Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Parturitional Utopia"

From A Good Enough Birth; A Good Enough Parent by Rebecca Steinitz in Literary Mama, a literary magazine for the maternally inclined:
I'm all for natural childbirth...

But lately I wonder if the obsession with crafting the perfect birth -- the one in a dimly-lit room with soft music where, free from drugs and episiotomies, we breathe out perfect babies and take them immediately to our breasts -- has caused some of us more harm than good...

A week after I gave birth with surgical assistance, a UNICEF report came out revealing that in Africa, 40,000 women a year die of obstructed labor. As it happens, that's what I had ... If I'd been a poor woman in the African countryside, it's more than likely we both would have died.

If I'd been an American woman of 200 years ago, things wouldn't have been much better. It turns out that there never was a time back in the day when midwives oversaw births in which every woman went into a room with her mother and sisters, grunted a few times, and popped out a healthy baby. There was no parturitional utopia, destroyed when male doctors saw there was money to be made in birth and thus took over (my emphasis).

In fact, there were complicated old days, when some women gave birth successfully with little assistance and intervention, and lots of women -- and babies -- died...

A good birth is one that ends with a healthy baby and mother... [W]e owe it to ourselves to remember that different paths can lead to the same destination, and childbirth is one of the times in life when there isn't much question that the destination far more important than the journey.

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