysteries during their pregnancies. This is why I keep telling my stories and thanks to you for reading them!

serena said...

I love your post. It is a real eye opener for many and like you, even though I agree that caesarian is necessary for some people, I believe that normal natural delivery is still the best method. I am planning to do midwifery in university and I am also very excited!

Thanks for your beautiful post :)

Lori Wrankle, Traditional Midwife said...

Thank you Serena! Tell everyone you know that there is more than meets the eye with ceasareans. Women need to be educated, not scared in to making major medical decisions.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog, thank you for writing. This post made me cry, a sure reason to follow your RSS.

I hope to join you as a fellow midwife one day, thank you for inspiring me forward!