Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yes. I Am A Hippie.

Headline in the paper today:

Bear vs bicyclist incidents very rare
Panama City man recovering

Now THAT's reassuring. Right?

Then I found an article on the surge in the number of home births. Okay, that made me happy. But then I got to this line: "Robbie Davis-Floyd, a medical anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin and researcher on global trends in childbirth, obstetrics and midwifery, said 'at first, in the 1970's, it was largely a hippie, countercultural thing to give birth outside of the hospital. Over the years, as the formerly "lay" midwives have become far more sophisticated, so has their clientele.'"

Well that just pissed me off.

Hell, yes, I was one of those hippie, countercultural women who chose to give birth at home and help other women do the same but does that make me less sophisticated than women who choose to give birth at home today?
I wish Robbie Davis-Floyd could see the midwifery texts we countercultural hippies used to order from England at great expense because there were no midwives to speak of in the USA and if there were, they used the English textbooks too.
Also the records we kept, hidden away because giving birth at home with a lay midwife was against the law. Also the equipment we bought with our own money from blood pressure cuffs to fetoscopes to Dopplers as technology improved.

We didn't just decide to have our babies at home to "stick it to the man" or be cool or whatever. We took a good look at the way hospitals were delivering babies in those days and said, "No thanks."
Enemas and restraints were still common place. A doctor who would allow your husband (and forget any other "partner" or doula or mother or friend) into the delivery room with you was considered crazy-cool. A woman who wanted to give birth unmedicated was considered insane. Babies were routinely whisked away to the nursery directly after birth so that the "experts" there could observe them for hours before allowing the mother to hold her child and nurse her. Episiotomies were given to every woman who didn't get a C-Section. Laboring women were not allowed out of bed and the only sustenance she was allowed for doing the hardest work a human can do was ice chips. All women were shaved before delivery the better to sterilize an unsterilizable area.
It was ridiculous.
It was as ridiculous as other things we hippies believed in like, oh, you know, civil rights, women's rights, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (many that we grew ourselves), solar energy, foods with no preservatives or additives, breastfeeding, and the possibility of finding alternatives to war.

Yeah. We were nuts.


Now the damn government's own dietary pyramid has been replaced with something that looks a lot like the typical hippie diet in 1976.
Bite me.

And yet- I am completely and utterly delighted that "sophisticated" women of today are choosing home birth because although some things have changed for the better in today's "traditional hospital" births, such as rooming-in, allowing the mother time to nurse and bond with her baby, allowing family to be with the mother, and fewer episiotomies (who knew that with a little patience a woman's vagina could DO that?), many things have gotten worse. The C-section rate has gone up tremendously. The notion that a baby MUST be born within days of her EDC causing more and more labors to be artificially induced which of course creates the need for more C-sections. The use of more and more ultrasound technology to try and predict birth weight which never seems to be accurate in the least but which is offered as proof positive that THIS BABY NEEDS TO BE BORN NOW!
When Lily was pregnant, the ultrasound doctor told her two weeks before she delivered that Owen weighed over ten pounds. He wasn't quite that two weeks later when he was born. That child in Texas where the mother had gestational diabetes and they told her the baby would weigh a whopping twelve pounds? He turned out to weigh SIXTEEN!
This is a particular bitch of mine, especially since I myself gave birth to Lily who weighed over ten pounds AT HOME and believe me- I am no giant of a woman. She was a gorgeous, very healthy baby and yes, there was shoulder dystocia and yes, the midwife and I handled it and no, I didn't rip or tear and yes, everything "down there" is still fine.

This is not to say that I am not incredibly aware of the need for medical technology in some birth situations. Of course there is and thank GOD it's there but for about 96% of births, it's not and yet each and every woman is treated as if it were which causes more problems than it prevents or takes care of and then more technology is needed to deal with those problems and, well, you get my drift.

We adopt technology which is unproven as to positive outcome and turn it into gospel (such as constant fetal monitoring) which only adds to the cost of childbirth.

Okay. I could go on here for days and I won't. But it was a powerful anger at the way the medical community dealt with women and babies and childbirth in general in the 1970's that propelled us to educate ourselves and decide to have our children at home.
And if women today are feeling the same, god bless 'em and I wish them all the luck in the world. But I would hope that these "sophisticated" women do, in fact, educate themselves and don't just pick a midwife out of the phone book and leave everything to her because the entire concept of choice must depend on knowing why a choice is being made. If there is anything in this world which deserves more knowledge and thus, power, it is childbirth.
And that perhaps they remember, as they are even ABLE to find a midwife in a phone book, that until we countercultural types demanded choices in childbirth, the very term "midwife" had almost disappeared from our language and the possibility of finding one was infinitely small.

The mother of modern midwifery, Ina May Gaskin, was as countercultural as could be found in the world and it was from that countercultural place, that place of not believing that just because something was said to be the right way to do things, it truly was that women began to educate themselves and open their eyes to better possibilities, the choices, the half-truths, the lies.

Now if we could just do something about war.
And bras. Oh my god. Could we do something about bras? Please?

As to the bears- well. I hear that bears vs bicyclist incidents are VERY rare. So don't worry.

And that's my soapbox speech for today.
Gotta go eat my whole grains and berries now. Owen's coming.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Is it bad that the first thought that popped into my head when I saw the bear/bicyclist thing was "shoulda peddled faster!" ?

  2. Mr. Mischief- They collided! Can you believe that?

  3. Love it!

    Ahahah, they collided! That's... my god. Must go read the article :)

  4. Hear hear.

    (Also, the bear/bike incident was one of my trivia questions tonight!)

  5. 'The bear didn't have insurance...' :)

  6. It all sounds so painful. Regardless of home or hospital.

  7. Mungam's hospital baby armyJuly 12, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    I'd rather run into a bear with a bike than a hippie on a soapbox.
    Ba-dump tink!


  8. Jo- Did you find the article? And what? That bear didn't have insurance? Damn.

    DTG- You are the Trivia King!

    Mungam- You are breaking my old hippie heart!

  9. Amen for the midweek sermon from the Church of the Batshit Crazy. Amen and Hallelujah!

    I always laugh when I read about some new double blind study from the powers that be espousing the benefits of acupuncture -- a thousands of years old treatment --

  10. It's actually one of the Hospital Baby Army's tenants: Break Hippie's Hearts.
    Along with, Wear Uncomfortable Shoes, and Formula Is Fantastic!

  11. I wil complain less about the geese now.

    (And I kind of wish that guy had called you unsophisticated to your face, got that reaction, and the whole thing was filmed and put on youtube. Now that I would watch!)

  12. Elizabeth- Yeah. When something works for thousands of years, there's probably something there. You know?

    HBA- I kinda love you.

    Mwa- Oh boy. That would have been a show.

  13. ms moon,

    i'm not sure what you want to do about bras. i just found an amazing black lacy thing with satin bows and underwire (yes), and i adore it. it's straight out of mae west's steamer trunk.

    as to those sophisticated ladies? bah. it's just what you say. we have mountains to climb, but my generation stands on the shoulders of the giants of yours; i have city slicker friends who have gone down to the farm to give birth, as well as in their own homes.

    i wouldn't any of them were more sophisticated than you; none of them could rock overalls with red lipstick quite like mary moon!


  14. I believe I may have read that same article. I found the author's website if you want to check her out.


    I feel bad for the poor bear. That bicyclist should stay the hell out of his way. :) They will probably capture and shoot the poor thing now.

  15. Oh--this made me go back to that red book I have at my desk from the library storage building. I've been flipping through it from time to time (mostly the section on menstrual rage, quite frankly). But there's a chapter called "The Creation of a New Birth Imagery" (this book was published in 1987) that I think would interest you.

    There are just paragraphs I'd like to quote (though it is academic, and therefore rather stuffy), but I'll limit myself to:

    In Odent's* view, birthing women are perceived as moving back in time and down the evolutionary tree to a simpler, animal-like, unselfconscious state....It is ironic that Odent's efforts to give birthing back to women occur at the cost of reasserting a view of women as animal-like, part of nature, not of culture...why can we not see them as engaged in a higher-order activity?"

    *Michel Odents, who ran a birthing clinic at Pithiviers, France (some amazing pictures of standing births contrasted with hospital flat-on-the-back shaved in stirrups style) and who wrote a book called Birth Reborn.

    OK sorry about using up so much bandwidth--I'm just all excited about this book & your topic...

  16. My midwife was sued (she won, they lost) in the late '70's by a group of obstetricians for grand theft---taking business from them!

    The bear wasn't on a bike too, was he?

  17. Syd- You, above all, know that sometimes there is pain for a reason.

    Adrienne- I want all bras to disappear. I want to never put one on again. I wish I could see your new bra though and I do not mind if others wear them. And let us be truthful- I am NOT sophisticated. I am an old country granny. I need new overalls, too.
    I adore you, by the way.

    Mel's Way- She doesn't look very sophisticated either, does she? I don't know what they did with the bear. They are pretty protected.

    x-ray iris- I loved Michael Oden's book about his clinic. It inspired me so much and dammit, why is it a move DOWN in evolution to believe in what our bodies have so cleverly evolved to do? Give birth and you know will know we ARE animal-like because we are animals. Who probably think too damn much. I don't know.

    A- It always all boiled down to the money. Ever met a rich midwife? I surely haven't. No. The bear was not on a bike. I think.

  18. I really want to become a Doula but it is still not recognized here. Even though midwives are covered through our medical system, most people have never heard of a Doula. One day. I will do it one day for sure.

  19. Oh, BTW, there is a new kind of bra. It goes only on your breasts and sticks onto your skin. Amazon has them. And no I haven't tried them and no one I know has tried them---they were mentioned as a detail on one of Smacksy's weekend links or I wouldn't have known they existed.... Would they work? Feel weird? Fall off? Can't guess....

  20. Don't forget about the outrageous bills that come along with your new babe when you have a hospital birth! I will never forget/understand being charged $660 for Owen's "room and board". He slept in a plastic box in my room that I was already charged over a grand for! That baby didn't even sip a drop of formula or leave the room without us once! Oh well...hopefully will be different this time around. love you!

  21. Birdie- It's a lovely thing to help women in childbirth. You should do it.

    A- But they would be stuck to your breasts! In this heat? Plus, are they anti-gravitational enough? I just don't know.

    Lily- I'd forgotten that. Yeah. They make a gajillion tons off of childbirth. And the more technology they throw in, the more they make. I so hope you get the birth you want this time.

  22. YEAH, can we do something about bras? I'm with you on that.

  23. I am anti bears on bicycles. Or walking bears colliding with bicycles. Either way is bad.

    Homebirth...awesome! 14 years later and I still guard my midwife's name so as to not get her in trouble. lol.

    As for bras...I have a love/hate relationship with them. By the end of the day, they are driving me nuts. But without them, the darn boobs get in the way of everything. Some things are better when safely contained.

  24. I wish I had been brave enough to birth my babies at home. But I'm not a brave woman.

  25. I wish I was brave enough to give birth at all! I want to be a hippie. I love you xx


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