Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My feelings and fears of impending birth

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Today I ran across an article by a cultural anthropologist entitled "The Rituals of American Hospital Birth" which can be found here http://www.davis-floyd.com/USERIMAGES/File/The%20Rituals%20of%20American%20Hospital%20Birth.pdf . I wish everyone would read it, but wouldn't be surprised if no one did because who besides an overdue pregnant lady with little else to do wants to read a 20 page article about the symbolism involved with hospital birth?

While there are many fears that might circulate through an about-to-deliver pregnant lady's mind (you know, pain, complications, pain), my main fear is technology. Seems like a weird fear, right? Technology in birth is what delivers us from all of those other fears like pain or something going wrong with the baby's health or mine, right? Certainly I am somewhat afraid of the pain (although between my mother and my mother-in-law there are 12 unmedicated childbirths, so really if they can handle it, I hope I can as well).

This article talks about where technology can hurt us. I hope this doesn't come off as me being judgmental of women who are seeking a different birth experience than I am, it's the last thing I want to do. Most women are fine with all of the technology used in hospitals to get them to their beautiful, healthy baby. That's what we all want in the end is a healthy baby. In addition to a healthy baby, I would like an empowering, low-tech experience. If what I have said thus far doesn't jive with what you think about birth, or bores you, just stop reading, it'll probably just get increasingly annoying.

If I could have afforded it or if my insurance had covered it, I would have been giving birth at the only birth center in Sacramento. It's a really really cool place where the nurse-midwife has all of the training and technology needed to ensure nothing goes wrong, but it's tucked away because most births don't need technology. She has a bedroom set up where you can eat, drink, move around, get in the bathtub, sit on a labor ball, listen to what you want, basically be in charge of your labor and delivery experience.

Unfortunately, my other two choices are 1) deliver my baby at home, unassisted as I cannot afford a midwife and 2) deliver in a hospital where it is covered by my insurance. All that swims through my head is how powerless hospitals make me feel. I know it might seem dramatic, but look at the symbolism of some of the things in hospitals. When you arrive you are offered a wheelchair as if you are disabled. Then they immediately want to hook you up to IV fluids, which to me symbolizes that you are dependent on the hospital for your well being instead of nourishing yourself through eating and drinking. Next they want to put you on continual fetal monitoring. When hospital personnel enter the room they look at the monitor before they look at you, as if the machine is having the baby. Those aren't even to mention the other interventions that can be used, including my most feared- Pitocin and C-sections.

I think I will conclude my rant now, because even those of you that are still reading are probably bored to tears. All I ask of people (doctors, nurses, friends) is that they attempt to understand where I am coming from. I want more than a healthy baby in the end, I'd like an experience that acknowledges the fact that my body is connected to my mind and spirit, that I am a capable person, and that our bodies were designed in such a way that most of us don't need any help to do what billions have already done.