Pardon me while I rant.
Pregnancy is generally NOT a medical event. It is a normal natural state. Giselle featured a fabulous quotation a while back.
"Midwives see birth as a miracle, and only intervene if there's trouble. Obstetricians see birth as trouble, and if they don't intervene, it's a miracle." Gentle Birth Choices.
That's it exactly.
I just don't understand why more people don't consider midwives as their first route when pregnant. Why do we automatically turn to OBs? Obstetrics is a science. It is very useful if a problem develops. Midwifery, however, can PREVENT many of those problems. Studies have shown that planned hombirths with a midwife are safer than hospital births.
"Midwife" literally means "With woman."
I found this definition of "Obstetrics" to be very interesting (italics are mine):
1819, from obstetric (adj.), 1742, from Mod.L. obstetricus "pertaining to a midwife," from obstetrix (gen. obstetricis) "midwife," lit. "one who stands opposite (the woman giving birth)," from obstare "stand opposite to" (see obstacle).
I've been particularly disheartened with all things baby-related lately. I want to change the world. I want to help make this a gentler, safer, easier place to live. That's quite literally my job. I don't do this because I think I'm right. I do it because I've read the research. I have the education. I see the evidence every day. Yet there are those who, for whatever reason, won't ask for help or accept it. I mourn for them, not because they're not doing what I think is right, but because I know they could have a different experience.
I surround myself with like-minded people, so I've been privileged by the fact that many of my friends have used midwives and planned homebirths. Still, I see so many people having OB-attended hospital births that range from sub-par to horribly traumatic and I just have to wonder why. Every single woman that I have known who had planned a hospital birth in the past 6 months has had a c-section. All have been instigated by hospital interventions. Why? Why do we let this continue? Why do we as mothers make the choice to put ourselves and our babies in danger by birthing with an OB in a hospital?
We don't realize the consequences of surgical birth. When a doctor induces a mom at 38 weeks, he doesn't tell her that there's a 50% chance she'll wind up with a c-section. He rarely (if ever) tells her that full-term is 37-42 weeks. I've heard horror stories of doctors threatening mothers if they go to their due date (40 weeks) much less beyond it. I've known mothers whose OBs threatened to abandon them if they didn't agree to an induction no later than their due date.
Mothers often see c-sections as just another choice. Why? Because doctors often portray it as such.
How many OBs truly review the risks of surgical birth beforehand? How many women know that a c-section increases their risk of future stillbirths? How many are told that a primary c-section is more likely to kill that child? How many are told that a c-section makes fertility problems more likely? How many are told of the possibility of future physical ailments for the mom as a result? How many are told that mothers who delver via c-section are more likely to suffer cardiac arrest and hysterectomies (among other complications)? How many women are told that babies born via c-section are less likely to be able to breastfeed and are more likely to have hearing and breathing problems? How many are told that women who have c-sections are more than THREE TIMES more likely to DIE as a direct result? "Unnecessary cesarean delivery constitutes a threat to the future health of mothers and babies who undergo major surgery..." You can read a brief overview of the major risks here. Another list of risks can be found at this Mayo Clinic page.
Why don't we choose midwives from the start? Even aside from c-sections, there are greater risks and greater restrictions when we birth in a hospital setting. Why must so many people have a negative hospital experience before they seek out something different? It doesn't have to be that way. We don't have to force ourselves to suffer. Why won't more women take that stand? In this culture, we're willing to assert our right to flavorful junk food, but we're not willing to insist on a safer setting for ourselves and our babies. Why?