Posts Tagged ‘birth’

American Birthing: Part II

Approximately one in three women in the United States who give birth this year will end up with a major abdominal surgery.  The caesarian section (c-section) will leave many women with outcomes that are often not disclosed to them before, during, or after their pregnancy.  Some of these outcomes include (but are not limited to not limited to) hemorrhage, infection, decreased fertility, difficulty with breastfeeding, complications with future pregnancies, reduced early contact with baby, longer hospital stay, increased pain, and long recovery (1).

In a previous article, I discussed the model of birthing in The Netherlands where midwives possess most of the power and influence in obstetrics and one-third of women give birth in their homes.  The basic premise of birthing as a natural process seems to be a foreign concept to many Americans.  Our hospitals are deliberately modeled to promote unnecessary and often risky interventions to the birthing woman and her baby.  Fetal monitors limit movement and are often inaccurate, IV fluids provide women with little control over their own body’s cues, epidurals numb the body and increase the risk of other harmful interventions, and artificial oxytocin (i.e., pitocin) leave women with contractions that are extremely painful and difficult to bear.  Women are often pressured to have the baby within a certain time frame, otherwise, they are threatened with interventions due to “failure to progress.”  Then, because women are connected to machines, their mobility is restricted, and they are forced to lie down on their backs to give birth.  This position is not only the most painful position in which to give birth, but it is also the most ineffective and restrictive to oxygen and blood flow (2). Read the rest of this entry →



12 2010

American Birthing

Americans attempt to control their environment in every possible way they can, and prepare for the worst possible scenario just in case. From terrorism to flu season to food poisoning outbreaks, we seem paralyzed by the thought that something “might” go wrong.  I am not sure from where this fear stems, but I also have no doubt that corporate interests and politicians play a role in financially maximizing the vulnerability we have as humans to feel secure.

I had never stopped to think about how irrational and anxiety-driven we truly are in this country until I began investigating our birthing practices.  I remember talking to a woman once, in my local community, who was planning a homebirth and I kept thinking, how irresponsible of this mother- what if something goes wrong? However, when I came to understand the process of giving birth and comparing our practices to other cultures in the world, my whole perspective changed.  For the remainder of this article, I will describe the current model of maternal care in The Netherlands.  I hope to deconstruct the image that many people have of maternity care and birthing in this country by providing a counter-example.  In the next articles that I write, I will describe the problems with our current system and steps that need to be taken to ameliorate the situation.

The basic premise of maternity care in The Netherlands is that pregnancy and birth are fundamentally normal and physiologic processes.  About one third (>30%) of women in The Netherlands give birth in their home; this rate is less than 1% in America (1).  Contrary to popular belief in America, the high home birth rate does not make The Netherlands an unsafe place for women to deliver babies.  In fact, the infant mortality rate in The Netherlands is significantly lower than the United States (1).

Read the rest of this entry →



10 2010