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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughts On Our Time - Revisited

About six months ago, I wrote these thoughts. At the time I was trying so hard to express gratitude for modern medicine rather than comment on the stupidity of some because of their disregard for common sense, doctors, and the advancements in modern medicine. So, here's my take...

When Ryan and I got married, my freshman roommate and her husband had just had their first child. She had tried a home birth and it didn't go as well as she had hoped. She realized the importance of having emergency medical attention and made it a point to get to a hospital. (With her second child she opted to go to the hospital first thing.)

When I heard about home birth for the first time I thought it was crazy. But, having never gone through pregnancy or labor myself, it would have been naive for me to fully form an opinion.

Then again in graduate school I knew women who had chosen home births, midwives, and doulas and again, I thought they were crazy. I swear their births lasted longer. A lot longer--48 hours?! But again, having never gone through labor (I was pregnant at the time) myself, it would have been naive for me to fully form an opinion.

However, after my cousin died in 2009 because of complications with childbirth and my own personal labor with Adrielle, I formed a very adamant opinion on childbirth (Adi was born after 19 hours of labor. I was stalled at 9cm for hours with an intense urge to push and we almost had to do a c-section because of severe tachycardia. Do you know what can happen if you push when you're not fully dilated? Do you know what can happen if your baby's heart rate stays elevated?)

So, very adamant opinion...

Babies should be born in a hospital. Ugh. Why do so many women think that having their baby at home with a midwife is a good idea?! It simply dumbfounds me.

I am not saying a midwife is a bad idea. I had a midwife. But, I also had a doctor.

I am not saying everyone should have an epidural, spinal block, etc. I am saying that women should think about the safety of themselves and their unborn children.

Do those women who choose to "birth at home" or in a "birthing center" realize the inherent risk?

It honestly makes me so angry when people say that the odds of something happening are low! I know people, a lot of people who have had serious complications with labor.

For example, a colleague of mine just returned from visiting her daughter. Her daughter was in labor at home (contractions 2 minutes apart) with a midwife for 2 days before they rushed her to the hospital for an emergency c-section.

Guess what? Her baby was 10 lbs 2 oz.

Guess what? Complications arise after 24 hours.

Guess what? In a hospital, doctors analyze the risk posed to both mother and baby. (In this case, I presume a doctor would have been worried about a baby under that kind of stress for 2 days and performed a c-section after about 12 hours.)

*Update: 12 hours after I posted, a friend of mine posted her second son's birth story a few weeks ago.

If the above doesn't relay my point, here is what my friend said in her post "Miraculous" about her labor:

"I thought things [with delivery] were going quite well compared to [my first son's] delivery, but I was apparently mistaken. The last few minutes before [he] was born were a blur of doctors shouting things I didn't understand, specialists pouring into our room, nurses pushing with all their weight on my abdomen, and [my husband] being asked to leave. We had what I later learned was a severe shoulder dystocia (where baby's head delivers but the shoulders get stuck), which can lead to palsy, brain damage, or death in babies. [Our little boy] came out bruised and not breathing, but after being whisked away for a few hours, he was all right!"

Guess what? Her baby was 9 lbs 1 oz.

Guess what? Complications with delivery can arise even after a steady, uncomplicated labor.

Guess what? Death in babies and mother's occurs.

This is my opinion. I know that agency is an inherent gift of this life and that women can choose how to go through labor. But, like I said previously women should think about the safety of themselves and their unborn child. Wouldn't you want to know that a pediatrician, specialist, surgeon, or anesthesiologist were there--heaven forbid--something were to happen?

I am truly grateful for modern medicine. It truly is miraculous and I am grateful that I am fortunate enough to live in a time in which we know so much about medicine and the human body.

Oh, and one final rant. Personally, I am quite irritated with the 'trends' in birthing. It is a contraction for goodness sake, call it what it is.


Becca said...

I am SO with you. I was extremely low-risk and had zero complications throughout my whole pregnancy-until labor and delivery time! Ruby probably would have died if I had been at home. The emergency c-section saved her. I don't like the anti-doctor/anti-hospital mentality that is so fashionable these days. We should just be grateful that we have them. I loved and trusted my doctors!

TheTerry's said...

I absolutely agree with you personally. I've seen both sides of the argument...
My sister-in-law is super duper hippy and did her first two births at home with a dula. Both times she was rushed to the hospital with both her and the baby's life in danger. I couldn't believe she even attempted the second birth at home! I found it to be selfish as I felt she was only trying to maintain her image and make a point regarding her belief system. The third baby she finally consented to a hospital birth which saved her and the baby's life.

But I also have a dear friend from the Bay Area who moved out here to Utah and has had the last four of her eight babies at home. Her husband delivered the last baby. She is into holistic medicine, and for some reason it just works for her. She has never had any complications and continues to advocate at-home delivery. I say "do what you want" but as for me, I'm playing it safe for not only me and the new baby, but for my already living children and my husband. How could I explain to them the death of a child because I wanted to follow some trend?! Anyway, I agree with you! said...

I know several mothers who after having an easy labor with their first, decide for a home birth with their second. Guess what? All labors are not created equal!

Not to mention.... Who wants all the post birth fluids allmover your house, or worse your bed!! Gag me with a spoon, no thank you! I will take my controlled induction with epidural and endless ice chips any day of the week!

Kara said...

For the record, I tend to be a very non-confrontational person especially when it comes to things that people are passionate about on both sides of the argument. Does the term people pleaser come screaming at you? It should. :)

I agree with the above commenter. There are people who are passionate about certain things. Letting things happen naturally, participating in an experience that women for centuries have participated in. The process is very much "Let things happen the way nature intended." God created this Earth and created a process in which babies can be, and are, born. Women's bodies are truly incredible. Lots of women want to have the experience of childbirth so they know truly what their body is doing and what it is capable of, and some of these women want to do it from the comfort of their own home. This is a personal decision for them and if they want to take risk in their own hands, so be it.

Now, don't fly off the handle, I'm not finished. With all of the above said, I would not chose for myself, or for my baby an at home birthing experience. For the centuries of women who did the whole natural experience, there were a lot of women and babies that died because of the process. We are blessed in this day and age to have monitors, doctors, and nurses, that can prevent that death from occurring. There is a time and a place to have deeply rooted opinions, but I when it comes down to the delivery of a child I think people should be very careful. I know of a woman who did an at home birth where the baby died in the birth canal. I know an OBGyn who refused to let his wife have an at home birth even though he was a professional. When I was in labor, Grace's hear rate had some serious drops that I wasn't aware of until nurses came rushing in. Who knows what would have happened if I wasn't aware that she was struggling.

But, I respect the decisions of others and know that on both sides of the argument people are trying to do what, in their mind, is best for them and their babies.

Andrew & Elise said...

AMEN, McKenzie. I am with you 100%. And I hate it when people are like, "Oh, you had an epidural in the hospital? Well, I had MY baby at home in the bathtub..." as if they're better than me for some reason. UGH.

Maria said...


Sorry it has taken me so long to comment! I read this when you first posted and I appreciate your thoughtful insights. We are so very grateful to the wonderful doctors and nurses who helped us make the decision to have Mariana by c-section! God put them in our lives to help us keep our baby safe!

I also think that there can be a balance for those who want to try to labor a specific way - most hospitals will honor your birthing plan right there in the hospital room, but if either you or baby start to struggle they take over from that point on. I think that's the only responsible way to go if you feel the need to try to do things your way. But since I'm not an expert or doctor myself I like to leave the decisions to the experts and to God to guide them in the right direction!

Miss you guys!

Love, Maria

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