Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Following a chain of threads got me thinking...

Jill at Keyboard Revolutionary posted links to a chain of posts and threads inspired by AtYourCervix. The discussion started around the film The Business of Being Born when someone, predictably, stated that some women are being selfish when worrying about their experience during childbirth. Her contention was the the most important thing is a healthy baby and the original commenter was NOT saying that the experience isn't important, just that she felt some people got carried away with it. Reading Jill's response got me thinking, though. Generally, I agree with her pov, except I would take it even further. It IS possible (and exceedingly relevant) for women to have a safe birth AND a good experience. The two things do NOT need to be mutually exclusive, regardless of the situation. Even if she needs interventions, they can be done in a compassionate, inclusive way that doesn't alienate her or further terrify her. There is NO good reason why every effort shouldn't be made to protect the experience, imo, and here's why: When a baby is born, so is a mother and subsequently a family. It's a thought I touched on in my last post. One of the people Jill links to speaks about the fact that the experience of the birth, good or bad, will be carried with that woman to her grave. It goes even further, it will be shared with her children, her friends and random people who ask or she chooses to relate the experience to. Her perceptions of that reality will shape the perceptions, even if just in subtle ways, of everyone who hears her tale. More importantly, though, how her birth was experienced has a DIRECT affect on her perception of herself as a mother. When we harm women during their birth experience, facilitate trauma or invalidate her NEED for the "experience" we are affecting society at large, one birth at a time. It's NOT a good affect!

So I would take the sentiment further and argue that the experience is AS important as the birth of a healthy, thriving baby. I feel that the obstetrical community at large needs to get away from the "in this moment" mentality. The birth of a human being has consequences that FAR exceed the delivery room. Obviously, in the moment, the thing at the forefront of everyone's mind (including the "selfish" mother) is the safety and well-being of the baby. In fact, the vast majority of women who choose natural birth do so because they understand how important it is to the SAFETY of her baby and herself. The fact that even needs to be said is a testament how far we've come from even basic RESPECT of mothers.

I do not think that a woman who is interested in protecting herself as well as her baby is foolish, naive OR selfish. She is, rather, wise and thinking ahead, beyond the moment. Protecting her emotional and mental health is equally important to her physical well-being and has enormous impact on the emotional and mental health and safety of her children as well. This is to say nothing at all about the enormous benefit to the baby's physical health. The beautiful thing about birth as nature intends it is that it protects the safety and well being of the mother/child unit from conception and beyond, into the many years they will spend nurturing and teaching each other. To suggest that protecting the experience is selfish, foolish or naive is at best, naivety expressed to a "T" and at worst, derisive, arrogant rhetoric meant to skirt the issues at hand. It's an EXCUSE that has no basis in reality whatsoever.

Just saying.


Jill said...

HUZZAH!!! I'm so glad you expounded more on this. I absolutely agree that there is nothing wrong when a mother looks out for herself as well as her baby...mother and baby are not exclusive either! A mother wounded, be it physically or emotionally or both, by a traumatic delivery, might not be the best mother she can be to her baby. You're damn right I'm going to look out for myself - the last time I allowed myself to be treated like a womb pod, I almost died. And not in the "ZOMG insert fake emergency here" way either, I literally could have died, because of the hospital's treatment. Sure my BABY was fine, but how would it have affected him to grow up without me?

BaronessBlack said...

Very interesting! I think around the world people are waking up to this.
In the UK now, many couples are opting for at least some parts of a 'natural Cesarean'.

Elita said...

This is fabulous. As someone who had an OK hospital experience that could have easily been a horrible hospital experience if I didn't fight for my right to try and push, I totally understand the importance of the experience. I still get mad when I think about all of the unnecessary interventions I had (and it was only the IV drip, CFM & episiotomy.) I can't imagine how other women feel who had to have an unnecessary c-section.

Rebekah Costello said...

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments! I'm sorry I didn't say so before, life gets away from me sometimes.

Jill, lol, "womb pod". Right on. It's utterly sickening how much maternal mortality is ENTIRELY caused by medical intervention.

I've heard of that, Baroness, and it's encouraging.

Elita, thank you for stopping by! I could seriously write a post JUST about my outrage over episiotomies. No man in his right mind would every put up with that but we're expected to without a second thought! They are completely unnecessary what, 95-99% of the time? Ugh.