Saturday, July 08, 2006

Numbed Down Thinking

I had a great conversation yesterday with a local homebirth midwife. We chatted a while about how midwifery has changed and how it has changed us. It made me think about my book in a larger context. What I'm really trying to communicate to women are the psycho-social, and spiritual "side effects" of drugs and technology in birth. When I worked at an inner-city teaching hospital, where women were basically just fodder for learning students and baby docs, they seemed like sheep being led to the slaughter. But later, when I went to work at suburban middle class hospitals, the women seemed only all the more eager to hand themselves over to the pharmaco-technocratic process. What has happened to us in only 30-40 years time? This generation seems so shut down, so turned off to thier bodies. I can't imagine wanting to be numb from the waist down for any experience in my life, let alone the births of my babies. Numb from the waist down? This generation of women seems to be numb from the head down. Our generation has not done its job. If we had, our daughters would know better. Those of us with stories worth tellling, had better start telling them.

5 comments:

lucy Neiland said...

Great blog. Something that has really suprised me is how much people are willing to let their birthing experiences be taken away from them, and how unquestioning they are of hospitals and doctors.

I am from england and due in september. Yesterday we toured round a hospital in a very white middle class area of kansas city.

Examples of questions people asked:
"do you you have take out menus so we can order in?" - this was asked twice
"can we bring an extra chair in to the room?"
When I asked about squatting bars and birthing balls the tour guide looked at me like I was crazy.

Laborpayne said...

Lucy,
Welcome to the typical midwestern birth experience. If you don't want to fall into this trap- you'll have to work very hard to get the birth you want. I wish I could give a step by step formula for making things work for you, but I suspect things are even worse than what I'm portraying. There are so few hospital-based practitioners here who have the power or the courage to offer you what you want. The political system has a choke hold on how docs and midwives can practice, and it gets more restricted by the day. You need to find one of them. You need to state your objectives for birth in no uncertain terms and stick to your guns. See how your caregiver reacts. Ask all the hard questions, and see if they become uneasy or try to change your mind. But thats just the beginning. You also have to choose the hospital very carefully. The clinicians have their sets of parameters and the hospitals have another. Even though you are due in September, is not too late to make changes. There are birth centers in our vicinity and don't discount homebirth if you are low risk. Take out menus, my ass!
Good luck Lucy.

lisavc said...

Hi there! I found your blog through a link on someone elses's but I can't recall who right at this minute.
My name is Lisa and I'm Australian and live in south australia.
I've always been very interested in birth issues, having had 4 children myself.
I could'nt agree more with your views on how things are with birth now. There is a birth show on austar(our equivelant of cable)and I could'nt understand why the majority of these women did'nt look like they were in any pain, or even show much effort in pushing, then I realised they had had epidurals. I was shocked at how MANY of them were willing to do that. How many are happy to have their waters broken for them, have their labour hastened, etc, etc.
Medical intervention so often leads to problems. Don't they know that?! I don't get it.
I was ANGRY when my waters were broken at my last birth WITHOUT my permission. I took off the belt that records contractions and the nurse got upset with me. ??!! no reason for it. no problems. 4th baby. I KNEW I was in labour, I did'nt need the belt to tell me. Baby was'nt distressed. It seemed to me it was her safety harness. It was for her, not me or baby. It made her job slightly easier.
She told on me to the doctor but he was'nt bothered.
It upsets me a lot how medical such a natural thing is. I shall be following yuour blog with interest.

Laborpayne said...

Thank you Lisa. As a former labor and delivery nurse, I can tell you, you are absolutely correct. Most of those contraptions are for making the caregivers feel better, usually at the expense of the mother, and at times at the expense of the baby as well. I'm glad you found my blog. This pregnancy is as much an adventure for me to live as it is for you to read about. Its nice to get an international following. I always want to assume that things are better in other places, but I understand that birth is under attack throughout the world. I try to stay abreast of what is going on other places, both good and bad, to know what others have done that is working. You are a true soldier to the cause, unstrapping those belts! If that happened here, I doubt most doctors would go along with it. There is so much fear surrounding birth. How does one counteract the fear? The only antidote to fear that I know of, is love. Women no longer love their births. There's nothing you could tell me to make me fear my upcoming birth. (and God knows I've seen it all) I love my body and trust in its ability to do what it was designed to do. But its not just a woman's personal fear that must be overcome, its her caregivers fears as well. The physician or midwives come with thier own set of fears, the nurse comes with another, the hospital administration yet another. So many fears, on so many levels all impacting the birthing woman and reinforcing whatever fears she may have walked in the door with. There is much work to be done. Please continue to tell your story.

Mimi said...

Oh my goodness, YES! I totally agree.