Ramblings on Childbirth

Thomas is out of town and tonight we will spend our second night apart since I was 3 months pregnant with Bud. It’s been interesting spending a weekend without him. Props to the single moms out there doing this every day. Bud definitely senses that something is amiss, especially around bedtime. He’s in his crib now banging his pacifiers around, but it’s okay, we have an extra hour hanging around.

Anyway, all that to say that I’ve been surfing the web a bit more than usual and I stumbled across a wonderful article about childbirth. We had a wonderful birth experience and went to lengths to avoid much medical intervention, and thankfully we didn’t need it. This article in The New Yorker lengthily discusses how birth has evolved through the years with the invention of forcepts, Caesarean sections and the transition from home births to completely drugged hospital births. It is subtitled, “How Childbirth Went Industrial.”

His discussion of the extremely high rates of C-section deliveries was interesting. He writes:

And yet there’s something disquieting about the fact that childbirth is becoming so readily surgical. Some hospitals are already doing Cesarean sections in more than half of child deliveries. It is not mere nostalgia to find this disturbing. We are losing our connection to yet another natural process of life. And we are seeing the waning of the art of childbirth. The skill required to bring a child in trouble safely through a vaginal delivery, however unevenly distributed, has been nurtured over centuries. In the medical mainstream, it will soon be lost.

Skeptics have noted that Cesarean delivery is suspiciously convenient for obstetricians’ schedules and, hour for hour, is paid more handsomely than vaginal birth. Obstetricians say that fear of malpractice suits pushes them to do C-sections more frequently than even they consider necessary. Putting so many mothers through surgery is hardly cause for celebration. But our deep-seated desire to limit risk to babies is the biggest force behind its prevalence; it is the price exacted by the reliability we aspire to.

I am thankful for medical marvels like the C-section; without them, I might have lost a few dear friends in childbirth. However, it is noteworthy that our national C-section rate is almost 30%. I know that 50 years ago, before it was so common, we didn’t lose even close to 30 percent of infants or mothers in childbirth. That many women elect to have them out of fear of childbirth or wanting to schedule it is even more alarming.

Something that I discovered during pregnancy is how little we all know about birth, making it shrouded with fear. What I appreciated most about our childbirth prep classes was that we watched a video of birth almost every week (including a C-section). This helped remove the unknown and fear surrounding it, and by the time our due date approached, I was truly excited to experience birth. Back in the home-birth-midwife era, women didn’t need videos to be comfortable with birth. They “tended” one another during labor and birth and were all familiar with the nitty gritty of it. I guess all that was to say that if you are expecting, become comfortable with your body and the amazing things God made it to do. Educate yourself and perhaps it will help alleviate your fears as you learn more about your Creator’s creativity. And stay tuned, if there is ever a BabySuper2, perhaps we’ll live-blog it so you can all participate–ha!

4 Responses to “Ramblings on Childbirth”

  1. erin says:

    It is good to know that a lot of our friends have had the option of a C-section in the midst of complications. However, I did read an article last summer about a certain hospital in West Plano that has the highest number of chosen/planned C-sections in the state (maybe even one of the highest in the country) due to the amount of women that want to schedule births in order to not interfere with careers, etc and the amount of women that can afford such an expensive procedure. Doctors are banking up there with the number of births they can fit in a day…..even though these types of C-sections are not encouraged at all in the medical community. In a contrast, Parkland Memorial hospital near downtown has the lowest amount of C-sections and prides themselves on this status.

  2. Rachel – I saw on the side bar that you read “The Secret Life of Bees” – did you like it? Also, I think I got confused when we switched the recipe club from email to blog – are we posting recipes in any particular order (weekly) or are we all just posting when we have a recipe to share?

  3. Aurelie says:

    What a great article! Thank you so much for sharing, Rachel. I am so thankful that the practice of midwifery has not died off completely…even though some people (including my friends), upon hearing that I was delivered by a midwife instead of a doctor, looked at me like I was living in the Dark Ages!

  4. Ryan says:

    good post. also, I read Bud’ birth story. I hope we can stay home long enough to have such a fast experience in the hospital. we are meeting with our doctor to discuss our birth plan tomorrow. I hope/think she will be agreeable to no planned interventions.