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Pointless Hospital "Rituals" 

My Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page is alight with the voices of women who, oddly, think I am against homebirths and non-nurse midwives. I certainly need to address the thread in a serious post of its own, but I wrote this a few days ago in "Comment to 'Are Homebirths Safe?'" and felt it deserved a place of its own (it was tucked down at the bottom of the other post). I have added links and a few words here and there, but it's born from the previously mentioned piece.

This is a snarky commentary about the absurd things medical folks believe about why we (who believe in homebirth) choose to birth at home. Tucked in the attitude is the hope someone outside of homebirth and non-nurse midwifery is listening.


I am just sick and tired of this stupid belief that women birth at home because they want to be "comfortable." That is a sweet side effect, low on the totem pole, of the benefits to both mother and child. Let's begin the list of needless interventions in the hospital, shall we? These are the interventions that have zero to do with keeping mom or baby alive, but are simply there to make life convenient for those that attend to laboring moms. Onward!

- Continuous monitoring - this has never been shown to improve outcomes.

- Starving a mom - this has also never been shown to improve outcomes and, in fact, has been shown to cause problems of fatigue and frustration (among other things). Nurses and doctors really do say, "But the IV supplies all (the nutrition) you need!" Bull caca.

- Having an IV for the duration of labor - when bargaining to naturalize hospital birth, having a saline lock can be requested instead of the whole pole, bag o' fluids, etc.

- A 90+% pitocin rate sometime during labor and a way higher rate immediately postpartum

It's shocking that over 90% of women's bodies cannot figure out how to contract their uteri properly. My, how fast evolution has changed the human biochemistry!

Pitocin, of course, brings risks of fetal distress, a ghastly amount of pain for mom -which leads to pain medication... risks that get their own space, risk of postpartum hemorrhage, DIC, amniotic fluid embolism... and that's just a look at the biggies.

- Immobility - whether because it's inconvenient to have moms "wandering the halls" as I've heard a zillion times over the years, or because her tummy and legs are paralyzed by medication, being in bed has been shown, over and over and over, to not be a good thing for mom, the baby or labor. 

- Speaking of paralyzation, gotta yack about pain medication... sedatives, narcotics, regional anesthesia, oh my! Can't dare have an oyster, piece of sushi, a tuna sandwich, some brie on toast or fried bologna... and god forbid you should even consider a sip of wine during pregnancy! But, once you're in labor, the pharmacy is unlocked and ready to be loaded right into your veins... or spinal cord. What the hell kind of skewed thinking makes that alright?

- Putting women in a physical position that is atrociously uncomfortable (not to mention THE most physiologically incorrect postion for a baby to be born)... oh, but it's fine and dandy for the doc and that is what counts, right?

- Springboarding off the last awful position, taking women's legs and shoving them back, stretching the perineum beyond it's true need, causing tears that might not have happened had the women been "allowed" to birth in their own choice of positions. But, can't have the doctor disoriented with a mom on hands and knees; he might not know where to catch the baby!

- And off that one, doctors incessant belief they need to cram their hands in the woman's vagina down to the perineum and s t r e t c h it so angrily it makes my choo-chatch hurt watching. (I want to SLAP their hands; let me tell you the self-control that takes.) 

- We cannot talk about pushing on one's back, knees in the ears, hands crammed in the vagina without mentioning the SCREAMING everyone (but the mom) seems to think must be part of any birth no matter if mom is medicated or not, if the baby is coming slowly or fastly, it matters not. SCREAMING is one hospital ritual that makes me want to scream. And I, most certainly do not want to scream, "Take a deep breath, let it go. Take another deep breath and PUSH! (and then in screeching voices, rarely in unison) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10! Do it again!!!"

Ugh. I'm stressed just from writing about those pointless interventions that have zero to do with the crucial operating room down the hall... THE reason given for not birthing at home. I'm too exhausted to even start down the after-the-baby's-born path, which is, sometimes, three times longer than the mom's!

But, rest assured, many more women having all that extra "care" mentioned above will visit the operating room, so apparently, the medical folks do see its necessity a lot more than homebirthing women do. What is behind the curtain, however (and not just the one during a cesarean), is the doctors, administrators, insurance companies and all sorts of "well-meaning" (but delusional) people standing on each others' shoulders... like cheerleaders at a football game... each one demanding their own rules, their own regulations, their own reasons for doing what is done. What a flipping mess of confetti all their rules, regulations and requirements make.

This, dear reader, is what the homebirthing woman is seeking to avoid... the cacophony of stupid, pointless, and, dare I say, potentially dangerous crap that comes with "the hospital ride." Sometimes, we just want to say, "Who in their right mind takes the hospital ride on purpose?"

I swear, birth in the hospital has to change. It's simply absurd all the (can I say crap again?) crap they do to women that has no impact on the safe outcome they all seem so worried about.