Saturday, July 16, 2011

Orgasmic Birth

Last night I watched "Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret". This is the best natural childbirth video I have watched thus far, and I highly recommend it. You just have to watch it!

I kept finding myself saying,"That's so true! Preach it!"

My only complaint is that I feel the title is a bit of a misnomer. Certainly prepare yourself to see videos of orgasmic births, but it's not the primary focus of the film. The primary goal is to give the viewer a brief, well-rounded education on why to choose natural childbirth.

One of my favorite parts was the "By The Numbers" extra section on the DVD. I'd be curious to get any feedback from my friends in the medical profession, since you'll probably understand the statistics in a different way than most viewers will.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pregnant in America

Just finished watching "Pregnant in America". This isn't so much a review of the film, as it is a record of interesting things I wrote down as I was watching.
I have two things to say first: #1) Yes, this film does sort of try to make you so afraid of the medical establishment that you'll want to give birth at home (but its not completely unwarranted). And #2) If this film doesn't make you cry a little, you must have a heart of stone!

At the beginning of the film, the documentarian is interviewing random people on the street about hospital birth. One woman says,"I don't know how have a baby on my own. If I did, I'd do it on my own." This made me so sad! I wanted to tell her, "No! Of course you know how to give birth on your own. You just don't know you that you do!"

I love it that they interview Ina May Gaskin in this film, because she is totally my hero and the mother of modern midwifery. If you read her, she will totally be your hero too. She shares the words for "midwife" in various languages. I love the French word: 'sage-femme' meaning 'wise woman.' That's exactly what a midwife really is.

The U.S. ranks 28th on the list of infant mortality rates in the world. What the heck? Why is that? How is the U.S. medical system different than other developed nations? The premise of this film is that our high infant mortality rate is due to our high rate of epidurals, high rate of "convenience cesareans", and high rate of "convenience inductions". Personally, I'd argue the root of this stuff is women not educating themselves about labor/delivery/risks/options and also corrupt doctors. (As a side note, I want to point out that we have no system of recording maternal morbidity rates and/or their relation to hospital interventions).
In the '70s the cesarean rate in the U.S. was something like 5 - 7%. In recent years its been something like 23 - 29%. In certain hospitals, its rumored to be as high 80%! The World Health Organization (WHO) warns us not to exceed a rate of 15%. Part of the reason the rate has gotten so high is because it is "more efficient". A C-section takes 20 minutes, whereas a doctor might have to wait as much as 30 hours for a woman to labor and deliver on her own. The people we're asking to care for laboring women aren't trained in attending normal births; they're trained to be surgeons. Sometimes they're just looking for a reason to perform surgery.

We like to think a woman wouldn't put her baby in danger for the sake of convenience (but Victoria Beckham scheduled her children's births around her husband's soccer schedule).

One expert in the film states that 50% of women who are induced end up with a C-section (though it doesn't state whether that number is for artificial induction or all types of inductions). From 1990 to 2000 the rate of women who were induced shot up from 10% to 20%. During the same 10-year period, the number of babies born Monday thru Friday shot way up. Hmm, you don't think doctors would tell women they need to be induced when they really don' you? (Watch the film and see for yourself!). Marsden Wagner from the WHO says,"Artificial induction of labor is one of the most serious and dangerous interventions you can make and should only be done if there's and important medical risk." When you look at the list of risks associated with induction, its just plain unethical that doctors are inducing women with drugs at the rate they are. A personal note on ethics: a friend of mine whose husband went to a well-respected medical school, told me they only spent about one afternoon teaching their future doctors about ethics in medicine. Groan. There is one section of the film in particular that discusses corrupt doctors, and it made me sick to my stomach.

The case for home birth
Animals choose the safest place give birth to their young. The basic need for all mammals to give birth is privacy--not to feel observed. Dogs, horses, cats...any mammal giving birth will go find a comfortable, safe place to hide. Human women are no different.

I saw in another film that primates who have a C-section will reject the baby and not care for it. When a woman gives birth she releases a complex cocktail of hormones--love hormones, but having a C-section interferes with the release of those hormones. I wonder if these unnecessary C-sections are robbing women of a special feeling of bonding with their baby?

The evil insurance companies
If you've ever watched the news in the last 5 years, I probably don't need to tell you that insurance companies and drug companies can be pretty evil. This film goes into that fact in some depth that I won't. One woman said,"We're victims of our insurance, so whatever [our insurance company] says we have to do is what we have to do."
I feel absolutely blessed that the insurance we have assigns us to a military obstetric office in which I am cared for through my pregnancy and delivery by wonderful midwives--unless there's an actual reason for me to see an OB/GYN!

All this to say: No, not all doctors are corrupt, and No, you're not doing it wrong if you choose to have your birth in a hospital with an epidural, but please be informed! Your doctor probably isn't going to list every single risk associated with every intervention they might do in the hospital, and you're certainly not going to be in a state to learn about it and respond rationally when you're in labor. So please--I beg of you--inform yourselves!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cloth diaper update

We did cloth diapering for my son's first few months of life when we had access to a cloth diaper delivery service. Then we had some major life changes and quit cloth diaper for about 2 years. Now he's in the potty training stage, but we're expecting a new baby this fall.

About a month and a half ago, we made the investment of $100 to get two cases of econobum diapers. Since our utilities are included at a flat rate in our rent, washing the cloth diapers doesn't cost us anything extra. We just have to buy cloth diaper laundry detergent and flushable liners, which are costing us a tiny fraction of the cost of buying cases of disposable diapers. (These diapers fit babies from 8 lb up to 35 lb, and will hopefully hold up through the time our second child gets potty trained).

Here's my latest take on this whole cloth diapering thing: Yes, It is a LITTLE more difficult for me than disposables, but I'm not ready to give up on it. Today's cloth diapers are much easier to use than the old fashioned ones, and with the money we're saving, I might even buy some of the fancier types of cloth diapers that are EVEN easier to use.

I think folding these prefolded diapers is about the same amount of work for me as picking up a case of disposables at the store (because there's only 2 dozen cloth diapers and I moved the changing station to next to the dryer!). And washing them is only a little more work than toting bags of dirty disposables out to the garage. I think its good for his potty-training that he sees me flush the poopies "bye bye" down the toilet (I know...I'm taking the potty training thing really slow). And every time I'm frustrated with putting the cloth diapers on, I just remember how much MONEY we are saving and how much we're AREN'T putting into the landfill.

The only problem I'm seeing is that Samson's getting a little more diaper rash. It seems it always only appears overnight, on evenings when he's had a lot of liquid and I didn't get him out of his crib to get changed right away in the morning. The diaper rash doesn't appear during the day, because I change him often during the day. Some people say a piece of fleece between his skin and the diaper would help keep his skin dry, so I think we either need to buy fleece liners for night time, disposables for night time, or start limiting his liquids in the evening! (Or, yes, get this kid potty trained!)

I'm going to keep using disposables when we go on long trips, but I'm going to keep trying and I'll let you all know how it goes!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Business of Being Born

Just finished watching "The Business of Being Born".

While I think they could've talked more about pathologies and the clinical perspective of things, I don't really think they exaggerate anything in the film--slightly if at all. You'd have to have a pretty good understanding of some things that can go wrong in birth in order to get the full picture. That in mind, I readily agree with the central message of the film that--for the most part--labor is a normal process and C-sections are major surgery. I'd love to see more women, OBs and hospitals embrace the movement to have more midwife care, fewer interventions/cesareans, and more informed moms. This is an outstanding documentary to watch if you're just beginning to inform yourself about childbirth. There are some great books like 'Ina May's Guide to Childbirth', 'The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth' or 'Hypnobirthing' that take a more in-depth look at the topic (if you're curious).

Personally, I feel absolutely blessed that the obstetric office the military is sending me to understands that midwife care is the very best thing for women who fall into the low-risk category. The midwives I've been seeing are very open to what I want for my ideal labor and delivery. I will let you know how it all goes down in September!

If you've watched the film, I welcome your comments.