Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Surprising History of How we are Born

One of the things that has changed my entire perspective about birth is a book by Tina Cassidy, a former Boston Globe reporter, entitled 'Birth: The Surprising History of How we are Born.'  In this book, she recounts historical events that have molded the current medicalized model of childbirth.  Instead of situating my opinion right here in this paragraph, I'm going to leave it up to the reader here to go onto her website, read her other articles, and formulate their own.   After reading this book a couple years ago (which, by the way, should not be read by currently pregnant women), I decided to do my own research on the subject, which culminated in a research paper I wrote for my Medical History class on the dawn of obstetrics, the repression of modern midwifery, and the comparison of two prominent physicians in the profession--Joseph B. DeLee, who popularized forceps delivery, and Grantly Dick-Read, who wrote the now out-of-print book entitled 'Childbirth without Fear.'  In my research, I realized the kind of birth I wanted to have and midwifery spoke volumes to me.  Midwives do every single thing that obstetricians do, including recognizing emergencies, administering pitocin for uterine hemorrhage, and other things, except perform cesarean sections, which are wonderful and necessary in emergency situations.  Midwifery care is a bit more personal and comprehensive and includes many other realms than just checking the health of the mother and baby.  For me, I knew that I only wanted the OB for an emergency case and if you have a good midwife, she knows how to recognize these emergencies earlier and has a very close working relationship with her backup OB.  My midwife's c-section rate is 2-3 percent for all her deliveries, compared to the general 29-40 percent at most American hospitals.  This statistic was huge for me and I wanted the best care possible for this entire process.  Currently, I am an advocate for a woman's choice in this realm and am constantly filled with the goal of gently educating people about what choices they actually have and how to weigh the risks and benefits.  I always say, "I'm fine with someone who chooses to schedule a c-section so her busy husband can plan to be around for the birth as long as she is completely educated about all her choices and how they affect future outcomes."  I think, above all, a woman must feel comfortable and safe no matter what is going on.  I support this, and honor this because women's health is my passion!  Tina Cassidy, having a violent c-section for her first birth and then a safe home-birth VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) for her second, currently sits on the board of the Business of Being Born team with Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.  She is a vast resource and has devoted her career to this bountiful subject.  She is one of my heroines.   

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