Sunday, January 31, 2010

Things That Make you go "Hmmmmmm".

1) Do you NOT find it flummoxing when you know a woman will deny herself no more than one lousy decaf every day whilst pregnant? That she will let nary a piece of delicious, fresh sushi roll pass her lips for fear of making herself and her baby ill? How about wine? Not a drop after the first trimester, "just in case". Let's not forget unpasteurized cheese. Evil stuff. In some places, offering peanut butter will get an eyebrow raised at you, as if you have just offered to create an allergic child who will need an epi pen for the rest of his life.

Yet this same woman, when in labour, will go to the hospital with the advice of her friends ringing in her ears, "Girlfriend, you GET that epidural as soon as you feel any pain..it's your right not to suffer!" And she will have no compunction about getting jacked up on all kinds of narcotics and synthetic hormones and procedures that have KNOWN, IMMEDIATE and possibly LONG TERM effects! At what point does this disconnect happen?

2)Women are tough. We are built to be able to weather the trials of reasonably normal labour, even long, hard labour (to a point, obviously). Is it not a physiological reality that endorphin release during labour makes a woman sleepy looking and internally focused, often quite out of it during labour? And that when the fetal ejection reflex hits and the baby sets off all the right "push" alarms, a woman will expel her baby even if she's been up all night or even 2? Seems to me, there is quite a rush of adrenaline that takes over in normal labour, making a mom capable of pushing out her baby even if tired. If there is no evidence of true maternal exhaustion, why interfere? This should be common knowledge to those who care for labouring women, being up on physiology and all. So why is it the second a woman expresses being tired a nurse will say, "I know dear, and we don't know how long this is going to take. You are going to need your energy to push out your baby. At least an epidural will help you get the rest you need to push out your baby properly. You want to have enough energy to care for your baby, don't you?" So introducing narcotics and probably synthetic hormones will mean the "energy" spared is this great commodity worth all the risks? This is treating women like fragile beings incapable of managing their own experience. Besides, even if a woman is sleeping during an epidural, the quality of rest is sketchy, because her uterus is still working hard to get that baby down while she is checked out of the process. Her baby is still working, probably harder and longer in most cases, to navigate the muscles and passageways whose tone is affected by these things in Mom's system.

Again, just to qualify, this is NOT referring to mothers for whom pain relief and hormones are a necessity to help a truly dysfunctional labour. In these cases, the benefits of these interventions probably outweigh the risks and we lovingly support the mother for these choices. In fact, they can help reboot a labour and actually make things more efficient. I'm talking about intervening in normal, straightforward birth.

3)I was asked by an older, male doctor how many babies I had myself given birth to. He wanted to know this, because he felt it made me qualified to help his patient "deliver". I stared at him in disbelief, and again, he asked me, "How many babies have you given birth to? Are you qualified?" I snapped to and replied, "Yes...how about you?" I wonder how many babies HE's pushed out to make himself so qualified?

4)A friend of mine was the doula at a birth. A lactation consultant was in the room, taking notes on the birth. After the baby was born, at a certain point, she "initiated" breastfeeding. All kinds of information was thrown at this oxytocin/endorphine filled mother, and the baby handled and manipulated in attempts at getting a perfect position and latch. How "successful" do you think this baby was at nursing for the first few days? Try initiating breastfeeding with a mother lamb or cat. Watch how well things go.

5)Baby does not know the thing flopping randomly in front of his face is his hand. Chances are, he's not, in his wily little baby way, manipulating you into holding him all the time with his cries. My children all co-slept with no real restrictions. Trust me, my 11, 15, and nearly 18 year old are in no way interested in creeping back in. They do get out of there eventually, no worse for wear. In fact, they are fabulous sleepers now, comfortable anywhere they lay their heads. I am actually very happy my sweet 4 year old still likes to come into bed in the mornings, and sometimes at night too, for a snuggle. It makes the start of the day sweet.

Just some thoughts for the day.

Have a lovely Sunday.