Monday, July 07, 2008

Learning from History

Back in the late 1970's and 1980's, I wrote about the hazards of co-opting childbirth education classes into the hospital. "But it will give women more access to the education" I was told. I, and a handful of others, felt that it would lead to childbirth classes becoming large commercials for the services provided by hospitals. And still today, I hear "In our hospital, we can ..."

What the handful of us thought, about the large commericals, came true for the most part. Also came the watering down of the birthing options until options became a 4 letter word. Where nurses say "Oh, she has a birth there is an automatic cesarean!"

And now, here we are 30 years later. We have enjoyed the era of "natural childbirth". But while we weren't looking, someone came in and began to address the fears that all women have...fear of the unknown and fear of childbirth. Our support began to be incrementally changed from our husbands or partners to the comfort of medications and technology. Our fear was somewhat pushed aside by the removal of the pain factor by epidurals. We didn't need childbirth classes because the technology would ensure that we would have the best outcomes.

However, what "they" didn't let everyone know was that the US pregnancy outcome rate did NOT improve with the increase technology. What "they" didn't test was the long term side effects of Pitocin, Cytotec or epidural anesthesia. And what "they" didn't understand was that all of the technology interferes with a newborn's natural instinct to snuggle, cuddle and bond with their mothers. And too late, "they" still don't recognize any of these things.

The good news is that SOME of us know the stats, the adverse side effects of technology and medications. And the good news is that we are starting to become a more cohesive group to effectively get the word out. We still do not know all there is to know about birth. But what we DO know is that birth is normal, natural and should be left undisturbed most of the time.

The research backs up what we do know.

And it is time for us to begin listening not only to women but also to the research.

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