I recently read this article, "Why are so many women dying during childbirth?" which brought up a lot of things for me. As a doula I witness many things in the birth field both at home and in the hospital. It gives me a unique and valuable perspective in which I can clearly see what we're doing right and wrong. I became a doula because I love being there for others and I love birth and the promise of new life - truly I wanted nothing more than to help facilitate the strongest bond possible between mother and child because I saw the connection to the lack of this and the chaos, violence and cyclic hurt on this planet (hurt children eventually turn into hurt adults). For me, I felt that helping womb'en be empowered in birth - to face it and overcome their fears and find strength within them they never knew they had could contribute to a more pure and fearless love and bond between them and their babies - fulfilling the family as a whole in the most beautiful and genuine ways. This isn't a theory - science supports the idea that when womb'en are able to have their children without interference they have a more pure connection to the hormonal love cocktail than womb'en who were exposed to interventions - especially those including any sort of chemical alteration (and this is just the effect on the mother - these things also cross over the placenta and effect the baby as well....and that is how their entire life begins). Now, my passion for my job has grown into a desire to keep womb'en safe and even alive. Helping womb'en avoid interventions (ie: induction, narcotics/epidurals, prematurely breaking the bag of waters, cesarean, etc.) isn't a "hippie" agenda - it's a HEALTH agenda.
The sad reality is that womb'en are DYING. America rates among one of the countries with the LOWEST score on maternal death rates. Our cesarean rate is absolutely out of control. WHEN will we say enough is enough? WHEN will we see birth as the normal physiological process - and when will we start to empower ourselves and each other to believe that it is something that we can do without "needing" to opt out of feeling or experiencing it? Personally, when someone tells me I can't do something I tend to put all my energy into proving them wrong. Where along the lines did we just "accept" that birth is something we're not "strong enough" to do?! Are you kidding me? We're literally built from the ground up to give birth! In my opinion, it's this idea that "we aren't strong enough" mixed with the impatience and lack of understanding & alternatives of the medical community that is killing and hurting womb'en.....and it needs to stop.
This isn't a pride thing (midwives vs. OB's) - no one needs to prove a point and be any more or less "wrong". Yes, we have made great medical advances over the past 150 years scientifically - however, somehow along the way we have made those advances the preferred way of getting babies out. By taking birth out of the home and putting in a controlled, medical environment, we've all but forgotten what "normal" birth even looks like. Because of this, we are backsliding BIG TIME. Saving some but killing or injuring many others along the way with the same tactics. Can we really call that "progress"? And now, many states are attacking midwifery and trying to get homebirth outlawed all together. Where will that lead us?! In my mind, I foresee MOST babies being born via cesarean if this happens. We could completely loose the vast knowledge midwives have regarding birth and the MANY natural ways to help facilitate it safely. This would be a tragedy for all womb'en and babies.
Babies need their mothers. They need and deserve to come into this life in a peaceful and trusting way. How unfortunate that we are bringing life into this world with a total mistrust in our bodies. How might this be effecting them and who they essentially are? Well, look at us. How has it effected us?? Now, womb'en struggle with trusting their bodies, with being present with pain, with breastfeeding, etc. - we even run away from our moon cycles - the most sacred power and gift we have been given as womb'en! This has a lot to do with the hostile takeover of birth by the medical field and the primarily male agenda to disempower womb'en (p.s. I'm not a man hater - just a truth teller). They have successfully tricked us all into believing we need them.....when in all actuality - most are amazed when they witness a truly natural birth. AMAZED. Nurses are always telling me how awesome they thought that was and how very little they get to witness a birth without any sort of medical assistance. What a sad, SAD fact. How is it that these people see birth all day everyday and they almost never get to witness truly natural birth?! I've had some nurses tell me that they have never seen it, that this was their first time. I have a moment of pride in the womb'an who showed them and in the hand I played in helping her do that - but, soon after there is a flood of sadness for all of the womb'en whom she is referring to who weren't able to - for whatever reason.
We're living in strange times. We're in a war on birth whether we are aware of it or not. As the movie "The Business Of Being Born" pointed out - the hospital, insurance companies and OB's are making massive amounts of money on birth, and business is booming. Birth has become more of an issue of profit & liability than of mothers and babies. We must be aware that there is a system in place and that when we choose a hospital birth, we must go into it knowing that there is a chance we may get pushed through it. There is a game of roulette that we are forced to play in hospital births. Each nurse has a different perspective on what policies are currently in place and you never know which OB you'll get the day you go into labor (about 80% of the time it's someone they haven't ever even met who ends up managing their birth care). It even comes down to when you end up going into the hospital. I was just there last week and they couldn't get my client admitted to an actual room for 4-5 hours because it was spring break and they were understaffed. Even if you have a GREAT OB (and there are some really great ones out there), chances are good that you will still be pushed through the same system everyone else is.
When I do a hospital birth I just feel like part of me is always anticipating the next move that they are going to make which may harm more than help these womb'en give birth. Even things as commonly and routinely used as the fetal monitors can completely inhibit her ability to open up and give birth (and if you're overweight, you will probably need to be in a semi-recline position for them to even get a reading - which is one of the least productive positions to be in during labor - this alone I have seen contribute to cesarean). These things are great WHEN NEEDED - but, most births don't need it (periodically checking on baby is sufficient). So, why are we trying to make womb'en fit into this box of expectation? And, when are we going to see that it's hurting, not helping? "Give birth by this time or "X" is going to happen"......do you think that helps anyone "open up"? These womb'en feel like a watched pot and I feel under pressure to help make things happen as well. Of course they can't open up and have their babies on demand (or else they would be the one demanding it!).
In my opinion, womb'en should birth at home if they're healthy (and comfortable with that) or birth empowered and with a doula if you need or want to be in the hospital. It is a worthy investment. After all, it's you and your baby! People spend more on a TV than they would spend hiring a doula and/or midwife. At the very least DO YOUR HOMEWORK and go into this with eyes wide open. Understand that to a point, death is natural - a part of nature.....but THIS is not natural and it's also unacceptable. Once we stop taking the natural out of birth, we'll start to see the integrity and health aspects restored in birth. I believe that when the medical field opens up and learns from the midwifery model of care rather than compete with it, we AS A TEAM will be unstoppable in making birth the SAFEST it's ever been. Until then, all we can do is educate ourselves, prepare our bodies and hire the right support team. Writing a letter to your local hospitals, OB offices AND you local government officials also helps us create policy change. Especially if you have been done wrong - WRITE about it! It will not only be a healing process for you, but it will also make a statement to the people in charge of this that you are a consumer and you demand fair and safe birth for all womb'en. After all, the only vote in this world that actually matters is the vote of the almighty dollar. Spend your votes wisely. <3