Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review - "Pushed" and a rant about childbirth

***Disclaimer: This post is in no way making an announcement or hinting at anything. It's just simply me sharing my thoughts and opinions with you. When I become interested in something, I enjoy reading and learning as much as I can on the topic. So, the only announcement I have to make is that I hope and pray this information will be useful to me at some point in the near future. :)

Ironing is a task that can be dreadful, but also enjoyable. The only reason I enjoy it is because it gives me a good excuse to watch TV for 2 or 3 hours straight. A few weeks ago, I had a major mound of ironing needing my attention. There wasn't anything interesting on TV at the time, so I turned to Netflix. I found the documentary, The Business of Being Born, and selected it for my ironing entertainment. I was thoroughly fascinated! The documentary was produced by Ricki Lake. I was surprised to find out she is very much an advocate for natural birth. The documentary looks at modern maternity care; the pros and cons of hospital births, natural births, birthing centers, and home births. It is a bit graphic at points, but incredibly interesting.

Natural birth has always been fascinating to me and I am a big advocate. After watching this documentary, I was even more interested in learning about modern maternity care and strengthening my personal argument for natural birth. I was at the library picking up Inconceivable when I noticed another book next to it on the shelf. Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care grabbed my attention. At first glance inside the book, I was a little intimidated. I noticed a lot of numbers and statistics. However, once I got started, it was hard to put down. (I know I'm odd for enjoying a book about childbirth when there's not even a hint of necessity. But, that's how I roll).

I enjoyed reading about the history of childbirth and maternity care. It is amazing to think that women were once put into a "twilight sleep" to birth their babies or restrained at the wrists and ankles during labor. Can you imagine!?!?! The author, Jennifer Block, did a great job writing about the progression of intervention used in hospitals and the varying practices doctors use in maternity care.

The author focused a lot on the sad truth that most women are not given many options when considering childbirth. Today's norm is for a woman to go to a hospital, be given Pitocin if labor is progressing as the doctor would like, get an epidural to deal with the pain, be hooked up to all kinds of machines, stay on her back for the duration of labor and delivery. And if all that doesn't flow just as the doctor would like, she is wheeled in for a cesarean section. A woman is often looked strangely or questioned if she expresses interest in anything but this plan. Natural childbirth is often frowned upon, let alone using a midwife in a birthing center. The real kicker is if a woman wants to give birth at home! How dare she!

Now, I'm not here to pass judgement or put other women down. If a woman wants to have an epidural or even schedule a c-section, then go for it! Just don't judge me if I want to do it differently. It boggles my mind to think that it has become so controversial for a woman to want to give birth the way women have for hundreds of years! Why is something "natural" frowned upon? In my opinion, the answer can be summed up in two words: money and liability. Doctors and hospitals are in business and they're scared of being sued. I don't blame them, but that doesn't mean it's right.

I am a supporter of midwives, birthing centers, and home births. I'm not ashamed to say it. One statistic the author gave in Pushed was especially interesting to me. There are only 175 independent birthing centers in all of the United States. In 12 states, there are no birthing centers at all. In 11 states, midwifery is illegal. (Pushed, p. 179) This information is astounding to me. I'm thankful to live in a state where there are still a few birthing centers and even more thankful there is one close to us!

Women should be able to have a choice in how they want to labor and where and how they want to deliver their baby. If a woman wants to schedule a c-section, then she should have that right. But, why is it considered acceptable (and sometimes encouraged) for a woman to schedule a c-section, but not acceptable for a woman to have her baby at home? If a woman can choose to take birth control, kill her baby by abortion, or be cut open to remove her baby, then she should have the right to choose to have a baby at home. Unfortunately, most of society doesn't agree. Did you know that there have been instances where women who have had home births were turned in to social services? That is absolutely ridiculous! There have also been instances where doctors felt that a woman was putting her baby in danger by choosing to have a home birth or refusing a c-section (when the baby was showing NO signs of distress) and the doctors performed a court-ordered cesarean. A court-ordered cesarean! The thought makes my stomach turn!
I understand that the two examples I just gave are extremes, but they are still happening. Such tragedy has occurred within the past 15 years.

I understand that are circumstances that make it difficult or even impossible for a woman to give birth naturally. C-sections are necessary in certain situations. However, I strongly believe that most of the c-sections performed are done so unnecessarily or could be prevented. I'm not going to tell anyone what they can or can't do. I just encourage women to educate themselves and know their facts. Reading this book gave me a lot of insight as to questions I need to ask when I am seeking an obstetrician or midwife. I am thankful for the knowledge I gained. I am thankful women like Jennifer Block are willing to do their research and confront issues such as this.

Since reading this book, I have come across a few websites that have been especially interesting and speak to this issue. Childbirth Connection is a site mentioned several times in Pushed. It contains a wealth of information regarding maternity care and childbirth. Several of the statistics and studies referenced in Pushed can be found on this site.

One last piece of information and I'll get off my soapbox. There was a study published in 2005 by Johnson and Daviss titled "Outcomes of Planned Home Births." The study looked at 5000 planned home births attended by CPW (certified professional midwives). 95% of the women gave birth vaginally and all of the babies were born healthy. (Pushed, p. 264) That says a lot for the support of midwives, natural birth, and home births.


Amanda said...

My friend Emily Tyson Zieser is a certified midwife. She lives in Iowa and has her own little business that keeps her semi-busy. You should look her up on facebook if you ever have any more questions. She has a great deal of knowledge. She assisted in the birth of her niece at a birthing center in GA and in the birth of another niece over the phone :)

Elizabeth said...

"I am a supporter of midwives, birthing centers, and home births. I'm not ashamed to say it." --me too :)

His Mercy Endureth Forever said...

I fully support a woman's right to choose her method of childbirth. I admire those women tremendously who can go through the process with little to no medical intervention. I wish I had that confidence in myself AND the Lord to take on that task, but I will admit...I went the hospital route! But NO ONE should judge a woman for the choice she makes!

Dani said...

Wish I had seen this before last night. We could have had one lively conversation. :)

Nicole said...

I agree totally what you are saying. I had a horrible experience with Addison's birth. I hated it and resulted in an emergency c-section. Thinking back...was it really an emergency? My baby's heart beat was strong. Sydney's scheduled c-section resulted in a spinal headache which landed me back in the hospital. It was sad that I could not try for a vbac due to the huge costs the doctors have to pay in law suits. To this day, I regret not pushing for a vbac and looking elsewhere for an obgyn that met my needs.