When a woman gets pregnant for the first time, there are many books on the topic of childbirth vying for her attention at the bookstore and in the library. A lot of them will teach her how to be a good patient and fall into line with the what the medical community has established as the "norm" for American women.
Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein is the book I would recommend to all you women including my future daughters-in-law and my own daughters. It is chock full of facts, studies and interesting anecdotes that I found to be compelling and persuasive as well as inspiring.
There were a few parts that I feel especially warrant a mention.
In Ina May's classic Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, she cites a very intereting study that probed into the ways American women think about pain in contrast to the way the rest of the world in the world consider it. In a study, researchers told a group of American women and a group of Dutch women who were about to have their babies in hospitals that pain medication might stall their labor. Two-thirds of the Dutch women gave birth without pain medication while only one-sixth of the Americans did. Two days after their births, when the women wee asked about their ideas of pain in childbirth, it was clear that even though both groups of women had gone through the same experience, the American women expected it to be more painful and expected pain relief. They just wanted to e knocked out and didn't really want to think about the effect that would have on the baby. Our cultural schooling in anticipating pain is a big factor in how we perceive the pain of childbirth.
When was the last time you saw a woman giving birth on television where she wasn't given an epidural or demanding a pain medicine. Singer Britney Spears even had a Cesarean because her mother had told her how painful childbirth was and she wanted to avoid that pain.
Speaking of that same study, New York obstetrician, Dr Eden Fromberg said the reaction to it demonstrates how cynical the profession has become about letting women make their own choices and doctors use all of their skills. She calls it the "lost at of obstetrics. " meaning many doctors are no longer delivering twins or breaches or using forceps even if they are the best tool for turning the baby in the birth canal, because of the legal risk, no tthe situation of the baby or the mother.
What doctors hold out as a trade-off from making all the choices is the false guarantee of absolutee safety for you and your baby as delivered via miachines. "We're not giving people options and not trusting that people can make decisions, " Dr. Fromberg said, "What ifyou say to a woman that there is a one in eight chance of some trouble in a vagnal breech delivery? One woman might focus on the fact that that risk sounds pretty high to her and choose a C-section. Another might say that seven out of eight successes are pretty good odds." May doctors simply tell women that they are having a C-section, rather than consulting with them first.
"The buesiness of medicine is awfully coercive, " sand Dr. Stuart Fischbein, a Los Angeles obstetrician, "Hospital risk managers and insurance companies are making the decisions that affect the lives of patients who they never have to look i the eye. We are training doctors to be sheep, not shepherds. One successful lawsuit can devastate the hospital's bottom line for years, so thereis pressrue to protect the hospital from liability, despite what the hospital's television commercials tell you.Long-time readers might remember the blogger who was told at her first prenatal visit that she would probably have to have a Cesarean! Talk about a set up!! More recently a young niece of mine also was denied a chance to have a VBAC because her doctor was really pushing for a Cesarean.
The book also containes some example of simple traditional methods of dealing with common obstetrical problems.
A traditional midwife often carries with her a big Mexican shawl called a rebozo that can help if a woman is in back labor (Meaning that the baby faces towards your pubic bone with skull pressing against your spine. Agony!) She places it under the mother's pevlis and uses it to elevate her butt to move the baby out of the pelvis and into a more favorable position in the pelvis. This can also work to jupstart contractions that are inefficient.I get that many American women are perfectly fine with handing over responsibility for their births to the medical establishment. But for women who are really interested in being a part of the process and not simply a patient, this is a great resource to start with. Young women need to know and be encouraged that their bodies can give birth and they need to know what their childbirth options are. This book should be on high school/ college reading lists. A great gift for young brides as well.
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