Thursday, February 5, 2009

Is it Safer or is it Normal?

These days, although the topics surrounding childbirth have become controversial, the statistics are indisputable that it is safer for a women to give birth naturally. But what does that mean?
The World Health Organization states that 90-95% of women can give birth normally and free from interventions. So if that is the case, then why does the U.S. have a C-section rate of 31.1%, an induction rate of 16%, another 16% are "helped along" with synthetic oxytocin, as well as staggering rates for other interventions?
If you look back at birth over the ages, a woman in ancient times didn't have many options.  There was no agony of decision over hiring a doctor or a midwife, she most likely had experienced women to support her. She didn't have to decide to give birth at the hospital, her home, or a birth center. She didn't have to fill out a birth plan and hope it was followed. Her biggest quandary was choosing a soft patch of moss or an animal skin to squat over! So what changed?
Women are still women. The complications with childbirth, though few and far between, are still the same. What changed was when normal became complicated. That's when things went wrong. Women these days, upon arrival to the hospital, are put into wheelchairs and then into bed. They are poked, prodded, and monitored by any and all means. If they are not "progressing" fast enough there are drugs for that. If those drugs cause too much pain, there are drugs for the pain. If the drugs for the pain from the drugs to help progression cause the mother's heart rate to become too low, there are drugs for that. And if all else fails, there is always a Cesarean. This has become our "normal".
If a woman chooses not to follow this standard of procedure and wants to birth her baby in her own time, on her terms, in whatever place she decides, this is called "natural childbirth". People will question her about the safety of her choices, they will question how she will deal with the pain, and either admire her courage or condemn her recklessness. After her baby is born they will both be more alert than most mothers and babies, the baby will score higher than most babies on the Apgar, have less trouble than most babies with breastfeeding, and the mother will have a quicker recovery than most mothers. But are they really "more" alert, scoring "higher", having "less" trouble, and recovering "quicker"? Or is it just normal?

My Doula Journey

Ever since I was a little girl and I found out that "babies come from their mommies", I've been fascinated by pregnancy and birth. It just seemed like such an incredible, indescribable miracle that something as tiny as a period at the end of a sentence could grow into a cuddly baby in about nine months!
Over the years, my respect and awe for this amazing experience has only deepened. My own personal experiences through miscarriages, a very traumatic hospital birth, and an empowering home birth have taught me many things. They taught me that life is precious and being able to be pregnant is not something to take for granted. They taught me that my body is strong, capable, and designed to give birth. They taught me to respect the natural normality of birth. And while I believe that experience is often the best teacher, I knew that I needed more education in order to pursue a career as a doula.
I've read just about every book I can get my hands on about birth. I'm constantly researching the subject, reading articles, and talking to people about it. I can't learn enough! That's why I was so excited to start my doula course through Childbirth International.
I started taking classes online in October 08 and the curriculum is very broad and intensive. There is a lot of reading, writing, and critical thinking involved. But I love how it stretches me and I find the studies as well as my online study group invaluable!
I don't have much time to study with two little ones, a husband, and a household, but I make the time somehow and I can't wait to be certified! It will be such an accomplishment for me and a huge step in my journey!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm Going to Volunteer!

I sent an email to the director of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Central Oregon on Monday. I told her that I was very interested in volunteering as a doula with their organization. I have always wanted to volunteer with them but I didn't know what I had to offer. Now that I'm a doula student, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity!
I prayed a lot about it and checked my email several times a day. She finally emailed back today saying that she was very excited to meet with me! Our appointment is on Monday afternoon. This is so perfect, I have butterflies! God is so good!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where the U.S. Stands

The following is a link to the World Health Organization map showing the maternal mortality rates of the world as of 2005. For those of you who still think that the United States is one of the safest places to give birth, think again! The U.S. ranks 69 out of 167 countries. What that means is that there are 98 countries with fewer women dying from childbirth. It is unnecessary, it is a disgrace, and it needs to change.
The main cause of maternal death (25%) is hemorrhage. One of the main causes for hemorrhage is placental complications. Cesarean sections increase the risk of placental complications, especially in women who have had a previous Cesarean.
The World Health organization recommends a C-section rate at no higher than 15% for any country. The United States has a rate of over twice that at 31.1% in 2006. Therefore, is it safe to say that one of the reasons the U.S. has such a high number of maternal deaths is because of the increasing rate of C-sections?

Brand new blog!

This is my first of what I hope will be many blog entries!  I am excited to have a place to share what is on my heart with others.  While I don't believe that "everything happens for a reason", I know that what I've been through has given me a passion for helping women inform and empower themselves and help shape their own experiences. That is my calling and I'm thankful to God for leading me this far. He is forever faithful.