Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My convoluted thoughts

Rachel posted this a few days ago in a comment and asked for my thoughts/opinions on it.

Here are my problems with the entry...

On one hand it says "Birth is not safe."

And then goes on to say, "The other misconception driving this question is the fear that anything can happen! Anything! Well, some things are more likely to happen than others, and those things that are most likely to happen can be handled at home."

The disservice that the female reproductive medical establishment has done here is that they have convinced us that anything can't happen. At least it can't happen to ME. Those bad things only happen to OTHER people.

Home birth isn’t just about safety, it’s about not having a team of experts pressuring you to induce labor or accept an epidural or lie down quietly. It’s about having some say in what happens to your own f***ing body.

You don't have to run from the medical setting in order to have a say. This is a common misconception that a LOT of women have. But again, we present only two options to women in a lot of cases and our own medical care suffers as a result. It's not about either/or...it's about making it work for you.

What part of ‘unnecessary Cesarean’ do you not understand? The C-section rate keeps getting higher and higher, and is expected to hit 50% by 2011. And yet. And yet the infant mortality rate remains the same. And yet the cerebral palsy rate remains the same. Increasing the Cesarean rate has not saved any babies from death or disability.

This lumps in the category of women who receive "elective" cesareans...a rapidly growing group by any accounts. If you take them out of the mix, I would be curious to see how the statistics stack up. I don't know. But I do know that the confusion over emergency c-sections and elective c-sections is a misrepresentation of the reality.

Well, C-section is even less safe. For both parties involved.

Again...let's not confuse the two groups of c/s.

As a healthy woman in a healthy pregnancy, it was more likely that hospital care would have complicated the birth, rather than alleviate any complications.

This may very well be true. But again, risk assessment is based on the concept that the really bad things aren't likely to happen to ME. Not a risk I would ever take again. But I had to learn the hard way. Try to tell a low risk woman that it is POSSIBLE her baby will die during labor and she will do EVERYTHING within her power to discount what you have to say. We let women live in a protective bubble because it is somehow more important to be "glowing" and "happy" than to entertain the very real possibilities...to accept the truth that birth is NOT SAFE.

Further, the argument that travel time to the hospital would result in minimal time lost if an emergency c-section is needed is dependent on a LOT of things going your way. No flat tire, no traffic, no road construction. That's a lot of trust to put in the universe. And having now met many women who lost their babies during birth...who were low risk and were in a hospital setting...I'm pretty sure the risk assessment method is totally screwed up as it is currently used.

So that's my take. Feel free to discuss, argue, etc. My feeling is that we, as a society, need a much more realistic approach to how we deal with the idea of childbirth. SIDS claimed less than half the number of stillborn babies when it was at it's "peak" as a problem...and EVERY mother knows about SIDS. There is a huge public campaign to eliminate it. But when it comes to stillbirth, we're still teaching the old "that only happens to THOSE women...not me." It's an insane philosophy...but it is one that is so closely protected by so many. I don't understand it and I never will.

Is home birth safer? Who can tell? There is such a lack of information about stillbirth at all levels that it is impossible to say. I do know that there are stories about stillbirths during home births. Are there more or fewer than in a hospital? I don't know. The numbers just don't exist to tell me whether one is safer than the other. We need to so more to prevent stillbirth...no matter where it happens. Do I feel that a hospital is safer? Yes, I do. But I may not be right.


Another study

Another study


kate said...

I totally missed this when you posted it. So, of course, i went to the blog in question and left my comment....heh, it's kinda like yours only shorter.

Casey said...

Hi, Catherine.

I never meant to give the impression that I think that tragedy only happens to other people. I thought I was pretty clear that birth is inherently risky. I knew that rhyme wasn't catchy enough!

Really, I think we're in complete agreement about the shortcomings of the medical model of birth. Women are made to believe that if we just follow hospital protocol, everything will turn out fine. This is completely untrue. Hospital protocol's exist to protect doctors from lawsuits. They do nothing to help mothers and babies. That's why home birth really isn't any riskier than hospital birth, as the studies you link to show.

As far as your comments about Csection go, the reality is a little more complex than just dividing sections into emergencies and electives. Maybe I'll post about it some other time.

Anyway, thanks for continuing the conversation.

gabesmama said...

Of course, I always agree with you 100%. If only, I had known, then I would not have the regret of not being able to try to save Gabe.