Toss the Kid a Donut and Have Done with it!

My friend over at Three Little Girls is talking about natural childbirth today–or at least, intervention free childbirth. When it comes to intervention, she’s against it. Too high a c-section rate in this country, etc. She pulled off her births without epidurals, too–great if it works for you, and maybe marginally safer, but you don’t get a gold star to wear around afterwards. I know; I’ve done it both ways. You really should get a star–in fact, you should get a star either way–but no.

I say, live and let live. I’m not proposing that any intervention be forced on anyone, and I’ll agree that it’s great to be informed about your options. But there are times when it’s tough to weigh those options, and for me, at least, childbirth was, to say the least, one of those times.

I had three vastly different births. I’ll agree that the one with the least intervention was the easiest to recover from.

But by and large, from this side of it and not expecting to do it again, I don’t think it matters much. It’s like breast-feeding. It’s a HUGE deal when you’re in the middle of it, and next thing you know the kid’s in kindergarden and no one cares if you fed him goat’s milk with a syringe for a year, or just tossed him an occasional donut.

And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–by the time they offered forceps or, for number 3, the c-section (which turned out not to be optional), I would have agreed to have the baby removed through my left nostril if they would just do it RIGHT THEN.

This childbirth thing is tough. Child raising even tougher. I know we have this sort of image of our grandmothers giving birth in the rice paddy throwing the kid into a sling and heading off to milk the cows–but it wasn’t like that. I borrowed this from the University of Houston’s Digital History site.

Childbirth in colonial America was a difficult and sometimes dangerous experience for women. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, between 1 percent and 1.5 percent of all births ended in the mother’s death as a result of exhaustion, dehydration, infection, hemorrhage, or convulsions. Since the typical mother gave birth to between five and eight children, her lifetime chances of dying in childbirth ran as high as 1 in 8. This meant that if a woman had eight female friends, it was likely that one might die in childbirth.

I’m pretty sure they’d have gone for a little extra intervention. I know, there are plenty of stats on c-sections, just to take an example, being more dangerous now than vaginal birth–just have a look at Wikipedia, source of all knowledge. But remember, most c-sections are done when they’re called for–which means there’s already a problem–and that’s compared to vaginal births, in hospitals, with all the possible interventions that entails.

Maybe we’ve gone overboard. Maybe we haven’t. I’m a pretty crunchy mom, I’ve even written for Mothering, but I’m not willing to make these calls, or judge these calls, for anyone else.

I know Three Little Girls isn’t really judging. Of course she thinks she made the right choices-that’s inherently why she made them . We all think that, right? If I choose to give my kids Annie’s Mac and Cheese instead of Kraft, I think that’s the right choice, and no matter how much I say I’m not judging you, I am–at least, I’m judging that you made the wrong choice. By my standards. I probably don’t care, but if I didn’t think it was wrong on some level, then I’d be choosing the blue box, too.

Every time we express an opinion we judge a little. That’s cool. It’s the fun thing about blogs. Here’s my opinion. I judge you for judging me, Three Little Girls! Take that!

And in the end, the minutia of it all won’t matter. It’s the way the minutia adds up that counts. Catch-22.

680 Responses to “Toss the Kid a Donut and Have Done with it!”

  1. chelle says:

    I really like your perspective on this. I had absolutely no choice but to have medical intervention. If not I would have died. so not an option for me 🙂

    I try to be judge free as a parent. Pre-parenting I thought i KNEW so much …. psshaa I know nothing. You are so right about how important things seem in the moment …

  2. JK says:

    It’s not that I’m judging any one individually. I think that my argument is larger than birth or larger than any one person’s experience… My real argument is about the medicalization of society. Maybe that wasn’t clear since I used myself and birth as an example. I started my blog entry because I was excited to hear about the film. Then I realized that I had some other things to say about birth.

    E.g., I have a problem with how medicalized it is. And I have a problem with how much hospitals make off of birth (did you watch the trailer?). And I have a problem with the doctor who tried to talk me into an epidural in my routine OB appointment.

    I absolutely give you that there are times when c-sections are absolutely necessary.

    I also know that there are times when a woman decides to have a C-Section because she wants to maintain a tight vagina.

    C-Section is MAJOR SURGERY. There are risks to it. Again, I say, this is not about when it’s necessary.

    You went in with every intention to have a vaginal birth. Things happened. You didn’t. Not judging. You didn’t go in saying, “Yea, 2 pm Thursday April 10th works really well for me and bonus, I get to have a tight vagina at the end of it all.” Do I judge the person who says that? No, not really, but I doubt I’d be able to hang out with her for very long.

    What I think is wrong is that our country thinks that taking a pill every time there is something wrong is the answer. Medicine does not yet have all the answers. Medicine is still an art. It requires a lot of practice and a lot of mistakes are still made. We’ve gotten ourselves into huge problems with antibiotic resistant bacteria. We know a lot, but we also don’t know a lot and end up getting ourself in trouble a lot.

    I’m not arguing against medicine or the advancement of science. I’m arguing against women being scared or fooled into interventions that aren’t really necessary.

    Yea, I’m done having babies, but I still care. I want women to know what the issues are and why they are important. I don’t think we should blindly accept what doctors say because they are doctors. I think we should question and keep questioning until we are comfortable with the answers. The time for questions isn’t in the birthing room. It’s much before then. The time for thinking about this issues is when one has some time.

    Can I get my donut now?

  3. JK says:

    Sorry… must get myself a life, but I was thinking more about the historical piece you pulled, and I have to go on record saying that I do believe in the intervention of washing hands and maternal nutrition ALL THE TIME, without reservation.

    Even with no other interventions, I’m sure that handwashing during childbirth and better nutrition during the prenatal period would have lowered the death rate during colonial times.

    I also believe that antibiotics are a good thing if needed. And a lot of vaccines too. My big point is that if we don’t think about alternatives to the current situation, things will never change. We shouldn’t be happy with status-quo because it’s not too bad. I’m pretty sure our fore-mothers from colonial times would want things to continue to improve for women.

    I don’t think our points are that much different, and I am sorry if you feel I judged you in some way. Not the intention.

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