After a lot of thought and prayer, I've decided to do a few posts on birth. For those of you who don't know, I became a certified doula after the birth of my son in 2005. While I am not currently practicing, birth and birth education is still a passion of mine.
This post was originally blogged by me on May 5, 2007 while I was in training.
Western medicine is and can be a wonderful thing. But it has also been so abused that in many cases the treatments acan become ineffective. Take for example antibiotics. Antibiotics can be a great thing! And for several years they were thought to be the treatment for everything. Have an ear infection? Swollen Lymph nodes? The Flu? Any type of viral or bacterial infection? Take an antibiotic! Antibiotics became the magic cure all. Then we found out that we should not be treating viral infections with antibiotics. We also discovered that the antibiotics were becoming less and less effective because immunities had been built up against them. This is not an isolated case. There many instances where something that was thought to be great, turned out to have consequences to worse than we could imagine. Maternal medicine is not exempt. Sadly by the time we realize what the side effects could be, it's too late.
Another wonderful aspect of western medicine is our hospitals. Think about the convenience of having one place to go whenever you have a medical emergency. You don’t have to go to independent specialty clinics, you can go straight to a place where you know you can be treated. It is a building dedicated entirely to sickness... But is every patient really sick? I realize that western medicine is fairly new, and there is obviously going to new advances and discoveries as time goes on. In our eagerness to expand our health horizons, and help people achieve a higher level of health, we’ve completely ignored nature.
Women have been birthing babies since the beginning of time. Isn’t that incredible to think about? How about when you add to it, that most of those women had their babies without a hospital, without a doctor, without umbilical cord clamps, and without medical interventions. It is amazing to think about, isn’t it? Pregnancy and childbirth is a natural part of life. It’s like breathing, your body automatically knows what to do.
I am not saying that things will not go wrong. This is not a perfect world, it’s the real world. Unfortunately cord prolapse, footling breech babies, and other complications are not unheard of. But they are also not the normal situation. I know I am grateful that when these situations occur that there is a place where we can go for help.
Why should you have your birth in a hospital? Hospitals are literally sick houses, would you want your newborn to be in a place where different diseases are on every where? Sure the staff changes their gloves between patients, but what about their clothes? What about the visitors that are coming in from everywhere? What about social workers that don’t have to wear gloves?
An Institute of Medicine Report indicated that 44,000 - 98,000 people die in U.S hospitals every year, as a result of medical errors. That is more than the number of deaths from AIDS, breast cancer, and car accidents every year!
In contrast homebirths can offer you the comfort of your home. Most of the germs you encounter there have been around your entire pregnancy and you do not have to worry about getting sick. You can hire a midwife with years of experience. If an emergency arises most midwives have a doctor at the hospital that they can transfer to. Midwives can take care of hemorrhaging, they stitch up tears. They are trained professionals! They are not going to needlessly put your life in danger. Most midwives that offer homebirths give care to both mother and newborn for 6 weeks following the birth. In contrast as soon as a baby exits the mother, the OB does not provide care for it. That is strictly for the pediatrican's responsibility.
Repeat c-sections? Did you know that your chances of having your uterus tear when attempting a vaginal birth after a cesarean are less than 1%! That number does go up if you are medicated. But the chances of having a c-section in general, go up if you are medicated. Did you know that Utah had the lowest c-section rate in the United States, and their c-section rate is 22.2%. Cesareans offer a whole extra category for risk. It is major surgery. You have a higher chance of getting an infection. It can affect your fertility, your normal body functions and your ability to have sex. Those are just a few of the side effects.
What about drugs in labor? I think they have their place, but routine usage? Every body is different. Why would we expect them all to react the same way? Some drugs used in labor have warnings on the label thay they are contraindicated. Meaning they aren't safe for pregnant women. There are alternatives to drugs while you are in labor. You can do relaxation techniques, counter-pressure, change positions, or my favorite, jump in the shower or the bathtub. Water is a natural pain reliever. When you burn yourself, you automatically run water over the burn, why? Because it helps!
Just because our generation is expected to leave the thinking to the professionals, doesn’t mean we have to. You are ultimately the one responsible for your health and wellbeing. As a consumer of the healthcare options offered, please educate yourself.