Gentle Birth Choices

So, I watched the third (and final) supplemental video tonight called Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper, R.N.  It is 50 minutes long and was originally made in 1993, but reformatted for DVD in 2005.  While it is a little dated (hair styles and fashion), it makes me sad that nothing has really changed since then.  It has been almost 20 years for crying out loud!  It makes me wonder what it will take to see some changes in the way we have babies.

I do understand the warnings that were given regarding this video in the training video.  It is very one-sided, our way is the right (and only) way kind of video … although, nothing is untrue in what they say, as a doula, my job is to support women regardless of how and where they choose to give birth.

They show the actual, uncensored births of several waterbirth babies (beautiful), a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans), birth with siblings present (siblings were of varying ages), an older mother giving birth 18 years after last birth, a home birth, and a woman having her first baby.  I really liked being able to see women push without direction from a caregiver (sadly, it is the first time I have seen undirected pushing).  It seems so much calmer and smoother and way less chaotic.

Some things that were said in the video that I really thought about and made a note of:
– The baby is a participant in its own birth, often leading the way.
– Marsden Wagner, MD (World Health Organization – Sweden) says that birth is an important family and social event, but it has been turned into a medical phenomenon.  Pregnancy is now an illness and birth is now a surgical procedure.  And, this is more true in America than in any other country in the world because America is missing an essential component of maternity care.  An essential component that provides the right balance for the best maternity care – midwifery.
– Dr. Michael Rosenthal was the attending physician in most of these births and was the one who opened the birthing center where most of these births took place.  He spoke at a convention of some sort and stated that out of nine separate studies of over 60,000 laboring women, it was proven that having electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) was no different than having a nurse listen to the baby, there was no change in baby outcome, but there was a change in the maternal outcome.  The women with EFM were three times as likely to have a cesarean than the ones who had nurses monitoring them.  WOW! 
– Dr. Michel Odent (London, England) says that up until now (and, really not even now) the goal of an obstetrician has never been to make birth as easy as possible.  The approach has been, “Let’s know what’s happening at any time, so we are ready to do something.”  And, to that effect, he says that numbers show that $400 million is wasted on EFM annually.  No wonder medical coverage is so expensive!
– The mother in the home birth said that it was nice to have people that just wanted to be with her while she was in pain and not having people trying to fix the pain.
– The four countries with the lowest infant mortality have midwives in attendance at births, not a single doctor in the room.
– It is natural for a woman to want her mother or another female with her while she is laboring.  She wants to be mothered.  And, fathers can’t be mothers.  They can be caring and loving and supporting, but they can’t be as nurturing as a mother or other woman can be.  Women learn to mother as early as 18 months of age.
– The birth with the siblings present was nice to see.  I’ve often wondered how that would go.  One of the siblings was probably 3 or 4 and the other sibling was probably 10 or 11.  Siblings will do just fine if they truly want to be there and they have supervision.
– Birth is more than a physical experience.  If a woman gets to tap into her physical, emotional, and spiritual side, she can really use that to her advantage for the rest of her life.
– Suttle interventions (leaving home, taking clothes off, putting on a gown, hearing others in labor, confined to a small room) make it more difficult to give birth … leading to the use of more medicine.
– At the time this video was made, the United States was ranked 22nd in the world in infant mortality.  Since the video was made in 1993, I thought I’d check online to see if I could find where we are ranked now and WOW.  According to The World Factbook, a publication by the CIA, as of 2009 (est), the United States was ranked 45th.  45th!  According to this video, if we developed midwifery care, demedicalized childbirth, abolished circumcision, and encouraged breastfeeding we could improve that number and save $13 to $20 billion each year!  And, that was in 1993.
– Babies do feel pain, probably more so than older children and adults, another reason (among many, many others) that circumcisions should not be done.  I do believe that, unless it is done in the hospital right after birth, many insurance companies will no longer pay for it, either.  But, the United States could save over $250,000 just by not doing routine circumcisions.  This video called circumcision a sexual assault on an infant … while extreme, I still say that each family needs to do what is best for them AFTER becoming informed of their options and the pros and cons of each.  If you don’t know what your choices are, then you don’t have any.

Overall, I enjoyed the video … I guess that I may be partial since I am so in love with childbirth, but it brought tears to my eyes to see these babies being born free of medication and opening their eyes right after being born and looking at their mothers.  It also showed one mother holding her baby in the water (not under the water) and talking to him and he woke right up and started responding to her, eyes open, kicking … absolutely beautiful.

~ by cmb0414 on April 23, 2010.

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