Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Birth, American Style

I've been reading a lot of blogs/websites lately about the issues surrounding birth in America. I wish I could find similar Canadian blogs. Does it surprise anyone that about 95% of babies in the States are born in hospitals, yet the US has one of the highest maternal and neo-natal death rates in the industrialized world? In most other countries, as many as 95% of babies are born at home, c-section rates are a reasonable 5-10%, AND they have better survival rates. Not many women seem to realize that while birth is a normal physiological event, having a birth in an American hospital INCREASES your chance of death.

One recent story I read is at Mothering Dot Com. At first I went there by following a link about an UC (unassisted childbirth) that transferred and went horribly wrong. The baby had been OP and got stuck on her pelvic bone. Fairly common, usually easy to correct, and it was in this case and the baby was born. However, the on call doctor came rushing in and demanded that the placenta be delivered immediately (not sure why). She yanked and pulled on the cord, despite the incessant pleading of the mother to stop. She yanked out the placenta...AND the uterus.

There are some interesting terms floating around in cyberspace regarding these types of birth stories. Pushed birth, purple pushing, birth assault and birth rape. How horrifying that such a wonderful event is used by doctors (and even midwives) to assert their position of all-knowing godship. What happened to birth being a woman's event, not a time for the medical establishment to insert their ideology where it doesn't belong? How can it be remedied when there are women electing to have c-sections (does the name Britney sound familiar) so they don't have to push, or because it makes them feel like they are in control of their birth (like, somehow, they can be in control when strapped down, half naked, separated from the 'sterile field' that is their divine femine landscape?), or because they want to schedule their life.

Women don't need to be afraid of giving birth (why do so many pregnant women get asked if they are 'nervous' about the upcoming birth); they need to be afraid of those who supposively know more than the ageless, global, female conscious that has sustained our existance for milleniums.


Anonymous said...

I like your perspective on birthing and mothering and would like to apply that to all the passages women go through. (I'm thinking of the aging process, too) Each step is an adventure that can be beautiful, not horrible. (well, maybe beautiful isn't the right word, but it is organic and natural). OH, well. I like what you write.
Anne in the U.S., but I do have Canadian roots: My father!

Housefairy said...

Hear hear! Thanks for visiting my blog...and yes the state of maternity care is abysmal here. (USA)