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.
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.