Sunday, December 21, 2008

On Child-birth, Epidurals, and Inductions

Warning: L-O-N-G Disjointed Ranting/Venting ahead—I’m pregnant, remember?? LOL

Just had yet another friend induced before her due date wind up with a c-section because the baby's heart-rate was dropping (during the second day of induction drug administration). Gar!!! What is with the “medical establishment”?? I "get" a first-time mom listening really closely to the Dr and going along with an early induction (of a technically full-term baby—39 weeks)... but if the drugs didn't work during the first 12 hours... do you think that maybe, just maybe, someone could figure out that the baby isn't ready to come out yet?? Could you admit that & just back off; let mom go home & wait a while (til closer to her due date)?? Anyone have a brick wall I can beat my head on???

I will freely admit to being biased. Not against the medical establishment per se, but against pregnancy and childbirth being treated like an illness or a disease that needs to be “fixed” or helped along by said establishment. Our bodies ARE designed to birth efficiently (and safely—imagine that!), and without interference in the vast majority of cases. Why do people insist on messing with a good & natural thing?

I’m just tired… Tired of being treated like an enemy by my IRL friends of child-bearing age because I don’t want an epidural during labor and delivery. Tired of being considered a novelty/circus freak because I want to stay in the comfort of my own home to deliver our baby. Tired of people being aggravated with me because we didn’t get an ultrasound this time (so we don’t know the baby’s gender yet).

SO WHAT?????

The pain “relieving” drugs DO hit the baby’s system; and no, we don’t know their long-term effects--although their short-term effects are pretty clearly visible. And what’s so weird about having a baby outside of a hospital setting anyway?? Women have been giving birth “naturally” for thousands of years. Hospitals (and the “pain-relieving” drugs they offer) haven’t been around for anywhere near that long. You used to have to wait til the baby was ready to be born to birth it (and you certainly never knew what you were having ahead of time, *grins*).

True, that in some circumstances a “natural” delivery is not without risk. And yes, in some cases the “medical establishment” is all that stands between having a live baby or a tiny casket. Medicine has it’s place. The advancements in the reduction of fetal/maternal fatalities that have been made are legitimate advancements. But for a healthy “low-risk” pregnancy??? Why, why, why are women (and their Dr’s) so intent on interfering with normal biological processes? Why?

When I was expecting BD#1, during our “newbie parents tour the hospital” trek, we were told this hospital was proud of their low epidural rate---of 90%!!! Um… 90% is low?? Are you freakin’ kidding me?? [Comparatively the hospital across town (their main competitors) had a 95% epidural rate. BUT the hospital across town also had the only Level 3 NICU in town, so they dealt with all the high-risk deliveries. Personally, I’d expect higher intervention rates there.] I know “pain-free” labor sounds appealing--especially to a first-time mom who’s heard nothing but horror stories from her girl-friends about how dreadfully awful child-birth was. (Why do we do that to each other anyway?)

My problem is that for every friend I have who’s had an epidural & therefore a “pain-free” delivery; I’ve got one or two whose epidurals didn’t take properly (or at all), and they’ve wound up with worse child-birth experiences than if they’d just left well enough alone. Same story with inductions. The statistics on elective inductions ending in c-sections are staggering. Of course, c-section rates (in the Southeast particularly) are staggering too, so I guess there shouldn’t be much surprise there. We, the generic societal we that is, are intervention happy.

We shouldn’t be, IMnsHO. But more on that later. For now I need sleep, ‘cause you never know when you’ll wake up in labor. LOL But you do remember I said I’m biased? There’s a reason I wasn’t interested in getting an epidural with our first—who I did have a fantastic hospital delivery experience with BTW, as one of those pesky 10% non-epidural mothers. :-D Yeah, more on that later. This post is w-a-y too long already!

End of rant.

Edited to add:

If you’re interested in reading more about the correlations noted between harmless interventions like epidurals and c-section rates, pick up a copy of Henci Goer’s book The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. Nice provocative title, eh? It’s worth reading if you are in your baby years—especially if you’re not happy with a previous birth experience. Studies can’t prove anything, but they can document trends. Repeat after me: Correlation does NOT equal causation. But neither is ignorance always bliss.

As a first-time pregnant reader, I really appreciated her documentation. While Ms. Goer makes no bones about her personal slant toward the midwifery model of care, she provides the documentation so you can think through the issues surrounding labor and delivery for yourself and/or go do more research. As she quotes Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer from A Good Birth, A Safe Birth: “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”

Go check out Henci’s book, and the reviews on Amazon. The negative reviewers make good (valid) points, too.


Stef Grennek said...

Thanks for the post!! I've still got about 3 months to go before my first baby boy comes, and while I'm having a hospital birth I had decided to deliver without pain medication or an epidural if at all possible. But another expectant mom I talked to in the doctor's waiting room the other day said some things that made me feel like a total naive dummy for not wanting an epidural. So thanks for the encouragement!!!

Hope baby comes soon and safely! :)

Anonymous said...

You are so right. I can't believe we haven't made progress on this issue since my own babies were born. It was known then, as now, that a lot of interferences are unnecessary and increase the rate of C-sections. It makes me upset to see mothers get dragged into that, when a little patience would have produced a less expensive and less traumatic birth with a significantly easier recovery period.

Lisa said...

From one "freak" to another.. amen! Praying for God's perfect timing for BOTH of us. Hugs and kisses!

Susanna said...

Glad to see you got this off your chest (and i agree totally as you know!) but GET SOME SLEEP! Not only are you having a baby in the next few days, but after that you don't really sleep well for weeks... remember???? Love you and am praying for the 2 of you!

Anonymous said...

Amen! I just had my second homebirth two days ago. Good luck to you!

Mrs W said...

I've had two home births and am planning a third in August. Home birthing is awesome. Of course, I'll be the first one at the hospital if there is a problem, but my first two have been great.