Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why Natural Childbirth? Why a Midwife?

Why natural childbirth? Why a midwife? These are two questions that I have been asked a lot lately, so I just thought I would briefly address them here. Randy and I have been educating ourselves throughout this pregnancy and there is so much information out there that led to our decisions, it would be impossible to include all of it here. But I will do the best I can.

The more I read, the more I become convinced that OB/GYNs are not the right people to assist in childbirth for low risk women. I have read many scientific studies, articles, and books that clearly demonstrate this fact. Doctors are absolutely necessary for women who are considered high risk, meaning they have an illness/condition such as eclampsia or gestational diabetes, are having a breech baby or multiple babies, have placenta previa or any other abnormal placental issue, or are having a baby prematurely. These situations are not normal and should be considered medical emergencies. However, in low risk women, birth is a natural and safe process that is best "treated" by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program and regularly being seen by a professional (midwife) for checkups to pre screen for these possible high risk situations.

In low risk women, common medical procedures/interventions such as early induction of labor by pitocin, pain management drugs, episiotomies, electronic fetal monitoring, use of forceps/vacuum, and especially cesarian section, have been shown to CAUSE more problems than they fix. Interventions follow a natural cycle. Pitocin is given to induce labor (many times for no medical reason whatsoever). This causes very long and intense contractions. Pitocin contractions are much harder and the baby and much more painful for the mother than natural contractions. This leads to an epidural. Epidurals carry many risks, but it is almost guarunteed to slow down labor. Once labor is stalled, more pitocin is given to help contractions pick back up. This leads to even more intense contractions than before, which cause the baby to go into distress, resulting in an ceasarian section. All of this was simply due to the fact that interventions were used to begin with!

It is a sad fact that in the United States, where we have the most technology and medical innovation, we have the second highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world. How can that be possible? Take the example in the above paragraph- inducement of labor for no medical reason. Perhaps the doctor thought the woman was "overdue." In the U.S. doctors calculate due dates by adding 40 weeks to the date of the mother's last monthly period. Research actually shows that first time moms on average go into labor after 41 weeks and 1 day. Therefore, declaring a woman "overdue" at 40 weeks is absurd.

Medical procedures have been shown by many studies to CAUSE more problems than they fix. This is why the United States has the most expensive maternity care in the world, yet the second highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world, a ridiculous fact. Anyway, I know you don't have time to read everything I've read, but I thought you might have time to take a look at some videos next time you're bored. They just give snapshots into some of this information. Natural childbirth assisted by a midwife is on the rise among middle/upper class, educated women. I believe homebirths will become the norm as more women become educated about this type of thing and realize that the hospital interventions are much more risky than just letting nature take its course.

This one is a trailer for the movie, The Business of Being Born, which is an awesome documentary:

And a really good clip from the movie which shows how common interventions work together to cause (what would have been an unnecessary) c-section:

And more on the interventions:

Here are a couple of celebrity birth stories. Compare Cindy Crawford's story (parts 1-4) to Melissa Joan Hart's first birth.

And a humorous Monty Python spoof about hospital birth:

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