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Monday
Aug252008

I'm Offensive...

... and oh, so proud!

I don't know about y'all, but when I find a blockade, I love to knock them down. See a warning about a site? Gotta know what's so dang bad (good? juicy!) about it!

American Prayer was sent to me this morning. Not just because I am (obviously) voting for Obama, but because Dr. Wonderful is in this star-studded video! 3/4 of the way through, after the homeless vet, right after Woopi Goldberg, Dr. Wonderful is holding a baby. He's also writing a book about birth (in the vein of "Babycatcher") and was supposed to be on an episode of Scrubs, but had a baby that night. That man's connected!

The issue of birth trauma (something that needs a label put on it if I ever heard one) came up over the weekend in two different types of articles. The first addresses birth trauma directly, the second, indirectly.

GUERILLA MOTHERING: Mama’s baby drama doesn’t have to cause trauma says,

"The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in new mothers. Evidently, traumatic hospital births with a lot of medical interventions are leaving moms severely emotionally scarred. Imagine that! Someone comes into your hospital room, you’re already half-naked, scared, and in pain, and tells you that the baby you’ve carried and dreamed of for so long might die if they don’t do a certain procedure right away-and even then, no guarantees you’re going home with your little one. Yeah, I’d call that a little traumatic."

And...

"...he was born out of my numbed-to-the-point-of-paralysis body after a long night of drugs, having my water broken, and lying around practically tied to a hospital bed, as nervous as though a firing squad was waiting for me on the other side of labor. The very moment he was born, I held my arms out for him, desperate to hold him — but the Dr. took him away immediately to be examined on the other side of the room. I still tear up, just thinking about it, seven years and two additional births later. Is that a sign of trauma?"

And after her third, a homebirth,

"There he was. Healthy, serene, perfect. There is a photo of me, smiling, holding him in my arms, immediately after he was born. I had finally outrun those birth demons, and what a prize.

"It was the most beautiful thing I have ever done, and it truly changed my life. I went on to change careers, write a book, visit a monastery for a week, play roller derby — all kinds of things that I still think are not as cool as having a homebirth, but I would perhaps not have had the confidence to do, had I not named and claimed the birth of my third miracle child. That is the total opposite of trauma, without a doubt."

What's so sad to me is that she had to swing all the way to a homebirth to find the birth that empowered her the most. I am so frustrated, knowing Dr. Wonderful births, watching/hearing, over and over, the birthrape, birth trauma and birth abuse that happens in hospitals when it simply doesn't have to be that way. Keeping women and babies safe (the whole explosive reason/explanation for the massive amounts of technology and "inconvenience" to women in hospitals) just doesn't have to be so damned dramatic/traumatic! If I hadn't seen there could be other ways, I would never believe there could be other ways. But, I have - and there can.

Should We Push for Better Birth on Television as Well?, a blog post by the Massachussetts Friends of Midwives talks about how birth on tv is incredibly over-dramatized and how helpful it would be to see a variety of midwives in a variety of birth situations so women could see how birth can (and should!) be.

I wrote one of the most profound sentences in the comments section (if I do say so myself):

TRUE natural birth needs an agent.

The article speaks about the over-dramatization of birth shows, yet sings the praises of House of Babies, a show about a birth center in Miami, Florida. While the births are unmedicated and, compared to hospital births, the women are permitted free movement, the actual births are almost always in the lithotomy position (not flat on the back, but close to it) - even in the birth tub.

Shari Daniels trained and worked in El Paso where, for the most part, women birth on their backs. In fact, unless a woman precip'd, she delivered on her back. Easily 99% of the time. While on House of Babies it might seem the women are on their backs for good camera angles, I can hear the imploring of the midwives in almost the same words, English or Spanish, as the midwives in El Paso. I have long felt we are products of our training and experiences; it isn't unusual for Shari to nudge birth along at the end since it seems to work just fine. The urgency is just as palpable on House of Babies as it is on Babies: Special Delivery.

I wonder if I'd want a camera watching a birth I was doing. Talk about being judged for actions! Am I ashamed of what I do? Not at all. But I don't know if I could take the amount of scrutiny I know would happen. I wonder how many midwives would/could want Discovery cameras in their birth arenas.

I assisted at a birth once and the client permitted a camera woman who was photographing Rites of Passages in our culture. She not only took photos of that birth (and I purposefully took none), but also of a Bris of another midwife's client. The photographer, an intern for our San Diego paper, disappeared with the photos - never to be heard from again. I'm a tad wary of bringing in an outsider anymore.

Plus, watching Mindy's birth (Psalm and Zoya) be massacred on Discovery Health, it's hard to trust the media at all!

But, how do women get to see natural births? Is it really only through edited YouTube videos? How does the slow unfolding of birth get portrayed... the mundane-ness, the down-and-dirty boring reality of it all?

(And I don't mean I am bored. I mean that many labors plod along and that is perfectly normal and wonderful. It's one reason why I LOVE the Labor Day Birth Day on Discovery Health; one gets to see births in real time - and how many births really are drugged and end in cesareans. Natural birth can be hypnotizing in its contracting, moaning repetition.)

If women saw birth on its undramatic terms, would women be so afraid of the pain? I don't think so. Even the unmedicated women in hospitals are confined to beds; no wonder they scream! The women on House of Babies moan, but don't often holler.

If our culture could get the taboo issues regarding sexual expression and childbirth out of the way, labor would look much more delicious than painful. Reminding women that sex looks scary to the uninitiated (kids, for example), but really is a delightful journey that sometimes includes moaning and hollering. So, too, can birth be the same. I think our repressed society struggles with the sounds, smells and similarities of birth and sex, hence medicating, covering up with non-descript gowns and mechanizing the whole experience so we don't have to be reminded that our genitals are involved.

Hmmm... where did that come from?

Food for thought, though.

True natural birth does need an agent. Wonder who she is.

Reader Comments (6)

I read your blog fairly often and have been for quite awhile.

When i hit the blockade from google i was left breathless.

With the amount of smut on the internet, why would they blockade your site? Obiviously if i am searching you out i am aware of then content, and birth is NOTHING offensive, its life.

If you searched porn sites they dont blockade them, i tried and nope nothing.

This is not google's businessm they have no right or place to WARN me that a birth blog is offensive.

Why dont they go search out the child porn sites and find and "blockade" the real offensive.

Does anyone know who i can send an email to to complain about this?

Melissa

August 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLady

When I saw the blockade, I laughed. Having been a reader for a while, I know that there's nothing offensive about your blog. But I had to think, maybe somebody happened across it, and saw the (shudder)....*boobies*?? I looked at the video of Dr. Wonderful, and was a little shocked, initially, at the graphicness of the birth pics. At first, and only because I am used to seeing fuzzed out images on Discovery. And then I wondered, well, was THAT what my nether region looked like as I birthed my daughter? My husband said it bulged out, but it was hard to get a visual. Anyway, after the initial, holy carp, at least it was educational (and very sweet)!

I gave birth in a hospital birthing center, with a wonderful CNM, and great staff who did everything but try to pull me OUT of bed- rocking chair, birth ball, walking, etc. I wanted none of it. I was physically exhausted, and just wanted to lay down and sleep, dammit. I did end up with a (horrible) epidural (not doing that again if I can help it), but at my insistance. I think the only thing the staff didn't offer me was the tub (I was not in the birth tub room, but my room was equipped with a jacuzzi). Next time, I am going in to the hospital with TUB tatooed on my forehead and across my big belly. I saw the homebirthed twins show on Discovery. That was bad, but the other unintentional homebirth (the woman who gave birth in her bathroom) was even more over dramatized. The woman birthing twins was at more risk (or her babies were) than that other woman. All that drama over the baby not breathing right away, I wanted to yell at them- its okay, just don't tie off the cord! Birth is so overdramatized, but I guess that makes good TV. Maybe you could ask Discovery for your own show?! But you know you would have no control over how they edit...
Jen

August 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Apparently, Blogger is having a fit of stupidity and blocking/flagging many sites. People have control, not people with minds, either.

So, I am exploring moving both my blogs to another host.

I will let you know as soon as it happens.

I will not be censored.

August 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Not to be a Polyanna, but I wonder if the flagging could have been by mistake? It right up there next to "search" & "next blog"...seems easy enough that it could have been clicked inadvertantly (though I don't know what happens once you click -maybe additional steps)...just a thought.

August 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoulaMomma

Possibly.

I'm moving anyway because in reading, once this happens, it seems to keep happening.

And dear blogger can ban and remove anyone's site if they feel moved to do so. I have read of MANY people's sites - with biking sites, family sites, etc. - being removed and the struggle to get re-published.

Blogger has no email address.

Very, very frustrating.

Here's the new url:

navelgazingmidwife.squarespace.com

(at least for the trial run)

August 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Blogger can be a right bugger sometimes and I have seen many blogs move from blogger to wordpress and other blog hosting sites.

What I wanted to say that over in the UK on our Discovery Health channel, mixed in with the usual rubbish of ABS and Bringing home baby, we have a good show called "Homebirth Diaries" which I quite enjoy as the show feature not only the home birth, but candid video diaries of the expectant mothers and their feelings regarding the up coming birth. The midwives range from hands-off (most of them are that way) to hands-on, but in almost all that I have seen, the women give birth on hands and knees, kneeling or even standing. There are water births, dry land births and if any medical pain relief is given is gas and air.

I would watch episodes over and over again whilst I was pregnant and felt so positive towards the birth of my child, whereas one episode of ABS left me upset.

I love your blog and I intend to stay an avid reader! Keep up the great work!

August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLizzardbits

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