Monday, November 23, 2009

News from New York

Today I got a call from a friend in New York City who read yesterday's post. After reading the part from Lani about how "Heavenly Father is extremely saddened by the way women are treated as they give birth in highly medicalized settings," she knew she had too much to say in a comment or an email.

She told me some really horrible stories about how women are treated in New York Hospitals (not just the C-section and intervention rates, but the recovery conditions--to paraphrase: a nightmare), and how, as a result, many of the women in her ward, who would never have considered natural birth, are now asking her questions about her birth in a birthing center.

I have asked her to write a guest post, so I won't go into all the details, but it saddens me that conditions have to get that bad, before women sit up and say, that's not okay with me. But the medical world has done a good job of convincing women that they don't know how to birth. They have scared us by talking about the safety of our babies, and our lives. But the truth is, birth outside the hospital setting is as safe and most often, safer. In Europe and other industrialized nations, 70% of births are attended by midwives, and they have a lower infant mortality rate and lose fewer mothers.

I was just watching the Business of Being Born, (a great documentary and a great introduction for people who don't have a lot of time to learn all about birth in this country--watch instantly on Netflix) which also happens to be filmed in New York City. There is so much good stuff in there, but the one thing that resonated the strongest with me as I watched it this time was this quote:

"A woman, for as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth."

I cannot begin to express how true this was at my birth. For the most part, the birth of my daughter was an amazing and empowering homebirth (even though it didn't go as planned), but there was one thing that happened--something someone said that made me feel horrible--made me feel like a failure, and it effected me and my labor and I will never forget it. I don't even remember what she looked like or who she was, but she was in my path at a pivotal moment in my labor and I will never forget it. I think that it is the one thing that keeps me from writing my full, uncensored, unabashed birth story. I'm still pissed at her pissy little comment. See. It's hard to shake even the small things. I can't imagine if I had had the kind of care that Natalie tells me is going on in New York City Hospitals.

There is something else I have been thinking about that is the other side of this. It has to do with how our babies feel about all this. Even though our children may not remember their births or the first years of their lives, I feel certain that the way a baby is birthed and cared for, affects him or her for years to come. What Babies Want is a great documentary that has some recent cool studies on this. There is one story of twins who were seen, by ultrasound, playing a game in the womb. These twins were followed into the first few years of live and seen playing the same kinds of game at 1 or 2 years old. That story always blows me away. How can anyone think that children don't remember the womb, or that what goes on outside doesn't effect them? You can see that story and the first 10 minutes of the film on Youtube. I will try to embed it here. Enjoy.

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