Monday, September 20, 2010

American women: Smart, educated, yet still duped?

Alright, the blog has been a bit abandoned lately...I'm getting you all ready for when the baby comes and I have zero energy to blog! :)

No seriously, life has been insane. Literally every day has something on the calendar and I see no break for another week. This in turn kept me too busy to make myself, eating healthy like I had been, and drinking lots of water continued priorities- not good. My BP was pretty high last Tuesday at my midwife appointment. Of course it didn't help that Eliana was not having a good day and was sitting in the chair next to me screaming her head off while I had my arm in the BP cuff. Not a mother's best moment in time. I have been trying to drink lots of ice water and be home more (at least a few hours a day). I go see my midwife again tomorrow, Eliana will stay home with daddy, and hopefully I can relax and we'll see better numbers. I don't want to do anything that will hinder me from a healthy and fabulous home birth. High blood pressure can result from a number of things but the best ways to fight it are tons of water and eating healthy foods, the two things that weren't happening with me being gone 12 hours a day. It's always a challenge to make myself a priority when life is so busy.

I am half way through reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. She is essentially the Godmother of the modern American homebirth movement (reviving it after it was nearly demolished in the 1920's by smear campaigns and new hospitals wanting to make money). I truly and honestly feel that every woman needs to read a few books and watch a couple movies;
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent
DVD The Business of Being Born
DVD Pregnant in America

Reading along with What to Expect When You're Expecting is all find and dandy, but to be honest it did very little to prepare me for what it would be like in the hospital and what the experience would or even could be. And I have to say that Your Pregnancy Week by Week is clearly propoganda and seems to actually be written by the ACOG (not literally but it's verbatim their wording and policies)- the same people who have facilitated America having a roughly 30% c-sect rate and even higher rates of medical intervention in labor. It's truly appalling and embarrassing.

There are over 32 countries with better infant and mother mortality rates than America. 32!!! That means more babies and mothers are dying in America than in 32 other countries. (as of 2009)
~The percent of countries providing universal prenatal care that have lower infant mortality rates than the US is 100% (as of 2001 from Marsden Wagner, MD, consultant for the World Health Organization). Does this surprise or shock you? It should.
~Another interesting and little known fact is that midwives deliver 75% of babies in Europe compared to a measly 8% in America (although that number is slowly rising as women learn what really happens during labor in an American hospital).
~Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland all have over 75% midwife attended births. Which one of them has more babies and mothers dying than the US??? NONE.

Want to talk money? (these numbers also from the wonderful Dr. Marsden Wagner)
~ Health care cost savings if midwifery care were utilized for 75% of US births: $8.5billion/year
~ Health care cost savings by bringing the US cesarean section rate into compliance with WHO recommendations: $1.5billion/year
~ Health care cost savings by extending midwifery care and demedicalizing births in the US: $13-20 billion/year.


Holland is the homebirth capital of the world (interesting facts about birth and medical care in Holland- .Holland's homebirth rate is around 32% with better death rates than other countries birthing primarily in hospitals! 70-80% of women in Holland birth with a midwife at home or in a birth center. The other 20-30% birth in a hospital. This is opposite of what it's like in America and we have depressing and embarrassing rates of c-sects, interventions, post-partum depression, infant and mother mortality, and low rates of overall satisfaction with birth by our mothers. With C-sect rates near 70%* at some US hospitals (most are over 30%) and rates of intervention over 80% at many US hospitals.........Doesn't it make you wonder, what is America doing wrong? Um, yeah!

These facts are kept hush-hush by the ACOG, sort of the mafia of the American Birthing World. As you saw from the financial numbers they have a heck of a lot to lose if America returns to a midwife based model of care (as many organization and leaders are hoping to see happen, including WHO). Midwives are not in it for the money. There is extreme satisfaction and pleasure to a midwife who feels called to do what she does and does her job well. My midwife commented on Facebook last week after a long labor with a mother and greeting the new baby that she was 'still on a high'. Isn't that fantastic? She spent hours (days really) with this mother and father encouraging them, supporting them, making sure the baby entered the world healthy and yet instead of feeling cranky and tired- she was thrilled!

In her book Guide to Childbirth, Ina May gives the statistics for The Farm, the village that she and a few hundred other young people started in the 'hippy era' in Tennessee. Her statistics are amazing, no hospital in America has even come close to her numbers. Why are American drs and hospitals not following her around to see what they are doing and try to emulate it?

-From 1970-2000 (some of their stats, find the rest in Ina May's book)-
Births completed at home- 95.1 %
Transports 4.9 %
Emergency transports 1.3%
Cesareans 1.4 %
VBACs 5.4 % (108 attempted, 106 completed vaginal births)
Postpartum hemorrhage 1.8%
Inductions 5.4%
  Castor oil 4.9%
  Swept Membranes 0.5%
Ate and Drank in Labor 29.1%
Postpartum depression 1%
Preeclampsia 0.39 %
Continued breastfeeding among the women of the Farm 100% (4-5 women supplemented)
Neonatal mortality exluding lethal anomalies 8/2028 (0.39%)
4 of these deaths occured during labor
2 placental abruptions
2 prolapsed cords
4 of these deaths occurred during the first week of life
1 crib death
1 premie who died from hyaline membrane disease after hospital delivery in 1972
2 deaths from probably infection

These rates almost seemed like a joke to me. Is it really possible to have such successful births without 'technology' and medical intervention? YES. Her book also talks about what makes labor stall and what makes it progress, as well as dealing with pain and even conquering it with Orgasmic Labors :)
American women are taught to fear birth, to fear their bodies, to fear the baby coming out and even pregnancy. This is a tragedy. There is no sense of empowerment and the transformation that God designed to happen to us as women giving birth is not happening here in America. Why are we allowing ourselves to be robbed of these experiences?  I did it once and I won't do it again.
I know many women who have given birth naturally and/or home. They do not describe birth as "horrible", "thought I might die", "worst time of my life", "worst pain I've ever felt", "ruined me emotionally", etc. No, those descriptions come from the even more women I know who have given birth in a hospital. Birth at home is not designed for the mother to be a martyr for the sake of the 'home birth' cause. It truly is about wanting the healthiest, safest, and most effective labor and delivery for the mother and the baby. I am almost shocked, knowing what I know now, how little American women know about their bodies and the whole process of having a baby. We've all been so duped!
I can't quote all the fabulous books and resources here on the blog, but I can say I hope you've learned something from this post and I pray I can encourage you to get a little curious and do some reading and research yourself.

Had a friend ask today, "aren't you scared to death of the birth? It's going to hurt SO bad!" I responded honestly, "not at all." There are unknowns in every situation in life. I have and continue to educate myself voraciously and I have learned that simply being afraid and fearful of the process can keep our bodies from going into labor, laboring more easily, and getting the baby out. The mind plays a very powerful part of us giving birth. I believe that birth, when done the way God planned for us and how most other countries still do it, is beautiful and transformative. It's a most amazing rite of passage! My mom had my sister and me at home and says she wanted to keep having babies because the births were so amazing. And no, my mom did not have easy labors. She had back labor with both of us and it definitely hurt. I don't feel that I can even describe it with justice here (again, please read the books!), but there is a sort of euphoria that takes place (courtesy of the hormone changes that God gave our bodies when not interrupted with synthetic drug versions) that wipes away the pain of the birth and allows us the most amazing time of bonding with our child and spouse. I experienced this a little with Eliana. Her coming out was the best sort of relief. Even though I labored flat on the bed with a fetal monitor on me for 50plus hours, as soon as she was out I hardly remembered the pain. I don't believe it would've been so painful for me if I wasn't having Pitocin altered contractions and had I been allowed to move around, get up and walk, labor in water or the shower, squat, etc. Being flat on a bed is the worst position for birthing as it closes the pelvic area by 10%. Squatting, moving, being on all fours, etc actually all open the pelvis.

Ok, my sweet daughter is refusing to nap, I have to pee and then go rescue her from her crib :) More on all this later. Hope I got you thinking!!!!



  1. So funny...Arrowhead Regional Medical Center is where I had Christine...and also c-section #1.

    It amazes me how many women are so uncomfortable with what our bodies are naturally meant to do. I am very saddened to have never experienced a "true" birth. I would have loved to have had a natural birth experience.

    Unfortunately for me, I do think my c-sections were necessary. I've had to really grieve the loss of that experience. And because of my c-sections I had more medical complications which is why I can't have anymore children :( I really feel as if I wasn't done having kids either.

    I meet so many mothers who ELECT to have c-sections which is just CRAZY to me! Why would you choose that? If pain is what they fear c-section recovery pain is no walk in the park! Or mothers who rush into inductions which don't work which lead to c-sections.

    I'm rambling. But it's refreshing and wonderful to read another mom who embraces her body and all the wonderful things it can do! Good for you!! :)

  2. 27 years after my first homebirth and 17 years after my second homebirth, I very fondly vividly remember them both. My back labor was hard labor, but the support, the flexibility of moving around, leaning on my husband, squatting, doing what felt best for my body, being in my own surroundings made it oh so much easier.
    I happened to love being pregnant,giving birth, and breastfeeding. Each of these dumped blessed hormones into my system that were noticeably beneficial. So all these years later, yep I miss it all!