Soapboxing: Birth, etc.
I have a number of soapboxes on which I like to stand. Well, not really. I don’t like to think of them as soapboxes, because I don’t think street preachers with a megaphone on a soapbox really get listened to all that much. I’d like to think of myself at least slightly more influential than that.
The topic of birthing has always been close to my heart. I’ve learned much more about it in the last, oh, 13 years. But even before I ever gave birth, I had some opinions that seem like they shouldn’t be all that controversial, but it turns out they are, like:
- Women can birth babies with no medication, just the way God created ’em to.
- Breastmilk is the best food for a baby.
Whoda thunk that such things would be frought with controversy, politics, and vitriol? I’m a simple gal at heart, really. It seems to me that those topics SHOULD be simple, end of story. But, they’re not.
Some of my recent thoughts on birthing:
- My sister, for various and important reasons, recently decided to move from Tennessee and her government job, to Texas to work for my Dad’s company. The first place of employment had fabulous insurance. Our Dad’s company: None. The “problem” is that when she moved, she was newly pregnant. She is now 24ish weeks along. This is problematic because a) she makes too much money to qualify for state aid, and b) she has a condition that places her in the “high risk” category for pregnancy and birth, so even though she would rather birth at home with midwife (which she could easily afford), no midwives will take her because of the potential risk. So, it looks like she’s stuck with a hospital birth. BUT, since she doesn’t have insurance, she is required to pay out of pocket, up-front, which is $6-8 THOUSAND DOLLARS, which, um, she doesn’t have, before a doctor will even see her for prenatal care. Total rock and hard place kinda situation, don’t you think?? (BTW, I do have her permission to share this. She said: “I knew our health system had problems, but I didn’t understand that you could actually be in a position where you couldn’t get care.”) Any ideas, anyone???
- Stand and Deliver is by far my favorite birthing blog. It just seems that nearly everything Rixa posts resonates with me, and I find extremely relevant. Though I don’t see eye-to-eye with all of her opinions, I hold her in high esteem, as she is learned, kind, thorough, and humble. In one of her recent posts, a statement caught my eye: “if 80 to 90 percent of women exclusively breastfed for as little as four months and if 90 percent of women would breastfeed some times until six months, the US would save $13 billion in excess costs annually and avert 911 preventable deaths per year” Yes, you read that right. And, unbelievably enough, the study which came to those conclusions wasn’t published in some neo-hippie publication, but Pediatrics. An article from CNN, which summarizes the findings of the study is well-worth reading. The entire original article is available by subscription only, but you can read the abstract here. By the way, the costs mentioned do NOT include the cost of formula itself, which would certainly add millions, if not billions, to the associated cost; they are only the costs associated with premature death from conditions medically linked to formula-feeding, and the costs of parents’ missed time from work.
- Another good post is from Midwifery Ramblings, entitled What Pitocin Does to Your Baby. I have become increasingly alarmed about the blasé attitude women have towards pitocin. It has become standard in hospital births (I read somewhere semi-recently that pitocin is used in 90% of U.S. hospital vaginal births… gotta find that source…) instead of the last-ditch effort that it is supposed to be for, or for other situations of true medical necessity and emergency (normal giving of birth is not an “emergency” even if it doesn’t proceed at a pace according to hospital protocol, the doctor’s personal schedule, et al). Pitocin is pretty much evil in an IV bag, in my opinion, often the first step in the “cascade of interventions” that lead to our nation’s shameful, staggering, needlessly-inflated 31% c-section rate. Pitocin is NOT good for you, and it is NOT good for your birthing baby. The only person that pitocin is good for is the OB, who wants you to just hurry up and have that baby so he can make it to his dinner party. (I don’t believe that all OBs are evil and chiefly motivated by self-serving interests, but I do believe that they — with virtually no exception — out of habit, convenience, or whatever the reason, overuse pitocin in their patients, and not in the patients’ best interest.) And/or, pitocin is good for the hospital, whose protocols are usually prioritized with its profitability in mind, thus, protocol is formed to maximize turnaround rate in the L&D ward. The quote in her post which stuck out to me in Midwifery Ramblings’ post was this: “Consider this: in nearly half of malpractice suits involving damage to the baby, synthetic oxytocin is cited as the culprit.” (MW was quoting Jennifer Block on that. And, pitocin is synthetic oxytocin.) JUST SAY NO TO PITOCIN!!!!!!! You have the RIGHT TO REFUSE IT!!!!! The best way to go about that is: Don’t schedule an induction. If you’re already in spontaneous labor, and the staff determines that your labor is not proceeding according to their protocol, STILL refuse it. Do your research before you go into labor, and let your doctor know that you will NOT agree to pitocin. (By the way, I did agree to pitocin once. It was after the 100% unmedicated, slow birth of my fifth baby. I went nearly six hours with **NO** dilation, “stuck” at 7 cm, refusing pitocin all the while, and went from about 7 cm to 10 cm and safe, healthy birth in literally 10 minutes. My doctor supported me in my NO INTERVENTION goal of birth, but I guess understandably, started to waver five hours or so, asking if he couldn’t at least do an amniotomy — breaking my water. I agreed to pitocin in an IV because, post-birth, I was hemorrhaging. It did — painfully — cause my uterus to clamp down and more forcefully and quickly expel the afterbirth, and surely saved me from losing more blood. However, in retrospect, I still wonder if even THAT was necessary.)