Yet another study supporting hands-off maternity care. Breaking a mother’s waters has long been touted as an easy, low-intervention way of speeding up labor. I think mostly it makes us all feel a bit better when we want to do SOMETHING to effect labor yet we don’t want to do anything too drastic. Turns out that something, amniotomy, does little more than offer a placebo effect. A recent study shows that amniotomy does nothing to effect either length of labor or infant’s Apgar scores. So why do it?
Good question. 🙂
It seems that independent midwifery is at stake all over the place these days. The UK, where independent midwifery is (almost) encouraged is contemplating a new legislation that would require all health care providers – independent or not – to acquire and maintain the US equivalent of malpractice insurance. That would, according to England’s Independent Midwifery Council, effectively render independent midwives illegal and unable to practice. This insurance is almost impossible to acquire for anyone not practicing under a corporate headship not only because of the cost involved but also because of the red tape that must be unraveled to get it. The IMC believes that the legislators are simply uninformed as to the effect this legislation would have on independent midwives. Whereas, if this were happening in the states, we would almost certainly assume that it was a calculated measure to undermind independent midwifery.
Wow. Never thought I’d envy British women. Yet I knew their maternity system was light years ahead of ours. LIGHT years. This article, written by Jennifer Block (author of Pushed ) distinctly outlines the radical differences in the two countries model of care. Again… WOW.
Can you imagine being asked during your very first appointment with a general practioner, after confirming your pregnancy, WHERE you’d prefer to give birth? They have a government initiative to create the possibility of all healthy women giving birth at home in the very near future. They are putting money into training midwives. TENS units and birthing tubs are standard fare for births, all (by the way) paid for by the national health care system. The only time a woman in the UK sees an OB is if there is a serious problem. Not until or unless.
I’m NOT a fan of government health care. Eeegads… could it be worse than free-market health care like we have here in the US where the drug company with the most money and insurance underwriters regulate our model of care? I think not. Certainly, neither system is without flaws. But at least in terms of woman-centered care, the UK has us whipped. Hands down. Enough so that I envy those women lucky enough to be birthing on the other side of the big pond.
Read the article. Quite intriguing in regards to our cultural differences in women’s care.
Brits Have Us Beat
I just noticed my daughter’s purse on the kitchen ocunter. She must have forgotten to put it in her room last night. She is 9. Out of curiosity I took a peek.
Inside the small, powder blue handbag I found a pen, a tube of chapstik, a pink marker and tiny sparkled writing tablet, some change loose in the bottom, a book with a marker half-way through, and a crochet hook.
Hmmm…. I have the same things in my purse. Except I prefer knitting to crochet. 🙂 How funny, I thought to myself. I didn’t know she kept a book going in her purse like I do. And I certainly never TOLD her to keep chapstik or some handwork there for waiting rooms. I wonder how many other things, small nuances of my life as a woman does she see and replicates that I have grown immune to noticing?
She definately has a better view of birth and infancy, pregnancy and motherhood than I did. She understands as much as a 9year old can. When asked how the baby gets out “that little place” I opened my heart to her and told her as siccinctly as I could, that it did so beautifully, wonderfully… and perfectly if left alone to do it’s job. She believes. That simply. There is no ingrained dogma to undo in her fresh and trusting mind. She sees birth as an everyday, common thing, not to be feared or shh’d, or taboo. God bless her, my midwifery books lay about everywhere. I try to keep them closed, but it’s hard at times due to frequent interruptions. So while birth is commonplace because it’s talked about frequently, she has also picked up on the wonder of it.
Let us pass onto our daughters, whether they be of our flesh or another’s, that birth is sacred, not to be meddled with, an orchestration of symphonic proportions. They will believe us. And they are watching, listening, learning… everyday.
“We cannot control who brings us into this world. We cannot influence the style in which they raise us. We cannot force the culture to instantly become hospitable. But the good news is that, even after injury, even in a feral state, even, for that matter, in an as yet captured state, we can have our lives back.”
~Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves 1992
I remember distinctly the moment I decided, in my most inner self, that I would not be taken captive anymore by fear of birth. I would not stand quivering at the thought of an epidural needle once again piercing my spinal column. I would not allow myself to become nauseated as I envisioned vaginal check after vaginal check from people who were little more than strangers. I would not lie quietly, submissively as others decided my fate and that ofmy baby. I would not be the obedient patient, the unquestioning woman-child, the half-dressed and immobilized victim. I would not surrender to the fear of giving birth and all that might mean.
I would surrender to the enormity of the process, but not the fear.
I would surrender to the responsibility of new life, but not fear it.
I would give myself up to the possibility of danger, of catastrophe, but not fear it.
I surrendered to the power of birth.
And in that moment, I no longer feared it.
© Kelly Hibner 2007
When asked what I am in college for, I answer, “I want to be a…
“Doctors prescribe medicine of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of which they know nothing.” — Voltaire
I was asked once, “Don’t you trust your doctor?” I replied with a resounding, “NO! I trust my body, I trust GOD, but I do not “trust” my doctor any more than I trust my mailman.” Granted, I was 5 months pregnant at the time, fighting for the right to a VBAC and my hormones were WAY up there! I might have been a bit zealous in my response.
But I don’t think so. Not really.
Whom do we trust when it comes to our births? As women, do we trust our doctors? Our husbands to be the knight in shining armour if we are not treated fairly? Do we trust our midwives – ancient caretakers of female birth? If we answer yes to ANY Of these then we have misplaced our faith.
There are many who will disagree, arguing that “they are trained” in reference to their OB/GYN’s or even their wonderful midwives. (And midwive’s are wonderful! Don’t get me wrong!) This well-used response of higher education being grounds for blind trust is misplaced at best. Let us consider the following.
If education were a prerequisite for good birth-outcomes, how do we explain the continuation of human beings when modern medicine didn’t begin until the 19th century AD? An if highly educated birth assistants are a promise of good birth outcomes, how do we explain the rate ofmaternal and fetal demise going UP with the beginning of medicalized childbirth in the 1900’s?
Our faith belongs to God. He gave us our bodies, created specifically for the amazing job of birthing children. So let us trust them. Let us trust Him. Let Faith live where she was born. In our hearts. In our homes. In ourselves.
Surprisingly, this article struck me as fairly optimistic about homebirth in the state. I voted in the poll (of course) but stopped dead in my tracks at some of the comments on the bulletin board. I’m saddened to see such lack of respect shown to each other. We can disagree, and I realize this is a very personal subject for many on BOTH sides, but we do not need to degrade ourselves by calling names, making character assasinations, and for pity’s sake… if you do take the time to post (ESPECIALLY if you are PRO-midwifery) can you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE spell and grammar check before you hit “send”? It puts the whole midwifery community in a bad light when comments include mispellings and simple grammatical errors.
Please. Let’s think before we type. We are in the front line here people. What we say and how we say it is being watched. And closely.
Here is an excerpt from my most recent read:
IF YOU GO to a hospital in the United States to deliver your child, you will probably do so flat on your back — thought by many to be the worst possible position in which to give birth short of being hung by the feet. You have a one-in-three chance of having major abdominal surgery. If you don’t, you’ve got another one-in-three chance of having your vagina slashed with a knife. And you will have a better chance of dying, or having your baby die, than do women in almost any other industrialized country. ~Jennifer Block Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth
If you want stats concerning the medicalization of childbirth, if you want to read a book that cuts through the crumbs and gets right to the heart of the issue, this is it. I disgree with a few points she makes, but they are of little consequence in the grand scheme of things really. ANd she doesn’t advocate the mostly hands-off care that I am about but that’s not the point of her book. If you haven’t read it, please do. Then spread the word.
A lay midwife in Pennsylvania was recently fined $11,000 for attending an Amish woman when she gave birth in her home. This midwife is NARM certified, made it to her senior year of pre-med before abandoning mainline medical training to become a midwife. She also served a 3 year apprenticeship before becoming cetified by NARM. And the Penn. State board of Medicine claimed she was fined because she was putting “women and infants at grave risk” by delivery them at home. UGH.
It’s time to speak up ladies. I just bought a t-shirt to wear when I go out and to classes… I ordered a bumper sticker too. Little things like that, tiny pieces of media are a great way to make a statement without putting oneself directly on the firing line. They are question-prompters and conversation-starters. Get one. I saw a lady who made a t-shirt promoting homebirth. Do something. Make a statement.
If we do not speak up, who will attend our daughter’s and grand-daughter’s births?