Wednesday, May 09, 2012

I'm Not Making This Crap Up!

Someone asked a question on Facebook this morning, "If you were writing a movie about childbirth, what would it be called?" My favorite answer was, "I don't know but my book about birth is going to be called, "I'm not making this crap up!"

Ain't that the truth! Some of the things I've witnessed in over 300 births have been sad, maddening, atrocious, shocking, and heartbreaking! I once went out to the hospital hallway and banged my head on the wall. I was that mad.  And I am a mild mannered person...usually.

I think that it's important for anyone who is going through a life transition to have a witness.  Don't the bride and the groom need a witness, the Maid of Honor and the Best Man? Doulas provide that witness for a birthing mom and dad.  I usually share good news with y'all here.  Stuff like, "A beautiful healthy baby joined us today" or "a strong woman birthed untethered (not tied down to IV, Epidural, Monitor lines), in water, held by her loved ones, caught her own baby".  Writing about all the gooiest, grooviest, ethereal births I witness may not be in your best interest. You need to know ALL the facts. We all do. The "I'm not making this crap up" stories are ones I don't want to re-live. But it's time.

Hospitals are for sick people. Hospitals are for high risk pregnant women, high risk babies. NOT FOR NORMAL HEALTHY PREGNANT WOMEN! You see, childbirth is not an illness, not a disease. In 1988 Birth Psychology released this BIRTH IS NOT AN ILLNESS article. Back then the Cesarean rate was 24.7% in the United States. People, doctors, scientist were thinking cesarean rates had hit a plateau. 

"Data derived from the 1988 National Hospital Discharge Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics lead us to believe that the rate of cesarean section in the United States has stabilized."
Ha! So why for the next twenty more years has the surgical birth rate climbed, and climbed, and climbed???

2010 Cesarean rate in the U.S. was 32.8%. Some hospitals in San Diego had a rate of over 41% 

What does all that mean? And what does that mean to me?
It might mean a lot to you if you are of childbearing age, if you have a daughter or daughter-in-law, a wife or a sister and if you want her to have healthy, safe reproductive years. 

Before I continue I want you to know that I believe in woman's ability to birth ~ with all my heart. I have confidence in God's design for our bodies to birth our young, and for our species to thrive.

"Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The creator is not a careless mechanic.  Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo.  Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body."
~ Ina May Gaskin, Ina may's Guide to Childbirth 

I believe that in the hearts of most women there is a deep desire to birth in a safe loving way, much like the way conception happened. In ecstasy, in privacy, in bliss, under her own power. This is how we mother our young and this is how we conceived our young. This is how we can birth our young. Okay, back to the unpleasant truths of today....HALF of the women entering hospital to have a baby today will have a very unpleasant experience. The work of birth may turn scary. The natural hormones of labor may not be allowed to assist the mother and baby to travel the path nature intended. Did you notice I said "allowed"? Yes, hospitals will try to tell you what is and isn't allowed. Even though their protocol may be unproven, unscientific. Women do have the last word. They can demand what isn't allowed, but in the midst of labor this verbal exchange interrupts natures path, mothers and baby's path. Natures path is to be tread on lightly. But medicine today, most surgeons (OBGYN's), do not tread lightly. Getting back on path will take time and energy, energy that was needed for the birth of your baby.  Taking a Bradley Husband Coached Childbirth Class or a Birthing From Within class or a Hypnobirthing Class does not guarantee that you will not be one of the victims of the system. Hiring a doula is no guarantee either. If you walk into a hospital today to give birth to your baby you are very likely to birth by cesarean section.

When surgery is warranted, saves a baby or a mommy's life, I'm the first one who sings the praises of modern medicine. But today, I want to tell you about the many healthy women that without justifiable cause are induced, constantly monitored, have her labor sped up, slowed down, then when baby doesn't like all that crap and mom is too numb to push, her baby is surgically removed. Removed is too soft a word, Yanked, Pulled, from her belly, is more accurate.  Best case scenario after cesarean is Mom and Baby are fine. Physically.  Mom and Dad celebrate. The family celebrates. They take baby home and wonder why they have breastfeeding issues, postpartum depression, Mom doesn't trust her mothering instincts as well as she could. After all her body didn't know how to birth her baby, how can she possibly know how to mother her baby?

There's more.

Some women do NOT come out of cesarean section surgery physically fine. Some will come out of a cesarean with a hysterectomy, uterine rupture, bladder injury. And their babies are more likely to be sent to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for procedures that would otherwise not have been necessary.
Women die from complications of surgical birth, CESAREAN SECTION, at a higher rate than vaginal birth. THE CAUSE you ask? Unnecessary medical interventions. Things like too  much cytotec, too many changes in shifts, too much traffic in OR, too much fear in the OB's eyes because he's spent too many days in court rooms all crash into a tragic ending. And the biggest tragedy is that you may never hear about it. WHAT? That's right the reporting of this catastrophic event in our country stinks! "There is no federal requirement that the states carry out a confidential review of all maternal deaths in order to be sure that all are counted, to analyze the principle causes of preventable deaths and to make policy recommendations to prevent such deaths in the future." (see The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project and Maternal Death in the United States: A Problem Solved or a Problem Ignored )

I'm grieving. My heart is breaking today for a first time mom I never met. My friend is her doula. The mommy was admitted to the hospital in awesome spirits, her pregnancy healthy, no issues, medically she was called "low risk".  So why did this woman barely get out of surgery alive?
Induction. Rushing. Rushing a woman's birthing body is not smart. When was the last time you enjoyed someone rushing you to orgasm? Rushing a baby to be born is just bad science. Period. Who rushes a baby to crawl, walk, talk? Why do we rush them to be born? Slow down. Please.

My friend Doula Dawn recently shared this quote, 'If one went to the extreme of giving the patient the full details of mortality and morbidity related to cesarean section, most of them would get up and go out and have their baby under a tree,’ [Dr. McDonald] said.”[Neel J. Medicolegal pressure, MDs' lack of patience cited in cesarean 'epidemic.' Ob.Gyn. News Vol 22 No 10] 

Yes. Under a tree would be good.  I remember in 1978 reading Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms. She also mentioned this, "if you tie the majority of birthing women to a tree in San Fransisco's Golden State Park and left them alone they would give birth just fine." This resonated with me. I was 21 years old and I "Got It!" The ancient woman in my bones got it! I got that the reproductive rights of women were being tossed around like a football and the team with the most money was winning. Not the women. Not the midwifes. Not the babies. The men were winning. Back then the AMA was mostly men. What's a shame is that even though female medical students today make up 50% of the student population, generally (I say this because there are, of course, awesome women working to improve the system) these women are trying so hard to be accepted by the "old school" that they are, mostly, numb to their intuitive woman's voice, the gut says, "My God! Let this woman alone!" and her vying for the job voice says, "Protocol! Some one is watching! Try that new technique, get it checked off your list". And the woman on the bed suffers, the baby suffers, the world suffers on a level we may never fully comprehend.

Coming Soon....Part II - We're not taking it anymore! What women are doing to regain their reproductive rights. Childbirth is a human rights issue.

NOTE: This brought up emotions, writing it and reading it. Maybe you were a victim sometime in your life. That day we were powerless and today we are powerful. This is a new day. Cellular memory is one reason that I feel so strongly about this subject. If you had a Cesarean Birth and you had a positive experience, I am happy for you. I in no way mean to insult you or take away from those memories of your precious baby's birth day. This is in no way a medical piece, just my ramblings. I am happy to read your birth story, blog, etc. and dialog with you below or by email. -Rosie


  1. Anonymous7:40 AM

    While you're very quick to talk about all the complications of cesarean sections, you failed to mention the innumerable dangers and complications that exist and often occur from home and water births. There is a reason why there has been a dramatic decrease in maternal death since the advent of sterile, clean methods of delivering babies. Babies are born without an immune system and need to be SLOWLY exposed to the world until they are able to fight of their own infections. Until you study virology, medicine, and important advances in medicine that HELP mothers and babies, your opinions are baseless. They are just that: your opinions. I will in no way be made to feel like less of a woman because 1) I HAD to have a c-section or 2) because I made the smart choice and had my baby in a hospital.

    1. I agree, I write my opinions. I am not a medical care provider. But what I share is not baseless. Your knowledge also seems like an opinion, but rather ungrounded. How many births have you attended? In what capacity?

      1)In San Diego our homebirth midwives work with low risk women so there are very few dangers or complications. These midwives are well versed in the possible complications and prepared. They are also very conservative in their care, transferring 15%, mostly non-emergency, i.e., mom decides to have an epidural. If you had been seeing a homebirth midwife prenatally she would have transferred your care to a specialist (OBGYN) when you fell out of the low risk group. Or in labor you would be transferred to the hospital if your labor became high risk, for example, if your baby's heart rate was nonreassuring.

      2)USA urged to confront shocking maternal mortality rate @
      If hospitals are doing such a great job, why do we have more maternal deaths than 40 other countries? did you miss the line that states, "The number of maternal deaths is significantly understated because of a lack of effective data collection in the US A ." Did you see anything at all in this article mentioning the dangers of home birth? No.

      3)Household Germs Do Not Affect Mother and Baby

      Here's another good article.

      My intention is to warn women that are expecting to have a vaginal birth. Some women I speak with say that last thing they want is a cesarean, they will do anything to avoid surgical birth. But in fact that is exactly what happens. Not because of an emergency but because "time is up" the clock ran out. Mother was medically fine, baby was medically healthy. Everyone just got tired of waiting. Drive-thru's, microwaves, fast food, speed dating; all have influenced birth. Birth is not meant to be open 8-5 on a weekdays only. I've had clients who had a very natural 1st birth , expect the same with 2nd baby three years later, only to have a cesarean...only because the hospital changed it's 'time's up' policy! Nothing was wrong with Mama or baby.

      I know and love many women that have had cesareans, both types; necessary and unnecessary. It is not my intention to hurt them or you. They are not less of a woman. Some of these women went on to have VBAC, most VBAC at home because to them it was the smart choice. Others have repeat cesareans or VBAC in hospital because they made this choice for themselves and their family. I honor women's choices. I only wish for women to be aware of the c-section rates and risks. The numbers are not healthy. The numbers go down significantly when healthy women birth at home. period.

      I agree that advances in the important study of Preeclampsia would help mothers and babies. If I won the Lotto I would fund this study. But when it comes to low risk women medicine is not needed. So as a doula I will not be studying medicine. I will keep my tool bag full of genuine love, encouraging words, intimate knowledge of each woman I work with and care for her family. ~Rosie

  2. Anonymous8:12 AM


    Babies need breastmilk, you know, the stuff that is teeming with live antibodies......... that's one way to help their immune systems (not to mention gut flora). Home births (including water births, of which I personally have had 2)with a competent caregiver are just as safe as hospital births.

    "The overall rate of negative outcomes (a composite of outcomes of death or serious complications) was 4.3 per 1000 births (95% confidence interval [CI] 3.3 to 5.5) and there was no difference between non-obstetric unit settings compared with obstetric units. This indicates that as a whole, home births are as safe as ones in medical settings."

    This was a comprehensive study done of over 64,000 women in a two year time frame.

    Birth is normal. For situations that have complications (and we're not talking breech babies- my mom had one of hers at home over 30 years ago that was breech, attended by an experienced, competent provider), medical intervention may be necessary. No one is judging anyone for a medically necessary section. My sil had to have 2 of those because of placenta abruption.

    It's the exception; not the rule. Problem is today, the art of childbirth attendance has been lost to the medical establishment. When you lose experience, you lose options.

    When I delivered baby #2 in the hospital 13 years ago, NO ONE had seen a drug free delivery, which means I had numerous people in my room for most of it. The only reason I went along with it was because I felt like if that was the case already, there was a chance they would never ever even SEE another normal birth.


  3. Anonymous4:11 PM

    Thank you for putting your thoughts into words. I agree with you 100%. I birthed all three of my children at home. It was the most positive and wonderful experience of my entire life. I breastfed each for 2.5 years. I feel that by having natural home births, I became more aware of mother and child as one unit and disregarded the "mainstream" view of birth and nutrition (formula). Our midwives were our angles and best supporters.

    Keep on making the world a better place, Rosie! I love you and do not even know you!

    Cheers to the path you have chosen,


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