Monday, March 30, 2009

Surgical Birth

NARH is to be congratulated on “performing significantly fewer C-sections than other hospitals around the state (MA)-- an average of 18 percent of all births at the hospital compared to the state average of 34 percent, according to reports released by the state Department of Public Health.”
While this is commendable and NARH should be encouraged to lower the c-section rate even more, the larger story that emerges here gives tremendous insight as to how broken the medical model is, and how disconnected from nature we have become.
The history of the medicalization of childbirth is both fascinating and appalling and represents one of the AMA’s greatest victories in their numerous attempts to monopolize health care.
In less than 40 years the rate of hospital births increased from 30%, for abnormal or high-risk pregnancies, to today’s rate of 99% of all deliveries.
In was in the 1950’s, with the introduction of chemicals such as Pitocin, that ‘expediting childbirth began in earnest.’ giving rise to the business of birth.  Like Pitocin, subsequent medical monitoring devices and interventions, such as Electronic Fetal Monitoring, ultrasound, etc, were initially introduced as tools to help physicians with high risk births, but quickly were adapted for routine use.  Ultimately this redefined birth as an accident waiting to happen requiring medical instrumentation and intervention, as opposed to a natural physiologic process directed by the woman’s body.
All of this contributed to skyrocketing rates of c-section; from less than 15% in 1975 to well over 30% by 2005.
If we are to believe that a 34% rate of c-section is normal we would have to accept one, or all of the following conclusions: that within the past 40 years:
1.       Evolution has selected for many more women with pelvises incapable of delivering babies naturally.
2.       Women of child-bearing age have become so sick that they cannot deliver babies naturally.
3.       Something else entirely (business interests) is driving the rate of c-sections
There is NO scientific justification to support a 34% rate of c-section. In fact, as with many other medical interventions we assume to be supported by science and therefore, safe, the exact opposite is true.
Even though the United States has the most intense and widespread medical management of birth, we rank near the bottom among (33) industrialized countries in maternal (30th) and infant mortality (32nd). A woman is four times more likely to die having a c-section than a vaginal birth. …And, infants born by c-section, with no medical risk factors, are nearly three times more like to die within the first months of life than those born vaginally.” 
Not to mention, the wide range of other lifetime medical problems the mother and the baby are subject to, as a direct result of c-section, the antithesis of natural birth.
Never did two words describing a procedure exemplify the complete failure of the medical model and signify our complete disconnect with nature more than those of Elective c-section. Why we accept this notion any more than an elective kidney transplant, I have no idea.
There is NO justification for non-emergency c-section. NONE. Certainly not for the convenience of the doctor or, perhaps even more bizarrely, convenience of the mother. C-sections that are performed for any reason other than medical emergency violate the Hippocratic Oath, and should be considered medical malpractice.
Do we really need studies, like the one recently reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, to tell us that ‘Early Caesarians Pose Risks to Newborns’…and, the earlier the c-section,  the greater the problems?  Does anyone really believe that anything less than full term is best for the baby? You wouldn’t take bread out the oven 30 minutes early. It’s done, when it’s done! Pregnancy is done when labor begins naturally!  
What is driving the care? And who allows this to happen? And please: stop blaming the women!
Have we drifted so far from the natural order that we no longer trust instincts? 
There are no greater driving forces in all of nature than survival and reproduction. There is no more natural or miraculous act than natural birth. That we believe and act otherwise is disturbing.
03-30-2009:  The 26th birthday of my oldest daughter and the first of my 3 kids to be born at home.

1 comment:

gramma said...

You are so right. We've interferred with nature in many ways and will suffer the consequences if we do not come to our senses.