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Entries in birth controversy (2)


Waterbirth Revisited

Let’s just say, I’ve seen some awesome water births. Peaceful, lovely… the baby sliding out of mama and being caught in her hands just before total ejection… then being lifted to –and out of- the surface, pulled into his or her mother’s breasts for safekeeping. Heartwarming at the very least.

But, as I’ve been re-evaluating all the different aspects of home and hospital birth, I couldn’t let water births go without examination.

There is no doubt that being in the water is calming for a mom, allowing the uterus to “float” off the nerves, diminishing pain considerably. “The midwife’s epidural” it’s been called and I would attest to that many times over. But what of the ick that is a common and pervasive part of birth? “Ick” being bodily secretions like urine, feces, and mucous. We might include blood, sweat, tears and possibly even saliva, even though most people don’t think of those as being too icky.

Mind you, I’ve never had a problem with bodily secretions during birth. (Well, except for that one time when I co-barfed in a metal bowl during one woman’s transition.) Poop, pee, vomit, sweat, saliva, tears, blood, mucous… none of them remotely bothers me… so while I use the word “ick” it isn’t so much that I think of them as icky, but know that, as we delve into the topic, many reading will find some of the normal bodily functions icky, especially when discussed in conjunction with birth.

During birth, it behooves a woman to abandon any societal restrictions she has about bodily functions. That requires a trust in her care providers and a belief that everything she might emit is normal, unless told otherwise (too much bleeding, for example). In fact, midwives are a hilarious bunch that find bodily functions applause-worthy. “You threw up? Fantastic!” or “You’re having lots of loose stools? Great!” And that isn’t to help a woman feel comfortable in her emissions, but because the various actions are positive signs regarding the progression of her labor. Loose stools can herald impending labor and throwing up can be a sign of transition. Women like to be told they are progressing in their labors; bodily secretions can give everyone wonderful clues about those progressions.

But what if the poop and vomit were in the birth pool? Oh, women don’t vomit in the pool, you say? True enough, but they do vomit in the toilet (or whatever is barfed into a bowl goes into the toilet). Poop and pee go into the toilet usually, too. But, in birth, both of those can –and often do- happen in the pool.

This is where I started re-thinking waterbirth.

If mom pees and poops into the pool… and a baby is born into the pool with poop and pee… is that gross or is that not gross? For ages, our birth kits included a fishnet to scoop poop out of the pool, but hasn’t the poop already contaminated the water? And there isn’t a fishnet small enough to get liquid poop or urine out of the water… what of that?

When women have asked these questions, we’ve appeased them with, “it’s diluted to almost nothing” or “it’s only yours,” but are these adequate? Or even true? What if dad gets in and can’t get out to pee? And does dilution make it any better? All kinds of stuff can be in poop and pee, including e coli and group b strep. Do we want to dredge our newborn child through those possibilities?

We poop and pee in the toilet every single day. Would we dunk our child in that water… even after flushing? The thought is nauseating. Why then is it okay to have our newborn come out into the ick of a birth pool?

Suddenly, I understand the requirements of so many birth centers and hospitals to only allow labor in the tubs, but birthing out of the water. I always thought that was a dumb rule and even heard the arguments about why without really thinking the whole thing through; the baby is born in a toilet bowl. Isn’t that kind of gross?

I remember one dad who was in the pool with his wife and as soon as she let him get out, he ran to take a shower even though he had a newborn to cuddle with. We all thought it was kind of silly, but on second thought, did he have the right idea and the rest of us were somewhat deluded?

I used to think I’d love to have a waterbirth. Now, not so much. How have you been able to wrap your head around birthing in a tub with poop, pee, mucous and blood? I look forward to what folks have to say.


Hypocrite in the Middle


In the last three days, I've been called "hypocrite" twice. It's an epithet I'm pretty used to, actually, so at first it didn't click, but this afternoon, I laughed at what was really happening.

First, I was called a hypocrite by a follower of the SOB (ask someone else if you don't know who that is; she gets no air time here) who, in a comment I did not publish, said:

"How ironic that you deride the next step 'down' from home-birth midwifery (itself a 'step down' from birth in a full-fledged medical setting) as a "luxury" in the mindset of Western women when homebirth with a midwife in the Western world is motivated by the same ill-informed, privileged mindset."

S/He continues:

"Shame on you.  You are just as ignorant and dangerous as the UC'ers you look down on.  But I guess it helps to rationalize your unscientific stance to have someone 'below' you on the industrialized world's substandard birth care 'food chain.'"

Okay, so that's the far right side of the spectrum. Now, let's look left and see what I got this morning. I did not edit.

"Frankly, it is very unfair to call UC dangerous until we have real scientific studies.  Of course how do you study and underground movement?  What sane woman will admitt to planning a UC beforehand when she knows it can bring such negativity and the threat of CPS?"

I'm writing this, debating arguing the point about "scientific studies" and how no one believes them anyway, so who gives a crap if one is ever done on UCs. And that puh-LENTy of women plan UCs ahead of time; wander the Net for 10 minutes and you can find a slew of them.

But then I thought, instead of arguing, I'll just quote some more.

"The statistics I have seen for India is that about 1/2 their total population is anemic.  Do they have insane rates of post-partum hemorrhage?  Yes.  Is post-partum hemmorhage going to be as common in a woman in the US choosing UC who eats meat and follows the Brewer diet?"


Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Am I supposed to address this? Am I supposed to be the one to break it to this woman that anemia does not cause hemorrhage? That the Brewer Diet is bunk (I want to use a far worse word, but am trying to contain myself)? That her enormous ethnocentric ego is flapping about for all of us to see?

Sometimes, I think I could write for hours and hours trying to dispell myths, but it's almost as if no one hears, so, instead, here's more of her quote: 

"We can not get facts about the true risks of UC until we allow it to happen unhindered.  Allowing women to make their own choices, from scheduled 36 week c/s because they are too scared to be pregnant any longer to UC is the only way to empower women and show that we are as capable as men of making our own choices good or bad."


Isn't the very definition of UC, unhindered? I'm even turning my head sideways trying to figure that sentence out, but it makes zero sense.

Now, this empowerment issue. We've covered this before.

No one can empower another person.


"...show that we are as capable as men of making our own choices good or bad."

My head hurts already from trying to decipher the messages hidden inside this email, so I'm really at a loss for what to say about my proving I'm as capable as a man in making dangerous (stupid?) choices. Really? Really? Women still feel like they have to prove themselves? Women still compare themselves to men? Apparently, I missed the latest memo.

But, looking at these two readers' comments from afar, the gist of them both is I am a hypocrite, that I say one thing and do another. I say I'm for a woman's choice, but have serious concerns (understatement) about UCs. And I feel births are safer in the hospital in extreme emergencies, but I still support homebirth.

So, in talking to Sarah, telling her of the latest condemning emails, I couldn't help but laugh out loud that if I was being called hypocrite by the left and the right, I must be right smack in the middle!

I wonder if I'm doing something right after all.