Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If I Were Truly "On" Face Book, I'd "Like" This

Sarah, from here, said this:

Many people are vaguely aware that "too many cesareans are being done," but they are unaware of the cause-and-effect that lead to preventable cesareans and other interventions. I know this because almost every woman who has had a cesarean, thinks that *her* cesarean was necessary/life-saving/not preventable. Statistically, over half a million preventable cesareans are performed annually in the US, so SOMEBODY'S cesarean was preventable.

(Contented sigh as I revel in reading the thoughts of others that validate my own.  Someone else said it.  I can't be that crazy. :)

The Price of Natural Childbirth

This post is for CM, MB and CC; friends who have recently given birth naturally.  They made it look easy.  But it wasn’t.  It just appeared that way.  If you can relate, this post is for you, too.
Lately, I’ve been directed to some YouTube birth videos.  The kind where the woman is screaming or, at the very least, protesting each contraction.  She’s in pain.  It’s more than obvious.  The comments that follow the video are sympathetic.  The woman is commended for having gone through the horrific experience.
One of my fellow teacher’s comments (about one of these videos) on our teacher forums got me thinking.  She’d posted the link along with the phrase: “NOT a Bradley mom!”  After watching only seconds of the video of this woman in early labor, I smiled at the validation that for once, someone else had the same perspective.

What’s your perspective?  Let me give you two examples.

Example one:  A contraction hits Mom; she writhes in pain.  Her face contorts.  Her hands grasp the bed sheets.  She screams.  She thrashes.  It is clear to any observer: she’s in agony.

Example two: Mom has a contraction.  She breathes deeply; sighs.  Her sounds are low.  She sways.  Her face is relaxed and peaceful.  It isn’t apparent that she’s experiencing difficulty.  An onlooker may not even notice she’s contracting.

What is your first thought? (Believe it or not, your answer to this reveals a lot about your preconceptions about labor and birth.)

If you said that the second woman had a higher pain tolerance or an easy labor, you have the perspective of the majority of Americans.

If you said the first woman is having a harder labor, if you said she was experiencing more pain, you may be right.  But not the way you might think.

I’ll give you my perspective: Mom #1 does not know (or is not proficient) in pain-reducing techniques.  She is not aware that her pain is exacerbated by her behavior.  She does not realize that position, tension, perceptions and expression can lend to more pain than she may otherwise have.  She is experiencing unnecessary pain.

Mom #2 is well-versed in comfort measures for labor.  She knows that doing all she can to get out of the way and allow her body to work unhindered will reduce her pain and finish the work ahead of her.  She works with the pain she does experience, and she sees it as good: the baby is coming.  Though her appearance is that of rest and tranquility, she is working.  Hard.  To relax.

This is how I see it.  This is how my fellow teacher saw it.

This is not how the general public sees it.

A woman who wants to give birth naturally might want to consider what it will cost her.  In order to assure the most success in her endeavor—indeed, the most enjoyment—she will need to give up her right to have a dramatic labor.  The better a woman stays relaxed and tension-free, the more it will look like she’s not even in labor (that is, from the perspective of the untrained eye).

Unknowing friends and acquaintances will not recognize all the work that went into the birth.  After the fact, whether her labor was long or short, word may get around that she just “showed up and had a baby.” Her providers may also be under this impression.  Even her husband may not realize how hard she was working.
It may be assumed that she is just “tough.”  Or worse, that she had it easy.  After  all, she wasn’t complaining.  And she didn’t look that uncomfortable.  It must have been easy for her.  She must be one of the lucky ones.

The woman who gives birth under the honed skills of relaxation may be despised by onlookers, hearers and naysayers.  She may reap the spite of other women; women will tell her they “hate her” for having an easy time of it.

Yes, natural, enjoyable birth has its asking price.  A price that is worth the time and effort necessary (necessary for all but the smallest percentage of women), but a price, none-the-less.  A woman would do well to consider and accept this likelihood when she starts on the path toward. . .

Enjoying birth.

Most woman can.  Few desire it.  Fewer succeed.

To my friends and loved ones who worked hard to prepare and educate yourselves for safe and satisfying births, I believe you.  I believe it was hard work.  I believe it wasn’t easy.  Congratulations on making it look so easy that people assume it was.

10/12/10 Edited to add this awesome link on birth sounds.