Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Industrialization of Birth

Health has come a long way in the past century.  We know so much more now about germs, bacteria, and disease than we did even fifty years ago, and I think we can say safely that medicine has become a whole new world. I think for the most part, this is a very good thing. But, honestly, if we want people to genuinely get on board with green sex and openness to life, the protocol for childbearing needs to change.

It goes without saying,  that yes it's true, I have some serious complaints about the process of birth today, particularly as it happens #asperusual.  It makes me truly sad to think that a person who doesn't know better will become a cog in the wheel. Unnecessary procedures are the result of a lack of knowledge. Mistakes are always the result of laziness and incompetence. When I look at my son's umbilical cord clip I think "Is this the stone ages?" Why did anyone decide that type of clip was a good idea? (The thing is as big as his entire belly).

And stone ages it is when I think about the business of birth.  I had 5 of my 6 kids in a hospital, 1 at home, and I had a midwife with one, a doula with one, natural birth 4/6 times, and epidural 2/6 times. (So good at fractions!) I've had a cross-section of birth experiences.  I wrote about which birth would be right for you in this post,  (remember the time when a doctor made me hurry my labor because he had to make it to a baseball game?!) but after my last birth, I have a few different musings on the whole industrialization philosophy.  As the tide changes in health care today, there is also a shift in the world of faith.  We're hobbling along, half in the world of medicine, half in the world of holistic health care. We need to hit a stride, and I have a feeling it has to do with technology catching up with what we know about medicine. 

Let's take childbirth as the EG: Pro's of hospitalized birth:

-maximizes time/work balance
-less inconvenience for the professional
-access to supplies and needed medicines
-state of the art (and sometimes excessive) use of technology 

I actually love a lot about having babies in the hospital. I love the supplies and the meals that you get. The food at our hospital is actually really good. Many of the nurses are very kind and patient. Many of them are competent and hard working. (Not all).  The system is (mostly) reliable because of working hardware. ;-)

Con's of hospitalized birth:

-less personal
-less meaningful time spent with patients
-no bond is formed (oftentimes)
-improper procedures
-red tape
-unnecessary procedures

Nurses are not necessarily doulas. When I was in labor, I had to ask repeatedly for ice chips and when I finally begged them, I got a popsicle.  The professionals were only in the labor room with me for a handful of minutes. No one was "waiting on me" by any stretch of the imagination. I told Stephen, "If I had a midwife, she would have asked me several times by now - already- if I needed anything." No birthing ball was offered. No one checked me until I asked.  No one said anything about being effaced or engaged until I specifically asked them about it.  The "system" at my hospital was being changed, meaning they were getting new software updates. In process, they lost my entire chart and the staff didn't know how many weeks I was, my medical history, or anything, really.

On top of that, Doctors are not midwives. When the doctor finally came to talk to us, it wasn't about how I was feeling- it was about how we needed to decide whether or not we wanted the epidural. We asked for "a couple of minutes to think about it" and he came back an hour later.  It may seem efficient, but if you're too busy for me, what are you doing while you're gone? Are you too busy for all of your patients because you're distracted by the sheer number of issues and patients you have piled on your plate?  If you aren't giving me your full attention (ever) then who are you giving your full attention to?  Is technology a mere hindrance or distraction?

And, seriously: where is the full attention given? My guess is they're giving their full attention to the women giving birth and the women in labor are brushed off. And they're probably getting tongue-tied by systems and protocol (whether technological or not). But doctor, you let me down at the time I needed you most.  And that's not ok.

I was in pain.
I was scared.
I was strapped in bed, being monitored.
I didn't feel empowered.
I didn't feel empathy.
I felt that my dignity was being stripped from me, rather than given to me.

Having experienced a homebirth with a competent midwife, I can say with confidence: It is no wonder so many people want to stop having babies ASAP.  

It is better. 

With all of the variables and complications, and even though every birth is different, I still believe that having a midwife is better than not.  I still believe my best birth was my homebirth. I was empowered by movement, position, nourishment, and 100% supportive care. I still believe that love and attention will always win and will be more important and powerful than efficiency, time, and medication.  My second "favorite" birth experience was the one with the doula! The process was never undervalued. I never felt pressured into a certain process. And guess what?! The process is the thing.

Now that birth is an industry, we have to get better at this process so that it doesn't feel like an industry. In order to do this, I personally believe that all doctors and nurses should try to get better at bedside manner. Obviously hospitalized birth is going nowhere. ;) Women should be empowered and given dignity!  The nurses should seek to be competent and thorough! Continue reading and sharpening your skills and knowledge! A woman laboring is a woman who needs the support and the energetic assistance of those who have promised (and are being paid) to support her. A woman giving birth isn't a laundry list of to-dos. She is a woman who needs you, your attention, your care. She needs you to be patient, helpful, and kind.

I know one thing is for sure: a competent midwife is a person who has a passion for birth.  A lazy nurse going through the motions does not demonstrate one ounce of passion. I have experienced this passion first-hand and it is the NUMBER ONE reason why my homebirth experience was my best experience.*  I can't promise that you'll form a bond with your doctors or nurses. But at least promise me that whoever is on call will be fully present and totally kind.

Get top notch support and help when you need it most. It matters. Birth doesn't have to be scary.  The process of birth should be understood, not feared.

Much like raising babies! 


What do *you* think? What has your experience been? Do you think that hospitalized birth can be the best option? Why? Why not?

linking up with Tuesday Talk


Anonymous said...
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Amanda Bullard said...

I agree a hundred percent on how hospitals treat labor and delivery. My doctor showed up to "catch" the baby. However, I had fabulous nurses who were super attentive and there at my beck and call every single time I needed them so with that I was totally blessed! I have friends that do the birthing center at my midwife's office and love it. Due to complications I could only do a hospital birth but that was fine by me. I'm so lucky that I had good experiences with the nurses! Will you have more babies? xo