I participated in the Improving Birth Rally for Change yesterday, Labor Day, 2012. This event was to promote awareness on evidence-based maternity care. What is evidence-based maternity care? You can check out this link to read more. Chattanooga’s rally had around fifty people in attendance with a handful of extremely cute kids.
Now, I thought the responses from motorists was pretty good. We had a few honks, some thumbs ups and a few questions from people at the intersection. We had three news stations come out and interview me, the main local coordinator of the event, one mom/aspiring midwife and an expectant father.
I was really pleased with our event, hoping that we may have made a difference for a few people in the area.
“After the birth rally I was walking in to Chick-fil-A when I heard a woman on the phone say, “Don’t they realize that some c-sections are necessary?” I had to respond, so I simply said, “we’re not here to say there aren’t necessary c/s, we’re here to improve birth outcomes for both mom and baby.” This comment went on to a 20 minute talk and she’s a L&D nurse in Nashville who just doesn’t get it. I hope what I had to say to her at least made her think. One comment she said stands out: “Some of these women don’t realize that I put my license on the line for them in these births.” Yep, there’s the fear of litigation coming in to play. Oy! I’m glad I could be a part of the rally today!”
My friend that responded to this woman was right on target. This movement isn’t about not having any inductions or never having a c-section. Of course those are medical advances that really help some women and babies. But does it make sense that in this town, the majority of women schedule their induction (or are pressured into an induction) just because they are 40 weeks, or even 39 weeks. Granted, like a lot of comments that were seen on various news sites across the U.S., maybe it is not any of our business. But what happens to the culture of birth, when everyone is induced, or everyone has a c-section. Then people forget how birth actually occurs. So you might say, well, who cares? Or as some of the comments online I’ve seen…”Worry about something important, like the economy or government!” Or, “Get a job!” Guess what, this affects the economy. It affects insurance, it affects the government. They are all interrelated.
What bothers me so much, there seems to be a lot of hate from women from these comments. Maybe they are on the defensive. They really believe that we are out to get them, or to tell them they did it wrong. I don’t think they did it wrong, but I do thing our medical system is screwed up. When over 1/3 of the women in the country and Chattanooga have to have a c-section, something is wrong. Their doctors have no idea how to support birth without intervention. I mean, why would they? They are trained surgeons. I love an analogy I’ve seen, it said having a surgeon attend a low-risk birth is like having a pediatric surgeon baby sit your kids. I mean, something could go wrong, why not have someone on hand to fix a problem in a moment?
When we forget how to birth, what happens in emergency situations when there is no power? Say a hurricane? Check out this post and this one. Jennifer Block highlighted the story in her book “Pushed,” when Hurricane Charley came in and they canceled all inductions and then nurses saw first time mothers giving birth within hours of going into labor on their own. Mother’s that were scheduled for induction came in laboring without the need for pitocin.
The nurses at our local hospital thought we were protesting inductions. ImprovingBirth.org would like fewer inductions, but medically necessary ones, we fully support. What is medically necessary? Is big baby necessary? Is low amniotic fluid? Supposed placenta deterioration? 39 weeks? 40 weeks or more? That’s where evidence-based care comes into play. These doctors and midwives are operating the way that have been for the past few years. The nurses that are coming up through the rank are seeing that the majority of women are coming in for an induction or maybe even an scheduled c-section. Only those that have been in the business for a long time know this wasn’t the way it was always done. However, I would expect most of them are pretty jaded with the system and just want to keep their jobs and do the best they can with the circumstance. Our system is so screwed up. The hospital staff does not even know how to handle a woman that is coming into the hospital pushing….see previous story. Sigh. So many are appalled by the treatment of my friend in the last blog post. They had no idea this could even happen. But guess what, this type of treatment could become the new normal for our society. That story was a form of medical rape. If a woman in another setting had said, “No, don’t cut me,” it would be assault but in birth…it isn’t treated the same way because mom and baby are physically healthy, minus a stitched up perineum and some PTSD.
No, you don’t have to care about this movement. It is your choice. However, I feel like I’ve betrayed so many women by not speaking up, by not telling them what I know about their chosen care giver. I want them to be educated and to find the care provider that fits for them. If they want a doctor that will do a scheduled c-section, then I know the doctor in town to tell them to go to. But if they want a birth without intervention, honestly their best bet is to stay home unless birth in America changes. I think it would be great for my friends to be able to go into the hospital and get the exact same treatment, I receive in my home births, minus their own bed and toilet. Guess what though, there is no money in that. Maternity care is big business for hospitals and without women being told their bodies don’t work, they do not make any money.
This movement is about women’s rights and it is about the health and safety of women. It is important. When women and men are hateful towards normal low-risk birthing women in America, it feels like a form of discrimination. A way to keep women down, a way to say, you don’t matter. Women should be free to birth in whatever way they want, but when they aren’t given the full information about the procedures that are being preformed on them, it is like some sadistic social/medical experiment on women. Women deserve respectful evidence-based maternity care. We can do better.