It’s been fascinating to research the obstetrical history of the US. To understand the origins of modern medical practice is an eye opening and somewhat disturbing experience. The most difficult part to traverse is that the medical “establishment” for the many strides they’ve made toward our health and well-being, have also been responsible for some really awful things. Here are few from the last 50 years: Thalidimde, mid and high forcep deliveries, episiotomy, the undermining and near eradication of midwives and their role in our society, and the newest addition to this list.. elective cesarean section.
To say there has been a “systematic” process on a societal level to undermine women’s confidence that she can birth or breastfeed- smacks of conspiracy theory. But when i look at the evidence, the women who come to my hospital classes, when I listen to their fears and hear what someone out there has said they can or can’t DO… it’s hard not to think there is something systematic about it.
Women don’t believe they can birth or breastfeed… when the evidence, if we look at our anatomy and physiology is quite the opposite. There is an epidemic of fear about birth and handling the pain, there is a notion that we can understand everything we need to know about childbirth from a book, app, or some other intellectual process. As a society we are so disconnected from ourselves, from our bodies from an intuition that will guide us rightly. We are told plain and simple that birthing is ‘dangerous’ and we need medicine and interventions and safely navigate these waters.
In nature about 6% of the population would require a cesarean section for the safety of either mother or baby. The World Health Organization says we should aim for 10-15%, which gives some wide latitude. How do we then explain the US rate of 32-35% then? Some of the hospitals I work at are as high as 40%.
My goal is not to create conflict or mistrust- however, I do believe women and their partners need to understand ALL their options. “If you don’t know your options, You don’t have any”. Ignorance is not bliss. So I encourage everyone to do their research about pregnancy, labor options. Research the hospital and the Dr. to make sure you are in alignment with their practices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or make changes if you discover you might be in a place not in accord with your desires.