Monday, August 14, 2006
Who wants a ticket to this ride?
I've was blog-hopping a couple of days ago and came across an essay on Navelgazing Midwife, (one of my favorites) titled "When you buy the hospital ticket, you go for the hospital ride." I was endlessly fascinated by this article, because it basically said what I've heard all my career from hospital-based nurses. When you come to the hospital, expect a hospital birth. It used to frustrate me to hear nurses say, "why do they come here, if they won't do what we say, or if they don't want what we have to offer?" I believed that it was the job of the hospital to offer women choices and alternatives, and one of those alternatives should be untampered birth. After all, that was the lip service they gave. At least that was how I interpreted what they said. Now, after reading navelgazer's analysis, maybe I've been wrong all along. Maybe I should be promoting the beauty and benefits of homebirth and stop expecting hospital birth not to be hospital birth. After all, if I really believed I could have as wonderful a birth experience at a hospital as I do at home, wouldn't I be giving birth in a hospital? I already know that the hospital ride doesn't alter itself except with rare exceptions. I saw that loud and clear with my daughter-in-law's birth. Perhaps I should be proselytizing for homebirth exclusively until women win back their power in the hospital setting. Reading that article made me realize what a fence-sitter I really am. I'm too quick to say that "homebirth is not for everyone" (and of course it isn't) but perhaps what I should really be saying is "why shouldn't homebirth be for you?" After all, if a woman really wants, no epidural, no epis, freedom of movement, eat and drink in labor, family at bedside, no separation from baby, etc. aren't her best chances of getting all that AT HOME? I saw first hand how the hospital doctors and nurses treated birth plans. Anyone coming in with a birth plan and or doula were predicted to be wonderful candidates for a cesarean, and then everyone proceeded to do everything in their power to make sure she would get one (not even concsiously- they were just making their own predictions come true by their actions). The hospital system is extremely PUNITIVE to anyone who doesn't walk the chalk. Get out of line, and WHAM, your'e going to be disciplined. Don't think they can't come up with some scary shit to make you comply. You will comply when they finish with you. I'm not even saying this to demonize hospital clinicians. They do what they do, and when you ask for something different, you take them way out of their comfort zone. They aren't taught how to do untampered birth. Tampering is what they do. Aggressive management is the name of the game. Take that away from them and they don't know what the hell to do. They are utterly dependent on tests, technology, and pharmocology to "manage" birth. Tell them they can't do those things and they freak out. That's where their checks and balances are. Plus, they really believe in the safety and sanctity of those things. Those are their tools and rituals. It would be like a woman asking me to be her doula, but telling me not to use massage, hydrotherapy, positioning, or other tools in my arsenal of comfort. I'd think, "what the hell does she want me to do then?" Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I think I'm suffering through a paradigm shift or some sort of brain fuck that's going to have me even more radicalized on the other end.